alphadogg writes SkyMall, the quirky airline catalog, looks as though it may be grounded before long. Parent company Xhibit has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and seeks to sell its assets. In an SEC filing, Xhibit explains that it has fallen victim to an "intensely competitive" direct marketing retail industry that now includes the likes of eBay and Amazon.com. Smartphones and tablets are largely to blame for SkyMall's downfall, according to the SEC filing. "Historically, the SkyMall catalog was the sole in-flight option for potential purchasers of products to review while traveling. With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog."
schwit1 writes, "Are paparazzi flying drones over your garden to snap you sunbathing? You may need the Rapere, the drone-hunting drone which uses 'tangle-lines' to quickly down its prey." From The Telegraph's article: It has been designed to be faster and more agile than other drones to ensure that they can't escape - partly by limiting flight time and therefore reducing weight. “Having worked in the UAS industry for years, we've collectively never come across any bogus use of drones. However it's inevitable that will happen, and for people such as celebrities, where there is profit to be made in illegally invading their privacy, there should be an option to thwart it,” the group say on their website. This seems more efficient than going after those pesky paparazzi drones with fighting kites (video), but it should also inspire some skepticism: CNET notes that the team behind it is anonymous, and that "Rapere works in a lab setting, however there aren't any photos or videos of the killer drone in action. The website instead has only a slideshow of the concept."
Molly McHugh writes By disassembling your plastic Sting and incorporating the Spark Core, a tiny Wi-Fi development kit, you can hack the toy's light and enlist it to show you when you are near an unsecure network. The best part about this hack? It only requires two things: a Spark Core and a replica Sting with lights and sound, like this one."
An anonymous reader writes The MeArm is a flat-pack robot arm. It has been developed in a very short time frame as the creators have been able to tap into crowd development by open sourcing all of the designs. Because of this it's exploded around the world with builders on every continent (bar Antarctica) and there are even people manufacturing them to sell in Peru, Taiwan and South Africa. MeArm manufacture them in the UK and export to distributors around the world, including Open Source pioneers like Adafruit and Hackaday in the USA. They're currently running a Kickstarter for a controller to take it out of the 'Hackersphere' and into the living room. They doubled their target in the first week and are still going strong so it's looking like they will be the first consumer flat pack robot kit in the world! Controller or not, you can download the arm from Thingiverse, and follow the project at Hackaday.
kwelch007 writes I commonly work in a clean-room (CR.) As such, I commonly need access to my smart-phone for various reasons while inside the CR...but, I commonly keep it in my front pocket INSIDE my clean-suit. Therefore, to get my phone out of my pocket, I have to leave the room, get my phone out of my pocket, and because I have a one track mind, commonly leave it sitting on a table or something in the CR, so I then have to either have someone bring it to me, or suit back up and go get it myself...a real pain. I have been looking in to getting a 'Smart Watch' (I'm preferential to Android, but I know Apple has similar smart-watches.) I would use a smart-watch as a convenient, easy to transport and access method to access basic communications (email alerts, text, weather maps, etc.) The problem I'm finding while researching these devices is, I'm not finding many apps. Sure, they can look like a nice digital watch, but I can spend $10 for that...not the several hundred or whatever to buy a smart-watch. What are some apps I can get? (don't care about platform, don't care if they're free) I just want to know what's the best out there, and what it can do? I couldn't care less about it being a watch...we have these things called clocks all over the place. I need various sorts of data access. I don't care if it has to pair with my smart-phone using Bluetooth or whatever, and it won't have to be a 100% solution...it would be more of a convenience that is worth the several hundred dollars to me. My phone will never be more than 5 feet away, it's just inconvenient to physically access it. Further, I am also a developer...what is the best platform to develop for these wearable devices on, and why? Maybe I could make my own apps? Is it worth waiting for the next generation of smart-watches?
With the holidays coming up, Bennett Haselton has updated his geek-oriented gift guide for 2014. He says: Some of my favorite gifts to give are still the ones that were listed in several different previously written posts, while a few new cool gift ideas emerged in 2014. Here are all my current best recommendations, listed in one place. Read on for the list, or to share any suggestions of your own.
