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This is an interview with Graham Morrison, who is one of four people behind the shiny-new Linux Voice magazine, which is printed on (gasp) paper. Yes, paper, even though it's 2014 and a lot of people believe the idea of publishing a physical newspaper or magazine is dead. But, Graham says, when you have a tight community (like Linux users and developers) you have an opportunity to make a successful magazine for that community. This is a crowdfunded venture, through Indiegogo, where they hoped to raise £90,000 -- but ended up with £127,603, which is approximately $214,288 as of this video's publishing date. So they have a little capital to work with. Also note: these are not publishing neophytes. All four of the main people behind Linux Voice used to work on the well-regarded Linux Format magazine. Graham says they're getting subscribers and newsstand sales at a healthy rate, so they're happily optimistic about their magazine's future. (Here's an alternate video link)
Bennett Haselton writes "If you read no further, use either the BestParking or ParkMe app to search all nearby parking garages for the cheapest spot, based on the time you're arriving and leaving. I'm interested in the question of why so few people know about these apps, how is it that they've been partially crowded out by other 'parking apps' that are much less useful, and why our marketplace for ideas and intellectual properly is still so inefficient." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
Phil Shapiro often loans his Chromebook to patrons of the public library where he works. He says people he loans it to are happily suprised at how fast it is. He wrote an article earlier this month titled Teachers unite to influence computer manufacturing that was a call to action; he says that if 20,000 teachers demand a simple, low-cost Chromebook appliance -- something like a Chrome-powered Mac mini with a small SSD instead of a hard drive, and of course without the high Mac mini price -- some computer manufacturer will bite on the idea. Monitors? There are plenty of used ones available. Ditto speakers and keyboards, not that they cost much new. The bottom line is that Phil believes Chromebooks, both in their current form factor and in a simpler one, could be "the" computer for schools and students. Maybe so, not that Android tablets are expensive or hard to use. And wait! Isn't there already a Chromebox? And even a Chromebase all-in-one Chrome-based desktop? In any case, Chrome-based computers look pretty good for schools and libraries, especially if and when prices for the simplest members of the family get down to where Phil thinks they should be. (Alternate video link)
As co-founder and CEO of MakerBot Industries, Bre Pettis is a driving force in the Maker and 3-D printing world. He's done a number of podcasts for Make, and even worked as an assistant at Jim Henson's Creature Shop in London after college. Makerbot's design community, Thingiverse, boasts over 100,000 3D models, and inspires countless artists and designers by allowing them to share their designs. Bre has agreed to set aside some time from printing in order to type answer to your questions. Normal Slashdot interview rules apply.
We recently had the chance to talk with internet rock star and former code monkey Jonathan Coulton. We asked him a number of your questions and a few of our own about music, technology, and copyright issues. Read below to see what he had to say.
You've probably heard Jono Bacon speak at a Linux or Open Source conference. Or maybe you've heard one of his podcasts or read something he's written in his job as Ubuntu's community manager or even, perhaps, read The Art of Community, which is Jono's well-regarded book about building online communities. Jono also wrote and performed the heavy metal version of Richard M. Stallman's infamous composition, The Free Software Song. An excerpt from the Jono version kicks off our interview, and the complete piece (about two minutes long) closes the video. Please note that this video is a casual talk with Jono Bacon, the person, rather than a talk with the "official" Ubuntu Jono Bacon. So please, pull up a chair, lean back, and join us. (Alternate Video Link)
A while ago you had a chance to ask John McAfee about his past, politics, and what he has planned for the future. As usual, John answered with extreme frankness, with some interesting advice for anyone stuck at a checkpoint in the third world. Below you can read all his answers to your questions.
