Posts tagged technology

2 Notes

Supreme Court to finally decide whether people can patent software

This is huge, I hope they don’t fuck it up. The right decision could unleash a whole new world of innovation, the wrong one can tie up innovation even further in constant useless court battles. I would love to see all of these software patents go straight into the bin where they belong.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether people can patent software. The court agreed to hear the case Alice Corporation Pty. v. CLS Bank International to look into the issue of “whether claims to computer-implemented inventions – including claims to systems and machines, processes, and items of manufacture – are directed to patent-eligible subject matter.” This is a big deal, because it will determine what types of software are patentable.

1 Notes

European Parliament passes strong net neutrality law, along with major roaming reforms

Good work, EU. The free roaming anywhere in the EU is a big win for me. The net neutrality loopholes don’t sound good to me, but you’ve got to start somewhere I suppose. At least they can’t block certain types of traffic.

European fans of the open internet can breathe a sigh of relief: the European parliament has passed a major package of telecoms law reform, complete with amendments that properly define and protect net neutrality.

The amendments (PDF) were introduced by the Socialist, Liberal, Green and Left blocs in the European Parliament after the final committee to tweak the package – the industry committee – left in a bunch of loopholes that would have allowed telcos to start classifying web services of their choice as “specialized services” that they can treat differently.

It’s a good thing the net neutrality argument didn’t sink the whole package, as it also includes new laws to eliminate roaming fees within Europe, creating a truly single market for telecoms services. Now the whole package gets passed through to the next Parliament (elections are coming up in May), then the representatives of European countries for final approval.

Notes

Bill Gates-backed SOLAR POO RAYGUN COMMODE unveiled

Bill gates does it again. Amazing what happens when you focus smart people on the things that really matter.

Birthed by the Bill and Melinda Gates charitable foundation’s “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge”, the Sol-Char eschews the water-guzzling methods employed in the lavatories favoured by wealthy Westerners. It’s meant for users in hot equatorial areas where water is scarce and so, sadly, is proper sanitation in many cases.

Rather than a watery pan, then, a Sol-Char user deposits his or her offerings into a “reaction chamber”. Then, eight mighty parabolic mirrors focus the rays of the tropical sun down onto a “postage stamp” sized collector where the blazing combined beams are fed into fibre optic cables. These then blast the ravening photons into the chamber, achieving power output of 700 watts - comparable to that of a microwave oven - and heating the offerings up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

This zapping treatment swiftly converts the chamber’s smelly, unhealthy contents into a wholesome, well-nigh miraculous poo-based charcoal substance known as “biochar”.

Biochar is splendid stuff, it seems.

“It has good water holding capacity and it can be used in agricultural areas to hold in nutrients and bring more stability to the soils,” enthuses poo-blaster project chief Professor Karl Linden.

And if your crops are actually OK as they are, the handy bottomnal briquettes have many other uses. They can, for instance, be burned in one’s barbeque - apparently they’ll cook the prawns just as well as ordinary charcoal would. Or the miracle poo product can be returned to the soil in such a way as to remain stable, so functioning as a mechanism by which carbon is removed from the atmosphere.

Notes

How an Under-Appreciated iOS 7 Feature Will Change the World

It’s called wireless mesh networking. And Apple has mainstreamed it in iOS 7. It’s going to change everything. Here’s why.

It can also extend an Internet connect to a place where none exists — for example, to a hotel basement, cave or — if you live where I do (in Sonoma County North of San Francisco) to rural areas where cell tower connections are non-existent. It does that through the mesh networking capability inherent in the Multipeer Connectivity Framework.

With multiple users in the area, FireChat can relay messages just like the internet does, from node to node (phone to phone). (Apple’s AirDrop works in the same way, by the way.)

Here’s an example. There’s an ultramarathon that takes place in California each year on a trail called Skyline-to-the-Sea. It’s a roughly 30 mile trail through giant redwood forests where there is no cell connectivity. Using FireChat or some other app that uses iOS 7’s Multipeer Connectivity Framework, race volunteers, staff and participants could extend Internet connectivity and communication in an ad hoc mesh network that extends the length of the course.

