Resonate With Resin: New Eco-Friendly Battery Created From Pine & Alfalfa


While lithium batteries have been the standard as small, portable power sources for decades now, their difficulty to the environment is undeniable.  Now, researchers from Uppsala have used organic materials to create a new and effective battery that requires a great deal less environmental trouble.

According to sciencedaily.com, lithium itself is a rare element on Earth, and the process of extracting it is arduous.  Other chemicals involved in traditional batteries are not only rare but also require toxic chemicals to aid in the extraction process that makes them viable to the battery design.  The premise behind the new batteries, which are constructed in part from pine resin and alfalfa, involves recycling the lithium from older batteries and continuing to utilize it, with help from the more-amenable biomaterials.

An astonishing 99% of power was recovered from the "spent" lithium batteries when used in conjunction with the new biomaterial battery design.  Further developments in the future may even be able to improve on this, making lithium-ion batteries ever-more attractive options for sparking and storing energy in the future.  This could be beneficial in particular for the electric automobile industry, or the storage systems required for implementation of large-scale solar power.

Daniel Brandell, Senior Lecturer of Uppsala University's chemistry department, explained, "The use of organic materials from renewable sources makes it possible to solve several of the problems that would arise from a huge rise in the use of lithium batteries. But above all, it's a major step forward that, to a high degree and in a simple, environment-friendly way, the lithium from these batteries can be recovered. These solutions are also potentially very cost-effective."

Thus, recycling our rare-earth material and mixing it with regular-earth material might just be the perfect way to keep us powered up for years to come.

PINE POWER!

Text On Fire: New "FireChat" Service Connects Phones Under The Radar

While not stirring up a lot of coverage in the Western world, the current pro-Democracy protests in China are benefiting humanity with more than just a shot at free speech. Namely, in conjunction with a new texting service, now they're showing how many people can use their free speech, internet-free.

According to the independent.co.uk, FireChat is an iOS-based text messaging service that is able to operate without cellphone or internet service, making it ideal for revolutionaries in communications-restricted countries. FireChat uses Bluetooth to create "mesh networking" with other phones in the area, strengthening the connection and allowing for discussion.

FireChat does not aim to be the exclusive domain of the repressed, saying it could be useful "on the beach or in the subway, at a big game or a trade show, camping in the wild or at a concert, or even travelling abroad, simply fire up the app with a friend or two and find out who else is there."

Current numbers suggest that already tens of thousands of people are using the FireChat app at any given time, so fire it up and see what's up.

Hear hear.  (Students on the streets of Hong Kong, protesting and pro-texting.  Image courtesy lesechos.fr.)

Snuggle Up To New Hug-Hunting App, "Cuddlr"

Aw, there there. Does someone need a hug? Well, now instead of dealing with the peskiness of generating affection from any conventional source, a new app will help you get held, nicely (but nonsexually.)

According to techanalyzer.net, the new app Cuddlr is "a location-based social-meeting app for cuddling." You read that right. Not relationships, not hookups, just hugs. It requires users to be 17+ (to presumably prevent statutory hugging) and is currently available on iOS (their Android release is set for 2015.)

Creator Charlie Williams feels that he is fulfilling a yet-unexplored social connection gap, explaining, "We don’t have a space for this in our culture...there’s not a way to have physical affection that isn’t tied to sex. I think there should be. Not with any random person on the street, but perhaps with some carefully selected random people? Definitely."

Prospective embracers can try out "test cuddles" to see if they're down with random snugglers, and frequent users can earn "reputation points" for the security and quality of their hugs.

Shh, there there. Feel better now? Oh ok, one more time. That's right, hug it out. It'll be okay.

Don't get so desperate that you end up hugging tigers.  Use Cuddlr instead.



Shrug Off "Atlas", Facebook's New Ad-Stalking Network

You are a target.  Your likes, dislikes, and desires, as manifested via the internet, make you prime material for directed advertising, and social media giant Facebook knows it.  That's why they're stepping in to make their ads follow you around the internet, like a lost dog of consumerism, or perhaps an over-egregious door-to-door salesman inside your screen.

According to mashable.com, the targeted ads will start following you immediately.  You selections and mentions on facebook help them to direct material that they think you will be prone to clicking on, and thus your creepily-pertinent ad distractions will appear if you visit other facebook-affiliated sites (such as Amazon or various news outlets.)

Facebook's new ad network, Atlas, is responsible for this collection and dispersal.  A former Microsoft company which Facebook purchased for $100 million last year, Atlas tracks your verbiage and serves up what it feels is appropriate topical consumer choices.  Atlas CEO Erik Johnson stated this is superior to the logging of your info by your computer's "cookies", stating in a blog post that, "Cookies don’t work on mobile, are becoming less accurate in demographic targeting and can’t easily or accurately measure the customer purchase funnel across browsers and devices or into the offline world."

Now that they've stepped up their game, so can you.  Services like Adblock, Ghostery, NoScript and Disconnect.me can help to combat the ever-encroaching e-eyeballs and protect your privacy.  So if you've ever had the sneaking suspicion that your paper trail needs to be burned, now you know how to fire it up.

You don't want to be on the shoulders of the Atlas that hefts the world wide web.

Space Station Sunday: The Hair Up There

This week, the International Space Station welcomed three new crewmates, NASA astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Yelena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev. Their Soyuz space capsule blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan last Thursday afternoon, and docked safely at the ISS after a six-hour flight.

Cosmonaut Serova is an interesting addition to the ISS crew. According to the BBC, the 38-year-old engineer has been training for seven years for her role on the ISS, where she now holds the title of the first-ever Russian female cosmonaut on the space station. One of only four Russian female cosmonauts to ever go into space, Serova has tolerated annoying questions regarding her femininity as it pertains to her job, replying to one question on her prospective hairstyling in space with the rejoinder, "Aren't you interested in the hair styles of my {male} colleagues?" (Full disclosure: during the World Cup, we sure were.)

Regarding the other new crew members, according to NASA, cosmonaut Samokutyaev is currently on his second tour of duty to the ISS, having previously served as a flight engineer on Expedition 27/28 in 2011. Astronaut Wilson is the former pilot of the space shuttle Atlantis, and spent 11 days on the ISS during a mission in 2009.

The delivery of the new crew was the second arrival at the ISS last week, as an unmanned SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule successfully docked on Tuesday. The capsule contains, among other things, a special delivery of zebrafish, which will live in the Japanese "Kibo" module's Aquatic Habitat and will be studied for their particular manifestations of muscle atrophy (a major problem in micro-gravity.) Hopefully the research will allow new breakthroughs to be made in counteracting this issue.

Other experiments delivered by the Dragon include a Rapid Scatterometer, which examines how winds over the Earth's oceans can affect weather patterns. A delivery of experimental mice were also transported up, along with a habitat and research tools pertinent to the mice-mission. No word has yet been offered on how the mice plan on styling their fur.

