Researchers from Carnegie Mellon have created what they are calling "acoustic barcodes". These barcodes can be decoded by a computer with a microphone attached, and their video presents several potential use cases including an interactive whiteboard, cell phone mode controls, and children's toys.
Does your icon need flogging? (also) Is your writing humdrum? Do your photos just show what you see [previously]? Want to see the world from a new angle, or put a better face on things? Julius can help. [some short videos] [more inside]
Minimal Android minimal homescreen, minimal icons, themes, wallpapers or other minimalistic android things - as long as it is minimal and meant for android.
The iEconomy: Apple and Technology Manufacturing. Since January, the New York Times has been running a series of articles "examining the challenges posed by increasingly globalized high-tech industries," with a focus on Apple's business practices. The seventh article in the series was published today: In Technology Wars, Using the Patent as a Sword. Related: For Software, Cracks in the Patent System and Fighters in the Patent War. [more inside]
Television Without Pity re-capper Jacob Clifton has written a short steampunk story for Tor.com. “There’s a level on which the story is an indictment of using steampunk as a fashion or trend. It came about because I wanted to see what would happen if you substituted Jane Austen for Jules Verne in the steampunk equation...” The Commonplace Book
The satellite man is typically young, with an entrepreneur’s zeal and a sense of adventure, often from the mercantile district of South Tehran, trained by colleagues in the black-market niche of satellite TV installation...
"Zhang Yue, founder and chairman of Broad Sustainable Building, is not a particularly humble man. A humble man would not have erected, on his firm’s corporate campus in the Chinese province of Hunan, a classical palace and a 130-foot replica of an Egyptian pyramid. A humble man, for that matter, would not have redirected Broad from its core business—manufacturing industrial air-conditioning units—to invent a new method of building skyscrapers. And a humble man certainly wouldn’t be putting up those skyscrapers at a pace never achieved in history." [Meet the Man Who Built a 30-Story Building in 15 Days]
35 years ago today, Voyager 1 transmitted three images which NASA processed into a single frame of Earth and its moon. [more inside]
The Popinator - a voice activated popcorn launching machine. Kinda cool, but my money's still on the robotic tweet powered popper. (via @peeweeherman and keepoutofreach)
"If you’re not getting it wrong really a lot when you’re creating imaginary futures, then you’re just not doing it enough."
Wired talks to William Gibson: on Why Sci-Fi Writers Are (Thankfully) Almost Always Wrong, on Twitter, Antique Watches and Internet Obsessions, and and on Punk Rock, Internet Memes, and ‘Gangnam Style’.
Following much speculation Amazon has refreshed the hardware for it's Kindle range, including the Kindle Paperwhite (featuring a "flattened out fibreoptic display") and an updated version of the sold out Kindle Fire and a new 8.9 Inch Kindle Fire HD. Earlier Kobo announced their new range, including a Kindle Fire like tablet. Between this, speculation that the Surface RT will have an astonishingly low price and rumors of a 7" iPad coming soon (probably to be announced sometime after Apple's September 12th iPhone 5 event) is the window of opportunity for stock Android tablets closing?
Timely not real-time. Rhythm not random. Moderation not excess. Knowledge not information. These are a few of the many characteristics of The Slow Web.
Trade-offs between inequality, productivity, and employment - "The poor do not employ one another, because the necessities they require are produced and sold so cheaply by the rich. The rich are glad to sell to the poor, as long as the poor can come up with property or debt claims or other forms of insurance to offer as payment..." [more inside]
The first human-powered aircraft to achieve sustained and controlled flight, the Gossamer Condor (6.3 MB PDF), now belongs to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (2.2 MB JPG). So you'll need to build your own. (previously)
Please visit Stockholm. We need more iPads. (SLYTHDTDT*) *Single Link YouTube "How do they DO that?!" post.
... Microsoft made an unobtrusive announcement that brings a degree of closure to a seven year long epic battle between some of the largest technology companies in the world. The same saga pitted open source advocates against proprietary vendors, and for the first time brought the importance of technical standards to the attention of millions of people around the world... [more inside]
The highest possible resolution images — about 100,000 dots per inch — have been achieved, and in full-colour, with a printing method that uses tiny pillars a few tens of nanometres tall. The method, described today in Nature Nanotechnology, could be used to print tiny watermarks or secret messages for security purposes, and to make high-density data-storage discs. [more inside]
Have you ever wanted to sort a particular Amazon's reviewer's reviews by their number of stars? Amazon has never added this feature to its user profile pages, but here's a workaround. Or perhaps you need a tool that lets you see ratings, dates of reviews, helpful and unhelpful votes, and number of comments, all in a helpful sortable list. Maybe you need to download and install the Amazon Reviewer Analysis Tool.
