Monday, January 30, 2012

Tech Links: January 30, 2012

The very first Razer Blade gaming laptops were launched late last week and sold out in just 30 minutes. Razer announced that their new high powered Razer Blade laptop would be going on sale on January 27th at 9PM. But just 30 minutes later all available stock had been purchased. But don’t worry if you missed out on the first Razer Blade laptops priced at $2,800 each a new batch will be arriving in 2 weeks time.

News: Pirate Bay is starting a new category, Physibles with in files for your 3D printer.

15 Big Ways The Internet Is Changing Our Brain

Eight Net Generation norms. Some statistical fingerprinting. Digital natives in the workplace. Changing faith. Socialism loses its stigma. Adapting in the wake of the Great Recession.

Focus on the User, Google! says a coalition of engineers from Facebook, Twitter and Myspace. They have created their own 'Don't be Evil' bookmarklet to rearrange Google's social search results to remove G+ bias, using Google's own APIs.

Gizmo's Freeware is a non-commercial community website staffed entirely by volunteers. Their primary function is to help you select the best freeware product for your particular needs.

"If technology is a drug--and it does feel like a drug--then what, precisely, are the side-effects?"" Charlie Brooker, the writer of E4's Dead Set, returns with a suspenseful, satirical three-part mini-series that taps into collective unease about our modern world" - Black Mirror
The original Kindle was codenamed Fiona in honor of one of the main characters in Neal Stephenson's outstanding The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer.

The Secrets to Winning 5 Popular State Fair Games

Use Google Alerts as an Identity Theft Watchdog.

Daily Links: January 30, 2012

Painful iPhone truths, in iPhone wallpaper form by Nico Ordozgoiti

10 Amazing Shakespeare Events Around the World

25 Little-known Facts About the Ivy League

The Best of the 2012 Detroit Auto Show

A pair of Toronto high school students sent a Lego man into space two weeks ago. Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad, both 17-year-old Grade 12 students at Agincourt Collegiate Institute in Scarborough used a helium-filled balloon to send the Lego man into space 24 kilometres above sea level two weeks ago. They were inspired to try their mission after watching a video of a balloon sent to near space (previously) by some Massachusetts Institute of Technology students."

What Happened Before the Big Bang? The New Philosophy of Cosmology.

What They Serve Employees at the Google Cafeteria

Video Distraction: B&H Conveyor System

The B&H Photo Video superstore in Manhattan is equipped with a rather unusual and very elaborate overhead conveyor system to transport products around the store. French photo blog Lense sent a GoPro camera through the system to see how it works (video). The conveyor system can also be seen on the Google Street View tour inside B&H.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Video Distraction: Laser Pointer Hack

Supercharge your laser pointer. Is there nothing science cannot do?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tech: Shrewbot

The Etruscan shrew, one of the world’s tiniest mammals, measuring around 4 centimetres long, is the inspiration for a ground-breaking new robot developed to use sophisticated whiskers to find its way around.

The Etruscan shrew is nocturnal, relying on its whiskers to find, track and capture its prey – often the same size as itself. The efficiency of this tiny creature has inspired scientists to look at ways of replicating the shrew’s whiskers to enable robots to find their way around without the use of vision.

Source: Biotact

Monday, January 23, 2012

Music: The Greatest Show on Earth

The latest Symphony of Science masterpiece is a musical celebration of the wonders of biology, particularly evolution and natural selection. “The The "Greatest Show on Earth" is the 13th video in the Symphony of Science videos series. It features David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins, and Bill Nye in video clips from: Richard Dawkins’ “There is grandeur in this view of life” speech, BBC Life, BBC Planet Earth, David Attenborough’s First Life, Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life, and the Bill Nye Evolution episode.

Tech: How People Reacted to the Internet Blackout

Andrei Taraschuk and Aaron Ott created a fascinating visualization showing how people on Twitter reacted the Internet blackouts on January 18th in protest of SOPA and PIPA by mapping tweets mentioning #pipa #sopa and #blackout.

Tech: Keiichi Matsuda’s Vision of the Future

We are living in the future -- Keiichi Matsuda knows that. Working from London and Tokyo, the 27-year-old designer and filmmaker creates innovative videos that blend architecture, virtual reality, social networking and sci-fi, offering a glimpse into how augmented reality could play out in the coming years.His two most recognized films, “Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop” and “Augmented City,” displayed his artistic vision and racked up thousands of views on YouTube.

“I’m still not quite sure how to tell others what I do, which I hope is a sign that I’m breaking new ground!” Matsuda told in an e-mail interview. “I always seem to hover around the intersection of technology, media and urbanism. The tensions that emerge when we try and combine the virtual and physical are an underlying thread that link my projects.”

