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Category: Technology

Tech, science, gaming, entertainment, space exploration, energy, and anything else tech-related.

October 25, 2015

Citizens of Tech 016 - Anastrophic Lizard Bread


Portable Workstations


  • Remember lunchbox portables?

  • Everything old is new again.

Life, uh...finds a way - but how?


  • Lizards from the Aspidoscelis genus from Mexico and the U.S. Southwest manage to produce well-bred offspring without the aid of male fertilization.

  • 1960s - Scientists documented all-female whiptail lizard populations

  • There are 70 known species of vertebrates that can breed this way.

  • It has long been unclear how they avoid “shallow gene pool syndrome” and the diseases that affect other creatures that breed this way.

  • They maintain “genetic richness” by starting the process with double the normal amount of chromosomes

  • Their reproductive process is such that they don’t combine their homologous chromosomes, which are the ones that make that lizard, well, that lizard. This is what sexually reproducing species do by taking one set of chromosomes from each parent. Rather they combine their sister chromosomes instead.

  • How do they do it? That's something the group is now investigating.

  • Another big unknown is precisely how the lizards end up with double the amount of chromosomes in the first place. Baumann suspects that it could happen over two rounds of replication or if two sex cells combine forces before the division process starts.

Online advertisers admit they “messed up,” promise lighter ads | Ars Technica


  • Ads are getting heavier.

  • Ad blockers are on the rise.

  • Ad blocking impacts the business model of many companies.

  • Now the ad guys are going...whoops. We got so greedy, we killed the web experience for users.

  • Scott Cunningham of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), which represents 650 advertising and tech companies that produce 86 percent of all Internet ads in the US. “We were so clever and so good at [delivering ads] that we over-engineered the capabilities of the plumbing laid down by, well, ourselves. This steamrolled the users, depleted their devices, and tried their patience…”

  • LEAN ads are coming. “In response to user concerns about security and battery life concerns, IAB is rolling out something called L.E.A.N.—which stands for "Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, Non-invasive" ads. The goal is to address privacy and security by (finally) serving up encrypted ads and to reduce the size and processor-hogging power of animated and video ads.”

“USB Killer” flash drive can fry your computer’s innards in seconds


The 'killer USB' that FRIES laptops: Malicious drive uses a high voltage to destroy the computer's circuit board


  • Original version went back to March 2015.

  • Now, a version 2.0 is out.

  • “USB Killer 2.0, as its creator calls it, takes computer attacks on a less-traveled road that leads to physical destruction. According to this post from The Daily Mail, an earlier and less powerful version of the device drew power from USB ports using a DC-to-DC converter until it reached negative 100 volts. At that point, the power was directed into the computer. The process ran on a loop until the circuitry failed. It's likely Version 2 works similarly.”

A Soft Murmur - Website to help concentration and/or sleep:



Bread Science

  • https://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/bread/bread_science.html

  • What is bread? Fundamentally, a mixture of milled grains and water. Flatbreads have no leaveners. Raised breads (think bread with air pockets) have leaveners.

  • What’s a leavener? A substance that interacts with the flour and water environment in some way to create carbon dioxide gas that inflates the bread.

    • Baking soda or powder is used in quick breads, like biscuits. It acts quickly to leaven.

    • Yeast in the mass produced form we are used to is a living organism that is activated by warm water. It feeds on sugars inside the dough, and releases carbon dioxide. But...it’s not fast.

  • So...why doesn’t the carbon dioxide gas just escape into the air? It gets trapped inside of the dough. The dough is tough enough to do this because of gluten.

  • Gluten is the substance formed when water is combined with the proteins glutenin and gliadin which are contained in wheat flour.

  • Another piece of the bread puzzle is starch. Starch is most of what flour actually is - 70% volume by weight. Starch has two roles in bread making.

    • Starch releases sugars that yeast feeds on when it interacts with enzymes in the flour.

    • Starch reinforces gluten, making it better able to contain carbon dioxide pockets.

  • Why does some bread need to rise more than one time? It’s all about the type of bread being make. Multiple risings mean that the gluten can develop more, which impacts the structure of the bread - the chewiness, etc. Yeast breads can develop more flavor from the additional interaction time with the yeast.

  • So far, we haven’t talked about the cooking process. This has been all about what’s going on in the dough. That highlights to me that creating the right dough is critical. Cooking matters, but when you’ve gotten to cooking, it’s really the finishing of the bread product that’s already gone through it’s most important formative steps.