See you next week...watch this space!

The new crew celebrates their safe arrival on the ISS.  Serova, front left, has proven her media-fascinating hair choice (a classic bun) to be stylistically auspicious in the micro-gravity environment (which is prone to creating bad hair days.)  


Dead Drop: Darknet Service Will Be Your Whistleblower If You Mysteriously Disappear

It's hard out there for a whistleblower.  With Bradley "Chelsea" Manning in extreme custody, Edward Snowden hiding out in Russia, and numerous other knowledge-droppers dead under sketchy circumstances, one would be deterred before breathing a word of any new top-secret info - no matter how damning.  However, if you do happen to have your hands on some hot intel, and fear for your safety because of it, a new service will release your documents if you end up disappearing or dead.

The service, called Dead Man Zero, is accessible only through the deep web.  According to vice.com, it costs around $120 (paid in bitcoin.)  One uploads their files to a secure cloud, then the site requires password updates (set at a variable time preference by the user), which if not established will trigger a release of the documents to the user's desired outlets (lawyers, journalists, etc.)

“So what if something happens to you?” Dead Man Zero's site ponders. "Especially if you're trying to do something good like blow the whistle on something evil or wrong in society or government. There should be consequences if you are hurt, jailed, or even killed for trying to render a genuine and risky service to our free society...Now you have some protection. If 'something happens' to you, then your disclosures can be made public regardless.”

It adds, "If events overtake you, you can still overtake your adversaries."

Of course, for anyone paranoid enough to use this service, a secondary dose of worry ensues.  Is the cloud secure enough?  Will the site sustain long enough to make certain my documents really do survive me?  Will they follow through with their promise despite what the intel may contain?  Yes, it is a gamble.  But so is possessing information worthy of this kind of necessity.  For true protection of what is too dangerous for public knowledge, it's either a service like this, or a buried chest full of documents and some keys distributed to your close associates...which do you feel is truly the safest?

You could always test their security by uploading a treasure map to the cloud and laying booby traps for anyone who comes after it.  Just an option.

Seared And Re-Engineered: Bioprinting "Living Bandages" For Burn Victims

The 3D printing revolution surges forward, and is now able to literally heal your wounds.  Scientists announced this week that 3D printed skin cells will be able to be applied to burned flesh to make it heal faster and become new again.

This amazing new development, as reported by the International Business Times, was invented at the University of Toronto, and takes an innovative approach to burn treatment.  While the successive layers of exterior and interior skin tissue (epidermis and dermis) have different cell structures and would normally require careful construction to individually repair, the scientists working on the PrintAlive project have created a "living bandage" to safely ensconce the wounded area in a healing hydrogel.

The PrintAlive bioprinter creates what is not exactly a skin graft, but rather an amalgamation of the patient's own skin tissue cells (keratinocytes and fibroblasts) along with cell nutrients, which fuse with a biopolymer that is then printed in stripes or spots to localize care as needed by the recipient.  The successive layers of skin tissue are printed together, so they will interact with the body as normally as possible to protect the damaged flesh until the wound heals itself.

Despite human trials being some 2-3 years away, the PrintAlive technology was advanced enough to win Canada's division of the prestigious James Dyson award in 2014.  The award is given to "the best student industrial or product projects in 18 countries that are able to solve a problem." They will now be competing internationally for a grand prize of $50,000 in funds.


But remember kids, just because we have this...

...doesn't mean you should do this.




Different Money For Your Different Life: Paypal Now Accepts Cryptocurrency For Digital Items

Bit by bit, digital currencies are becoming more mainstream.  With a variety of new places to spend your e-loot, it's no surprise to see Paypal is now accepting bitcoin for digital dealings.

As reported by techcrunch.com, this idea has been underway for some time, with Ebay CEO John Donahoe saying that digital currency would play "an important role" for the company.  Wikipedia, Overstock, and other companies have already joined the cryptocurrency club, spurring Paypal's involvement.  They will generate profits from referral fees, which is normal for these type of transactions.

“PayPal is playing the role of the intermediary, but the cost will be left up to the merchant and the payment processor,” said Scott Ellison, a senior director at PayPal.

Paypal will collaborate with the BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin services to secure the cryptocurrency transactions. Currently this will be available for vendors of digital items only, and exclusively in the United States. However, as this technology grows in popularity, many more items in a wider market could be available thanks to your bit-bank.

It's for digital items only!  Get back in the screen, e-presents!

New "Wakie" App To Frighten You Awake

Some people just need that extra nudge to get themselves out of bed in the morning (or midafternoon...we understand.)  Now, a new app is available to outsource your alarm clock and force you to interact your way awake.

According to metro.co.uk, the "Wakie" app was created by Armenian entrepreneur Hrachik Adjamian, and it operates on a simple principal: getting talked awake. It sounds nightmarish to some, but it might be just the thing to motivate a particularly recalcitrant rester.  The Wakie app has a random stranger call you at the desired time, and say...something, anything...to get you awake.

Could it be creepy?  Sure.  But Wakie is already popular in Russia, and that means while you're waking up in America, you could have some happy-hour vodka-infused Russian on the other side of the world barking you awake.

Wakie not only helps you return the favor by searching for "Sleepies" you can rouse, but it also tries to match you up with someone of the opposite gender.  You know, so you can jump right into that "get the hell out of bed and get to work goddamnit" stage of the relationship.

You can download Wakie here.  Sweet dreams!

The wrong side of the bed has gone worldwide.

UPS To Offer 3D Printing; Personal Action Figure Fabrications Expected To Skyrocket

The amazing rise in popularity of 3D printing has taken the technology everywhere from construction to medicine to the International Space Station.  But how does the everyday person avail themselves of its use?  You may need to look no further than your local UPS.

According to money.cnn.com, UPS will be offering 3D printing for customers at 100 participating stores.  They will be the first major US retailer to do so, and the capabilities they offer are extensive.  Using Stratasys 3D printers to create objects from customer-submitted designs, one could concoct anything from a horde of toy soldiers to an entire femur bone (although the latter would run you about $325, it seems like it could be really worth it in a time of need.)

UPS will also offer assistance to connect patrons with outside professionals who specialize in creating 3D file designs, which would be crafted at an hourly rate.  As for the objects themselves, simple items take five or six hours for fabrication, while something more detailed may take over a day (so if you've got your eye on one of those fancy new 3D printed skulls, be sure to give yourself enough time for your replacement to be printed before you try out that self-trepanation.)

Pretty cool, but the installation is such a headache.

The demand at 6 pilot UPS stores was enough to warrant the increase in 3D printer availability.  Who knows, someday you might not need UPS to ship anything at all...your recipient could just pick up their 3D-printed present at the other end of the line.

Wonder how quickly they'll get tired of printing out legions of personal action figures? (Image: photographer Jens Lennartsson's 3D-printed mini-clones.)

