Posts tagged technology

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*That was some week

Amazing what can happen in one week.


*That was some week

Amazing what can happen in one week.

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A Video Game in Which You Make Video Games Fights Pirates with Piracy

Hilarious. Way to fight fire with fire.

There’s a recent tradition of developers screwing with pirates—from releasing enormous, immortal pink scorpions on them, to booby trapping their games with glitches when they get cracked. This weekend, Greenheart Games, creator of Game Dev Tycoon, just blew the curve for everyone. This is fantastic.

As the title suggests, the game is about video games development. Greenheart is releasing it DRM-free, so this thing is sure to be pirated. Greenheart’s Patrick Klug figured, why wait, put a cracked version on “the number one torrent sharing site,” and sat back to watch what happened.

Something like 94 percent of the game’s users were playing the pirated, cracked version that Greenheart itself had uploaded. But here’s where the fun begins.

"As players spend a few hours playing and growing their own game dev company, they will start to see the following message, styled like any other in-game message:"

"Slowly their in-game funds dwindle, and new games they create have a high chance to be pirated until their virtual game development company goes bankrupt." The best part? The pirates complained about it.


Plug Facebook Into Skype For a News Feed Firehose

Wow, just tried this and it made Facebook about 100x better. It’s like Facebook back when we liked it. Probably better than that actually. Try it.

We know that our Facebook news feeds go through a complicated filtering process, affected both by Facebook’s internal algorithms and our own efforts to hide or show particular friends. However, not all third-party apps are so complex, and Skype will pull in your Facebook news feed pretty much as it’s published.

Skype and Facebook have been partners for several years, but as each platform has evolved it hasn’t always been obvious what you can or can’t do from each tool. If you choose to connect Facebook from the desktop Skype app on either Windows or Mac OS, you can get an unfiltered look at what your friends are up to.

When you fire up Skype you may get an automatic prompt to connect Facebook from the Skype home screen, but if not then click the blue cog to the right-hand side and choose Connect to Facebook. Enter your Facebook username and password, and you’re away (although if you have two-step verification activated, you’ll need a code from the Facebook mobile app).

Updates from all of your Facebook friends will populate the Skype home screen, and you can switch between Facebook updates, Skype updates, and a mixture of both from the links at the top. Note that this is not the same process as importing your Facebook contacts and automatically adding them as Skype friends, although you can access the Facebook message system through the Skype client.

Now, we’re not privy to the inner workings of either Skype or Facebook, but to our eyes the news feed displayed in Skype is shown in a chronological, unfiltered way—very recent updates are shown, often from friends that rarely appear in our official news feed (a change that could be viewed as either positive or negative depending on your perspective).

New updates can be viewed by clicking on the refresh button, which makes the whole Facebook experience much more Twitter-like. You can like and comment on updates from within Skype, as well as message contacts and update your own status. Give it a try, and you might find that Skype is the third-party Facebook client you’ve been looking for.

5 Notes


It will never become obsolete!

It will never become obsolete!

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No crankshaft, no problem: Toyota's free piston engine is brilliant

It’s obvious when you think about it. Why turn anything to generate electricity when all you need is a magnet moving through a magnetic field. If you’ve got linear energy it will work just as well so why create contraptions to make it turn something if you don’t need to? Of course, I didn’t think of it.

Let’s get one thing straight: The variable-valve-timing, direct-injection, turbo-wonderful powerplant in your new car is not cutting-edge. Despite the complexity of the modern engine, the fundamentals haven’t changed since Grover Cleveland was in office. Pistons turn a crankshaft that eventually spins your car’s wheels. Yawn.

Electrically driven cars are the future. But until we have cheap, 1000-mile batteries, we still need range-extending fossil-fuel engines. Those devices don’t need to turn wheels, just generate juice. The simple solution is to strap a generator to a piston engine, as BMW did with the two-cylinder range extender in its i3 EV. But if the engine never turns a wheel, there’s no need for it to rotate anything. Why not cut out the middleman and use the piston’s reciprocating motion to generate electricity? That obviates camshafts and most other rotating parts, too.

Toyota recently showed a prototype engine that does just that. It’s called the Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG). “Free” refers to the fact that the piston isn’t attached to a crankshaft; instead, as the piston is forced downward during its power stroke, it passes through windings in the cylinder to generate a burst of three-phase AC electricity. The FPEG operates like a two-stroke engine but adds direct gasoline injection and electrically operated valves. It can also be run like a diesel, using compression rather than a spark plug to ignite its fuel mixture.

Toyota says this mechanically simple engine achieves a claimed thermal-efficiency rating of 42 percent in continuous use. Only the best, most complicated, and most expensive of today’s gas engines can come close to that number, and only in specific circumstances. Even better, a two-cylinder FPEG is inherently balanced and would measure roughly 8 inches around and 2 feet long. An engine of that size and type could generate 15 hp, enough to move a compact electric vehicle at highway speed after its main drive battery has been depleted. That’s the future.

