Dec
20th

Have You Ever Been Emailed a Wrench?

Astronaut with a wrenchHow about a wrench emailed to space? Yes!

ISS astronaut needs a wrench, NASA successfully ‘emails’ him one

c|net – By: Anthony Domanico – “We’re finally starting to see the benefits of having a 3D printer aboard the International Space Station, as NASA and Made in Space basically emailed a ratcheting socket wrench to astronaut Barry Wilmore.

Before 3D printing, if astronauts needed something that wasn’t already aboard the ISS, they would have to wait several months for the next shuttle to arrive. Now scientists and engineers on the ground can design whatever the astronauts might need, and send the file directly to the 3D printer aboard the ISS to be printed and used immediately. A post on Medium by Made in Space co-founder Mike Chen outlines the process.

Made in Space is the group created to design, build and ultimately send a zero-gravity 3D printer to the ISS. The company heard that Wilmore needed a ratcheting socket wrench and fired up its CAD (computer-aided design and drafting) software and designed one. Once the design for the wrench was complete, they converted it to a 3D-printer-ready format called G-code, and sent it over to NASA, which beamed it up to the ISS where it was printed automatically.

The wrench, as well as the 20 other objects that have been 3D-printed on the ISS thus far, will be sent back to Earth for further analysis. Made in Space plans to compare these 21 objects to identical 3D-printed objects that were printed on Earth to test things like the effect of long-term microgravity on the 3D-printing process, so they can model and predict how well things printed in space will hold up in the future. From there, they can further enhance their 3D printer and printing technology to build better objects for use in space.

So now that scientists have successfully emailed plans for an object to be 3D-printed aboard the ISS, it’s only a matter of time before they figure out how to Snapchat or Yo the designs to space.”

Dec
20th

An Android for Cars?

Android AutoDoes this mean we will get our schedule from our dashboard?

Google Wants Cars To Come With Built-In Android-Based Entertainment Systems

Tom’s Hardware – By: Lucian Armasu – “According to a Reuters report, Google wants to build a version of Android that would replace current dashboard software that may exist in certain cars. This would be a step up from Android Auto, which requires a smartphone or tablet to be plugged into a compatible car with a built-in screen. Users must then give it access to music, apps, phone calls and so on. This new version of Android for automobiles should appear around the same time as Android ‘M,’ about a year from now.

Currently, car manufacturers use BlackBerry’s QNX, Microsoft’s Windows Embedded OS, or various Linux distros to power their vehicles’ entertainment centers. Both Apple and Google have recently entered the auto market with their own projects called Car Play and Android Auto, but neither of them actually replace the cars’ built-in entertainment systems. They are only meant to augment those built-in systems.

This provides certain advantages to drivers, such as being able to keep the new system upgraded as they buy new phones, rather than when buying a new car. It also has some disadvantages, though, such as draining the phone’s battery, although this could be relatively easily fixed with an in-car charger.

Android is already a highly popular operating system in the computing industry, and Android Auto has proven that Google can get at least as many car partners as Apple. Chances are Google’s new initiative will also be warmly welcomed by the car industry.

Car makers are raising some issues, though. One is that if Google wants Android to replace their entertainment systems, then the OS will have to increase its performance, especially in terms of how fast it’s booting, and also its stability.

The car makers want the OS to boot-up immediately instead of in 30 seconds, as it usually happens with smartphones today. This may only be possible if Google makes a highly minimized version of Android, and then also requires car makers to use fast NAND storage for a speedy boot-up.

Another solution could be to keep Android mostly as it is, but instead of completely powering down when the car is off, the system could have its own extra battery to keep the OS in idle mode. That auxiliary battery could also be charged up by the car’s battery when the car is being driven.

As for the stability of the system, Android Lollipop has been one of the least stable versions of Android in recent times, with many bugs being uncovered. In a way, this was understandable because so many new features were introduced, but it could be why Google is waiting until Android M to release this new software.

Google seems to want to enter this market more aggressively, which makes sense, as it would then have access to more valuable data about what the driver is doing throughout the day:

‘You can get access to GPS location, where you stop, where you travel everyday, your speed, your fuel level, where you stop for gas,’ one of Reuter’s sources said.