R2BeerMe, You're On Fire! New Beer "Droid" Livens Up Office Parties

Need a barman for your next bash, but don't want to hire a human or force one of your friends to mind the taps all night? Thanks to the glory of technology, one company solved that problem. Meet R2BeerMe.

Named after the famous "Star Wars" robot R2D2, this drink-droid is a motorized, remote-controlled beer "kegerator" (mini-fridge turned keg cooler, with tap.) As reported by bizjournals.com, R2BeerMe was created by real estate adviser Charlie Wolff, and it generally tends to protocol by scooting around his firm's office on a modified wheelchair chassis.

Wolff was inspired by hospitality carts that circled his company office during parties, and he rolled with the idea. "In a parallel universe, I had aspirations of building an RC lawn mower," he said. "Everyone has a garage project, right? So, I had put together a wheelchair base under radio control."

R2BeerMe has been known to sport a camera, mood lighting, sound effects, and even a different costumes (including Pancho Villa) for events of all sorts. But most importantly, he's full of beer. And that's a Force you want to be with you.

Now he just needs his sidekick, C-3POT.


Prank Patrol: Iphone 6 "Wave" Charging Is Not A Thing

With all of the cool new features and fancy technology featured in the iPhone 6 and 6+, who doesn't want to believe that they can also make new leaps in charging technology?  Unfortunately, as some iPhone users found out, the charging still happens the way it usually does, and NOT VIA YOUR MICROWAVE.

As reported by firstpost.com, a prank that started on the website 4chan has now left a few fresh models of iPhone fried to a crisp.  The 4chan trollsters had pulled a similar prank last year by telling people their iOS 7 system made their phones waterproof (which, just to remind you gentle readers, IS NOT TRUE.)  Now, they upped their game with a perfectly-plotted "Apple"-style image regarding the new "Wave" technology, which supposedly allows the new iPhones to be charged with a mere spin through your microwave.

Maybe I need to put in some popcorn with it, too?

Your iPhone may be able to find you in the middle of the desert, chart out all the night's stars for you, pay bills with a swipe of a sensor, take calls from around the world, and capture and share images with the touch of a finger, but it cannot recharge itself as readily as brewing up a bowl of Ramen.





E-Me, Myself, And I: "Digital Twins" Might Continue Your Consciousness

Many people fear death due to the fact that their impact on Earth will be greatly, if not completely, diminished after it occurs. But what if you could continue to interact with your loved ones via a digital replica of yourself? One scientist theorizes that this may be an option, sooner than we realize.

Think of it as predictive typing for your entire psyche. According to news.com.au, John Smart, the founder of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, believes that within five years, technology will have advanced to the point where our digital alter-egos will be able to make autonomous choices in the same manner that the original human being would. Smart considers programs like Microsoft's Cortana or Apple's Siri to be predecessors to this impending new-you-part-two technology.

Culling from the massive amount of data we have in our smartphones, computers, and other devices, a program could divine our likes, dislikes, values, and opinions, then continue to independently operate as "you." Developments could even enable realistic facial-imitation software. This could not only look out for your interests during your lifespan (maybe it can generate crafty facebook posts for you), but it would also be consoling and memorable after death.

“Where we’re headed is creating this world in which you feel you have this thing out there looking after your values,” Smart says. “When you and I die, our kids aren’t going to go to our tombstones, they’re going to fire up our digital twins and talk to them.”
Your avatar could look like you, or like a better-looking you, or just a giant glowing brain.  It's your afterlife, after all.

Space Station Sunday: The Shuttle Rebuttal

This week on earth, a major decision was reached regarding future transportation options to the International Space Station. In a significant development for manned spaceflight, aerospace companies Boeing and SpaceX were chosen by NASA to supply the spacecrafts that will ferry US astronauts to the ISS after 2017.

According to theverge.com, the two companies will split $6.8 billion dollars ($4.2 billion to Boeing, $2.4 billion to SpaceX) over the next three years to bring their manned-spacecraft certification plans to fruition. Boeing's CT-100 capsule will be developed along with SpaceX's Dragon V2 craft, and both will be rigorously tested by NASA (including a mission with just one astronaut) before becoming the ISS's personal limo service.

Currently, American astronauts hitch rides in the Russian-made Soyuz capsules launched from Kazahkstan. At a cost of $424 million, NASA's contract stipulates six space seats on the Soyuz until 2017, however this deal has grown more tenuous as Russian geopolitics have entered the fray. Boeing and SpaceX have proudly stepped up to the challenge to help make America an independent space power again, a laurel we lost with the demise of the space shuttle program in 2011.

As reported by Forbes.com, the new spacecrafts will have a capacity for up to seven astronauts, plus payload. The Boeing CT-100 will be launched by Atlas V rockets, which are a product of United Launch Alliance (a collaboration of Boeing and Lockheed.) The SpaceX Dragon will be launched via the company's own Falcon 9 rockets. Once certified, the spacecrafts will each serve at least two (but possibly up to six) missions apiece.

“This will enable NASA and its international partners to perform more research on the international laboratory, nearly doubling its research potential,” NASA's Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders said.

The spacecrafts will be very durable, with the emergency option of acting as a "lifeboat" for up to 210 days, if needed.

Your new travel options to the stars.

Aboard the ISS, practice has already begun for the rendezvous of an unmanned SpaceX Dragon supply capsule, which is slated to arrive at the ISS on Tuesday. The capsule will be "grabbed" by the ISS's exterior arm-like mechanical appendage, the Canadarm. One particularly fascinating bit of technology aboard the SpaceX is a 3D printer from the "Made In Space" company, which is the first printer of its kind to ever go into orbit. The ISS astronauts will test the printer in hopes of possibly gaining the ability to print tools and small spacecraft parts that wouldn't require a whole launch mission to bring them up...even though soon, there'll hopefully be a lot more of those.

“The work that we have underway…is making the possibility for everyone to someday see our planet Earth from space,” Kennedy Space Center director and former astronaut Bob Cabana told reuters.com. "I know a lot of us are cheering on the success of our Commercial Crew program, not because of what it means to NASA…but what it means to human spaceflight for everyone."

That's right, astro-pioneers...this may help advance your chance to someday slip the surly bonds of Planet Earth.  Until then, watch this space!

Interior of SpaceX's Dragon V2 "Space Taxi."  Swing high, sweet chariot!  (Image courtesy Time.com.)

Google Tests Internet-Enabling Drones; Polar Bears Can Soon Join Facebook

While those of us in the first world are bickering over how to make our internet even faster, there are those on the planet who are not fortunate enough to have any connectivity at all.  Google is now working in conjunction with a drone company to provide internet access to even the most remote areas.

