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The Real Hitchhiker's Guide? 130

An anonymous reader writes "The UK's biggest selling newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, has a news story about a UK company that has developed the real version of the Hitch-hiker's Guide to the galaxy. It is a kind of portable media player that allows you to travel the world's surface and receive media tailored to who you are, where you are and what you are looking at."
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The Real Hitchhiker's Guide?

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  • Wifi wiki? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:08AM (#13207448)
    What, you mean wikipedia?
    • Re:Wifi wiki? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bhtooefr ( 649901 )
      That's what I was thinking...

      Simply a handheld device (in the formfactor of the old Sharp Wizard PDAs) with a GPRS connection (remember, the real guide took a little while to DL over the subetha), linked to Wikipedia or that version of the guide on the BBC site (although, Wikipedia makes more sense)...

      Of course, even if they made such a thing, they certainly wouldn't get it here to the US.

      However, any smartphone'll be able to read Wikipedia, so it's all a moot point...
    • Re:Wifi wiki? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @12:48PM (#13208209) Journal
      That'd be "the hitchiker's guide to things we consider important enough". The actual galaxy contains things such as hotels, bars, pubs, cafes, elementary schools, malls, shops, streets, and bus stops.
  • by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:09AM (#13207451) Homepage
    We have had GPS, PDAs and satellite phones for years, they just need to be tied together to make a 'guide'. More important is the *data* and no one company could possibly generate or manage the quantity required.

    The closest things to the guide we will ever see have been around for a while already - h2g2, wikipedia and the internet as a whole.
    • You would think that Wikipedia would be able to fill the gap in fairly short order. Properly integrated, this thing could be fantastic.
    • Yeah, the most important thing is that is has the words "DON'T PANIC" written on the cover.
    • Agreed... (Score:3, Interesting)

      Seriously, I've been waiting for something like this ever since I first picked up a PDA and then learned that wireless networking was possible.

      Sure, we don't have a "Sub-etha-net" yet, but if the world ever gets to the point where some kind of wireless is possible no matter where you are, then this kind of device coupled with something like Wikipedia could easily lead to at least a "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Earth".

      It seems to me that, a good chunk of this for the part most could be done today given enoug

    • The Wikipedia community is easily capable of doing it, given the presence of a sufficient number of people with the required vision to see that local encyclopedic content is of tremendous value. At present, those without that vision tend to dominate. If you want geo-coding and such, there are people there with an interest but there's still some development work needed in the MediaWiki software to support it.

      Once that's done, and cell phone companies integrate it, we could all have an encyclopedia making a

  • hhgttg (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    No, the The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is here []. I recommend the Infocom version if you want to play games.
  • by ggvaidya ( 747058 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:12AM (#13207463) Homepage Journal
    ... can it collapse possibilities in alternate universes, destroying the world in every parallel universe simulatenously and preventing the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything from being discovered?

    What do you mean, it's just a portable media player? Pish. I'm waiting for version 2.0.
  • it gives detailed information throughout the whole milky way?
    • Re:the galaxy? (Score:3, Informative)

      by dangitman ( 862676 )
      it gives detailed information throughout the whole milky way?

      C'mon, the fictional guide didn't even provide detailed information throughout the milky way. Quote:

      In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch Hiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it

      has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more

  • Hmmm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheHarker ( 841979 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:14AM (#13207476) Homepage
    ...First off, I don't think the Telegraph is even the biggest selling conservative/rightwing paper in the UK (never mind the UK as a whole). I think someone's PR machine is trying to be resourceful.
    Secondly, Mr Adams and the BBC had already started an earth version of h2g2 [] quite a while back.
    • I believe that they market themselves as the largest-selling "quality" daily. Presumably, that excludes the red tops.

      According to the National Readership Survey [], they are sixth. All the higher-placed papers are tabloids.
    • Actually, The Daily Telegraph has the highest circulation of daily broadsheets in the UK by quite a ways.

      Their figures here. []
      • Re:Hmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Zwack ( 27039 )
        Stop Redefining the question... The Daily Telegraph has 900,000 subscribers (roughly, but the Sun claims to have nearer 3,000,000. The original comment was that the Telegraph was not the highest selling newspaper. If you don't count the tabloids then you might be right, but the original comment is quite cleearly wrong.

