Internet-Connected Guns for Cops

Gun would provide real-time data location and when it was unholstered and fired


Fri, Oct 24th, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

Silicon Valley startup Yardarm Technologies plans in transforming "officers' weapons into smart guns with real-time telemetry." The sensor, a small device that would go inside the gun, would be able to provide location of the gun and, if fired, the direction the gun was pointing to.

While it won't capture the details of all an officer's interactions with the public, the Yardarm device may provide critical information. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak was highly optimistic that the sensors would bolster accountability. "A law enforcement leader’s ultimate responsibility is to keep their staff and the public safe at all times,” Wowak said. “Yardarm's technology is a groundbreaking way to do just that, and every sheriff and police chief worldwide should be looking at this product for the future of their department.”


Homeboy, Miniature, Self-Contained Magnetically Mounted Wireless Security Cameras


Fri, Oct 24th, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

Currently ready for pre-order, the miniature, magnetically mounted and completely self-contained Homeboy is a miniature security camera that can notify via SMS, Twitter or Facebook. The device, which remains charged for up to three months, allows you to also friends to keep an eye on things. Article on the device here.

The Homeboy system features the world's first wire-free, long-life camera in production paired with intuitive mobile apps and an open platform that communicates with other smart home services and devices.

Homeboy is incredibly simple to use. You can use Homeboy to check in on your home when you’re away, invite your trusted social network to watch your back when you’re not around, or call on the professionals to monitor it 24/7.


Google's Self-Driving Car May Never Actually Happen


Fri, Oct 24th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Slate, while it seems that the self-driving car is right around the corner due to all of its impressive achievements, the system can't actually "avoid potholes or operate in heavy rain or snow," nor is it able to tell the difference between a rock and a piece of newspaper in the middle of the road. If anything, in order for the vehicle to be successful, it will need "a computer with a level of intelligence that machines won't have for many years, if ever."

The mapping system isn’t the only problem. The Google car doesn’t know much about parking: It can’t currently find a space in a supermarket lot or multilevel garage. It can't consistently handle coned-off road construction sites, and its video cameras can sometimes be blinded by the sun when trying to detect the color of a traffic signal. Because it can't tell the difference…


Americans Take Note on What Grown-Up News Look Like

"Led by veteran anchor Peter Mansbridge, the rolling coverage was smart, careful, and absolutely un-American."


Fri, Oct 24th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

MediaBistro's Mark Joyella looks at how CBC News' veteran anchor Peter Mansbridge covered the news of the Ottawa shooting and argues that to "the nervous system of an American observer of TV news," CBC's coverage was "well, very Canadian."

On screen, CBC News kept a ticker scrolling, a “Breaking News” bug in the corner, a “LIVE” bug at the top right, and three boxes showing video and live pictures. Mansbridge rarely appeared on camera, even as he took pains to ensure information was correct before reporting anything–particularly the news a soldier shot at Ottawa’s War Memorial had died of his injuries.

As I watched via the network’s live stream in New York, I never heard a second of dramatic music, never saw a full-screen wipe with a catchy graphic like TERROR ON PARLIAMENT HILL, and never, ever heard Mansbridge or…


"Cell phone numbers are better identifiers than email addresses."


Thu, Oct 23rd, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

Digits is a service by Twitter that allows developers to connect a user to their app not with a username and password, but by using their mobile number. The idea is similar to how WhatsApp operates, using SMS to validate a user's identity. Interestingly, while this platform is open for developers to use, and Twitter is footing the bill, the catch is that Twitter gets to keep the numbers. This may have at to do with the idea that native advertising will be taking an even bigger share of the advertising revenue currently being enjoyed by Google, tremendously benefiting "Twitter’s advertising business in mobile."

That seems generous of Twitter, but there’s a catch: Twitter gets to keep those phone numbers too, and store them on its servers.

It can then use them to enhance its mobile advertising network MoPub. Phone numbers give Twitter a better read on…


Teaching Facebook's 1.3 Billion Users to Play Nice

“Believe it or not, most of the time people do mean well.”


Thu, Oct 23rd, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

The impossible-sounding job to teach its 1.3 billion users to be nice to each other falls on the shoulders of Arturo Bejar, "director of engineering for the Facebook Protect and Care team." Bejar, who believes that "most users are not trying to be mean," is building tools which, in order to make social media successful, teach its users to "be kinder and more empathetic."

