"We'll sail on sunbeams."

Privately funded LightSail spacecraft ready for test flight

#Space

Tue, Jan 27th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Planetary Society announced that its first LightSail spacecraft will be hitching a ride on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in order to test the vehicle's critical functions. This flight will be "a precursor to a second mission slated for 2016." The project is entirely funded by private citizens. More info here.

Solar sailing works by using sunlight for propulsion. When solar photons strike LightSail's reflective Mylar® sails, their momentum is transferred to the spacecraft, gradually accelerating it through space. While the push from photons is miniscule, it is continuous and unlimited. Solar sails can eventually reach greater speeds than those obtained from chemical rockets. LightSail consists of four identical triangular sails attached to four 4-meter booms, resulting in a square solar sail when fully deployed.

The 2015 test flight will not carry the spacecraft high enough to escape Earth's atmospheric…

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Eggs Can Now Be Unboiled

#Science

Tue, Jan 27th, 2015 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Using a novel method, researchers were able to take boiled egg whites and return them to their original state.

To re-create a clear protein known as lysozyme once an egg has been boiled, he and his colleagues add a urea substance that chews away at the whites, liquefying the solid material. That's half the process; at the molecular level, protein bits are still balled up into unusable masses. The scientists then employ a vortex fluid device, a high-powered machine designed by Professor Colin Raston's laboratory at South Australia's Flinders University. Shear stress within thin, microfluidic films is applied to those tiny pieces, forcing them back into untangled, proper form.

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"You can buy a car, but you don’t own the software in its computers."

It is illegal to hack your car's computer

#Driving

Mon, Jan 26th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Wired, although we can buy a car, we never actually own the computer it comes with. All of its software is protected by digital rights management, so car manufactures can invoke the DMCA to "threaten anyone who needs to get around those restrictions, no matter how legitimate the reason."

No one has yet been prosecuted for hacking their own car, but they could. And as locks become more prevalent, the EFF and iFixit are willing to bet that, eventually, some carmaker will bring the DMCA hammer down on a hobbyist’s head. So we’re are taking a stand now.

“Without an exemption, we could also lose out on the insights and inventions of the millions of Americans who enjoy tinkering with and improving their cars,” Kit Walsh explains. “… Not all ECU code is copyrightable, and not all ECUs are locked down in a way that triggers DMCA…

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"Pirating a copy of Game of Thrones onto your laptop will mean that HBO may soon have your number."

Bill S-4, the Digital Privacy Act

#Copyright

Mon, Jan 26th, 2015 10:59 by capnasty NEWS

The National Post brings to attention Bill S-4, the Digital Privacy Act, which would allow companies to "call up your internet service provider and ask for the information of each user who has ignored their copyright."

The practise began in the United States, where companies — unflatteringly referred to as “copyright trolls” — have issued mass mailings to users who pirate copyright material. The letters range from cease and desist requests, to notices of legal action and, more and more commonly, demands for reparation. In the U.S., companies have been known seek as much as $75,000 or more for violations.

David Christopher, communications manager for OpenMedia, says it’s a dangerous precedent, and S-4 will allow for it.

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"Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry's dirty little secrets."

Modern cars play engine noises through audio speakers

#Driving

Sun, Jan 25th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Although quieter engines are a sign of just how "far engines and gas economy have progressed," automakers have discovered that customers want "all the force and fuel savings of a newer, better engine," but still sounding like an old muscle car. In order to achieve this, automakers have resorted to more satisfying engine noises playing through the car's speakers. Not everyone is impressed.

Among purists, the trickery has inspired an identity crisis and cut to the heart of American auto legend. The “aural experience” of a car, they argue, is an intangible that’s just as priceless as what’s revving under the hood.

“For a car guy, it’s literally music to hear that thing rumble,” said Mike Rhynard, 41, a past president and 33-year member of the Denver Mustang Club. He has swayed between love and hate of the snarl-boosting sound tube in his 2012 Mustang GT, but when it…

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Believable Social Proof You Are Not an Unlovable Loser

Invisible Boyfriend

#Relationships

Sat, Jan 24th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Invisible Boyfriend (and girlfriend), allows you to create a custom partner that you can text and share photos with. The service is intended to provide that "believable social proof" that you're settling down and are not "an unlovable loser."