  • When cooking yeast breads, yeast will continue to feed and release gas, so there is additional rising in the product while it’s cooking. However, the yeast will die due to the heat. The gluten hardens in place. The dough then solidifies. And that makes a yeast bread.

  • Quick breads are a bit different.

  • http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/quick-bread-primer.html

  • I mentioned earlier that baking soda or powder are leaveners used in quick breads, but we didn’t describe the difference.

    • Baking soda is sodium acid carbonate. When you heat baking soda, it breaks down into sodium carbonate, water, and carbon dioxide (the leavening bubbles). If you mix baking soda with a wet acid (oh, buttermilk let’s say), it will break down without being heated.

    • Baking powder is baking soda plus an acid, meaning all you have to do is get it wet for the reaction to kick off. The normal acid added is cream of tartar, “a fruit acid that accumulates on the inside of wine casks as a wine matures,” according to King Arthur Flour.

  • Now, this initial baking soda + cream of tartar mix is known as single-acting baking powder. As soon as you get it wet, the reaction starts, and carbon dioxide is released. Throw it into the batter, and throw that into the oven ASAP to make the most of the carbon dioxide being released.

  • Single acting baking powder is old school, and is sometimes preferred because the combination of ingredients is all-natural. Modern baking powder and what most recipes assume is double-acting baking powder. Double acting takes out the cream of tartar and replaces it with two other acids - calcium acid phosphate & sodium aluminum sulfate.

    • Calcium acid phosphate works when it gets wet. (Action one.)

    • Sodium aluminum sulfate works when it gets hot (Action two, i.e. DOUBLE-ACTING).

  • The key here is that double-acting baking powder continues to release carbon dioxide gas as the bread is being baked. Therefore, the bread will rise.

  • The reaction is not infinite, however. As the baking powder reaction runs its course, it will cease making carbon dioxide. And then like a yeast bread, the gluten hardens, the dough solidifies, and you’ve got bread.

  • The texture of a quick bread or batter bread is going to be quite different from a yeast bread, depending on how much flour was used - often less when compared to other ingredients (dried fruit, zucchini, bananas, etc.) in my limited baking experience.


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Today I Learned

Lahmacun, aka Armenian pizza, consists of “a round, thin piece of dough topped with minced meat (most commonly beef or lamb) and minced vegetables and herbs including onions, tomatoes and parsley, then baked. Lahmacun is often served sprinkled with ayran or şalgam and wrapped around vegetables, including pickles, tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, and roasted eggplant.


Name there is for way that Jedi master Yoda talks: 'anastrophic'



Free, open-source mod lets TI graphing calculator make sweet 1-bit music



  • HoustonTracker 2. “German developer Irrlicht Project has released the HoustonTracker 2 sequencer and drum machine for the TI-82, 83, 83+, and 84+ calculators. That's right, instead of crunching calculus, TI-owners can finally bash out beats in the classroom, all in a wonderfully low-fi, 1-bit resolution. Best of all, the software is free, open source, and comes with complete documentation on how to use it.”


With that, this Citizens of Tech comes to a close. We are growing this show from scratch, so please tell your friends, post about the show on Facebook, write about Citizens of Tech on your blog, leave us 5 star ratings on iTunes, create a tweetstorm on Twitter, and hack electronic billboards in your area. If you send us pictures of your CoT tramp stamp, we promise to react in horror and definitely not post it on citizensoftech.com, where you can find this show and all the other shows we’ve produced.

You can follow Eric @zutfen on Twitter, and visit his blog at zutfen.com.

I am Ethan, and you can follow me @ecbanks on Twitter. My blog is ethancbanks.com.

With fall in the air here in the northeast US, our thoughts turn to late season fires in the backyard, and perhaps a s’more to sweeten the evening. Of course, s’mores need marshmallow. Come to think of it, I believe there’s still some marshmallow left over near Columbus Circle in NYC. Yeah, they never cleaned all of that up. So if you go over there, charge up your proton pack, look out for ectoplasm, and if you must do battle with the netherworld, never cross the streams.

Until next week everyone!

October 12, 2015

Citizens of Tech 015 - Sleepy 5G Routers



Real-Time Motion Capture Firm Faceshift May Have Been Acquired by Apple


  • What does Faceshift do? Using depth cameras such as Intel RealSense, they can observe a user’s face and translate their facial expressions to an avatar.