NASA commentary on Curiosity landing has just started, landing itself is expected two hours later, at 5:31 am UTC/10:31 pm PDT. [more inside]
TED Fellow Evgeny Morozov (previously, previously) calls bullshit on the "increasingly" "simplistic" "anxiety-peddling futurology" surrounding the TED conference in generally and especially the new TED book Hybrid Reality by Ayesha & Parag Khanna. [more inside]
35 years ago today, Tandy Corporation announced the most expensive product yet offered in its chain of Radio Shack stores: the TRS-80 personal computer. [more inside]
Prototypes are usually the missing links in the evolution of human technology, the dead-ends of ideas that give way to the refinement of the final physical product. Prototypes aren't just for Darth Vader. While the legal back and forth between Apple and Samsung continues, a treasure trove of prototype designs for Apple devices has been released to the public, showing insights into various design approaches and feature enhancements, including larger form-factor iPads with and without kickstands and landscape ports and iPhones that parody the Sony logo, show a different layout for camera elements, and look remarkably like fourth-generation models, as far back as 2005. On the other hand, some have made prototypes into the end goal itself, such as the folks at Dangerous Prototypes, a site which features a new open-source electronic hardware project each month. Some are just gratuitous fun, while others are a bit more practical, such as one project that recycles old Nokia displays and another that provides access to infrared signal, useful for hacking together remote controls for all sorts of IR-based devices. Other prototypes of tomorrow's technology are less concerned with shrinking down the guts of the invention itself, to make it disappear, but rather on how we interact with and integrate physical representations of these ideas into our daily lives. Above all else, prototypes are always forward-looking and are therefore inherently optimistic expressions of human creativity: Even children are getting into imagining the world of tomorrow.
Revisiting Cinefex - a nostalgia wormhole into the golden age of model work and practical effects and the odd piece of early CG via backissues of the quarterly magazine of motion picture visual effects. The latest issues covered touches on Young Sherlock Holmes's Stained glass knight - mainstream cinema’s first fully-rendered CG character created by Industrial Light & Magic's Pixar group.
Long before the David Cronenberg film (NSFW: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10), before even the publication of the novel, Harley Cokeliss directed Crash! (1, 2) - a short film adapted from the story in J.G. Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition, starring Ballard himself and Gabrielle Drake (sister of Nick Drake). (previously) [more inside]
Fall, Mortality, and the Machine: Tolkien and Technology From the beginnings of modern fantasy, in the work of Tolkien, technology has always been the enemy of the good life. But does it have to be that way?
The Google Cultural Institute is the portal for an effort to digitally preserve and present vital historical information using the latest web technologies. Highlights include the World Wonders Project, a geographical tour of UNESCO Heritage sites; Google Art Project (previously), curating 50,000 years of human cultural expression; the Palace of Versailles in 3D and a digital archive of the Dead Sea Scrolls (previously)
Microsoft’s low-octane swan song was nothing if not symbolic of more than a decade littered with errors, missed opportunities, and the devolution of one of the industry’s innovators into a “me too” purveyor of other companies’ consumer products. ... How did this jaw-dropping role reversal happen? How could a company that stands among the most cash-rich in the world, the onetime icon of cool that broke IBM’s iron grip on the computer industry, have stumbled so badly in a race it was winning? [more inside]
"Assassination and targeted killings have always been in the repertoires of military planners, but never in the history of warfare have they been so cheap and easy. The relatively low number of troop casualties for a military that has turned to drones means that there is relatively little domestic blowback against these wars. The United States and its allies have created the material conditions whereby these wars can carry on indefinitely. The non-combatant casualty rates in populations that are attacked by drones are slow and steady, but they add up. That the casualty rates are relatively low by historical standards — this is no Dresden — is undoubtedly a good thing, but it may allow the international media to overlook pesky little facts like the slow accretion of foreign casualties." -NYT Opinionator: The Moral Hazard of Drones
North Americans may have noticed that U-Haul trucks and trailers are emblazoned with colorful SuperGraphics. First created in 1988 (previously), the mobile gallery now comprises 206 images. Most U.S states and Canadian territories and provinces are now honored by multiple designs, as are the U.S. armed forces and 9/11. The classic America and Canada's Moving Adventure series, seen on trucks and trailers, features an iconic image for each state, province and territory. The Venture Across America and Canada series, begun in 1997, presents "carefully researched rare findings, little-known facts and mysteries," exploring science and nature, technology and history. At the U-Haul website, the "Learn More" link on each Venture SuperGraphic page leads to a surprisingly exhaustive discussion of the subject of each graphic. [more inside]
This is just the top 30, what I consider to be the most likely candidates for actual new programming jargon based on community upvotes, not just "funny thing that another programmer typed on a webpage and I felt compelled to upvote for hilarity". Because that would be Reddit. Coding Horror presents the top 30 Stack Overflow New Programming Jargon entries.
