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Monday, November 30, 2015

The Sub-$10 Computer Market Has Grown

C.H.I.P. vs Pi Zero: Which Sub-$10 Computer Is Better?

David Scheltemea | November 28, 2015

Now that there are two capable, sub-$10 computers for Makers — the $5 Pi Zero and the $9 C.H.I.P. — the debate will rage online over which board is faster, cheaper, and the right one to use in a project. These debates are often unproductive, but they don’t have to be. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each board.


<more at; related links: (Remember that $9 computer? For one day only, it’ll be $8, plus shipping. It will cost about $14 to ship to anywhere in the United States. November 27, 2015) and (Computer and change for a $10 bill. First units of $9 computer are shipping now. September 25, 2015)>

Fingerprints and Gender

Scientists Can Now Establish Your Gender From a Fingerprint 

Jamie Condliffe | November 27, 2015

Fingerprints may be unique, but without an existing record they can’t help identify a person. Now, though, researchers can use chemical analysis of the prints to identify the gender of whoever left them behind.
A team of researchers from the University at Albany has developed a technique which uses the chemical composition of a fingerprint to ascertain gender. It’s made possible because of the subtle differences in amino acid concentrations that leech out of human skin: women tend to release twice the levels of amino acids, and in a slightly different distribution to men, too.

Fingerprints taken by William Herschel 1859/60. Source:

<more at; related links: (New Technique Can Classify a Fingerprint as Male or Female. November 20, 2015) and (Forensic Identification of Gender from Fingerprints. Crystal Huynh, Erica Brunelle, Lenka Halámková, Juliana Agudelo, and Jan Halámek. [Abstract: In the past century, forensic investigators have universally accepted fingerprinting as a reliable identification method, which relies mainly on pictorial comparisons. Despite developments to software systems in order to increase the probability and speed of identification, there has been limited success in the efforts that have been made to move away from the discipline’s absolute dependence on the existence of a prerecorded matching fingerprint. Here, we have revealed that an information-rich latent fingerprint has not been used to its full potential. In our approach, the content present in the sweat left behind—namely the amino acids—can be used to determine physical such as gender of the originator. As a result, we were able to focus on the biochemical content in the fingerprint using a biocatalytic assay, coupled with a specially designed extraction protocol, for determining gender rather than focusing solely on the physical image.])>

Tablets In Education

An Apple for Teacher: How Tablets Are Changing Education

Will a screen in every child's hand help them learn?

Gareth Beavis | July 19, 2015

"If you're writing poetry, write it. Don't type it in just because you can."
The classroom is changing, as new technologies dramatically alter the learning for both teachers and students. And at the heart of this change is the tablet.
You might not think of the classroom as a key market for big companies such as Apple and Google, but according to research conducted by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), there will be nearly a million tablets in UK schools alone by 2016. That's indicative of a vast worldwide market. Manufacturers understandably want their share – and it comes with some significant benefits to education too.

Computer use graph

<more at; (Computers 'do not improve' pupil results, says OECD. September 15, 2015) and (The State of the iPad in Education in 2015. August 3, 2015)>

Li-Fi Technology As A Future Version of Networking

Li-Fi Probably Won’t Be The New Wi-Fi For Most People (+Video)

Nitish Kulkarni | November 29, 2015

Long restricted to the academic domain, Li-Fi, a light-based data delivery method is suddenly getting all sorts of attention. An Estonian startup Velmenni recently tested an commercial implementation and found it to be superior to Wi-Fi in almost every way – except as something you and I will probably ever use.
Velmenni’s technology, called Jungru, uses an LED bulb and transmits data at gigabit speed. It has a theoretical speed of 224 gigabytes per second, the BBC reported. 


<more at; related links: (+Video) (Li-Fi has just been tested in the real world, and it's 100 times faster than Wi-Fi. Sorry, Wi-Fi. We had some good times together. November 24, 2015) and (Li-Fi Uses Lightbulbs To Deliver Broadband 100 Times Faster, But Don’t Throw Out Your Wi-Fi Router. November 29, 2015)>

Online Course Service Udemy Criticized For Pirated Materials

Udemy faces criticism for profiting from pirated online courses

Critics say online learning service doesn't do enough to police copyright violations

Amar Toor | November 29, 2015

Udemy, an online learning service, has come under criticism for selling pirated courses. The controversy began this week, when security specialist Troy Hunt discovered that one of his courses on ethical hacking was available on Udemy under another author's name. As The Next Web reports, the video had been edited to remove Hunt's introduction at the beginning, but was otherwise unchanged from the version available on Pluralsight, the video's copyright holder. On Udemy, the pirated course was available for £37 ($56).