Bennett Haselton writes "What advice would you give someone who just bought a new laptop? What would you tell someone about how to secure their webserver against attacks? For that matter, how would you tell someone to prepare for their first year at Burning Man? I submit that the metric by which we usually judge tech advice, and advice in general, is fundamentally flawed, and has bred much of the unhelpful tech advice out there." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
Obviously, the first performance enhancement you do on any computer you own is max out the RAM. RAM has gotten cheap, and adding more of it to almost any computer will make it faster without requiring any other modification (or any great skill). The next thing you need to do, says Larry O'Connor, the founder and CEO of Other World Computing (OWC), is move from a "platter" hard drive to a Solid State Drive (SSD). Larry's horse in this race is that his company sells SSDs, mostly for Macs. But he's a real evangelist about SSDs and computer mods in general, even if you buy them from NewEgg, Amazon or another vendor.
A big (vendor-neutral) thing Larry points out is that just because you have a Terabyte drive in your computer now doesn't mean you need a Terabyte SSD, which can easily cost $500. Rather, he says, all you need is a large enough SSD to contain your OS and software and whatever data you're working with at the moment, so you might be able to get by with a 120 GB SSD that costs well under $100. Clone your current main drive, stick in the new SSD, and if your need more storage, get another hard drive (or use your old one). Simple. Efficient. And a lot cheaper than buying a new computer, whether we're talking about home, business or even enterprise use. (Alternate video link.)
Bruce Perens is a computer programmer and one of the most important advocates for the open source community. He co-founded the Open Source Initiative with ESR and has worked towards reforms of national and international technology policies. He is an amateur radio enthusiast, and has pushed for open radio communication standards. He is also our interview guest today. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Recently you had a chance to ask the writer and creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, about the state of sci-fi, his body of work, and collaborating with Netflix. Below you'll find his answers to those questions.
Chester Wisniewski's nakedsecurity describes Wisniewski's specialty thus: "He provides advice and insight into the latest threats for security and IT professionals with the goal of providing clear guidance on complex topics." So he's obviously someone who might know a little about preventing future Target-style security debacles. We've also interviewed tech journalist Wayne Rash about this topic, and will probably interview another security expert or two. Many Slashdot users may find all this credit card security talk boring, but for those who handle security matters for a living, especially for retailers, it's vital information. So here's Tim Lord talking with Chet, who is a recognized security expert for Sophos, one of the big dogs in the IT security field, when Chet was in Texas for the latest iteration of Security B-Sides in Austin. (Alternate video link.)
Bennett Haselton writes "The city of Seattle just imposed new limits on commercial app-based ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, effectively protecting taxi companies from low-cost competition in the form of smartphone apps. If other cities follow suit, could a company help ridesharers circumvent the restrictions by creating a ride-trading app, allowing drivers to earn 'miles' by driving passengers, and redeem those miles later to get rides for themselves?" Continue reading below to see what Bennett has to say.
This is a conversation with Frank Muscarello, CEO and co-founder of MarkiTx, a company that brokers used and rehabbed IT equipment. We're not talking about an iPhone 3 you might sell on craigslist, but enterprise-level items. Cisco. Oracle. IBM mainframes. Racks full of HP or Dell servers. That kind of thing. In 2013 IDC pegged the value of the used IT equipment market at $70 billion, so this is a substantial business. MarkiTx has three main bullet points: *Know what your gear is worth; *Sell with ease at a fair price; and *Buy reliable, refurbished gear. Pricing is the big deal, Frank says. With cars you have Cars.com and Kelley Blue Book. There are similar pricing services for commercial trucks, construction equipment, and nearly anything else a business or government agency might buy or sell used. For computers? Not so much. Worth Monkey calls itself "The blue book for used electronics and more," but it only seems to list popular consumer equipment. I tried looking up several popular Dell PowerEdge servers. No joy. An HTC Sensation phone or an Acer Aspire notebook? Sure. With price ranges based on condition, same as Kelley Blue Book does with cars. Now back to the big iron. A New York bank wants to buy new servers. Their old ones are fully depreciated in the tax sense, and their CTO can show stats saying they are going to suffer from decreasing reliability. So they send out for bids on new hardware. Meanwhile, there's a bank in Goa, India, that is building a server farm on a tight budget. If they can buy used servers from the New York bank, rehabbed and with a warranty, for one-third what they'd cost new, they are going to jump on this deal the same way a small earthmoving operation buys used dump trucks a multinational construction company no longer wants.