        • *News*paper. That clearly excludes the Sun right there...

          • I think if you read the small print you will find that the Sun is "registered as a newspaper"

            I agree that the Sun is not what most people would call Quality Journalism, but it is still classified as a newspaper. I wouldn't call many of the British newspapers particularly informative... The Independent, Scotland On Sunday, The Glasgow Herald, The Scotsman and The Guardian...

    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

      The sun majorly outsells it and guides the average "white van drivers" opinion more then anything else in history. It's porn and news (with a racist-pro Britian-anti Europe biast) in 1.
  • by HugePedlar ( 900427 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:18AM (#13207491) Homepage
    Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon 6, is filing for bankruptcy after facing a tax audit for 25% of her last financial year's earnings.
  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:19AM (#13207496)
    who you are, where you are and what you are looking at.

    Sounds like a less annoying replacement for my social worker.
  • Don't Panic (Score:4, Funny)

    by DigitalDwarf ( 902246 ) <> on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:20AM (#13207500)
    Does it say "Don't Panic" In Bright Friendly Letters on the back?
  • Amusing... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ender_Stonebender ( 60900 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:22AM (#13207509) Homepage Journal
    I find this amusing, seeing as Douglas Adams had the idea for "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy" as he was hitchiking through Europe - accompanied by a book called "The Hitchiker's Guide to Europe." []

    • I've read this somewhere before, just not sure where it was. Thanks for the link. Wikipedia doesn't touch on it much, but I wonder if the book is still useful?
      Seems like a damn good idea the next time I lose/quit my job.
      Anyone know if it is good, or any alternatives?

    • Hitchiking through Wales is easy, just find any number of hooded yobs driving at breakneck speed on joyrides in shitty old MGs. You get the added benifit of being given access to the black market in the locale as well.
  • by xenoxaos ( 731206 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:26AM (#13207523)
    If it only works here on Earth....It would be relatively easy to make. Whereever you go, it would just repeat, "Mostly harmless."
  • by ThreeDayMonk ( 673466 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:27AM (#13207526) Homepage
    I'm sure that you could make a real HHGG substitute with a Palm LifeDrive (or indeed anything with a few gigabytes of storage, a screen, and input) and a dump of Wikipedia. It could even have a conduit to synchronise your offline changes with the master on the internet.
    • I agree with this. I assume an application exists that can translate a wireless ip address into gps coordinates/lat-long for the location-based services part. That, or a GPS based pda might do the trick (Garmin, are you listening?)
    • I don't know if the book needs large amounts of storage, per se. Really we have had most of the technology for this book for many years. The only thing that is missing is the Sub Etha Net. As long as we can get online, we hav the book. A nice titanium enclosure, homepage H2G2, and worldwide wireles.

      From the story, the graphics were very small, text was breif, and one only retrieved a page at a time. The bandwidth would not even need to be that much. And localization was never a feature. In fact loc

      • And localization was never a feature. In fact localization is just another word for push ads.

        Where I come from, "localization" means "accessibility to people who read another language instead of English". It's necessary at least until the Babel Fish [] becomes more practical.

    • What you really would want is a dump of WikiTravel []
    • The new trick here is that the content is tied to GPS coordinates, something you can't get (very often) from wikipedia.

      Also, wikepedia is an encyclopedia, not a tour guide. When I stop at a research lab I want interesting factoids about what important discoveries have been made there and some bios on the scientists, not a detailed description of the process of photosynthesis.

      Wikipedia is also mostly text, and I got the impression that this toy was heavy on the video and images. I'd much rather a narrativ
    • It'll happen eventually, just you wait. I'm looking forward to the day where the internet has a layer that correlates to the layout of the real world.
  • Kinda cute ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by threaded ( 89367 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:27AM (#13207528) Homepage
    Kinda cute, yet when you leave the Earth you'll be a little stuck as it uses GPS to work out where it is.
    • Kinda cute, yet when you leave the Earth you'll be a little stuck as it uses GPS to work out where it is.

