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 – 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.  

Are Social Networks Diverging Culturally?

One thing that makes social networking a unique and unpredictable topic within the tech world is that, in a more direct way than other computing products, they reflect the influence of their users. The infrastructure and design behind them maybe draws a certain type of user more than others to begin with, but they quickly develop a culture or cultures of their own.

To take a now-outdated example, LiveJournal, structured as it was around the metaphor of a diary, became associated culturally with a certain mode of discourse. People spilled their emotional feelings, perhaps to excess, and LiveJournal became caricatured, fairly or not, as a haven for oversharing, rumor-mongering emo teenage girls.

The recent explosion of interest in Pinterest, if you’ll pardon the rhyme, has been more gendered still, with the front page at any given time resembling a women’s magazine. Whether this reflects something about the “pinboard” format or is merely a historical coincidence of crowd behavior is hard to untangle. On the other end of the spectrum, Reddit, Digg, and especially Slashdot cater to a primarily male audience of hardcore technology enthusiasts. LinkedIn is obviously the most gender-neutral, with a notable lack of personality that is quintessentially corporate: everyone needs a job.

The most successful social networking sites, Twitter and (especially) Facebook, have created the perception that they are each a permanent phenomenon with universal appeal. But is this so? We saw this anxiety play out in a big way surrounding the Facebook IPO: not only concerns about the company’s advertising model, and thus revenue stream, but this idea of, will the crowd move on, as it did with Myspace?

There is a certain element that social networking sites will always share in common with other social phenomena like fashion, parties, trends, which don’t stand still but move with the

Facebook has gone, in my short lifetime, from a substitute dorm-room where we could all reminisce about last night’s vodka shots, to a vast, family-friendly site that attempts to encompass all potential users from child to grandma, and thereby has risked alienating the original early adopters, students, who flocked there from Friendster and Myspace.

Twitter has picked up some of the slack in this regard. Its content and users noticeably hipper, snarkier, and more “plugged-in” than Facebook. Anecdotally speaking, many of the most trend-setting people I know have long ago dropped square old Facebook for snappy, fast-paced Twitter.

For those of us who think strategically about such things, it’s important to monitor the intangible differences of flavor that have cropped up within the cornucopia of social networking options. Most normal people simply do not have the time to make a sustained commitment to 17 different social sites at once, and so as they choose what “scene” attracts them, we’re bound to see this evolution continue.

This is a guest post by Aniya Wells. Aniya Wells is one of the most passionate writers you’ll ever meet. Though her writing interests run the gamut—from personal finance to health to current events and more—her primary interest is modern higher education. She serves as a reliable online degree guide for students considering taking advantage of the conveniences inherent in distance learning. Don’t hesitate to contact Aniya for questions or comments at aniyawells@gmail.com.

Mayan Calender : World will not end in 2012

The whole of the last 2 years people have been talking about Mayan Calender and how the world is on the brink of getting collapsed on itself and ending. But in fact, this is been spoken of more as a joke than anything else. I have not yet seen panic and mass hysteria as some of the people hopped. In fact I remember writing an article about the 7 ways the world might end and what I thought of it. You can see that here. One of them was the Mayan Calender ending signifying the end of earth as well know it. However what if we found evidence otherwise ? Here is some of that.

Archaeologists have uncovered the oldest-known Mayan calendar to date, that throws the apocalypse myth out of the window. So we can throw that myth out of the window. In a recently-excavated Maya megacity, a mural was found in an ancient Maya house, full of drawings and calculations—that helped ancient scribes track vast amounts of time—is said to predict the end of the world thousands of years into the future. Or another Mayan Calender.

What the team found, after a full excavation in 2011, is likely the ancient workroom of a Maya scribe, a record-keeper of Xultún. The reason this room’s so interesting is that; this was a workspace. People were seated on this bench painting books that have long since disintegrated. The books would have been filled with elaborate calculations intended to predict the city’s fortunes. The numbers on the wall were “fixed tabulations that they can then refer to—tables more or less like those in the back of your chemistry book. And those calculations reveal the true Mayan Calendar.

The researchers noticed several barely visible hieroglyphic texts, painted and etched along the east and north walls of the room. One is a lunar table, and the other is a “ring number”—something previously known only from much later Maya books, where it was used as part of a backward calculation in establishing a base date for planetary cycles. Nearby is a sequence of numbered intervals corresponding to key calendrical and planetary cycles.

The calculations include dates some 7,000 years in the future, adding to evidence against the idea that the Maya thought the world would end in 2012—a modern myth inspired by an ancient calendar that depicts time starting over this year.

 We can all breathe at last thinking that the world actually might not end this year, one of the 7 reasons the world might end is now debunked. What about the remaining 6 ? Only time will tell. Watch this space.

Via : Link 1 and Link 2.

The most bizzare Suicide ever

I try not to write things that are on some other sites, maybe some extracts but this was something so inquisitive that I felt that it should be shared here too. This is a Suicide story from 1994, and is so bizzare that I will let you choose if it was a suicide or it was something else, I would call it fate. And an extreme example of it. Read till the end, its a bit long but interesting nevertheless.