My invisible boyfriend, Homann explains, is actually boyfriends, plural: The service's texting operation is powered by CrowdSource, a St. Louis-based tech company that manages 200,000 remote, microtask-focused workers. When I send a text to the Ryan number saved in my phone, the message routes through Invisible Boyfriend, where it's anonymized and assigned to some Amazon Turk or Fivrr freelancer. He (or she) gets a couple of cents to respond. He never sees my name or number, and he can't really have anything like an actual conversation with me.

"That rapport you feel with Ryan may actually be six or seven Ryans," Homann explains.

This is nothing new.

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"Researchers have demonstrated a simple micromotor that can propel itself inside the body."

The beginning of self propelled nanobots

#Health

Fri, Jan 23rd, 2015 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Setting the first steps for health-based nanobots, researchers have shown a simple micromotor that can move by itself inside the human body.

[...] When introduced into a mouse’s stomach, the micromotor swims to the stomach lining and delivers cargo.

The study is an important landmark, says Thomas E. Mallouk, who develops nanomotors and micromotors at Pennsylvania State University. It shows the potential of motorized particles to possibly improve the functions of nanoparticle drug carriers and imaging agents.

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"Sometimes you wake up and life just kicks you in the bollocks."

Bad Day at the Office

#WTF

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

If your morning starts with a giant hammer turning your testicles into jam, the rest of your day is all relative.

Wallace D. Popple's workday delivers a series of painful mishaps. Yet within this off-kilter tale about happiness lies a twist for the twisted.

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"AdBlock for Real Life"

Blocking corporate branding in real time

#Advertising

Thu, Jan 22nd, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Interesting demonstration showcasing how to make real life corporate branding unreadable. A little inconvenient having to wear a head mounted display, but still a cool idea.

Corporate branding and advertisements are ubiquitous in society today and almost impossible to avoid. What if we lived in a world where consumers were blind to this surplus of corporate branding? Brand Killer is a technology demonstration that envisions a future in which consumers can use augmented reality to opt out corporate influence. We built a head mounted display which uses computer vision to recognize and block brands and logos from the user's view in real time. It's AdBlock for Real Life.

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Designing With Your Nose

Look, no hands

#Art

Wed, Jan 21st, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Suffering from Epicondylitis, an injury to the nervous and musculoskeletal systems caused by repetitive tasks, New Zealand-based designer Michelle Vandy explains how she used her nose to continue designing. Remarkable story.

A designer by the name of Michelle Vandy has begun using her nose to do her job on her computer. Instead of using her arms, wrists, and fingers to tap into graphic design, she's rigged up a tripod, a stand, and an Apple Magic Trackpad to construct what may be the world's first "Nose-pad." Without the use of this Nose-pad, Vandy might otherwise have had to give up on design altogether, entering a different working field where she'd not have been able to use her talents to such a fine degree.

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Lend Your Eyes to the Blind

Be My Eyes app

#Telephone

Tue, Jan 20th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Be My Eyes app connects visually impaired users with volunteers. When needed, the blind user can request help and the volunteer can provide visual assistance.

Be My Eyes is an app that connects blind people with volunteer helpers from around the world via live video chat. Download now and start helping blind people see.

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A Fast, Lean and Efficient Blocker for Browsers

µBlock

#Privacy

Tue, Jan 20th, 2015 09:46 by capnasty NEWS

Calling itself a general purpose blocker, the philosophy behind µBlock is simple: to provide a simple, lean, and efficient tool that blocks both advertising and other intrusive aspects of web surfing. I like their explanation:

[...] it's important to note that using a blocker is NOT theft. Don't fall for this creepy idea. The ultimate logical consequence of blocking = theft is the criminalisation of the inalienable right to privacy.

Ads, "unintrusive" or not, are just the visible portions of privacy-invading apparatus entering your browser when you visit most sites nowadays. µBlock's main goal is to help users neutralize such privacy-invading apparatus — in a way that welcomes those users who don't wish to use more technical, involved means (such as µMatrix).

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"Developing the ability to control and manage the fucks you give is the essence of strength and integrity."