Earlier this year, six scientists and doctors filed a lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration alleging that the FDA had secretly monitored their personal e-mail accounts after they (legally) warned Congress that the "agency was approving medical devices that they believed posed unacceptable risks to patients." The agency said it had done so to "investigate allegations that the employees had leaked confidential information to the public." At the time, the FDA indicated their computer monitoring was limited to five scientists. But now, the New York Times is reporting that "what began as a narrow investigation" "quickly grew in mid-2010 into a much broader campaign to counter outside critics of the agency’s medical review process.". [more inside]
The WritersDiet Test, created by Dr. Helen Sword, allows you to enter a writing sample of 100 to 1000 words and have it graded from "lean" to "heart attack" on its level of excess verbiage.
John Goerzen, an IT development manager in Kansas and a developer for Debian, has been teaching his two sons, ages five and two, respectively, how to use Linux. [more inside]
A simplified explanation for how the internet works, brought to you by the World Science Festival.
Recent technologies developed at American universities are making communication easier for the sight and hearing impaired. Last summer a Stanford undergrad developed a touchscreen Braille writer that stands to revolutionize how the blind negotiate an unseen world by replacing devices costing up to 10 times more. Thanks to a group of University of Houston students, the hearing impaired may soon have an easier time communicating with those who do not understand sign language. During the past semester, students in UH’s engineering technology and industrial design programs teamed up to develop the concept and prototype for MyVoice, a device that reads sign language and translates its motions into audible words, and vice versa.
The Mosquito AKA SonicScreen [previously] has long been deployed to prevent teenagers from hanging around where they are not always wanted. But now, in the UK, those that seek to rid themselves of troublesome youth have a new weapon of choice: classical music. [more inside]
Slate: Technology is doing to math education what industrial agriculture did to food: making it efficient, monotonous, and low-quality. [more inside]
In Praise of Leisure - "Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society. Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called 'Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren.' Its thesis was simple. As technological progress made possible an increase in the output of goods per hour worked, people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would have to work hardly at all... He thought this condition might be reached in about 100 years — that is, by 2030." (via) [more inside]
In the wake of their grunge-y breakout hit "Creep" and the success of sophomore record The Bends, Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead were under pressure to deliver once more. So they shut themselves away inside the echoing halls of a secluded 16th century manor and got to work. What emerged from that crumbling Elizabethan castle fifteen years ago today was a shockingly ambitious masterpiece of progressive rock, a visionary concept album that explored the "fridge buzz" of modernity -- alienation, social disconnection, existential dread, the impersonal hum of technology -- through a mosaic of challenging, innovative, eerily beautiful music unlike anything else at the time. Tentatively called Ones and Zeroes, then Your Home May Be at Risk If You Do Not Keep Up Payments, the band finally settled on OK Computer, an appropriately enigmatic title for this acclaimed harbinger of millennial angst. For more, you can watch the retrospective OK Computer: A Classic Album Under Review for a track-by-track rundown, or the unsettling documentary Meeting People is Easy for a look at how the album's whirlwind tour nearly gave Yorke a nervous breakdown. Or look inside for more details and cool interpretations of all the tracks -- including an upcoming MeFi Music Challenge! [more inside]
The US has lost a quarter of its high-tech jobs since 2000, the number declining by 687,000. A veteran headhunter opines on the causes: The technical jobs in Silicon Valley are hard to fill with Americans...I get email every day from new grads, asking for help finding jobs, but honestly, most are Indian or Chinese, not many Americans. He cites a NYT article which claims that the reason iPhone manufacturing doesn't happen in the US is that Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.
The NYT published an article this week covering a new "digital divide" where poor children are spending more time "wasting time" online. [more inside]