Rise of the Digital Reader

Today we have come to an age where storage space seems to be running out. And the weird part is that it is not just limited to digital content. Slowly everything around is being converted to its digital avatar. With the rise of the digital readers, otherwise called e-book readers, people believe that the beloved bookshelf is soon to disappear.

The reason why these readers are so popular is because of the convenience—they can easily carry multiple volumes of books inside them. Since the Internet is practically everywhere, buying books on the move has also removed the need to go to a bookstore. Many classics are available free of cost, so they can dazzle children generations from now.

Digital readers are similar to tablet computers, but vary in the technology employed. A tablet, such as an iPad, has a clear and sharp screen and has the ability to interact fast. However, in an e-book reader, electronic paper technology is used which makes reading in bright outdoors easier. Do not worry about the battery life since the battery is powerful.

Popular digital readers on the market are:

Despite their increasing popularity, many believe that these digital readers will not hold the same emotional value as a book. Well, is it the book or the story that is so captivating?

Four Little-Known Ways to Use Your iPhone for Household Tasks

The iPhone truly is an amazing piece of technology. Besides just making cell phone calls, it’s capable of email, scheduling, GPS navigation, streaming music, recording video, and pretty much everything you could ever want in a handheld tech device. But surprisingly, this handy little device can also be used around your home to complete a number of mundane household tasks. From DIY to simple chores, here are some interesting things you didn’t know you could use your iPhone for.

1. Stud finder

During some DIY projects, you’ll need to find the framing studs in your wall. Believe it or not, your iPhone can do this. Because it has a magnetometer (used to make the compass app work), apps like Stud Find or iStud can detect screws or nails into a stud. Why spend cash on a dedicated stud-finder device when you could just spend a couple of bucks on an app?

2. Measure pretty much anything

No ruler? No tape measure? No problem! Apps like Aim or Size That Up use your iPhone’s camera to take approximate measurements of items. Size That Up compares objects of a known size (like a credit card) next to the object you want to measure, while Aim makes its calculations based on your height and the angle of your shot.

3. Plumb Bob and Level

An iPhone can really be a huge help with DIY projects. The built-in motion sensors make the iPhone ideal for acting as either a descent level or a plumb bob. iHandy apps offer some of the best tools for these kind of jobs.

4. Organizing your remotes

One common weekend project is paring down your pile of Blu-ray, TV, Internet TV, and sound system remotes into a single remote. Thankfully, your iPhone can also be used to consolidate remotes. Apps like Hippo Remote can work out great.

Sorry, but your car can be hacked

Car hacking

Your car is basically becoming one big computer. PHOTO: 123rf

Michael Knight is driving along when KITT (you know, his talking car) suddenly breaks into song.

“Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer dooo. I’m half crazy all for the love of yoooou.”

Uh-oh. You know what that means. Someone (probably Michael’s twisted twin, Garth) has hacked KITT. That means we’re in for a particularly corny episode of “Knight Rider.”

Thank goodness it’s fiction. No one could ever hack into your Dodge Dart.

Yeah, actually, hate to break it you, but someone could in the near future. If your cars breaks into song, you should take it to a mechanic or computer geek immediately.

CNN reports there’s really little danger of your car taking up musical theater. More likely, the hacker will force you to take a sharp right at 7 mph and send you to a fiery death.

Depending on your car’s singing voice, that could actually be worse.

CNN reports that many cars are already high-tech computers, and more and more, they are being given wireless connectivity. What you end up with is a multi-ton smartphone barreling along at highway speeds.

According to the network, cars often have 50 to 100 tiny computers that control steering, acceleration and brakes. These computers are particularly gullible, CNN reports.

They never checking whether or not the command they’re getting is from the right person. The command could be coming from (you guessed it) that evil fiend Garth Knight.

CNN adds that computer code in cars is often outdated and is easily manipulated. Making it even easier is how every electronic part inside a car is connected to a central spine. Tap one part, CNN reports, and you can likely reach any other.