As reported by arstechnica.com, Google released a statement saying they have "recently acquired Titan Aerospace, a firm that specializes in developing solar and electric unmanned aerial systems ('UAS') for high altitude, long endurance flights." Along with plans to use high-altitude balloons and low-orbit satellites for the delivery of delicious internet, the Titan drones can use solar power and their five-year flight capacity to keep the world connected.

Google plans to test this idea in New Mexico, and they were quick to point out that they didn't want to step on the FCC's transmission toes. Their statement included the disclaimer, "Google understands that there may be some federal operations in the 900 MHz band in the vicinity of the test site...Google is prepared to coordinate with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to avoid harmful interference to any federal operations."

If this idea proves fruitful, it could be used in a variety of situations requiring remote internet access. To far-flung regions that have been devastated by natural disaster or inclement weather, this could be an important aid for rescue operations or other distress signals. For war-torn regions run by despots who demand control of the peoples' link to the world, this could offer an alternative.

So yes, soon you may be able to watch cat GIFs in the middle of the desert, all thanks to the efforts of the search engine who just wants to be found.

"Finally, at long last, I may see what this 'Game Of Thrones' is all about."



Power-Positive Norwegian Office Building Generates Energy And Interest

When most people picture the hum of a bustling city, one of the obvious factors includes the tremendous amounts of energy being expended to keep the wheels of business in motion. However, in Norway, one very northerly city has turned the tables on the necessity of incessant influxes of industrial power, leading to the world's first "power-positive" office building.

As inhabitat.com reports, the Powerhouse at Brattorkaia building relies greatly on solar power, using solar cells as well as heat pumps and heat exchangers to power and warm the building. This solar power is augmented by the crafty construction inherent to the building, which uses a sloped roof to augment optimum solar collection, well-placed solar cells and windows to allow for maximum natural lighting indoors, and practically-sized window openings to maintain temperature. To keep temperatures consistent, water from a nearby fjord will be drawn and used throughout the infrastructure to regulate cooling.

The Powerhouse at Brattorkaia building, designed by the pro-sustainable company Snøhetta, is the most northerly of its kind, and the first in Norway. Snøhetta aims to show the world that power-positive buildings can work even in difficult (read: super snowy) climates. With projected power needs of 21 kWh/m²/year and energy production estimated at 49 kWh/m²/year, the building's excess energy generation will easily compensate for the power it took to create it. Other projects from Snøhetta include a "plus house" that creates fully twice the energy that it needs to operate, thus not only being entirely self-sustainable but also generating enough power to charge a car or to give back to the community.

If Norway can fight their serious snow to make a solar building, what is America waiting for?



Laser Turrets: The (Extremely) Hot New War Plane Accessory

After war planes switched out manned guns in favor of missiles, the classic "gun turret" on fighting aircraft was expunged from the design.  Now, Lockheed Martin is making what's old new again, with an awesome twist:  the turrets are housing lasers.

As reported by popsci.com, Lockheed Martin has modified a commercial jet to arm it with lasers, and eight successful flights have been logged with the aircraft already.  The lasers operate out of turrets capable of 360-degree rotation, which when put into action will use the directed-energy weapons to eradicate enemy missiles.

The official term for the all-around-awesome lasers is "Aero-adaptive Aero-optic Beam Control" - "ABC" for short. For nations that do not have the funds to construct and maintain war planes, anti-aircraft missiles have been the preferred choice for thwarting airborne attackers. Now, such offenses will be easily countered and fried to a crisp thanks to the Lockheed lasers.

Lockheed Martin GTO Ray Johnson was enthusiastic about the durability and usefulness of the lasers, telling Popular Science, "[Lasers] can operate with the electrical power that could be generated on an aircraft. You could certainly see it go on bomber-sized aircraft and as the technology develops and size/weight/power are reduced, our notion is to see it get to the point where it can go on fighter-sized aircraft."

Combined with Boeing's new truck-mounted lasers, it seems that war is going to have a blindingly bright future.

"Star Wars" warplane technology is no longer only in a galaxy far, far, away.
.

Get Down With The New Deep-Sea-Diving "Exosuit"

It's an intriguing notion that we've explored more of outer space than we have examined of our own Earth's oceans.  The difficulty of water pressure and other dangers of the deep have made seriously submerging humans prohibitively difficult, but a new invention called the Exosuit will allow humans to boldly dive where no one has ventured before.

Beneath the surface at depths of 1,000 feet, humans have yet to make a major mark, though all manner of undiscovered treasures await.  The obvious human-infused elements like shipwrecks and other abandoned items could be explored with ease now thanks to the Exosuit.  Even better, the types of flora and fauna that decorate the depths could be analyzed for any number of uses by dwellers of dry land.

According to industrytap.com, this major advance in solo oceanography is thanks to Phil Nuytten, a scientist/sea diver who has invented an “Atmospheric Diving System” (ADS), a.k.a the Exosuit, which could enable human exploration by dramatically expanding on our current capabilities. Designed specifically to battle the intense cold and pressure a thousand feet or more undersea, the Exosuit also features 1.6 horsepower water thrusters for added mobility, "manipulator" grabber-claws for snagging sea samples, 18 rotary joints for maximum flexibility, LED lights (so you can act like a native bioluminescent creature while dancing with Davy Jones), and a fiber-optic tether for two-way communication to the surface (as well as video feed, in case you need to prove you once punched an anglerfish.)

The suit, created from metal alloys, weighs 530 pounds, costs $500,000, and is operational for up to 10 hours, although it can hold oxygen reserves of "life support" for up to 50 hours. Nuytten has put 25 years of diving technology research and advances into the construction of this seasuit, and it resembles something that wouldn't look out of place in space. What new "alien" life might it discover, right here, buried (well, sunk) in our own oceanic backyard?

Show Cthulhu who's boss in your new Exosuit!

Ethically Hunt For Nudie Booty With New Search Engine "BoodieGo"

With all the porn, tasteful nudes, artistic collaborations sans clothing, and outright smut on the internet, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what selection of skin-imagery is most suited to your tastes.  Now, thanks to a new search engine, you can efficiently and ethically satisfy your sex drive, in every flavor from vanilla to rocky roadhouse gangbang.

As reported by salon.com, the new search engine BoodieGo specializes exclusively in finding virus-free, unpirated porn.  BoodieGo co-founder Colin Rowntree, one of a collaboration of "Google refugees" who began the company, assures users that their information will never be sold.  Also, all searches on BoodieGo will be completely and automatically anonymous, not impacting users' other sidebar ads or search engine histories.

Rowntree is particularly proud that BoodieGo focuses on maintaining exclusively non-pirated content. A former producer and director, he understands that piracy hurts studios and performers alike. To keep the pornstars paid, he claims that illegal sharing sites are “...basically just blacklisted from ever getting into the search results."

There's also no ads on BoodieGo, so help their site traffic by getting your (ethical) freak on!
Don't worry, just because it's ethical doesn't mean it's still not really weird.


