Monthly Archives: May 2013
أنتجت منظمة “أوشاهيدي” جهازًا يعمل كمُولِّد احتياطي للإنترنت، ويهدف لتقديم حلول لمشكلة انقطاع التيار الكهربائي وصعوبة الاتصال بالإنترنت.
السبت 18 مايو 2013 – 08:25 م
أنتجت منظمة “أوشاهيدي” جهازًا يعمل كمُولِّد احتياطي للإنترنت، ويهدف لتقديم حلول لمشكلة انقطاع التيار الكهربائي وصعوبة الاتصال بالإنترنت.
وأطلقت عليه اسم “BRCK”، ويعمل كراوتر يتصل بالإنترنت سلكيًّا ولاسلكيًّا، ويمكن أن يوفر تغطية لعشرين جهازًا في عدة غرف، كما يستخدم شبكات الهواتف المحمولة من الجيل الثالث أو الرابع، ويتضمن بيانات تتيح له الاتصال بأي شبكة في العالم بواسطة بطاقات “SIM” المدفوعة مقدماً.
ويعتمد الجهاز في الظروف العادية على التيار الكهربائي، وفي حال انقطاعه ينتقل تلقائيًّا إلى العمل ببطارية تدوم لمدة ثماني ساعات، ويقبل التطبيقات التي يمكن تطويرها خصيصاً له، كما أنه مزود بذاكرة بسعة 16 جيجا بايت، ويمكن وصله بكاميرا ليعمل كجهاز مراقبة.
ويستطيع مستخدمو هذا الجهاز التحكم في التطبيقات، وجمع البيانات من أجهزة الحاسب المتصلة أو الكاميرا عن بعد عبر الهاتف أو الحاسب، ويتصل الجهاز بخادم سحابي يسمح بتلقي تنبيهات ورصد وضع الاتصال والكهرباء من أي مكان في العالم من خلال موقع الإنترنت.
17 MAY 13 by KADHIM SHUBBER
Imagine a future where solar panels speed off the presses, like newspaper. Australian scientists have brought us one step closer to that reality.
Researchers from the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) have developed a printer that can print 10 metres of flexible solar cells a minute. Unlike traditional silicon solar cells, printed solar cells are made using organic semi-conducting polymers, which can be dissolved in a solvent and used like an ink, allowing solar cells to be printed.
Not only can the VICOSC machine print flexible A3 solar cells, the machine can print directly on to steel, opening up the possibility for solar cells to be embedded directly into building materials.
“Eventually we see these being laminated to windows that line skyscrapers,” said David Jones, a researcher at University of Melbourne who is involved with the work. “By printing directly to materials like steel, we’ll also be able to embed cells onto roofing materials.”
The news comes just a month before Harvard’s Clean Energy Project plans to make public in June a giant database of compounds that can be used for printing solar cells. The list of 20,000 organic compounds may help scientists develop computer models for more efficient and less expensive printable solar cells.
The solar cell printer
Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium
Solar energy received another boost on the opposite side of the world as Elon Musk’s rooftop solar energy company, SolarCity,received backing from Goldman Sachs. The $500 million (£330 million) deal will provide leases for SolarCity customers, 90 percent of whom lease the solar panels rather than buy them outright.
In 2010, a team at MIT unveiled a paper solar cell that could be folded into a paper aeroplane and still function.
Efficiency is still an issue for printable solar cells. The VICOSCteam say that their cells can generate up to 50 watts of power per square metre, meaning you would need two metres squared to safely power a 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Before you gets carried away with notions of printing your own solar cells at home, it should be noted that VICOSC’s printer currently costs A$200,000 (£128,000).
Edited by NATE LANXON
Google lets you email money to friends through Gmail
17 MAY 13 by OLIVIA SOLON
Send money with Gmail and Google WalletGoogle
Google has announced that it will integrate Google Wallet into Gmail to allow people to make payments through Gmail.