<more at; related links: (Udemy has a piracy problem and it’s relying on users to figure it out. November 27, 2015) and (How Udemy Is Profiting From Piracy. November 27, 2015)>

What Challenges Does Artificial Intelligence (AI) Place On Students Choosing A Career?

Are Machines Making Humans Obsolete?

When artificial intelligence gets good enough, could we all find ourselves replaced?

Oliver Burkeman | September 18, 2015

Suppose that, unlike me, you’re a fresh-faced youngster, just out of education, not yet beaten down by the meaninglessness of human existence, and looking to choose a career. Preferably one that won’t be made obsolete by technology within decades. Factory jobs are out. So is taxi-driving, thanks to driverless cars. But things aren’t looking great for accountants, lawyers or journalists, either; computers already handle the simpler bits of those jobs. Software can mark certain essays with an accuracy approaching that of teachers, and make medical diagnoses more accurately than doctors.

Shoppers admiring a fortune-telling robot at Selfridges, in London.

<more at; related links: (Let’s Automate All the Lawyers? March 25, 2015) and (Two Paths Toward Our Robot Future. October 1, 2015)>

Paramedic Virtual Reality Training Center (UK)

The UK's First University-Based Paramedic Virtual Reality Training Centre Opens

A new clinical simulation centre that can emulate scenes such as a nightclub fire or roadside crash to train the next generation of paramedics has been opened by Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting

St. George's, University of London | November 24, 2015

Based in the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education run jointly by Kingston University and St George’s, University of London, the Paramedic Clinical Simulation Centre includes a hi-tech immersion room which uses 3D technology to emulate real-life settings allowing students to practice emergency scenarios.
The centre also includes two life-sized fully fitted rear sections of ambulances that are equipped to the specification of the London Ambulance Service which enables students to gain vital experience of working in such a confined space when responding to emergency calls and transferring this skill into practice when doing the important job of a paramedic on the roads of Greater London and other regions.


<more at; related links: (University-based Paramedic Virtual Reality Training Center Launches in the UK. November 28, 2015) and (+Video) (Kingston Univerity and St. George's, University of London. Paramedic Science)>

Friday, November 27, 2015

Robots Helping the Aged at Home

California Researchers Eye Robots To Help People Age at Home

Lisa Zamosky | November 16, 2015

University of California-San Diego researchers are working to develop robots that can listen, speak and react to human needs.
Earlier this month, the university launched its Contextual Robotics Institute, a multi-disciplinary effort to develop robotic technology with artificial intelligence that can be used to help the country's growing elderly population "age in place."  
Rajesh Gupta -- professor and chair of the computer science and engineering department at UC-San Diego -- said the new institute's work is unique in that it draws heavily on cognitive sciences with the goal of developing robots that can read emotions and respond to people more like humans.


<more at; related links: (UC San Diego Launches Robotics Institute. October 30, 2015) and (Robots Help Japan's Aging Population. Toyota Motor is trying to develop 'partner robots' that will be able to do household chores and help doctors, nurses and caregivers. October 28, 2011)>

Bitcoin Faces Political Reality

The Paris Attacks Look to Be Altering the EU’s Stance on Bitcoin

Ian Kar | November 19, 2015

While the EU recently took steps to treat bitcoin like any other currency, the Paris attacks seem to have prompted a new round of debate on the issue in Brussels.
Reuters reports that EU interior and justice ministers meeting tomorrow (Nov. 20) will propose cracking down on electronic payments, digital currencies, and the anonymous use of pre-paid cards, presumably to keep these channels from being used as a means for terrorist financing.


<more at; related links: (EU clamps down on bitcoin, anonymous payments to curb terrorism funding. November 19, 2015) and (US Defense Dept. analyzing Bitcoin as potential terrorism threat. May 8, 2014)>

State of MOOCs

MOOCs Rise from the Ashes

Joseph Esposito | November 23, 2015

One could be forgiven for believing that MOOCs had simply faded away. When they first came on the scene, MOOCs — Massive Open Online Courses — were widely and wildly predicted to be about to change the world, and they would do this in three to four weeks. The high cost of higher education would plummet to near zero; second-tier academics would find themselves out of work as the first tier monopolized the MOOCs in their field with the attendant global reach of the Internet; the big-name colleges and universities would be left floundering with their high cost structures and inflexible design; and a new highly-educated global workforce would raise living standards everywhere. Venture capital began to pour in and one institution after another desperately climbed on the bandwagon while the music was still playing. 


