Magnetic Interaction with Mobile Devices

A short video of the work undertaken by my colleague  Saeed Afshari mainly as part of his MSc thesis and was presented at NordiCHI 2014. The work was supervised by myself, Andrei Popleteev and Thomas Engel. The video contains some work that was carried out after the thesis  (in particular the use of two mobile phones).

For more information you can download the paper.

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Streaming Music Services in Luxembourg

If you are in Luxembourg or indeed thinking of moving here, then here is a list of music services that are currently available. If you are aware of others please let me know.

  • Tidal (CD quality hifi streaming and videos)
  • Qobuz (offering MP3 and CD quality – high res purchase options too)
  • Napster (relatively low quality)
  • Spotify (average quality)
  • Google Music (average quality)

You should check out if your device supports the above services. While IOS and Android devices tend to work without any problems hifi equipment is a bit more tricky. For example Raumfeld and Sonos may have country-by-county licencing agreements. This can mean that while the nice app may run on your phone you may not actually be able to stream any music to your hifi (now that is annoying). If you have Raumfeld system there is an imperfect way round this.

For something a little different, if you are into ultra high-end audio that you would rather own (and store them yourself) than stream then check out HDTracks.com. It is possible to buy tracks as a Luxembourg resident although overall the range can be a bit limited. In general you get CD quality and up… just make sure your hifi can handle it! As I mentioned Qobuz also lets you buy tracks at CD (16-bit) and higher. Again though not all high quality tracks are available in Luxembourg.

Looking for something a little more visual? Then to answer your questions, yes Netflix does work in Luxembourg.

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Ethics in Serious Games

I was recently involved in co-authoring a book chapter which looked at the often difficult subject of ethics in serious games. What’s more when you add applications that seek to change behaviour to the  equation such as persuasive games or gamified applications the whole area becomes a whole lot worse.

In addition to the more obvious areas such as potential for harm, consent and privacy, persuasive and gamified applications often run the risk of serious conflicts of interest. For example, what exactly will companies do with the data obtained from gamified applications that try to improve workplace efficiency? Is it simply a spying application? Also if we look at issues such as who really benefits from such apps, again ethically it should be the end-user but in reality is this really the case?

If you are interested in the ethics of such things, look out for our (hopefully to be published) chapter on this topic but do check out the American Psychological Association Code. While I am sure many psychologists and even us HCI people may be aware of it I am somewhat concerned that many game developers may not be! The code is not specifically for serious games but covers a whole raft of highly relevant areas.

For now many people I have come across only really start to actively think about ethics in serious games when confronted with an ethics committee from which they have to get approval. In reality ethics must be embedded in serious games right from the start of the design process.

More on this topic soon I suspect.

 

 

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Talk @ UL: Deanonymisation of Clients in Bitcoin P2P Network

On Monday 27-October at 10:30 in E112 (campus Kirchberg) Ivan Pustogarov will give a talk on:

Bitcoin is a digital currency which relies on a distributed set of miners
to mint coins and on a peer-to-peer network to broadcast transactions. The
identities of Bitcoin users are hidden behind pseudonyms (public keys)
which are recommended to be changed frequently in order to increase
transaction unlinkability.

We present an efficient method to deanonymize Bitcoin users, which allows
to link user pseudonyms to the IP addresses where the transactions are
generated. Our techniques work for the most common and the most
challenging scenario when users are behind NATs or firewalls of their ISPs.
They allow to link transactions of a user behind a NAT and to distinguish
connections and transactions of different users behind the same NAT. We
also show that a natural countermeasure of using Tor or other anonymity
services can be cut-off by abusing anti-DoS countermeasures of the Bitcoin
network. Our attacks require only a few machines and have been
experimentally verified. The estimated success rate is between 11% and 60%
depending on how stealthy the attacker wants to be. We propose several
countermeasures to mitigate these new attacks.

Joint work with Alex Biryukov and Dmitry Khovratovich, to be presented at ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS) in November this year.

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Presentation at Stanford

For those who happen to be in the area I will be presenting a talk on “Gamifying the Daily Commute” at the Precourt Energy Efficiency Centre (PEEC) at Stanford University on the 14th of November at 2.30pm.  My thanks to the staff at PEEC for inviting me to present at their regular departmental seminar. The event is open to all those with an interest in the topic, so please check out their website if you would like to come along.

The seminar is part of a series of their 2014 Sustainable Transportation Seminars.

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NordiCHI 2014

I will be attending NordiCHI 2014 in Helsinki this year along with colleagues from the UK and here in Luxembourg to present  work. First up will be work undertaken by Saeed Afshari an MSc student here at The University of Luxembourg who has been exploring different interaction paradigms (including using a magnetic device) across different mobile game genres.  Saeed is supervised by Andrei Popleteev, Thomas Engel and myself and I am delighted to say we believe that he is the first MSc student to travel to a conference with an accepted publication in our research group (perhaps even the whole centre). I am also involved in paper which explores auditory aspects of autonomous vehicles, this work is being undertaken by David Beattie who is a PhD student at Glasgow Caledonian University. I am one of his co-supervisors. Pre-prints of the papers will be available shortly both here and via my official university publications page.

 

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Spotify Connect, Raumfeld and Luxembourg

After a discussion  some months ago with Teufel who make the Raumfeld streaming systems they have finally made all devices in this range Spotify compatible. What’s more it even works in Luxembourg. This was previously a problem with other services which were on their Connector 2 such as WIMP, Napster and Simfy which while available on other devices remained inaccesible in Luxembourg. Annoyingly, many of the streaming providers only licence their platforms to the hardware vendors on a per territory basis. Sadly though Qobuz which provides CD quality streaming as I believe WIMP does too is still not available in Luxembourg on Raumfeld devices- although there is a rather inconvenient way round this.

 

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Evernote not working under WINE

Sadly if you want Evernote to work on Linux you may have to stick with the web version. After updating Evernote to the latest version on Linux (Mint 13) it has ceased to work which is very frustrating.

You can find my earlier article with a version which works here.

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Scotland: Will it get Nasty after Independence?

With Scotland edging towards independence and the far right parties gaining in popularity in England, what would any independence settlement look like? The answer is we hope it will be peaceful but in reality we don’t know. Britain’s Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage for one (a man with a disproportionate level of influence in UK politics) has already indicated he wants a very tough settlement. The sad thing is post 2015 when David Cameron will most likely be forced into some for of coalition (if he is not kicked out by his own party) Scotland will face a tough settlement and if UKIP holds the balance of power (along with some more insane Conservatives) it will get very nasty. Short of switching off the gas and oil supplies Scotland has almost almost no bargaining power. I only hope that if the vote does become a “Yes”  that Mr Salmond and his friends have a few tricks up their sleeves.

 

 

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I-GEAR Game Study To Take Place Soon

After months of development and some considerable challenges we now have the first  I-GEAR game ready for use after Apple finally approved it. For those not familiar with I-GEAR it is an FNR funded project which consists of two main parts, firstly an exploration of how to use gamification to reduce traffic congestion and related to this user interfaces for use in cars.

For this first game use will initially be restricted to certain groups of staff at the University of Luxembourg but we hope to make a public version of a more advanced game available later.

As ever credit where credit is due and I thank the other IGEAR project members in particular those who slaved away on the development of this game: Sasan, Hossein, Tigran and Tomas.

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