Category: Gadgets

The Mobile Phone

The Mobile Phone

My mobile phone or cell phone is now a part of my everyday life.  I don’t know how I ever mananged without it.

Mine you, I am not a very techie person.  I use my mobile phone to make a phone call and occassionally to send a text.  If push, I would also use it to browse website, especially globalgranary.org. 😉

Anyway, I do not use my iPhone much but the battery drains so fast, it is unbelievable and charging it takes time.  It takes ages and I can be a very impatient person.

I heard that if you charge the phone using the airplane setting, the charging will be faster!  The only drawback is that you won’t be able to receive call.

Artificial Intelligence – Death of Mankind

I agree with Stephen Hawkings on this one.  My smartphone alone will be the death of me.  It autocorrects my messages.  It automatically change my sometimes funny but nonsensical comments into downright stupid ones.  It is killing my reputation and gathering me some very unhappy friends. 😉

I also find that machines, which are supposed to make life easier are anything but.  I now have less and less free time as technology improves more and more.

My social life now consists of me and my Facebook friends and Twitter followers.  🙂  Of course I love every single one of them.  Some of them give me gifts for my Farmville, Sugar Crush and help me with my Pet Saga, but surely there is more to life than a mouse, keyboard and a small screen and of course a capricious internet connection?

JPJhermes

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Artificial Intelligence – Death of Mankind

Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind

Stephen Hawking: “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded”

Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence.

He told the BBC:”The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI.

But others are less gloomy about AI’s prospects.

The theoretical physicist, who has the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is using a new system developed by Intel to speak.

Machine learning experts from the British company Swiftkey were also involved in its creation. Their technology, already employed as a smartphone keyboard app, learns how the professor thinks and suggests the words he might want to use next.

Prof Hawking says the primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have already proved very useful, but he fears the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans.

HAL 2001Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001 and its murderous computer HAL encapsulate many people’s fears of how AI could pose a threat to human life

“It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate,” he said.

CelverbotCleverbot is software that is designed to chat like a human would

“Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”

But others are less pessimistic.

“I believe we will remain in charge of the technology for a decently long time and the potential of it to solve many of the world problems will be realised,” said Rollo Carpenter, creator of Cleverbot.

Cleverbot’s software learns from its past conversations, and has gained high scores in the Turing test, fooling a high proportion of people into believing they are talking to a human.

Rise of the robots

Mr Carpenter says we are a long way from having the computing power or developing the algorithms needed to achieve full artificial intelligence, but believes it will come in the next few decades.

“We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can’t know if we’ll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it,” he says.

But he is betting that AI is going to be a positive force.

Prof Hawking is not alone in fearing for the future.

In the short term, there are concerns that clever machines capable of undertaking tasks done by humans until now will swiftly destroy millions of jobs.

Elon MuskElon Musk, chief executive of rocket-maker Space X, also fears artificial intelligence

In the longer term, the technology entrepreneur Elon Musk has warned that AI is “our biggest existential threat”.

Robotic voice

In his BBC interview, Prof Hawking also talks of the benefits and dangers of the internet.

He quotes the director of GCHQ’s warning about the net becoming the command centre for terrorists: “More must be done by the internet companies to counter the threat, but the difficulty is to do this without sacrificing freedom and privacy.”

He has, however, been an enthusiastic early adopter of all kinds of communication technologies and is looking forward to being able to write much faster with his new system.

Prof Stephen Hawking and Rory Cellan-JonesProf Hawking is using new software to speak, but has opted to keep the same voice

But one aspect of his own tech – his computer generated voice – has not changed in the latest update.

Prof Hawking concedes that it’s slightly robotic, but insists he didn’t want a more natural voice.

“It has become my trademark, and I wouldn’t change it for a more natural voice with a British accent,” he said.

“I’m told that children who need a computer voice, want one like mine.”

Flower Pruner Gadget

All gardening is landscape painting.
– Alexander Pope

Flower Pruner Gadget

I recently bought a new pair of gardening gloves in beautiful flowery pink and I noticed that it came with the above flower pruner as a special gift.

I love this new gadget, it is so useful now that spring flowers, especially from the bulbs, are beginning to wilt and past their best.

I have been using this pruner for de-heading flowers which have drooped. I read from one of my gardening books to de-head or cut off the wilting flowers to bulbs as they still use up nutrients that should be stored for next year’s show of blooms.