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The average age of users on Social Media networks


The average age of users on Social Media networks


This French tech school has no teachers, no books, no tuition -- and it could change everything

This isn’t probably the right way to teach everything, but it’s the right way to teach programming.

All of École 42′s projects are meant to be collaborative, so the students work in teams of two to five people. At first glance, the École’s classrooms look a little bit like a factory floor or a coding sweatshop, with row after row of Aeron-style chairs facing row after row of big monitors. But a closer look reveals that the layout is designed to facilitate small-group collaboration, with the monitors staggered so that students can easily talk to one another, on the diagonals between the monitors or side by side with the people next to them. Students can come and go as they please; the school is open 24 hours a day and has a well-appointed cafeteria in the basement (with a wine cellar that can hold 5,000 bottles, just in case the school needs to host any parties).

Students share all of their code on Github (naturally). They communicate with one another, and receive challenges and tests, via the school’s intranet. Everything else they figure out on their own, whether it means learning trigonometry, figuring out the syntax for C code, or picking up techniques to index a database.

Tests are essentially pass-fail: Your team either completes the project or it doesn’t. One administrator compared it to making a car: In other schools, getting a test 90 percent right means an A; but if you make a car with just three out of four wheels, it is a failure. At École 42, you don’t get points for making it part way there — you have to make a car with all four wheels.

The no-teachers approach makes sense, as nearly anything you need to know about programming can now be found, for free, on the Internet. Motivated people can easily teach themselves any language they need to know in a few months of intensive work. But motivation is what’s hard to come by, and to sustain — ask anyone who has tried out Codecademy but not stuck with it. That has prompted the creation of “learn to code” bootcamps and schools around the world. École 42 takes a similar inspiration but allows the students to generate their own enthusiasm via collaborative (and somewhat competitive) teamwork.

5 Notes

Many of you have probably seen the solar roadways video and kickstarter page. While I’d love for this to be feasible, just the efficiency alone seems as though it’d be enough to kill it IMO. This guy breaks down many of the different reasons it probably won’t work. Before I’d fund anything like this, I’d want to see a lot more proof that they’ve solved all of these problems. Solar canals, however are showing some promise. More upsides and less downsides.

Solar FREAKIN Roadways, are they real? (by Thunderf00t)

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The Ocean Cleanup, developing technologies to extract, prevent and intercept plastic pollution

Unlike Solar Roadways, this project looks to have been tested and shown to work. If we can get away with cleaning up the oceans this easily and cheaply, we will be very lucky. I’m gonna fund this one. I hope you do too.

The Basic Principles

Passive collection

Why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you? Attaching an array of floating barriers and platforms to the sea bed enables us to concentrate the plastic before extracting it from the ocean —a collection process 100% driven by the natural winds and currents.

Capturing plastics, not sea life

Instead of nets, we make use of solid floating barriers, making entanglement of wildlife impossible. Virtually all of the current flows underneath these booms, taking away all (neutrally buoyant) organisms, and preventing by-catch, while the lighter-than-water plastic collects in front of the floating barrier.

Highly scalable

The scalable array of moorings and booms is designed for large-magnitude deployment, covering millions of square kilometers. Thanks to its projected high capture and field efficiency, a single gyre can be covered in just 5 years (or longer, depending on the chosen deployment strategy).

The Feasibility Research

After performing a year of research with a team of 100 volunteers and professionals, in June 2014 The Ocean Cleanup announced the successful outcome of its feasibility study.


An Alarm Clock App That Wakes Skiers Earlier For Freshly Fallen Snow

Cool idea.

For devoted skiers, there’s nothing quite like finding a slope covered in a blanket of fresh snow. And with Helly Hansen’s First Tracks alarm clock app, they’ll have a better chance at being the first on the mountain after an overnight snowfall since it automatically wakes you up earlier if there’s fresh powder to be enjoyed.

Available for both iOS and Android, the app uses your location to download local weather information. Before falling asleep the night before, users specify two different alarms: a normal wake time, and a ‘let’s beat everyone to the slopes’ wake time. And if the forecast shows that it has sufficiently snowed during the night, the earlier alarm will be triggered giving you a head start on everyone else heading up the mountain. You just better hope the lifts are operating that early.

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Amazon’s Tactics Confirm Its Critics’ Worst Suspicions

This week, as part of a contract dispute with the publisher Hachette, we’re seeing Amazon behaving at its worst. The company’s willingness to nakedly flex its anticompetitive muscle gives new cause for concern to anyone who cares about books — authors, publishers, but mainly customers. Here’s the back story: In an effort to exert pressure on Hachette, Amazon began taking down preorder buttons for many Hachette titles. It has also suddenly raised prices on some Hachette books and has changed its page design to more prominently recommend other titles. These moves follow weeks of increasingly hardball tactics. Among other customer-punishing moves, Amazon has increased shipping times for Hachette titles from a few days to weeks.