      Yes, god knows how often that happens. Everytime those little green men pick me up they never tell me where I am.

  • Prior art (Score:2, Interesting)

    You mean something like Alan Kay's Dynabook []?
  • []

    The experience Music Project is an interactive music museum in Seattle. When you go in, you get a satchel with a device in it, which links to a nice pair of headphones, and a handheld PDA/scanner which displays interactive media as you tour.

    When I was there several years ago, I took off my headphones in a gallery full of people looking at rock memorabelia... and found myself taken from a movin' - groovin' world of blues and rock, to the quietest museum hall I've ever been in, an
  • by Spacejock ( 727523 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:33AM (#13207560) Homepage
    1) Explore the galaxy
    2) Get overwhelmed by it
    3) Write a guide to it
    4) Post a story to Slashdot publicising this amazing guide.

    How can you publicise step 4, when you've yet to cover steps 1-3? Don't these people read Slashdot?
  • Who you are, where you are and when you last had lunch with Zaphod Beeblebrox?
  • Oh, bollocks. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mac Degger ( 576336 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @10:50AM (#13207627) Journal
    I've already got a h2g2: basically my palmpilot loaded with stuff coupled with my cellphone. Hell, actually my cellphone is more of a h2g2 all by itself, seeing as I do google searches on it.
  • I want cool wireframe flythroughs like they had in the TV series .. I wonder how long the hardware of the day took to render those :-)

    One of these devices with realtime 3D graphics technology would be great - imagine the visualisation possibilities for a film director.

    Also, why just historical data? Businesses could broadcast stuff too. You'd never need to get lost in a shopping centre/department store again.
  • Repeated story (Score:3, Informative)

    by ChunKing ( 513714 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @11:21AM (#13207749)

    Haven't we had this story two weeks ago: 18/1759259&tid=100&tid=193&tid=218 []

    Or is today's story that the Daily Telegraph has run a story about this gadget?
    • Will someone give this guy an editoral job; even though it is highly improbable I think it might have momentum if enough people reply to this, maybe.
  • Node (Score:1, Informative)

    Not meaning to troll but I'm sure node has been posted at lease four times in the past year...
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @11:39AM (#13207848)
    And as soon as that company gets bought out by Clear Channel:

    It is a kind of portable media player that allows you to travel the world's surface and receive advertisements tailored to who you are, where you are and what you are looking at.

    • Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
      It is a kind of portable media player that allows you to travel the world's surface and receive advertisements tailored to who is paying them to show their ads.
      You will be bombarded with ads for crazy frog ringtones , personal loans and other crap wherever you go.
  • The company website gives more information, Node [] "The solution for location based media"

    There are pictures of the Node Explorer [] hardware.

  • The Daily Telegraph is not the UK's biggest selling news paper by a long shot/a. []
  • Making this possible (Score:3, Interesting)

    by foo23 ( 722487 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @12:17PM (#13208048)
    I am asking myself the following: It would be really nice if this could be made possible by the following small changes in already existing technology:

    1) Make wikipedia entries searcheable by proximity to global coordinates. The data is probably very quickly entered by the community and the search function does not sound difficult to me.

    2) Owners of private wireless access points make them open for everyone ... but all unknown or unidentified users/MAC addresses will _only_ be able to access wikipedia. Nothing else, everything is redirected. This is naturally the more difficult point.

    Has anybody experience with configurations like this? I am interested ...

    • "Make wikipedia entries searcheable by proximity to global coordinates. " - this would (speaking as a wikipedia admin) require a tremendous amount of metadata which mediawiki does not support (they were considering adding some *very basic* relational metadata tags and scrapped the project because it was particularly difficult) and a flexible search algorithm, similiar to something you might find on Google maps.
    • 2) is very much the more difficult point. A lot of wifi owners need to ask there nerdy friends to get it to allow them to use it, let alone keep others out.
  • Is nothing more than a handheld with a WiFi connection to the internet.
  • I much prefer Project Galactic Guide [] to such things as h2g2 and the project. It has lots of "non-real" articles, but quite a few are fun _and_ informative. We need some new submissions, so anybody interested should get writing!

