Category Archives: General Technology

Cool idea on Indegogo:


Solar Roadways!

This is a great idea!


Great Interview from The Verge with Ashton Kutcher

Great interview by Joshua Topolsky.  Ashton is smarter than he’s given credit for (no U of Iowa bias here).

The Interview


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Protecting the world’s coral reefs through mapping

Editors Note: Today’s guest author is Katie Reytar, a Research Associate for the World Resources Institute. WRI was the recipient of a Google Earth Outreach Developer Grant, funded through the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund at the Tides Foundation. We’re excited to help them share and visualize the results of years of research about the state of the world’s reefs.

Since 1998, the World Resources Institute (WRI) has been using GIS (Geographic Information System) models to develop map-based assessments of threats to the world’s coral reefs. Reefs at Risk Revisited, released in February 2011, is the latest assessment in the series and is based on a nearly three-year study that produced the most highly-detailed global maps of coral reef threats to date. The study analyzed and mapped threats to coral reefs from local human activities such as coastal development, unsustainable fishing, and marine and land-based pollution, as well as climate-related threats caused by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

While the Reefs at Risk Revisited report, maps and data sets are the core components of our work, we found ourselves still searching for a compelling way to convey our findings on these dynamic yet fragile reef ecosystems. We also wanted to generate greater awareness of the unique characteristics of reef habitats across different geographies and the irreplaceable cultural and life-sustaining services that reefs provide to people all over the world. All of these elements are best communicated when you can see them for yourself, which is why we created a virtual tour of these reefs around the world with our Google Earth Outreach Developer Grant.

Watch a virtual tour of the most at-risk reefs in the world courtesy of the World Resources Institute.

In the tour, the Reefs at Risk Revisited maps come alive on Google Earth with photos and underwater video from each of the major coral reef regions of the world: the Caribbean, Middle East, Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Pacific, as well as a global-level introduction and conclusion. The journey to each region provides a brief overview of the biodiversity of reef ecosystems, their importance to people and local economies, and the types and magnitudes of threats that reefs face, illustrated with footage of both healthy and damaged reefs.

You’ll also experience first hand these fantastically dynamic and productive ecosystems that extend across about 250,000 sq km (96,500 sq miles) of the tropical ocean. Even though this area represents less than 0.1% of the global ocean, reefs are home to as many as 25% of all known marine species. In the tropics, coral reefs are not only a critical habitat for marine species, but they also play an essential role in the lives of millions of people who live near them: they provide food and income from fisheries, revenue from tourism, and protection for coastal communities from storm surges.

Among the other products of the Reefs at Risk Revisited project are global maps of coral reefs rated according to level of threat in the present, 2030, and 2050. These maps are available as downloadable KML files on the WRI website for viewing on Google Earth, and also as part of an online map developed using Google Fusion Tables. With these interactive maps you can zoom in to your favorite reef to explore it more closely in your own self-guided tour.

Explore Reefs at Risk Revisited in Google Earth.

We hope that you enjoy our tour and maps, and that you are able to visit a coral reef to learn more about these important and unique ecosystems. With improved understanding, we can manage and protect these resources so that we can all enjoy them and benefit from them for generations to come.

Posted by Katie Reytar, Research Associate at the World Resources Institute

from Google LatLong


Heavy Hangs The Bandwidth That Torrents The Crown

The latest Oatmeal cartoon has been making the rounds of Twitter (largely thanks to John Gruber’s link). It makes two points about the problems of piracy exceptionally well.

The intentional point is that the content distributors often make it crazy-stupid hard for us to give them our money. Most of these industries have been frustratingly slow to adopt to the patterns of the modern consumer. News flash: we’re not heading to Blockbuster Video any more. Well, actually, yes, we are. But only because the Blockbuster went out of business and a Panera Bread is now leasing that space. We’ll probably get a Bacon Turkey Bravo for lunch and then watch some Netflix via the restaurant’s free WiFi while we eat.

Consumers couldn’t make their desires any more clear. We’ve got money to spend on TV and movies, but now we’re looking for it on iTunes and Netflix and through all other kinds of network-connected devices. If a distributor shows up in any of those places with a product we want, we’ll buy it.

[Added to clarify: and if they don’t show up in those places, they’re making torrenting that much more attractive. They’re just feeding the monster they’re trying to fight. That’s crystal-clear.

Remember the mistakes that the comic book industry made. Digital distribution made no sense to Marvel and DC, so they never really committed to it. Fine, but reading a comic book on a phone or a laptop made perfect sense to their audience, and they’re the people with the money. In the absence of a legal means of digital comics distribution, an illegal infrastructure of file standards, consumption tools, and distribution systems developed and flourished.]