In February, 2013 Computerworld ran an article titled A new way to sell used IT equipment about MarkiTx. The main differentiator between MarkiTx and predecessor companies is that this is primarily an information company. It is not eBay, where plenty of commercial IT equipment changes hands, nor is it quite like UK-based Environmental Computer, which deals in used and scrap computer hardware. It is, rather, the vanguard of computer hardware as a commodity; as something you don't care about as long as it runs the software you need it to run, and you can buy it at a good price -- or more and more, Frank notes -- rent a little bit of its capacity in the form of a cloud service, a direction in which an increasing number of business are moving for their computing needs. Even more fun: Let's say you are (or would like to be) a local or regional computer service company and you want to buy or sell or broker a little used hardware. You could use MarkiTx's price information to set both your buy and sell prices, same as a car dealer uses Kelley Blue Book. We seem to be moving into a whole new era of computer sales and resales. MarkiTx is one company making a splash in this market. But there are others, and there are sure to be even more before long. (Alternate video link.)
samzenpus (5) writes "Founder of the computer anti-virus company McAfee Associates, John McAfee gained world-wide attention eluding Belizean authorities in the jungle. Since we last sat down with John, he's been working on a device that blocks the government's ability to spy on PCs and mobile devices, been asked by the GOP to fix Obamacare, and has seen his last name removed from his old company. The rebranding garnered this response from McAfee: 'I am now everlastingly grateful to Intel for freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet. These are not my words, but the words of millions of irate users. ... My elation at Intel's decision is beyond words." John has agreed to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post."
This is wide-ranging interview with Dev Patel and Poulomi Damany of BitYota, an Analytics as a Service startup that works specifically with MongoDB. Open Source? Not yet. But hopefully soon, they say. And why should an IT person or programmer care about marketing-oriented analytics? Because the more you know about functions in your company besides IT (such as finance, investor relations, and -- yes -- marketing), the more valuable you are as an employee. Dev also mentions the two main things he looks for when recruiting for BitYota: "One is intellect, and the other is attitude." He points out that this is not true merely of BitYota, but of any strong startup. This is all good information for any job-seeker hoping to land a spot with a startup -- and for anyone who is happy with where he or she works but hopes to earn promotions and raises, too.
J. Michael Straczynski has written Thor, World War Z, and Changeling among many other films. He created Babylon 5 and has worked on numerous comic book titles including Superman and The Amazing Spider-Man. Most recently, he has teamed up with the Wachowskis for an original Netflix sci-fi series, Sense8 . He's agreed to take a break from his busy schedule in order to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
It goes up, it goes down, it goes upside down and keeps on flying. We're talking about Curtis Youngblood's latest quadcopter prototype, but as his website says, "Curtis has been flying and competing with RC Helicopters since the early 1980s and is a Multi-time World Champion and Multi-time 3D Champion." This lucky dog has managed to turn his hobby into a business; he makes and sells radio controlled helicopters -- not the $60 ones from Harbor Freight, but sophisticated aerial beasts that can carry still and video cameras and could easily be used as short-range drones, except that these are hobbyists' toys -- for hobbyists who can afford to spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars, anyway. There are plenty of quadcopter kits on the market for lots less than Youngblood's creations, along with build-it-yourself guides. But these won't fly upside down. For that, you need variable-pitch rotors and sophisticated control systems. "But what about 3-D printing?" you ask. Of *course* you can use a 3-D printer to make a quadcopter. That was an inevitable development. Here are open source instructions for building one. Enjoy the ride!
