I tend to focus on hardware etc – but social progress is still being driven by software… the hardware revolution has yet to break, the software revolution has been breaking (in successive waves) for decades now. The Information Wars aren’t about hardware yet. They will be soon… but not yet.
1) Bitcoin just went past $1000.
In other news, Litecoin (a bitcoin competitor which uses (arguably) a better system), now has a market cap of $1bn… which has happened seriously fucking fast. For some reason, that makes the whole thing feel less stable than bitcoin on it’s own, though it really it means the opposite I guess.
The potential value of these systems (for making free international money transfers) is absolutely gigantic… trillions… but they’re not actually being used for that yet. This is bubble behaviour at the moment… that said, if they do ever become the defacto method for money-transfer, then you can probably legitimately add a couple of zeros to their value. Unless there are loads and loads of clones. It’s complicated.
In other bitcoin news:
a) The Silk Road was closed and is back again in less than a month.
b) Apparently someone’s actually created the long-theorised-about assassins market. Could be a false-flag. Could be real. Can’t see it working. Assassination hardly ever a grass-routes enterprise. It’s almost always power speaking to power.
c) The latest boost has come from China, which now has the biggest exchange. The Chinese Govt has banned virtual currencies before, but seems (so far) ok with this.
I’d be quite interested to see what happens if someone does try to ban it… how they’d actually enforce it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if an Ancestral Transaction Map of BTC exchanges happens at some point – so every transaction can be traced to a human being. Spy vs Spy all over again.
I’m not sure I entirely understand Ripple – but I get a better vibe from it than bitcoin. I think it’s a similar sort of thing – ie: it’s all about money transfers.
The thing about bitcoin though – is that so many people hate it, it has all the shit in the world thrown at it… it takes the hits and carries on. There’s something about failing in public, then surviving, that is more reassuring than a shiny interface onto a system that has never had any problems. Well… none that I’ve seen anyway.
A cloud storage service in which the punters can see the software, and the company can’t see the data. Encryption happens at client level, and the server-software is a) distributed and b) open-source.
Your data is broken up and distributed over a number of nodes – the defaults being “broken up in to 10 bits, distributed across 7 servers, only 3 of which are needed to get your data back”. Fairly resiliant in other words. It’s a commercial instantiation of Tahoe-LAFS.
Havenco.com offer the same service, which includes VPN.
4) TIME Person of the Year poll fucks up again. Usually it fucks up because everyone piles on and votes for an anti-establishment candidate, which time then vetos. This year it’s been hacked by someone who’s pushed that embarrassing pop-star who’s always sticking her tongue out to the top.
Even though the hack has been published, TIME appear not to be trying to remedy the situation – because (I suppose) that would mean Ed Snowden would be at the top – and embarrassing though the pop-star is, at least she’s not anti-establishment. She’s completely establishment… She rebels inside the box.
Although now that I check it again, an Egyptian general/politician and an Indian politician are now in 2nd/3rd place, with Turkey and Syria following close behind. The world is leaking into the internet.
5) Linux worm attacking The Internet Of Things. Basically means that in the future, your light-switches will need to be auto-downloading security patches. The internet is leaking into the world. The Age of Boundary Dissolution.
6) Here’s a police identikit picture of Mozart, circa 1777, created by the German Federal Criminal Police Office from four paintings.
Looks like the guys who made this
Which is k-for cool. Looks a bit like an flying Aptera. I kindof preferred the DIY vibe of the other one though.
Only in Germany would you get a building that big, with a floor that clean. Infrastructure man, It’s the business.
More (impressive) detail on it here:
Using electric motors like this cuts out a whole haystack of complexity, while at the same time allowing far greater computer control. Even if we weren’t running out of oil (and sky to dump the fumes), electric would be a better way of doing it. Only 20 minutes flight time though. Therein lies the rub.
Marvellous. I like wooden pixels.
1) wooden pixels.
By Han Lee, who also did the music… mainly seems to do digital stuff – website, but actual physical reality is a whole lot more interesting – even if it isn’t immediately apparent what it’s actually for. It does have to be for anything man. It just is. Not dissimilar to yourself in a lot of ways. I mean what are YOU actually for? Hmm? Yea, exactly. Fuck all.
Started out with lego versions
Still not entirely sure how it’s done – the lego ones are servos… wooden, I’m not so sure. I’d do it with linear actuators or whatever they’re called. Solenoids. That would make the entire thing cost about 320 dollars minimum though. Maybe I should try rolling my own. I’ve been thinking about making my own guitar pickups for a while now. Same thing innit.