Notes

Worlds fastest Rubik’s Cube solving robot. Amazing what you can build out of lego these days.

CUBESTORMER 3 Smashes Rubik’s Cube Speed Record (by ARMflix)

1 Notes

Drones will cause an upheaval of society like we haven’t seen in 700 years - Quartz

This is an interesting look at one possible dystopian future. Although I would have to think that if the rich have tons of drones pointed at us, wouldn’t we be able to sneak a few into their enclave and get them? No reason drones shouldn’t get cheaper and more available like all other types of tech. There’s all sorts of other open source hardware out there. Most technology trickles down to the average person, why would this be different?

The human race is on the brink of momentous and dire change. It is a change that potentially smashes our institutions and warps our society beyond recognition. It is also a change to which almost no one is paying attention. I’m talking about the coming obsolescence of the gun-wielding human infantryman as a weapon of war. Or to put it another way: the end of the Age of the Gun… [S]omeday soon, autonomous drone militaries become cheaper than infantry at any scale…

The day that robot armies become more cost-effective than human infantry is the day when People Power becomes obsolete…The rabble may think whatever they please, but the Robot Lords will have the guns.

Forever.

Where this scenario really gets scary is when it combines with economic inequality. Although few people have been focusing on robot armies, many people have been asking what happens if robots put most of us out of a job. The final, last-ditch response to that contingency is income redistribution – if our future is to get paid to sit on a beach, so be it.

But with robot armies, that’s just not going to work. To pay the poor, you have to tax the rich, and the Robot Lords are unlikely to stand for that. Just imagine Tom Perkins with an army of cheap autonomous drones. Or Greg Gopman. We’re all worried about the day that the 1% no longer need the 99%–but what’s really scary is when they don’t fear the 99% either…

It’s the Robot Lords we should be afraid of, not Skynet…

We can carry this dystopian thought exercise through to its ultimate conclusion. Imagine a world where gated communities have become self-contained cantonments, inside of which live the beautiful, rich, Robot Lords, served by cheap robot employees, guarded by cheap robot armies.

Outside the gates, a teeming, ragged mass of lumpen humanity teeters on the edge of starvation. They can’t farm the land or mine for minerals, because the invincible robot swarms guard all the farms and mines. Their only hope is to catch the attention of the Robot Lords inside the cantonments, either by having enough rare talent to be admitted as a Robot Lord, or by becoming a novelty slave for a little while…

[W]hen the Age of the Gun ends, the age of freedom and dignity and equality that much of humanity now enjoys may turn out to have been a bizarre, temporary aberration.

4 Notes

100% Renewable Energy Is Feasible and Affordable, According to Stanford Proposal

The proposal is straightforward: eliminate combustion as a source of energy, because it’s dirty and inefficient. All vehicles would be powered by electric batteries or by hydrogen, where the hydrogen is produced through electrolysis rather than natural gas. High-temperature industrial processes would also use electricity or hydrogen combustion.

The rest would simply be a question of allowing existing fossil-fuel plants to age out and using renewable sources to power any new plants that come online. The energy sources in the road map include geothermal energy, concentrating solar power, off-shore and on-land wind turbines and some and tidal energy. All but tidal energy collectors are already commercially available.

Clean energy would save an average American consumer $3,400 per year than the current fossil fuel regime by 2050, the study lays out. That’s because the price of fossil fuel rises regularly, but with clean energy — where raw materials are free — once the infrastructure is built, prices would fall.

3 Notes

Popcorn Time - Stream torrented movies on demand with a beautiful UI

I just tried this and it’s amazing. A UI that’s like iTunes store on AppleTV. It started streaming a 1080p movie in about 15 seconds. Now I just need it as an XBMC plugin. I’d like a version for TV too while I’m dreaming.

Popcorn Time streams movies from torrents

Downloading copyrighted material through torrents may be illegal in your country. Use at your own risk.