Steal Your Face: The FBI Is Storing Your Dimensions, Fearing Criminal Intentions

If you value your privacy, you may want to stock up on extra Halloween masks this season. The FBI has recently announced its state-of-the-art new facial recognition system, and it is creepier than any macabre mask a citizen can don.

According to gizmodo.com, six years of development and a billion dollars of taxpayer money have led to this biometric facial recognition software system. If you're getting a visa, going to prison, or otherwise being photographed by any grabby arm of the government, your identifying facial dimensions are sure going in there. It's called the Next Generation Identification program, and you are getting forced into this future.

But why stop at the shape of your skull and surrounding tissues? They did spend a BILLION of your dollars, after all! Scars, tattoos, fingerprints and other major identifying characteristics will also be included in your (totally safe and secure, we're sure) recognition profile. This shared database, known as the Interstate Photo System, is only going to get more insidious as ubiquitous surveillance camera resolutions improve.

The FBI, of course, loves their new toy. They were proud to report, "Since phase one was deployed in February 2011, the NGI system has introduced enhanced automated fingerprint and latent search capabilities, mobile fingerprint identification, and electronic image storage, all while adding enhanced processing speed and automation for electronic exchange of fingerprints to more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies and other authorized criminal justice partners 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

It wouldn't be surprising if ninja-style outfits of obscurity became fashionable in the next few years...

So by FBI logic, the best masks are now the ones with no facial characteristics whatsoever.

Sink "Fin Fisher": Wikileaks Combats Spy Platforms By Releasing Software To Public

It's no secret now that governments routinely spy on their citizens, for reasons ranging from interest in actual criminal activities to simply wanting to try to intercept naked selfies.  However, now the team at Wikileaks has released the exact software used to spy on you, hoping that once it is more completely understood, it can be more effectively stopped.

As reported by engadget.com, Julian Assange and his colleagues have openly posted the FinSpy PC and Fin Fisher spy platforms in an effort to spur developers to update more thorough privacy measures against them.  The Wikileaks team also hopes to make it more difficult for governments to abuse the technology to root out whom they consider undesirable.  Australia, Italy, Pakistan and other nations have been proven to use the software against "dissidents" on their turf, regardless of what computer platform the suspicious party is running.

Although keylogging and webcam monitoring are among the elements of the revealed software, it is hoped that these will not be abused by the masses and if they are, that a quick antidote will be available soon.  Now we know what weapons the powers-that-be have chosen, we can fight them more intelligently.

Sometimes the surveillance state needs a faceful of e-mace.



Whip Up A New Whip: Launching The World's First 3D Printed Car

Everything about the automotive industry is changing, from manufacturing to fuel to even the required cognizance of the driver (or now, computer) behind the wheel. Recently, a major manufacturing barrier was broken when Arizona's Local Motors company used an oversize 3D printer to craft up a new car, the Strati, from scratch.

One of the highlights of the International Manufacturing Technology Show 2014 in Chicago, the 2-seater Strati was printed and assembled in 44 hours. According to techodrom.com, it was built as a single-piece chassis augmented by 39 other parts (dramatically lower than the 20,000-odd bits that comprise conventional automobiles.) The Strati was created from carbon fiber-reinforced black plastic and runs on a battery with a range of 130-150 miles.

"We are the first company to make a 3D-printed car using carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic," Local Motors CEO John Rogers told the Wall Street Journal. "The seats, body, chassis, dash, center console and hood will all be 3D printed."

That leaves a few parts that had to be obtained by conventional means, including the tires, windshield, battery, electric motors, wiring, suspension, and seat cushions. Still, it's a pretty impressive invention, made possible in part thanks to the relatively behemoth 3D printer (made by Cincinnati Inc.) that was able to print at dimensions up to 3 feet by 5 feet by 10 feet.

Local Motors is proud of their product and states on their website they'll be creating more "production-level 3D printed vehicles that will be available to the general public for purchase in the months following the show."  Prices are expected to run around $18,000-$30,000, depending on additional features.  Now, is it possible to 3D print some fuzzy dice?

Do computers dream of fun little 3-D printed joyrides?

Hacked Printer Shows How Lax Security Could "Doom" Your Company

We live in a world of instant gratification and hyper-connectivity. Unfortunately, the connections that bring us easy and immediately pleasant results can turn on us just as quickly as they work for us. Nowhere is this more true than in the field of technology. This was recently illustrated when a Canon office printer, connected to an outside computer server, was hacked to play "Doom."

According to pcgamesn.com, the security flaw was intentionally manifested to prove that the overly-accessible printer proved a threat to office data security. The Canon Pixma printers have a web-accessible interface that required no authentication, enabling Context Information Security analyst Michael Jordon to sneak into the system and run a copy of "Doom" on the Pixma's LED screen. This was a playful but serious reminder than any party with unpleasant intent could create firmware to monitor or manipulate the printer's output, which could be instrumental in corporate espionage or sabotage.

As Jordon explained to The Guardian, “If you can run Doom on a printer, you can do a lot more nasty things...In a corporate environment, it would be a good place to be. Who suspects printers?”

Canon has assured its users that an update, requiring a username and password for the Pixma interface, will solve any rogue infiltration programs in all models that had previously been at risk to be compromised. Who says video games never teach you anything?

There are even worse things than these guys waiting to grab your office intel.  (Image courtesy cdn.bloodydisgusting.com.)

Space Station Sunday: Welcome Home, Expedition 40!

This week, ISS Expedition 40 concluded, with a command transfer occurring on board the ISS before three astronauts were sent back home to Earth.  As reported by NASA, NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev returned safely on Thursday in a 3.5 hour trip aboard their Soyuz reentry capsule.  The Soyuz landed on a steppe in Kazahkstan not far from the Baikonur launch facility, and was recovered by ground teams who immediately assured the safety of all astronauts involved.  All aboard were reported to have landed in good health.  Swanson, who was flown back to his station in Houston after the Soyuz crew enjoyed a welcoming party, had completed his third ISS mission - the most of any of his fellow ISS Expedition 40 mates.

ISS Expedition 41 is now in full swing, helmed by Commander Maxim Surayev of Russia.  Remaining aboard the ISS are the two flight engineers who had been working during Expedition 40, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and German astronaut Alexander Gerst.  They will have the station to themselves for the next two weeks until the arrival of their new co-workers, NASA astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev.  Their team is expected to arrive at the Baikonur launch facility later this week in preparation for the upcoming mission.  Serova will be the first female cosmonaut that Russia has sent to the ISS.

Continuing work aboard the station, Wiseman and Gerst spent time this week on a nutritional analysis program that continues to improve the metrics of what the astronauts need to consume to be maximally functional in micro-gravity.  They also trained in the ISS cupola, practicing with the station's robotics so as to be ready for the arrival of the unmanned commercial SpaceX Dragon supply capsule.  The Dragon will be affixed to the Harmony node of the ISS with the aid of the Canadian-crafted exterior robotic arm, called the Canadarm.

