Wordless Thursday – How Many Hours Does it Take to Become an Expert?

Jack of all is something that I usually aspire to be that’s because of the old saying 10000 hours to become an expert. It usually is the case, it’s true that one needs to spend a lot of time on a particular profession before becoming good with it. Someone once asked the question is it true you need to spend 10000 hours for any field to become an expert. Well I think its varied and so do these guys from Udemy.

The two sides of 3D printing in “Arms”

In what is called as the next big revolution in the world, 3D printing is slowly making its mark. A world where you can start downloading furniture, toys and other things you would need and print it yourself. Feels almost like technology utopia, but it does have its qualms.

A detailed guide to printing in 3D is already published on the blog before, you can read it here. I am today going to pen my thoughts about what’s the next few steps and where we might go from here. And yes for a seemingly innocent technology as well, there can be a dark side. (Never underestimate the mind of a human being). But before I go all dark and scary, lets start with the positive.

“Magic Arms” for Emma

 

Emma was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), a rare disease that cripples joints and limbs. Because of this condition, the two-year-old girl couldn’t play with blocks, bring food to her mouth or hug her mother.

That is, until engineers at the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children used a 3D printer to create a durable exoskeleton that helps her lift her arms. Emma was able to lift candy to her mouth for the first time while wearing the supportive plastic vest.

The Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX) is made of hinged metal bars, resistance bands and tiny 3D printed parts. Emma calls them her “magic arms.” Emma was one of the first patients to wear the WREX. Now, about 15 of the hospital’s littlest patients are wearing the lightweight vests. The ease of 3D printing makes customization of parts possible. When a piece breaks, on-demand printers enable quick fixes. If a child outgrows a vest, the engineers can simply print larger parts out.

And Emma’s case is not just isolated, here are some more :

With advances like this one, and many others, you can quickly see the draw that many people have to 3D printing. It solves business problems, but more so, it solves life problems and changes lives.

And then come the “Fire Arms”

This summer, an American hobbyist used a thermoplastic machine to fashion parts for a homemade .22-caliber rifle.

Wisconsin engineer and amateur gunsmith Michael Guslick detailed on his personal blog how he used a Stratasys 3D printer and downloaded blueprints for the lower receiver — or frame — of an AR-15 firearm (the closest civilian variant of the M-16).

Guslick has been prototyping ideas for gun parts for years, but it did not occur to him until last year to use his Stratasys to build an actual firearm. “The concept is making its way to the hobbyist gunsmith,” he explained on the blog. He took pains to record how he made the 3D-printed weapon; as to the best of his knowledge, this is the first firearm in the world to be tested.

For the U.S. government, keeping tabs on the flow of physical weapons is proving to be a problem. 3D printing is only making matters worse: How do you control a digital pattern that people can use to print guns in their living rooms?

However, if metal materials become available for home printers, it could become possible for hobbyists to one day print an entire gun. Gun-enthusiast groups like “Defense Distributed” even set up a crowdfunding page (known as “Wiki weapon”) to usher into existence the first fully 3D printed gun. Indiegogo recently shut down its page, citing “unusual account activity.”

In related news, the army recently deployed a 3D printing kit to Afghanistan, including an industrial CNC machine, plasma cutters and more, so soldiers could built weapons on the spot, without needing to ship equipment from overseas.

So well the sort of other “arms” to be printed are not al that great for mankind. Who is to say this will not lead to another incident like the one at the opening of Dark Knight Rises. Access to many weapons easy, is not really something that the engineers would have thought when they made the first.

What I think 

Well there will always be people who will use technology for bad, I think the example of the nuclear weapon is the largest that anyone can give. But the promise of clean energy is worth the scare. Similarly these extremities will always exist in technology, its upto when we will be able to justify the good to bad is when the true potential comes through. In fact, I am a believer that saving one “Emma” is worth a lot more than potentially creating havoc.

What do you guys think ? let me know.

Wordless Thursday – Cost of drunken driving

Being in Dubai one of the things that all of us here know is that no matter what, drunken driving will not be tolerated. Having zero tolerance there are still a lot of cases of drunken driving within Dubai itself.

World over it is strict but not as much as to have complete deterrence, and people are losing lives as well as money. Here is an infographic from Carinsurance.org which describes the cost of drunken driving. Hope you enjoy it in this week’s Wordless Thursday.