The Oatmeal made an unintentional point that was just as important as the first, however:

The single least-attractive attribute of many of the people who download content illegally is their smug sense of entitlement.

Here’s my conversation with a hypothetical person who wants to check out “Game Of Thrones.” Not with Matthew Inman, author of The Oatmeal, I hasten to say. Just a conglomeration of the species of torrenters as a whole.

You want to see what the hubbub around “Game Of Thrones” is about? Cool. The show is produced by HBO and it’s available exclusively on that channel. It’s a premium channel and any cable provider can sell you a monthly subscription.

HBO’s awesome. They have a streaming app that will allow you to watch pretty much any original series or movie that they still have the rights to (including “Thrones”) and it works with almost everything that can play streaming video. HBO doesn’t even charge for the app or for the extra access.

You say you don’t want to subscribe to HBO, or even cable?

Ah. Well, no worries. The show will be released on DVD and Blu-ray later in the year.

You’re not into physical media? I’m with you. It’ll be on iTunes soon. See? The store page lists the release date. March 6. You can circle it on the calendar and everything.

You’re still frowning. What’s wrong, Scrumpkin?

Oh. You want it right now.

But — umm — the release date is only, like, two or three weeks away. Just hang on a bit. You’ll be fine.

Yes, I heard you (please, sir, there’s really no need to shout). I understand that you want it (and I hope I’m not misquoting you) right the ****ity-**** NOWWWWWWWW. But you can’t have it now. You can have it on March 6. It isn’t even as far away as you think. Remember? February is the super-short month?


You’re already torrenting it, aren’t you?

Annnnd now you’re also calling me a d*** because I expected you to wait two weeks, and you’re claiming that you’re “forced” to torrent it because the video industry is bunch of turds. How charming.

Here’s the terms of use for commercial content: you have to pay for this stuff. This means either you need to wait for it to become commercially available, or if you torrent it today you need to buy it when it gets released. So long as you buy it as soon as it’s possible to do so, I can confidently reach for my “No Harm Done” rubber stamp. Some content is commercially unavailable because the publisher or distributor has no desire to ever release it. I’ll even go so far as to say that downloading it illegally is a positive thing; you’re helping to keep this creative work alive.

If you avoid purchasing the media in some form, however…you’re just one of those people who prefer to steal things if they think they can get away with it. Simple as that. Get off your high horse.

I’m reminded of a Louis CK joke. I’m going to clean up a little because I’m not Louis CK and this isn’t a live comedy stage. It really wouldn’t come across the same way otherwise.

“I’m totally opposed to stealing an Xbox. Unless Microsoft sets a price for them that I don’t want to pay, or there’s a new model in a warehouse somewhere and it won’t ship to stores for another few weeks. Because what else am I going to do? Not have that Xbox? That’s no solution!”

The world does not OWE you Season 1 of “Game Of Thrones” in the form you want it at the moment you want it at the price you want to pay for it. If it’s not available under 100% your terms, you have the free-and-clear option of not having it.

I sometimes wonder if this simple, grown-up fact gets ignored during all of these discussions about digital distribution.

It was still a funny strip, though.

from Andy Ihnatko's Celestial Waste of Bandwidth (BETA)


TED Talks Now On iTunes U

TED on iTunes U

Oh look: talks from smart ideas conference TED have arrived on iTunes U.

There are six themed courses covering things like Visual Arts, Climate Change, and Creative Problem Solving. Each one comprises a number of different TED talks that you can watch for free.

Of course, all TED talks are already free to watch on the web, but it’s nice to see them curated and distributed like this via iTunes U.

Speaking of which: iTunes U itself is, in my opinion, one of Apple’s most impressive offerings. Since becoming a separate app on iOS devices after recent software updates, it’s been taking a more prominent place on my iPad, where I get a lot of enjoyment out of watching or listening to lectures when I have free moments.

The scale of what’s on offer via iTunes U is staggering, and the fact that everything on it is free is testament, I believe, to Apple’s long-term institutional belief in the value of education.

The TED channel has only just begun and there’s much more to come. I’m looking forward to it.

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This Magic Cable Fits Every USB Plug You’ll Ever Need Into A 40-Pin Apple Dock Connector

It’s usually pretty hard to get excited about an Apple Dock Connector, but this one’s fantastic. It uses a Russian Nesting Doll style of cascading connections to fit a mini USB plug into a micro USB plug and then in turn into an Apple 40 pin dock connector plug. For just $20, then, this is literally the only USB cable you need. Awesome.

[via Everything USB]

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How To Root Amazon Kindle Fire In One Click

Well well well, it seems Amazon was true to their word after all, and the newly shipping Kindle Fire is indeed wide open for those that want to get at its inner workings, allowing customization of the underlying Android operating system.

