Linear Parking Bays: Park by the foot!

Recently I saw a Smart car parked side on in a bay and thought, what a great idea.  Wouldn’t it be great if he gets to pay less for parking and large car owners get to pay more?  Why not charge for parking by the linear foot\meter or whatever? 

So the general idea is: you mark up the road with a series of stripes asay 50 cm apart. The user comes along and parks their car.  Out they hop and count the stripes that the car covers.  They then go to the meter and pay a sliding parking charge according to the covered stripes.  Some courtesy rules would exist for example to leave two uncovered stripes between vehicles, but other than that the only thing the user needs to check is how many stripes they are covering.


The great thing about this idea is that it’s really easy to charge more for larger cars: the scale could be non linear to act as a deterrent to bring large cars into town.  In general such a system would have a very cheap entry level for micro vehicles, curve to a plateau for average vehicles and rapidly rise for larger cars.

The relatively simple repeating nature of the pattern could be laid down by an automated machine rather then manually,  and the lines need not use more resource (time or material). In fact measuring would be easier as the nature of the pattern is the regular repeating nature. 

As should be obvious, the amount of vehicles which can be concurrently parked would vary with the mean size of the vehicles, but just an average should show that more cars could be parked.

Guitar Hero II Busking

Actually, I think this could work really well.  You just need a battery powered 360, a small TV and your copy of Guitar Hero II.  Look it’s a great idea.  Fortunes could be made here, trust me on this.

It’s not as if there isn’t a precedent set already set: one of the world’s leading Guitar Hero experts, Luke Albigés, performed the original game at a busking session in Leicester Square Underground station.

So go get your 360 mobile and hit some power chords on the street!

SMS Credit Card Confirmation

It’s becoming clear that credit cards are no longer worth jack in terms of security.  The great new idea of having a verification code which is actually printed on the card itself now seems embarrassingly stupid. Widespread theft of CC details now happens on such a regular basis that we no longer even flinch when we find out that company X leaked 45 million (yes, Million) credit card numbers over a period of 2 years.

Chip and PIN (Depending on who you believe) has made a significant reduction in the fraud rate that takes place in store, but online is still a very scary place to use your CC. Additionally, even bricks and mortar retailers are having trouble implementing PCI compliant payment solutions within the required timescales. So, what can be done?  Well it occurs to me that there are now a number of things we absolutely always have with us, these days.

In terms of what you must have items are wherever you go, the credit card is a given, but the mobile phone is pretty much the most ubiquitous piece of technology on the planet these dyas.  You’re almost as unlikely to go out without your phone as you are without your trousers.

So, when you make a purchase which is NOT chip and PIN protected, Why not send an SMS authorisation code and await confirmation?  Strikes me that this would be a pretty simple step to take? The merchant code on your favourite website would need a change to allow for the presentation of a unique code.  An SMS message pops up with the unique code and all you have to do is send an empty reply.  Bingo.  The fly in the oitment here, is that the Merchant cannot hold the Mobile phone number: The Moby number has to be the one on file with the credit card company.  REalistically, this means that the CC company or Clearing house has to send the text and await the response.  This has to be the case or the fraudster will just stick in another mobile number at purchase time (Meh).


All in all, this is a great scheme because it’s out of band: it does not rely on details held on the credit card itself or the merchant network.  In fact, eve the credit card company network is less critical: Even the availability of Credit Card to Mobile mappings would not assist an attacker unless they had the ability to Pwn the mobile phone too.  Effectivly, it’s adding another factor to the authentication process.


If we make the (presently flawed) assumption that mobile phones are left strongly secured (i.e. you PIN lock it), then even the theft of your card and phone continues to protect your credit card.


An extra benefit is that because any purchase attempt results in an SMS message to the cardholder, the cardholder gets pretty much instant notification of a possible problem.


As it happens, this leads onto a question: why don’t credit card companies offer SMS on purchase messages now?  It’s an obvious step for those that want a strong connection with what their credit card is doing.




Crazy Car Share Scheme 1.

Okay.  Right.   buy 1000 cars.  Just for a
giggle. Fit them with GPS tracking technology.  fit them with a
smart (non manufacturer) entry and ignition system.  Fit em with
clever telemetry for speed, location, present user, driving style, fuel
level, vehicle status and black box recording.

 Give people an app to run on their smart phone which tells them where the nearest available car is.

 Go find the car, use your own key, get in and drive off.  Finished
with it?  dump it wherever or maybe at the local
Carpool.   hit the ‘finished’ button on the dash or hit the
‘hold me for 30 mins’  button.

I think it’s a winner. 

Charge users a quid a mile all in.  No petrol, no insurance, no fuel, no road tax.

Pay by the usage.  Wanna get a car definitely outside your door at 8am?  pay delivery from agency.

team of drivers to fuel, service and redistribute the motors.   if each
car only does 20,000 miles a year then each car would pay for itself in
just two years (probably)

 Get utilisation higher and a
car might pay for itself in 6 months.  quid a mile is cheaper than some
taxi journeys these days…. 

For urban use only, fit bigger tanks and run veggie.  run electric.  Run solar chargers. 