Users can sign up at wallet.google.com and register their bank details. They can then send money to a person from Gmail by clicking the $ sign when composing an email, entering the recipients email address and the amount of money they wish to send.
It’s free to send money directly via transfer or using the Google Wallet balance. Meanwhile there’s a flat fee of 2.9 percent per transaction to send money using a credit or debit card (i.e. those not signed up for Google Wallet), and receiving money is always free regardless of the funding source. There’s a transaction limit of $10,000 (£6,590) and a transfer limit of $50,000 (£33,000) per five-day period.
The recipient won’t need to have a Gmail address to retrieve funds. Google Wallet Purchase Protection covers any unauthorised transactions.
The Gmail interface is currently only available on the desktop interface and to US users only, but individuals can still make payments using their mobile device by visiting wallet.google.com. Sending money through the Wallet app is not available yet.
Google is also adding an API to Chrome that will automatically update shipping information with an individual’s Google Wallet info in order to speed out the checkout process online. Meanwhile it will provide an Android “Instant Buy” API to simplify in-app purchases for retailers.
The news comes a week after the head of Google Wallet, Osama Bedier, quit after two years in the role to “pursue other opportunities”.
Edited by NATE LANXON
22 APRIL 13 by PHILIPPA WARR
When we’re scouting round for Important Objects Which We Know Are Around Here Somewhere (if only we could just remember where) the brain activates specific regions to help with the search.
As a result, regions of the brain usually employed in other tasks — recognition of unrelated objects or processing abstract thought — are hijacked for the search mission.
“Our results show that our brains are much more dynamic than previously thought, rapidly reallocating resources based on behavioural demands, and optimising our performance by increasing the precision with which we can perform relevant tasks,” said Tolga Cukur, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley and lead author of the study published in Nature Neuroscience.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) the researchers recorded brain activity as participants looked for people or cars in movie clips. The team then compared how much of the cortex was devoted to detecting humans or cars depending on which of the two was the search target.
The results showed that when humans were the target, more of the cortex was allocated to “humans” and when the target was vehicles the cortex prioritised “vehicles”.
“These changes occur across many brain regions, not only those devoted to vision,” said Cukur. “In fact, the largest changes are seen in the prefrontal cortex, which is usually thought to be involved in abstract thought, long-term planning and other complex mental tasks.”
The brain’s flexibility isn’t just a matter of helping you find your car keys or small child faster, though. It means that when you focus on any specific task there is a natural tendency to redistribute neural resources, diverting them from other tasks.
This would help explain why multitasking can sometimes prove so difficult as well as possibly offering future insight into attention-related issues such as ADHD.
Edited by IAN STEADMAN
20 MAY 13 by MEGAN GEUSS
On 13 May, Ars Technica showed up at a demo day for the painful-to-read HAXLR8R (pronounced hack-celerator). It’s a startup accelerator program that takes ten teams of entrepreneurs, gives them $25,000 (£16,500), and flies them between San Francisco and Shenzhen to work on a hardware-based product of their design.
Most of the products were still in progress so many teams spent demo day courting VC funders or imploring the crowd to visit their Kickstarter campaign. But Foc.us, a company founded by mechanical engineers Michael Oxley and Martin Skinner, actually had its product launch that day. Their Foc.us headset is a device that’s meant to shock your brain with electricity — and make you a better gamer because of it.
The headset is a red or black band that goes around the back of your head with four disks that are placed on your forehead, just above your eyebrows. The disks contain electrodes beneath small circular sponges soaked in saline solution. When the headset turns on (via a physical button in the back or a companion iOS app), you get a shock to the prefrontal cortex that can rage from 0.8 to 2.0 mA. For context, a hearing aid usually runs on about 0.7 mA — but you’re not directing that electricity into your head.
The technique, which Oxley and Skinner say they read about in articles the year before, is called transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). As the science blog The Last Word on Nothing wrote in early 2012, “US military researchers have had great success using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) — in which they hook you up to what’s essentially a 9-volt battery and let the current flow through your brain. After a few years of lab testing, they’ve found that they can more than double the rate at which people learn a wide range of tasks such as object recognition, maths skills, and marksmanship.”
