Category Archives: Computers and Technology

Computers and Technology

Earth is Being Photographed from Orbit…But the Views Differ

A group of Silicon Valley start-ups is attempting to create a comprehensive picture of the earth from space…In real time.

…And when we say picture…We mean video.

…And when we say video, we mean close enough to track a single car across a single highway, anywhere in the world.

The scientific appeal, from the perspective of a multitude of disciplines, is obvious. The business appeal is gigantic and the potential military application is bigger than both combined.

However, not everybody is convinced that this is a good idea…

131 ‘cubesats’ – satellite cameras (that are each about the size of a shoebox) are being primed for launch over the next 12 months. These cubesats will snap a daily photograph of the earth from space, building a Google Earth-style composite image of our home planet, the main difference being that, unlike Google Earth, this picture will update itself approximately every 24 hours.

One of the companies behind this initiative is Planet Labs, a 40-employee start-up based in San Francisco. Chief Executive and co-founder Will Marshall told BBC News that,

“We’re basically leveraging billions of Dollars that has been spent in consumer electronics to advance space exploration and the capabilities of satellites to help people on the planet,”

Certainly, the Humanitarian application is potentially groundbreaking. Such technology could possibly be used to locate missing planes (exemplified by the recent tragedy of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370), survivors of shipwrecks (like the four missing sailors currently lost at sea) and other disasters as well.

Mr. Marshall believes that his miniature satellites are in a unique position to do a lot of good.

“Instead of seeing a hole in the Amazon a few months after trees have been taken down there, we can see it as it’s happening” he says.

The first batch of 28 cubesats (known as ‘doves’ by Planet Labs), were launched in February of this year and are currently passing over earth at a speed of around five miles a second. Amazingly, they can produce images detailed enough to pick out individual trees.

However, photographs of individuals will be deliberately obfuscated, a decision taken after privacy groups protested against being captured on camera unwillingly. 

It all sounds innocent enough, until one considers that the company is funded by venture capital and is fully expecting to turn a profit from this endeavor. Hypothetically, this means that, although certain data may be handed to Humanitarian, scientific or environmental organizations, it will also be available to the highest bidder.

In addition, Planet Labs may be looking to send only its ‘doves’ into our stratosphere, but critics are concerned that such moves are already paving the way for the hawks to join them.

Start-ups like Skybox and Canadian Urthecast are far more interested in creating satellites that relay high-definition video to their corporate creators and are capable of targeting a single car on a narrow road, or even a small group of people.

In fact, Skybox launched 24 of these fridge-sized devices last December and the prototypes are already relaying 90 second black and white clips of the earth below them. The firm is currently in the process of being acquired by Google.

For their part, Urthecast are already talking about using HD-video as a sort of CCTV for homeowners.

Frankly, this has a lot of people worried. The old saying that, ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’, does, for many, apply here.

Thomas Immel, who worked for twenty years at the Space Science Laboratory at UC Berkely, compares this new initiative to the opening of ‘Pandora’s Box’ from Greek mythology. He maintains, “Some applications may be harmful or controversial”.

For all the potential good projects like this can achieve, the possible cost to personal freedom is, in many people’s humble opinion, simply too high.

SOURCE

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27408318

Why do bose make the most effective TV sound systems

When I was young and inexperienced about the ways of the world, my Mum used to buy me those electric toothbrushes that you see on TV.

 

Those things don’t actually have a very long shelf life, but they do work a treat (it was 27 years before I needed my first filling). Therefore, whenever an old one bit the dust, my Mum would somehow stump up the money and replace it. Good as gold.

 

One of the many disillusions I’ve endured since leaving home about six years ago, (first for Uni and then for the big, scary real world) is that you have to pay for your own stuff. Like, all the time. For example, the other day our washing machine broke and it cost the best part of £40 to repair it (amazingly, all that palaver was just because the button had come off of my girlfriend’s trousers and gotten caught somewhere in the mechanism). The week after that, our food bill spiralled upwards to almost twice its previous amount with no warning from our local recession-maligned supermarket. As a matter of necessity, my much-loved electric toothbrush was forced out of my life.

