Thursday, November 20, 2014

Want to build a high-powered t-shirt cannon? Then KinectKannon is for you

KinectKannon t-shirt cannon
I have come for John Connor.
Yeah, maybe it doesn't sound like much: a t-shirt cannon. Whoopdy-doo, it can shoot t-shirts at people, yaaaaay.

Well, maybe that is its only function, but that doesn't mean it can't do a lot of other really neat things as well. For starters, let's talk about the power this sucker's packin'. High PSI CO2 tanks are used to power the shot, so that means it could probably blow a body part off if handled incorrectly -- but for some reason, that just makes it seem even cooler.

The madness doesn't stop there. The cannon can track your movements, which means that no matter where you try to run, it will find you. Doesn't even matter if you flick the light switch on it, because it can see in the dark, too. Yup, it has the advantage over puny, feeble humans even in pitch black darkness.

How does it do all this? Using the Kinect, of course! Yup, that little video game accessory is starting to look a lot more like a DIY tool. Speaking of DIY, you can build an awesome t-shirt cannon yourself, thanks to Microsoft's Steven Edouard and his open source code. I would advise, though, that you think a bit about what it will entail, safety-wise, and whether or not you're up to the challenge.

Always be safe, kids! [/afterschoolspecial]

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage to be seamlessly integrated with Xbox Music

Xbox Music will integrate with OneDrive cloud storage
Xbox Music will integrate with OneDrive cloud storage
Microsoft is trying to get ahead of the cloud game by putting in one more excellent option for all its users. OneDrive, one of Microsoft's cloud platforms, will be allowing for bonus storage space for all users. Even better, if you happen to subscribe to the Office 365 service as well, you will unlock unlimited cloud storage capacity -- which means you can store as much stuff on OneDrive as you please!

But what's the use of having all of this extra cloud storage space, anyways? Sure, it's nice to back things up, but I could do that on a physical drive. Typically, the answer is that cloud is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, and that's what gets people going, but Microsoft will be doing one better by allowing users to access their music from the OneDrive cloud on ANY Xbox Music device.

Yes, that means you can access your music files on your Windows Phones, PC, or tablet (version 8.1), as well as on your Xbox and the web. That is surprisingly simple music on-the-go, which brings to mind the Google music locker service of from several years back. The key is the wide-scale integration, which will reach a huge berth of tech-savvy users thanks to Microsoft's market share.

Interested in taking advantage of this offer? Then be sure to check out OneDrive's page, and then upload your music right here. When the integration goes into effect, you will be able to access all of your music from your 8.1 Windows device or Xbox! Good luck!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Scaled Inference granted $8 mil to construct AI service hosted on cloud

Cloud-based AI platform by Scaled Inference
Cloud-based AI platforms may very well revolutionize
the way we do business.
Businesses pining to implement some sort of artificial intelligence/machine learning tool on their service will be ecstatic to hear that Scaled Inference has received a Series A round of funding from Khosla Ventures. Why is this good news? Well, Scaled Inference promises business a cloud-hosted platform for AI tools, which can be utilized in other apps and services (certainly for some sort of fee).

Of course, no public product has yet been released, but the start-up is working closely alongside interested companies to start a closed beta of the platform. Scaled Interference will need to discover not only how to best implement their cloud AI for use with third-party services, but also how to make these specific AI products useful on a wide scale. Most of the value in their platform will come from potential, and that's a rickety road to ride.

What are some of the possible services will AI & machine learning tools provide for companies who buy in? Well, probably the most promising is pattern recognition, a service that third-parties have been using for quite some time now (and are likely not to abandon any time soon, either). Businesses will also be offered services in anomaly detection, predictive ranking, and regular prediction itself, all offered in a group of APIs.

Monday, November 17, 2014

NGC 1501 is a gorgeous planetary nebula cloud, captured by Hubble

Nebular cloud and host star, Oyster Nebula
Thanks technology! This is a beautiful nebular cloud,
and you can see the host star clearly.
Even though the Hubble Space Telescope is on its way out to make way for more big-name missions like the Kepler telescope, the relatively ancient satellite is still sending back terrific images of space and wooing new generations to their pursuit of space exploration. The most recent example of this is a real gem of a nebula cloud that we call NGC 1501, or the Oyster Nebula. You can see why in the image attached.

