Lost Packets: Networking news and trivia

The iPod lecture

“No more classes, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks” is how the old school saying goes, but for university students in Canada it is about to become a reality. Some Canadian universities have enrolled with Apple Computer’s iTunes U, a project that allows university students to download class lectures onto their iPods. Content is specialized to a university and the interface can be tailored to match a school’s colour and logo. Carleton University in Ottawa is the first Canadian university to offer this service to its students. A chemistry professor at the universtiy filmed his classes and posted them on the iTunes music store. Over 1,500 people from as far away as Norway have viewed his lectures. Other universities dabbling with iTunes include Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Technology lends a helping hand for author

Margaret Atwood, the celebrated Canadian author, was getting sick and tired of the gruelling book tour circuit and the accompanying writer’s cramp that comes with endless book signings. So Atwood turned to technology for a little help. She invested in a device called the LongPen, a remote-controlled pen that allows writers to sign books for fans from thousands of miles away. Atwood recently demonstrated the device at the London Book Fair where she signed copies of her new short story collection, “The Tent,” to Nigel Newton, chief executive of her British publisher, Bloomsbury. She wrote her words on an electronic pad and a few seconds later in another part of the exhibition centre where the fair took place, her words appeared in her angular scrawl: “For Nigel, with best wishes, Margaret Atwood.” Later, the author planned on testing the device by signing copies of the book for fans in New York and Guelph, Ont.

Microsoft unfolds its latest invention

Microsoft’s latest device, called “Origami,” is the size of a paperback book, has a full-sized hard-drive and acts as seven devices in one. The tablet PC is not only a PDA but also an MP3 player, GPS navigation system, game player, camera and a TV. Origami weighs about two pounds and has a seven-inch touch-screen that uses microprocessors from Intel and runs on Microsoft’s Windows XP Tablet PC edition. The device can connect wirelessly to the Internet and has a battery life of three hours but Microsoft hopes to eventually offer all-day battery life. The price of Origami is expected to be between $US599 and US$999. Microsoft says the new device is targeted towards users of iPods and Sony’s PlaySation Portable but the company said Origami won’t compete directly against those devices.

Set it and forget it on your cellphone

Forgot to set your TiVo to tape your favourite TV show before leaving home? No worries, as TiVo subscribers in the United States can now program their set from cellphones using Verizon’s wireless network. The deal with Verizon expands TiVo Inc.’s strategy to expand its digital video recording (DVR) capabilities beyond its set-top-boxes. Dubbed TiVo mobile, the Alviso, Calif.-based company is using cellular technology to differentiate itself from other DVR companies. Aside from the set-box, TiVo subscribers can program their box through the TiVo Web site and Yahoo’s online TV guide.

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