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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Universal Phone Charger

Switzerland Aims For A Universal Phone Charger By 2017

Tyler Lee | December 28, 2015

Recently in Europe, it has been proposed that all handset manufacturers need to comply by creating a universal phone charger. While proprietary chargers for mobile devices are pretty much dead, there is still a divide between iOS devices and every other device. Apple still relies on Lightning while most, if not all, other OEMs use micro USB.
However it looks like Europe won’t be the only region to implement such a plan because over in Switzerland, it seems that the country wants universal chargers to become standard by 2017 as well. However they have not specified what kind of standard they want, but there is a good chance that we could be looking at micro USB as that is the most common charger at the moment.

The current array of variety of chargers. Source:

<more at; related links: (Towards a single charger for mobile telephones. November 25, 2015) and (Switzerland Wants a Single, Universal Phone Charger by 2017. December 26, 2015)>

See-Through Plants For Research

Researchers Create Reagent to Make Plants See-Through

Ayako Tsukidate | December 31, 2015

Scientists at Nagoya University have developed a reagent that makes plants translucent, allowing them to observe specimens on a cellular level under a microscope without having to slice them open.
This development will help “unravel the mystery behind plant organs,” said Daisuke Kurihara, a designated assistant professor of biology at the university.

The reagent ClearSee makes a thale cress pistil translucent so scientists can study the structure of its pollen tubes. (Provided by Nagoya University)
The reagent ClearSee makes a thale cress pistil translucent so scientists can study the structure of its pollen tubes. Source: 

<more at; related links: (The Breakthrough of the “See through” Plant. Daring innovations from the Nagoya University Life Sciences Team) and (Researchers create reagent to make plants see-through. December 31, 2015)>

Have Page Views Changed In Their Significance?

Page Views Don't Matter Anymore Page Views Don’t Matter Anymore — But They Just Won’t Die

Julia Greenberg | December 31, 2015

The Page View is a zombie. For years, everyone has been saying it is no longer a meaningful way to measure online popularity. But the publishers who make websites and the advertisers who pay for them swore throughout the year that they’re no longer fooled. The era where a mere click is the crown jewel of metrics is dead. But someone still needs to shoot this zombie in the head.
“We’ve talked about page views dying for ten years,” says Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, a digital publishing trade group that represents publishers on the web, including WIRED parent company Condé Nast. “They’re not dead, but they should be.”

Sites can even buy bots to “click” and artificially inflate their page-view count. This kind of fraud has become a serious concern for marketers and the advertising industry, who have begun to prefer assurances that ads are actually being seen by real human beings be it on mobile or the web.
As a result, the advertising industry is looking for more meaningful metrics. Concepts like “viewability” and “transparency” are gaining currency, though what they mean and how they’re measured are still up for grabs.
“Having one specific KPI (key performance indicator) like page views or time spent doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Brian Madden, vice president of audience at Hearst Digital Media, said in a panel discussion this year. “It ignores the content entirely.”

<more at; related links: (Upworthy's Headlines Are Insufferable. Here's Why You Click Anyway "Curiosity-Gap Headlines" Hook Us In. Here's What Psychologists Say About Our Need to Fill in the Blanks. April 23, 2014) and (OpenTracker. Hits or pageviews?)>

Tumblr's Meme Librarian

Meet Tumblr's Meme Librarian

Julia Carpenter | December 28, 2015

Brennan's official job title is content and community associate at Tumblr, but everyone at the microblogging platform calls her their “meme librarian.” She spends her days on the front lines of an online meme's creation, dissemination and, yes, inevitable death.
As she explains it, “My community is the Internet.” At Tumblr, Brennan sifts through the thousands of pieces of original content, from vines to videos to text posts - and from there, she catalogs ongoing trends, identifies up-and-coming blogs and documents the latest news in the Tumblrverse.