“The protocol and internal parts of the car were never meant to be connected to anything,” Joe Klein, a researcher at security firm Disrupt6, tells CNN.

To put that in perspective, CNN reports, the spaceship that took Neil Armstrong to the moon had 145,000 lines of computer code. The Android operating system has 12 million. A modern car has at least 100 million lines of code.

“Auto manufacturers are not up to speed,” Ed Adams, a researcher at Security Innovation, a company that tests the safety of automobiles, tells the network. “They’re just behind the times. Car software is not built to the same standards as, say, a bank application. Or software coming out of Microsoft.”

Welcome to the Google time machine

Google time machine

Google Street View will now let you travel back in time. Is your mind sufficiently blown? PHOTO: 123rf

Google has invented a time machine. In a sense.

You cannot go back to the past, but you can peek at it.

Executives at Google have added a time-travel function to Google Street View. Soon, you will not only be able to see up-close images of streets and buildings around the world, you’ll be able to see what they looked like years ago.

“You can travel to the past to see how a place has changed over the years by exploring Street View imagery in Google Maps for desktop,” the Christian Science Monitor quotes Vinay Shet, Google Street View product manager.

“We’ve gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world,” Shet adds.

INSTRUCTIONS

The Christian Science Monitor reports can see the Freedom Tower in New York City being constructed as well as the breaking of ground on the 2014 World Cup stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil.

According to the paper, you can also track the removal of debris in Onagawa, Japan, following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The Christian Science Monitor reports the new feature adds double the amount of images previously accessible via Google Street View.

“Forget going 88 mph in a DeLorean,” Shet tells the paper. “You can stay where you are and use Google Maps to virtually explore the world as it is — and as it was.”

Phaser TV remote set to stun trekkies

Phaser TV remote

Phasers set on “awesome” with this new TV remote modeled after the “Star Trek” weapon. PHOTO: Bing

Every now and again, a piece of tech comes along guaranteed to make nerds drool.

You might thinking nothing can compete with the bust of William Shakespeare that came out a few years ago. If you tip Will’s head back, you can press a secret button — just like on the 1966 TV show “Batman.”

How could anything be more awesome than that. Try a universal TV remote in the shape of a Type II phaser from the original “Star Trek” series.

Why do all the really cool things date from 1966?

Now if there could just be a TV remote shaped like Helena Bonham Carter.

The Type II phaser, in case you’re not a nerd, is the pistol-shaped version of the famous zap gun (as opposed to the little one that looks like a cellphone).

Digital Spy reports the phaser remote comes from the same company that made remotes to look like Harry Potter’s magic wand and the sonic screwdriver used on “Doctor Who.”

You mean the wand got made into a remote before the phaser?! It’s a galaxy gone mad.

As well as changing channels, Digital Spy reports the phaser remote stores up to 36 remote commands and makes these awesome phaser sound effects when you shoot your television.

The device is set to debut this month at Comic-Con in San Diego and officially go on sale in November for a little more than $100 through Firebox.

Times change, and so does the dictionary

Dictionary

New technology is adding words to the dictionary, even as books are being left behind. PHOTO: 123rf\

Selfie. Hashtag. Catfish.

The 21st century and its technology is adding a lot of new words to the dictionary.

What’s a dictionary? It’s book that lists most of the words in the English language and you tells you how to spell and pronounce them properly. What’s a book? Go ask your grandparents.

Take your time. If you were born during or after the Reagan administration, odds are you don’t really care how words are spelled or pronounced.

So anyway, this book you will never see and don’t care about has a bunch of new words in it because of you and your friends. For example, before you guys came along, everyone thought a catfish was something you caught and ate.

Now it is a person who sets up a Facebook account for his cat and creates some other kind of phony social media profile. (Doesn’t that woman on OKCupid look suspiciously like one of the mannequins at the mall?)

Then there is troll.

