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Category: Technology

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

June 27, 2015

Citizens of Tech 009 – Robotic Conservation Game Unicorns

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Captain’s log: Stardate 68927.1

We have made contact with a strange subset of the species homo sapiens. They seem to be consumed with all things technological. At first we feared that they were a newly assimilated unit of the Borg collective. Thankfully we’ve determined that is not the case — they are simply Citizens of Tech!

Today on the show: unicorns watching your every move, reducing your electricity consumption, bikes, E3 bombshells, tiny robotic lassos and more.

So buckle into your Aluminum Falcon and prepare to jump to hyper-speed as we dive into this week’s edition of Citizens of Tech!

Present

Unicorns – New Livestream App Lets Strangers Watch You Use Your Phone

http://www.wired.com/2015/06/unicorns-app/

  • Called Unicorns
  • Seriously
  • Intended audience is developers, game demos / walkthroughs / “let’s play” / anyone that needs to give a presentation of an app on a phone.
  • Accidental “overshare” of information is a big concern. PINs, email contents / contacts / etc.
  • “Think about what Twitch did for games that nobody seemingly thought others would watch,” says Owen Williams, who writes for The Next Web.
  • Ethan’s notes.
    • Periscope lets you livecast from your phone. Seems to have lots of buzz with the young people.
    • Perch.co lets you use your tablet as a remote window into coworkers’ spaces. Helpful for distributed companies.

Saving Electricity

  • From a high over 40Kwh per day to under 20Kwh per day
  • LED Bulbs
  • Conservative light usage (natural light FTW)
  • Lowered timer for landscape lighting
  • Monitors from 3 to 1
  • Shut down equipment in lab rack
  • Cut back on laundry loads
  • Cut back on dishwasher loads, set to “smart wash” setting with no heated drying
  • Removed small refrigerator that was seeing little use
  • Hard to cut back
    • Electric stove
  • Next steps
    • More equipment shut downs in rack
    • Reviewing everything that’s plugged in (the tiny electrical thieves)
    • Cutting back on dryer use

Adjusting a bicycle front derailleur: 4 tweaks

  • Barrel adjustor
  • Cable tension
  • Upper limit screw
  • Lower limit screw

Big Announcements from the E3 Conference:

  • XBox One backward compatibility with Xbox 360 (Via emulation) !!
  • Microsoft Hololens; Halo and Minecraft
    • Hololens is *not* Oculus or HTC Vive – Not “VR”
    • Hololens *is* “AR” – augmented reality
  • New Doom
  • Star Wars: Battlefront
  • Gears of War 4
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda – 2016
  • Mirror’s Edge – 2016 (2008 Original – 8 years later)
  • Dark Souls 3
  • Fallout 4 – Boston!!
  • Just Cause 3
  • Kingdom Hearts 3
  • Final Fantasy 7 Remake: 18 Years later (Wow, that makes me feel old!)
  • The Last Guardian: Part 3 of the Trilogy – Ico (2001), Shadow of the Colossus (2006)

Deathwatch

  • Goodbye, ello.

TIL

TIL the inventor of the heart stent approached numerous companies for funding and was rejected. It was funded by the owner of Fuddrucker’s, whom he met by chance on a golf course.

Past

The Computer History Museum
1401 N Shoreline Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043

http://www.computerhistory.org/exhibits/

Future

Tiny Robotic Tentacles Can Lasso An Ant

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a15991/tiny-robotic-tentacles-can-lasso-an-ant/

  • They can lasso an ant or scoop up a tiny fish egg.
  • 2x thickness of a human hair
  • Looks like a fishing line
June 20, 2015

Citizens of Tech 008 – Solar Powered Dragonfly Modems

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Welcome once again to the Citizens of Tech podcast! It’s late spring – June 12, 2015 to be precise, and on this day we sat down to discuss: Electronic Legos, Quantum Encryption, Solar Powered Flight, and more.

So kick back and ready your ear holes to delve into the nerdfest that is the Citizens of Tech Podcast!

Present

Microduino mCookie: The smallest electronic modules on LEGO®
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/microduino/microduino-mcookie-the-smallest-electronic-modules