Source: Underwire

Gadget: FLORA

FLORA is a new open-source wearable electronics platform by Adafruit Industries. The platform is based around a programmable circular microcontroller that is less than two inches in diameter. Adafruit is developing the platform for sale in the near future.
For the last few years Ladyada has been thinking about everything she wanted in a wearable electronics platform for Adafruit’s community of makers, hackers, crafters, artists, designers and engineers. After months of planning, designing and working with partners around the world for the best materials and accessories, we can share what we’re up to. The hardware is now in the hands of our staff and testers!
We call it the FLORA.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Link Round-Up: January 20, 2012

Google opens new Los Angeles campus

Programmer Alex MacCaw explains How to travel around the world for a year in one of the best (if simplest) travel articles I've ever read. For the full photos, check out the Picasa web album.

Stop the Wall - A group of NYC based Internet companies express their common distaste for SOPA and PIPA in this video 

What a 130-mph car crash looks like from the inside of the car.

Would you really want to know when you are expected to die? An online mortality calculator designed to help doctors is now available for anyone.

Science: Size of the known Universe

The size of the known universe is a six and a half minute video that explores the scale of the universe.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Science: Could a ‘Death Star’ Really Destroy a Planet?

Could a ‘Death Star’ Really Destroy a Planet?
A paper by David Boulderston (University of Leicester) sets out to answer that very question by estimating how much energy the Death Star would need in order to destroy a planet with its superlaser.

Boulderston assumed that the planet is a solid body of uniform density – essentially ignoring the complex interior of planets, due to lack of information on Alderaan itself. Using the idealized sphere model based on Earth’s mass and diameter, it was possible to determine the gravitational binding energy of Alderaan, using a simple equation of:
=    3GMp2

Where G is the Gravitational Constant (6.673×10-11), Mp is planet mass, and Rp is the planet’s radius. Using Earth’s mass and radius, the required energy comes out to 2.25×1032 Joules. Using Jupiter’s data, the energy required goes up to 2×1036 Joules.

According to Star Wars lore, the Death Star is powered by a ‘hypermatter’ reactor, possessing the energy output of several main-sequence stars. Given that the power output of our Sun is about 3×1026 Joules per second, it’s a reasonable assumption the Death Star’s reactor could power the superlaser.

Boulderstone’s conclusion is that the Death Star could indeed destroy Earth-like planets, given its main power source. While the Death Star could destroy an Earth-sized planet, a Jupiter-sized planet would be a tough challenge, requiring all power from essential systems and life support, which is not necessarily possible.

Source: Universe Today

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tech Links: January 18, 2012

The 12 Coolest Things We Saw at the Consumer Electronics Show

Act One of this week's This American Life finds Mike Daisey, self-described worshipper in the Cult of Mac, visiting Foxconn, where many of their products are manufactured. It's an incredibly well told and heartbreaking story.

Am I wasting my time organizing e-mail? A study of e-mail refinding. (.PDF) 

Big Brother Is Watching: Document Reveals Surveillance of Social Media, Blogs, Image-Sharing Sites

Computers are totally disrupting the job market: Because they take out the middle, it is a lot harder to pursue the American dream by working your way up the ladder. Climbing up rung by rung, you will find a machine staring down. And it won’t retire or move up the ladder to make room for you. Once in place, a retirement or promotion is not going to happen, it isn’t going to be opening up a spot.

The Facebook Search Engine – 7 Reasons You Will See It In 2012

A recent XKCD comic charted the difficulty of various games for computers

    Hubii is a map based newspaper browser. Filter by category, language, time or region or use the heatmap. [blog]

Daily Links: January 18, 2012

5 Simple Ideas That Could Make Travel (And Life) Way Easier

An ambitious plan for putting kickstarter out of business.

Check out the new HTML5 Music Player that Streams in the Background from Grooveshark. Works great on my iPhone, and any html5 compliant browser.

The Coolest Cars At The 2012 Detroit Auto Show

How 'The Phone Stack' is civilizing dinners out with friends

How to make Unicorn Poop (Cookies) at home.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lecture: Gaming can make a Better World

OpEd: Why I am learning to code

Why I am learning to code and you should, too:
It’s time Americans begin treating computer code the way we do the alphabet or arithmetic. Code is the stuff that makes computer programs work — the list of commands that tells a word processor, a website, a video game, or an airplane navigation system what to do. That’s all software is: lines of code, written by people.

