Linkage

Some interesting links I have found on my travels around the internet.

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1 August 2014, 7:23 pm
We are excited to announce that the media center software we’ve all loved for so many years will have a new name, starting with version 14. Instead of XBMC 14, we’d like to introduce you to Kodi 14. Since 2002, the software known as XBMC has gone through three namings. First, it was called Xbox Media Player. Upon realizing that it did a bit more than your traditional media player, in 2004 the development team elected to rename it Xbox Media Center. A mere 4 years later in 2008, the team once again elected to rename the software to simply XBMC, given that it had moved on from its original roots on the Xbox. Support for the Xbox was dropped shortly thereafter. Today it’s all happening one last time.


31 July 2014, 8:23 am
I was curious what the first non-traditional-computer objects were that were connected to a computer network. (A telegraph is probably the first device connected to any kind of network.) To be technical: a packet-switching network device with continuous or frequent connectivity to said network that would not be considered a "computer.") Here’s some I found, stretching back 40 years.


30 July 2014, 3:33 pm
The UK government has approved trials of self-driving cars on public roads next year. Another country has given the green light to driverless cars. Autonomous automobiles could be on UK public roads as early as January 2015. Driverless cars are cars equipped with GPS to guide them on their route, with cameras and sensors that make the vehicle aware of objects and other vehicles around it, allowing it to react to obstacles. In California, driverless cars are already road-legal, led by Google's fleet of autonomous vehicles. Trials have been held in Japan, Singapore, Germany, and Sweden, where Volvo has a fleet of prototypes touring the streets.


27 July 2014, 9:05 pm
A 6 year-old boy from Florida born with right arm deficiency has received a prosthetic replacement. Now climbing a tree and catching a ball will be easier for him. Students from Florida University made it on a 3D printer for just $350 in just 8 weeks. Help for little Alex Pring, missing his right arm from just above the elbow, came from students at the University of Central Florida. An engineering doctoral student, Albert Manero, heard about the boy’s needs and decided to recruit a team of students to create a solution for the boy.


27 July 2014, 10:07 am
Two years ago, British researcher and entrepreneur Henry Snaith, and his team at Oxford University, were experimenting with a new class of compounds and discovered something rather unusual. Using these new compounds called “perovskites,” Snaith was able to tweak a solar cell’s composition to rapidly increase the amount of sunlight that it could convert into electricity. First he reached 10 percent, then 12 percent, then 15 percent, and finally 17 percent.


9 July 2014, 10:08 am
Online retailer Amazon has launched a dedicated store for wearable technology in the UK, offering more than 100 different wearable devices including activity trackers, smart watches, smart glasses and wearable cameras. As well as items from top brands including Sony, Samsung, Garmin, Jawbone and GoPro, the online store will feature products from emerging brands like Basis and Misfit, as well as more unusual items like British fashion designer Adrien Sauvage's wireless charging trousers.


2 July 2014, 3:22 pm
Internet service providers from around the world are lodging formal complaints against the UK government's monitoring service, GCHQ, alleging that it uses "malicious software" to break into their networks. The claims from seven organisations based in six countries – the UK, Netherlands, US, South Korea, Germany and Zimbabwe – will add to international pressure on the British government following Edward Snowden's revelations about mass surveillance of the internet by UK and US intelligence agencies.


30 June 2014, 11:12 am
Based on some recent experience, I'm of the opinion that smartphones are about as private as a gas station bathroom. They're full of leaks, prone to surveillance, and what security they do have comes from using really awkward keys. While there are tools available to help improve the security and privacy of smartphones, they're generally intended for enterprise customers. No one has had a real one-stop solution: a smartphone pre-configured for privacy that anyone can use without being a cypherpunk.


29 June 2014, 10:13 am
Here’s a scary statistic: In 2007, 87 percent of households in the U.S. used air conditioning, compared to just 11 percent of households in Brazil and a mere 2 percent in India. Another one: By 2025, booming nations like those are projected to account for a billion new consumers worldwide, with a corresponding explosion in demand for air conditioning expected to arrive along with them. Keeping indoor spaces at comfortable temperatures requires a huge amount of electricity–especially in sweltering climates like India and Brazil–and in the U.S. alone it accounts for a full 16.5 percent of energy use.


18 June 2014, 10:26 pm
In looking around for examples of great open source hardware projects, we came across an unexpected number of projects and products labeled as open source hardware that, upon closer inspection, actually turn out not to meet the definition. Often, they’re using an inappropriate license— typically a “non-commercial license,” which is not only unenforceable but explicitly incompatible with open source values. Sometimes, they haven’t released the design files. Sometimes, a person has apparently misused the term “open source” to mean “closed and proprietary.” And sometimes you might see the open hardware logo used without any substance to back it up.