CON.CA - RSS Feed http://con.ca/ interesting en-us CON.CA (C) Living in a Dumpster for a Year #Environment http://con.ca/view/news/10818 http://con.ca/view/news/10818 Living in a Dumpster for a Year

Dr. Jeff Wilson, an environmental studies professor and dean at Huston-Tillotson University in Texas, has been living in a 33 square feet dumpster in order to turn it into a sustainable house and interactive teaching lab. The above photo is from the dumpster's Instagram account.

Wilson’s most anticipated upcoming boon is a toilet. “I’m not as concerned about the shower,” he said, “but getting to the toilet sometimes requires kind of a midnight run.” Currently, he uses facilities at the university’s gym. A toilet and shower will soon connect to the dumpster externally. “You don’t really want to have a composting toilet inside of a closed-up 36 square feet,” he explained.

In four months Wilson will enter the third phase of the project, the “uber dumpster home.” That will involve installing solar panels and unplugging from the energy grid, as well as completing aesthetic work that will essentially remove any semblance of dumpsterdom. “We kind of want to do the outside in a modern Dwell look,“ he said, including windows and reused lumber siding. “We want it basically to be such that if you were blindfolded and placed inside it, you’d just think you were in a very tiny house.”

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Hong Kong's Residents Protesting to Keep Their Promised Democratic Rights #Politics http://con.ca/view/news/10816 http://con.ca/view/news/10816

Hong Kong, which was given back to China after 150 years of British control, had been promised its special rights and autonomy by the Communist regime; however, with the 2017 election — where the people where told they would be "allowed to democratically elect their top leader for the first time ever" — it turns out that the people can elect whoever they want... as long as it's someone approved by Beijing.

This of course did not go down well with the population, who started #OccupyCentral and #OccupyHK. The result has been the unsurprising crackdown by police in order to silence the masses. Doesn't seem like they're ready just yet to give up, even after China started blocking social media services like Instagram.

Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, when China resumed sovereignty. Since then, it has operated under a policy of “one country, two systems,” which keeps its independent judiciary and many freedoms, including a robust tradition of free speech. But many democratic groups say that China has chipped away at those freedoms, and that the election law proposals were the latest, most infuriating example.

The Chinese government endorsed the tough approach to the protests. The Hong Kong government blamed the unrest on Occupy Central With Love and Peace, a group that has spearheaded demands for greater democracy.

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Future Smartphones Will Skip the Celltower Altogether #Telephone http://con.ca/view/news/10814 http://con.ca/view/news/10814 According to Technology Review, tech companies — among which Qualcomm and Facebook — are working towards developing smartphones that, through their LTE radio, will bypass celltowers completely and connect to other smart devices up to half a kilometre away.

“You can think of LTE Direct as a sixth sense that is always aware of the environment around you,” said Mahesh Makhijani, technical marketing director at Qualcomm, at a session on the technology. “The world around you is full of information, and the phone can use that to predict and to help you in your everyday life.”

Beacons using LTE Direct could broadcast useful information as well as special offers. A beacon installed in an airline check-in desk, for instance, might offer information on delays to people nearby who are booked on an affected flight.

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Ello, the Anti-Facebook Social Media Platform #Internet http://con.ca/view/news/10815 http://con.ca/view/news/10815 Ello, the Anti-Facebook Social Media Platform

Already being called the "Anti-Facebook" of social media, Ello provides a similar environment but without the advertising or the data mining. The service keeps itself afloat by selling extra features, much like apps, for a few dollars.

Mr Budnitz added that he was "flattered" by the "anti-Facebook" description, but said that was not the way he saw his service.

"We don't consider Facebook to be a competitor. We see it as an ad platform and we are a network," he explained.

The network will eventually make money by selling access to features, Mr Budnitz added.

Another interesting read here.

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South Korea's City of the Future #Technology http://con.ca/view/news/10813 http://con.ca/view/news/10813

In order to show-off their technological prowess to the world, South Korea has almost finished building Songdo, a high-tech city of the Future. The Atlantic's Ross Arbes and Charles Bethea visit Songdo and while it sounds like it's not quite what it was marketed to be, it could very well be a good test bed for future green cities.