That's all from low Earth orbit for this week.  See you next Sunday...watch this space!

Expedition 40, cruising and Soyuz-ing their way back home.  Image courtesy Roscosmos.





This Little Pink Robot Is Tougher Than You

They may not all look like a friendly housekeeper from "The Jetsons", but today, robots are all around us. Now, with different appearances and crafted from new materials, they've gotten tougher.

A recent report from Science Daily explains one interesting example. A new robot created at Harvard has some of the usual desired traits: it can walk around untethered, on command from its masters. However, this 'bot is a bit badass: it can walk through snow, withstand fire, endure submergence, and even get crunched under the wheels of a car while maintaining its mission.

Developed at Harvard's School for Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, the robot carries all of its control systems, micro-compressors, and batteries on its back, and is a leap forward in "soft-robot" technology. Its creator challenged the conventions of what robots usually look like, and came up with some successful results.

Research associate Michael Tolley said, "We think the reason people have settled on using metal and rigid materials for robots is because they're easier to model and control. This work is very inspired by nature, and we wanted to demonstrate that soft materials can also be the basis for robots."

The robot is over a half meter in length and can carry about 7.5 pounds. It was made from a composite silicone rubber (a blend of stiff rubber infused with hollow glass microspheres) as well as a Kevlar fabric bottom. These elements made the robot both tough and lightweight.

Future iterations will include faster speed and an array of sensors, which could be useful if the robot were to operate in disaster situations in lieu of more fragile human rescuers. It could also feasibly be put to work in an industrial environment, where it would not be as imposing as larger manufacturing robots and hence safer and more interactive for human co-workers.

Hey, it's kinda cute. Maybe someday you could even own a soft-robot pet! Just don't call it "soft" once its sensors can identify words. Your butt isn't as tough as the one suited up with Kevlar.

Yes, but can it shred moguls on the ski slopes?



Hashing: How and Why to Check a File's Hash Value

Consider the following situation. You have been working for days on a PowerPoint presentation for work or school, and have been keeping the file on a shared computer, a network drive or even a personal flash drive. You put the final touches on your presentation the night before it’s due, save the file and get ready for a good night's sleep. The next day, you confidently begin your presentation. But imagine your surprise when you and your audience see the following image on your third slide:


You’ve been pranked. If you're lucky, everyone got a good laugh out of it. If not, there may be more serious consequences, depending on the situation. This sort of everyday  scenario raises an obvious question. Short of opening the file and manually perusing each slide in the presentation, how could you be sure that it had not been modified by any of the pranksters you may share your computer or network with? More seriously, how can we verify the integrity of a file that may or may not have been modified by a malicious individual seeking to infect out computer or network with a dangerous piece of malware?

In this article, we’ll consider these questions and discuss the pros and cons of one simple means by which we can verify a file’s integrity to ensure that it has not been tampered with, namely, by verifying its hash value. We’ll conclude with a quick tutorial on how to verify a file’s hash value on Mac, Linux and Windows systems, and provide some links to a few lectures on cryptographic hash functions culled from the series of courses listed in our collection of free online computer science courses. Our primary sources along the way will be Everyday Cryptography by Keith M. Martin, and Applied Cryptography by Bruce Schneier.

Malware comes in many different guises. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes in their Surveillance Self-Defense Project, malware is frequently spread by "trick[ing] the computer user into running a software program that does something the user wouldn't have wanted." Let's say you decide to download a file from a website you know and trust, and from which you have safely downloaded files in the past. How do you know, for example, that the file you have downloaded onto your computer is in fact the one intended by the trusted website? How do you know it was not altered in transit? How do you know it was not swapped for another file by a malicious attacker? And how can you determine this without running the file first? 

One simple way to verify a file's integrity is by confirming its hash value. In Everyday Cryptography, Martin writes: “Hash functions can be used to provide checks against accidental changes to data and, in certain cases, deliberate manipulation of data . . . As such they are sometimes referred to as modification detection codes or manipulation detection codes” (emphasis in original, Martin, p. 188). In our opening example, a suitable hash function would have allowed you to detect that your presentation had been modified in some way without ever opening it.

So, what is a hash function? The primary practical property of a hash function is that it compresses arbitrarily long inputs into a fixed length output (Martin, p. 189, Schneier, section 2.4). Furthermore, slight differences in the input data result in large differences in the output data. “A single bit change in the pre-image [i.e. the file you’re hashing] changes, on the average, half of the bits in the hash value,” (Schneier, section 2.4). Two of the most commonly used cryptographic hash functions are known as MD5 and SHA1. Schnier quotes NIST’s description of the SHA hash function as found in the Federal Register:
The SHA is called secure because it is designed to be computationally infeasible to recover a message corresponding to a given message digest, or to find two different messages which produce the same message digest. Any change to a message in transit will, with a very high probability, result in a different message digest. (Schneier, section 18.7.)
Here’s a simple example. I have created a plain text file named hello.txt on my Desktop. The file contains a single line that reads: “Hello there.” Applying the well-known sha1 hash function to the file produces the following hash value:
4177876fcf6806ef65c4c1a1abf464087bfbf337.

If I edit the file and remove the period from the end of the line so that it reads “Hello there”, the hash function now returns an entirely different value: 33ab5639bfd8e7b95eb1d8d0b87781d4ffea4d5d.

If I then return the file to its original state by adding the period back in to the end of the sentence, the hash value of the newly edited file will be the same as the original hash. And we would have seen much the same result (though it would have taken a good bit longer to compute!) if my original file had been a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare from which I then removed a period.  

Let’s consider a more practical example. The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides a number of recommendations on how to reduce your risk of malware infection in its Surveillance Self-Defense Project. At the top of their list, we read: “Currently, running a minority operating system [their examples are Linux and  MacOS -ed.] significantly diminishes the risk of infection because fewer malware applications have been targeted at these platforms. (The overwhelming majority of existing malware targets only a single particular operating system.)” This is more security through obscurity than anything else, but it’s still fun to try out new things, so after a bit of reading you decide to download a copy of the latest version of Ubuntu from an online repository.

How can you check to make sure that the file you’ve downloaded is the official one intended by Ubuntu’s developers and has not been manipulated or corrupted in transit? One way is to confirm that the file’s hash value is equivalent to the one provided by the developers. So you go to the page that lists the download’s hash value and make a note of it. Next, you run the hash function on the file you downloaded. If the resulting value is equivalent to the expected one, you have successfully verified the file’s hash.