  • What is Arduino?
  • Arduino is a tool for making computers that can sense and control more of the physical world than your desktop computer. It’s an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board.
  • Arduino can be used to develop interactive objects, taking inputs from a variety of switches or sensors, and controlling a variety of lights, motors, and other physical outputs. Arduino projects can be stand-alone, or they can communicate with software running on your computer (e.g. Flash, Processing, MaxMSP.) The boards can be assembled by hand or purchased preassembled; the open-source IDE can be downloaded for free.
  • The Arduino programming language is an implementation of Wiring, a similar physical computing platform, which is based on the Processing multimedia programming environment.
  • Microduino and mCookie brings powerful, small, stackable electronic hardware to makers, designers, engineers, students and curious tinkerers of all ages to build open source projects or create innovative new ones.
  • The Microduino mCookie series is Arduino-compatible open source hardware. It can be programmed in an Arduino IDE development environment and integrated into existing Arduino sketches.
  • Microduino mCookie snaps together magnetically with four magnets inside four corners, makers can connect mCookie modules quickly and correctly with a satisfying snap. The modules will reject each other if they are not angled correctly, so you can’t get it wrong – making it easier for makers of all ages to work and play, and eliminating the need for soldering.
  • Built with two raised circular fixators on each side, mCookie can be stacked with all LEGO series products. With LEGO compatibility, we’re making it easier than ever for beginners and children to get started with DIY electronics!
  • Stackable pins can be easily bent during usage. New spring pins inside mCookie provide rugged surface-to-surface connection between circuit boards for a longer usable lifetime.
  • Experienced and professional makers can write their own programs in the Arduino IDE and transmit their code to the hardware via USB, while beginners can use the Scratch graphic programming tool to drag and drop components to bring their application to life.

Quantum Encryption: Oh Boy!
http://m.phys.org/news/2015-05-team-key-quantum-network-solution.html

Amazon Echo: Alexa, what’s the weather like in Seattle?
http://amazon.com/echo

Dragonfly is an innovative, multi-lens array designed for ultra-low surface brightness astronomy at visible wavelengths.
http://www.dunlap.utoronto.ca/instrumentation/dragonfly/

  • Evidence of small galaxy mergers into larger ones can be seen in faint streams and filaments visible around the Milky Way and nearby M31 galaxies.
  • Cold Dark Matter cosmology predicts that we should see more of this structure than we do. Even the very best possible images contain scattered light that may be hiding this faint structure we should see around galaxies.
  • “Dragonfly is designed to reveal the faint structure by greatly reducing scattered light and internal reflections within its optics. It achieves this using ten, commercially available Canon 400mm lenses with unprecedented nano-fabricated coatings with sub-wavelength structure on optical glasses.”
  • “Dragonfly images a galaxy through multiple lenses simultaneously—akin to a dragonfly’s compound eye—enabling further removal of unwanted light. The result is an image in which extremely faint galaxy structure is visible.”

Net Neutrality Internet Health Test
https://www.battleforthenet.com/internethealthtest/

  • “The Internet Health Test checks your connection for signs of any degradation at all. With enough people taking part around the country every day, we can make sure that ISPs don’t get away with breaking the rules.”
  • “Large Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have degraded the performance of their customer’s traffic as a tactic to convince content and application providers to pay added “tolls” to deliver content that Internet users have already requested and paid for. The battleground — where this degradation takes place — is at ISP interconnection points. These are the places where traffic requested by ISP customers crosses between the ISP’s network and another network on which content and application providers host their services. This test measures whether interconnection points are experiencing problems. It runs speed measurements from your (the test user’s) ISP, across multiple interconnection points, thus detecting degraded performance.”
  • The FAQ is worth reading…

Tom’s Hardware Tests VPN Services
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-vpn-services,4130.html#xtor=RSS-182

  • PIA, IPVanish, TorGuard, more.

Sun-powered plane begins Pacific flight
http://www.wmur.com/national/sunpowered-plane-to-begin-pacific-flight/33304624?absolute=true

  • Was trying to from China to Hawaii, but was diverted due to weather, and landed in Japan.
  • 3.8-cubic-meter cockpit, strapped into a special seat that serves both as bed (it reclines, allowing him to do essential exercises and to rest) and toilet.
  • At night, if there is no turbulence, Borschberg will be able to activate the autopilot and nap, but only for 20 minutes at a time.
  • He and Piccard have been trained in meditation and self-hypnosis, to allow them to concentrate for lengthy periods, and yoga to help them relax in the plane’s confined space.
  • Solar Impulse will be packed with enough food, water and sports drinks to meet Borschberg’s nutritional needs for a week, in case weather problems force it to stay in the air longer than expected.
  • The aircraft is also equipped with oxygen bottles, a parachute and a life raft in case it gets into trouble and Borschberg has to ditch midflight.

GloveOne Kickstarter
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gloveone/gloveone-feel-virtual-reality

  • This project will only be funded if at least $150,000 is pledged by Thu, Jul 9 2015 9:00 PM EDT.
  • Gloveone enables users to feel and touch any virtual object that they can see on the screen or in their VR headsets. If a virtual apple is shown on the screen, with Gloveone you will be able to feel its shape or weight, sense all of its physical features, and even smash it!
  • It is all about translating touch sensations into vibrations. There are 10 actuators distributed along the palm and fingertips of Gloveone, which vibrate independently at different frequencies and intensities, reproducing accurate touch sensations.
  • Gloveone is all about haptic feedback. It doesn’t provide space tracking features yet so, currently, we rely on auxiliary sensors like Leap Motion or Intel RealSense for hand tracking, but you can also integrate Gloveone with any other sensor or technology (e.g. Microsoft Kinect, OpenCV). Furthermore, we are studying the possibility of integrating Gloveone with absolute tracking systems like Lighthouse from Valve.
  • In other words, Gloveone is virtually compatible with any technology you’d like to integrate with.
  • Gloveone also includes a 9-Axis IMU sensor so you could make use of those data to improve the experience with Gloveone.
  • This can be used in application such as “The Void” though it remains to be seen how custom facilities with virtual overlays will play out.