Jonathan Coulton's song Code Monkey became an anthem for many programmers (not just ones with managers named Rob) and his success is proof that you really can become an internet rock star. Since we last talked, Coulton has became the house musician for the NPR show Ask Me Another and had one of his songs copied without permission, credit, or thanks by the show Glee, much to his chagrin. Jonathan has agreed to answer all your questions about music, internet stardom, and robots. Normal Slashdot interview rules apply.
RSA holds big-time annual security conferences. The 2014 U.S. edition had 25,000 attendees, Stephen Colbert as the closing keynote speaker, and a major controversy (and some anger) from potential speakers and attendees over RSA's reputed $10 million contract with NSA to make sure the company's encryption software had back doors the secretive agency could use to spy on people and companies that use RSA software. This is part of a story that might be called The Snowden Revelations if it is made into a movie, but right now it's still controversial, and enough of a bombshell in the IT security industry that F-Secure's Mikko Hyppönen decided not to speak at this year's U.S. RSA conference, followed by Bruce Schneier, DEFCON founder Jeff Moss, Princeton professor Ed Felten, and other security luminaries.
And so, TrustyCon -- the Trustworthy Technology Conference -- was born. It was a sellout, with 400 people attending at $50 a head, and another 300 on a waiting list who couldn't get in. Slashdot's Tim Lord managed to get in, and got to speak briefly with several people there, including one of the TrustyCon organizers, Joel Wallenstrom. These were crude interviews, done on a "catch as catch can" basis, and the sound in them is poor. (Google sent a camera crew and shot over seven hours of the conference speakers, which you can watch on YouTube if you want to view TrustyCon presentations in good HD with great sound.). Will there be another TrustyCon next year? According to The Register, "The conference organizers said that, at this point, the plan is to hold another get-together next year, but that a final decision will be made closer to the time."
Former chairman of VA Software and venture capitalist, Larry Augustin, co-founded VA Research in 1993 and was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Sourceforge. VA bought Andover.net in 2000, acquiring a number of media sites, including Slashdot. He serves on the board of several companies and is currently the CEO of SugarCRM. Larry has agreed to take some time and answer your questions about the world of venture capital, open source software, and surviving the dotcom bubble. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post
Last week you had the chance to ask ESR about books, guns, and open source software. Below you'll find his answers to those questions.
The intro to our first video interview with Pwnie Express 'Founder and CEO and everything else' Dave Porcello back in 2012 started with this sentence: 'Pwnie Express is a cute name for this tiny (and easily hidden) group of Pen Test devices.' They have more tools now, including some they've released since we mentioned them and their (then) new Pwn Pad back in March, 2013. Now they're working with Kali Linux, a distro built especially for penetration testing (and formerly known as BackTrack). In this video we have Tim Lord chatting with Dave Porcello about recent Pwnie Express happenings at RSA 2014. (If you don't see the video below, please use this link.)
Theo de Raadt was a founding member of NetBSD, and is the founder and leader of the OpenSSH and OpenBSD projects. He is currently working on OpenBSD 5.5 which would be the projects 35th release on CDROM. Even though he'd rather be hiking in the mountains or climbing rocks in his free time, Theo has agreed to answer any question you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Author of The Cathedral and the Bazaar and The Art of Unix Programming, Eric S.Raymond (ESR) has long been an important spokesperson for the open source movement. It's been a while since we talked to the co-founder of the Open Source Initiative so ESR has agreed to give us some of his time and answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
A while ago you had a chance to ask composer George Sanger about making music and sound effects for games, television, and film. Below you'll find "The Fat Man's" answers to those questions.
Jason Harrington (@Jas0nHarringt0n) is a controversial blogger, frequent contributor to McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and one of the TSA's least favorite ex-employees. His descriptions of life on the job as a TSA agent caused some big waves and restarted a national discussion on security theater. Jason will be answering your questions below for the next couple of hours, or until the security line starts moving again. Please keep it to one question per post so everyone gets a chance. Update: 03/01 02:11 GMT by S : Jason has finished up for now — you can skip to his answers at his user page, or simply browse the comments to read everything. Thanks Jason for answering our questions!