<more at; related links: (Meme librarian is a real job — and it’s the best one on the Internet. December 21, 2015) and (Amanda Likes the Internet. tumblr's tumblarian, cat enthusiast, not afraid of bold lipstick.)>

Augmented Reality Comic Book

This Augmented Reality Comic Book Offers a Glimpse at the Future of Storytelling. (+Video)

Chloe Olewitz | December 28, 2015

If augmented reality is the future of storytelling, it should come as no surprise that the technology has made its way into the world of graphic novels. The already visual storytelling experience in comic books and graphic novels is the perfect platform for technological enhancement, and books like Modern Polaxis have already made the jump. Modern Polaxis is a graphic novel that comes with an augmented reality mobile app, so the time travelling science fiction story literally leaps off the page.


<more at; related links: (Modern Polaxis website) and (Successful Kickstarter Campaign: Modern Polaxis - Augmented Reality Comic Book and App. December 11, 2014)>

Alzheimer's Firsthand

What Alzheimer’s Feels Like from the Inside (+Video)

An investigative reporter chronicles the progression of his own disease.

Greg O'Brien | December 10, 2015

[Blogger's note: “Can Alzheimer’s be Stopped?” premieres 2016 on PBS NOVA, as noted in the article below.]
I was up again at 4 a.m. the other night, one of five nocturnal ramblings in the early morning, the new me. No sleep. Picking my way in the dark, familiar territory of a home on Cape Cod where I have lived with my family for 34 years.
I fumbled into the bathroom as I felt the numbness creep up the back of my neck like a penetrating fog, slowly inching to the front of my mind. It was as if a light in my brain had been shut off. I was overcome by the darkness of not knowing where I was and who I was. So I reached for my cellphone that substitutes as a flashlight, and called the house. My wife, deep asleep in our bed just 20 feet away, rose like Lazarus from the grave to grab the phone in angst, fearing a car crash with one of the kids or the death of an extended family member.
It was me, just me. I was lost in the bathroom. [...]

April 2015. Source:

<more at (Alzheimer's researchers find molecule that delays onset of disease. Scientists at the University of Cambridge have identified a crucial molecule that could put the brakes on the damage to the brain. February 16, 2015) and (Curcumin’s ability to fight Alzheimer’s studied. January 8, 2015)>

Font 'With A Message'

Clever "Common Sans" Font Has A Hidden Humanitarian Message

Margaret Rhodes | December 18, 2015

[Blogger's note: Apart from describing a "first of its kind", this article also shows that fonts are not simply "static" objects of various sizes, but can act as software in your system.]
If you type the word “refugee” using the new typeface Common Sans, something potentially confusing happens: “Refugee” immediately autocorrects to “human.”
That’s not an error. It’s the handiwork of Swedish design studio Essen International. It created the graphic bit of activism as a pro bono project for the non-profit Solvatten to make people rethink the issue. “Often this is what you read in the headlines, about refugees, and you forget that they’re humans,” says creative director Robert Holmkvist.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Musical: "Beyond The Fence" Almost Entirely Computer-Generated

New Musical Beyond the Fence Created Almost Entirely by Computers

Algorithms used to generate plot, music for new show set to open in London

Dan Misener | December 15, 2015

Is there a formula for writing a hit musical? And if so, could a computer do it?
That's one of the questions the team behind the new musical Beyond the Fence hopes to answer. The musical, making its debut in London in February, was written almost entirely by computers.
CBC technology columnist Dan Misener answers some questions on what this means for the intersection of science and art.
How did computers write a musical?


<more at; related links: (Beyond The Fence website) and (Computer generated musical Beyond The Fence to premiere at Arts Theatre 2016. December 1, 2015)>

Rear Tire That Converts Into An Electric Unicycle

Ford Files Patent for Tear Tire That Converts into an Electric Unicycle

Chris Welch | December 29, 2015

It might not be long before we see a Ford concept car that borrows an idea from the Batmobile. Back in June, the automaker filed for a patent that describes a car with a rear tire designed to pull double duty as an electric unicycle. The patent imagines a situation where you'd pull over (or park), lift the vehicle with the help of its automatic jack, remove the tire, and get everything else you need — seat, handlebars, motor, etc. — from the trunk.
Put it all together and you'd end up with a rideable that could make the last part of your commute a little easier to manage and more fun.