One Port To Rule Them All
http://www.cnet.com/news/thunderbolt-3-and-usb-type-c-join-forces-for-one-port-to-rule-them-all/#ftag=CAD590a51e

  • The updated Thunderbolt 3 now supports speeds up to 40 gigabits per second, four times faster and with twice the video bandwidth of any other cable, while still being able to supply power. With its full support for USB 3.1 it delivers power based on the USB spec, able to push 100 watts for notebook charging and deliver 15 watts for bus-powered devices. Thunderbolt 3’s 40Gbps also allows for dual 4K monitor support over a single cable, as well as speedy 10-gigabit Ethernet networking.
  • Intel says the first devices supporting this unified port standard will ship before the end of 2015, with growing support through 2016.
  • One of Thunderbolt’s issues in the past has been a higher cost for manufacturers and a higher cost for cables. Thunderbolt 3 aims to resolve some of these concerns, first of which is support for “passive” Thunderbolt cables. This essentially offers support for USB-C cables at a reduced rate of 20Gbps for Thunderbolt — still twice as fast as USB 3.1.
  • There are then active copper cables, which deliver at 40Gbps, and in 2016 new optical Thunderbolt cables will arrive for high-end usage over longer cable runs.

Deathwatch

No deathwatch, but we have a trivia section!

Trivia. Or…should we call it “TIL??”

TIL that, by law, no US officer is ever allowed to outrank George Washington, and he was posthumously promoted to “six star general” just to make sure.

Past

Modems! 300, 1200, 2400, 9600, 14400, 28800, 56000

BBSes.

  1. Wildcat
  2. Spitfire
  3. Citadel

Delphi with Rainbow Reader

Future

Sodium-Oxygen Batteries
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150527151201.htm – because it wouldn’t be a future segment without battery tech!

  • Chemists at the University of Waterloo have discovered the key reaction that takes place in sodium-oxygen batteries that could pave the way for development of the so-called holy grail of electrochemical energy storage.
  • Sodium-oxygen batteries are considered by many to be a particularly promising metal-oxygen battery combination. Although less energy dense than lithium-oxygen cells, they can be recharged with more than 93 per cent efficiency and are cheap enough for large-scale electrical grid storage.
  • Unlike the traditional solid-state battery design, a metal-oxygen battery uses a gas cathode that takes oxygen and combines it with a metal such as sodium or lithium to form a metal oxide, storing electrons in the process. Applying an electric current reverses the reaction and reverts the metal to its original form.
  • “Lithium-oxygen and sodium-oxygen batteries have a very promising future, but their development must take into account the role of how high capacity — and reversibility — can be scientifically achieved.”
June 13, 2015

Citizens of Tech 007 – Liquid Photon Kerbal Computing

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On this day, May 27th, 2015, the Citizens of Tech gathered to make this momentous recording. By traveling great distances (across town), and overcoming unfathomable challenges (our calendars), we screw up our courage, scratch our balding pates, and grab our microphones to record this, show #7 against the odds so firmly stacked against us. Why? We, like you, are citizens of tech, that’s why! We do what we must, because we can. And you, fellow citizen, have joined us to do the needful. Let’s raise a glass to one another as we discuss the Kerbal space program, waterproofing your phone without a case, Scrabble letting down humanity, IPv6’s importance to gaming according to Microsoft, light speed computing, high dynamic range TVs, liquid metal antennas, and more.

Present

Kerbal Space Program - It’s not rocket science… oh wait, yes it is.

https://kerbalspaceprogram.com/

Coating your phone to repel liquids

Scrabble letting in a bunch of new words

http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/22/us/scrabble-new-words/

  • A fresh reason to lose faith in humanity.
  • Additional 6,500 words include..
    • lotsa, twerking, lolz, emoji and ridic
    • Facetime, lolz, Bezzy, Wahh
    • sexting, blech, shizzle, cakehole

Usage of Teredo and IPv6 for P2P on Windows 10 and Xbox One

https://labs.ripe.net/Members/mirjam/usage-of-teredo-and-ipv6-for-p2p-on-windows-10-and-xbox-one

Carrier grade NAT is a multi-layered NAT scheme where not only are you NAT behind your own firewall, but the IP you’re served by your carrier is NAT later on down the line. This can result in applications of all sorts being broken. CG-NAT is a way to prolong IPv4 in the face of IPv4 address space running out globally.