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given by the American Association for Forensic Sciences, AAFS President Don Harper Mills astounded his audience in San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story…

On March 23 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a gunshot wound of the head caused by a shotgun. Investigation to that point had revealed that the decedent had jumped from the top of a ten story building with the intent to commit suicide. (He left a note indicating his despondency.) As he passed the 9th floor on the way down, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, killing him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the 8th floor level to protect some window washers, and that the decedent would not have been able to complete his intent to commit suicide because of this…

Ordinarily a person who starts into motion the events with a suicide intent ultimately commits suicide even though the mechanism might be not what he intended. That he was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not change his mode of death from suicide to homicide, but the fact that his suicide intent would not have been achieved under any circumstance caused the medical examiner to feel that he had homicide on his hands…

Further investigation led to the discovery that the room on the 9th floor from whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. He was threatening her with the shotgun because of an interspousal spat and became so upset that he could not hold the shotgun straight. Therefore, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife, and the pellets went through the window, striking the decedent.

When one intends to kill subject A, but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B. The old man was confronted with this conclusion, but both he and his wife were adamant in stating that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. It was the longtime habit of the old man to threaten his wife with an unloaded shotgun. He had no intent to murder her; therefore, the killing of the decedent appeared then to be accident. That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded…

But further investigation turned up a witness that their son was seen loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal accident. That investigation showed that the mother (the old lady) had cut off her son’s financial support, and her son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that the father would shoot his mother. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus…

Further investigation revealed that the son became increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to get his mother murdered. This led him to jump off the ten story building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun blast through a 9th story window.

The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

Earth Hour activities to participate in Dubai, Dare to go Green – 2012

Earth Hour is back this year, which means. It’s lights out for the UAE come March 31, as residents unite in a global cause to combat climate change.

This year, Earth Hour will again witness landmarks across UAE, including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and Al Qasbah in Sharjah, as they plunge into darkness for one hour in support of the world’s largest environmental event in history.

However, the 2012 initiative will not just request a one-hour conservation pledge, but hopefully aims to target residents at the grassroots level by hosting a number of public events and social media campaigns to target the society at large to participate in the most essential cause.

“Earth Hour is not about turning off your lights for one hour, but an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how our everyday actions impact our environment”

So whats happening in Dubai

Candlelight march at Burj Park Downtown

Organised by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) and held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, families and friends are welcome to light the way for a better tomorrow as they bear witness to the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, switching off its lights for one hour to commemorate Earth Hour.

The walk will commence from the Burj Plaza towards Burj Park. The event starts from 5pm, while the candlelight march will begin at 8:30pm.

Light up a lamp at Dubai Internet City

Canon Middle East is inviting environmentalists and those who love Mother Earth to join them in this global initiative as its employees and their families gather outside the office building in Dubai Internet City with lamps as a sign of solidarity for Earth Hour and to make a pledge that they will take long term actions towards environmental conservation.

Additionally, Canon has also announced a public photo competition entitled “My Earth, My Lens, where people will be required to take a photograph that best symbolises what the environment means to them.

Photographs could range from images of the ocean to pictures of gardens, and will need to be accompanied by a photo caption that best captures the essence of the image.

If you are at Abu Dhabi

Drumming on the Corniche

The ongoing Abu Dhabi Festival is inviting residents in the capital to join millions of people around the world in celebrating the annual Earth Hour. Abu Dhabi will celebrate the evening with a drumming spectacular on the Corniche aiming to spread the important message of environmental awareness to passers-by.

The event kicks off from 7pm until 9.30pm at the Sahil Al Maydan Corniche in Abu Dhabi.

Cycle to save the Earth

For the second year in a row, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi plans to go beyond 60 minutes by generating 24 hours of clean, renewable green energy through cycling to further support the biggest climate awareness campaign from the World Wildlife Foundation.

From 10.30am on Saturday, March 31 until 10.30am Sunday April 1, the lobby of the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr will be outfitted with stationary bicycles.

With the use of dynamo technology and a full 24 hours of cycling shared amongst residents in the community, guests and hotel colleague participants, this “pedal power” will activate an LED lighting structure, fashioned after the property’s iconic facade, with symmetrical LED lights designed to reflect the water patterns of the Abu Dhabi Creek.

Sharjah and Northern Emirates

Family fun day

In Sharjah, a family event is being planned in Al Majaz Park by the Environment and Protected Areas of Sharjah.

Residents can participate in a host of activities including environmental competitions and a musical performance. The event starts from 6pm.

Music for the soul

In Ras Al Khaimah, the emirate’s tourism development authority has partnered with Al Manar Mall to invite the residents to join a public gathering with an acoustic performance by Fusion Again music band. The performance will start at 8:30pm.

Light the way

In Fujairah, a low-key event will take place in front of the municipality building, with candles and floating lanterns to mark Earth Hour. The event will start at 8:30 pm.

On Social Media 

There is another massive campaign online for Earth Hour is taking place which is more interesting than the offline campaigns and something that encourages people to work on the grass roots level. I will if you will. Check out 2 of my fav RJ’s on radio Catboy and Georgdie Bird on this one. The concept is simple: inspire others by challenging them to commit to an environtmental action in exchange for a dare.

Some more Dare’s below:

Check out more challenges and dares here.

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.