One morning, we found ourselves at Songdo’s waste-management center—the “Third Zone Automated Waste Collection Plant”—where we watched a video about the city’s garbage-removal system. Narrated like a Hollywood blockbuster, it explained that all of Songdo’s trash is sucked into underground pipes, and is automatically sorted and recycled, buried, or burned for fuel. These pipes connect all apartment buildings and offices; consequently, there are no street-corner trash cans or garbage trucks. Among the first of its kind in the world, the system currently requires just seven employees for the entire city.

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Machine Learning Helps Us Understand What Makes a Good Teacher #Data http://con.ca/view/news/10812 http://con.ca/view/news/10812 Alan S. Brown, on Nautilus, explains how by having to break down the entire process of education for the purpose of machine learning, has actually shed light on what makes a good teacher.

Vapnik is one of a growing body of artificial intelligence (AI) researchers discovering something that teachers have long known—or at least, believed—to be true: There is a special, valuable communication that occurs between teacher and student, which goes beyond what can be found in any textbook or raw data stream. By bringing the tools of computation and machine intuition to the table, AI researchers are giving us a more complete picture of how we learn. [...]

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Open Source Platform for Fruit Fly Brain Emulation #Science http://con.ca/view/news/10811 http://con.ca/view/news/10811

Neurokernel is an open source platform that acts as the "operating system" of the brain. This software would allocate resources in order to provide "the programmability required by the constituent elements of a fly brain model."

Although emulation of the fly brain may superficially seem more daunting than developing models of the nervous systems of simpler organisms, there are reasons why the fly may be a preferable model organism. One major factor is the range of complex nonreactive behaviors exhibited by the fly that can be experimentally probed using a well-developed toolkit of powerful genetic techniques for manipulation of its neural circuitry. Moreover, an increasing number of powerful experimental methods have been developed for obtaining precise recordings of the fly's neuronal responses to stimuli that are not yet available for other organisms.

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The Six Mile Pencil #Products http://con.ca/view/news/10809 http://con.ca/view/news/10809 The Six Mile Pencil

International design agency Lyon & Lyon is currently seeking financial support to kickstart The Six Mile Pencil. The pencil comes complete with distance points to determine just how much you've written or drawn.

In a bid to create an honest low tech product, the six mile pencil was born from the idea of encouraging people to get back in touch with the almost redundant skill of using a pencil. The pencil displays how many miles of graphite you have used and how far your thoughts have travelled. With every hand drawn sketch, memo or offensive doodle of your boss, you can visibly see how far you've drawn and fist pump the air at every milestone. The pencils are available in both mile and kilometre variations. So whether it be a half a mile or five miles, the more you draw, the better you get.

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Cloaking Using Readily Available Materials #Science http://con.ca/view/news/10810 http://con.ca/view/news/10810

Wired brings to attention the work being done at the University of Rochester, which has developed a low-tech cloaking system using off-the-shelves materials. Capable of working from different viewing angles, the system operates on four lenses which create a doughnut shaped blindspot where objects can be hidden.

Their simple configuration improves on other cloaking devices, but it’s not perfect. “This cloak bends light and sends it through the center of the device, so the on-axis region cannot be blocked or cloaked,” said Choi. This means that the cloaked region is shaped like a doughnut. He added that they have slightly more complicated designs that solve the problem. Also, the cloak has edge effects, but these can be reduced when sufficiently large lenses are used.

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Using Asteroids as Spaceship Filling Stations #Space http://con.ca/view/news/10806 http://con.ca/view/news/10806 According to the BBC, private companies like Planetary Resources want to turn asteroids into filling stations for spaceships. Asteroids could provide water and oxygen for crews as well as hydrogen for fuel. While the idea makes sense — currently a spacecraft has to carry everything it needs from the start — it may meet stiff international opposition.

Unfortunately, strict legislation in the form of the 1966 United Nations' Outer Space Treaty already prohibits national appropriation of space resources. Basically, mining the moon is legally off limits.