Richard Stallman (RMS) founded the GNU Project in 1984, the Free Software Foundation in 1985, and remains one of the most important and outspoken advocates for software freedom. He now spends much of his time fighting excessive extension of copyright laws, digital restrictions management, and software patents. RMS has agreed to answer your questions about GNU/Linux, how GNU relates to Linux the kernel, free software, why he disagrees with the idea of open source, and other issues of public concern. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Tim Lord first saw Faraday Bicycles at CES, where their bikes drew plenty of attention and a fair amount of media interest. The company ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012, and 2014 is when they are starting to ship their pre-ordered bicycles and hope to get new orders for lots more. Tim's travels later took him to San Francisco, where he had a chance to visit the shop where Faraday bikes are made, and to talk with some of the people who are designing and making them. (If you don't see the video below, please use this link.)
In addition to sponsoring the work of Linus Torvalds, The Linux Foundation supports and promotes a wide variety of resources and services for Linux. Their recently released 2014 Linux Jobs Report surveyed more than 1,000 managers and corporations, finding in part, that the demand for "Linux Professionals" was up 70% from last year. Jim Zemlin is the Executive Director of the Linux Foundation and he has agreed to answer any questions that you have about the report and the state of Linux in general. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
This is a conversation with Jeff Whitehead and Lou Montulli, respectively Vice President of Technical Operations/CTO and Chief Scientist for Zetta.net, a company that specializes in online backup and disaster recovery service. Also, while this interview was arranged without his help, in the interest of full disclosure we'd like to tell you that Zetta's CEO is Ali Jenab, who used to be CEO of Slashdot's parent company. But this discussion isn't about Ali or Zetta.net, but about data backup, and what methods are best and most cost-effective for companies ranging from home-based businesses up to enterprise operations with thousands of employees. Among other things, we discussed the importance of multiple-site storage for important data, a factor that was drilled in to us yesterday by an article titled Another Iron Mountain Fire Points Up Shortcomings of Physical Storage by long-time tech journalist Sharon Fisher. And never forget: You don't know how effective your backup and data storage arrangements are until you try to retrieve your data -- and if you don't try to retrieve data until you need it, and things don't work, you are in big trouble. (Don't see the video? Here's a link.)
"The Fat Man" George Sanger has composed the music to hundreds of computer and video games since the 80's and remains one of the most influential people in game audio. Some of his most famous tunes can be heard in Maniac Mansion, Wing Commander, and Tux Racer. Team Fat, a band that includes fellow video game music composers, creates music, sound effects, and voice work for games, television, and films. George has agreed to give us a bit of his time and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
We have shown clips from FIRST Robotics Competitions before on Slashdot, with a concentration on the Dexter Dreadbots because they're the "home team" for Slashdot's home office in Michigan. Today we hear from team mentor Jennifer Bryson and watch as the team works on their 2014 competition robot. They need to have it finished by February 18, so they're in the home stretch of the robot-building task. The competition itself starts on February 28 and keeps going until the world championships are held during the last weekend in April. The Dreadbots did well last year. This year? Who knows. But win or lose, it's all For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, AKA FIRST, also AKA "The ultimate Sport for the Mind." And if you're not near Ann Arbor, MI, check for a FIRST competition near you. It's an international organization, so you're likely to find one -- and if you don't, perhaps you can help start a FIRST team where you live.And for those of you who don't see the video below, here's a link to it.