Wordless Thursday – Climbing the Corporate ladder

Its rare to see infographics from India and for India. However, here is an excellent infographic from Linked In India to show what you can do to improve your career opportunities. This is not the size I usually go for but I could not find a larger size. Considering that it was on India I ignored my usual call for image quality.

Wordless Thursday is a feature on this blog to bring some interesting infographics every thursday to light. Here is this week’d addition.

Wordless Thursday – 20 trivia facts about world countries

I admit I have not been posting to the wordless Thursday section for a while now. And  I am looking to make ammends to that starting this week again. The first of the return should be interesting so I have picked the world in superlatives.
Some of course might say that most of these superlatives are not so very useful, however they are interesting and that’s what I strive to bring. Starting from which country is the most lactose intolerable to the country with the most venomous snake bites, its here. Read on.  

When technology goes bad : BMW stolen in less than 3min without keys

Personally on this blog I like to talk about technology and how it makes lives better, innovation and such. But there is a time when too much technology or rather lack of thinking in application of technology is something that really creates the negative impact in people. Culprit in question :BMW.

Oh I love their cars, the concepts, the ads even like the one above. But seriously BMW what were you thinking ? Making the car with accessibility to the programming port available is definitely a major design flaw. A user on the BMW 1M addicts forum has posted this video of his BMW 1M getting stolen within 3 minutes with the thieves not having the keys. This is a video of a £43,000 BMW 1M Stolen at 3am in 3 minutes. The thieves accomplished this by accessing the BMW OBD port in the footwell by breaking the glass, reaching in and using a device to reprogram a blank key fob. The car was simply then unlocked and pushed off the drive and driven away.

 

The one incident reported above apparently used a similar FOB programmer from Bulgaria and they were able to make another key on the spot. The Chinese and Taiwanese are surely watching this closely as they can definitely make a knock off and sell it for like AED 100. Look at the 3 videos below for how these things work.

It’s probably the cream of engineers that have worked on the cars, and with the cream comes issues of practicality. They are brilliant in technology and its application, but it’s the final practical user experience if you, may that would come from the second crop or the third crop of engineers. What needs to be commended is actually the ingenuity of the guys that figured it out. BMW, looking for new engineers ??

Prediction : Future Phones will not come with chargers

The other day I was out of charge on my phone which is a rare thing considering that I got a new Galaxy Nexus (Yes I will post a review) which is not only energy efficient but by far the best battery I have seen on a portable device taking the phone to nearly 2 days of talking and wifi without the need of charging. Back to where I was,  the need for a charger was large and the charger was no where in sight, shopped around in the office and found a blackberry charger that well fit the phone very well. This got me thinking, well why don’t all manufacturers come up with some universal standard for the charger if required. At all other times they can use alternative means built into the phone itself. I have been writing about some of these here on the blog before. Lets see whats available.

First off the Charger itself 

The mini USB is pretty much a standard charger at the moment for a lot of phones, my Blackberry, the Nexus One and now the Galaxy Nexus all seem to love it. But move Blackberry models and phones, you will quickly see that its not enough its just another in the large market for charger pins. In fact when I got this car charger from Merlin in Dubai, looked like there are a lot more than just the mini USB in the market.

Add the ever popular iPhone and the other Galaxy smartphones and the chargers change. I am not sure if the mini USB is the best standard, but considering that most people seem to have one lying around these days, looks like this could be a good standard to follow.

Getting to the Chargers built in with the phone 

First getting through the familier, here is a list of some you can read within the blog:

Indian Innovation : Wind Powered Helmet mounted Cell phone charger

Indian Innovation : Hand Powered Mobile Phones 

Thermoelectric boots charge your mobile phone

Charging phone from the movement of the owners

Charging Phones with residual energy from airwaves

Charging phones with body heat

Some more from other blogs that can fill up the gap with more innovations

Nokia Bicycle charging kit 

Some Eco friendly charging options (must see) 

Juicebox, the charging platform available in public places

Another Charger using movement of phones 

Mobile phones charged by the power of speech

Wind-powered mobile phone charger

Mobile phones in developing nations could charge up using dirt

Sound Charge t-shirt tops up mobile devices using sound

Solar powered tie charges your mobile phone

Piezoelectric generator creates power from shoes

Interestingly a lot of these were invented by Nokia in an attempt to make the lives of all better, but the lack of good software (ahem .. Android) has kind of made it difficult for Nokia to make it big in the market, we might be able to see some of these innovations in the Mobile Phones running Windows Mobile. Keeping fingers crossed to see the Lumia 900 with one of these built in.