But, experts say mining asteroids - particularly for resources which could remain in space - falls into a legal grey area unconceived of by legislators four decades ago.

As the commercial space industry grows, with billions of dollars already invested, entrepreneurs argue they should be able to own what they find. The costs are simply too great to risk having their discoveries taken from them by governments or competitors.

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iPhone 6, the First Smartphone to Disrupt NSA's Spying #Privacy http://con.ca/view/news/10807 http://con.ca/view/news/10807 While everyone is focusing on how easily the iPhone 6 bends — properly debunked here — the real feature nobody is talking about is how difficult (but not impossible) it will be for law enforcement agencies to break into the phone. While Apple claims it would take 5 and a half years to try all the possible combinations, security experts warn that "Apple does not fully realize how quickly the N.S.A. supercomputers can crack codes."

Already the new phone has led to an eruption from the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey. At a news conference on Thursday devoted largely to combating terror threats from the Islamic State, Mr. Comey said, “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to hold themselves beyond the law.”

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Syrians' Perspective on Western Powers' Attacks on ISIS #Politics http://con.ca/view/news/10805 http://con.ca/view/news/10805 With a focus on the United States having bombed two different sides in Syria's civil war, and with it carrying out the vast majority of strikes against ISIS, nobody is really talking about Assad anymore.

Fighting against ISIS without stopping the Assad regime’s massacres would have serious ramifications. Living under daily bombardment and shelling have led some Syrians to see ISIS, despite its barbarity, as a savior and avenger on their behalf against a murderous regime. These are sensitive matters. Neglecting them will only help ISIS spread further. Any attempt to deal with symptoms without serious considerations of the causes will lead to more dangerous complications. [...]

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Thumb Extender for Extra Large Smartphones #Telephone http://con.ca/view/news/10803 http://con.ca/view/news/10803 Thumb Extender for Extra Large Smartphones

Thanko (you're welcome) introduces the Ru fine-thumb-type stylus finger, a thumb-extender that gives you a whopping 15mm more to easily tackle those hard to reach screen corners.

Do not you think size is large smartphone recent, the back of the screen is difficult to touch?
Human hand is large nice, but .... that can not be operated with only one hand hand is small Click to Ru ~ fine of thumb type stylus finger] it is to resolve those concerns
What! ! Finger would extend about 15mm?

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Pay Your Rent With Debit or Credit Using Your Smartphone #Telephone http://con.ca/view/news/10804 http://con.ca/view/news/10804

The RadPad app allows tenants to search for housing and pay their rent using either debit or credit. For landlords, it provides a place to showcase their spaces, verifiy they're legit and easily arrange viewings without endless phone calls.

According to founder and Chief Executive Jonathan Eppers, the RadPad app is a mobile rentals marketplace. It gives apartment seekers a way to find available units in neighborhoods that they like on a map, review photos of those apartments within the app, then arrange a time to see them more quickly than they could using traditional brokers, rental marketplaces or listings sites.

RadPad also gives property owners and managers a way to easily create geotagged listings for a high volume of properties. The startup conducts basic background checks and shows listings from “verified” property managers so that prospective tenants won’t worry whether they, or their listings, are scams–a concern on open marketplaces like Craigslist.org, for example.

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Water Vapour Found in Atmosphere of Planet in Another Solar System #Space http://con.ca/view/news/10802 http://con.ca/view/news/10802 Astronomers have detected water vapour in the atmosphere of HAT-P-11b, a Neptune-sized planet located in the constellation Cygnus, 124 light-years away from Earth. They were able to do this by waiting for the moment the planet passed in front of its host star and recording the behaviour of solar radiation on the planet's atmosphere.

The finding of water vapor and hydrogen in the atmosphere of exoplanet HAT P-11b is not only an astonishing piece of long-distance detective work, based on analyses of observations by three different NASA telescopes, but it also suggests that astronomers’ ideas about how the planets formed appear to hold true for other planetary systems as they do in our own.

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