The best movies

We’re constantly searching all over the web for the best torrents from the most important sites.

No restrictions

Watch any movie as many times as you want. All you need to get started is a proper internet connection.

Endless catalogue

If the movie is out there, Popcorn Time will find the best version possible and start streaming it right away.

The best quality

No more waiting; watch your movie instantly in HD and with subtitles. And then watch one more.

Notes

Spritz- The future of reading?

Try the demo on the website. It claimed to have doubled my reading speed instantly. Pretty cool if that’s a fact.

Reading is inherently time consuming because your eyes have to move from word to word and line to line. Traditional reading also consumes huge amounts of physical space on a page or screen, which limits reading effectiveness on small displays. Scrolling, pinching, and resizing a reading area doesn’t fix the problem and only frustrates people. Now, with compact text streaming from Spritz, content can be streamed one word at a time, without forcing your eyes to spend time moving around the page. Spritz makes streaming your content easy and more comfortable, especially on small displays. Our “Redicle” technology enhances readability even more by using horizontal lines and hash marks to direct your eyes to the red letter in each word, so you can focus on the content that interests you. Best of all, Spritz’s patent-pending technology can integrate into photos, maps, videos, and websites to promote more effective communication.

1 Notes

Super Mario Bros. theme duplicated almost exactly with an instrument invented thousands of years ago!

Listen to this young girl playing her sheng, a Chinese instrument invented thousands of years ago. The woodwind may be ancient, but the sound is pure 1980s nostalgia—it’s the Super Mario Brothers theme, right down to the sounds of Mario collecting coins and mushrooms. Amazing!

Music was a big part of the old school Nintendo experience, and it’s eerie how the notes coming out of an instrument you probably never heard of sound so shockingly familiar. This young musician has certainly put in a ton of practice—clearly, all those hours playing Super Mario have paid off. [YouTube via TastefullyOffensive] (via This Centuries-Old Musical Instrument Sounds Exactly Like Super Mario)

6 Notes

A neuroscientist has just developed an app that, after repeated use, makes you see farther. Absolutely astonishing and 100% real.

In a study published this week in the journal Current Biology, Seitz worked with 19 players on the University of California, Riverside, baseball team, and showed that his app UltimEyes lengthened the distance at which the players could see clearly by an average of 31 percent. After using the app for 30 25-minute intervals, players saw an improvement that pushed many of them beyond normal 20/20 vision, including seven who attained freakishly good 20/7.5 vision—meaning that at a distance of 20 feet, they were clearly seeing what someone with normal vision could see at no farther than 7.5 feet away.

2 Notes

Don't Blame Social Media if Your Teen Is Unsocial. It's Your Fault

Personally, I think the root cause is a TV news media that invents crises where none exist for the sake of ratings, thereby misinforming the public about the true threats in life. The sooner TV news dies a quick and painful death, the better.

If kids can’t socialize, who should parents blame? Simple: They should blame themselves. This is the argument advanced in It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, by Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd. Boyd—full disclosure, a friend of mine—has spent a decade interviewing hundreds of teens about their online lives.

What she has found, over and over, is that teenagers would love to socialize face-to-face with their friends. But adult society won’t let them. “Teens aren’t addicted to social media. They’re addicted to each other,” Boyd says. “They’re not allowed to hang out the way you and I did, so they’ve moved it online.”

It’s true. As a teenager in the early ’80s I could roam pretty widely with my friends, as long as we were back by dark. But over the next three decades, the media began delivering a metronomic diet of horrifying but rare child-abduction stories, and parents shortened the leash on their kids. Politicians warned of incipient waves of youth wilding and superpredators (neither of which emerged). Municipalities crafted anti-loitering laws and curfews to keep young people from congregating alone. New neighborhoods had fewer public spaces. Crime rates plummeted, but moral panic soared. Meanwhile, increased competition to get into college meant well-off parents began heavily scheduling their kids’ after-school lives.

Likes

Following