From notifications that require attention of the users towards energy saving and other power saving tips to alerts when Phone batteries are fully charged, the chargers require an upgrade if possible to go with apps that are coming up on phones to do the same on the software side. All in all it seems like a really required innovation that the manufacturers are keeping away from the consumers, even though it seems like they have most of these figured out. Well only time will tell if these innovations will get lost or really get implemented into future phones. Are you listening Google, Apple and ofcourse Nokia.

What’s the alternative options if Bit Torrent sites are closed ?

Survival of the fittest is the motto that Human Beings have always lived by. When faced by adversity or restriction, we tend to fight and find solutions that are tailored to the problem as well as solutions that are well sometimes out of the box. Today, the online world especially most of the people who download content from the internet are faced with some serious restrictions to what people can download and share. A wealth of information / data and content is available online but not all of it is copyright, one of the most efficient ways to share this information especially large information like music movies etc was through the very very popular Bit Torrents. Bit torrents have gained popularity over the years and as you would imagine most people use them. But with the introduction of SOPA / PIPA and now ACTA it is getting more and more unlikely that these Bit Torrent sites and clients can move further. But like I said earlier we do come out of problems with innovative solutions. Although I believe that more solutions will present themselves in due course like the Option 2, currently there is a budding solution to our woes.

The truth about piracy is simple, I would download a movie and watch it only if I am not really interested to go see it in the theatre. In fact if torrent downloads were not possible, I would not really go and see it at all ! So in that sense the movie industry does not need to fear torrent downloads per se. The real piracy is the fake DVD’s, CD’s and other activities that happen in the shadow and bringing a few websites down will fuel these activities even more. Demand Supply rule here. If you look at the infographic I posted last week this gets terribly visible. The bad movies made the top 10 list as well as the good ones, the downloading trend will probably affect by pinching away those users who would love to buy and keep copies of movies. Not the real cinema money. Food for thought.

First lets talk about Torrents in general. 

A torrent file is a document containing a number of pieces of information about a file including the names of its various component parts as well as pertinent identifying information. Torrent files do not point to specific files on specific servers but instead point to codes that identify chunks of a file. These files are actually quite large – a few kilobytes to a few hundred – and most BitTorrent feeds have used them exclusively for the past few years.

There’s a problem with torrent files, however, that has to do more with perception than reality. To the average politico – and to the average media lobbyist – Torrent files are “files” that point to pirated content.

Option 1 : Tribler

One of the technologies that builds on the BitTorrents which is going to be more relevant than before is Tribler. The Tribler BitTorrent client is no newcomer to the BitTorrent scene. It has been in development for more than 5 years and has delivered many innovative features, which have mostly been ignored by the masses. Developed by a team of researchers at Delft University of Technology, the main goal is to come up with a robust implementation of BitTorrent that doesn’t rely on central servers. Instead, Tribler is designed to keep BitTorrent alive, even when all torrent search engines, indexes and trackers are pulled offline.

So how does it work?

Like many other BitTorrent clients, Tribler has a search box at the top of the application. However, the search results that appear when users type in a keyword don’t come from a central index. Instead, they come directly from other peers. Downloading a torrent is also totally peer to peer and not from a central location. When a user clicks on one of the search results, the header information or meta date (what exists in the torrent file) is pulled in from another peer and the download starts immediately. Tribler is based on the standard BitTorrent protocol and uses regular BitTorrent trackers to communicate with other peers. But, it can also continue downloading when a central tracker goes down.

Tribler uses crowd-sourcing to keep the network clean. Content is verified by user generated “channels”, which can be “liked” by others. When more people like a channel, the associated torrents get a boost in the search results. All this without a central server, guess what no more shutting down websites, and no more losing downloading opportunities.

It simply can’t be shutdown, blocked or censored, whatever laws politicians may come up with. One thing that could theoretically cause issues, is the capability for starting users to find new peers. To be on the safe side the Tribler team is still looking for people who want to act as so called bootstraptribler peers. These users will act as superpeers, who distribute lists of active downloaders. The only other way to shut it down would be to shut down the internet. Imagine that !

