John Heylin's Blog Posts

Website Aims to Map Every Camera That Infringes on Privacy

January 14 2009 / by John Heylin
Category: Social Issues   Year: General   Rating: 3

berkeley.jpgI am pleased to announce the launch of Project Paranoid, a website which hopes to map out the location of every external camera in the world.  While some of you might think that a site such as this is unnecassary, there are enough that believe it is.  Currently the site only features about 600 camera locations are ound Berkeley, CA (the liberal stronghold) but with user help we hope to expand this all over the globe.  London itself has over 1.5 million CCTV cameras, so it's going to be a lot of work.

Currently the site is in a pretty rough form since we're going public ahead of time in order to get support.  If you're interested in helping out with designing, writing, programming, cash or even logging cameras, email us at so we can give you some sort of idea on what we're looking for.

(The image above is a screenshot of what the city of Berkeley looks like currently on our site.  Clicking the bubbles will give you a picture of the camera and soon other relevant information about it.)

CCTV Nation — Security at What Cost?

December 30 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Social Issues   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

cctv.jpgA lot of people keep telling me that if one has nothing to hide, then why worry about wire-taps or security cameras?  If you're not planning to rob a bank or kidnap a spoiled celebrity then you should be fine, right?

I have to admit, that argument is pretty solid.  I don't plan on doing anything like kidnapping rich kids (at least until the economy gets worse) so I shouldn't worry.  But the real issue here is privacy.  Humans love privacy, and yet we're afraid of just about everything.  Finding a balance between the two can be difficult at times and rarely easy.  You might not be doing something illegal that would cause you to fear security cameras, but think again.

Chances are you've done something that could be construed as illegal and fined.  Not coming to a full stop at stop signs lands you a ticket for every mistake.  Urinating in public when you're coming home from the bars at 2am could land you an indecency ticket and possible jail time.  Any prank you've ever pulled from toilet papering a house to stealing a road sign would be prosecuted (for those that notice these crimes are kinda specific examples, I've never TP'd a house, it's a waste of paper).

Someone will always be watching and to think that minor offenses will be ignored is naive since cities are always looking for new sources of revenue.  And as it becomes clear that the cameras don't actually prevent any crime (London has 1.5 million CCTV cameras and bombings still happen) people will rely more and more on security cameras which do more.  Facial recognition is the next step, following people from camera to camera, tracking their paths.  Your entire path from when you leave your house to when you finally return is on record.  Great for Alzheimers patients, but I think I'll pass.

I prefer a world where I can enjoy anonymity and freedom to do silly things like hit golf balls off my front lawn, or drop water balloons from a parking garage, or streak on campus.  Would I like to find out who broke into my car?  Yes.  But not at the cost of killing my privacy.

What do you think about privacy?

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Japan Launches First Partially Solar Powered Cargo Ship

December 24 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

aurigaleader.jpgJapan's largest shipping company, Nippon Yusen, has unveiled a cargo ship outfitted with enough solar panels to produce 40 Kilowatts of power.  Named the Auriga Leader, the energy comes from 328 solar panels outfitted on top of the ship which set the company back about $1.7 million dollars.  While 40 Kilowatts is a huge sum house-wise, it really only produces enough energy to power about 7% of the lighting systems on board.  But when one considers the size of the ship (frickin' HUGE) it should save them quite bit down the road.  When combined with Nippon's gel-like paint, it promises to save them hundreds of thousands down the road with this ship alone.

Honestly, it's surprising this kind of tech has waited this long in this market.  Transportation eats up a huge amount of oil, especially things like ships, trains, tractor trailers and planes.  And to be honest, any help is much needed help for these behemoths.  Japan has its solar panels, China is working on solar sails for its cargo ships, and tons of people in America are calling for more efficient big rigs.  Now we just need to press innovation ahead faster.

via Crunch Gear

Polishing Teeth With Silica Nanoparticles Keeps The Dentist Away

December 23 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2012   Rating: 2


Researchers at Clarkson University have discovered a way to protect teeth from tooth decay by polishing the surface with silica nanoparticles.  The teeth are polished so smooth that harmful bacteria, the leading cause of tooth enamel decay, are unable to attach to the surface.  "Roughness left on the tooth after the polishing is just a few nanometers, which is one-billionth of a meter or about 100,000 times smaller than a grain of sand."  Even if bacteria manage to get a hold of the surface, a simple brushing will brush them off fairly quickly.  The polishing method is taken from the method developed to polish semiconductors.

