No Man's Sky: an Infinite Procedurally Generated Universe


Wed, July 23rd, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

The MIT Technology Review looks at No Man's Sky, a science fiction game that allows players to travel from planet to planet, discovering flora and fauna entirely generated by computer algorithms. Not even the developers of the game know what you might discover. Amazingly, each star in the sky is an actual sun, with a solar system, that can be visited.

When players discover a new planet, climb that planet’s tallest peak, or identify a new species of plant or animal, they are able to upload the discovery to the game’s servers, their name forever associated with the location, like a digital Christopher Columbus or Neil Armstrong. “Players will even be able to mark the planet as toxic or radioactive, or indicate what kind of life is there and then that then appears on everyone’s map,” says Murray.



Game of Thrones Season 4 Special Effects


Wed, July 23rd, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Mackevision shows the original shot and the digital rendering of all the components to create the final shots seen in season 4 of Game of Thrones. There are some scenes that I never would have assumed were the result of computers for just how realistic they looked.


Earth's Magnetic Poles are Getting Ready to Flip


Wed, July 23rd, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Scientific American, data collected by the European Space Agency (ESA) satellite array called Swarm shows that the Earth's magnetic field, which shields the planet from dangerous cosmic radiation spewing from the sun, has been weakening. Scientists theorise that this may be a result of the poles getting ready to switch, meaning that a traditional compass would start pointing South rather than North.

Floberghagen hopes that more data from Swarm will shed light on why the field is weakening faster now.

Still, there is no evidence that a weakened magnetic field would result in a doomsday for Earth. During past polarity flips there were no mass extinctions or evidence of radiation damage. Researchers think power grids and communication systems would be most at risk.

Earth's magnetic field acts like a giant invisible bubble that shields the planet from the dangerous cosmic radiation spewing from the sun in the…


Sleeping More Than 7 Hours Will Kill You


Tue, July 22nd, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Reportedly, the ideal amount of hours one should sleep is 7. While sleeping too little "impairs performance and memory the next day," too much sleep is associated with "diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease and with higher rates of death, studies show."

Several sleep studies have found that seven hours is the optimal amount of sleep—not eight, as was long believed—when it comes to certain cognitive and health markers, although many doctors question that conclusion.

[...] "The lowest mortality and morbidity is with seven hours," said Shawn Youngstedt, a professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University Phoenix. "Eight hours or more has consistently been shown to be hazardous," says Dr. Youngstedt, who researches the effects of oversleeping.


Please Don't Rob Me

Using Instagram to Determine Where a User Lives


Tue, July 22nd, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

The goal of Please Don't Rob Me is to show how easy it is to find out who an Instagram user is, where they live and whether they are at home, simply by using the Instagram subscription API. This project wants to educate users to be smarter about how they use and what they share on social media.

Each time someone uploads a photo with a hastag of our choosing, our server gets an instant notification. This notification contains the uploaded photo along with the user's details. From there our server runs a series of tests to see if we can extract a home address.

First, we try to extract a full name from the user's profile. Then, we enter than name in the Swedish online phone book and gather information on anyone with that name.

To verify who took the photo, we also query the user's 90 latest…


Longevity Drugs Mean the Rich Will Live Longer and the Poor Will Die Sooner


Tue, July 22nd, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

The growing inequality between the haves and have-nots is nothing new, but this gap may only widen as new costly longevity drugs make their way into the market. With the poor already living 12.2 years less than their rich counterparts, Aeon's Linda Marsa wants to know what happens when the rich "get two lives while the have-nots barely get one."

As novel compounds slow or even reverse ageing, the longevity divide could become a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon. The wealthy will experience an accelerated increase in life expectancy and health, and everyone else will go in the opposite direction, says S Jay Olshansky, a longevity researcher and professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. ‘And as the technology advances, the gap will only grow.’


Robots with Origami Wheels


Tue, July 22nd, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Spectrum showcases a radius-changing wheel for robots built by Seoul National University's BioRobotics Laboratory. Not only does this origami wheel allow for the robot to climb over or under things with ease, but also allows it to change whether it needs to move fast or carry some kind of load requiring more torque.