To gain access to this kind of data from tens of millions of users or more, Google may also have to let automakers customize the software as they wish, much like how it lets smartphone makers customize Android. The car makers don’t want all of their cars to provide exactly the same experience to their customers, regardless of what vehicle they may choose.

The auto companies also don’t seem to want to give Google access to too many of the car’s components due to safety and liability concerns. Because of its popularity in the mobile market, Android is a prime target to hackers right now. Automakers will want to ensure that even if these systems are hacked, they can’t do too much damage to the car, and most importantly don’t endanger drivers’ lives.”

Dec
20th

Sony Hack is Big News!

Did Sony give in to terrorism, or was in the theatre owners?

Sony Hack Is Now An International Incident As FBI Fingers North Korea

Forbes – By: Dorothy Pomerantz – “Back before the Sony hack put Hollywood at the center of what is increasingly turning out to be an international provocation, Seth Rogen spoke to Rolling Stone about his new movie, The Interview. He said: ‘At best, the movie will cause a country to be free. At worst, it will cause a nuclear war.’

Rogen was, of course, joking. The satire, about a bumbling TV host and his producer sent by the CIA to kill Kim Jong-Un, seemed subversive but not like a political bombshell.

Cut to one month later and Rogen’s words suddenly seem eerily prophetic. Today the FBI announced that it believes North Korea is behind the attack. An analysis of the malware used in the attack shows similarities to other attacks known to have been perpetrated by North Korea. In a statement the FBI says there were similar lines of code, encryption algorithms and data deletion methods.

This takes the attack to a whole new level. From the FBI’s statement:

Working together, the FBI will identify, pursue, and impose costs and consequences on individuals, groups, or nation states who use cyber means to threaten the United States or U.S. interests.

Although the White House has said any reaction to the attack will be measured, it now seems likely that the U.S. will have to respond in some way. The attack has set a dangerous precedent of a regime suppressing free speech in another country.

Earlier this week Sony decided not to release The Interview in theaters at all after Guardians of Peace, the terrorist group behind the hack, threatened a 9/11-like attack on any movie theater showing the film. Many have called for the studio to release the film on VOD or for free on the Internet to at least make a statement about free speech but the hackers have sent threats to Sony executives warning them that the movie can never see the light of day. According to an article on CNN, the hackers warned Sony that they still have ‘private and sensitive data’ that they wont leak unless Sony makes ‘additional trouble.’

The rest of the film industry has so far failed to rally behind Sony. (Although the MPAA finally released a statement today.) In an interview with Deadline Hollywood actor George Clooney revealed that he tried to circulate a petition among high-level executives stating that they stood with Sony against the hackers but he couldn’t get anyone to sign it.

It was a large number of people. It was sent to basically the heads of every place. They told [agent] Bryan Lourd, ‘I can’t sign this.’ What? How can you not sign this? I’m not going to name anyone, that’s not what I’m here to do, but nobody signed the letter.

The attack against free speech is sure to cause long term damage in Hollywood where people are incredibly hesitant to take any kind of risk. A thriller set in North Korea, starring Steve Carell, has already been scrapped. Plans to show the 2004 movie Team America, which also features satire against North Korea, were pulled when Paramount said theaters couldn’t show the film. And while plenty of writers are pulling any hacker ideas our of storage right now, they’re also shelving anything that might have the slightest whiff of controversy.”

Dec
13th

Upgrade to Firefox?

Firefox munches IE!Well, it certainly would be for Internet Explorer users… but from Chrome? I’m not as sure.

Yahoo Starts Prompting Chrome Users To “Upgrade” To Firefox

TechCruch – “If you’re visiting any Yahoo property today, chances are you’ll see an ‘Upgrade to the new Firefox’ link in the top-right corner of your browser window. The prompt also appears if you’re using Internet Explorer, Opera and even the new Yandex browser. However, the prompt is missing from Safari, which will surely prompt a new round of speculation about Apple’s rumored switch to Yahoo as its default search engine.