 

So, last week, with a little more money in my pocket than usual, I ‘treated’ myself to a new toothbrush and, wouldn’t you know it? The damn thing died on me this morning. For **** sake!

 

What does this have to do with the Bose TV sound system? Not a lot, but I was pissed about it and I wanted to vent.

 

Actually, the two products do have quite a lot in common (in a good way). Like my preferred brand of toothbrush, the Bose TV speaker doesn’t come cheap, however, it is also arguably the best product of its kind and, like the toothbrush; no home should be without one.

 

Your average flat panel TV screen doesn’t have wonderful speakers to match its exceptional picture; you’ve probably noticed. The size and shape of those speakers are all wrong for anything but the most basic aural experience. Today’s average flatscreen TV viewer hooks an external sound system up to the TV as a matter of course.

 

What I’m saying, then: is if you’re going to buy speakers; buy Bose.

 

With a flawless, easy set up and a smart, compact design, Bose’s new TV sound system provides you with a broader, more detailed sound. You can hear every bone crunching in your favourite high-octane action fest, or experience fully the subtle nuances of heartbreak in your favourite rom coms (probably).

 

Using proprietary digital signal processing (look it up – I have a word limit and I wasted almost half of it talking about a toothbrush), these speakers adjust and optimise the sound at almost any volume level. In practical terms, this basically means that you won’t have to turn the sound right up to hear the dramatic whispery bits, only to be deafened, in turn, by the sonic assault of the massive explosion-y bits.

 

This speaker array will bring audio quality into your home that is damn close to cinema level and perfectly compliments a Blu Ray/Plasma screen setup, in fact, I’ll go one better: it completes it.

 

On the downside, this system is not the cheapest. However, sometimes it’s worth shelling out a little (OK, a lot) extra in order to get the nicest product on the rack. When I consider how much time the average family spends watching TV, it makes sense that they’d want to invest in a superior product. Anyway, the point is this; whether its oral or aural technology you’re after, it pays to buy the best. 

’13: The Year of Augmented reality

2013 is going to be the year of AR.

 

Now near the end of 2012, we are already seeing a rapid adoption of AR technology. Portable devices just like tablets, mini machines and smart phones are seemingly tailor-made for this new darling of the Information age.

 

So what is Augmented reality? Well, AR (or ‘augmented reality’ to its associates), is basically the practise of applying computer created imagery and/or information onto real life descriptions (at the least the kind of AR we’re discussing here is, anyhow, it is an open-ended phrase, so post your complaints within the comments section, please). Augmented reality can be applied to paper supplements (so that when the content or images are viewed through a smart phone app they jump to life and offer additional content), street corners (much like the app which will mention all important information pertaining to a restaurant, including feedback, menus and special offers, just by holding your smart phone in the direction of the eatery itself) and even the night sky (yes, some Augmented reality apps will in reality offer scientific statistics and Hubble telescope information on divine bodies and constellations as you look at them on your smart phone). Continue reading

A Time For Champs: “I’m Sportacus!”

Sport games are the final fan’s revenge. You think the referee threw the match? Put your money where your mouth is, sport games fan. Naturally, if you think that Mike Tyson was overrated, it does not necessarily follow that you’d be the man to inform him so. But perhaps Mohammed Ali or George Foreman could? Therefore, sport games are born.

 

One of the oldest games genres, sport games have an enduring application as eternal as sport itself. You just can not go and play for England in the next world cup on a whim, no, that sort of thing takes time, and airplane tickets, and days off work, and years in treatment and may end in a confused divorce. sport games are also great for proving your points during pub arguments. Continue reading

A look back at some of the best PS3 games

In which our hero (namely me) compares and contrasts three big-selling adventure games and reports to you, the consumer, which one he likes the best.