While the Tribler client only has a few thousand users at the moment, for avid file-sharers it must be a relief to know that it’s out there. No matter what crazy laws may pass in the future, people will always be able to share.

Those who want to give it a spin are welcome download Tribler here. It’s completely Open Source and with a version for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Option 2 : 3D Printing

This for a lot of people including the Pirate Bay is the future of downloading. With 3d printers getting more affordable as well as a lot more advanced, the days when 3D artwork of a movie Blue Ray downloaded and printing your own copies of the Blue Ray disks is not far away. This about this as an option, you browse popular 3D sharing websites including ones like Google Sketchup, where some user uploads a 3D image of a DVD with the print of the movie on it, all you need is a 3D printer to make unlimited copies of the movie for you.

This is a bit distant but do not under estimate the importance of something like this, especially when Pirate Bay makes a prediction on these lines.

Option 3 : Other Peer to Peer tools 

The third option would be the one that people that plant viruses and malware love. Back to the age old software like Limewire, iMesh and other clients on desktops that can also help in peer to peer downloads. I think we all know the era when we relied on these and what was the result. COnstant pain of viruses and such.

Regardless the option we choose, the options for the industry to block the downloading would only mean that we will find another means and source, after all we are not the most successful species on the planet without the adversity to adapt.

Wordless Thursday – The most pirated movies of all time

With SOPA, PIPA and now the ugly cousin ACTA, the world is getting ready for a series of laws that are ready to stop our piracy habits and with it freedom of usage f the internet. It will end the era of remixes and such as well if implemented right. So, well ladies and gentlemen before the governments complete the act of putting up the new laws where you will not be able to download anything from the internet without having to pay someone money, please go ahead and download some movies / music or what ever you want. If you need help, here is a link from one of my early posts in how to.

If you are not sure what you want to download and keep or you want to know which movies are the most kept for record, here is this week’d infographic that might help. The most pirated movies of all time. Wordless Thursday is this blog’s attempt of bringing interesting infographics to the eyes of people.

The window of the future is truly insane

Over the past few years Samsung has well and truly worked its way up to the top of the electronics Manufacturers market and with new innovations they seem to add in interesting and intriguing possibilities into the world of the future. This one well, is a bit over the top. However, having invested as much as they have in the past few years on Television screens, and just screens of every type, it seems like a natural progression that they will try to include screens anywhere and everywhere possible.

There’s a lot of buzz around the Samsung Transparent Smart Window, the full touch TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD display that turns any household window into a prop from Minority Report. The 46-inch, 1366×768 resolution display won the CES 2012 award for innovation and, from what we see in the demo below, it’s not hard to see why. A video from Samsung video gives a nice overview.

The device is really a transparent touchscreen LCD that can be fitted to any window, so long as it’s no longer than some 46 inches. Resolution is 1366 x 768 pixels, reportedly. During the day, illumination is provided from outside. At night, built-in lights kick in.

At first glance, the window, while cool, isn’t necessarily innovative: it just brings all the apps and widgets we’ve come to love to your window. But Samsung has included a few unique touches. My favorite is the “blinds” feature, where with the swipe of your finger, you can open and close virtual blinds that will actually blot out the light. A video report from MobileNations says that mass production will begin “in the coming months.” Samsung has indicated an intention to put the thing out by the end of the year. No word on price yet.

The window is considered to be working as a one sided glass when viewed from outside, making it like ordinary windows. Additionally, the window can also work as a screen for Augment Reality to see overlaid information on the outside world. So in what can be described as a double stroke, Samsung has not only opened another market for the screens they make but also have taken on the window covering world, from Blinds to Curtains.

Wordless Thursday – Apple vs Apples

If you have been following this blog for a while, by now you will know that Thursday’s is a good day for Infographics around here. Well although I am not writing as much as I would like to, it seems like my personal favorite section to write about. The beauty of Infographics stems from the simplicity to represent lots and lots of information in a very fun to read way.

This week’s Wordless Thursday is an interesting infographic about Apple vs the Apples. Although they both are from different worlds in our world, The artist has really picked the interesting similarities.  This infographic is really a  good example of how fun infographics can be made.