  • That sounds...silly. What’s it useful for? Gaming. Animation. Consumer apps like Skype.

  • So, if Apple really did acquire FaceShift, what will the do with the technology? As for what Apple could do with Faceshift's technology, there are a number of possibilities ranging from the fun such as real-time avatars for FaceTime video chats to the more serious including biometrics for unlocking devices or authorizing payments via facial recognition.”

Comcast experiments with cell-phone-like data charges, and overage fees, for home Internet users


  • If you’ve ever wanted to pay overage fees on your home internet connection, the future is now!

  • 300GB - $10 / 50GB Block

  • additional $30/mo for “Unlimited”

  • Huntsville and Mobile, Alabama; Tucson, Arizona; Fort Lauderdale, the Keys and Miami, Florida; Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah, Georgia; Central Kentucky; Maine; Jackson and Tupelo, Mississippi; Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; and Charleston, South Carolina.

  • Their PR states: “And to put this all in perspective, our national median customer data use is 40 GB per month and 92 percent of our customers don’t consume more than 300 GB of data in a month.”

FCC accused of locking down Wi-Fi routers, but the truth is a bit murkier



  • There’s a kerfuffle that the FCC wants to ban 3rd party software on wifi router, like DD-WRT or OpenWrt.

  • This stems from some current proposals.

  • The root issue is that of interference. Wifi routers are limited to a certain max power output to limit their range. The FCC was responding to a complaint of modded kit interfering with terrestrial doppler weather radar.

  • Possible response is for the FCC to require hardware manufacturers to prevent 3rd party loads.

  • Anguish ensues, as often, the manufacturer’s software is forgettable.

  • So there’s a “Save WiFi” campaign. They point out that the comment deadline is October 9, 2015.

The Netherlands plans to have a 100% wind-powered railway system by 2018


  • The country wants 100% wind-farm powered rail & they’re already halfway there: “Railway Technology reports that Dutch energy company Eneco and the VIVENS rail companies signed a deal to make Dutch electric trains within Netherlands Railways run entirely on energy produced by wind farms. Wind farms already supply half of the 1,800-mile, 1.5kV DC network’s energy—a network that carries 1.2 million passengers a day.”

  • Not just Dutch wind, though: “The wind power will come from within the Netherlands, as well as Belgium and some Scandinavian nations; part of the objective is to promote increased renewable energy adoption in other European countries.”

  • Not just rail, either: “Back in the Netherlands, Eneco says it also entered a 10-year deal with Google to make its data center in the northern part of the country totally powered by wind farm energy as well. “

  • Question remains: Is this dedicated power, or are they just “subscribing” to the electrical consumption rate with renewable offset?

    • Ultimately it doesn’t matter so long as the amount of power they use is being offset by renewables, but semantically there’s a difference.

  • In any case - this is a very cool step forward as Wind power continues to grow 24% year on year since the year 2000.

Verizon’s 5G tests show it to be faster than Google Fiber, could launch as early as 2017


  • 30-50x faster than LTE, and even faster than Google gig fiber. “Early tests of Verizon‘s 5G technology show that it can achieve connection speeds 30-50 times faster than 4G/LTE – above the speeds offered by Google Fiber’s gigabit wired broadband.”

  • So, forgetting about what the real-world throughput of a 5G network might be, (we’re going to assume this is true) what does this mean for…

    • Mobile operator overall network capacity

    • 5G operators becoming legitimate competitors to cable operators

    • Bandwidth caps

    • Pricing

    • Rural wifi network operators

    • Why would I have cable in my house if I could consolidate around my mobile provider?

    • Why not have a 5G bridge device, just like they have today?

    • Triple play coming from the mobile operators?

  • 5G seems to change the Internet access landscape dramatically.

  • Note that mobile operators tend to lead the curve in residential IPv6 offerings. 5G could be a big boost to IPv6 Internet traffic.

Random Street View


Content I Like



  • Running Apple’s OS X on generic x86 hardware - i.e. a “CustoMac.”

  • There’s more to it than you think.

  • TonyMacX86.com is here to help. Lots of detailed information.

    • Buyers’ guides

    • Installation guides

    • Forums

    • Tools


Anesthesia: Opening The Black Box

  • http://www.radiolab.org/story/anesthesia/

  • “Black box”

    • Something goes in

    • Something comes out…

    • What happened in between!?