So with my new pink gloves, I have been pruning and de-heading flowers from our boarders, tubs, rose bushes and even trees in the garden with a vengeance using my little gadget which is now permanently residing on my gardening apron’s pocket; ever ready for any unwanted blooms. LOL

Truly Universal Fashion – The Spacesuit

When we think of space and space age, we always assume that clothing will be of the tin-foil variety with bizarre geometrical patterns.

Well to start with our own Earth Spacemen did wear the galaxy ball look but over the years it changed to its more comfortable and less bulky look.

The space suits, also known as EMUs or Extra-vehicular Mobility Units, protect astronauts when they go outside their spacecraft.

Anatomy of the space suit:

* The outer layers protect against radiation from the Sun and other space particles and dust

* The inner side of the space suit is blown up like a balloon to press against the body  which in effect  acts as a space bubble wrap.  The function of this is to ensure that the blood would not boil. 🙁 eck

* The inner lining of the space suit encapsulates tubings which contain water, that will cool down or warm up the body during space walk.

* The suit also includes mini apparatus which provide drinks or to collect urine.

* The helmet protect against radiation as well as micrometeoroids (meteor dusts); inside the helmet, oxygen is circulated to prevent the helmet’s clear visor from misting.

* The gloves have silicone-rubber fingertips which allow for a sense of touch.

* The backpack contains up to 7 hours of pure oxygen for the astronaut to breathe.  It also functions as a machine to get rid of the carbon dioxide that the astronaut exhale.

As of year 2000, a space suit would cost about $11 million.

Behind the Fashion: What Astronauts Wore in Space

http://news.nationalgeographic.co.uk/news/2013/08/pictures/130809-space-astronauts-science-space-suit-smithsonian/#/evolution-of-space-suits-2013-mercury-7_70252_600x450.jpg

evolution-of-space-suits-2013-bean_70249_600x450Bean’s Space Suit
Photograph by Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

When astronaut Alan Bean went to space on the 1973 Skylab 3 mission, he wore the suit pictured here. It was designed with a spiral zipper, to allow astronauts to sit in the lunar rover without having their suits balloon out.

“The previous edition had a zipper which provided no mobility in the hips,” said Lewis. “To circumvent, engineers designed this suit with a spiral zipper, which starts at the right corner of the neck ring and goes around the side to build in the localization of air pressure in the hip.”

You may be wondering why the suit—like most space suits—is bright white. There’s a reason for that too. The color was designed with its reflectivity in mind—to help astronauts deflect solar radiation, swings in temperature, and even tiny particulates.

“It was designed to dissipate energy laterally,” said Lewis. “There are actually many layers which deflect particles and slow them down before they can puncture the pressure layer.”

All of the astronauts in the Apollo program were provided with repair kits in case of a tear, but all of them say the repair kits were never used, said Lewis. The astronauts wore the suits both outside the spacecraft and during entry and re-entry—which created a tricky balancing act for engineers trying to make safe and comfortable gear.

“On the Apollo missions, you had to fit the suits inside the spacecraft but still make them vigorous enough to work outside on the lunar surfaces,” said Lewis. “The Apollo spacecraft looks relatively small when you have to protect shoulders and give mobility so that three healthy-sized men can sit in it abreast.”

 

evolution-of-space-suits-2013-ex-1a_70250_600x450 No Zippers for Launch
Photograph by Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

Perhaps the most interesting part of the experimental EXI-A space suit is its lack of zippers. The earliest space suits had zippers, but now joints are made of hard seals.

“Zippers are unreliable,” said Lewis. “Even the best ones are only okay for several pressurizations.”

Suits today are designed to last much longer, she said. And every return from space means a deep cleaning and inspection, with new seals and O-rings applied.

The result is a suit that is air-tight, for the protection of the astronaut. That also means the suit can get kind of hot.

“It’s like being in a plastic bag,” said Lewis. “Of course, there are comfort layers—usually long johns—and the astronauts are also given diapers.”

This wasn’t always the case. When Alan Shepard became the first American in space during the Mercury mission, he wasn’t given a diaper because the entire mission was supposed to last 15 minutes.

That was before a problem with the launch pad required Shepard to sit in his shuttle for six hours before launch. And sure enough, nature called. There were two options, he was told. Abort the launch or … urinate in his suit.

As Lewis puts it: “They didn’t have any amenities for Alan Shepard, but they learned quickly.”

