The Harlequin project

This impressive little mod is quite fantastic really. [pakkei] has constructed the Harlequin, a home-made version of the Microsoft courier. This was a stock Dell mini9. Now, coupled with a display link touch screen monitor that happens to be identical in size and resolution to the original, it has become a new device. He has loaded Windows7 and is currently working on a case that can hold all the bits a little more organized than what you see above. We can’t wait to see this finished.

[via engadget]

Homing pigeon email

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Yes, you read that correctly: electronic mail carried by birds. [Ferdinand] tipped us off to this story, which involves combining new and old methods in transferring data. The Unlimited Group, a firm in a remote section of South Africa, transfers loads of encrypted documents to a second office 50 miles away. A pricey broadband connection would take between 6 hours and two days to transfer a standard load (4GB) of data between these locations. On the other hand, Winston (seen above) can complete an equivalent flight within 45 minutes. A memory card is strapped to his leg, and using his wit and instinct, Winston finds his way home. For those without their calculators on hand, Winston’s bandwidth is between 7x and 63x faster than what they had before. If his flash card were to be upgraded to 16GB, that would be an instant fourfold increase on top of current gains. As [Mark] pointed out on the Daily Mail website, homing pigeons still need to be taken back to their departure point.

This solution still has its advantages over a courier: they are lower in cost, they work over longer hours, and have potentially faster delivery speeds. Multiple pigeons can be transported back at once, and released with data as needed.