Unlike most automobiles, most robots don't bother with transmissions at all, because they're heavy and complicated. This means that robots have to be designed to either move fast (which doesn't require a lot of torque), or haul stuff (which does), but they're not great at doing both.

The researchers designed an origami wheel that can do both, by simply changing its radius, and thanks to its origami design, it does this by itself. It's a completely automatic continuously variable transmission, which allows a small robot to either…


Picking Up LEGO Pieces by the Sea Shore


Mon, July 21st, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

LEGOs are still washing up on Cornish beaches after a container filled with 4.8 million pieces fell overboard the Tokio Express in 1997.

No-one knows exactly what happened next, or even what was in the other 61 containers, but shortly after that some of those Lego pieces began washing up in both the north and south coasts of Cornwall. They're still coming in today.

A quirk of fate meant many of the Lego items were nautical-themed, so locals and tourists alike started finding miniature cutlasses, flippers, spear guns, seagrass and scuba gear as well as the dragons and the daisies.

"There's stories of kids in the late 1990s having buckets of dragons on the beach, selling them," says Tracey, who lives in Newquay.


EO1: Framed Computer Screen to Display Internet Art On

"Enjoy the Internet at a slower, more considered pace."


Mon, July 21st, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Currently seeking your financial support on Kickstarter, Electric Objects' EO1 gives you a high-definition computer screen with integrated circuitry, framed to look like an ordinary painting. The device allows you to "bring art from the Internet into your home" or supply it with your own.

Change your artwork as often as you want right from your phone.

Our web and mobile applications make it easy to discover, share, and display beautiful objects from around the Internet. Available at launch for iOS and Android, control what appears on your display using our native applications.

Explore and display thousands of objects, including original artwork, or upload your own.


Sex Tape, Debunked


Mon, July 21st, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

If you've seen the premise of the Sex Tape, which surely will have more up-front and personal shots of Jason Segel's penis, their sex video is "accidentally" uploaded to Apple's Cloud and seen by millions. GQ calls Apple support to find out if this is at all possible. It's not. Satisfied? Now you don't have to see the movie.

Videos can be backed up to iCloud, but what that means is the video would be saved as, like, a backup. But you wouldn't be able to share it with anyone. No one can go into the iCloud and watch the video.
Okay. So let's say I made my sex video, and somehow it got into the Cloud, and then I gave iPads as gifts to a hundred of my friends and family. What are the chances they would ever get that sex video on their iPads?



Real CPR Is Never Shown on TV

Live, damn you, liiiiiive


Mon, July 21st, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

The first realisation of those taking a CPR course is that the one you've seen on television is nowhere near what is performed in real life. It would seem obvious, but it's not: you need to apply a lot of force on someone's chest in order to break their ribs and reach the heart.

Experts say CPR is a lifesaver, and with good reason. Each year, more than 350,000 people in the United States — one every 90 seconds — experience cardiac arrest. The vast majority of these do not occur at a hospital, and those who receive CPR from a bystander are up to three times more likely to survive than someone who doesn’t receive such assistance.

But CPR is not without its drawbacks, especially for patients with chronic conditions and terminal illnesses. Patients who receive CPR may sustain not only a number of immediate complications like rib…


"In this business it's always better to be too paranoid than not paranoid enough."

Interview with an online drug dealer


Mon, July 21st, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On Motherboard, Anthony Ryan interviews an online drug dealer, RainDuck, who operates on the Tor-powered dark underbelly of the Internet. The two discuss "integrity on the black market, what it’s like to run a business that's dependent on the Bitcoin network, and the war on drugs—at a time when that war is shifting to the web." Not the kind of answers I expected.

Do you have any qualms about the fact that you may be supporting the problems of drug addicts?
Initially yes, though after becoming more involved in this community I look at things differently. Even among the "hard drugs" such as meth and heroin, many of the people who do it are not bad people, and not all of them are addicted. Most people only see the stereotypes. The truth is that while there are people who have used drugs and became addicted to them and…


Russian Media Has a Completely Different Story on Malaysia Flight 17


Mon, July 21st, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

As reported by New Republic, the Russian public is being told, among other things, that Malaysia Flight 17 was full of corpses, purposely flown off-course over Ukraine as part of a greater U.S. conspiracy to provoke war with Russia.