Do you remember the worries about getting different health care software systems to work with each other as health care providers starting moving away from paper? It's still a problem, but Joanne Rohde's company, Axial Exchange, is working to cure that problem not only as an entrepreneur but also because she has personal reasons to see health care providers communicate better with each other. In a 2012 interview for Huffington Post, she said, "While I was working for Red Hat, I got very sick... I ultimately had to go to 10 doctors to be diagnosed. Going from doctor to doctor, I could not believe I had to start over each time. No one actually talks to each other I became convinced that if I had had all the information, I probably would have been able to figure it out faster." In fact, Joanne got so sick that she quit her job as Red Hat COO after four years with the company. Once she started getting decent treatment for her Fybromyalgia and started getting better, she decided to apply open source principles to health care IT -- and to start a new company to do it. Opensource.com talked with Joanne in September 2013, and in January 2014 she talked with Health Care Finance News for an article titled Patients key to reducing readmissions. A phrase Joanne seems to be using a lot lately is "patient engagement," which has become a major part of Axial Exchange's work to improve communications not only between different health care providers but also between those providers and their patients. Update: 02/05 20:16 GMT by T : If you're seeing this post on beta.slashdot.org, note that we're still ironing out the details of video display here. You can view the video on tv.slashdot.org, instead. Please pardon our dust.
When we think about NPR (National Public Radio) most of us think of A Prairie Home Companion or another favorite radio show. But NPR also has a research component, NPR Labs, that they say "is the nation's only not-for-profit broadcast technology research and development center." The video (below) is an interview with NPR person Maryfran Tyler about their pilot program designed "to demonstrate the delivery of emergency alerts to people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing in the Gulf Coast states through local public radio stations and the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS®)." NPR also says, "This is the first effort to deliver real-time accessibility-targeted emergency messages, such as weather alerts, via radio broadcast texts."
samzenpus writes "Every year companies are willing to dish out big bucks to reach tens of millions of consumers with their Super Bowl ads. With an average price tag of $4 million for a 30-second commercial, this year is no exception. We've seen: beer obsessed frogs, field goal kicking horses, celebrities drinking various beverages, explosions of all sizes, homages to 1984, and day trading babies in the past. Since talking about the commercials has become almost as popular as the game itself, here's a place to do just that. What have you liked and what do you think would have been better left on the cutting room floor."
The MOSS modular robot system is sort of like LEGO Mindstorms, in that you assemble small blocks to make custom robots and other items. But it has some interesting tricks of its own, as product demonstrator John Moyes shows Timothy Lord at CES 2014. The MOSS kits include lots of little metal balls, so they carry a warning that says MOSS kits are suitable for ages 8 and up, while the company's older Cubelets product, which doesn't have the little balls, is supposed to be okay for ages 4 and up. There is no upper age limit specified for either product, so you're probably safe if you want to buy (and can *afford* to buy) any of these interesting toys.
3-D printing is far from new, but a $499 3-D printer is new enough to get a bunch of people to write about it, including someone whose headline read, CES 2014: Could 3D printing change the world? XYZPrinting, the company behind the da Vinci 1.0 printer, has some happy-looking executives in the wake of CES. They won an award, and their booth got lots of attention. This is what trade shows are all about for small and/or new companies. Now the XYZprinting people can go home and pump out some product -- assuming they got a lot of orders (and not just attention) at CES.
It looks like an ordinary electric guitar, except for a little LED screen on its body and blinking lights up and down the fretboard that show you where your fingers should go. But the gTar, besides being "The First Guitar That Anybody Can Play," hooks to your iPhone. The gTar app includes "...a variety of classical guitar pieces, modern rock, pop, and everything in between." The gTar Kickstarter campaign in 2012 raised $353,392 even though it only asked for $100,000. The company that makes the gTar, Incident Technologies, started in a garage in Cupertino (Silicon Valley) and is now located in San Francisco after several moves caused by the company's rapid growth. On their Support page they say, "We don't have a brick-and-mortar location for you to try the gTar yet, but we're working on it. In the meantime, check us out at events like Maker Faire, TechCrunch Disrupt, and many others."
