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First we look at Skiva Technology and their Octofire 8-port USB charger that pulled in nearly five times the requested amount from a Kickstarter campaign. (The 'pulled in X times the requested Kickstarter amount' is becoming a common product boast, isn't it?) Then, for MacBook owners who are tired of having their chargers or charger cords break, we take a brief look at the Juiceboxx Charger Case. These two power-oriented products and WakaWaka, which we posted about on January 9, are just a tiny, random sample of the many items in this category that were on display at CES 2015. Timothy was the only Slashdot person working CES, so it's shocking that he managed to cover as many (hopefully interesting) products as he did, considering that even the biggest IT journo mills don't come close to total coverage of the overwhelming muddle CES has become in recent years. (Alternate Video Link)
31 comments | yesterday
The company is called TrackPIN, as is the product. Its creator, Mark Hall, showed it off at CES. Timothy pointed his camcorder at Mark as he explained how his product would let you get package deliveries safely when you aren't home by giving the UPS or FedEx (or other) delivery person access to your garage, as well as letting in selected people like your maid, your plumber, and possibly an aquarium cleaner. Each one can have a private, one-time PIN number that will actuate your garage door opener through the (~$250) TrackPIN keypad and tell your smartphone or other net-connected device that your garage was just opened, and by whom. You might even call this, "One small step for package delivery; a giant leap forward for the Internet of Things." Except those of us who don't have garages (not to mention electric garage door openers) may want to skip today's video; the TrackPIN isn't meant for the likes of us. (Alternate Video Link)
85 comments | 3 days ago
Today, the conclusion of my talk with Jim Blasko (here's part 1), who encourages you to go start your own crypto currency, because it's a fun exercise and because every entrant adds new ideas to the mix. As you'd expect, he's bullish about both his own Unbreakable Coin and cryptocurrencies more generally; how any given given currency performs, though, is an open question: U.S. dollars, Euros, or Yen may not go experience any meteoric rises, but their stability, even with inflation, is a nice feature, and so is their worldwide convertibility.
Regulation, speculation, fraud, and cultural fashions all play a role in making new currencies risky; reader mbkennel yesterday asked an insightful question: "Are you up to loaning bitcoin or something less popular for 10 years?" Confidence in any given currency can be tested with the terms current holders are willing to accept to make loans payable in that same currency. (On the other hand, if large companies will accept it in payment, they've probably got an idea that a given currency will be around next month or next year.) If you've bought any form of crypto currency, what's been your experience, and what do you expect in 10 years? (Alternate Video Link)
39 comments | 5 days ago
Las Vegas seems an appropriate place for cryptocurrency businesses to emerge, both because the coins themselves are so volatile that some gambling instinct may be required, and because Vegas is a high-tech outpost with lower taxes and lower rents than many other West Coast hot-spots, well-suited to risky startups with ambition but without huge venture backing.Jim Blasko moved there to work on low-voltage engineering for Penn & Teller, and is a qualified Crestron programmer, too (useful in a town that looks from the air like one giant light-show), but has shifted to a quite different endeavor, or rather a complex of them — all related to cryptocurrency. I ran into Blasko during this month's CES, at a forum with several other cryptocoin startups, and the next day we met to talk about just how hard (or easy) it is to get into this world as an entrepreneur.
Blasko has some advice for anyone who'd like to try minting a new cryptocurrency. Making your own coin, he says, is the easy part: anyone can clone code from an existing entrant, like Bitcoin, and rename the result — and that's exactly what he did. The hard work is what comes after: making worthwhile changes, building trust, and making it tradeable. Blasko's done the legwork to get his own currency, which he's bravely called "Unbreakable Coin," listed on exchanges like Cryptsy, and is working on his own auction site as well. He's also got an interesting idea for cryptocoin trading cards, and had a few prototypes on hand. (Part 1 is below; Part 2 to follow.) Alternate Video Link
55 comments | about a week ago
The Real Dr John writes Vic Mignogna and crew have launched their second Kickstarter campaign to produce 2 or more additional episodes of Star Trek Continues, a fan-based web series finishing up the 5 year mission of the original Star Trek television series. The first Kickstarter campaign raised enough money for 4 episodes, 3 of which have already been aired. Depending on how much funding they get this time, they plan to produce up to 4 additional episodes.
106 comments | about a week ago
samzenpus (5) writes "Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions."