On Facebook, teenagers are presented with more options than just “it’s embarrassing” when they want to remove a post. They are asked what’s happening in the post, how they feel about it and how sad they are. In addition, they are given a text box with a polite pre-written response that can be sent to the friend who hurt their feelings. (In early versions of this feature, only 20 percent of teenagers filled out the form. When Facebook added more descriptive language like “feelings” and…


Aposematic Jacket: Wearable Computer for Self-Defense


Thu, Oct 23rd, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Shinseungback Kimyonghun, a Seoul based artist group consisting of Shin Seung Back and Kim Yong Hun, showcases their Aposematic Jacket, a "wearable computer for self-defense." The jacket sports a series of lenses all over it allowing it to record everything around it in 360 degrees, sending the images to the web.


"All terrorist attacks are, by definition, symbolic."

The Ottawa Shooting


Thu, Oct 23rd, 2014 09:00 by capnasty NEWS

Inspired by what appears to be Islamic extremism, Canadian-born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed a corporal guarding the National War Memorial before entering Parliament building where he died after a shootout with the RCMP. With the Prime Minister calling this a terrorism attack, Doug Saunders argues against turning the seat of government into a fortress.

All terrorist attacks are, by definition, symbolic. The assailants are not seeking to overcome their perceived enemy by military defeat or to use persuasion to change the state of affairs they detest, but rather to create a sense, among public and officials, that their most open, welcoming and observed institutions – markets, border crossings, vacation resorts, public-transit systems, hotels, airports, trade centres, and legislatures – will never again, so long as that state of affairs continues, be places where people can peacefully gather without…


Women Cheaper to Launch into Space than Men

"Indeed, a number of people I talked to acknowledged the benefits of an all-female crew, or even just a crew made of smaller people in general."


Wed, Oct 22nd, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

While participating in a mock Mars mission, where crew members "lived" on the surface of the red planet for four months, Kate Greene determined that due to their size and food intake, "women are, on average, cheaper to launch and fly than men." With women requiring half the caloric intake of men, less food would need to be launched with the crew. It may seem ridiculous, but every pound counts to launch a rocket into space.

The calorie requirements of an astronaut matter significantly when planning a mission. The more food a person needs to maintain her weight on a long space journey, the more food should launch with her. The more food launched, the heavier the payload. The heavier the payload, the more fuel required to blast it into orbit and beyond. The more fuel required, the heavier the rocket becomes, which it in turn requires more fuel…


Harley-Davidson Prototype Electric Motorcycle

Project LiveWire


Wed, Oct 22nd, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

On ars technica, Gavin Gear takes Harley-Davidson's new electric prototype motorcycle, called Project LiveWire, for a spin. The bike, which in its current demo version has a range of 50 miles, received a mixed reaction from Harley-Davidson fans.

Since the motor is mounted longitudinally, a set of bevel gears is needed to change the direction of rotation so that the final drive belt pulley can transmit power to the rear wheel. When the first prototype of this gearbox was tested, a distinct gear whine was observed. It wasn’t a problem, though—it actually sounded cool. This could align well with one of the key design criteria for Harley-Davidson: the sound. Lund's team tuned the design of the gearbox until the optimal turbine-like whine was achieved.

Project LiveWire is equipped with a Lithium Ion battery pack that’s a (much) larger version of what…


Fully Functional Hoverboard

The Hendo Hoverboards


Wed, Oct 22nd, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Citing some movie but not really saying which one, the Hendo Hoverboard takes a skateboard, removes the wheels and straps on four hover engines, causing the board to levitate from a special surface on the ground. The project, designed as an experiment to showcase the technology, is currently seeking your financial support on Kickstarter.

So where does the HENDO hoverboard stand today? Well, about 1 inch off the ground. As you can see from the video above, the prototype is real and it works! But to see it hover in person, and better yet, to defy gravity by riding it, is something you need to experience as well.


Drinking Soda Pop May Age You Faster


Wed, Oct 22nd, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Time, drinking soda may have the same detrimental ageing effects on the body as smoking. Reportedly, a study by Elissa Epel, PhD, professor of psychiatry at University of California San Francisco, showed that drinking "an 8-ounce daily serving of soda corresponded to 1.9 years of additional aging." Reportedly, the sugary drink reduces the length of telomeres, "linked to health detriments like shorter lifespans and more stress, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer [...]."

Only the sugary, bubbly stuff showed this effect. Epel didn’t see any association between telomere length and diet soda intake. “The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism,” she says.