We are socializing, working, consuming, and living in a world increasingly defined by programs. Learning to code is the best way to understand what all those programs do, or even to recognize that they are there in the first place.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Science: Painting Ants

This video demonstrates how scientists encode unique identifications onto otherwise very similarly appearing ants. It serves partially as an introduction to scientific methods and problems as well as a "how-to" instructional video for budding scientists.

Tech: Transparent Touchscreen Display

The Samsung Transparent Window is a 46 inch transparent LCD display that is a combination touchscreen computer and window (video via MobileNations). The display can perform a variety of functions familiar to tablet users. There’s even a “blinds” app that blots out unwanted natural light. The display is entering production later this year.

Via: The Next Web

Video: Digital Life

Digital insights to power growth, a summation of the largest global study ever conducted on people's attitudes and behaviors online.

Friday, January 13, 2012

News: Twitter Revealed Epidemic

Twitter Revealed Epidemic Two Weeks Before Health Officials:
In particular, a new report shows that Twitter provided an early account of the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti. According to the study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Internet news and social media were faster transmitters of information in tracking the cholera epidemic in Haiti than health officials. The tweets provided information that health officials wouldn’t report until two weeks later.

Source: Mashable

Video Distraction: Every Presentation, Ever

Daily Links: January 13, 2012

Source: College Humor

11 Eye-Opening Highlights From a Creationist Science Textbook

13 Simpsons Jokes That Actually Came True.

Arresting children for trivial offenses in schools is becoming increasingly common. If there was ever evidence that we need less government, this is it.

Busy people in need of a boost in the bars are now relying on professional wingpersons.

Minute Physics is a YouTube Channel full of short, simple explanations of physics. Learn why there are tides, what neutrinos are and how to find them, why there is no pink light, and why Galloping Gertie didn't collapse due to resonance. Minute Physics is also on New Scientist's website, but slightly re-titled and with links to related New Scientist articles. If you have another 41 minutes, you can learn more about Minute Physics from it's creator, Henry Reich.

Self-Organized, Hyper-Networked Revolts—Coming to a City Near You: Wired looks at how messaging and social media have influenced the dynamics of riots, protests, other large crowd gatherings.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gadget: Retrode

The Retrode  is a USB adaptor that allows you to access your old video game cartridges and video game controllers with your computer.  Using the emulator of your choice, the device permits you to resurrect your favorite vintage games!

Tech: Space Shuttle Atlantis

Rare, last look inside Space Shuttle Atlantis

Photo gallery from collectSPACE looks around the grounded Atlantis space shuttle. The full collection of photographs can be seen here.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Infographic: NASA’s budget

With the budget for NASA being cut, how many value has the money invested in NASA paid of. Looking at every budget throughout the history of NASA, comparing this with its space missions for that year.

Video Distraction: Real Life Super Mario

Andrew McMurry goes for level 2 in Real Life Super Mario Bros.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

OpEd: The personal computer is dead

The personal computer is dead:
Both software developers and users should demand more. Developers should look for ways to reach their users unimpeded, through still-open platforms, or through pressure on the terms imposed by the closed ones. And users should be ready to try “off-roading” with the platforms that still allow it—hewing to the original spirit of the PC, perhaps amplified by systems that let apps have a trial run on a device without being given the keys to the kingdom. If we allow ourselves to be lulled into satisfaction with walled gardens, we’ll miss out on innovations to which the gardeners object, and we’ll set ourselves up for censorship of code and content that was previously impossible. We need some angry nerds.
Source: Harvard Law School

Tech Links: The Restart Page

The Restart Page simulates the rebooting process of a variety of operating systems from computer history. It was created and designed by Soon in Tokyo and built by rehabstudio.

Video Distraction: Surgery Robot Folds Paper Airplane

Dr. James Porter, medical director of robotic surgery at Swedish folds a small paper airplane with the da Vinci robot to demonstrate how this device gives surgeons greater surgical precision and dexterity over existing approaches.

Minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery can offer patients significant benefits over traditional approaches, including less post-operative pain, shorter hospital stay, less blood loss, faster recovery time and quicker return to normal daily activities.

Lesson: United States Primary Elections

Monday, January 9, 2012

Music: Subway Jam Session

What you are about to watch is a true New York experience. What originally started out as a typical NYC subway ride turned into an awesome performance by two people who have never met before.  Jessica Latshaw and her ukulele encounter a gentleman with bongos on an NYC subway ride and start jamming together. The fellow commuters seem to enjoy it.

Video Distraction: Hornets vs Bees

Giant Japanese hornets slaughter European honeybee hive.
Source: National Geographic.