<more at; related links: (The Ryno one-wheeled motorcycle is a 'Dragon Ball' fantasy brought to life. A Portland startup has crafted a one-of-kind electric vehicle. January 27, 2014) and (Ford has patented a car that can separate into a motorcycle just like Batmobile in the blockbuster movie “The Dark Knight”. December 17, 2015)>

Changing How Computers Learn

Computer Learns Like a Human and (Sort Of) Beat the Turing Test

Lance Ulanoff | December 11, 2015

There is a fundamental difference between the way computers learn and the way humans learn. Humans can see one example and intuit what that object or symbol might be used for and quickly identify similar things. A computer can only arrive at the same conclusions after being fed thousands and thousands of examples. This usually referred to as "machine learning."
That may, however, be about to change.
Scientists at New York University have figured out a way to not only mimic how humans make those mental leaps, but to have computers recreate simple symbols and drawings in such a way that they're almost indistinguishable from these created by humans.


<more at; related links: (Researchers Bring Machine Learning Closer to Human-Like Performance. Researchers have introduced a computer model that learns a new concept much like humans do, from a single or very few examples. December 10, 2015) and>

"Free Internet Services Comparable To What Libraries Offer"

Zuckerberg Compares Free Internet Services to Public Libraries and Hospitals

James Vincent | December 28, 2015

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has written a forceful defense of the company's plans to offer limited, free internet access in India, comparing free internet services like Facebook's Free Basics service with libraries and public hospitals. In an op-ed written for The Times of India, Zuckerberg says that although libraries don't offer every book to read and hospitals can't cure every illness, they still provide a "world of good," suggesting that just because free internet services only offer access to a limited number of sites — which, in the case of Free Basics, third-parties can apply to join but that Facebook ultimately controls — they're still an essential public service.


<more at; related links: (Mark Zuckerberg: Free Basics protects net neutrality. December 28, 2015) and (Mark Zuckerberg’s Latest Bid to Get India on Board With Free Basics: Internet Is Like a Library. Decenber 28, 2015) >

Robot Car Can Go Up Walls And Drive On Ceiling

Disney's Robot Car Drives Up Walls

The VertiGo Doesn't Stop Just Because You've Run Out of Ground.

Jon Fingas | December 29, 2015

As clever as robotic cars may be, they have one obvious disadvantage over flying drones: their journey stops the moment they run into a wall. Disney Research and ETH Zurich have a clever workaround, however. Their prototype VertiGo robot uses two tilting propellers to drive up walls, adjusting its thrust to stick to the surface even if it has to travel over uneven surfaces like bricks. The result, as you'll see below, is uncanny -- all it takes is a quick push from the propellers to have this machine defying gravity.



<more at; related links: (Disney reveals ‘SPIDERCAR’ that can climbs walls and even drive on the ceiling. Project by Disney and ETH Zurich can drive on ground and climb up walls. VertiGo robot features two propellers on back which allow upward motion. It can drive smoothly on a vertical surface and, theoretically, on the ceiling. December 29, 2015) and (Disney’s VertiGo Combines Car, Helicopter to Drive Up Walls. December 29, 2015)>

3D Printing At Sea (US Navy) And On Land (Amazon)

U.S. Navy Ship Using 3D Printer To Create Spare Parts At Sea

Adnan Farooqui | December 29, 2015

Getting your hands on a spare part for your ship when you’re out at sea isn’t at easy as driving to your local hardware store. You better have the supplies on board when you set sail or wing it until you make port and can find the required part. Sailors aboard the USS Harry S. Truman have found another way to go about this, they’re using a 3D printer to actually make the parts that they need out at sea.
The United States Navy has hooked up two ships, Truman and USS Kearsarge, with 3D printers. These miniature fabrication labs enable sailors to create custom parts as and when required.

"Amazon Patents 3D Printers In Trucks To Speed Up Deliveries." Source:

<more at; related links: (Amazon Patents 3D Printers In Trucks To Speed Up Deliveries. February 27, 2015) and (Denmark Shipping Company, Maersk, Using 3D Printing to Fabricate Spare Parts on Ships. July 12, 2014)>

North Korea Has Its Own Computer Operating System

Secrets of North Korea's Red Star Computer Operating System Revealed

Jeremy Wagstaff and James Pearson | December 28, 2015

North Korea's homegrown computer operating system mirrors its political one, according to two German researchers who have delved into the code: a go-it-alone approach, a high degree of paranoia and invasive snooping on users.
Their research, the deepest yet into the secretive state's Red Star operating system, illustrates the challenges Pyongyang faces in trying to embrace the benefits of computing and the internet while keeping a tight grip on ideas and culture.
The researchers, Florian Grunow and Niklaus Schiess of German IT security company ERNW,  presented their findings to the Chaos Communication Congress, a gathering of hackers and security researchers, in Hamburg on Sunday.