42 comments | about a week ago
dotarray (1747900) writes "Despite its glorious introduction in The Wizard, the Nintendo Power Glove was, from all accounts, a bit of a failure. However, Dillon Markey has given the doomed peripheral a new lease of life — it's a crucial part of making stop-motion animation for Robot Chicken." The linked article doesn't have many more words, but the video it features is worthwhile to see how Markey has modified the glove to make the tedious work of stop-motion a little bit less tedious.
40 comments | about a week ago
An anonymous reader writes with word of an adaption of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. Ridley Scott is the executive producer for the adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel that's one of 13 new TV shows from Amazon Studios. There's also a video adaptation of The New Yorker magazine, and all 13 pilots are available free online. Votes of viewers will help decide which ones get picked up for a full season, and Amazon is promising customers that they've assembled "some of the greatest storytellers in the business with works of novelty and passion."
94 comments | about two weeks ago
gurps_npc writes: As most people know, the US has for quite some time let police seize pretty much anything they wanted to, forcing you to go to court to get back your stuff (at significant expense). Most of the problems came about because the Federal government let the local cops keep most of what they took.
Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, has changed the rules of that program, making it more difficult for the police to do it under the federal program. They can still use local state programs, but that accounts for only about 57% of the cash taken. Holder did not end the program entirely — he left in some exceptions for things like explosives, weapons, and items related to child pornography, which all together amount to about 1% of the current federal program. Still, with this action he will have struck a serious blow to a despicable practice that serious newspapers and comedy TV shows decried as nothing more than legalized theft.
311 comments | about two weeks ago
We all love 'The Internet of Things.' Now imagine appliances, such as your refrigerator and hot water heater, getting radio messages from the power grid telling them when they should turn on and off to get the best electricity prices. Now kick that up to the electric company level, and give them a radio network that tells them which electric provider to get electricity from at what time to get the best (wholesale) price. This is what e-Radio is doing. They make this claim: "Using pre-existing and near ubiquitous radio signals can save billions of dollars, reduce environmental impact, add remote addressability and reap additional significant societal benefits."
Timothy noticed these people at CES. They were one of the least flashy and least "consumer-y" exhibitors. But saving electricity by using it efficiently, while not glamorous, is at least as important as a $6000 Android phone. Note that the guy e-Radio had at CES speaking to Timothy was Scott Cuthbertson, their Chief Financial Officer. It's a technology-driven company, from Founder and CEO Jackson Wang on down, but in the end, saving money is what they sell. (Alternate Video Link)
172 comments | about two weeks ago
'The EnOcean technology is an energy harvesting wireless technology used primarily in building automation systems; but is also applied to other applications in industry, transportation, logistics and smart homes,' says Wikipedia. There's also a Siemans spinoff company called EnOcean, and today's video is an interview with its president, Jim O'Callaghan. But EnOcean technology is the real star here. The idea is that energy-efficient sensors can be powered by energy harvesting, i.e. drawing energy from their surroundings, including such low-level sources as light, temperature changes, and pressure, which can be the pressure of your finger on a switch or even changes in barometric pressure. The EnOcean Alliance has a professionally-produced video that describes their technology and notes that self-powered wireless sensors not only save energy but save miles of wire between sensor nodes and controllers, which means it's possible to install more sensors sensing more parameters than in the past. (Alternate Video Link)
46 comments | about two weeks ago
Camille van Gestel and co-founder Maurits Groen started solar-centric manufacturer WakaWaka with an explicit aim other than making money, though he's certainly not opposed to making some along the way. So it's not a non-profit, but van Gestel calls WakaWaka, which was named in a roundabout way after the Shakira song, a "purpose-driven company," with that purpose being -- no exaggeration needed -- to cast light on the world. They're doing just that, with the aid of recycled materials, low-power LEDs, and efficient solar cells. As a result, one of the portable light products that the group has created has become one of the most valued possessions among people displaced by the war in Syria, and more are lighting up villages in Haiti and elsewhere. I talked with Van Gestel at this year's CES, where the company's picked up a pair of CES Innovation Awards, and he has some advice for people who'd like to turn their technical skills to philanthropic endeavors, especially ones that involve hardware or technical infrastructure. Some of it can be summed up as "Spread the wealth, but don't do it for free." Between ongoing feedback gathered from users, a buy-one-give-one style distribution system, and requiring participation by recipients, he says WakaWaka has been able to reach people with their solar lighting products in a way that's much more valuable than just dumping hardware on them, and along the way has gotten a lot of feedback from the buyers whose purchases subsidize the company's non-profit activities. (Alternate Video Link.)
