A bigger picture would help when it comes to overtaking big trucks

Tuesday, 30 June, 2015

It happens to me all the time, especially on the freeway, I find myself stuck behind a large lumbering truck. Usually there’s the option of eventually overtaking it by moving into another lane going in the same direction.

But what about situations where there is only one lane available in your direction of travel, and an overtaking manoeuvre requires moving into the on-coming traffic lane?

A clear view of the road ahead, before attempting to move into the other lane, would be useful, to say the least, but sometimes such chances are far and few between. How about then attaching a widescreen monitor to the back of large vehicles, that projects an image of what lies ahead? Sounds like an idea worth looking into.

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What are the chances of your job being automated in the future?

Monday, 29 June, 2015

Robots powered by artificial intelligence, and other similarly “smart” machines, stand to deprive many of us of jobs at some point in the future. The question for many then is, how long could I continue in my current line of work, before I need to re-skill?

Planet Money has put together a guide that estimates the likelihood of a particular role becoming automated over the next twenty years. Provided I continue working as a writer, there remains about a four percent chance that my job could be automated.

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Recreate your own photos and paintings with LEGO bricks

Friday, 12 June, 2015

Marco Sodano is one artist who creates artworks, based on well known portrait paintings, using LEGO bricks. If you’d like to have a try, Legoizer could be for you. Upload a photo that you wish to recreate with LEGO bricks, and Legoizer will return a list of the sorts of bricks, and their colours, that you’ll need.

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There’s pinball, then there’s pinball, of like, galactic dimensions

Tuesday, 9 June, 2015

There’s pinball, then there’s pinball of galactic dimensions, such as this machine, located in the Phæno science centre, in Wolfsburg, Germany, that features a playfield measuring six metres long, by three metres wide.

Via prosthetic knowledge.

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Can Moore’s Law continue acting in accordance with Moore’s Law?

Thursday, 4 June, 2015

Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel, once noted that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit has doubled almost every two years, over the history of computing hardware. That observation may be more familiar to you as Moore’s Law. But the question is, for how much longer can such a trend continue?

To answer to that question though, perhaps a better understanding of what Moore’s Law stands for, is necessary:

It is a mistake, however, to view Moore’s law as a prophesy based on scientific phenomena that are doomed in the face of immutable laws of physics. If truth be told, Moore’s law was never anything more than an economic rule of thumb that morphed into a self-fulfilling axiom about process engineering. Essentially, it was more a way of scheduling manufacturing targets than a means for forecasting the performance of future processors. As such, Moore’s law has served as a metronome that lets Intel set the tempo of product announcements – and thereby encourages computer makers to keep coming back every couple of years for ever-more-powerful processors. Like it or not, the rest of the semiconductor industry, usually a node or two behind, has been obliged to follow Intel’s lead.

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It was twenty years ago today that Jeffrey Zeldman taught us to code

Tuesday, 2 June, 2015

Influential New York City based web designer, I don’t believe that title has yet been deprecated, Jeffrey Zeldman launched his website twenty years ago last Sunday. I’ve been reading it for almost all that time, something I may have pointed out before. Twenty years, that’s a long time, but I’ve said before as well.

And then there’s this:

I wanted to launch a redesign on this 20th anniversary – in the old days I redesigned this site four or five times a year, whenever I had a new idea or learned a new skill – but with a ten year old daughter and four businesses to at least pretend to run (businesses that only exist because I started this website 20 years ago today and because my partners started theirs), a redesign by 31 May 2015 wasn’t possible.

I may not be anywhere near as busy as Zeldman, but so far it hasn’t been possible to update the design here, that has been in place eighteen months now. Those days of five redesigns a year are truly a distant memory.

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I couldn’t decide what to wear today so I just printed something out

Tuesday, 2 June, 2015

An in development fabric printer, dubbed the Electroloom, would make it possible to design and produce your own clothes, on the spot, in the comfort of your own home.

The Electroloom Developer Kit is a tool for designing and manufacturing custom 3D fabrics. When interacting with our machine, there is no need for thread, needles, or sewing. Instead, our users need only some simple CAD skills to design their patterns, and the Electroloom does the rest. Behind the scenes, our technology reduces the traditional textile manufacturing process into a single step. Instead of sending raw material through factories where it undergoes numerous processing steps to create a traditional textile, we are able to directly convert raw material to finished good.

The Electroloom is still in Kickstarter, or fund raising mode, but could be a game changer – to say the least – for the apparel industry, were it to ever catch on.

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You may be a shadow worker but not realise it

Thursday, 28 May, 2015

By conducting our banking transactions online, booking travel in the same way, or scanning our own groceries, we have become shadow employees of the companies that we transact with. I’d never quite looked at these sorts of things that way, rather just seen it as the advance of good old fashioned automation.

I define shadow work as all the unpaid jobs we do on behalf of businesses and organizations: We are pumping our own gas, scanning our own groceries, booking our travel and busing our tables at Starbucks. Shadow work is a new concept, so as yet, no one has compiled economic data on how many jobs we, the consumers, have taken over from (erstwhile) employees.

For my part there’s a definite convenience in being a “shadow employee” however. I can book flights at whatever hour of the day suits me, rather than only during certain shop hours, or buy a dozen chocolate bars (say) at the supermarket with my groceries, and not have to concern myself with the weird looks of the check-out operator.

Certainly jobs are being lost as a result, but opportunities are emerging in other areas. Someone still has to deliver the increasing amounts of stuff we’re ordering online, or staff the ever proliferating coffee shops that we are so fond of hanging out in.

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A history of Industrial Light & Magic by those who were there

Wednesday, 27 May, 2015

While it’s possible you may not have heard of film visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic, or ILM, you’d have witnessed dozens of instances of their work in the movies you’ve seen. I sometimes wonder how some films might look had ILM not come along… for example, would film producers still be using mattes today?

To mark the forty years since the inception of ILM, film directors including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, J.J. Abrams, James Cameron, plus many others who were part of ILM, talk through the company’s history.

As it turns 40 this year, ILM can claim to have played a defining role making effects for 317 movies. But that’s only part of the story: Pixar began, essentially, as an ILM internal investigation. Photoshop was invented, in part, by an ILM employee tinkering with programming in his time away from work. Billions of lines of code have been formulated there. Along the way ILM has put tentacles into pirate beards, turned a man into mercury, and dominated box office charts with computer-generated dinosaurs and superheroes.

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Waiter, waiter, there’s a chef on my table cooking a meal!

Monday, 25 May, 2015

Coming to your restaurant table soon… 3D animation of your meal being prepared, sort of, that is projected onto the table, while you wait for your food to arrive. The concept has been developed by Belgium based artistic collective Skullmapping.

If nothing else, it should eliminate any awkward pre-dinner lapses in conversation.

Via prosthetic knowledge.

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