Given that Firefox now uses Yahoo as its default search engine, this move doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Yahoo clearly wants as many people as possible to use Firefox — and with it its search engine (which is powered by Microsoft Bing).

Firefox’s user share has dropped quite a bit over the last few years, so Mozilla has no objections to putting the Firefox logo in front of as many Yahoo users as possible. Changing the default search engine in Firefox is trivial (and Firefox recently made it even easier), but most users never bother to make the switch. The new Yahoo Search design for Firefox users also looks pretty much exactly like Google’s, so some users may not even notice the difference.

It’s still too early to know whether the Yahoo/Mozilla deal made any difference in terms of market share for either of the two organizations, but chances are we’ll see at least a small uptick in Yahoo’s numbers come January.”

Dec
13th

Facebook Dumps Bing!

Bing is out!You gotta love that! Makes me respect Facebook a bit… and that is hard!

Facebook Is Ditching Bing’s Search Results

Gizmodo – By: Chris Mills – “Facebook and Microsoft have had a relatively long-standing partnership when it comes to search: for years, Facebook searches would also show Bing results, and Bing queries have thrown up results from your friends. But history seems to mean very little to Facebook, which appears to have quietly killed Bing results.

Reuters quotes a Facebook spokesperson as saying ‘We’re not currently showing web search results in Facebook Search because we’re focused on helping people find what’s been shared with them on Facebook.’ It’s true that search has long been an area of interest for Facebook, but one that it’s comprehensively failed to capitalize on — even the introduction of its vaunted ‘Graph Search’ capabilities failed to turn Facebook into a leader in web search.

The latest strategy isn’t just about ditching Bing, though — Facebook is introducing the ability to search for specific posts at the same time. If nothing else, it’s an impressive feat of engineering, since humanity has managed to generate over a trillion posts by this stage, which is quite a lot of crap to be sifting through.

As for the future of Microsoft and Facebook, the company is still promising amicible relationships, with a Facebook spokesperson promising that ‘We continue to have a great partnership with Microsoft in lots of different areas.'”

Dec
12th

GIFs of Kitties Are Now Easy as Pie!

Kitty!

And the world rejoices!

YouTube Now Lets You Make GIFs From Videos

Gizmodo – By: Chris Mills- “Making short GIFs of YouTube videos is a pretty well-established practice now — so much so that there’s dozens of websites dedicated to this finest of art forms. But YouTube might be about to make them all obsolete, thanks to a new built-in GIF maker.

At the moment, it looks like the feature is experimental — the only channel we can find with it enabled is the PBS Idea Channel. In practice, it’s pretty slick: on a video with GIF capability, you click Share, then GIF, and can then customize your clip. Maximum length is six seconds, with options to add top and bottom text if needed. Actual GIF creation takes seconds.

Update: There’s now a Beta sign-up page where users with Channels can sign up for the feature. YouTube says it will contact you about the next phase of the beta testing if you’ve signed up. “We are testing this new feature with a handful of creators and look forward to adding new ones soon,” it says.”

It’s unclear what YouTube’s plans for the future of this feature are, at this stage. But assuming that a site-wide rollout is imminent, you should probably prepare your browser for the impeding onslaught of moving images.

What this means for the future of the cat-GIF genre is unclear.”

Dec
7th

New Horizons Spacecraft Awakens To Begin Pluto Mission!

PlutoWe are almost ready to explore Pluto! How cool is that?

NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Awakens To Begin Pluto Mission

i09 – By: George Dvorsky – “At 3:00 PM ET on Saturday, a pre-set alarm clock roused New Horizons from its hibernation mode. Owing to the extreme distance, NASA received confirmation at 9:30 PM ET, some 6.5 hours later.

New Horizons will make its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015. The probe will not be stationed in orbit around the dwarf planet. Mission planners say there are two reasons for this:

The first is an engineering reason. To get to Pluto (which is 5 billion kilometers or 3 billion miles from Earth) in just 9.5 years, as New Horizons will, the spacecraft must travel very, very quickly. As a result, New Horizons will speed by Pluto at a velocity of about 43,000 kilometers per hour (27,000 miles per hour). To get into orbit, operators would have to reduce that speed by over 90%, which would require more than 1,000 times the fuel that New Horizons can carry.

