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Snail mail gets interactive

Posted: 09/07/10 06:00 AM

British stamp enthusiasts should be lining up with their smart phones at Royal Mail post offices by now. The nearly 500-year-old Royal Mail is the first post office to embed a readable code into one of its stamps. Of course, post offices have been using bar codes and more sophisticated data-matrix codes to help them deliver the mail for years, but no one has linked them to online content via smart phones. Til now.

Once you download the right app, you point your phone’s camera at the stamp to see, among other things, a video of actor Bernard Cribbins reading W.H. Auden’s poem “The Night Mail.” It’s full-circle for the poem, since Auden wrote it in 1936 for this short film produced by the Royal Mail. We found it via an old-fashioned process called clicking around YouTube.

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today's show

What will we do with all this "white space"?

09/26/10 11:15 AM

There’s a vote coming up this week in Washington that will have a big impact on how you use the internet, what’s available to you, how much faster you’ll be able to get things online. On Thursday, the FCC is expected to open up unused parts of the broadcast spectrum, a lot of people call it “white space”. This is space that was positioned to be something of a buffer between television stations but such padding is proving less essential since the conversion to digital TV.

On today’s show, we talk to Glenn Fleishman from Wi-Fi Networking News and The Economist about how the spectrum works and what kind of new space we’re talking about. We also check in with Tim Wu from Columbia Law School about the companies that will look to use the space and what it all might mean for you and me as internet consumers.

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