This is a slightly puzzling product. To begin with, Christopher Goggin, shown as the inventor of the Electronic Dog Nose (as featured in Popular Science) may not be the actual inventor, at least according to some of the comments attached to that 2011 Popular Science article. Yet other comments on the same article claim that the unit Goggin supposedly ripped off is totally different from his, and doesn't work, while his does. A report (pdf) on bed-bugs.co.uk says the device "...clearly fails to perform to the manufacturers specification and procedures." Goggin's badge at CES showed his company affiliation as Datt Solutions Group, but Datt's website did not mention him as of Jan. 21, 2013, several weeks after CES 2014 closed. A New York Real Estate blog is skeptical, as are others. Goggin also claims to have a laser device that will kill the bedbugs you find. It sounds great. But a person who prefers the tried and true to new products that may or may not work might want to use old-fashioned, all-natural Diatomaceous earth, which kills not only bedbugs but other insect pests, and costs very little compared to most other methods. If that method doesn't work, then it may be time to try dogs, lasers, and other ways to find and kill bedbugs, which have been spotted everywhere from luxury hotels to housing projects, even in taxicabs and movie theaters.
According to the company's website, "HAL© is the future of television and media management. Using proprietary gesture and voice control technology..." In this case, HAL© stands for “Human Algorithm LTE.” It looks like it's a lot safer than the original HAL 9000, anyway. Is it ready for prime time? If their CES demo is any indication, not quite. They say HAL© is going to ship in the fall of 2014. The technology? They won't say beyond, "It's proprietary." Ah! Then it must be good, right? Another voice-operated remote control -- that's already available for purchase from major retailers -- is the Ivee Sleek. There are other HALs out there, too. Like this one. And this one, which is a home automation server that costs $2499.00 (& up). Anyway, the retail price for HAL(circle-C) is supposed to be $199 when it hits the streets. And even though it doesn't look like HAL© can do much that I can't already do with my Android phone, Skyvi, and a Chromecast, it might be fun to test and review once it's in production.
A number of companies are either selling or preparing to sell 3-D scanners. Aside from fun (but interesting) uses, like duplicating chess pieces or possibly reproducing a miniature of Rodin's famous sculpture, Fallen Caryatid Carrying Her Stone, Matterform anticipates archeologists reproducing artifacts so that students can study them without handling the precious originals. This video is an interview with Matterform co-founder Drew Cox, who was exhibiting Matterform's scanner at CES 2014. MakerBot is also selling a scanner, as are a growing number of others. In fact, even though Matterform talks about being a low-cost (pre-order price $579) scanner for home use, as opposed to a commercial one that costs thousands. There are also several interesting hand-held scanners out there. Sense sells theirs for $399. Structure has one for $349 that's essentially a peripheral for an iPad. And this is just a random selection from a brief Google search. Use "3-D Scanner" as your search term and you'll find multiple Google pages full of 3-D scanners and information about them -- including software being developed at ETH zurich that turns your smartphone into a 3-D scanner.
In a town called Portsmouth, Ohio, a company called Yost Engineering (YEI) Technology has quietly been making motion sensing devices for military, aerospace, industrial, robotics, and other commercial motion capture uses, including rotoscoping for the film/video industry. Now they want to bring this same technology to gaming. They tried a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, but only got a little less than 1/2 of their target amount pledged. They're going to do Kickstarter again, starting Feb. 14, 2014 -- and this time, they've been working on PR before asking for money. You can see what they're up to in gaming sensor development at www.priovr.com/. Or go to the main YEI Technology corporate site, which has a whole bunch of free downloads in addition to the usual product blurbs.