When a fuck should and should not be given

#Life

Mon, Jan 19th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

If you've ever found yourself giving too much a fuck when one was not really needed, this handy guide by Mark Manson will gladly explain the subtle art of not giving a fuck.

The point is, most of us struggle throughout our lives by giving too many fucks in situations where fucks do not deserve to be given. We give a fuck about the rude gas station attendant who gave us too many nickels. We give a fuck when a show we liked was canceled on TV. We give a fuck when our coworkers don’t bother asking us about our awesome weekend. We give a fuck when it’s raining and we were supposed to go jogging in the morning.

Fucks given everywhere. Strewn about like seeds in mother-fucking spring time. And for what purpose? For what reason? Convenience? Easy comforts? A pat on the fucking back maybe?

This…

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So Called "Digital Natives" Don't Know How to Use Computers

And neither do you

#Opinion

Sun, Jan 18th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Although this post by Marc Scott on Coding 2 Learn is (relatively speaking) old, the issue is still relevant today: there is a misconception that kids, who are constantly online, have automagically become tech savvy, when the reality is that they can barely use a computer.

[...] After all, aren't all teenagers digital natives? They have laptops and tablets and games consoles and smart phones, surely they must be the most technologically knowledgeable demographic on the planet. The bell went, and I really did have a lesson to teach, so I didn't have time to explain to her my theories on why it is that kids can't use computers. Maybe she'll read my blog.

The truth is, kids can't use general purpose computers, and neither can most of the adults I know. There's a narrow range of individuals whom, at school, I consider technically savvy. These are roughly the…

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For Those Confused by Lorem Ipsum

BLOKK, a text mock-up font

#Internet

Sun, Jan 18th, 2015 10:59 by capnasty NEWS

If Lorem Ipsum is too baffling for clients when creating a mock-up website, the BLOKK font gives you some nice black lines to mimic the space occupied by text.

BLOKK is a font for quick mock-ups and wireframing for clients who do not understand latin.

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Facebook Knows I Abandoned It

What happens when you uninstall Facebook from your smartphone

#Relationships

Thu, Dec 25th, 2014 11:00 by Lord Lansdowne ARTICLE

After a factory reset on my phone, instead of immediately signing back on to all my social media, I uninstalled it all. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr. All gone.

The factory reset was necessary, as a recent software upgrade would cause the phone to crash, requiring a hard reset each time.

As soon as I signed-on my freshly reset phone, it began to immediately download all the apps I had previously installed.

It's amazing how many apps we keep on our phone that we never use. And yet, these apps diligently run in the background, doing god knows what. I uninstalled them all.

It's also amazing how many apps we seem constantly glued on. Any moment of downtime, the first thing I'd do would be to check Facebook.

Here's the funny thing: checking Facebook actually made me angry.

I was angry that each time I launched the app, Facebook would grab…

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"I’m not saying that we’re going to be running into IBM processors in outer space."

Alien life forms are probably sentient robots

#Space

Sat, Dec 27th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Motherboard's Maddie Stone looks at the work of Susan Schneider, a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, who theorises that with more and more potentially habitable planets being found across the galaxy, any sign of life we might detect will be by artificial life.

The reason for all this has to do, primarily, with timescales. For starters, when it comes to alien intelligence, there’s what Schneider calls the “short window observation”—the notion that, by the time any society learns to transmit radio signals, they’re probably a hop-skip away from upgrading their own biology. It’s a twist on the belief popularized by Ray Kurzweil that humanity’s own post-biological future is near at hand.

“As soon as a civilization invents radio, they’re within fifty years of computers, then, probably, only another fifty to a hundred years from inventing AI,” Shostak said. “At that point, soft, squishy brains become an…

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Send a Shitload of Glitter to Someone you Hate

Glitter as a Service

#Hate

Tue, Jan 13th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Ship Your Enemies Glitter website provides a very simple service: it ships a shitload of glitter to someone you hate, with the guarantee that once opened, it will go everywhere.

[...] here's the deal: there's someone in your life right now who you fucking hate. Whether it be your shitty neighbour, a family member or that bitch Amy down the road who thinks it's cool to invite you to High Tea but not provide any weed.

So pay us money, provide an address anywhere in the world & we'll send them so much glitter in an envelope that they'll be finding that shit everywhere for weeks. [...]

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"The era of individual torrent sites is over."