Mexican Drug Cartels Are Far More Violent than ISIS


Tue, Oct 21st, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Although ISIS is seen as a brutal and violent regime practising an "intrinsically Islamic" barbarism, Al Jazeera argues that Mexican drug cartels have killed far more people — and far more Americans — at a "rate of more than one killing every half hour for the last seven years."

U.S. media have especially hyped ISIL’s violence against Americans. This summer ISIL beheaded two Americans and has warned about executing a third; additionally, one U.S. Marine has died in efforts to combat the group. By contrast, the cartels killed 293 Americans in Mexico from 2007 to 2010 and have repeatedly attacked U.S. consulates in Mexico. While ISIL’s beheadings are no doubt outrageous, the cartels tortured, dismembered and then cooked one of the Americans they captured — possibly eating him or feeding him to dogs.


Picobrew Zymatic: Computer-Controlled Home-Brewery

Download and share beer recipes


Tue, Oct 21st, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Picobrew Zymatic, the brainchild of a former Microsoft employee and a foodie, takes all the hard work out of making great beer at home by removing all the errors and providing a stable environment. Recipes can be shared and downloaded, guaranteeing that the exact same batch of beer is produced, everytime.

At first they tinkered with things like robotic arms and complicated valve systems. Eventually they gave up trying to mechanically add and remove ingredients. Instead they figured out a way to circulate water at different temperatures through the dry ingredients.

To make a batch with a Zymatic, you select a recipe in the browser. Then you measure and pour grain into a plastic tray and the hops into specially designed filter baskets. You then slide them into the machine. A small “Cornelius” keg is filled with water and…


Cell Transplant Allows Paralysed Man to Walk Again


Tue, Oct 21st, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

Paralysed from the chest down after a knife attack, Mr. Darek Fidyka can now walk again, using a frame, after cells from his nasal cavity were transplanted in his spine. These cells, which are "being continually damaged and must be replaced," were used to re-establish the nerve circuitry in the damaged area of the spinal cord.

Mr Fidyka first noticed that the treatment had been successful after about three months, when his left thigh began putting on muscle.

Six months after surgery, Mr Fidyka was able to take his first tentative steps along parallel bars, using leg braces and the support of a physiotherapist.

Two years after the treatment, he can now walk outside the rehabilitation centre using a frame.


The Empire Strikes Back Uncut


Sun, October 12th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

With Star Wars Uncut finished, it was only a matter of time before The Empire Strikes Back Uncut would come to light. It features more and faster transitions between segments, some seriously creative variety, and a lot of cool tips-to-the-hat. Well done!

With more than 480 fan-made segments culled from over 1,500 submissions, The Empire Strikes Back Uncut (also known as ESB Uncut) features a stunning mash-up of styles and filmmaking techniques, including live action, animation, and stop-motion. The project launched in 2013, with fans claiming 15-second scenes to reimagine as they saw fit – resulting in sequences created with everything from action figures to cardboard props to stunning visual effects. Helmed by Casey Pugh, who oversaw 2010’s Emmy-winning Star Wars Uncut, the new film has a wonderful homemade charm, stands as an affectionate tribute to The Empire Strikes Back,…

3088 More

In an Era of Mass Surveillance, Technology Companies are Responding to the Demands of their Customers


Sat, October 18th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Although Apple's encryption on the iPhone 6 has sparked both sceptics doubting its efficacy, as well as the criticism of law enforcement agencies, Wired's Ken Gude argues that in an era of Government mass surveillance, this kind of "encryption is clearly in the public's interest."

Comey wants us to believe that the elimination of the key could allow violent criminals to “go dark”—thus evading detection and arrest. It is possible to construct a hypothetical scenario in which the only evidence of criminal activity is stored on a suspect’s personal device, consists only of data not backed up in cloud storage, and is not in the possession of third parties like telecommunications carriers or app developers. But none of the criminal cases cited by Comey meet that hypothetical because in real life those instances would be extremely rare and far outweighed by the clear public…

469 More

Generator Produces Electricity Out of Waste Heat


Thu, October 9th, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

MIT Technology Review brings to attention Alphabet Energy, a company producing industrial-sized generators that work off waste heat to produce electricity. The generator is able to do this thanks to a "highly efficient thermoelectric material discovered recently at the University of Michigan."