The second reason is scientific: If we did stop to go into orbit, we wouldn’t be able to go on to explore the Kuiper Belt!

The $700 million mission has the following objectives:

  • Map the surface composition of Pluto and Charon
  • Characterize geology and morphology (“the look”) of Pluto and Charon
  • Characterize the neutral atmosphere of Pluto and its escape rate
  • Search for an atmosphere around Charon
  • Map surface temperatures on Pluto and Charon
  • Search for rings and additional satellites around Pluto
  • Conduct similar investigations of one or more Kuiper Belt Objects

The New Horizons spacecraft is roughly 8 feet (2.5 meters) across and weighs about 1,050 pounds (480 kilograms) — about half a ton. It’s about the size and shape of a baby grand piano.It carries seven scientific instruments:

Alice: An ultraviolet spectrometer used for measuring gas composition
Ralph: An infrared spectrometer (LEISA) for mapping surface composition and a color optical imager (MVIC) for mapping surface structure and composition
REX: A radio experiment for measuring atmospheric composition and temperature
LORRI: An optical telescope that provides the highest resolution imaging of the surface
PEPSSI: A plasma-sensing instrument for measuring particles escaping from Pluto’s atmosphere
SWAP A plasma-sensing instrument for measuring the properties of the solar wind at Pluto, Pluto’s atmospheric escape rate, and for searching for a magnetosphere around Pluto. The “solar wind” is a stream of charged particles streaming away from the Sun at high speed.
SDC: An instrument used to measure dust impacts at the New Horizons spacecraft during its entire trajectory

What an amazing time for space exploration! Just a few weeks ago we were bouncing probes off a comet, and now, in addition to New Horizons, we can expect Dawn to arrive at Ceres.”

Dec
7th

Windows 10 Alpha Demo of Cortana!


Download with Vixy | YouTube to MP3 | Replay Media Catcher

Not finished, and very buggy, but it looks promising!

Dec
7th

The US is Back in Space!

Orion LaunchThe this week the United States launched a new rocket called the Orion. This officially gets the United States back into the space business, at least as a government-based industry. There have been private space industry companies such as SpaceX that have been launching rockets and spacecraft since the American program was shut down. But now, we are back with a vengeance!

The Orion capsule will hold four men and and is designed for longer missions than the near-Earth Space Shuttle allowed us to be involved with. The new craft is designed to allow us to send a mission to the asteroid belt, and then further on to Mars. The launch was very spectacular, and it was sad that the regular news media chose not to cover it. In fact, unless you’re a space geek you probably didn’t even know that we were back in the space business again! It’s truly sad that it’s come to this.

Orion Splash-DownI can remember when I was much younger, we followed space and space exploration very closely… there was a lot of public interest, now it has dwindled, and the media, at least, are not interested.

Fortunately, the Internet allows us the opportunity to follow things that no one else seems to care about… so I was excited to see Orion launch and successfully complete its mission, and then splash-down in the ocean. It was the first splash-down since the 70s for America and it went very well!

I trust this will be the first of many successful missions for the Orion spacecraft! Way to go, NASA!

Nov
29th

Digital Carjackers Show Off New Attacks!


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Yikes, your car can be hacked in a VERY dangerous way!

YouTube Video of a Forbes Writer – “Stomping on the brakes of a 3,500-pound Ford Escape that refuses to stop — or even slow down — produces a unique feeling of anxiety. In this case it also produces a deep groaning sound, like an angry water buffalo bellowing somewhere under the SUV’s chassis. The more I pound the pedal, the louder the groan gets — along with the delighted cackling of the two hackers sitting behind me in the backseat.

Luckily, all of this is happening at less than 5 mph. So the Escape merely plows into a stand of 6-foot-high weeds growing in the abandoned parking lot of a South Bend, IN strip mall that Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have chosen as the testing grounds for the day’s experiments…”


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