But in Russia, television—most of it owned or controlled by the Kremlin—is trying to muddy the water with various experts who insist that there is no way that an SA-11 missile system could possibly have downed a plane flying that high. And, mind you, this is not part of a larger debate of could they, or couldn’t they; this is all of Russian television and state-friendly papers pushing one line: the pro-Russian separatists we’ve been supporting all these months couldn’t have done this. Watching some of these Russian newscasts, one comes away with the impression of a desperate defense attorney scrounging for experts and angles, or a bad kid caught…


SwivelCard: Business Card With Built-in USB Drive


Sun, July 20th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Made of regular paper and with a built-in USB drive, the SwivelCard easily bends so its data can be accessed while still providing the functionality of a business card. What's unique about this product is that rather than storing the data on each card, the card points to online storage.

Other intelliPaper products have physical memory that you can write data to, but swivelCard (in this iteration) is designed for a connected experience. This allows the card to seem to have unlimited data storage. Each card has a unique identifier that you as the card owner can direct to any web page. And you can update the page that the card points to even after giving it out.


Dog Tag Sized Ultra-Portable Super Tool


Sun, July 20th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Milled entirely in a one piece of titanium, the Standard Issue Dog Tag Tool lets you carry a whole bunch of tools in a surprisingly compact and good looking dog-tag-sized piece.

Our first OPT design to be offered by PDW. Its simple, clean and straightforward design belies the detailed, thoughtful and carefully measured process to make this tool as versatile as it could be with the available real estate of the dog tag profile. From the “universal” closed end wrench which fits both standard and metric hardware, one of the lowest profile bottle cap lifter designs on the market, ¼” bit driver, battery bay driver, to the crisp precise chamfering, jimping and durable 3 stage industrial finish, the PDW Standard Issue Dog Tag Tool is an outstanding, feature rich, compact OPT for EDC.


8-Bit Gaming Window Blinds


Sun, May 25th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

The English Blinds website has for sale this series of 8-bit gaming roller blinds. Block that nasty sunlight from glaring your screen while keeping your nerdy tastebuds flaring.

If you’re a fan of classic arcade games, an old school gamer or just love that geeky pixel look, this new collection of digitally printed roller blinds created by the team at English Blinds offers a great way to add some retro gaming fun to the windows. Prices will start from £95 and they’ll be available to buy online shortly.

These retro chic blinds pay homage to classic games of the late 70’s and early 80’s such as Space Invaders and Pac Man and are perfect to give your pad that 8 bit look. With a choice of alien characters and classic game action dressing the windows has never been some much fun!


''People normally have only a certain amount of 'debt capacity'.''


Mon, May 26th, 2014 07:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to the New York Times’ Phyllis Korkki, student loans not only have a detrimental effect on the students themselves forced to take them, but also on the entire economy. Reportedly, people with student loans are “less likely to start a business of their own,” as people only have a “certain amount of ‘debt capacity’” that they can handle.

When students use up their debt capacity on student loans, they can’t commit it elsewhere. “Given the importance of an entrepreneur’s personal debt capacity in financing a start-up business, student loan debt, which cannot be discharged via bankruptcy, can have lasting effects later in life and may impact the ability of future small-business owners to raise capital,” the study says.

Considering that 60 percent of jobs are created by small business, “if you shut down the ability to create new businesses, you’re going to harm the economy,” Professor Ambrose…


Bar Mixvah: Build Your Own Drink Mixing Robot


Tue, May 27th, 2014 07:00 by capnasty NEWS

From the homonymous blog, Yu Jiang Tham explains how he built the Bar Mixvah, an Arduino-controlled robot that mixes drinks.

I built a robot that mixes drinks named Bar Mixvah. It utilizes an Arduino microcontroller switching a series of pumps via transistors on the physical layer, and the MEAN stack (MongoDB, Express.js, Angular.js, Node.js) and jQuery for the frontend and backend. In this post, I’ll teach you how I made it. You can follow along and build one just like it! I’ve also put the 3d model (blender), stl files, and the code up on GitHub for you guys to download. See the link at the bottom of the page.


