Tech Tats


Mon, Nov 30th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

In this video, company Chaotic Moon Studios showcases their Tech Tats, wearable circuitry they define as "technology that is, in a sense, part of the user."

One example of a biowearable of sorts that’s serving as the weapon of choice for Google’s Life Sciences Division as they take on diabetes is a smart contact lens equipped with a tiny sensor that has the ability to measure the glucose level in tears. While it may seem a bit physically invasive, it’s actually making the testing process a far less invasive part of users’ lives. It doesn’t just spare diabetics the inconvenience of pricking their finger six to 10 times a day, but it allows them to monitor their glucose on the go without altering their normal behavior whatsoever. It’s completely automatic, completely easy, and it’s a wearable that experts believe…


How Attack of the Clones Should Have Ended

I never get tired of these


Sun, Nov 29th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

If the number of parodies alone does not make it clear just how much Star Wars has become a joke since the last trilogy was released, here is yet another video showcasing how Attack of the Clones should have ended.

There were far too many scenes to cover in Star Wars Attack of the Clones. Like why doesn't anyone follow the money trail when the clone army is discovered being ordered by a long dead jedi? Why don't the Cloners Aliens ever call to confirm someone will come get their giant army after waiting 10 years to grow them? Why does everyone just let Dooku walk around during the final battle? Why does OB-1 not mention that Dooku says the senate is being manipulated by the Dark Lord of the Sith? Why not make that public? The HISHE…


"The average person, Hershey said, was simply too poor to keep buying its products, and so allow the company to grow."

Giving people free money to stop the economic stagnation


Sat, Nov 28th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Hershey Company blames its flat sales on the decline of the middle class, who now have significantly less money to spend on chocolate. There is, however, a controversial way out of the economic stagnation: give people free money.

Already, you can hear the objections. But my taxes will rise! No, they will not--you do not pay the central bank’s bills; and so if anything, your taxes will fall--because investment will broaden the tax base by making people more prosperous. But inflation! Precisely so. Inflation is not a thing to be feared anymore, for boardrooms, living rooms, or backrooms. Why? Inflation is not just a “rise in prices.” It is a rise in incomes and prices. Remember Hershey’s explanation for its poor earnings? It can’t raise its prices until our earnings rise--and that is why it is struggling to grow. Inflation should not be seen as a monster,…


China's Cloning Factories Ready to Pump Out Animals


Fri, Nov 27th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to The Telegraph, China's "cloning factories" are getting ready to start producing pets, cattle, and sniffer dogs. Europe, where cloning is banned, is not impressed.

But Xu Xiaochun, chairman of Chinese biotechnology company BoyaLife that is backing the facility, dismissed such concerns.

“Let me ask one question. Was this ban based on scientific rationale or ethical rationale or political agenda?” Mr Xu told The Telegraph.

“Legislation is always behind science. But in the area of cloning, I think we are going the wrong way and starting to kill the technology.”


Homemade 90,000 Lumens Flashlight


Thu, Nov 26th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Daniel Riley of Stratus Productions shows off how he built a 1,000 watt flashlight capable of producing 90,000 lumens of light.

This homemade flashlight light bar uses ten 100W LED chips to produce an estimated 90,000 Lumens of light.


Wizard Cops

Wizard Cops Wizard Cops, Cast a Spell on You


Wed, Nov 25th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

In Wizard Cops, two cop wizards lay down the law in a dangerous Wiccan neighbourhood. You can download the Wizard Cops soundtrack, by Casey Edwards & Cliff Lloret, here (.wav).


"It’s increasingly hard to opt-out of online tracking."

But you sure can confuse the hell out of them


Tue, Nov 24th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Since it is impossible not to be tracked online, Wired brings to attention a couple of plug-ins that will obfuscate your online activities. Namely, AdNauseam, which clicks on every single ad on your behalf, and TrackMeNot, which engages in harmless but completely random online searches. The idea is to feed advertisers' "insatiable appetite for data" with bogus information. As companies retaliate against ad-blockers, this may be only thing left to do on an Internet that went from "liberator to oppressor."

Reason one: It’s increasingly hard to “opt out” of online tracking. “Unless you want to go live in a cave away from society,” Nissenbaum notes, you need to be online—often for work or to access government services. Online services claim they’re voluntary, but the cost of being a refusenik grows every day.