Kindle Fire Root

While Amazon had said that it wouldn’t stand in the way of anyone wishing to take a spanner to its Kindle’s software, it wouldn’t have been the first time a hardware manufacturer had reneged on a promise, so we’re glad to see they have played ball.

So, how do you get that ball rolling? Turns out, it’s actually pretty easy.

Enable ADB Access

If you’re the kind of person that likes to get intimate with your Android hardware, access the file system and generally get your hands dirty, then you’ll be needing ADB access, or Android Developer Bridge for those not all acronym’d up.

To get access, you’ll need to get hold of the Android SDK from here and then add the Vendor ID for Amazon’s Lab126 (0×1949) to the adb_usb.ini file. Chances are that if you’re doing this, the previous sentence made perfect sense to you, but if not, a quick Google search will yield the information about the Android SDK that you require.

Step 1: Go to %USERPROFILE%\.android , once you’re there, edit the adb_usb.ini file and add the following line at the end:

Save and exit.

Step 2: Navigate to the location where you have installed the Android SDK; open the folder labeled google-usb_driver and hunt down the android_winusb.inf file and under the following lines under the [Google.NETx86] and [Google.NTamd64] sections:

;Kindle Fire
%SingleAdbInterface% = USB_Install, USB\VID_1949&PID_0006
%CompositeAdbInterface% = USB_Install, USB\VID_1949&PID_0006&MI_01

Save and exit the file. That’s it, you’re done with the ADB part.

Enable Root Access

Step 1: Plug in your Kindle Fire to your PC, we’re assuming you’ve already plugged it in since you did go through the above written ADB hassle.

Step 2: Open Device Manager from your PC, and under “Other Devices”; you should see the Kindle Fire, now select the android_winusb.inf file.

Step 3: Enable installation of apps from Unknown Sources. You can do so by tapping the top-most bar on your Kindle Fire and navigate to Choose More and head over to Device, over there you should see a listed device.

Step 4: Head over to this thread over at XDA and download the SuperOneClick tool.

Step 5: Run SuperOneClick and simply click on the Root button on the top-left of the tool, that’s all. You now have a rooted Kindle Fire with complete Superuser access. Refer to the screenshot below if you’re still confused where / what to click.


Amazon has also given users the option of installing third-party apps onto the Fire, with just one option needing switching on in order to give apps the green light.

We’ll go through the drill one more time just to make it more clear on how to install third-party apps; head on over to Settings, and then Device. You’ll want to turn on ‘Allow Installation of Applications’ and hit OK when the warning box pops up. Amazon will warn about possible security risks, but we’re sure you’ll be fine with that given the plus side to installing your own apps.

That’s it, your $200 android tablet just got a whole lot more interesting, not to mention more useful. Awesome!

(source XDA)

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from Redmond Pie

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Download Hundreds of Breathtaking National Geographic Wallpapers for Mac, iPhone and iPad [Gallery]

OS X already comes with a sizable library of some of nature photography’s most beautiful pictures, curated personally by Steve Jobs for use as wallpapers. But as breathtaking as OS X’s default wallpapers can be, if you have your Mac desktop set to randomize, you’re probably sick to death of them at this point.

The foremost name in beautiful nature photography is here to help you supplement them. Every year, National Geographic holds a photo contest, and this year, they have put up all of their entries in downloadable JPEGs suitable for the desktop, iPhone or iPad.

We’ve knocked up a few of our favorites in the gallery below, but if none of these work for you as a wallpaper, you can choose between hundreds more over at National Geographic’s website.

Most of the images max out at 1600 x 1200, so while they’ll be fine for most Mac laptops, if you have a 27-inch iMac, you’ll have to put up with a little bit of up-rezzing. The iPad and iPhone versions all look great, though.

I love these. Trapped behind a computer all day, it can really be easy to forget how staggeringly magnificent and awesomely monstrous the world can really be. Catching periodic glimpses of it in the background of my digital life is what helps me go out into it more often.

Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

[via OS X Daily]

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This Incredible Chart Shows How Screwed Android Is And How iOS Gets It Right

This Incredible Chart Shows How Screwed Android Is And How iOS Gets It Right

Care to see just what Apple means when they talk about Android’s fragmentation problem? Check out this incredible chart put together by Michael Degusta. Not only are most Android phones out of date, but almost half of the smartphones on this chart have never been up-to-date with the latest version of Android OS, even at release!

Comparatively, every release of iOS has been backwards compatible for at least three years. No wonder the iPhone developer community is so strong: devs and users alike can count on almost every iPhone owner being on the current, most bug-free version of iOS!

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