Red Star is meant to be a replacement for Windows XP, which remains a dominant OS in North Korea. Until recently, it actually looked almost exactly like Windows XP. Now, however, it’s been redesigned to mimic OS X — believed to be the favorite of both Kim Jong-un and his late father. Source:

<more at; related links: (Apple's Mac OSX imitated in latest North Korea system. February 5, 2014) and (North Korea's 'Red Star' computer-operating system watermarks every document and file in order to track its users. December 28, 2015); further: (North Korea’s Linux-based OS is a snooping machine. December 28, 2015)>

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Microsoft Ahead Of Google In Image Processing With Machine Learning

How Microsoft Beat Google at Understanding Images with Machine Learning

And how Redmond beat everyone else, for that matter…

Mary Branscombe | December 28, 2015

Elon Musk is only the latest investor in artificial intelligence, helping to fund a big-name roster of researchers who promise to change the field. Meanwhile, Microsoft Research is actually doing it, by combining the popular deep networks that everyone from Google to Facebook is also using for machine learning with other mathematical techniques, and beating them all in the latest round of the annual ImageNet image recognition competition.
ImageNet tests how well computers can recognise which of 1,000 different categories the 100,000 test images belong in, and where in the photo the object being recognised is.

microsoft image recognition

<more at; related links: (Microsoft, five other groups race toward automated image captioning. November 19, 2014) and (ImageNet website. [About: Overview. Welcome to the ImageNet project! ImageNet is an ongoing research effort to provide researchers around the world an easily accessible image database. On this page, you will find some useful information about the database, the ImageNet community, and the background of this project. Please feel free to contact us if you have comments or questions. We'd love to hear from researchers on ideas to improve ImageNet. What is ImageNet? ImageNet is an image dataset organized according to the WordNet hierarchy. Each meaningful concept in WordNet, possibly described by multiple words or word phrases, is called a "synonym set" or "synset". There are more than 100,000 synsets in WordNet, majority of them are nouns (80,000+). In ImageNet, we aim to provide on average 1000 images to illustrate each synset. Images of each concept are quality-controlled and human-annotated. In its completion, we hope ImageNet will offer tens of millions of cleanly sorted images for most of the concepts in the WordNet hierarchy.])>

Chinese Students Studying In The United States (US)

Not Only China's Wealthy Want to Study in America

Frank Shyong | December 28, 2015

[...] In 2007, just 2,500 Chinese students were enrolled at U.S. community colleges, which have become increasingly attractive to low-income or low-performing Chinese students who want to escape the pressure of the gaokao. Now more than 16,200, or 13% of all Chinese undergraduates in the U.S., are studying at community colleges in this country. [..]


<more at; related links: (umber of International College Students Continues to Climb. Students from China and Saudi Arabia drove the nearly 8 percent growth in international college students in the U.S. November 17, 2014) and (Number of Chinese Students Studying in the United States Increases. January 3, 2014)>

Smart Clothing

These Smart Clothes Will Do Everything from Charge Your Phone to Monitor Your Workout

Danielle Muoio | December 27, 2015

We have yet to see smart clothing integrated into our daily lives, but fashion brands are developing unique ways to combine fashion with technology.
Whether it’s tracking your workout or charging your phone, these clothing options show how fashion is moving in a technologically-focused direction.