However, it is critical to note here that verifying a file’s hash value by itself can only establish a relatively weak form of data integrity, in comparison with more robust mechanisms such as digital signature schemes which can provide a stronger form of integrity verification and even authentication. (Martin, pp. 186-189.) This is because a hash value such as we are discussing here cannot tell us anything about the origin of a digital file. For example, assume that unbeknownst to you, the site you’ve downloaded your file from has itself been compromised, and the attacker has: 1) replaced the download file with a piece of malware, and 2) also replaced the corresponding hash value that you use to check the file’s integrity with the hash value of the malware.

If you then verify the hash value of your downloaded file, you have done nothing more than verify the integrity of the malware! And you’re none the wiser because the site itself was compromised! At the same time, however, if you found out through another source that the site and file were compromised, you could then identify the malicious file and distinguish it from the legitimate source file. In a digital signature scheme, as mentioned above, the developer could digitally sign the legitimate hash value with a trusted key. In this way, the question of trust is then displaced to the question of signature authentication.

A second concern regarding this method of determining data integrity is the security of the hash functions themselves. There are known practical and theoretical vulnerabilities in two hash functions that are among the most common in use for these exact purposes on the web today: MD5 and SHA1. A discussion of these vulnerabilities is beyond the scope of the present article, but more information can be easily found online.

Still, as Bruce Schnier states, “we cannot use [one-way hash functions] to determine with certainty that the two strings are equal, but we can use them to get a reasonable assurance of accuracy.” (Schneier, section 2.4). In other words, hash functions can help us establish a basic level of data integrity. In our opening example, simply making a note of the hash and then checking it the next day would have sufficed to establish that the file had been tampered with. But, of course, if the file had been secured or encrypted to begin with, it never would have even been an issue in the first place.

Finally, how does one actually compute the hash value of a file? It is actually rather simple, but the specifics depend on your choice of operating system. MacOS and Linux systems come bundled with basic functionality to check any file’s hash value, while Microsoft Windows systems require you to download a piece of software to accomplish the task. Two of the most common functions used to verify file hashes are known as MD5 and SHA1. We’ll consider each in turn.

MacOS
1) Open up a command line Terminal.
2) Type “openssl md5 </path/to/file>” into the terminal and press enter.
2A) As an alternative to #2, you can also type “openssl md5 ” into the terminal, then drag and drop the target file into the Terminal window, and press enter.
3) The terminal will then return the MD5 hash value of the given file.

To compute the hash value of the file using a different hash function, type the name of that function into the terminal command in place of “md5”. For example, to compute the sha1 hash of a file, you would type: “openssl sha1 ” followed by the file path. To see a list of all the message digest commands available on your machine, type “openssl —help” into the command line terminal.

Linux (Debian-based)

1) Open up a command line Terminal.
2) Type: “md5sum </path/to/file>”. Then press enter.
3) The terminal will return the MD5 hash value of the given file.

To compute the hash value of the file using a different hash function, type the appropriate command into the terminal in front of the path to the target file. For example, “sha1sum </path/to/file>” will compute the file’s sha1 hash value. To see what other hash functions are available on your system, type “man dgst” into the terminal. 

Windows
Windows systems apparently do not come bundled with a built-in utility to check hash values. However, there are a number of different pieces of software you can download to accomplish the task. Microsoft Support lists the File Checksum Integrity Verifier, but warns that this is not supported by Microsoft and is only of use on Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. This discussion at superuser provides a number of different extant options.

Video Lectures on Hash Functions
As always, comments, questions, suggestions and angry tirades are welcome below.

Taxidermy Taxi'ing For Takeoff: Dutch Inventors Mount Dead Things To Drones

Drone technology is advancing rapidly, so much so that some versions are available for civilian use. Two Dutchmen have taken this opportunity to amass a taxidermied aerial zoo.

What?

According to the Daily Mail UK, it all started with a flying cat. Perhaps in the name of great, crazy art, or perhaps just thinking that a unique cat video would lead to instant fame, inventors Arjen Beltman and Bart Jansen stretched a dead and stuffed feline over a four-rotor remote-controlled drone device. The rest is weird history.

This is real.  This really happened.

Jansen stated, 'Flight is man's greatest achievement, so why not give it to more animals? The world needs more flying animals.' He and Beltman then went on to aid a Dutch boy by giving his dead pet rat a new life as a three-rotor drone captain.  The cat and rat drones then went for a spin together, like a very disturbing episode of "Tom And Jerry."

Other projects from these not-quite-Wright Brothers include an aerial ostrich (with propellers!) that finally gives the flightless creature some time among its brethren in the skies.  Their most recent endeavor, a shark mounted to a winged jet engine, proves that even sea creatures can get in on the fun of flight.

Is it wrong to ask if they'll have a human funeral package option available?  

Great, now we have to worry about shark attacks from the SKY, too?



One For The Road: New Portable Breathalyzer For Self-86'ing

Sometimes it's just hard to tell when you've had that liiiittle bit too much to drink.  Now, technology has got your back, before the cops (or worse) have you flat on it.  Meet the DrinkMate.

As reported by shortlist.com, the device claims to be the smallest Breathalyzer in the world, measuring in at 4.7 by 1.5 centimeters (plus the smartphone you have to dock it to.)  It is accurate down to .01% of a BAC (blood-alcohol content) and is a much better judge of whether you should drive than you slapping yourself in the bathroom mirror trying to decide if you're capably lucid.

The device is currently under Kickstarter development from the Washington-based company Edge Tech Labs and is simple enough for use even after a few too many.  Small enough to be kept on a keychain, it only requires plugging into a mini-USB port on a smartphone, then it uses a semiconductor-based sensor to suss out your sobriety (or complete lack thereof.)

DrinkMate operates similarly to a device previously discussed here, the Alcohoot.  However, the DrinkMate is smaller and is priced significantly less ($25.95 as opposed to the Alcohoot's $99.)  Now you can drink safely and still have plenty of money left over to buy your friends a round.

Cool, spooky, stern-warning posters from the past not included, so we'll leave one here for you.

I Only Have i's For You: Is The Apple Watch The Fruit Of All Knowledge? (iGadgetry Release, Part Two)

The gods have spoken, the skies have parted, and the now-immortal Apple Watch has descended from the heavens to grace your wrist like a miracle on a (obviously customizable and interchangeable) watch strap.  Your precious iShinything will never be more than a glance away.

As reported by theverge.com, Apple's Tim Cook describes the watch as a "comprehensive health and fitness device" - that's right, the damn doodad could change you from slacker to lip-smacker.  Chart your heart rate or sleeping habits and monitor other fitness stats like steps taken and calories burned (so you can learn exactly how much better it is for you to walk to Dunkin' Donuts instead of drive.)  It'll even warn you if you've been sitting too long.  Yes, the brilliant Apple Watch can function as your mom, telling you to go outside.

The innovative Taptic Engine can tell the difference between a tap and a press (called "Force Touch", which sounds like the Apple Watch maybe wants to be mounted to a leather bondage cuff), allowing for your fondling to give it extra special commands (effectively recreating the "right click" element of a mouse...or a particularly sensitive wrist-mounted love slave.)