 

evolution-of-space-suits-2013-mark-v_70251_600x450Suited for Space
Photograph by Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

Above, a photograph of the prototype Mark V space suit, which was designed in the early 1960s to help astronauts achieve a fuller range of motion while performing delicate tasks in the vacuum of space.

This photograph, one of several on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., helps paint a fuller portrait of what astronauts wore to survive entry and spacewalks.

The photographs are part of a larger exhibit called “Suited for Space,” which traces the evolution of space suits over the past 60 years through photos, x-rays, and artifacts. (Related: “Photos: Space Suit Evolution Since First NASA Flight.”)

Cathleen Lewis, a historian and curator of international space programs at the museum, explained that the asymmetrical shoulders on the Mark V space suit were designed as a test.

“The right arm is the traditional shoulder design,” she said. “But on the left arm, you can see bellows, which would allow the astronauts to localize air displacement and restrain the pressurization of outer space.”

In other words, if an astronaut lifted his or her arm in space without these specialized joints, the arm of the suit would balloon up—making it impossible to do work.

The traveling exhibit will remain in Washington, D.C., through December 1, when it will continue to stops in Tampa, Philadelphia, and Seattle.

 

evolution-of-space-suits-2013-mercury-7_70252_600x450Alan Shepard’s Space Suit
Photograph by Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

Looking at astronaut Alan Shepard’s suit—which he wore in space—it’s clear just how complex a space suit really is.

“There were communication wires and wires throughout the chest that would send measurements like an astronaut’s heart rate back down to Earth,” said Lewis. “You can see the constraints in the hips and the knees.” (Related: “What’s Inside a Space Suit? X-Rays Reveal All.”)

Pointing lower, she said, “The boots are thick and heavy, to absorb radiation on the bottom of the soles.”

A suit like Shepard’s weighed about 56 pounds (25 kilograms), sans life-support gear and helmet. Add those components and the weight almost triples, to 182 pounds (82 kilograms).

On Earth, the astronauts had technicians to help them into the suits. But during the later Apollo missions, the astronauts had to help each other.

“After landing on the moon during Apollo 11, the astronauts prepped for three hours,” said Lewis. “They were dressing and then double- and triple-checking along their checklists, to make sure everything was in place.”

Published August 9, 2013

—Melody Kramer

 

iPhone Just Got Better!!! ;)

There is a spoof ad going round claiming that the new iOS7 app makes iPhone waterproof.

Unfortunately some university students took the ad as gospel and had been busy testing the app.  Presumably there will be increase in insurance claims for  water-damaged iPhones?!!!

Just to recap, IT IS NOT TRUE, IPHONES ARE NOT QUITE WATERPROOFED!

 

Jean 😉

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Spoof ad claims Apple’s new iOS 7 makes iPhones waterproof

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 · 11:09 am · 8 Comments

 

Under the highly-questionable headline, “iOS 7: users destroy iPhones after fake waterproof advert,” Ben Riley-Smith reports for The Telegraph, “A spoof advert suggesting Apple’s new iOS 7 operating system made handsets waterproof appears to have fooled some users into destroying their iPhone 

MacDailyNews Take: “Appears.” Not necessarily actually happened.

“The fake commercial appeared almost identical to Apple’s real poster advertising with images of the iPhone on a white background accompanied by neat text.
‘Update to iOS 7 and become waterproof,’ the poster read,” Riley-Smith reports. “‘In an emergency, a smart-switch will shut off the phone’s power supply and corresponding components to prevent any damage to your iPhone’s delicate circuitry,’ it explained.”

MacDailyNews Notee: As an aside, Apple would never use the word “delicate” to describe “iPhone’s circuitry.”

 

Spoof ad claiming Apple's new iOS 7 makes iPhones waterproof

Spoof ad claiming Apple’s new iOS 7 makes iPhones waterproof

“After being shared on social media sites by users encouraging people to try the new feature soon angry complaints appeared from those fooled by the joke,” Riley-Smith reports. “‘Whoever said ios7 was waterproof **** you,’ wrote one user on Twitter. ‘Wtf iOS7 isn’t waterproof!! Now my phone’s at the bottom of the river,’ another said.” 

MacDailyNews Take: Again, “appeared.”

Those tweets could easily be – and probably better – interpreted as humorous replies from people who get the joke. Obviously, even if you believed the ridiculous spoof ad, throwing your iPhone into a river for it to settle on the bottom as a test of the spoofed feature would introduce further issues beyond simply dunking it into a glass of water.