Smart technology recording demand/geolocation and looking for freeloaders, illegal parkers and speeders….

Small (say £1000) deposit which you loose if you interfere with the
systems.  Sweet. Keep the costs of the car side down by having a
single integrated black box solution.  Use a single car model
only. Advertise that the cars have cameras etc to prevent fraud and
assist in accident cause and have no-one else mess with your drivers…

Maaaaaaad Idea

Infonauts, that’s what it’s all about. I don’t half get fed up with people continually asking me where such and such is or how to do thingy.

Either the Internet is too big, it’s too hard to navigate, people are lazy, thick or perhaps a bit of all of these.

At the same time, I can’t even pay the mortgage. Okay the the infonaut idea is simply a portal site to like info sources with info sinks

A requester who is busy/stupid/lost posts a question and gets assigned a little live updating box showing the cost of the information and the suppliers. Matey gets to choose the supplier of the info and hopefully gets his answer.

Assuming all goes well the request PayPal’s the provider the fee and adds feedback. The provider adds feedback on receipt of the funds. Surferes get paid to find things. People who are daft/busy get quick answers. Surely a winner? TurboTas 2004

First Mad Idea Of 2004

Happy new year. The first public idea, and the first new posting for 2004.

The problem with the Internet and law enforcement is that perps will always go where the least resistance is.

If that means that Porn sites move to Lithuania and Spammers operate from Nigeria, then you are going to have problems stopping em.

Not that the countries have poor legal systems, just that they have different ones.

Add to this the growing issue over currencies: The growing ‘net will need a way to fix currency conversions etc.

TurboTas mad idea is that The Internet should be a nation state itself. It should have it’s own laws and it’s own currencies. Counties will have to enforce those laws for their citizens or face getting cut off.

I guess some repressive regimes would like that, but we need to get this Internet thing sorted.

Half arsed legislation about intangibles and electronic exports is going to make the Internet a legal minefield soon.

Ask me more about this fascinating subject……

Silly Storage

How about constructing storage so that there is no actual storage as such, just infinite transmission round a loop?

Of course this idea is not by any means new: In analogue terms, feedback delay lines have been used for 3 decades to store audio data. In digital terms, delay lines have existed for 10 years or so. How about appying the idea to storage?

What got me thinking was a recent article by Siemens and BT. These two companies are just experimenting with 160Gb/sec transmissions and are presently testing over 280 Kilometers sucessfully (in Lab conditions).

‘How much data is in transit at once’, I wondered.

It’s pretty straighforward maths, although I’ve not thought about it like this before.

Lets take it from the beginning:

c, as Einstein would put it, is 299,792,458 Meters per second. (Much as I hate the new money, it’s much easier this way, trust me!).

We’ll go about this in a rather long winded way, primarily because I’m a bit simple: At 10Mbits, such as with our good friend Ethernet, each bit is 29 Meters ‘long’. By long I mean if you could see each bit in transmission it would occupy a length of 29 Meters. Weird concept I know. BTW, Remember that these maths only apply to laser based comms: propogation through cables does not occur at c.

At 100Mbit and 1Gbit, the numbers are pretty easy to work out: 2.9 Meters and 0.29 Meters respectivly.

Okay. In my pretend example, lets say that we have a relay station on Earth and one on the Moon (okay, okay it’s crazy, stick with me a moment). Each relay station simply receives a signal from the other, regenerates it and bounces it back. The Earth station has the ability to pass the signal to an additional receiver and there is a facility for injecting fresh bits onto the stream (presumably replacing anything there already).

In this storage loop, the total capacity of the system and the retrieveal latency are related to the bit ‘length’ and the distance.

Lets keep with the moon example for a moment. The moon is about 402,336,000 meters from the earth, so there is ‘space’ for 13873655 bits along the path in each direction or let’s say around 3 Megabytes in total.

Our retreival time for any given bit is going to be (in the worst case), the round trip time (RTT), which at a distance of 402 million meters is around 2.6 seconds.

All in all, I think you will agree that this is probably the worst storage proposition you’ve ever had: particularly when you think that we have no error or check bits.

Never mind, lets go straight up to Gigabit: Now with each bit taking a mere 29 cm, we can fit a whopping 2,774,731,034
or 346 Megabytes. This is a bit better, now we are merely back in the dark ages.

Next: BT’s Recent Demo was of 160Gbit/Sec, this gives us an effective bit length of a tad under 2mm (although in actual fact, Bt’s work is around multiple parallel transmissions). Lets see what that gives us around 53,788,235,294 bytes in transit at once or around 53 Gigabytes. Much better!

In the real world of course we don’t need to worry about the bit lengths: we can just take the propogation delay in seconds and divide it by the bit rate to get the total data in transit. Not quite as interesting like that though, it it!

Going back to cables: As the propogation happens slower than c the capacity of the system actually increases increases, the tradeoff being the increse in bit recovery time.

All in all, bouncing signals off distant objects may be a really clever way to store high latency friendly data for long periods.

In the next example, We’ll try a Further planetary object like Mars or Jupiter… Watch This space