IPv6 is being rolled out into the industry, but the speed the deployments are happening vary regionally and by operator. For instance, IPv6 is, as yet, not offered to me by my local ISP. I checked TCPIPUTILS.com to check the AS nearest me, and no IPv6 prefixes are being announced. This is a negative impact to gaming as IPv4 continues to struggle in the global Internet.

SomaFM

http://somafm.com

Deathwatch

  • Fax machines
  • FM radio
  • Tidal
  • Pop over ads

Past

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasses

  • 1st century AD – Seneca the Younger notices that letters can be seen magnified and more clearly when using a globe or glass filled with water.
  • In 1021, a convex lens is noted to do the same thing ia Alhazen’s Book of Optics. That book led to the invention of eyeglasses in 13th century Italy.
  • Sunglasses used in the 12th century in China.
  • First eyeglasses in Italy in about 1286. By 1301 there were regulations governing the sale of eyeglasses.
  • In 1352, de Modena paints a portrait of a cardinal using them to read.
  • Glasses were not scientifically understood until Kepler publishes the first correct explanation of why convex & concave lenses work in 1604.
  • Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals – he has both hyperopia (farsightedness) and presbyopia (inability to focus on objects that are close).
  • In 1825, lenses that correct astigmatism (blurred vision in different planes, i.e. clarity in the horizontal plane but not the vertical due to different curvature of the lens in different planes)
  • Abbe number.
  • Reduce lens thickness by reducing lens size.
  • Lens materials
    • Optical crown glass. Shatters. Heavy. Still used in specialized circumstances. More likely used in telescopes and cameras.
    • Plastic (CR-39) – Safe. Cheap. Easy to make. Good optical quality. But…scratches.
    • Trivex – Blocks UV and resist shattering. Better optical quality than polycarbonate. Popular in rimless frames. Easy to tint.
    • Polycarbonate – Blocks UV and resists shattering. Scratches easily, usually coated. Bad for chromatic aberration.
    • High-index plastics (thiourethanes) – useful to make thinner lenses, but very high chromatic aberrations. Strong/shatter resistant, although not as good as polycarbonate.

Future

Light-speed computing!

http://www.networkworld.com/article/2923886/servers/utah-researchers-make-light-speed-computing-breakthrough.html#tk.twt_nww

  • University of Utah Researchers
  • The College of Engineering’s latest creation — an ultracompact beamsplitter on top of a silicon chip that divvies up lightwaves into separate channels — is designed to enable networks and computers to transmit data using light instead of electrons.
  • Light is the fastest thing you can use to transmit information
  • Converting light to electrons so it can be computed is the part that slows it down
  • The vision is to do everything in light… With all light, computing can eventually be millions of times faster.
  • Potentially this could enhance speeds *and* reduce power consumption drastically
  • The polarization beamsplitter and the input/output waveguides can be fabricated in a single lithography step.
  • Polarization of the light for 2 possible streams to allow binary transmission
  • Harnessing this for computation would enable the previously mentioned “light speed” computing.

Dispelling the hype swirling around high dynamic range TV

http://www.techhive.com/article/2920188/dispelling-the-hype-swirling-around-high-dynamic-range-tv.html?google_editors_picks=true

  • “High Dynamic Range (HDR). Suddenly the discussion isn’t just about more pixels, but better pixels.”
  • There’s no standard.
    • Samsung = “Peak Illuminator Ultimate”
    • LG = “Ultra Luminance”
    • Panasonic = “Dynamic Range Remaster”
    • Sony = “X-tended Dynamic Range” and “X-tended Dynamic Range Pro”
    • Vizio, Sharp, and TCL = Dolby’s HDR tech, “Dolby Vision”
  • UHD Alliance
  • Of course, content is a problem. There will be selected remasters into the HDR format here and there, but no sea change yet. In addition, broadcasters aren’t set up to distribute 4K content yet, which is a side issue for HDR formatted TV.
  • For cord cutters, 4K in general is an interesting question due to bandwidth caps.

Scientists devising new “liquid metal antennas” – Twice more powerful and flexible than present ones

http://www.benchmarkreporter.com/scientists-devising-new-liquid-metal-antennas-twice-more-powerful-and-flexible-than-present-ones/3571/

June 6, 2015

Citizens of Tech 006 – Saga of Lucimia Special, Part 2

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On this week’s Citizens of Tech podcast, we conclude our special on how complex games are developed. Regular host Eric Sutphen (@zutfen) and special guest Jeff Pugliese (@tpyowritr) continue their interview with game developers Tim Anderson and Giovanni Martello from Saga of Lucimia.

Topics include community, archetypes, and character progression.

Links

www.sagaoflucimia.com and @sagaoflucimia