"The increasing power of automation technology is going to put a lot of people out of work."


Wed, May 28th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Microsoft-cofounder Bill Gates, automation technology will be replacing many jobs, warning us that “both governments and businesses need to start preparing for a future where lots of people will be put out of work by software and robots.” This part is particularly grim:

As for what governments should do to prevent social unrest in the wake of mass unemployment, the Microsoft cofounder said that they should basically get on their knees and beg businesses to keep employing humans over algorithms. This means eliminating payroll and corporate income taxes while also scrapping the minimum wage so that businesses will feel comfortable employing people at dirt-cheap wages instead of outsourcing their jobs to an iPad.


Building CON.CA Version 3.0

Blah blah blah!


Fri, May 30th, 2014 07:00 by capnasty NEWS

There will be no updates to this site for the next little while as the backend (you know, the magic that makes the stuff work) is being written. The database also needs to be converted so that everything is simpler, condensed and faster to load.

This change was a long time waiting to happen and was avoided due to sheer laziness, but with the server and software upgrade causing a vast majority of features to break, it's far easier to start from scratch than to fix all that's wrong. We'll see you soon.



Happy Birthday, CON.CA

Still kicking


Fri, June 6th, 2014 16:00 by Leo N. NEWS

Although bad timing to rebuild the entire site, on June 6th, 2014, CON.CA officially turned 18 -- or wait, is that 20 if you count the pre-web era? Anyway, the rebuild is well on its way, and while several pages are missing and many features common to this site don't work, the fact that you're reading this means that we're doing okay.

On the list of things to do:

  1. Complete the RSS feed so that, you know, it actually works.
  2. Create the index page with new pagination for news and articles.
  3. Create staff index and individual staff pages.
  4. Create category pages so that all articles under each category appear.
  5. Create About & Privacy Policy page.
  6. Repopulate comments and the ability to comment and the Contact page. Yeah, I'm leaving the worse for last.

See you around.


Posting an Item on the Main Page

Behold! A Subtitle!


Wed, June 11th, 2014 11:59 by capnasty NEWS

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Quantum Computers Not That Great Afterall


Thu, June 19th, 2014 08:42 by capnasty NEWS

According to researchers the D-Wave Two device, the first commercially available quantum computer made by Canadian company D-Wave Systems Inc., was found to have no significant perfomance improvements over the classic PC it is trying to replace.

Classical computers perform calculations using bits, whose value can only be 0 or 1. Quantum computers instead use quantum bits, or "qubits," that can exist as a 0 and 1 at the same time. This allows quantum devices to perform multiple calculations at once.

Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman was one of the first to propose the idea of quantum computers in the 1980s, as a way to overcome the limitations of classical computers in simulating quantum systems in physics. Later, mathematician Peter Shor showed that a quantum computer could factor an integer into prime numbers, an ability that could be used to crack encryption algorithms on the Internet.


Washboard: Quarters, Home Delivered, for your Laundry


Fri, June 20th, 2014 07:07 by capnasty NEWS

If you, like our friend Cassidy here, stress over your lack of quarters, stress no more. A web service called Washboard will conveniently ship you one or two rolls of quarters so that you're always ready to do your laundry.

We understand there's a good chance you haven't done laundry in a while and may even be wearing dirty underwear right now. We won't tell your mom, but we will get your first shipment of quarters to you in two days flat. Want to know the best part about that? The shipping's on us. You'll be on your way to good hygiene in no time.


Fast Typing Helps Your Mind Produce Knowledge


Fri, June 20th, 2014 16:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Clive Thompson, the faster you write on a keyboard, the better you become at turning the fluid knowledge that is in your head into something that can be understood by others. Meanwhile, the more time you waste on trying to find the next key you're supposed to press, the less higher-function mental power you have to formulate a sentence, causing your idea to slip and maybe even disappear.