<more at; related links: (A Look at Smart Clothing for 2015. March 23, 2015) and (Forget Smart Watches and Glasses, Smart Clothing Will Be the Hottest Trend of 2015. November 29, 2014)>

Culturally Sensitive Cafeteria Food At Colleges

College Students Demand Culturally Sensitive Cafeteria Food

Tina Nguyen | December 22, 2015

Across college campuses nationwide, student activists are leading mass movements against institutional racism in higher education. Mizzou students successfully ousted their president after he failed to respond to several racially motivated incidents on campus. Yale students demanded a more robust dedication to faculty diversity and sensitivity to racially offensive Halloween costumes. The University of Oklahoma is investigating its Greek system after a video leaked of frat brothers singing a song referencing lynching.
At Oberlin College, students just want some culturally conscious General Tso’s chicken.
The culinary culprits included a soggy, pulled-pork-and-coleslaw sandwich that tried to pass itself off as a traditional Vietnamese banh mi sandwich; a Chinese General Tso’s chicken dish made with steamed instead of fried poultry; and some poorly prepared Japanese sushi.
“When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture,” Tomoyo Joshi, a student from Japan, told the paper. “So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as ‘authentic,’ it is appropriative.”

<more at; related links: (Students Complain: Serving Ethnic Food in the Campus Cafeteria Is "Culturally Appropriative". December 21, 2015) and (Improving Student Retention: The Role of the Cafeteria. Summer 2011)>

Augmented Reality Can Democratize Knowledge

Augmented Reality Will Make Us Smarter

Court Westcott | December 26, 2015

Moore’s Law is bound to pop up any time you read an article about the future of technology. Moore’s Law is common knowledge in tech; it deals with the exponential growth of the number of transistors on a circuit and the speed that information is processed.
I’d argue that there’s a new law that is just as important bubbling up to the forefront today: The Law of Information Accessibility. Augmented reality (AR) will bring this law to your doorstep, very, very soon, and it will be a game changer in the speed at which we get information.


<more at; related links: (Augmented reality: Future workplace to make us smarter. July 25, 2014) and (How artificial intelligence will make humans smarter. From tools to intelligent partners - artificial intelligence is set to transform how people live. November 25, 2014)>

Virtual and Augmented Reality For Astronaut Training

How NASA is Using Virtual and Augmented Reality to Train Astronauts

Unimersiv.Com | December 22, 2015

Virtual reality is no longer a thing of the future – it is progressively permeating through every niche of the society. Whether it is education, law enforcement or just recreational activities, we are finding more and more uses of stepping into an engineered world. So, it comes as no surprise that National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is extensively employing virtual reality to better acclimatize its astronauts to conditions they will experience once they step across the Earth’s boundaries. Here we take a look at a brief overview of this development.

Dan Burbank uses virtual reality hardware
NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, Expedition 29 flight engineer and Expedition 30 commander, uses virtual reality hardware in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center to rehearse some of his duties on the upcoming mission to the International Space Station. This type of virtual reality training allows the astronauts to wear a helmet and special gloves while looking at computer displays simulating actual movements around the various locations on the station hardware with which they will be working. Crew instructor Jeff Hoblit assisted Burbank. Source:

<more at; related links: (Virtual Reality Training. June 17, 2011) and (How NASA uses virtual reality to train astronauts. NASA's Evelyn Miralles told a crowd at the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality conference about the role virtual reality plays in astronaut training. May 19, 2015)>

The Raspberry Pi Zero As USB Device

Turning your Raspberry PI Zero into a USB Gadget

Brian Benchoff | December 27, 2015

[Blogger's note: The two tutorials from Adafruit (links below) show how easy it is to get started with interesting technology using the Raspberry Pi. The Pi Zero is the least expensive model and that means you can experiment inexpensively and build up your knowledge of a number of technologies on a small budget. When you come up with a clever idea, you can easily scale up with the Raspberry Pi 2 at low cost.]
The Raspberry Pi Zero is limited, or so everyone says, and everyone is trying to cram a USB hub and WiFi adapter on this tiny, tiny board. One thing a lot of people haven’t realized is that the Raspberry Pi Zero comes with a USB OTG port, meaning it can function as a USB device rather than a USB host. This means the Raspi can become a serial device with just a USB cable, an Ethernet device, MIDI device, camera, or just about anything else you can plug into a USB port. Adafruit has your back with a tutorial for using the USB OTG port as a serial and Ethernet interface, and the possible applications are extremely interesting.