In this context, obfuscation is…


Vision-Based High-Speed Manipulation for Robotic Ultra-Precise Weed Control

A robotic gardener on wheels


Mon, Nov 23rd, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

IEEE Spectrum brings to attention BoniRob, a mechanical creation by Deepfield Robotics that is basically a robotic gardener on wheels capable of rooting out (literally) weeds — among other things.

BoniRob can navigate itself, adapting to many different field configurations. Its modular payload bay can handle up to 150 kilograms of stuff, and an onboard generator lets it run autonomously for 24 hours without needing to refuel. It’s powered by ROS, and Deepfield even suggests that you could use it for crazy stuff like drone launches or even swarms of mini-BoniRobs, because why not [right].

The idea here is that farms could buy one BoniRob, and then buy or rent whatever modules they happened to need when they need them, without having to invest in many single-task robots. [...]


You Can't Hack Constellations

US Navy reinstates training in celestial navigation


Mon, Nov 23rd, 2015 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Noting that you cannot "hack a sextant," the Naval Academy has "reinstated brief lessons in celestial navigation" as a backup in case GPS systems can't be used, are hacked, or turned off during a crisis.

"Knowledge of celestial navigation in the GPS era provides a solid back-up form of navigation in the event GPS becomes unreliable for whatever reason," Tisch said in the statement. "It is also good professional practice to use one navigational system to verify the accuracy of another."


Robotic Delivery System

Starship Industries


Sun, Nov 22nd, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Looking like it should be exploring a distant planet rather than simply delivering your groceries, this six-wheeled robot concept by Starship Industries plans on conquering the market on short-distance deliveries — really short distances. Press release here.

The idea is that a customer will place an order online, then the Starship drone will be automatically loaded up with the goods inside a ‘portable warehouse’ which is actually constructed from a converted cargo container. This can be placed anywhere which is convenient, like a parking lot or by a shopping mall, for instance. The Starship then heads out on the sidewalks at a top speed of four miles an hour, with a range of up to two miles. The aim is to deliver a package in under 30 minutes.

The customer can track the drone’s progress with an app,…


"They want to show the world that biohackers can make real scientific contributions."

Open source insulin


Sat, Nov 21st, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Biohackers from Counter Culture Labs are working towards creating a generic insulin that is affordable for patients. Their goal is to eventually give patients the ability to make their own drugs at home, without having to rely on expensive medications from the pharmaceutical industry (who I'm sure will do everything in their power to stop this from happening). You can see the project's crowdfunding page here.

Biosimilar drugs are not easy to concoct, Muldavin says, and insulin in particular is a challenge because of its structure. “It’s not as simple as putting the genetic code [in the bacteria] and out pops insulin,” she says. With the money raised in their crowdfunding campaign, the researchers plan to spend the next year figuring out how to make insulin from E. coli and purifying it. Since the resulting insulin probably won’t be pure enough to inject into human patients, so they…


"After several months of observation I developed a skill: I notice pigeons."

The Pigeon Movie Database


Fri, Nov 20th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Kind of like the IMBD, The Pigeon Movie Database catalogues every movie in which pigeons are present, their roles, and how the scene pans out.

Now I'm aware that pigeons are frequently used in cinema. Usually they are relegated to a mere secondary interpreter but sometimes they perform stunning performances. This is the motivation for creating this Blog.

I think that this blog has two aims: the first to provide a summary about pigeon appearances in movies and series and an analysis of why they are used. The second aim is to claim the inclusion of pigeons in movie credits. Nowadays, the use of uncredited animals in movies that produce profits of millions of dollars should be unthinkable. In some movies, dogs or other big mammals are credited but I think that it ought to be extended to other kinds of animals... like pigeons.


Hijacking Evolution with Gene Editing

Flouting the laws of inheritance and evolution


Thu, Nov 19th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Considering that the "key molecular tools" used for gene editing can be bought on eBay for "probably less than $10,000," scientists are urging care when modifying the DNA of plants and animals, especially when some of the genes are being made dominant, with potentially unknown collateral effects if released in nature.

Where poisoning, hunting, freezing, and whacking have failed, gene drive might succeed. One idea would be to drive a gene that makes the toads die when they’re exposed to an otherwise-harmless compound. Gene drive might similarly eliminate other invasive species, including the zebra mussels clogging the Great Lakes, the Asian carp driving native species out of America’s waterways, and the pythons that have obliterated raccoons and rabbits in Florida’s Everglades.