The input mechanics offer a Digital Crown that enables zooming, scrolling, and navigation, sans obstruction of the main display.  The display itself is a flexible Retina panel, laminated to the popular high-end watch covering of sapphire crystal.  The Guardian UK reports some neat variations on the watch's style, among other things.

Siri's there (that bitch is everywhere...she'll buzz your wrist and tell you where to turn.)  Maps are there.  Tunes are there.  Obviously.  It also has Bluetooth to beam your soundtrack to other devices around you.

Onboard Facebook, Twitter, email, blah blah blah.  What about something NEW?  How about Apple Pay, which acts like a credit card that only requires a touch of the watch to receptive payment systems?  You're like a sultan - simply grab and item and touch the till on your way out - those organic apples are now yours, sans any unnecessary human interaction.

Fascinatingly, the Apple Watch can be charged inductively, meaning you don't need to plug it in.  This development will likely spur on other breakthroughs for technology that was formerly required to be wired.

Oh, and it tells time to a universal standard.  So you know exactly how much of it you've been wasting, messing around with your aggravatingly awesome new Apple Watch.

How else are you supposed to tell time in the future?

BTW, this is what some of the rest of the world looks like, in case you stop noticing.

I Only Have i's For You: Apple Unveils Latest iGadgetry (Part One)

It's like Christmas for the computer crowd.  Today, Apple is releasing not only their sixth and latest version of the iPhone, but also a rumored iWatch product that will make its popular technology more portable (because you weren't dithering with enough iSchwag already.)  Here are some of the new features you get to enjoy while phasing out all of humanity around you.

-According to the telegraph.co.uk, the iPhone has been hailed as "the world's most popular camera."  The iPhone 6 will now feature advanced image stabilization with exceptional low-light capabilities (for all those various and vilifying bar images that you'll end up deleting lest they end up on social media.)

-The camera also has the capacity to shoot at 240 frames per second, making it all the more easy to be extraordinarily creepy as you sneak photos of hotties on the subway.

-The 8-megapixel camera has "focus pixels", which are extra important to help make sure all your illicit imagery is crystal clear - your nudie-questing hackers will thank you.

-An integrated M8 motion chip and barometer work in conjunction with a new onboard health app or Nike's fitness app to maybe someday give you all sorts of data on the exercise you swear you'll do tomorrow.

-Worldwide cell service providers have teamed up to make your iPhone 6 able to complete calls over any 4G network, voice-over-LTE, and voice-over-WiFi.  Every single person at the NSA was reported to be seen malevolently drumming their fingers together and orgasmically murmuring, "Exxxcellent."

-Onscreen multi-tasking, because god forbid your ADD not get its fix.  Also, double the transistors of the iPhone 5 (2 BILLION!) making a 25% faster CPU and 50% faster graphics.  MORE CAT GIFS.  RIGHT NOW.  FASTER.  MORE.

-A record-breaking size:  6.5 mm of sleek sexy slimness, because even if Americans can't be svelte, our tech toys can be!

-Oh, and 1.3 million apps.  No big deal.  We've come a long way since phones only carried onboard Snake.  Is there a modern Snake app to be had, for old time's sake?  Maybe some Tetris?  This technological whirlwind shouldn't eradicate the simpler elegances of life.  WAIT A SECOND, IT PLAYS GAMES IN HIGHER RESOLUTION THAN CONSOLES.  SCREW SNAKE AND THOSE STUPID RUSSIAN BRICKS.

Pre-sale starts Friday, plebes.  Too bad you weren't in the line outside the Apple store in NYC.  It started last week.

Once rumors of the fabled "iWatch" wearable are confirmed, more information will be posted here.  Watch (iWatch?) this space.

That's evolution, baby.










Chomping At The Bit(coin): Paypal Now Accepts Popular Cryptocurrency

The bitcoin revolution has ascended rapidly, and the options for using cryptocurrency are expanding just as quickly to meet the demand. Now, the major online payment service PayPal has begun to accept bitcoin as part of its operations.

The internet-only monetary system of bitcoin has grown not only in popularity but in value recently, and according to fastcompany.com, had been considered an option by PayPal in the past. PayPal has now officially adopted the cryptocurrency, which will help to speed along transactions completed via their subsidiary Braintree's mobile app, One Touch PayPal. This expedites e-payments using a program called Coinbase.

Braintree CEO Bill Ready stated, "This will be PayPal's first foray into bitcoin...We think both the One Touch mobile payments that we announced as well as bitcoin will be high interest to merchants."

PayPal customers, including the cab-hailing app Uber and the apartment-letting service Airbnb, will now be open to accepting your bit-loot. With the scope of the company's usage on the internet, many more vendors will likely follow this trend.

Lesser-known e-currency provider Dogecoin are just happy they have a cool racecar.

Space Station Sunday! Space Crafts On The Spacecraft

It's a hot new technology on Earth, and now it's moving on up...literally. NASA announced this week that it will be sending a 3-D printer to the International Space Station on September 19th.

As reported by itproportal.com, the microwave-sized 3-D printer was created by NASA in conjunction with the "Made In Space" organization. The printer will aid astronauts by printing out small spare parts or tools that they otherwise might have had to wait days or weeks for, if sent up on a conventional supply launch.

NASA's 3-D printing project manager Niki Werkheiser stated, "The on-demand capability can revolutionise the constrained supply chain model we are limited to today and will be critical for exploration missions." If successful, NASA could feasibly equip long-distance space missions with printers for supplies of all sorts, someday maybe even including 3-D printed food.

The upcoming efforts will also be the first test of what happens with 3-D printing equipment in a microgravity environment. It is estimated that the machine would require 15 minutes to an hour to complete a task, hence perhaps as little as two hours for a design to be created on Earth, emailed to the ISS, and printed out for use in space. The printer is operable by the astronauts themselves, but can also be controlled by - who else - ground control at the Marshall Spaceflight Center's Operations Support Center.

According to madeinspace.us, the printer went through a battery of tests to prove its mettle for microgravity, including EMI (electromagnetic interference), materials compliance, vibration endurance (for launch survival), human factors, and the ability to interface with elements aboard the ISS.  Thanks to Made In Space working closely with NASA, the required space-safety tests were passed with flying colors, and the printer was certified mission-ready this June.

The Made In Space company's enthusiasm for the project was bountiful, and they are excited not only by where the achievements will lead in the future, but what will be possible very soon.  Made In Space CEO Aaron Kemmer said, “Passing the final tests and shipping the hardware are significant milestones, but they ultimately lead to an even more meaningful one – the capability for anyone on Earth to have the option of printing objects on the ISS. This is unprecedented access to space. If you want to 3D print in space, contact us now."

The possibilities seem as vast as the stars...

As is the norm for NASA, even the device's development looked cool.