Story via Science Daily, image via Gizmodo

Rumor Mill: Three Months Later And Already A New G-Phone?

December 22 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

android-wallpaper2_1024x768.jpgThe Internet is abuzz with people theorizing that a new Google phone from T-Mobile, the G2, will make an appearance late January on the world market.  If true (which it hopefully isn't) this would mean a whole three months passed before a better phone from the same maker breaking the previous record made by the iPhone which stood at nine months.

Although others say it won't appear until April, the idea that a new phone may just be around the corner has got quite a few people heated especially when it "is expected to have a 5-megapixel autofocus camera, VGA camera for video calls, a full touch screen, and Wi-Fi connectivity."  Three months later and already all those extras?

There's a lot going in to play here.  For instance, many thought the T-Mobile G1 was rushed through production even though there was over a half a year of delay in production.  That being said, one might consider a January release as a sign that the first phone pushed onto consumers wasn't the right phone but a rush-job, the rumored one being the phone they should have released first.

If Google wants to keep all the goodwill and support they have from those in the online community who are trying to support their Open-Source venture into the market, they also need to appeal to the consumers buying their Android-powered phones.  If they're smart, they will answer these rumors and hopefully give us a release date somewhere later next year.

via CNET

Make Your Bike Bright As Hell With Reflective Vinyl Tape

December 19 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2008   Rating: 2


You see it on cop cars and emergency vehicles — reflective tape so bright you wonder how they got it on nonetheless have it stay clean.  Finally a couple guys figured that if can work for emergency vehicles, it can work for bicycles.  The result?  Bikes coated in reflective vinyl tape which can be seen at night when put in the headlights.

They bought the engineering grade reflective tape from Beacon Graphics and began coating their bikes with the stuff.  After successful tests they even had a workshop where people brought their bikes in to get them plastered with the stuff.  The idea is to increase the visibility of the bike at night when it's most dangerous to ride around town.  The great thing about it is you don't have to reflector your bike up like a little schoolgirl, instead you can cover it in black tape.

Check out some sweet videos and the rest of the story at Bright Bike.

Google Earth Updates New York to Near Photo-Realism

December 18 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2008   Rating: 6 Hot


The Google Earth Blog announced it has made a huge update to New York City regarding 3D buildings.  "Google has completed nearly every building in Manhattan Island for Google Earth. Just fly to "New York City" and turn on the 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth."  Google engineers tried to keep a lot of user-submitted 3D buildings along with their own updates.  Head on over to their site to see before and after pictures of the update, it gives you the same feeling the latest update for Google Streetview gives you — Awed and creepy.

GE Labs Produces the First Ever OLED Christmas Tree

December 17 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

GE Labs, those crazy people who brought us bouncing water, have put together a nifty holiday greeting using a single band of flexible OLED panels.  "The tree is made by wrapping a working 6 inch by 15 foot OLED around a stand."  What better way to highlight their breakthrough OLED roll-to-roll producing technology than through a wacky video.  Check out photos from the lighting over at the GE Blog.

Check Out Some Augmented Reality On Your iPhone This X-Mas

December 17 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2008   Rating: 2


Been wanting to tinker with Augmented Reality?  Now you can try it out with your iPhone.  Go to Metaio and try out their Augmented Reality iPhone App for free (and unlike the last AR gadget we linked you to, these instructions are in English).  You can determine his size, make him run around, even print it out on a holiday card so friends and family can see him.  Enjoy!

Top Gear Tests Out the Honda Clarity, Says It Will Save the World

December 16 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Transportation   Year: 2012   Rating: 4 Hot

Top Gear recently test drove the Honda Clarity in Los Angeles and proclaimed with certainty that this car will be the most important one in 100 years.  The reason?  It runs on Hydrogen.

It looks like a normal car, drives like a normal car, fills up like a normal car, and its only by-product is water.  They also go on to say how the car may never have to be serviced since the engine has only one moving part.  It's crazy to think how much people are investing in hybrid or electric technologies (meaning plug-in cars) when a hydrogen-powered car will obliterate them all in the coming decade.

Now if we could just find an incredibly cheap way of making Hydrogen at home from air we'd be set.

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