While that may sound ecologically worthwhile, intervening in nature seldom goes as planned. For one thing, these invasive species are…


"France has contributed more foreign fighters to ISIS than any other Western country."

Opinion Fallout from the Paris Attack


Wed, Nov 18th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Albeit you'll read to the point of exhaustion that what the terrorist want is confusion and chaos — which well appears to be ISIS modus operandi — some argue that rather than responding to the attacks with hostility, France should review the treatment of its minorities, which is making them prone to becoming extremists. Meanwhile as retaliation, Anonymous attacked a bunch of Twitter accounts.

Today, France has one of the largest Muslim minorities in Europe. French Muslims are also predominantly a social underclass, a legacy of France’s colonial past and indifference to its aftermath. For example, although just 7 to 8 percent of France’s population is Muslim, as much as 70 percent of the prison population is Muslim, a situation that has left a very large number of young French Muslims vulnerable to absorbing radical ideas in prison and out. Within this social landscape,…


"Children themselves are unaware that everything they say to the doll is being listened to."

The problem with Hello Barbie


Tue, Nov 17th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Noting that children will tell their dolls everything, privacy advocates are creeped out that every single conversation a child is having with Hello Barbie is being "recorded and analyzed." Some fear that this "information could be of great value to advertisers and be used to market unfairly to children."

According to Oren Jacob, parents have to sign a consent form before allowing their child to play with Hello Barbie. Because the child’s speech is recorded, stored, and converted to text files, the interactive element of the doll raises the specter of COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule. Jacob said the Hello Barbie consent form is similar to the consent form parents sign when setting up ToyTalk’s Web-based speech recognition games like Thomas & Friends Talk to You.

But while parents are fully informed of the doll’s recording features—and can even log in to access all of the data…


For Canada, Trans-Pacific Partnership May Be Worst-Ever Agreement

Agreement favours US, would limit Canadian innovation


Mon, Nov 9th, 2015 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Jim Balsillie, of RIM fame, warns that the Trans-Pacific Partnership — which reportedly forces everyone to play by the rules set by the United States — not only will leave Canada as a "permanent underclass" on intellectual property, but may possibly cost it "hundreds of billions of dollars" in economic stagnation. Balsillie calls this "the worst thing that the Harper government has done for Canada." It is unclear how the new Liberal government will tackle this.

Balsillie’s concerns about the deal include how it would impose intellectual property standards set by the U.S., the biggest partner in the treaty.

He fears it would give American firms an edge and cost Canadian companies more money because they would have to pay for someone else’s ideas instead their own.

On top of that, Balsillie believes the structure could prevent Canadian firms from growing as it would also limit how much…

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"Major TV networks are so scared of Netflix they are actually starting to show fewer ads."

Turns out people really like watching television without advertising


Fri, Nov 13th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Business Insider, cable companies are so scared of losing younger viewers to services like Netflix and Hulu that they have started cutting the amount of commercials during prime-time television to half.

road consumer opinion does seem to have shifted away from ads, not only with the continuing popularity of ad-free streaming services, but also with the rise of "ad blockers."

Ad blockers, programs for web browsers and smartphones that remove ads from websites, have been the subject of recent controversy after Apple decided to allow them on the iPhone. Media companies have argued that this software will destroy companies who rely on ad-based revenue, while advocates have said that it will force the industry to make ads less intrusive.

But whatever their effect, they are catching on, and seem to represent how much the public hates the current model of advertising.

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Fuel for Nuclear Bomb for Sale

From Russia, with love


Sat, Nov 14th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to The Centre for Public Integrity, there has been a dangerous trend of smugglers trying to sell nuclear fissile material that, while too little to build a traditional nuclear bomb, could be used to create an "implosion-style" device.

[...] the resulting international probe into the case has sparked fresh, and previously unreported worries, that thieves inside of Russia somehow made off years ago with a full bomb’s worth of highly enriched uranium. Western spies fear the thieves have been doggedly looking for a buyer for the past sixteen years, by repeatedly dangling in front of them identical, genuine samples of that highly valuable material.

Five current or former U.S. officials who have tracked nuclear smuggling, and who declined to be named because this assessment is classified, said it is now a consensus view within the intelligence community.

But no one in the West knows exactly who has this…

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"Rockets are a terrible way of getting to space."