Tech Links: January 9, 2012

10 Coolest Technologies of Cars of the Future

15 Fascinating Academic Studies Done on Twitter

Cory Doctorow's 28C3 talk The Coming War on General Purpose Computation (abstract, transcript) warns that "the coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race."

Google+ Is Going To Mess Up The Internet.

Japan Reportedly Building Vigilante Virus Assassin Squad

On FutureBook, Martyn Daniels looks at the question of piracy, summing up contributing factors and discussing why it is such a tricky problem. Calling it a social problem similar to drugs, gambling, drinking, and prostitution, he points out that it will probably never be eradicated.

Smartphones are the new Cigarettes... here's why.

Why Best Buy is Going out of Business... Gradually


Tech: Network

Network by Michael Rigley

Information technology has become a ubiquitous presence. By visualizing the processes that underlie our interactions with this technology we can trace what happens to the information we feed into the network.

Tech: Cubelets

Cubelets by Modular Robotics, a new company founded by Carnegie Mellon University researchers, are a modular robot construction system simple enough for children. The premise of the system is that each cube has a specific function, but once they're snapped together magnetically, they create functioning robots.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tech: Camouflage from Computer Vision

Created by Adam Harvey, this on-going project examines and experiments with creative ways to protect yourself from facial-recognition technology. I have posted about this before over a year ago, but it is interesting to see where the project has been going … hair and make-up could be the future hoodie …
CV Dazzle™ is camouflage from computer vision (CV). It is a form of expressive interference that combines makeup and hair styling (or other modifications) with face-detection thwarting designs. The name is derived from a type of camouflage used during WWI, called Dazzle, which was used to break apart the gestalt-image of warships, making it hard to discern their directionality, size, and orientation. Likewise, the goal of CV Dazzle is to break apart the gestalt of a face, or object, and make it undetectable to computer vision algorithms, in particular face detection.
Because face detection is the first step in automated facial recognition, CV Dazzle can be used in any environment where automated face recognition systems are in use, such as Google’s Picasa, Flickr, or Facebook.
More about the project can be read about here

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Factoid: Formal Place Setting

In case you've ever found yourself wondering how the 1% set their table, here's a diagram of how a formal dinner setting should be laid.

Video: A History of the Sky

A History of the Sky by Ken Murphy

“This is a year-long time-lapse study of the sky. A camera installed on the roof of the Exploratorium museum in San Francisco captured an image of the sky every 10 seconds. From these images, I created a mosaic of time-lapse movies, each showing a single day. The days are arranged in chronological order. My intent was to reveal the patterns of light and weather over the course of a year.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

News: "Kopimism" Recognized as Official Religion

Filesharing religion "Kopimism" Recognized as Official Religion in Sweden:
Religious leader Isak Gerson, leader of a religious file-sharing group called kopimists has finally been recognized. Kopimism is now an official religion in Sweden. During the last half year the “Missionary Church of Kopimism” tripled its members from 1,000 to 3,000. Kopimi beliefs originated with the Swedish group called Piratbyran who believed that everything should be shared freely online without restrictions from copyright. Recently Isak has had some disagreements with the Swedish Pirate Party where many people disagree with all religions.

Source: Active Politic

Lecture: The coming war on general computation

Cory Doctorow: The coming war on general computation
The copyright war was just the beginning

The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race.

Daily Links: January 4, 2012

Anonymous 101: Introduction to the Lulz

The Brutal Sport of Modern Day Jousting:  The ground thunders as the beast races towards you, nostrils flaring. You can see nothing of the face of your opponent, which is encased in a metal helmet, but you can feel his determination as he points his lance towards you.

Spacedex has well organized worldwide viewing information for meteor showers, like the brief Quadrantids on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wanderfly is travel inspiration site. Enter your starting point, when you want to travel, how much you want to spend, and what you want to do, and Wanderfly spits out some suggestions from sites around the world, including things to do and places to stay.

News: Jon Stewart Crushes Fox News

Jon Stewart Crushes Fox News In The 2011 Ratings:
According to Comedy Central, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart averaged 2.3 million viewers per episode in 2011. Unlike Fox News, “The Daily Show” was up in total viewers (+7%) and all key demos: adults 18-49 (+6%); men 18-34 (+2%); men 18-24 (+4%).” The Daily Show was also the top cable late night talk show in terms of total viewers, and was generally dominant. While Fox News was losing 14% in the demo in 2011, Jon Stewart was gaining 6%.

Jon Stewart has become Fox News’ #1 media nemesis. To put Stewart’s ratings into a head to head context, The O’Reilly Factor tends to hover around the 3 million viewers range. Hannity is at around 2+ million, and On The Record with Greta Van Susteren varies between 1.1 million and 1.5 million as an average. This means that The Daily Show is more popular than both Hannity and On The Record, and trails O’Reilly by about 700,000 viewers.