<more at; related links: (Turning your Raspberry PI Zero into a USB Gadget. December 25, 2015) and (Ethernet Gadget. December 27, 2015)>

Monday, December 28, 2015

Google's Chatbot-Filled Messaging Service

Google’s Working on a Chatbot-Filled Messaging Service

Nathaniel Mott | December 23, 2015

Google isn’t content to let Facebook dominate the messaging market in the West. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is working on a platform that will allow consumers to message assistive “chatbots” as well as real-live humans.
Details about the service are scarce. A name wasn’t revealed, for instance, nor was a timeframe for when consumers might expect to be able to use the app. But the report did reveal that Google’s been working on the product for about a year.

A report in the Wall Street Journal claims that Google is working on yet another mobile messaging service, this one with a heavy focus on artificial intelligence. The platform would include a number of so-called “chatbots” for responding to user queries, according to the report — sort of an “OK Google” for in-chat assistance.

<more at (Google Plans New, Smarter Messaging App. 
Users will be able to text friends or a chatbot that will scour the Web and other sources to answer a question. December 22, 2015) and (Google is reportedly developing a chatbot-infused messaging service. December 22, 2015)>

Blogging, In Order To Learn 21st Century Skills

Literature Review: How Blogging Can Assist In The Development Of 21st Century Skills For Both Teachers And Students

Charlotte Hills | December 22, 2015

What does it mean to be a ’21st century learner?’ While the term is becoming increasingly common, to what extent do teachers, students and the wider community understand what it means?  Rosefsky-Saavedra & Opfer, (2012) define 21st century skills as critical thinking and problem solving; collaboration and leadership; agility and adaptability; initiative and entrepreneurialism; effective oral and written communication; accessing and analyzing information; and curiosity and imagination.  

New literacies have many functions in schools and learning, but science and mathematics education are among the contexts where their full potential has yet to be explored. This book both illustrates and critically analyzes the practice of blogging and its possibilities for fostering different ways of communicating, interacting, learning, and thinking in these subjects. Grounded in empirical data gathered from teachers and students using blogs in a variety of contexts, the book examines which specific uses of blogging can be most conducive to transforming science and mathematics classrooms into places that are more equitable and just - places that invite and nurture new, more social, comprehensive, and authentic forms of participation and learning. Source:

<more at; related links: (Blogging in the 21st-Century Classroom. April 8, 2013) and (Blogging in the 21st-Century Classroom. April 8, 2013)

Library Of The Future

PHOTOS: Inside the Library of the Future

Josh Nicholas | December 23, 2015

The Edge, Queensland’s experimental library of the future, is tucked away next to the State Library of Queensland in a concrete bunker-like building that stretches along the Brisbane river.
The building itself has had a varied history — six years ago it was the Gallery of Modern Art, before that a restaurant, and even before that it was the home of the Queensland theatre company.


<more at; related links: (The Edge, Queensland. Library) and (State Library of Queensland)>

Do Students Have The Skills Needed For The Workplace?

There Is No Skills-Gap: It Is Employers Who Have Not Kept Up with the Improved Skills of Graduates

One of the frequent criticisms levelled at universities in both the US and UK is that they do not provide students with the skills they need in the workplace. Skills are in abundance, and the true gap is the underutilisation of talent

Steven C. Ward | December 1, 2015

Often borrowing from human capital theory, first elaborated by the late Chicago School economist Gary Becker in the 1960s, critics argue that high aggregate unemployment rates, particularly of recent college graduates, are due to the lack of proper skills that translate into well-paying jobs. Good jobs exist, so the argument goes, there are just not enough people with the appropriate skills to fill them.
If universities could be “retooled” like an old factory or “disrupted” like a complacent industry in order to make them more responsive to evolving market needs, then the current mismatch of skills could be overcome and the economy could buzz along like before the 2008 downturn. 

September 1, 2011. Source:

<more at; related links: (College Students Think They’re Ready for the Work Force. Employers Aren’t So Sure. January 20, 2015) and (Well-Prepared in Their Own Eyes. Survey finds that college students think they are being well-prepared with the skills and qualities needed for careers. Employers are dubious. January 20, 2015)>

'Conference Fatigue' In Academia

Is ‘Conference Fatigue’ Harming Academia?