Most people used to think troll, as a noun, referred to a certain kind of short and disreputable fellow who lives under bridges and harrasses billy goats. As a verb, it generally referred to fishing from a moving boat while dragging the line through the water.

That explains your father’s confusion when you told him you were being trolled on the internet. Troll, by the new dictionary definition, refers to being bullied on the computer.

Stick that in your Funk & Wagnall’s.

Actually, stick it in your Merriam-Webster — along with selfie, hashtag, tweep, crowdfunding, steampunk and some 150 other new words.

A tweep, in case you are older and curious, is a young person roughly between the ages of 12 and 18 who regularly keeps company with adults ages 25 and older.

“So many of these new words show the impact of online connectivity to our lives and livelihoods,” Peter Sokolowski, the editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster, tells the website RawStory. “Tweep, selfie, and hashtag refer to the ways we communicate and share as individuals.”

Selfie was admitted to the online version of the Oxford English dictionary in 2013 and was named Word of the Year.

Use it in a sentence? OK. “Your high school English teacher posted this selfie on Facebook … right before she killed herself.”

New app puts networking at your fingertips

Networking app

A new app rallies all of your professional forces within seconds. PHOTO: NextSociety

You’ve spent a lot of time getting out there meeting people and building your network. But how do you go about tapping into your network and unlocking its value?

A new networking application, nextSociety (xS), enables you to sift through hundreds, if not thousands, of your contacts to get to the right people.

The app sweeps through your iPhone and LinkedIn contacts to help you identify your 150 most relevant contacts depending on your professional interests.

Say you’re planning a trip or just need to do some specific networking. You choose what your professional interests are right now, and nextSociety combs through your contacts and find only the people relevant to your search.

At any given time, regardless of the criteria you enter, you will be shown up to 150 people that meet your parameters. Your contacts are shown in a circle with a colored ring around the edge indicating a relevance score.

You can also enter location for that upcoming trip. The app will add networking opportunities to your stream. It this information from your iPhone contacts as well as LinkedIn and Facebook.

“Think of it as an available update per person, just like updates available for apps on the App store,” Alexander Tange, Co-Founder of nextSociety, tells All Technology Tips.

“You can tap on any contact to see where networking opportunities exist and reach out to them. This is then facilitated by the app. It will automatically create your networking agenda to keep track of everything.”

Tange adds the xS app is very useful if you have a large number of contacts and will even more useful as more people start using it.

“You can pre-check-in at places and then see who of relevance will also be there,” he says.

Although the app is currently mildly limited by the sources from which it pulls information, the developers hope to add a full complement of social networks soon.

Wristband zaps you if you don’t exercise

Zappy thing

A new wristband zaps you if you fail to go to the gym because, really, you’re just a lab rat. PHOTO: Bing

Somewhere in the vastness of space, extraterrestrials are looking down upon us with knitted green brows.

Those human lab rats they’ve been experimenting on for years are finally getting smarter. Now they’re starting to zap themselves.

That’s right. You apparently lack the self discipline and motivation to exercise, so you need to treat yourself like an experimental rodent by giving yourself a mild electric shock if you fail to get enough exercise.

The Daily Telegraph in London reports there’s a new wearable fitness tracker going on sale later this year to do just that.

It’s call the Pavlok, a play on Pavlov after Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, the Russian physiologist who used various stimuli to create conditioned reponses (most famously in his dog).

Mild electric shocks supposedly conditon you to get out of bed on time and tend to your exercise needs.

“Research shows that consistency is the key to forming a habit,” the Telegraph quotes from the device’s website. “When you use Pavlok to stick to your goals, you’ll find that they become easier and eventually, automatic.

“At that point, use Pavlok to train your next habit and keep up your transformation into a better you.”

Or a lab rat.

3 Tech Gadgets All Cyclists Will Want

cyclistsphonesIf you’re an avid cyclist, you might not think much about technology, aside from aerodynamics and keeping your helmet as safe as possible. However, there are many different technological innovations that have been incredibly beneficial for cyclists through the years.