The Oyster Nebula sits in the constellation Camelopardis, or 'The Giraffe.'  This cloud is 5,000 light years distance from our little rocky home, and at the center is a vibrant pearl, a pulsating variable star the pulses every 30 minutes. The beauty of the nebula hides its chaotic history, however, as the variable star blew away its outer nebula cloud layer early in its life.

Space continues to amaze me!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cowboyminers BTC data center in Thailand burns up in a cloud of smoke

Cowboyminers BTC data center in Thailand burns up in a cloud of smoke
Just one slide in a series of photos
on the aftermath of the Cowboyminers
Earlier this week saw one of Bitcoin's big players go up in a cloud of smoke, quite literally. The story is that their data center, which involved numerous machines using up a TON of energy (and thus producing a lot of heat), caught fire and burned for just over half an hour. In just 30 minutes, the total Bitcoin hash rate was reduced by roughly a third.

The data center was located in Thailand, and it was run by a group of miners that called themselves the Cowboyminers. Looks as though the most likely suspect for the fire was the acoustic foam used in the center, which is highly flammable -- and it didn't help that their facilities probably lacked a sprinkler system to drown out the flames, as well. Cowboyminers have remained cloudy on the details.

For photos of the aftermath, take a look here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Technology's place in schools, the future of student education

Technology's place in schooling and education
Teachers, this is what your class SHOULD look like.
Welcome to the digital age, the time that was heralded as the change of human history's path towards new territory, to do things for humanity that we just couldn't do for ourselves. One of those areas that expected great change was the education sector. With the advent of the Internet, how could learning ever stay the same? And yet, we find ourselves asking how education has gone so downhill recently, especially in the United States. Luckily, it may not be technology's fault, and there may still be hope for a brighter future.

That's where the schools like North Kenwood-Oakland, of south side Chicago, come into play. They are training the young students at kindergarten levels to be comfortable using a computer not only to play, but to actually learn and comprehend. Where as before each student had to individually be tended to, or risk leaving some of the group behind, computers allows teachers to monitor students' success rates without ever having to do the heavy math themselves -- plus the kids love it!

And as it turns out, they are beginning to lead their region in education! Surprise, surprise, the students who are given access to the proper teaching methods are actually getting smarter. Imagine that. Now if the schools and education system could get off their pretentious, lazy butts, and do something for kids for a change, and not to line their own gilded pockets, maybe the United States wouldn't be the leader in terrible first-world educations.

Top 3 Tips for Business Considering Cloud Hosting Services

Top 3 Tips for Business Considering Cloud Hosting Services
Top 3 Tips for Business Considering Cloud Hosting Services
#1: The cloud may be opening your company up to serious security risks

If you opt to go for a cloud hosting service for your business, then you have to think about how this might affect the flow of data, and thus what security issues might arise from this. Cloud hosting makes your data available for remote access, and while many companies work very hard to prevent and sort of security breach, it still happens on occasion, especially if the problem is on the business's end (and it usually is).

#2: Consider that the cloud might not be your best route

Working with the cloud might come off as an easy choice -- why wouldn't you upgrade, right? Isn't the cloud supposed to be the real deal of the future and all that fancy jazz? Well, yeah, it sorta is, but you gotta keep in mind that it's not ALWAYS the best way to go. Talk to your people first, and brainstorm whether or not your business really would be better with cloud services, or if maybe a physical on-site data structure might be more efficient/safe.

#3: Be sure to run it by your IT guy first

And finally, please oh please run it by your IT guy first. I know it seems like an obvious one to point out, but some people really don't get it. Why do you even have an IT guy if you aren't gonna keep him updated on all of technological doings? Of course, if you're already diligent (and courteous!) enough to your IT guy, you don't need to worry about this step. ;)