Obviously, you could use the Foc.us headset for anything, but Oxley and Skinner said they’re keeping their marketing focus narrow to stay within various regulations for the time being.
You can start and stop Foc.us manually with a button at the rear of the headset, and it will run for 10 minutes before it automatically shuts off. Using the app (which is only for iOS right now, but the creators say they’re working on an Android version) you can set intervals between five and 40 minutes without touching the hardware. In an email, Oxley wrote that Foc.us, “actually had a lot of feedback from non-Apple owners and so [we] are looking at adding extra configurability to the touch sensor behaviour.”
While Oxley and Skinner said they wear their headsets all the time and haven’t noticed any issues with decreased sensitivity to the voltage, Foc.us is only meant to stimulate working memory. Only short periods of use are encouraged. In an email to Ars, Oxley told us that the tDCS modes on Foc.us include settings like “constant current, wave (current rises and falls), pulse (like wave but different shape), noise (random jumps in current) and sham — where current starts but then stops whilst device appears to remain active — to test for placebo effect.”
I tried the headset on at the huge space that HAXLR8R rented out in downtown San Francisco. It fit comfortably and the headset has a crescendo start, so it wasn’t jolting (pun intended) when the headset turned on. Unfortunately, Foc.us didn’t have a gaming rig set up at demo day, so I can’t tell you whether it actually improves performance. I can say that I started feeling a very noticeable, but somewhat pleasant shock in the rear left of my brain in addition to a light buzzy feeling all over my head. I also started seeing white spots in my peripheral vision, especially in my upper right view. If you are epileptic, do not use this headset. (On the website, Foc.us also says people younger than 18 years old should not use the headset. Sorry to all minors who are also Ars readers.)
I guess I felt more focused, but without a game controller or a sniper rifle in my hand it’s hard to say. Your experience may vary depending on your tolerance for weird brain feelings. Wired.com writer Alexandra Chang attended the demo day as well and the white spots bugged her a lot more than they did me.
In my experience, the initial resistance to the idea of purposely sending electricity through my brain was hard to get over. I actually kind of dreaded it. I told myself on the commute to San Francisco that if there’s a power surge and I go blind, at least I’ll be going blind for journalism. Ultimately though, it wasn’t scary or painful, and the research seems sound — Oxley sent me three articles on tDCS from three separate scientific journals and said his team worked with a neuroscientist friend to perfect the design.
Foc.us is on sale now at the company’s website for $250 plus $10 in shipping (£179 in the UK), and the company is planning to ship in July of this year. (The company’s site also has a lot of images of a model wearing the headset and posing in improbably beautiful locations with a game controller, if you need more of a visual). The battery is non-removable, but you can charge it with a micro-USB cable. It comes with eight reusable sponges, a saline bottle, a soft protective carry-case, and an instruction booklet.
It’s hard to recommend a gadget that I wore for a couple minutes and didn’t actually get to test. But it is a unique concept at an accessible price for hard-core enthusiasts, a bit of science fiction turned science fact.
This story originally appeared on ars technica. Click through for more images of the Foc.us headset
Edited by KADHIM SHUBBER
13 MAY 13 by IAN STEADMAN
BRCK in actionUshahidi
Sometimes, when you need access to the web the most is when it’s most likely to be hard to find. It could even be a matter of life or death. So having a backup connection that you can carry in your pocket, that will work from Windhoek to Williamsburg, sounds like a good idea. That’s the concept behind Ushahidi’s BRCK.
Ushahidi is a powerful platform for crowdsourcing data in less than ideal conditions, be they because of a natural disaster or simply because of a lack of infrastructure. It’s been used effectively, for example, in the aftermath of the disputed 2007 Kenyan elections, the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, generating maps for the emergency services and documenting eyewitness testimonies.