Run Your Own Pirate Bay

#Internet

Mon, Dec 29th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Although the The Pirate Bay is offline, you can now run your own using isohunt.to's Open Bay script, which allows you to "save, create and run your own Pirate Bay."

[...] The Pirate Bay recently said that if its site code wasn’t “so shitty,” the team would make it public “so that everyone could start their own bay.” isoHunt.to, the isoHunt of today which has no relation to the original isoHunt.com nor its staff, wants to do just that, although of course it’s offering its own code, not The Pirate Bay’s.

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Turbolifts Are Here

Multi-directional cable-free elevators

#Technology

Sat, Dec 20th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

By replacing vertical lift cables with linear motors, elevator maker ThyssenKrupp plans on having their elevators travel in multiple directions, have multiple cabins per shaft and allow for far taller buildings than previously possible.

The system works by replacing vertical lift cables with linear motors in each elevator cabin. European tech giant ThyssenKrupp says the system will increase transport capacities and efficiency, while dramatically lowering the "elevator footprint" (by as much as 50%) and peak loads from a building's power supply.

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Smartphone Controlled Robotic Bartender

Somabar

#Drinking

Tue, Dec 30th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Somabar, a WiFi connected bartender, allows you to easily create any kind of cocktails at the push of a button through an app on your smartphone. The device is currently seeking funding through Kickstarter.

When you press that button on the app, your SOMABAR will take the ingredients from scratch, infuse bitters (if you are in the mood) and dynamically mix them in precise quantities using positive displacement pumps before pouring out your craft cocktail in less than 5 seconds. The mixing comes from a combination of fluid dynamics, kinetic energy, and turbulence created by static vanes. What that means is fewer moving parts to maintain, as well as fast and perfectly mixed cocktails. Our on-board software and sensors make it easy to make new recipes and manage your inventory (liquid gold).

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Disappearance-Proof Airplanes

#Travel

Wed, Jan 7th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

After the disappearance of AirAsia Flight 8501, which crashed into the sea "without relaying any information about their last minutes or seconds of flight," the Washington Post looks at First Air, a Canadian airline serving the Arctic Circle that has a "nearly disappearance-proof" system on its planes.

That’s because of a six-pound tracking system, about the size of a hotel safe, installed in the planes’ electronics bays. When flights proceed normally, the system never snaps into action. But if something goes wrong — a sudden loss of altitude; an unexpected bank; engine vibrations — the system begins transmitting data to the ground, via satellite, every second. That six-pound box spits out reams of performance data, as well as the basics necessary for a search-and-rescue: coordinates, speed, and altitude.

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"The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space."

Mercedes-Benz Concept for a Future Self-Driving Luxury Vehicle

#Future

Mon, Jan 12th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Mercedes-Benz showcases a preview of the self-driving car of the future, the F 015 Luxury in Motion. The F 015 will allow researchers to study the concept of a vehicle becoming less a car and more of a living space.

The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle is offering a vision of autonomous driving in the future. The luxury saloon with total connectivity gives a preview of how the self-driving car of the future could become a platform for communication and interaction.

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Desktop Computer on a Stick

Intel's Compute Stick

#Computers

Fri, Jan 9th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Promised to arrive in 2015, Intel's Compute Stick gives you the guts of tablet computer without the tablet. Plug into the HDMI port of any display and, I'm assuming, a mouse and keyboard, and you've got yourself a low-end machine to work on.

The Intel® Compute Stick is a new generation compute-on-a-stick device that’s ready-to-go out-of–the-box and offers the performance, quality, and value you expect from Intel. Pre-installed with Windows 8.1* or Linux, get a complete experience on an ultra-small, power-efficient device that is just four inches long, yet packs the power and reliability of a quad-core Intel® Atom™ processor, with built-in wireless connectivity, on-board storage, and a micro SD card slot for additional storage. It’s everything you love about your desktop computer in a device that fits in the palm of your hand.

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Microsoft's $29 Smartphone

The Nokia 215

#Telephone

Tue, Jan 6th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

With a stand-by time of 29 days (21 for the dual-SIM version), Microsoft's Nokia 215 is an entry-level smartphone that comes complete with everything you'd expect. No mention of performance, but considering cost, that it only supports 2G, and the market it is intended for (Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe), it probably will be a slow but reliable piece. More info here.