Matt Scullin, the CEO of Alphabet Energy, the startup that developed the new device, says connecting it to the exhaust pipe of a 1,000-kilowatt generator will yield enough electricity to save 52,500 liters of diesel fuel a year, for a reduction of about 2.5 percent. For smaller engines, the savings would be slightly higher, Scullin says.

The first customers will probably be oil, gas, and mining companies that use large generators to produce power in remote areas. The generator could save those companies millions in fuel, Scullin says. “There aren’t many levers these companies can pull to…

426 More

Digital Stress Management Bracelet with Haptic Feedback

The Olive


Fri, October 10th, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

Currently seeking your financial support on Indiegogo, the Olive bracelet is packed full of sensors that monitor body temperature, motion, heart rate and even emotional responses. When it detects that you're stressed out, you can either perform a calming exercise on your phone or do breathing exercises guided by the bracelet itself.

Olive nudges you through gentle taps (haptic feedback) or LED lights on your wrist when it detects elevated stress levels or you've previously scheduled a stress management exercise. Check in with yourself and control how you want to respond to stress. If you need help, it's as easy as a swipe to launch an exercise. If you're feeling fine, swipe the other way to ignore it.

Olive can easily switch between silent, haptic, LED light, and haptic+LED light modes so that you can always decide how much…

379 More

Apple's Encryption Won't Stop the NSA


Mon, October 6th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

On the Silicon Exposed blog, Andrew Zonenberg looks at Apple's announcement that it won't be able to decrypt its phones for law enforcement agencies. Zonenberg argues that "disk encryption isn't as much of a major game-changer as people seem to think."

First off, the changes in iOS 8 are encrypting data on disk. Voice calls, SMS, and Internet packets still cross the carrier's network in cleartext. These companies are legally required (by CALEA in the United States, and similar laws in other countries) to provide a means for law enforcement or intelligence to access this data.

In addition, if Eve can get within radio range of Alice or Bob, she can record the conversation off the air. Although the radio links are normally encrypted, many of these cryptosystems are weak and can be defeated in a reasonable amount of time by cryptanalysis. Numerous methods are available…

369 More

Fully Articulated Hand Tracking

Microsoft's Handpose


Wed, October 8th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

In this video, Microsoft showcases their Handpose, a system that is able to track and recreate the movements of the hand. The video demonstrates how this can be used to manipulate virtual objects.

Introducing a new real-time articulated hand tracker which can enable new possibilities for human-computer interaction (HCI). Our system accurately reconstructs complex hand poses across a variety of subjects using only a single depth camera. It also allows for a high-degree of robustness, continually recovering from tracking failures. However, the most unique aspect of our tracker is its flexibility in terms of camera placement and operating range.

363 More

"As Ebola enters a deepening relationship with the human species, the question of how it is mutating has significance for every person on earth."


Tue, October 21st, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

After a laymen tour in the New Yorker on what makes the Ebola virus tick, Richard Preston explains what "genomics research can help contain the outbreak." It's terrifying to read that despite many precautions taken, front line workers were infected — even those not working directly in contact with the sick — and died.

Despite its ferocity in humans, Ebola is a life-form of mysterious simplicity. A particle of Ebola is made of only six structural proteins, locked together to become an object that resembles a strand of cooked spaghetti. An Ebola particle is only around eighty nanometres wide and a thousand nanometres long. If it were the size of a piece of spaghetti, then a human hair would be about twelve feet in diameter and would resemble the trunk of a giant redwood tree.

Once an Ebola particle enters the bloodstream, it drifts until it sticks to a…

361 More

How Lego Technic Sets are Designed


Thu, October 9th, 2014 22:00 by capnasty NEWS

Fascinating and beautifully shot (Quadcopter-mounted GoPros?) behind-the-scenes video by Volvo, showcasing how it participated with Lego Technic designers to create a fully remote-controlled Lego model of their gigantic L350F wheel loader.

358 More

Making Amtrak Your Home


Wed, October 8th, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

Website designer Spencer McCormick has a wonderfully written travel guide on living on an Amtrak train. Moving trains, that is. More technical details about how to do this on his tips and tricks page. His writing is filled with memorable moments, here is one of my many favourites:

Come October, I was staying in a hostel in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. There I met a man who was going to hike the Appalachian Trail. He had a beard and a santa belly and basically introduced himself by saying, “When I was 22 back from Vietnam this trail saved my life.” Without prompt he would say things like, “Some might not say it, really we’re all Buddha.” He was gregarious and generous; when it came to other people, often he’d say, “You haven’t walked a mile in their moccasins.” I never told strangers who I was, but I…

357 More

YouTube Videos With Generic Filenames As Their Title

The lesser seen, the underviewed


Sat, October 11th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Underviewed site finds YouTube videos that contain generic filenames as their title. Since nobody searches for filenames, this causes them to be rarely seen. Underviewed helps bring to attention all these videos in a variety of generic filenames, in the vague hopes that a gem can be discovered. The site was created by Felix Jung.

