Spam Gourmet

Very useful service to black hole corporate mail that you’re forced to sign up for… Say you’ve signed up to the Kylie site so that you can see some ‘exclusive’ video clips of her bottom. By signing up you know that you’ve also committed yourself to a lifetime of pop act related crap from her label. By using Spam Gourmet you can set up a temporary forwarding address and even specify how long you want it to last… Make it last long enough to confirm its existence and get your password and then trash anything else ever sent to it. Rather neat, don’t you think?
Found at Metafilter

Forrester recommends RFID to comply with EU food traceability regs

A new Forrester Research brief is recommending the use of RFID throughout the food chain to allow food producers to comply with the forthcoming EU food traceability regulations. To quote:

To achieve multistep, forward-and-backward food traceability, Forrester advises firms to turn to vendors that offer RFID tags to link unprocessed agricultural products to retail-environment-ready consumer products.

Essentially the law, which becomes effective in January 2005, means that any product hitting the shelves of an EU member state must be traceable back to source. This is going to be a major headache for all concerned – whether RFID technology and more importantly RFID products will be ready in time is another question.

Granny’s attic never seemed so valuable…

Yet another take on the problem of preserving digital data for posterity. Like this BBC article about digital photography from July last year the author is worried about how we can guarantee that information that we take for granted today is still available in 100 years.

Good question though – how are we going to ensure that the mundane artefacts that become so historically valuable (like stashes of early photos or diaries or invoices or wills or any other document) by simply being old are going to be available to future generations for them to build a picture of our lives? Seriously – how many people still have betamax video players or devices that can play the old 12 inch laser discs? Technology is moving so fast that it’s unlikely that a state of the art hard disk today is going to be easily readable in as little as 10 years from now and that’s on the basis that it’s even still working!

As we become technically more savvy as a culture there is a real risk that the next 10 or 15 years will become an historical black hole as our gadgets move ahead of our ability to maintain the vast amounts of data we are bound to generate.
Thanks to categoryk for getting me started on this one…

Yet more things from Google labs

This time it’s printed material… The site tells us that:

Google has been experimenting with a number of publishers to test their content online. During this trial, publishers’ content is hosted by Google and is ranked in our search results according to the same technology we use to evaluate websites.

A quick search for “Rock and Roll” with the domain restricted to returns a list of books including (thankfully near the top) Carburetor Dung (see review)… Doesn’t look like any books have the whole text – I haven’t found one that’s not an excerpt – but it’s definitely an interesting idea.
Found at

A dash of reality regarding RFID

Out Law reports its opinion that the privacy scares over RFID are unfounded, primarily due to the difficulty and cost of gathering and analysing the information.

They’re right of course. Currently tags are low range and readers are expensive, meaning that it can be incredibly costly to get accurate coverage over a large space. That combined with the amount of information that each customer would generate and you’re starting to hit major data mining problems as well.

Having said all that, when has anything remained costly or difficult for more than a few years in the world of chips and data analysis? The minute you take the long view pretty much all of these arguments become meaningless. Nice try though.