You can spend less than $500 if you like. That's the maximum amount allowed if you're competing in the Power Racing Series. Interviewee Josh Lee is a member of the Southern Polytechnic State University Electric Vehicle Team. The modified electric 'ride on' toy they showed off and raced at Maker Faire Atlanta (where this video was made) is just one of their many projects. And, obviously, they're just one of many 'slightly deranged' teams involved in learning about and building electric vehicles. (Alternate Video Link)
nbauman writes Programmer David Auerbach is dismayed that, at a critical developmental age, his 4-year-old daughter wants to be a princess, not a scientist or engineer, he writes in Slate. The larger society keeps forcing sexist stereotypes on her, in every book and toy store. From the article: "Getting more women into science and technology fields: Where’s the silver bullet? While I might get more hits by revealing the One Simple Trick to increase female participation in the sciences, the truth is there isn’t some key inflection point where young women’s involvement drops off. Instead, there is a series of small- to medium-sized discouraging factors that set in from a young age, ranging from unhelpful social conditioning to a lack of role models to unconscious bias to very conscious bias. Any and all of these can figure into why, for example, women tend to underrate their technical abilities relative to men. I know plenty of successful women in the sciences, but let’s not fool ourselves and say the playing field in the academic sciences or the tech world is even. My wife attributes her pursuit of programming to being a loner and pretty much ignoring wider society while growing up: 'Being left alone with a computer (with NO INTERNET TO TELL ME WHAT I COULDN’T DO) was the deciding factor,' she tells me."
Recently you had a chance to ask acclaimed author of comics, novels, and television, Warren Ellis, about his work and sci-fi in general. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.
An anonymous reader writes Amazon today quietly unveiled a new product dubbed Amazon Echo. The $200 device appears to be a voice-activated wireless speaker that can answer your questions, offer updates on what's going in the world, and of course play music. Echo is currently available for purchase via an invite-only system. If you have Amazon Prime, however, you can get it for $100. I've put in a request for one; hopefully we'll get a hands-on look at the Echo soon. It looks useful and interesting for random searches, and for controlling devices, but one small speaker (interesting driver arrangement notwithstanding) doesn't bode well for "fill[ing] any room with immersive sound," as Amazon's promo materials claim.
gollum123 writes: Back in the day, computer science was as legitimate a career path for women as medicine, law, or science. But in 1984, the number of women majoring in computing-related subjects began to fall, and the percentage of women is now significantly lower in CS than in those other fields. NPR's Planet Money sought to answer a simple question: Why? According to the show's experts, computers were advertised as a "boy's toy." This, combined with early '80s geek culture staples like the book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, as well as movies like War Games and Weird Science, conspired to instill the perception that computers were primarily for men.
jones_supa writes Since 1960s, we have been seeing the oil company Shell logo being featured in some Lego sets, and Legos being distributed at petrol stations in 26 countries. This marketing partnership is coming to an end, after coming under sustained pressure from Greenpeace. The environmental campaign, protesting about the oil giant's plans to drill in the Arctic, came with a YouTube video that depicted pristine Arctic, built from 120 kg of Lego, being covered in oil. CEO of Lego, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, wants to leave the dispute between Greenpeace and Shell, and the toy company is getting out of the way.
MojoKid writes Over the past couple of years, drones have become popular enough to the point where a new release doesn't excite most people. But Nixie is different. It's a drone that you wear, like a bracelet. Whenever you need to let it soar, you give it a command to unwrap, power it up, and let it go. From the consumer standpoint, the most popular use for drones is to capture some amazing footage. But what if you want to be in that footage? That's where Nixie comes in. After "setting your camera free", the drone soars around you, keeping you in its frame. Nixie is powered by Intel's Edison kit, which is both small enough and affordable enough to fit inside such a small device.