The kind of rugged environments that Ushahidi was created for are also the kinds of places where web access can be decidedly unreliable at best. That’s why Ushahidi has developed BRCK — a wireless, battery-powered modem that aims to help users connect to the web no matter where they are in the world.
Described as “the backup generator for the internet”, BRCK can support up to 20 devices connected at once, has a tough exterior shell and an eight hour battery life so it can sit out any blackouts. Like a smartphone, it can connect to the web via ethernet, Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G, shifting between them dependent on service.
Each BRCK is connected to the BRCK Cloud, which lets users check on their BRCK from anywhere in the world even if they’re not directly connected to it and, if needed, set up alerts and applications. More importantly, the cloud contains information about the mobile phone networks in each country, so BRCKs can be configured to the latest settings as and when needed. The package is designed so that, even without electricity, you’ve got the best chance possible of connecting to the web.
Right now BRCK is a prototype, but Ushahidi is raising funds on Kickstarter to put BRCK into production, with more than $80,000 (£52,000) of the $125,000 (£81,000) goal raised so far.
The Ushahidi team write: “Our software has been used for blizzards in Washington DC, hurricanes in the US, earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and election monitoring around the world. BRCK is our answer to a fundamental problem that arises during these situations and during the daily life of much of the world: the need for reliable connections in unpredictable environments.”
“Our motto has always been ‘if it works in Africa, it will work anywhere’.”
Edited by OLIVIA SOLON
بالعمل المستمر على الانترنت يومياً تبدأ الشكوك تساور البعض حول كيفية تاثيره على طُرق تفكيرهم ومعالجتم للمعلومات وما إذا كان تاثيره على عقولنا سلبياً ويبدو ان هذا أمر قد يكون صحيحاً في النهايه.
من قرأ كتاب The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains للكاتب Nicholas Carr سيؤكدون هذا الامر حتماً. بالرغم من ان الانترنت يُعد اداه رائعه لإتمام العمل والتواصل مع الاصدقاء والزملاء واكتساب المعارف والخبرات المختلفه من حول العالم إلا انه قد يُعد عاملاً مؤثراً على طريقه التفكير والتعلُم.
قام فريق الرسوم المتحركه في Epipheo Studios بعمل مقابله مع صاحب الكتاب السابق وعمل فيديو لعرض تلك العوامل التي نشرها في كتابه ويظن الكاتب ان أخذ وقت خاص تفصل فيه نفسك عن عالم الانترنت قد يؤدي الى نتائج مذهله في حياتك.
A few questions for the Muslim brothers in Tahrir Square on 29 July I wrote this poem in response to the demonstration in Egypt’s capital after prayers last Friday
You emerged from the shadows
To tell us what was forbidden and why.
You spoke loudly and clearly,
Each chant a whiplash:
God is Great!
The laws of God transcend democracy!
Liberals and secularists are the scum of the earth!
And uncovered women!
And leftists, trapped on the wrong side of history,
Their rage impotent, their numbers miniscule!
We Brothers represent the will of God!
Who told you?
Why did you believe him?
Was it the will of God that your leaders collaborate with Mubarak?
What of your rivals at home who claim the same?
And your noisy neighbours, each with their preachers in tow?
The Sultans in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh?
The Ayatollahs in Qom and Karbala?
The godly warlords in the White House?
The Pope in the Vatican?
The Rabbis in the Jerusalem Synagogue?
Their God is great too, is he not?
The Book teaches us there is only one God,
Omnipotent, indivisible, all-seeing.
Why does He speak in so many different tongues and voices?
Is He trying to please all at the same time?
Both Israel and Palestine?
Both oppressor and oppressed?
Leave Him alone for the moment,
Tell us what else you believe in?
How will you deal with our exploiters
starting with those inside your ranks?
Does the sun belong to you alone?
Is your God a neoliberal?
Must the poor live off charity for ever?
Why are our people despairing?
How long will you chain their freedoms?
Whose side are you really on?
31 July 2011
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 31 July 2011 17.35 BST