The secret life of machines, and other things, illustrated

Tuesday, 17 February, 2015

An illustrated guide to how things, many things, work, things such as fax machines, cars, electric lights, central heating systems, photocopiers, and my personal favourite place/object ever, offices, by Tim Hunkin.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Mirrors, the next victims of digital technologies?

Tuesday, 17 February, 2015

Digital technologies are apparently threatening the livelihood of… mirrors. With people happy to use smartphones as vanity mirrors, and car mounted cameras offering drivers clearer views of the road around them than might rear view mirrors, it could be their time has come.

The end of the old school looking glass may not be all that lamentable though, a so-called digital mirror will allow us to see ourselves as everyone else does:

But I imagine that by the time your kids or grandkids install one of those “mirrors,” the idea won’t seem very futuristic anymore. Because one of the weirdest things that mirrors do – which we take for granted today – is show things the wrong way around. The face you see in the mirror isn’t the one you show other people. It’s backwards, as I’m sure you know. At some point in your life, you saw a picture of yourself and realized things were a little bit off. If I’m not completely crazy, future generations won’t tolerate that. They’ll have gotten quite used to the idea that a screen can show them their true face with the press of a button. Or always.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Artificial Intelligence, nothing to worry about, just yet anyway…

Friday, 13 February, 2015

A bird? An avalanche?

Much is being said about artificial intelligence, or AI, and how AI powered entities stand ready to take over the world.

That may be a concern in the future, but right now, if INTERESTING.JPG, “a smart computer looking at popular human images”, and the commentary it offers of the photos it sees, is anything to go by, there’s not too much to worry about. For now, at least.

According to INTERESTING.JPG, the above photo is of “a number of birds flying through the sky in front of a cliff”. Mind you, INTERESTING.JPG can sometimes be on the mark, but not too often by the looks of it.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Google pronounce, helping travellers say place names correctly

Friday, 13 February, 2015

Streatham is a suburb located in South London. Supermodel Naomi Campbell was born there. We used to go and see movies at the Odeon along the high street. Not with Campbell however. But if this is by chance the first time you’ve heard of Streatham, how would you pronounce its name? It’s not quite as straightforward as it looks.

What then of all the other places across the globe that stand to be misspoken? Enter then a Google initiative, that promises to make things a little easier for travellers, by offering them the opportunity to learn the correct pronunciation of a town, or place, name ahead of time:

The patent details how Google could determine the most common pronunciation of a place name from audio clips submitted by locals, then offer that pronunciation when someone searches for the place on Google Maps. This function could be handy, as Google says in the patent, “when traveling in a foreign country.”

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Replay the soundtrack of your life

Tuesday, 10 February, 2015

Enter your date of birth and Retrojam will compile a playable play list of popular music releases in the years you were born, started primary/elementary school, graduated high school, and then university or college.

I imagine this could be especially fun if you wanted to organise a milestone sort of birthday party for a friend or family member.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Can your credit card transactions reveal your identity? Yes, they can

Monday, 9 February, 2015

You might just want start to paying for your goods and services with cash, after some Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers found that it was possible to identify a credit card holder based on just four transactions, even though details of names and addresses had been removed from the data they were analysing:

Although names, addresses and other information directly linked to card owners had been scrubbed from the data set, de Montjoye and his colleagues could pick out 90% of individuals if they knew the date and location of just four of their credit-card transactions.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Want your own website? Simply follow these 9001 simple steps

Friday, 6 February, 2015

I think everyone should have a website, but then again I’m a tad biased in that regard. If you are however thinking of taking the plunge, and establishing your own online presence, How to make a personal website, in 9001 easy steps by Thomas Levine, is what you need to read.

Nobody other than you is going to read your website once you have it, at least at first, so don’t worry about designing it for other people. In fact, you don’t even need a website; just come up with some system that makes it easy for you to find the things you’ve recorded.

Oh yes, there’s not quite nine thousand and one steps listed here…

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

The bot as an art critic

Tuesday, 3 February, 2015

An algorithm powered bot, Novice Art Blogger, attempts to review artworks. Here is a critique of “Marina”, an installation created by Bryan Kneale in 1967:

A small airplane with a mirror on a person’s tail on it, or possibly a statue of a graffiti painted on a plane. I once saw a silver and red airplane and its door, open.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

That’s sure one mean machine, or that’s how it sounds anyway

Monday, 2 February, 2015

You learn something new every day… apparently latter car engines are so quiet that manufacturers have taken to finding ways of enhancing their sound, in some cases making what are effectively recordings of roaring engines, because drivers expect motor vehicles to be noisy…

Stomp on the gas in a new Ford Mustang or F-150 and you’ll hear a meaty, throaty rumble – the same style of roar that Americans have associated with auto power and performance for decades. It’s a sham. The engine growl in some of America’s best-selling cars and trucks is actually a finely tuned bit of lip-syncing, boosted through special pipes or digitally faked altogether. And it’s driving car enthusiasts insane.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Turning a buck on the spare space on your hard disk

Thursday, 22 January, 2015

If we’re happy to rent out the spare room to travellers, and ferry strangers about town in our cars, why shouldn’t we then offer any excess space on our hard drives to people who need somewhere to store their files?

Enter Storj, a decentralised, encrypted cloud storage facilitator. So, security and legal concerns much? Such a service seems open to numerous avenues of abuse, but these issues appear to have been thought through though:

When someone uploads a file to our network (i.e. using MetaDisk) the file itself gets shredded (sharded) in lots of different small chunks (shards) on the client side and each one gets encrypted before it even goes out on the internet and our network. These file shards then get distributed all over the network and hosted on DriveShare nodes all over the world. So even if someone has access to one of the DriveShare nodes HD the data hosted on it is meaningless as it will only be composed of small file chunks which are also encrypted.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,