Riley-Smith reports, “The prank is understood to have been started by controversial forum 4Chan which has a chequered history of hosting faked material.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If concocting “news” from random tweets is the best you can do, perhaps you should try another line of work.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Read more at http://macdailynews.com/2013/09/24/spoof-ad-claims-apples-new-ios-7-makes-iphones-waterproof/#VfhpJ1VDX5t8uFrr.99

I Want a Kirobo, My Own Kirobo

Japanese do make the cutest things. This robot is so cute……… Gwiyomi!!!! It is those big eyes. You just want to squeeze him!

I want a kirobo.

LOL

JPJhermes
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Kirobo is world’s first talking robot sent into space

Robot astronaut Kirobo is launched towards the ISS

Japan has launched the world’s first talking robot into space to serve as companion to astronaut Kochi Wakata who will begin his mission in November.

The android took off from the island of Tanegashima in an unmanned rocket also carrying supplies for crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Measuring 34cm (13 inches), Kirobo is due to arrive at the ISS on 9 August.

It is part of a study to see how machines can lend emotional support to people isolated over long periods.

The launch of the H-2B rocket was broadcast online by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa).

The unmanned rocket is also carrying drinking water, food, clothing and work supplies to the six permanent crew members based at the ISS.
Kirobo with developer Tomotaka Takahashi

Tomotaka Takahashi with his creation

‘Giant leap’

Kirobo’s name derives from the Japanese words for “hope” and “robot”.

The small android weighs about 1kg (2.2 pounds) and has a wide range of physical motion. Its design was inspired by the legendary animation character Astro Boy.

Kirobo has been programmed to communicate in Japanese and keep records of its conversations with Mr Wakata who will take over as commander of the ISS later this year.

In addition, it is expected to relay messages from the control room to the astronaut.

“Kirobo will remember Mr Wakata’s face so it can recognise him when they reunite up in space,” the robot’s developer, Tomotaka Takahashi said.

“I wish for this robot to function as a mediator between a person and machine, or a person and the Internet, and sometimes even between people.”

The biggest challenge was to make the android compatible with space, Mr Takahashi added.

Dozens of tests were carried out over nine months to ensure Kirobo’s reliability.

Kirobo has a twin robot on Earth called Mirata, which will monitor any problems its electronic counterpart may experience in space.

“It’s one small step for me, a giant leap for robots,” Mirata said of the mission last month.

The endeavour is a joint project between Mr Takahashi, car producer Toyota and advertising company Dentsu.

How to easily install iOS 7 beta without an Apple Developer Account (and for free!)

Cannot wait for iOS 7 to drop later in the year? Don’t want to pay $99 for an Apple Developer Account just to try out the beta? These were the questions floating in my head when I heard about the beta previews of iOS 7 being released.

I’ve been using iOS7 beta for a few months now, and wow, it is a huge improvement on iOS 6. The UI, the transitions, the dynamic wallpapers and the slide up Control Center (and a whole lot of other tweaks/additions) are to me, a justification to update to the beta.

Now as it is a beta, there will be bugs, both in apps and with the generally user interface – although the majority have been resolved as of iOS7 beta 3 (and hopefully beta 4 irons out the rest.. maybe?)

With that said, most apps (43 / 50 I have installed) work nicely without any problems, however some either have graphical bugs (such as missing button text labels on Tapatalk), or just crash instantly when opening (such as all PopCap games – bejeweled, Plants Vs Zombies, Peggle etc).

There are also the issues of reported battery drain (my iPhone 5 does seem to eat battery juice ever so slightly more than on iOS6), the phone does randomly reboot – I have experienced this many times, the wallpaper does disappear and replace with a plain black background, and most annoyingly, sometimes when you make a call, you do not hear the other person. That could be a totally different issue as my partners iPhone 4s is pretty much crap (its a refurb from apple) with signal loss etc.

Despite these problems, I still find that this is a must upgrade in my opinion, however if you want an issue free experience, please do wait for the official release.

Anyway, warnings aside, lets get to it.

Pre-requisites 

iOS 7 beta 1 .ipsw file for your chosen device. Needs to be beta 1, not 2 or 3. You can update later to the latest as explained below. I won’t provide links for these, however a quick google search or checking your favourite torrent trackers will bring up links.