Current technologies for getting into space suck


Tue, Nov 10th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Comparing travelling to space in a rocket much like crossing the Atlantic using a catapult, The Conversation's Leon Vanstone opines that in order for humanity to explore the universe, it needs to find a better way to get into space, fast. One option may be the SKYLON spaceplane, a reusable vehicle capable of taking off and landing like a regular airplane, but sporting engines capable of taking it into orbit.

Being so inefficient means that the only way to get all your cargo to the height and speed you need via rocket is to jettison the empty fuel tanks as soon as they run dry. For this very reason, rockets are staged; that is, split into sections. When one section runs out of fuel, you can drop the weight of its empty container.

Very little of the rocket…

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Most Major Air Carriers Maintain Their Airplanes Off Shore

There may be some safety issues with that


Wed, Nov 11th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Often plagued by a lack of profitability, airlines are now shifting their planes' maintenance to developing countries. While the cost-saving benefits are significant, most of the mechanics working on the vehicles are not certified, leading to concerns over aviation safety.

Airline mechanics at U.S. airports who perform routine safety checks and maintenance tasks before an airplane takes off report that they are discovering slipshod work done by overseas repair shops. American Airlines mechanics contended in a lawsuit last January that they had been disciplined by management for reporting numerous safety violations they uncovered on airplanes that had recently been serviced in China. Mechanics in Dallas said they had discovered cracked engine pylons, defective doors, and expired oxygen canisters, damage that had simply been painted over, and missing equipment, among other violations. An American spokesperson denied the allegations, contending that the airline’s “maintenance programs, practices, procedures and overall compliance…

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"Through a feat of genetic engineering, Carter’s apples hold on indefinitely."

On genetically engineering a better apple


Thu, Nov 12th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Buzzfeed (I know, I know) looks at the Arctic, a genetically modified Golden Delicious which does not bruise or does not oxidise when cut. And while this may make fruit more palpable for the public, the question is whether or not they will eat food that has obviously been genetically modified to be more appealing.

The Arctic was conceived by Carter’s company, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, which he runs with his wife, Louisa, and four other full-time employees, newly under the umbrella of a large biotech company that bought it this year. It’s an intended solution to what Carter sees as two interrelated problems: First, millions of pounds of perfectly good apples get dumped every year because they look a little too bruised or brown, the victims of an instinctive human aversion to fruits and vegetables that aren’t smooth, shiny, and symmetrical. And at the same time, North American consumers,…

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Snowden's Online Privacy 101

Small things you can do to increase your privacy


Sun, Nov 15th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Whether you're a secret agent working incognito in a foreign country or someone in an abusive relationship looking for privacy from prying eyes, Edward Snowden gives a basic rundown of what little you need to do in order to have operational security without drastically changing how you live your life.

[Opsec] is important even if you’re not worried about the NSA. Because when you think about who the victims of surveillance are, on a day-to-day basis, you’re thinking about people who are in abusive spousal relationships, you’re thinking about people who are concerned about stalkers, you’re thinking about children who are concerned about their parents overhearing things. It’s to reclaim a level of privacy.

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"A person’s life has been saved by gene editing."

Genetically-modified immune cells stop leukaemia in one-year-old


Sun, Nov 8th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Albeit the doctors are careful in calling the patient cured, by using a third-party's immune cells, genetically modified to seek out and destroy the cancer while working in a foreign body, a one-year-old girl appears to have completely recovered from leukaemia.

The basic idea is to remove immune cells from a patient’s body, genetically engineer them to attack cancerous cells and place them back in the body. Several human trials are already underway around world. Some trials involve adding a gene for a receptor called CAR19, which sits on the outside of the T-cells. This programs the T-cells to seek out and kill any cells with a protein called CD19 on their surface – which is found on the cells that cause acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

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Sketch Room-Sized Objects at Actual Scale

The Protopiper


Mon, Nov 16th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Protopiper is a gun-shaped device that allows to create full-scale three-dimensional objects using adhesive tape. The goal of the device is to give you an idea of how much volume an object will occupy.

Protopiper is a computer aided, hand-held fabrication device that allows users to sketch room-sized objects at actual scale. The key idea behind protopiper is that it forms adhesive tape into tubes as its main building material, rather than extruded plastic or photopolymer lines. Since the resulting tubes are hollow they offer excellent strength-to-weight ratio, thus scale well to large structures.

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"Everyone is building drones these days, but nobody knows how to get them to stop running into things."

MIT builds a drone capable of avoiding obstacles on its own


Wed, Nov 4th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Using off-the-shelves components, wing-mounted cameras and the processing power similar to that of a smartphone, MIT shows off how they were able to build a drone capable of avoiding obstacles all by itself.