<more at; related links: ( The digital revolution in higher education has already happened. No one noticed. November 6, 2015) and (MOOCs in China are growing. June 8, 2015)>

Saving Dying Languages

The top 10 languages in the world claim around half of the world's population. Source:

Languages: Why We Must Save Dying Tongues

Hundreds of our languages are teetering on the brink of extinction, and as Rachel Nuwer discovers, we may lose more than just words if we allow them to die out.

Rachel Nuwer | June 6, 2014

Tom Belt, a native of Oklahoma, didn’t encounter the English language until he began kindergarten. In his home, conversations took place in Cherokee.
Belt grew up riding horses, and after college bounced around the country doing the rodeo circuit. Eventually, he wound up in North Carolina in pursuit of a woman he met at school 20 years earlier. “All those years ago, she said the thing that attracted her to me was that I was the youngest Cherokee she’d ever met who could speak Cherokee,” he says. “I bought a roundtrip ticket to visit her, but I never used the other end of the ticket.”
The couple married. Yet his wife – also Cherokee – did not speak the language. He soon realised that he was a minority among his own people. [...]

<more at; related links: (The Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages) and (Disappearing Languages. Enduring Voices -- Documenting the planet's endangered languages)>

Improving Access to E-Resources

Dismantling the Stumbling Blocks that Impede Researcher Access to E-Resources (+Video)

Roger C. Schonfeld | November 13, 2015

As a returning student in a master’s program, I was excited at the prospect of accessing the wealth of resources a modern research library affords. But the reality has been more frustrating than I could have imagined. Whether logging in from off-site, navigating from ToC alerts or social media, or reading on my phone, I run into stumbling blocks that prevent me from accessing resources that should be available to me. The user experience of working with e-journals and ebooks in an academic setting has failed to keep up with changing practices and preferences for how researchers now expect to access the scholarly literature.


<more at; related links: (STM: The global voice of scholarly publishing) and (Meeting Researchers Where They Start. Streamlining Access to Scholarly Resources. March 26, 2015)>

Data Science Brain Trust

Establishing a Brain Trust for Data Science

National Science Foundation | November 2, 2015

The ability to access, analyze and draw insights from massive amounts of data already drives innovation in areas ranging from medicine to manufacturing, leading to greater efficiency and a higher quality of life.
To accelerate this emerging field, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced four awards totaling more than $5 million to establish regional hubs for data science innovation.
Issues the BD Hubs have identified as priorities include:
  • new technologies for big data and data-driven discovery, including in healthcare and local health disparities
  • management of natural resources and impacts on habitat planning and hazards
  • precision agriculture and the food, energy and water nexus
  • education and smart and connected communities
  • precision medicine
  • energy, materials and manufacturing
  • finance

The Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs cover all 50 states and include commitments from more than 250 organizations — from universities and cities to foundations and Fortune 500 corporations — with the ability to expand further over time. Courtesy of NSF
The Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs cover all 50 states and include commitments from more than 250 organizations — from universities and cities to foundations and Fortune 500 corporations — with the ability to expand further over time. Courtesy of NSF. Source:

<more at; related links: (Building the U.S. Big Data Machine. November 19, 2015) and (Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs. Accelerating the Big Data Innovation Ecosystem)>

Room Built By A Robot (Rotterdam, Holland)

This Room Was Built by a Robot (+Video)

Duncan Geere | November 20, 2015

This lovely building was carefully crafted by a robot, using automatic milling techniques. It's apparently the first robotically-fabricated building in the Netherlands, according to its designers Studio RAP.
The 130-square-metre space was designed in a 3D modelling program, which yielded plans that involve 235 wooden panels.
A robotic arm then carefully milled the panels out of wood, which were installed into a disused machine hall by humans.

This Building's Swooping Curves Were Fabricated By a Robot

<more at; related links: (Studio RAP) and (This Building's Swooping Curves Were Fabricated By a Robot. November 20, 2015)>

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Semantic Search

Tell Me More, Tell Me More: Semantic Search & Long-Tail Keywords

Holly Semanchick | November 21, 2015

Think of the questions you would ask if someone wanted you to purchase shoes for them online: What size? Where will you wear them? What color?
A lack of adjectives and factors aside, users would want those results quickly, and scrolling through muck is a waste of time.
This is where Google’s semantic search (via the 2013 Hummingbird update) comes into play. Based mostly on long-tail keyword searches, semantic search identifies how data is related to searched concepts.