Zothecula writes No one with red blood in their veins buys a sports car and hands the keys to a chauffeur, so one of the barriers to truly personal submarining has long been the need for a trained pilot, not to mention the massive logistics involved in transporting, garaging and launching the underwater craft ... until now. Pioneering underwater aviation company DeepFlight is set to show an entirely new type of personal submarine at the 2014 Monaco Yacht Show next week, launching the personal submarine era with a submersible that's reportedly so easy to pilot that it's likely to create a new niche in the tourism and rental market.
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes with news of the Chinese military's latest toy, an ICBM capable of delivering multiple warheads across the Pacific. From the article: The DF-41 is designed to have a range of 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles), according to a report by Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems, putting it among the world's longest-range missiles. ... It is "possibly capable of carrying multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles", the U.S. Defense Department said in a report in June, referring to a payload of several nuclear warheads. It also quoted a Chinese military analyst as saying: "As the U.S. continues to strengthen its missile defense system, developing third generation nuclear weapons capable of carrying multiple warheads is the trend." China's previous longest range missile was the DF-5A, which can carry a single warhead as far as 12,000 km, according to Jane's.
New submitter melarky (3767369) writes This is a fun weekend project that most nerds will appreciate. Step by step instructions and also a handy video will make the construction of this project fast and easy. I have seen lots of plans for sale (or actual guns/kits for sale), but couldn't seem to find any plans for free. I played around with a few different designs (even cut my first few on a homemade CNC machine) and finally landed on this design. I made the guide more accessible to the general public (no need for a CNC machine here), so if you've ever dreamed of ending friendships because of hundreds of rubber band welts, now's your chance! We'd like to see your home-made projects, too.
mikejuk (1801200) writes After seven days the Jibo project has over $1.1 million. What is surprising is that Jibo isn't a complex piece of hardware that will do the dishes and pick up clothes. It doesn't move around at all. It just sits and interacts with the family using a camera, microphones and a voice. It is a social robot, the speciality of the founder, MIT's, Cynthia Breazeal. The idea is that this robot will be your friend, take photos, remind you of appointments, order takeaway and tell the kids a story. If you watch the promo video then you can't help but think that this is all too polished and the real thing will fall flat on its face when delivered. If it does work then worry about the hundreds of kids needing psychiatric counselling — shades of Robbie in I, Robot. Even if it is hopelessly hyped — there is a development system and I want one. It is the early days of the home computer all over again.
Presto Vivace (882157) links to a critical look in Time Magazine at the creepy side of connected household technology. An excerpt: A modern surveillance state isn't so much being forced on us, as it is sold to us device by device, with the idea that it is for our benefit. ... ... Nest sucks up data on how warm your home is. As Mocana CEO James Isaacs explained to me in early May, a detailed footprint of your comings and goings can be inferred from this information. Nest just bought Dropcam, a company that markets itself as a security tool allowing you to put cameras in your home and view them remotely, but brings with it a raft of disquieting implications about surveillance. Automatic wants you to monitor how far you drive and do things for you like talk to your your house when you're on your way home from work and turn on lights when you pull into your garage. Tied into the new SmartThings platform, a Jawbone UP band becomes a tool for remotely monitoring someone else's activity. The SmartThings hubs and sensors themselves put any switch or door in play. Companies like AT&T want to build a digital home that monitors your security and energy use. ... ... Withings Smart Body Analyzer monitors your weight and pulse. Teddy the Guardian is a soft toy for children that spies on their vital signs. Parrot Flower Power looks at the moisture in your home under the guise of helping you grow plants. The Beam Brush checks up on your teeth-brushing technique. Presto Vivaci adds, "Enough to make the Stasi blush. What I cannot understand is how politicians fail to understand what a future Kenneth Starr is going to do with data like this."
fluxgate (2851685) writes "A notice from the FAA announced earlier this week just turned a bunch of kids' toys into drones. In the past, the FAA had made the distinction between model aircraft (allowed) and drones (prohibited without special permission) according to whether they were used for recreation (okay) or commercial purposes (verboten). Now they have further narrowed the definition of model aircraft: If you fly it through video goggles, it no longer qualifies. This move eliminates First Person View (FPV) radio control flying. I'm an editor at IEEE Spectrum with a special interest and blogged about this disturbing development as soon as I heard the news."