  • someone could create the guide tomorrow, right? I mean, I guess it wouldn't have the GPS, or a live feed.. ..but photo/color iPod can hold like 60 gig right there. [] and the entire wiki database is only 4.2 gig while the english parts, just 1.5 gig eSize.htm [] of course, that may say more about what's missing in the wikipedia than how easy it would be to cart it around in your hand. but a good start, no? (at least the wi
  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Sunday July 31, 2005 @12:44PM (#13208179)
    On screen, I see myself as a little red dot moving slowly over the grass. Depending on where I wander, an entirely different heritage or cultural story is presented through a combination of pictures, sound effects and narrative, all related to where I'm standing and what I'm looking at.

    How, exactly, is this anything like the Hitchhiker's Guide? I mean, it's cool to have a device that will give you interesting information about whatever's near where you're standing now, as long as you're within a certain area. But that's not even close to what Douglas Adams described in his books, or even to what's in the movie.
  • Geez, this isn't news. The BBC's H2G2 site [] (they took over from the failed dot-com project) and links to their h2g2 mobile [] page. A much more elegant solution than a dedicated device, I think:

    "h2g2 On the Move is a version of h2g2 specifically designed with smartphones and PDAs in mind so that the Edited Guide can be accessed from anywhere within range of a mobile/cellphone transmitter."
  • Make Magazine ( []) has a short how-to this month on using a Sharp Zaurus as something similar to the device described here. They use a text-only snapshot of wikipedia and convert it into some propietary dictionary format. The database end up only being 300-400 mb, not bad considering how cheap flash media is getting these days.
  • UK's biggest selling daily newspaper is the Sun.

    The Telegraph is the highest selling British "broadsheet" newspaper, with an average daily circulation of 920,000.

    In comparison the Sun sells about 3,200,000 copies daily which is quite impressive and I think makes it the biggest selling newspaper in Europe. It is a "tabloid" newspaper owned by News Corporation.
    Page three girls have their tops off every day, hence the name :)
  • Too bad MS already holds the patent to this.

  • Customer: "What's this fish shaped accessory for?" Salesman: "Oh, that goes inside your ear......"
  • This is a good idea, but hardly revolutionary. The technology behind this is all preexisting; a tablet PC with a GPS and a wireless NIC card. Any number of manufactures could put this together (or end users who spend a little bit on extras).

    Like most "new and exciting" applications, it's not the hardware (or even the software) that makes it, it's the content. If these folks think for one moment they're going to make it big by selling tablets that use a (I assume) proprietary tour guide standard which pro
  • invest in the growing towel market, 'cuz when the guide is a reality, towel futures should SOAR. :)

  • Is it wildly inaccurate?
  • Wikipedia on a PDA

  • More and more hitchhikers are getting robbed of their electronic equipment.
  • Shouldn't a real Hitchhiker's Guide feed you content depending on:
    1. who you are
    2. where you are
    3. when you last had lunch with Zaphod Beeblebrox

    Really. It's called research, people.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Try the Sun - about 5 times as many readers.

    If your after the biggest selling broadsheet (=quality), try The Times (about 2x as many readers as The Telegraph).

    I can't find circulation figures on the net at the moment, but since the absurd /. mod system means that no-one will read this comment because it wasn't posted within the first few minutes of the article being posted, I don't suppose that matters
  • Wow. Now, all I need is for this to be available in the right time and place for my next holiday. Imagine how much less painful things would be if you could take a full historic tour of any given place without putting up with the rest of the tour group. Being an introvert really sucks when you want to cover a lot of a given area in a small amount of time. :-)
  • Circular News (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @04:55AM (#13212277)
    Strange that this article should end up on Slashdot: it was a Slashdot inspired story in the first place. I pointed out the original Slashdot article about the device to my father (Nicholas Roe), knowing that as a travel journalist he would be interested. And here we are, a fortnight later, and it's on Slashdot itself. the strange circular world of online journalism.
  • "and receive media tailored to who you are, where you are and what you are looking at"

    Let me take a guess, this media would consist of shitloads of ads?

    "You are near another Starbucks! You are near a Dunkin Doughnuts!"

This universe shipped by weight, not by volume. Some expansion of the contents may have occurred during shipment.