Showing posts from April, 2013

A Robot's Gentle Touch

Robot arms aren't usually known for being delicate or dainty, they are usually more about precision and speed. However, if robots are to be among us - which is where we seem to be heading, with robot "butlers", nannies and caretakers - they need to be aware that we "meat sacks" bruise easily, and to tread softly around us. ...a robotic arm developed by a team lead by Charlie Kemp, associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, has sensors that cover its entire “arm,” helping it touch other objects gently, while reaching for a specific item. The technique gives robots a more effective and realistic method for dealing with real-world circumstances, where obstacles and clutter are usually an issue. Mashable

Today's Asshat Award

People do weird, unsettling or just downright stupid things at the keyboard of a computing device, and social media gives them a big sandbox to play in. The cretin referred to below has apparently bred, as he is a father in his own right.
Seventeen-year-old Caitlin Talley, of the US state of Tennessee, was killed in October after being thrown from a pickup truck in a violent crash that police believe involved a drunken driver. As many mourners have done, those who loved Talley erected a memorial Facebook page in her honor. Reece Elliott, 24, of South Shields, UK, has admitted that in February, he signed on to that tribute page under a false name and threatened to kill "at least" 200 people. NakedSecurity

Galaxy S4 Not A Smartphone, But A Life Companion

The Samsung production folks are in full Steve Jobs mode here speaking about the Galaxy S4, waxing lyrical about "a precious stone glittering in the darkness...." and other such twaddle. I like shiny new hardware as much as the next geek, I am just averse to over-the-top marketing-speak.

SimCity Still Sucking, Apparently

I know a little bit about software development (from the outside, looking in) and am familiar with the list of wantsand needs and the practical realities of actually producing the darned stuff. However, it's still a bit shocking to see a major game release like SimCity being almost universally panned out of the gate -  and worse, apparently not drastically improving after a full month. Yikes.
Most gamers who weren’t snookered in by the alluring siren call of pre-order goodies on SimCity saw what happened during the title's launch and smartly said “I’ll wait.” One month out, the verdict is in. Keep waiting. In terms of games whose launches were the entertainment version of explosive diarrhea, and similarly unpleasant, SimCity has earned a place in history. It now joins those lofty, ignominious horrors wrought upon the world of gaming. Let us remember fondly the version of Anarchy Online that formatted your hard drive. A Final Fantasy XIV as being one of the most frustrating …

Yes, Free Porn Sites Are Riddled With Malware

The stories you may have heard are largely true - many free porn sites on the web are great sources of infection; not STDs, but computer malware. It seems that the free sites differ noticeably from the for-pay sites, in that the subscription sites don't appear to suffer from this. The obvious explanation is that the sites get a LOT of traffic, and to pay for themselves they run ads and they don't seem to be too particular about who puts up the ads - or you you be charitable and say that they don't know. Visitors to Pornhub had a 53% chance of running into malware, and those visiting Xhamster had a 42% chance. What to do? Well, avoiding the sites would certainly help, but other than that make sure your browser is using Smartscreen or similar technology (most of them do by default). You could also install something like WebOfTrust, or use NoScript is you are running the Firefox browser, which would be a bit more proactive. TechHive

Remembering My First Computer

Like their first car or first kiss, most people can recall their first computer; in my case, it was a Timex Sinclair TS1000. Even for the time, it was a quirky machine - but quirky can often equal fun, and that was the case here. It was 1983 when my new wife bought one for me as a birthday gift, if I recall correctly. These were the early, early days in the home computer market - the IBM PC Jr came out towards the end of 1983, and the Commodore 64 was already available in the US since mid-1982. 

Twitter Two-Step

Security minded folks are saying it's time for Twitter to implement two-step (or two-factor) authentication, a topic brought into focus by recent hacks of Associated Press and CBS Twitter accounts that caused quite a bit of mischief. Twitter is planning to do this, following in the footsteps of Google, Microsoft, etc. but does not have any announcement on the timetable just yet. Whether Twitter will release the feature for all users or just those with Verified accounts, or for those who pass a certain threshold of followers remains to be seen. But McAfee's Siciliano says that everyone should get into the practice of using the two-step setting. "I think that it would be good training for everyone to do it," he said. "The majority of our accounts are going to have two-factor. Twitter, being for most people non-essential, would be a good place for people to adopt it." Yahoo! News

Childhood's End Coming To SyFy Channel

I have mixed reactions on the announcement of Ringworld and Childhood's End being brought to the small screen by the SyFy channel. I have not read Larry Niven's Ringworld (for shame, for shame), but Arthur C Clarke's Childhoods End is one of my favorites. I have at least two rather large reservations though, in regard to the latter story; viewers may think of both the "V" miniseries and to a lesser degree the "Independence Day" movie - if only because of the "unexpected appearance of really, really big spaceships around the world"; that may cause some to dismiss it as a similar story, which it isn't. Also, it's a pretty heady tale about the past and future evolution of homo sapiens, with some metaphysical content, some potentially wonderful visuals, and some really moving and profound moments - but can we get that from a TV movie or miniseries these days in an entertaining and thoughtful manner? TGDaily

Bitcoins - The Video

The music is a little distracting, and the narrator has a pretty heavy Aussie (?) accent, but this is one of the more understandable explanations of the Bitcoin phenomenon - which I confess I still don't entirely "get". At 3 minutes or so long, it just gives you the 30,000 foot view, but you'll end up knowing more that you did 3 minutes previously...