Latest version of iTunes  – Download from http://www.apple.com/itunes/

Do a full backup of your phone – to iCloud or to your machine via iTunes. Don’t skip this, DO IT!

Your full attention. Yes, you need to read the steps carefully and follow exactly as written or it wont work.

Step 1

Connect your iPhone to your machine. Duh.

Step 2

Open iTunes (if it hasn’t already opened up automatically)

Step 3

Navigate to your phone in iTunes

1

Step 4

Now on your keyboard, hold Shift (windows users) or Option (osx users) and while still holding the button, click on “Check for Update”. A box will now appear prompting you to search for the update file.

2

Step 5

Select your update file, open and let the update process commence.

Step 6

Once updated, you will be brought to the iOS 7 welcome screen. Connect to Wifi. Restore iCloud backup. Done.

Happy days – though if you’re not happy, then you can downgrade back to iOS 6 – but you will need to put your device into DFU mode and click restore in iTunes.

 

Arthur C Clarke

Arthur-C-Clarke-in-1984-001

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
– Arthur C Clarke

Arthur C Clarke is regarded as one of the greatest science fiction writers along with Isaac Asimov.

2001, A Space Odyssey might be his greatest. This in itself has a history. The film was based on Clarke’s short story called The Sentinel. The film which was almost dialogue-less and therefore one must use one’s imagination to put a story behind the film.

The 1969 movie is regarded as a classic in the sci-fi genre, with stunning visual effects, mainly using detailed models as this was before computer generated imagery (CGI) existed. To make the movie more understandable, Clarke wrote the novel to accompany the film. In 1984 Clarke wrote a sequel called ‘2010 Odyssey Two’ also made into a movie. 2010 explained more and concluded the  story of 2001, it was a good movie for us who like that type of sci-fi that could become a reality.

Clarke was a scientist who was the first to have the concept of communication satellites orbiting the earth, his early designs are in the Science Museum in London.

Clarke commented ” I don’t believe in astrology. I’m a Saguitarian and we’re sceptical.” 🙂

 

Twitter @ 7

twitter-bird

Twitter celebrates its seventh birthday today

Although  I like to Blog with my Dear Darling Wife and do Facebook sometimes, I have never really seen the point of Twitter or needed it. Is telling the whole world and his wife what we are doing every few seconds or minutes in 140 characters or less necessary or a good use of our time?  In my opinion celebrities etc use Twitter for cheap publicity as with Facebook; no expensive PR or agent needed!

I guess many celebs hire paid ‘professional’  Twitterers to summarise the minutiae of their existence each minute!

Would you call inane or stupid twitterers twats or twits 😉 LOL

Twitter can be useful for spreading news, debate albeit in a shallow manner.
A skill of summarising a topic issue is a useful skill to develop; text or txt speak is employed to minimise the characters used to keep to the 140 limit!

200 million users worldwide, now send an average of 400 million short messages – or tweets – every day.
If Twitter did stop, another mode of fast commnication would take  its place

On Wednesday, Budget day, Britain’s main money manager Chancellor George Osborne joined the micro-blogging service and posted his first message on its website.
As this report from the BBC says.

However, it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.

Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has compared middle aged men on Twitter to “fathers dancing at a wedding”.  And BBC Radio 4’s Today programme presenter John Humphrys once used the show’s Twitter feed to advise users to “stop counting letters. Get a life instead”.

The service, originally called “stat.us” and then “twittr”, was launched in 2006 by Jack Dorsey.

He says he was inspired by signing up to blogging service Live Journal in 2000 and spent the next six years refining his idea for “a more ‘live’ LiveJournal. Real-time, up-to-date, from the road”.

Now people use Twitter to campaign, share and discuss news, fundraise, propose marriage, challenge authority – and try to catch the eye of teen heart-throb Justin Bieber, who at time of writing has more than 36 million followers.

twitter_infographic

Twit facts

• Each message posted on Twitter can be up to 140 characters long, including web addresses, user names and hashtags

• There are 200 million active Twitter users worldwide

• Every day 400 million tweets are sent every day

• It took three years, two months and one day for the first billion tweets to be sent

• There are 10 million users in the UK, and 80% of them access Twitter via their mobile phones

• Of Twitter’s global users, 60% check the service on their phones

• Some 40% of Twitter users choose not to write any tweets themselves, but use the platform to follow news and interests

 

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