Segment of the Semantic Web pertaining to Yo-Yo Ma. Source:
<more at; related links: (A Basic Introduction to the Semantic Web. October 15, 2015) and (Semantic Technology Is Not Only For Data Geeks. October 30, 2015)>

3D Printing of Fossils

3D Printing Fossils: Oxford Researcher Prints & Shares Fossils from Jurassic Epoch

Fabian | November 23, 2015

[...]With some colleagues, Roger recently published a paper reporting the discovery of a 170-million-year-old fossilized mammal jaw belonging to a mouse-sized species called Palaeoxonodon ooliticus. The team found this jaw in Middle Jurassic rocks on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Palaeoxonodon is an important species for understanding the evolution of molar teeth in modern mammals. With the help of Roger’s 3D printing and 3D scanning knowledge, the team of researchers found out that that three species previously described on the basis of individual fossilized teeth actually might only belong to just one species.[...]

Example of 3D scanned and printed dinosaur skull. Source:
<more at; related links: (Oxford Researcher Recovers Jurassic Epoch Fossils with 3D Printing. November 25, 2015) and (Newly Discovered Hadrosaur Restored with 3D Printing. September 24, 2015)>

Readbug: "Spotify for Magazines"

Readbug Wants To Be Spotify For Indie Magazines

Natasha Lomas | November 21, 2015

[...]London based Readbug is another startup with publishing industry expertise firing its engines. Co-founder and CEO Matthew Hammett has a background launching small and big magazine titles. And his startup pitch can be summed up very concisely — as ‘Spotify for magazines’.
Specifically independent, cult and classic magazine titles — so not the garish mass market fare you’ll find rammed in your eyeline at the supermarket checkout screaming about celebrities and cellulite. Readbug bills its aggregated digitized magazine content as alternative/aspirational stuff, read by “creative and curious” types. And Hammett says it’s deliberately “handpicking and curating” the titles it wants to repackage and distribute on its platform in order to establish its own editorial voice — as well it must to stand a chance of pulling eyeballs in an era of free info overload. [...]


<more at (Readbug - Cult, Classic, Independent and Award-winning Magazines for the Creative and Curious. By Readbug Limited) and (rj mitte. can't is a four letter word)>

Asking If the Library of Congress Is Still Necessary

Renewing the Library of Congress

Bloomberg View | November 23, 2015

For 215 years, the Library of Congress has been collecting and organizing the world's knowledge for the benefit of Americans. Now its longtime leader is exiting amid acrimony, its mission is increasingly muddled and -- no small matter -- Americans have Google. Is the world's largest library still necessary?

The answer is yes. But as with every institution in the digital age, it needs to evolve. Its next leader, the 14th Librarian of Congress, will face three big challenges.


<more at; related links: (Is copyrighting a book necessary before I self-publish my book with AuthorHouse?) and (How many Libraries of Congress does it take? March 23, 2012)>

Inkjet Metal 3D Printer Coming in 2016

World's First Inkjet Metal 3D Printer to Launch in 2016

Beth McKenna | November 21, 2015

Israel-based start-up Xjet plans to bring the world's first direct-metal 3D printer based on jetting technology to market in 2016, according to the Times of Israel.
Fellow 3D printing company Objet, now part of Stratasys , pioneered the use of jetting technology in the 3D printing of polymers with its Polyjet tech. Xjet plans to do in the metals space what Objet did with polymers. Its metal 3D printer could be a game changer, because it will reportedly be more affordable than the metal 3D printers now on the market.


<more at; related links: (Xjet to develop world's first direct 3D metal jetting system for custom metal manufacturing. November 10, 2015) and (+Video) (Xjet – Metal 3d For Next Generation Products)>

Reviving Digital Into Print?

The Irony of Writing Online About Digital Preservation

Last month, The Atlantic published a lengthy article about information that is lost on the web. That story itself is in jeopardy.