Bennett Haselton writes "Google created controversy by announcing that Google+ users will now be able to send email to Gmail users even without having those Gmail users' email addresses. I think this debate misses the point, because it's unlikely to create a deluge of unsolicited email to Gmail users, as long as Google can throttle outgoing messages from Google+ users and terminate abusive accounts. The real controversy should be over the fact that Google+ users can search a public database of the names of all Gmail users in the first place. And limiting the ability of Google+ users to write to those Gmail accounts, won't do anything to address that." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
Shai Goitein started with a powered paper airplane, the PowerUp 1, which was pretty cool. But he didn't stop there. The PowerUp 3 is a powered paper airplane you control with your smartphone. He calls this "a mixture of origami and technology." He also says it's a great toy, class project or whatever for the younger set, since kids start making paper airplanes at the age of six or seven. Adults? Why not? This is obviously a suitable toy for anyone with a two-digit (or three-digit) age number. And PowerUp 3.0 is a Kickstarter-funded project, with (at this writing) $928,091 pledged -- against a $50,000 goal, with another 15 days of Kickstarter funding left to go. There's also a smartphone-controlled PowerUp paper boat kit. Unlike the PowerUp airplane kits, it's not sold out (at this writing). Yet.
The device that does this is the Geonaute 360 Degree Camera. The Geonaute display caught Tim Lord's eye at CES, and he got Geonauter (is that a word?) Marian Le Calves to show him the company's "action camera," which costs $499 -- or more accurately, will cost $499 when it starts shipping. Until then, you can pre-order. Or you could buy a GoPro camera for as little as $199. Geonaute has a bunch of videos on YouTube, some of which are quite fetching. But GoPo has a bunch of slick YouTube videos, too, and at this point they're the dominant brand in the action camera market niche. Will Geonaute be able to capture a decent market share with their 360 degree coolness -- and higher price? Or will they, GoPro, and other action camera vendors get into a price war so that every kid who has a skateboard can make good-looking videos?
Lauro Ojeda is a researcher at the University of Michigan who also works with a Korean company, Microinfinity, that says it works with everything "from basic sensors to full navigation systems, and is becoming the world leading navigation system company." Prof. Ojeda also has a personal website, robotnav.com, where he posts his navigation and control code (under an open source license, of course) that you are welcome to download, play with, install on any suitable device you have handy, and modify at will. A lot of his work is with Lego-based robots because they're both inexpensive and readily available almost anywhere. If you already have a good-sized Lego collection, you probably only need a few pieces to follow or even surpass Prof. Ojeda's work. And who knows? If you manage to make an autonomous Lego robot, your next stage may be a car that drives itself so you can watch SyFy reruns on your way to work instead of worrying about the truck in the left lane that looks like it's about to make a right turn.
The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is the largest electronics show in the U.S. these days. It's so big that small companies easily get lost among the industry giants and their huge, noisy show floor displays. But there is a press-only 'pre-show' called CES Unveiled that gives visibility to companies that don't have 20' tall displays full of celebrity shills and other razzmatazz. So, in hopes of finding some products more interesting than the inevitable CES "Oh, look! Our latest TVs are 2" wider than last year's models!" blather over incremental improvements to existing products, Tim Lord went to CES Unveiled -- and found a few products that were not repeats from previous years. Good products? Useful? Maybe, maybe not. You decide.
Emmett has a good rep as a video game music composer, and he's worked on a number of Star Trek-related projects, including the recently-released audio book, How to Speak Klingon: Essential Phrases for the Intergalactic Traveler. Emmett freely admits that he has no experience with RPG games. The closest he's come was running a major D&D meetup some years back. But he has experience and contacts developed from many years working online not only within the Star Trek community but (years ago) on Slashdot and as editor for Linux.com. And, he says, when he was a teenager he ran comic book stores. So is Emmett suited to run an RPG company? Possibly. He's actively looking for games to publish. Sales aren't going to start for six months or so, so there is no website for Arrakeen Tactical quite yet. Until there is one, you can contact Emmett about his game venture by emailing angelaATclockworkjetpack.com.
A while ago you had the chance to ask inventor Alan Adler about making the perfect cup of coffee and throwing things really far. Below you'll find his best coffee brewing tips and the answers to those questions.