Saturday, February 28, 2015

Not a Bad Network after all

Oh yes: I'm now connected to our NBN and contrary to the previous claims, my service is plenty fast enough. It varies depending on the number of users, of course, but right now I'm getting 23.6 Mb/sec down and 35.3 up which is quite sufficient for anything I have in mind, and as the hour gets later and folks go off to bed it gets faster : I have spotted 1 GB/sec on occasion.
Pretty good, even if they gave us no choice.

I hear rumours that a new, more draconian regime relating to content is coming so the message to you, dear reader is this: get rid of anything that might be considered "copyright infringement" on your computer now, andsave yourself misery later.  Make sure that you secure erase that nasty stuff too: regular trash delete only removes the first few bits of a file and it can be recovered again.
It might sound a bit paranoid, but this is result of laws bieng passed in other countries who then bulldoze local governments to follow along if they want to trade with them.
Personally I think the whole thing is getting way out of hand. Consider a simple theoretical situation: years ago an overseas friend of mine sends me an ebook as a gift. I don't kow if it was purchased legally - how can I find out now? The person who sent it is not there any more.  If I hold onto it I may suddenly get walloped with a court case even though I have not read the thing for years and have forgotten that I had it . . . . . . so as I said above, just delete anything that even might be illegal now and save yourself a whole lot of trouble. I wonder if someone steals my own work and I have a "C" symbol on it, will they police my work for me with the same rigour? Somehow i doubt it.
See here for more on this issue.

One of my previous favourite sites (Ars Technica) that provided good info on personal computer security and tech news has recently become a strong supporter of GE with ongoing articles about GE's latest developments. I do hope this does not mean they are now owned by GE and will only provide plugs for them. Yeah, yeah, journalistic integrity is a nice idea but who pays the bills, right? Tell that to Woodward and Bernstein.  I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with GE, (although I think GE Money is evil  - but no worse than any other payday loan sharks) - I just like to imagine that my sources of information are more of a rainbow of viewpoints rather than just one shade.

Who's the coolest robot of all?

Sometimes I look at robots on the net:  I mean real, physical robots, mainly because they are expected to have a big impact on our future lives . . . . . but also because they are great toys, and I freely admit that I love good technotoys.
First, of course, there is Nao. The creators of Nao got one thing right: it looks cute.
Then there is the T8.  I first learned of it from a Youtube video by Adam Savage, and since his video the company who made the original 3D printed version have been hard at work making an injection moulded version with various improvements including a big drop in price.

Here is the T8X:

Yup, it's a spiderbot. There is room inside for a camera and around the "eye" window is a colour changing LED so you can either use it to light your way at night or express moods.
The technology used for it to walk with eight legs and 26 servos is all done inhouse and when you see it walk (see videos on the website) it looks really impressive. The controller will be software you can load onto either an iOS or Android device.  The makers don't yet have a camera for it but I am sure one will be coming just as soon as they get this thing finished.
I am just hugely impressed that they squished three servos per leg into this thing: that is engineering artistry. 
Nobody pays me to do this, of course, but some folks deserve to be promoted for excellent work.
go here for more info at ROBUGTIX.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Anybody seen Dean Kamen lately?

I reccently posted about the "Solowheel" one-wheeled vehicle.  It has a range of about ten miles (hey they are Americans and haven't quite caught up with everyone else and gone metric) - and I can buy one locally for . . . . . about $2,500 Au.
Google search that name and you will see a number of Chinese made knockoffs at about $450. 
Folks, I know what goes into the Solowheel and it ain't rocket science: you could probably buy most of the parts for one for about $150 bucks and cobble your own together if you were really keen . . . . . but just think, look at what it is: motor, batteries and a single wheel and tyre , and a board of electronics that has accelerometers and gyros on it  - hardly worth two and a half big ones. If the Company really want to sell it they better do something about that price, it's crazy.
Now ignore that, and consider the point of the thing: personally I would rather walk since I consider it the best exercise for humans, especially over such a relatively short ranges, it is too small to carry shopping and with a full backpack you might exceed it's load limit . . . . . almost as good as a segway.
Anybody seen Dean Kamen lately? I thought not.