 

1)     Assassin’s Creed – Released by Ubisoft in 2007, Creed’s major selling points are twofold; firstly, it has a long and absorbing storyline for players to engage with. A young man is captured by mysterious forces, and placed in a machine that forces him to re-live the past adventures of his ancient ancestor, who belonged to an ancient cult of (you guessed it) Assassins. The second thing is the gameplay; Creed is tremendously playable, evoking memories of such classic games as ‘Metal Gear Solid’ and ‘Prince of Persia.’ What’s more, the story ends on a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more. Fortunately there is now a whole series for you to play, together with at least one more ancestor to inhabit as our young hero struggles for his freedom. It is, in short, excellent. Continue reading

Apple Announces iPhone 5s-The Most Forward-Thinking Smartphone in the World

Editorial – So most of the rumours and speculation is correct, apple have announced this years version of the iphone, the iphone 5s. With fingerprint sensor (Touch ID), an enhanced camera plus a quicker A7 microprocessor, with an announcment of iOS 7 coming later on in september, have apple given us a radical new phone or have they merely updated the apple iphone 5?

 

Apple® today announced iPhone® 5s, the most forward-thinking iPhone yet, featuring an all-new A7 chip, making iPhone 5s the world’s first smartphone with 64-bit desktop-class architecture for blazing fast performance in the palm of your hand. iPhone 5s redefines the best smartphone experience in the world with amazing new features all packed into a remarkable thin and light design, including an all-new 8 megapixel iSight® camera with True Tone flash and introducing Touch ID™, an innovative way to simply and securely unlock your phone with just the touch of a finger. iPhone 5s comes with iOS 7, the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone, engineered for 64-bit technology and featuring hundreds of great new features, including Control Center, Notification Center, improved Multitasking, AirDrop®, enhanced Photos, Safari®, Siri® and iTunes Radio℠. Continue reading

CCFC award the ipotty as 2013’s worst toy

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has officially selected the ‘iPotty’ (from CTA Digital) as the worst toy of 2013.

In case you’re wondering, the iPotty consists of a basic potty setup, but with the added innovation of a stand for holding an iPad (apparently an aid to toilet training). I’m also assuming that there is an app. There’s always an app.

Once the infant is placed on the potty, the iPad can be rotated 360 degrees around the seat on its stand, meaning that the device can be switched between vertical and horizontal views. The iPotty even has a protective touchscreen for use in case of…Well, you get the idea. Continue reading

Important Gadget Components Deemed ‘Unsustainable’

A new report has concluded that a sizeable proportion of modern technology (in particular smartphones, tablets and other commonly-used gadgets) is extremely over reliant on very rare materials.

If the report’s findings are accurate, the scarcity of the metals and metalloids in question, combined with a sharply increasing demand for such devices, could seriously damage design innovation, as well as the manufacture of future products.

The report, compiled by researchers at Yale University, discussed the use of 62 materials found in widely used technology. Ultimately, the study concluded that none of the 62 metals or metalloids could be replaced without damaging the efficiency of the product. In fact, 12 of the 62 materials could not be replaced at all. Continue reading

Radio Navigation Systems

The radio can be a significant resource of the baby. The classical features provided with this product, furthermore for the transmission of voices and texts, will be the cogent reasons for the elevated usage. Mobile phones aren’t mere communication products as well as the leisure uses are lots of. When you are idle and want to entertain, it may be perfect to experience a device in the pocket for everybody the main reason.

They’re broadly proven to become the best choice. In spite that it absolutely was initially made to have the ability to exchange voices over distances, it’s become device to provide entertainment and competes while using computer in your house. It’s portable little also.In occasions of emergency like getting twisted in crowded places, your delay might be communicated effectively through text messages. Waiting is not anymore a monotony along with your mobile phone in the palm. It’s very amusing using the qualities supplied by the walkie talkies models. Checking mails, browsing internet, hearing music, taking photographs, watching tv might be completed from you throughout an insipid travel. Hence mobiles allow us just like a communication device that works many tasks. Continue reading