17 comments | about three weeks ago
vinces99 writes Researchers are installing three seismometers in Seattle's CenturyLink stadium to monitor shaking from Seahawks fans during Saturday's NFL playoff game. The new, faster data transmission will show crowd motion on the website before a touchdown shows up on the 10-second delayed TV broadcast. Researchers dub these "Early Earthquake Rowdiness Warnings." A guaranteed shaking and intense public interest gives the seismologists a unique opportunity to test new technology that gives seconds to minutes warning of a real earthquake.
25 comments | about three weeks ago
schnell writes Consumers have long complained about the practice of "bundling" cable services and forcing customers to pay for channels they don't want — and an increasing number of "cord cutters" are voting with their wallets. But an article in the New York Times suggests that if cable companies are finally forced to unbundle their services it may actually result in higher prices and worse service. From the article: "there's another, more subjective dimension in which the rise of unbundled cable service may make us worse off. It's possible for a market to become more economically efficient while becoming less pleasant for consumers. For a prime example, head to your nearest airport."
448 comments | about three weeks ago
This is something Timothy Lord ran across a few months ago at a Maker Faire near Atlanta: The DuinoKit. Think of it as a fancier (and pricier) version of the venerable Radio Shack Electronic Learning Labs and you won't be far off. Plus, as the name DuinoKit implies, it's based on an Arduino, which means that right off the bat it packs a lot more learning punch than the Radio Shack kit. DuinoKit was financed by a KickStarter campaign that asked for $19,500 and raised $57,478 from 250 backers. And for those of you who worry about being called nerds because you're carrying a DuinoKit around, you can relax. It comes in a 'Secret Agent Carrying Case.' Really. Read their What is the DuinoKit? Web page carefully and you'll see. (Alternate Video Link)
61 comments | about three weeks ago
wyattstorch516 writes "Dish Networks has unveiled Sling TV, its streaming service for customers who don't want to subscribe to Cable or Satellite. From the article: "For $20 a month — yes, twenty dollars — you get access to a lineup of cable networks that includes TNT, TBS, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, the Disney Channel, ESPN, and ESPN2. ESPN is obviously a huge get for Dish and could earn Sling TV plenty of customers all on its own. ESPN just ended another year as TV's leading cable network, and now you won't need a traditional cable package to watch it. For sports fanatics, that could prove enticing. But Dish has hinted that there may be limits on watching ESPN on mobile thanks to red tape from existing deals between the network and Verizon."
196 comments | about three weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes with reports that Netflix may be shutting out international VPN users. "Netflix can only stream the videos that studios make available in a given country, which has led to a booming business in workarounds (such as proxies and virtual private networks) that let you see the company's catalogs in other nations. Heck, one New Zealand internet provider practically built a service around it. However, you might not get to count on that unofficial solution for much longer. VPN operators claim to TorrentFreak that Netflix recently started blocking some users who use these technological loopholes to watch videos that would normally be verboten. The effort isn't widespread and mostly appears to focus on connections with many simultaneous Netflix sign-ins (that is, they're obviously being used for circumvention), but it's a surprise to viewers who were used to having unfettered access."
121 comments | about three weeks ago
MRothenberg writes Bitcoin's not just for libertarians and drug dealers any more! Electronic payment service BitPay this week launched a campaign aimed at making Bitcoin transactions more appealing to mainstream business owners — the first time Bitcoin has been featured in a TV spot. Conceived by Felton Interactive Group, the two new ads promote Bitcoin and BitPay as a secure alternative to traditional credit-card transactions.
127 comments | about a month ago
An anonymous reader writes Judge Sean Lane of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan gave permission to Aereo to sell its remaining assets to the highest bidder. The decision came after Aereo reached an agreement with the major broadcast networks that are suing the service. From the article: "Now a bankruptcy court in New York has granted Aereo permission to sell off its assets, with one big caveat: those angry broadcasters who shut them down in the first place? They get to approve any sales that go down. The auction will take place on February 24, at which point the broadcasters have two weeks to decide if they're okay with the highest bidder."
42 comments | about a month ago
An anonymous reader writes Sony and Samsung are jointly launching the PlayStation Now game streaming service on select Samsung Smart TVs next year. The service will allow users to play PlayStation games without the need of a gaming console. From the article: "...Sony says some 200 PlayStation 3 games will be available to stream, and that the service runs at full functionality, specifically mentioning things like trophies, online multiplayer and cloud-saves for game-progress. Sound familiar? It should because that's how the service works on Bravia TVs and PlayStation game consoles. What's more, all you'll need is one of Sony's DualShock 4 gamepads to control the action."
43 comments | about a month ago