Now there are even more coming on the market that have some cyclists drooling with anticipation. After all, the more comfortable, safer, or more enjoyable a ride through town, the countryside, or along city streets can be, it would be well worth it.

Wireless Turn Signal

Yes, cyclists are supposed to use hand signals whenever coming upon a turn or when stopping. Not many actually do this anymore unless they know there are cars behind them or coming the opposite way. It can actually be a dangerous situation in city driving taking a hand off the handlebar to signal, which is why wireless turn signals are a great asset.

Not only do these LED signals provide visual cues to drivers behind the cyclist, they also emit a loud beep to indicate that the rider is going to be making a turn. That can help grab just about anyone’s attention to what’s ahead for them.

These wireless turn signals are positioned under the seat so drivers can easily see them and they are controlled by a small button by the handrail, allowing the rider to remain safely in control at all times.

GPS Turn by Turn Navigation

There are a few different brands, but Hammerhead is one of the elite. This is a GPS device that will tell cyclists turn by turn where they need to go, whether they’re just out for a 40 mile ride on a Saturday or actually trying to reach a particular destination. There’s no need to look around and try to figure out what street is coming up and whether or not they have to actually turn, get into the left portion of the lane, or put themselves in harm’s way because they’re not sure where the next turn is.

By relying on technology that sits right on the center of the handlebars, the rider is able to see the lights indicating the next turn. It can even integrate with certain cycling apps.

The Siva Cycle Atom

For those cyclists that want to bring along powered devices, such as a smartphone or the aforementioned GPS navigation system, the Siva Cycle Atom is a device that connects to the bicycles axle and generates power. Connecting devices to it is easy via the USB port.

It also comes with a charging battery so if the cyclist didn’t want to actually charge anything (or deal with the hassle of tying anything down) while riding, they could charge it when they reached their destination. This might not seem like a great innovation, considering you can charge devices from almost anywhere now, but many cyclists enjoy riding into the middle of nowhere. Trying to rest and relax and still keep in touch with loved ones may not be possible if that phone or other device runs out of battery.

 

Written by G. T. Hedlund

 

What are the ethics of robot bartenders?

Robot bartender

Set ’em up, Joe-Bot. PHOTO: Bing images

“A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to
harm.”

— Isaac Asimov’s First Law of Robotics

CUSTOMER: “More Saurian brandy, you clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caligenous junk!”

BARTENDER: “N-n-negative, Doc-Doc-Doctor Smith [whirr, click]! You ha-ha-have reached your m-m-maximum alcoholic tolerance and must [fzzz] abstain from further ingestion of intoxicating b-b-beverages [sputter].”

Stupid robot bartenders. They think they’re so artificially intelligent.

Of course, you really have to blame ol’ Isaac Asimov if your robot bartender cuts you off. He’s the one who famously came up with the Three Laws of Robotics in his 1942 short story “Runaround.”

They were quickly adopted in all of his stories featuring robots and then generally became accepted throughout science fiction. However, the Three Laws raise certain ethical questions in the real world as artificial intelligence inches closer and closer to being a reality.

This whole first-do-no-harm concept … just how far does it go?

Could a robot bartender keep providing a human being with drinks even though the dumb meat bag make get behind the wheel of a car (or hovercraft) and quite possibly hurt himself or others?

That’s the question raised in the short film “A Robot Walks Into A Bar,” directed by Alex River.

The Verge reports that the movie deals with a robot who grapples with the unintended pain he causes to the people around him while being unable to stop the violence that human beings to do one another.

(See the “inaction” clause of the First Law.)

The film addresses some issues human beings may have to grapple with themselves soon. For instance, are Asimov’s laws workable if the emotional stakes are high?

The full film is available at futurestates.tv. The site also includes a collection of meditations on technology and the future.

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