Meredith Broussard | November 20, 2015

Recently, Adrienne LaFrance wrote in The Atlantic about the digital death and rebirth of a story that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2008. Because “The Crossing,” a 34-part series originally published by the Rocky Mountain News, was born digital, it was not as easily archived as print stories, and its journey from obscurity to resurrection was moving.
I loved LaFrance’s story. It was masterfully written, and it touched on most of the issues that digital preservationists grapple with every day. Coincidentally, the story was published the same week as a special issue of Newspaper Research Journal called “Capturing and Preserving the ‘First Draft of History’ in the Digital Environment,” which is a collection of scholarly papers (including my own) about preserving digital news.

<more at; related links: (Special Issue: Capturing and Preserving the First Draft of History in the Digital Environment. September 2015, vol. 36, no. 3) and (New CRL Analysis: “Preserving News in the Digital Environment”. May 6, 2011)>

Marines Are Training Robo-Dog

The Marines Start Training Google's 160-Pound Robo-Dog Spot

Mariella Moon | November 21, 2015

Spot, the silent robo-dog made by Google-owned company Boston Dynamics, enjoyed the great outdoors for a week back in September. Not to fetch sticks or roll around in the grass, but to train... with the Marines. It's gone a long way since its time stalking indoors, getting kicked by well-meaning engineers. The corps tested Spot's ability to traverse terrains rougher than concrete floors, such as hills, woodlands and cities, controlling it from 500 meters away with a laptop and a video game controller. It was apparently so easy to pilot the quadruped, even a four-year-old could do it.


<more at; related links: (Google acquires Boston Dynamics, the robot builder behind Big Dog and Cheetah. December 14, 2013) and (List of Robotic Dogs)>

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Quit Facebook For One Week (For Your Mental Health)

This is Why You Should Quit Facebook For One Week

Psychologists tested the effect of a week-long break from Facebook on people’s mental health. Here’s what they found.

Jeremy Dean | November 2015

There is a brand new treatment available which can increase your concentration, boost your social life and increase your happiness.
It’s totally free.
You can start right now.
It doesn’t require any drugs, or meeting psychologists or anything else at all.
Want to try it? Of course you do.
It’s called ‘Taking-A-Week-Off-Facebook’.
The ‘treatment’ is based on a study by the Happiness Research Institute, which is a Danish think-tank.


<more at; related links: (We Quit Facebook for One Week — What Happened Surprised Us (a Lot!). November 2015) and (Behind the “Unlikes:” Understanding Why People Quit Facebook. September 19, 2013)>

First Cyborg Plant

Scientists Unveil the World's First Cyborg Plant

Maddie Stone | November 21, 2015

The concept of “green energy” got a whole lot more literal this week, when scientists announced they’d successfully turned living roses into electronic circuits. That’s right—cyborg flowers are now a thing.
Despite how it sounds, the aim isn’t to create a race of leafy green borg that will one day rise up and enslave their human masters. Instead, think smart plants that can sense and display environmental changes, or crops whose growth can be regulated at the flick of a switch. 

World's first cyborg rose. Source:

<more at; related links: (World's First 'Cyborg Rose' Born in Sweden. November 22, 2015) and (The first cyborg plants have been created in Sweden. November 23, 2015)>

Teens Can't Tell Difference Between Google Ads and Search Results

Teens Can't Tell the Difference Between Google Ads and Search Results

James Vincent | November 20, 2015

The familiar narrative of teens and technology is one of natural proficiency — that young people just get technology in a way that older generations don't. But research suggests that just because children feel at home using smartphones, it doesn't mean they're more aware of the nuances of how the web works. In a new report published by the UK's telecoms watchdog Ofcom, researchers found that only a third of young people aged 12 to 15 knew which search results on Google were adverts, while this figure was even lower — less than one in five — for children aged 8 to 11.



<more at; related links: (Google accused of using 'unfair and deceptive' ads on YouTube Kids. April 7, 2015) (The FTC’s Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking)>

Zuckerberg Provides 20 Million Dollars for Faster School Internet

Mark Zuckerberg Donates $20 Million to Give Kids Faster Internet at Schools

Biz Carson | November 19, 2015

Mark Zuckerberg is on a mission to bring internet to the world, but that includes increasing internet access in the US, too. 
In a Facebook post, the social network's founder announced that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are donating $20 million to Education Super Highway, a nonprofit group that helps schools receive funding to improve their internet connections.


<more at (Announcing the release of the 2015 State of the States. A report on the state of connectivity in America's K-12 public schools) and (Mark Zuckerberg Gives $20 Million to Help Schools Get Faster Internet. November 19, 2015)>