The reason why Fox News feels so threatened by Jon Stewart is because his program is more popular than anything not named Bill O’Reilly on the network. Not only is Stewart popular, but he is popular with the coveted young demographics that Fox News struggles with. The average Fox News viewer is 65 years old. For years, the Fox News model of success has been powered by viewers literally aging in to watching Fox.

However, Jon Stewart has thrown a wrench in the Fox News cycle of life by educating his millions of younger viewers about Fox News. Stewart spends segments debunking the propaganda, exposing facts, and uncovering the edited video that is the bread and butter of America’s top cable news network.

Every night Stewart is teaching Americans how to not watch Fox News. The Daily Show host has become the media critic with the biggest platform and loudest voice in our country, and most often that voice is targeting Fox News for their brand of “journalism.”
Via: Politicus USA

Tech Links: January 4, 2012

3D Printing, Teleporters and Wishes

10 Things Our Kids Will Never Worry About Thanks to the Information Revolution.

The best tech writing of 2011

The Drake Equation for the Multiverse: The famous Drake equation estimates the number of intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way. A new approach asks how many might exist in the entire multiverse.

How Cyberpunk Warned against Apple’s Consumer Revolution

How the iPad 2 Became My Favorite Computer

How to Ace a Google Interview

IIT and a firm called Datawind have designed the world's cheapest tablet - costing about $50 for components. Their first customer is the Indian government, and they have had inquiries from several other governments as well. Wikipedia on the Aakash (also called the Ubislate 7); the first are sold out, but may be pre-booked for 3000 rupees (just under $60 USD).

A Montreal man used a scan of his passport on his iPad to get into the US.

    Code Year, learn to code in 2012is  free service from Codecademy that sends an interactive coding lesson to you weekly.

    Tubalr is a music video playing service for YouTube. Type in a band name and click "only" or "similar" and it will play a stream of music videos only from that artist or from a selection of similar artists. Creating an account will allow for marking videos as favorites and enable saving of playlists. Also available are genre-based playlists rather than using artists as seeds. Tubalr does not use Pandora-like music DNA information to determine similar artists. It seems to use the descriptive information for each video, so you might find some surprises in your playlists.


Science: Biopixels

Scientists have created a new light source from millions of glowing E.coli.

Infographic: Social Media in Schools

Students Want Social Media in Schools:
In its Policy Priorities report, Can Social Media and School Policies be “Friends,” ASCD provides a state-of-the union on social media use in schools. How administrators and educators deal with federal regulations, defining what’s legal, parsing out school responsibilities and weighing them against the benefits of using social media to engage and communicate with students are all addressed in this useful guide. MindShift’s Dispelling Myths About Blocked Sites is also in the lineup.

Source: Mindshift

Video Distraction: Levitated Car Race

This is a quantum levitation wipeout track with mini ships filled with liquid nitrogen racing to those electric beats we all know and love. The way these cars actually hover around the track with a nice trail of smokey mist is pretty unreal to watch.

Source: Japan Institute of Science and Technology

News: Anti-internet piracy law adopted by Spain

Anti-internet piracy law adopted by Spanish government:
The Spanish government has approved tough new legislation which could see websites deemed to be trading in pirated material blocked within ten days.

The legislation creates a government body with powers to force internet service providers to block sites.

It comes as the US plans to adopt similar tough new rules.

The crackdown on piracy has been welcomed by the creative industries but criticised by net activists.
Via: BBC

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tech: Microsoft Developing Holodeck

Without a doubt, if I had to pick the Star Trek technology most wanted to get my hands on, it would have to be the holodeck.  The holodeck was a fully interactive, immersive, full sensory experience where the user can run programs from reenactments of Private Eye detective stories to nature walks and combat training simulations.  Just imagine it: You step into a room, give the instruction to run “Program X”, and you could be anyone, anywhere, anytime.  Like so much other Star Trek tech, holodeck-like technology may be reality sooner rather than later.  The latest episode in The Verge video series about technology Microsoft is developing at its Redmond labs is a “mind-bending look at a suite of technologies that Microsoft is developing to create a holodeck-like experience.”

Monday, January 2, 2012

Science: The Feynman Series

How do you promote a passion for scientific literacy? Create a video series with lectures from Feynman or Carl Sagan and then add incredible video.

Video Distractions: Chemical Reactions

Four minutes of the best moments of stuff burning, breaking, freezing, exploding, melting, and generally reacting in interesting ways. A full list of the reaction demonstrated in the video can be found at PeriodicVideos.