Depictions of conferences as being dull and exhausting make it ‘almost impossible’ to imagine them as places of intellectual engagement, scholar warns

Chris Havergal | December 24, 2015

Awkward small talk, awkward disco dancing, and even more awkward sex: if generations of researchers are to be believed, these are key features of many academic conferences.
But a scholar has warned that the comic denigration of conferences as dull and exhausting events has become so pervasive that it is now “almost impossible” to imagine them as places of productive thinking or intellectual engagement.
Emily Henderson, assistant professor at the University of Warwick’s Centre for Education Studies, said that there was a risk of a vicious circle: that because academics have been instilled with the idea that conferences will be boring and embarrassing, this was how they actually experienced them.

...conferences were an “important site” for academic mobility, knowledge production and the development of academic practice; and that there was a need to develop new representations of these events that challenged the fatigue narrative.

<more at; related links:  (“Conference fatigue? Representations of the in/significance of academic conferences”. Emily Henderson) and (How not to enhance a presentation. What could be easier than adding audio-visuals to your conference paper? John Corner on waiting for the gift of sound and vision. September 4, 2014)>

The University Of 2030

Future Perfect: What Will Universities Look Like in 2030?

From robots to the most popular course, academics share their predictions

Times Higher Education | December 24, 2015

Recently the media had fun comparing the vision of life in 2015 depicted in the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II with the reality – with the internet being the glaring omission. But what if we were to try to predict the academy’s future? Could we do a more accurate job? After all, isn’t that one of the tasks of university leaders, given that the future is coming even to those who don’t have a time machine in their sports cars?
We asked several distinguished academics to tell us how they imagine higher education will look in 2030. 

In 15 years, we will have no one to teach. The professional jobs for which we prepare students will be done by intelligent machines.


<more at; related links: (Universities 2030: Learning from the Past to Anticipate the Future. April 28, 2014) and (The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation? Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne. September 17, 2013. [Abstract: We examine how susceptible jobs are to computerisation. To assess this, we begin by implementing a novel methodology to estimate the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations, using a Gaussian process classifier. Based on these estimates, we examine expected impacts of future computerisation on US labour market outcomes, with the primary objective of analysing the number of jobs at risk and the relationship between an occupation’s probability of computerisation, wages and educational attainment. According to our estimates, about 47 percent of total US employment is at risk. We further provide evidence that wages and educational attainment exhibit a strong negative relationship with an occupation’s probability of computerisation.])>

Comcast: Superfast Internet Without Major Infrastructure Changes

Comcast Just Had a Major Breakthrough That Could Mean Superfast Internet

Steven Kovach | December 27, 2015

Comcast announced this week that it has successfully tested the world's first DOCSIS 3.1 modem in Philadelphia.
That probably sounds like a mumbo-jumbo to you, so let's put it in simple terms. This means Comcast has figured out how to use its existing cable lines to deliver superfast gigabit-internet speeds without having to do major work on its current infrastructure. 

April 2014. Source:

<more at; related links: (Faster, Wider, Wireless: Comcast Expands Low-Cost Internet Essentials Program. August 4, 2015) and (World's First Live DOCSIS 2.1 Gigabit Class Modem Goes Online in Philadelphia. December 22, 2015)>

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Using A Smartphone As Part Of A 3D Printer

Add a 3D Printer to the List of Things Your Phone Can Replace

The light from your smartphone can cure this new resin.

Mona Lalwani | December 22, 2015

Smartphones have taken over almost every aspect of our lives. We spend a good chunk of our days clicking links, swiping faces, exchanging emoji or listening to computer-picked playlists. Soon, we'll be able to use our devices to print 3D objects. Researchers at Taiwan Tech have built a 3D printer that uses the light from a smartphone or tablet to cure resin. They created a photopolymer that hardens with visible light instead of lasers or UV radiation. So, unlike the typical encased 3D printer, the team's phone-based device prints objects in the open, as long as it's placed in a dark corner.


Kickstarter Campaign for Solido was to start in November of this year. First image above is a competing technology. Source:

<more at; related links: (This 3D Printer Uses A Smartphone Screen Light To Print Models. December 22, 2015) and (Olo – the smartphone 3D printer. October 2015)>