The next stage in GIF animation evolution, the GIF Video

Friday, 17 October, 2014

I think GIF animations are more widely used now than twenty years ago, when they were one of the few ways to serve motion files the web. While the latter day animations are often fun, they can chew up download or airtime allocations, on account of their size.

So what to do? Online image hosting service Imgur may have a solution by way of Project GIFV, an application that converts GIF animations to video files. The reduction in file size certainly looks promising, a raw GIF animation at fifty megabytes becomes a video GIFV file of some four megabytes.

The cornerstone of Project GIFV is a platform-wide upgrade to automatically convert uploaded GIF files on the fly into the MP4 video format. The converted MP4s are significantly smaller than their equivalent GIFs, which allows them to load at lightning-fast speeds with better quality. By lowering bandwidth consumption, the change also optimizes Imgur for users on mobile. Rejoice!

Mind you, four megabytes still seems sizeable for a GIF animation, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

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The desk, in downsize mode since 1981

Thursday, 16 October, 2014

When I first started working I had no idea I’d one day be able to pack the entire contents of my office into a day bag, and base myself almost where ever I wanted to.

Yet since 1981, or maybe a little later than that, the amount of desk space we require has been diminishing, to the point that desks as we know them may well soon be obsolete.

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Drone racing on the forest moon of Endor

Thursday, 16 October, 2014

This may be the best possible way to use drones that I’ve seen so far… race them in Rebels versus Imperial troops on the forest moon of Endor – as seen in Return of the Jedi – style.

Presented here in French but click the “Subtitles/CC” button for subtitles.

Via prosthetic knowledge.

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The smartwatch, based on the codex rotundus… or bookwatch?

Tuesday, 14 October, 2014

Codex rotundus

The arrival of what is effectively a smartphone you wear on your wrist, in watch style, caused a splash a month or so ago, but how about the codex rotundus, a circle shaped book, about nine centimetres across, that almost looks like it could be worn as a watch, as wearable technology.

And dating from the late fifteenth century, on top of that. How old hat does this make that smartwatch look then?

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No, this is not the end of the world. Oh wait…

Friday, 10 October, 2014

Are we perhaps not mature enough as a people to be using certain of the technologies we have developed – many of which were intended to make life easier – that, through misapplication, could bring about our annihilation? It is a question that is troubling a growing number of scientists and eminent thinkers:

“We’re getting these more and more powerful technologies that we can use to have more and more wide-ranging impacts on the world and ourselves, and our level of wisdom seems to be growing more slowly. It’s a bit like a child who’s getting their hands on a loaded pistol – they should be playing with rattles or toy soldiers,” Bostrom tells me when we meet in his sunlit office at the FHI, surrounded by yet more whiteboards. “As a species, we’re giving ourselves access to technologies that should really have a higher maturity level. We don’t have an option – we’re going to get these technologies. So we just have to mature more rapidly.”

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Preserving cylinder recordings for future generations

Tuesday, 7 October, 2014

A little over one hundred years ago people were listening to recorded music on phonograph cylinders. Disc records were also around, and for a time the two formats competed with each other, before records eventually won out.

Thanks to the efforts of the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project however, not all phonograph cylinder recordings have been lost in time, and a growing collection of such music has been converted to MP3 format for our listening pleasure today.

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Hi #KirstenDunst, pleased to meet you, so do you like… stuff?

Monday, 6 October, 2014

I don’t about you, but if I had the chance to hang out with Kirsten Dunst, rather than asking to be tagged on, say, a social network that isn’t fun anymore, I’d take her up on another of the suggestions she makes…

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Ello, I’ve been up and down the hype cycle on a Monday afternoon

Monday, 6 October, 2014

When I checked the headlines last Monday morning, an article about Ello, a social networking alternative to Facebook, caught my eye. The Vermont based startup behind Ello felt that “none of the social networks are fun anymore.” This sounded promising.

After reading a Daily Dot piece, an hour or two later, my interest in the membership-by-invitation-only network was reaching fever pitch.

Ello is wtf. Ello is not crypto. Ello reminds me of the old days. Ello is kinda queer. Ello is features coming soon. Ello is a silo. Ello is not brogramming. Ello is not the same silo as the other silo. Ello is not the cloud. Ello is mobile-last. Ello is sort of an accident. Ello is “do you have any invites to Ello?” Ello is pretty and manospaced. Ello is an ouroboros. Ello is your new avi.

How on Earth do I score an invite, I wondered? After all, I don’t want noise, I want signal, I want a silo that is not the same as the other silo. Just as I was about to clock off for the day, I happened upon some of Andy Baio’s thoughts on the social network that promised to make social networks fun once more. Posted on Ello, no less:

The Ello founders are positioning it as an alternative to other social networks – they won’t sell your data or show you ads. “You are not the product.” If they were independently-funded and run as some sort of co-op, bootstrapped until profitable, maybe that’s plausible. Hard, but possible. But VCs don’t give money out of goodwill, and taking VC funding – even seed funding – creates outside pressures that shape the inevitable direction of a company.

Does accepting some Venture Capital funding mean that it’s over – in terms of being a “fun” social network at least – or is it too soon, way too soon, to decide?

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I robot exist only to serve and hand write letters for you

Thursday, 2 October, 2014

If you’re someone who feels electronic and text communications are a little impersonal, but still don’t want to actually hand write notes or letters, or like me, have terrible handwriting, you could consider asking the Handwrytten Robot to handle such correspondence.

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Bitcoins, very secure unless perhaps you adhere to Moores’ Law

Monday, 29 September, 2014

Say what you will about Bitcoins, but they are certainly secure. Seemingly it would take many billions of years to break through their private key encryption. However there is a caveat, under Moores’ Law computing power is supposed to double every two years, so that colossal time span stands to be substantially reduced. Maybe.

Assuming computing speed doubles every year (Moore’s law says 2 years, but we’ll err on the side of caution), then in 59 years it’ll only take 1.13 years. So your coins are safe for the next 60 years without a change to the algorithms used to protect the blockchain. However, I would expect the algorithms to be changed long before it’s feasible to break the protection they provide.

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