When you write something down, either while taking notes or while trying to write your own original thoughts, you’re dealing with what literacy scholars call “transcription fluency”: How quickly and fluidly you can get down—“transcribe”—the stuff that’s in your head. One of the reasons we formally teach handwriting to young children is that you don’t want a bottleneck between the ideas they’re forming and the writing. If you struggle with the act of forming letters and words, you’ve…


Yo Gabba Gabba: DJ Lance Rock as God

There's a party in my scriptures


Sat, June 21st, 2014 11:00 by Lord Lansdowne ARTICLE

With his 21st century commandments, DJ Lance Rock is the modern representation of God, leaving the image of the bearded old geezer in a toga behind for a cool hipster with real retro-apparel that's both loud and divine.

We are the creatures that inhabit Gabbaland. Pick the one you like the most, that's who you are. Me? I like Plex: he's strong, logical, with far more mad skillz than your average one-eyed walking dildo. I like Brobee the least. But that's us, liking and hating each other, while God looks down on us, impacting our path, our lack of free will.

DJ Lance Rock is the father figure we always wanted in God. There's 6 billion people on this planet, yet all are feeling alone because God is quiet. Too quiet. We get it: juggling the cosmos keeps the big guy in the sky busy all day. Yet God…


ISSpresso: Espresso on the International Space Station


Sun, June 22nd, 2014 21:17 by capnasty NEWS

urdesign brings to attention a project by Lavazza and Argotec, in collaboration with the Italian Space Agency, to bring espresso coffee to the austronauts on the International Space Station.

ISSpresso is the product of a project run by Argotec, the Italian engineering company specialized in the design of aerospace systems and European leader in the preparation of healthy and nutritious foods for in-space consumption, and Lavazza, the historic Italian coffee brand.

ISSpresso is a veritable technological and engineering jewel, able to deliver a perfect espresso in weightless environment. This is why it was selected by the Italian Space Agency to be used aboard the ISS, in the framework of the Request for Expression of Interest that the Agency keeps constantly open to public-private partnership projects and activities to be carried out in the ISS.


Self-Driving Car Kit (Sort Of) for Just $10K


Tue, June 24th, 2014 13:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Verge reports that if you happen to own a 2012 or newer A4 or S4 and you also live in California, the vehicle can be outfitted with a $10,000 kit called the RP-1 that kind of makes your car self-driving.

"This is a little different than what you've seen from Google, for example, because that's like a $100,000 research car, with tons of fancy sensors," Cruise's CEO Kyle Vogt tells me as the Audi S4 we're in begins its first of two laps around a course that's been set up on the abandoned runway. "Everything on this car is priced for a consumer product. It's, like, very low-cost everything, and the performance is still very good."

Cruise's plan involves a $10,000 kit called the RP-1 that can be installed on just two specific Audi models — a 2012 or newer A4 or S4 — and only be used…


@SavedYouaClick: Twitter Account that Defuses Clickbait Headlines


Tue, June 24th, 2014 21:58 by capnasty NEWS

Clickbait headlines, made famous by questionable websites such as BuzzFeed and UpWorthy, now get their magic cut short by Twitter account @SavedYouAclick which quickly summarises what's behind that cachy headline -- usually not a heck of a lot. The Onion is having some fun with this too with their ClickHole.

It's not surprising that the people who seem to love this account best are journalists. Because of their trade, they're likely to read more stupid headlines than any reasonable person would choose to.

That said, I've held off on writing about @SavedYouAClick because the headlines it's deftly mocking just don't bother me very much. They used to, but at some point, I just decided that any tweet or headline that withheld a piece of information was probably doing so because the reveal just wasn't that surprising. And so now my brain processes those tweets the way…


Use of Drones for Deliveries Banned by FAA


Tue, June 24th, 2014 23:35 by capnasty NEWS

TechCrunch reports that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants to ban the use of drones for delivering packages.

There might have been an Amazon loophole in the proposed rules, however. Amazon’s Prime program provides free shipping to its subscribing customers, so could it get around the FAA’s language due to its use of the word “fee”? Nope.

A footnote to the delivery comment says the following, eliding the online retailer perfectly:

If an individual offers free shipping in association with a purchase or other offer, FAA would construe the shipping to be in furtherance of a business purpose, and thus, the operation would not fall within the statutory requirement of recreation or hobby purpose.

Surprising? No, but it is almost fun to see the government be so particular in its language.

Incidentally, I am using this news item to test out a new SQL query for the mainpage. Wish…