In an age of social media and viral videos being viewed millions of times, this site focuses on the undiscovered - the personal and private moments that the world hasn't had the chance to see.

348 More

Internet Kill Switch


Wed, October 8th, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

In an era of always-on Internet, John Edgar Park and Sean Michael Ragan demonstrate how to build an internet kill switch, in both an unobtrusive and over-the-top designs.

If you want to be double-dog sure, here’s a simple, fool-proof answer: a hardware kill switch. Put one on the wired connection between your computer and router and use it to unambiguously isolate that computer from the internet whenever you want. Or put it between your router (wireless or otherwise) and your ISP hardware to control the connection for the entire house. Sure, you could just unplug the cable, but that’s hard on the connectors, and the switch is faster to use and neater-looking, to boot.

347 More

Start-Up Wants to Save the World by Sucking CO2 Right Out of the Atmosphere


Thu, October 9th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

With the ultimate goal of being able to control the temperature of the entire planet, two-year-old startup Global Thermostat is planning on deploying technology capable of sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere at a very competitive price. Understandably, many people in the scientific community are skeptical of its success to deliver.

[...] A 2011 report by the American Physical Society identified key physical and economic challenges. The fact that carbon dioxide will bind with amines, forming a molecule called a carbamate, is well known chemistry. But carbon dioxide still represents only one in 2,500 molecules in the air. That means an effective air-capture machine would need to push vast amounts of air past amines to get enough carbon dioxide to stick to them and then regenerate the amines to capture more. That would require a lot of energy and thus be very expensive, the 2011 report said. That’s why…

343 More

Disney Research's Soft, Safe Robot Arms


Fri, October 10th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

IEEE Spectrum brings to attention these robot arms created by Disney Research. Although their purpose is to allow puppeteers to "remotely control mechanical characters without the use of motors," the fascinating thing is that by using low-friction passive fluid actuators, the arms lose much of the weight associated with robotic limbs.

[...] engineers at Disney Research have come up with an ingenious way of making robot arms that are low mass but high speed. Instead of conventional motors, their arm uses what’s called a fluid transmission. It consists of tubes filled with air or water that connect antagonistic actuators. The result is a system that’s passively safe and compliant and lightweight and backdriveable and backlash free and... Well, it goes on. This thing is cool.

342 More

Lockheed Martin to Develop Compact Fusion Reactor Prototype in Five Years


Thu, October 16th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Aviation Week, Lockheed Martin has been quietly working on a compact fusion reactor which could, with an estimated 25 kg of fuel, "run an entire year of operations."

Although the first-generation reactors will have radioactive parts at the ends of their lives, such as some steel elements in the shell, McGuire says the contamination situation “is an order of magnitude better” than that of contemporary fission systems. “There is no long-lived radiation. Fission reactors’ stuff will be there forever, but with fusion materials, after 100 years then you are good.” Contamination levels for fusion will improve with additional materials research, he believes. “It’s been a chicken-and-egg situation. Until we’ve had a good working fusion system, there has not been money to go off and do the hard-core materials research,” McGuire says. “So we believe the first generation is good enough to go out and do, and then…

342 More

Scientists Sceptical of Lockheed Martin's Promised Fusion Reactor


Fri, October 17th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Mother Jones, scientists are being sceptical of the recent announcement from Lockheed Martin, promising fusion reactors in as little as a decade, because it "is all theoretical at this stage."

[...]The challenge, essentially, is putting the sun in a box. That box, in theory, is packed full of charged particles, moving at great speeds, constrained by a strong magnetic field that enhances the probability that the particles slam into each other. With enough pressure, the particles stop resisting, and finally fuse, let off an amazing amount of energy.

The problem, says Reed, is that usually it takes just as much energy to power that controlling magnetic field as the power you get from fusion, hence the current size of the reactors. Lockheed claims to be able to harness that energy at a more efficient rate, so it can then make the reactors smaller.