[...] “Sensors like lidar are too heavy to put on small aircraft, and creating maps of the environment in advance isn’t practical. If we want drones that can fly quickly and navigate in the real world, we need better, faster algorithms.”

Running 20 times faster than existing software, Barry’s stereo-vision algorithm allows the drone to detect objects and build a full map of its surroundings in real-time. [...]

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Sleek Laptop Organizer that Doubles as a Stand

Project ZAG


Tue, Nov 3rd, 2015 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Industrial designers Jakob Hedlund, Jasmine Quek, and Russell Chew showcase Project ZAG, a sleek, ultra-portable laptop organizer that also doubles as a stand for more comfortable typing. The project is currently seeking your financial support on Kickstarter.

ZAG is a unique versatile accessory organizer that simplifies the way we carry our accessories on the go! With a simple fold and tuck, it easily transforms and becomes a reliable stand to lift your laptop at an ergonomic angle. ZAG was created from the need of something more flexible, something more sleek and something more mobile for carrying laptop accessories, fulfilling the role of that missing pocket for our laptops.

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"The combination of wolf, coyote and dog DNA that resulted from this reproductive necessity generated an exception."

The Coywolf


Mon, Nov 2nd, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Through interbreeding and sporting the DNA of dogs, wolves and coyotes, a new animal specie has emerged, aptly called the Coywolf. Reportedly, unlike other hybrid species which fail to survive, the Coywolf takes the best from each of its descendents allowing it to thrive in any kind of environment. Above, a photograph of coywolves from the Wikipedia page.

Coyotes dislike hunting in forests. Wolves prefer it. Interbreeding has produced an animal skilled at catching prey in both open terrain and densely wooded areas, says Dr Kays. And even their cries blend those of their ancestors. The first part of a howl resembles a wolf’s (with a deep pitch), but this then turns into a higher-pitched, coyote-like yipping.

The animal’s range has encompassed America’s entire north-east, urban areas included, for at least a decade, and is continuing to expand in the…

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Turn Any Watch into a Smartwatch

Sort of


Mon, Nov 9th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Bloomberg brings to attention Chronos, a small metal disc that can easily be attached behind any analogue watch, effectively turning it into a smartwatch of sorts. The device provides for custom notifications, fitness tracking, as well as the ability to control your phone using taps and gestures.

The other big function of Chronos is notifications. Chronos has really dug deep into iOS to make sure the experience is as rich as possible, and it has done a great job. Each type of notification can be assigned one of eight vibration patterns and one of six colors of LED flashes (or no lights at all). There are two tiers of notifications: person-specific and app-specific. For the former, you can assign a contact her own combination and get that vibration and flash whenever she contacts you, whether it's through a phone call, an e-mail, or a WhatsApp message. Apps can…

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People Doing Stupid Things With Tesla's Autopilot


Sat, Nov 7th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to the Washington Post, YouTube videos showing "drivers behaving dangerously" behind the wheel of a Tesla on Autopilot will force the luxury car manufacturer to limit what the vehicle can do so as "to minimize people doing crazy things with it."

The warning from Tesla is just the latest from high-tech automakers about the dangerous ease some people have in ceding their control to a relatively new technology. Google's latest monthly update on its driverless car project reported that at least one test driver turned around to look for something in the backseat while the computer was doing the driving — at 65 mph on the freeway.

"We saw human nature at work," Google said in its report. "People trust technology very quickly once they see it works."

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"This achievement may someday make it possible to use pig organs for transplantation into humans."

Using Crispr to edit pig's genome to produce organs for humans


Fri, Oct 23rd, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to the New York Times, using the powerful gene-editing tool Crispr, scientists changed 62 pig genes at once in the hope of making pig organs available for transplant into humans. The experiment is not without controvery.

Dr. Church’s experiment had its origins in the shortage of organs for transplants. Thousands of people die each year waiting for hearts, lungs and livers.

“It’s a cruel situation currently, that someone who needs a heart transplant has to pin their chance for a healthy life on the untimely death of another person,” said David A. Dunn, an expert on transplantation at the State University of New York at Oswego.

Meanwhile, reports on a breakthrough in which scientists were able to create a working animal limb in a lab.

“The composite nature of our limbs makes building a functional biological replacement particularly challenging,” explains Harald Ott, MD, of the…

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