"With our ultra-affordable mobile phones and digital services, we see an inspiring opportunity to connect the next billion people to the Internet for the first time," said Jo Harlow, corporate vice president of Microsoft Devices Group. "The Nokia 215 is perfect for people looking for their first mobile device, or those wanting to upgrade to enjoy affordable digital and social media services, like Facebook and Messenger." The Nokia 215 and Nokia 215 Dual SIM come in Bright Green, Black and White, and will…

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Using Fake Fingerprints to By-Pass Apple's Touch ID

#Telephone

Thu, Jan 1st, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

After the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) claimed it spoofed Apple's Touch ID biometric system, Tested tries to repeat the attempt using fake fingerprints.

How secure is Apple's Touch ID? We explain how it recognizes fingerprints, and then put it to the test by making fake fingers and fingerprints of our own. A German computer club claimed to have spoofed the security system last year, and we retrace their methods as well as experimenting with a few of our own.

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CGI Can't Beat Matte Painting

#StarWars

Fri, Jan 2nd, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Marco P. brings to attention this article on Gizmodo, where Jesus Diaz looks at how realistic-looking paintings on glass were combined with real action shots to give the impression of a bigger set. The result, a convincing scene CGI can't match.

When I saw Return of the Jedi in the movie theater back in 1983 I and everyone else thought this matte painting of a Rebel hangar was a real thing—that, somehow, they managed to build a full size set with giant models. It was all a magic trick that used distraction to fool your brain. This BBC documentary explains how.

A listing of famous matte paintings here.

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"If your dog can go to heaven, can E.T.?"

The discovery of alien life may alter humanity's notions of religious faith

#Religion

Fri, Dec 26th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

With the potential of other life living on one of the tens of billions of potentially habitable planets discovered in the Milky Way, what does their existance mean to humanity's religious doctrine?

Each alternative sounds ridiculous on the face of it. The first alternative would make Earth the center of the universe again, not just in space but in time, carrying the hopes for the salvation of beings that lived and died millions or billions of years ago and far, far away.

The second alternative would be multiple incarnations, requiring every civilization to have its own redeemer — “its own adventure with God,” in the words of Professor Peters. That is hardly better. As the old troublemaker Thomas Paine wrote in “The Age of Reason,” “In this case, the person who is irreverently called the son of God, and sometimes God himself, would have nothing else to do…

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All Sitcoms Use the Same Simple Formula

#Television

Wed, Dec 31st, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On The Atlantic, Noah Charney explains how all sitcoms, from Seinfeld to South Park follow the same simple formula. Reading his article may cause you to never look at a sitcom the same way.

Poet Philip Larkin described all plots as “a beginning, a muddle, and an end,” which is as good a description as any. Each episode begins with the protagonist stating a goal or problem that must be solved, and which we understand will be solved by the end of the episode. If the problem is solved too quickly, then the episode won’t stretch out to 22 minutes, so the first attempt at reaching the goal or solving the problem must fail (“the muddle”), requiring a new approach, before the episode ends and the protagonist either does, or does not, achieve what they set out to do. The goal might be Homer trying to make a fortune…

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"It could become a powerful weapon in the battle against antimicrobial resistance."

New antibiotic capable of killing drug-resistant bacteria discovered

#Health

Thu, Jan 8th, 2015 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

The experimental drug teixobactin has reportedly cured mice infected with antibiotic-resistant staphylococci bacteria. According to researchers, "it may take the bacteria longer than usual to develop a survival tactic," since the lipid structure the antibiotic attacks "don’t evolve as quickly as frequently mutating proteins."

The reason for the drug’s apparent resilience was discovered by Tanja Schneider in Bonn. Most antibiotics target bacterial proteins, but bugs can become resistant by evolving new kinds of proteins. Teixobactin works differently. It launches a double attack on the building blocks of bacterial cell walls themselves. “That’s an Achilles’ heel for antibiotic attack,” Schneider said. “It would take so much energy for the cell to modify this, I think it’s unlikely resistance will appear this way.”

Though promising, Lewis said that years more work lie ahead before the drug could be available. Human clinical trials could begin within two years to check its…

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