  • Patrick Purdon: Assistant Professor of Anesthesia @ Harvard Medical School

  • The Etherdome

    • Resonance: Screams would have bounced off the walls echoing

    • Operating room

    • Book “Etherday”: 1800s surgery

      • Sound of saw cutting through their body

      • Sound of Limb hitting the floor

      • 6 burly men would be employed by surgeons to hold the subject down

      • Lots of suicide instead of undergoing surgery

    • October 16th 1846: Friday Morning - Room is FULL of students

      • Dr. John Warren - Most esteemed surgeon in the US

      • Tumor surgery

      • Dentist William T.G. Morton “I can erase that man’s pain!”

      • Bag of Ether in tow

        • Dental patients, himself, his dog, and his Goldfish…

        • Patient goes unconscious

      • Scalpel cuts into the patient’s neck

        • You could, for the first time, hear the scalpel cutting the flesh, the breath of the room

      • It seemed miraculous! No screams, no flailing!

  • Suddenly surgery is routine

    • News traveled as fast as physically possible

    • US and European surgeons start using it too

  • Guy details how anesthesia process worked for him during his Appendectomy

    • “It’s not working! I’m gonna need more! You can’t do this, it isn’t working!”

    • Then he woke up; surgery over.

  • Your brain is on, on, on, on, on…. OFF. There is no “sleepy feeling”

    • Exact mechanics of it have been unknown for nearly 170 years!

  • Sometimes patients were physically paralyzed, but had feeling… unable to move, scream, talk… etc

    • 1-10,000 times?

    • How do we prevent this!?

  • Experiment:

    • Analyze what happens when the “switch flips”

    • Given Propofol very, very slowly.

    • Patients were told to click a button every time they heard a word that they recognize, including their name.

    • Every 15 minutes they’d be given more Propofol until they were “out”

    • Measuring the brainwaves the entire time

    • Right at the moment of loss of consciousness, there was a peculiar low frequency electrical wave @ ~1Cycle per second.

    • and a high frequency “Alpha wave” at the front of the brain

    • The waves appear to be imposing a “complete order” to the brain

      • Consciousness is *chaotic*, by definition - different parts of the brain interacting, nerve impulses coming from all over the body: ears, skin, eyes.

      • The conscious brain has a “conversational banter” | Network folks may recognize this as SYN/ACK

      • Sight signals go from your optic nerve to the back of your head, then are accepted by the frontal part of your brain for actual processing, for example.

        • “Got a signal here, you ready?”

        • “Yup, I’m ready, send it over.”

        • “Okay, here it is.”

        • “Got it.”

        • It’s basically flow-control protocol in your brain

      • This creates a measurable connectivity

      • Your brain still hears, etc.

        • Auditory cortex still processes sound, but cannot communicate that information to the other parts of the brain that make you actually hear

      • Baseball: The Wave - going around, it gets tiresome, waiting for it to come around again and again - and it prevents normal conversation, normal viewing of the game, etc.

      • At the Neuron level:

        • Electrodes placed deep inside brains of test subjects

        • Anesthesia applied: big wave forces time intervals for neurons to “talk” and they never fire at the same time.

      • Consciousness is really the brain being able to talk “to itself”

      • Interrupt that conversation and the brain cannot communicate sensations

      • This is now quantifiable and you can measure when someone is “out” with 99.999% certainty

Today I Learned

To circumvent anti-gambling laws in the US, early slot machines masqueraded as vending machines. They gave out chewing gum as prizes, and those prizes could be redeemed for cash.

That’s where the fruit logos come from. In the UK, slot machines are called “fruit machines.”


Octopi have three hearts. “Two branchial hearts pump blood through each of the two gills, while the third is a systemic heart that pumps blood through the body.”


Past: Deep dive is past as well,  really.

Future (1, maybe 2)

Sending VR cameras into space will create a “transformational cultural shift” for humanity


  • Overview Effect: “The overview effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts and cosmonauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from orbit or from the lunar surface.[1][2][3][4][5]

    • It refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, "hanging in the void", shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, astronauts claim,[5] national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this "pale blue dot" becomes both obvious and imperative.

    • Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut: “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out ther e on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you S.O.B.'”

  • Project is run by SpaceVR

  • Kickstarter campaign: $100,000 goal in 30 days - MET!