Wonderful flying boats that look as light as a feather etc
Spectacular photos – the drone has a camera on top… which is unusual for drones. Seems odd that they’ve left a tripod adaptor on top as well. If that’s what it is. Interesting that they brought it down with a jammer though. I would have used a crossbow, but then I’m a traditionalist.
There are a bunch of them on Kickstarter at the mo…. the price of them is coming down fairly dramatically – much the same as 3D printers did… but I’m guessing like printers (and PCs), (and DSLRs), there will be a “state of the art” price level around $1k (with $20k for pros), because that’s what the market will stand.
The kickstarter ones are:
Neither of which are waltzing home yet – the latter one’s USP is that it’s water-proof… or will be. Getting there though. I like these things.
Speaking of which, there’s some musing here about whether or not microcopters might be better with one big rotor and a load of small ones... which may or may not be the case, but they mentioned this video of a single rotor RC copter. Holy fuck
Which is a thing that physically reproduces “shapes” albeit in a low-res sort of way…
… which is a bit of an insult to the creators… 900 actuators is a LOT of actuators.
I saw this thing in an art gallery in the UK once… which was a walkway of thin planks on the ground – that moved when someone in Amsterdam walked across a similar, sister-walkway. This is kindof like that, but a whole lot better.
Actuators don’t come cheap though – it’d probably be cheaper just to use the mechanical turk method:
And have a small person sitting inside it – although controlling 900 pixels at a time could be tricky.
Elsewhere in the world of physical pixels:
1) Quantum leap in the manufacture of 3D printed guns, albeit one that would cost more than one made using standard metallurgy. How much an untraceable gun costs, I wouldn’t know. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
This is a “making of an advert” video. Can’t be arsed with the advert itself because they’ve CGId it, so you can’t tell what’s an electromechanical marvel, and what’s just a digital drawing. Which I guess is an electromechanical marvel in it’s own right, but we’re bored with that now. You’ve got to have this standing-wave vacillation between fantasy and reality. Too much fantasy and we lose interest. We need to swing back to the felt presence of immediate experience as it were. It’s how art works, it’s how porn works. Jessica Rabbit vs The Girl Next Door.
Although as far as I’m aware, they haven’t actually gotten the thing to go yet – and it’s looking like a fairly daring bit of vapourware at this point, given extra traction by the fact that the surname of the makers is Vader.
This is pretty cool – it’s using an Occulus-Rift for the visuals, and a horizontal delta-arm setup, which has got to be an improvement on the normal cartesian-gantry system than CNC machines generally use. What it lacks in build-chamber size, it probably makes up for with resolution, which is around 100μm.
You could probably hook it up with something like this:
Which is an EEG sensor connected to an smartphone that detects when you’re interested in something… and if you are, it videos it. I quite like this because the EEG interface is kindof minimal – compared to the usual sort of thing.
which is a massive hassle, believe you me.
Anyway, you could hook the delta machine up to an EEG machine to control it, leaving both hands free to… erm… do a rubicks cube, or knit or something. Some sort of hobby.
From here, which is a fairly good example of the way technology is evolving too big/fast/diverse to keep track of any more.
Mind you – at the beginning of this, the dude says “the goal is to reproduce the amazing capabilities of insects”…
… so let’s take a wasp for example, it can:
– self-fuel using energy from its environment
– see (smell touch balance taste? hear?)
– self-replicate using ingredients from its environment
– organise into swarms
– fight (teeth, poison)
– fly, with amazing stability, for long periods
– 3D print nests using ingredients from its environment
– run about the place being a pest
and about a hundred equally miraculous things*. I’d say we’ve got a way to go yet – in fact as I keep saying, it’s probably going to be easier just to reprogram the wasps than to try to make one ourselves.
I was going to put “evolve” into that list, but that’s so fundamental to any replicating / competing architecture, that it’s a bit redundant. Evolution isn’t a skill, it’s a side-effect.
Oh yea… “Search and Rescue“. Bless. We still don’t really know what these things are for
* but their cultural achievements are dismal
That’s pretty cool – uses the motors / shafts out of CD/DVD players. I knew they’d be useful for something.
I have this nagging suspish that this setup (or something like it) might have real-world laser-cutter applications – because (unlike a CNC mill) you’re not having to lug around a giant router – all you’re moving is a set of mirrors or a fibre.
They’re flogging it on ebay – bidding at £360 so far, which is quite a lot I think, but it a neat little critter.
Not the first by the looks – there’s another one on Instructables
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about laser-cutters though… it’s get the most powerful laserbeam you possibly can. 90% of fuckups happen because it hasn’t cut all the way through… so what you’d be wanting, is one of these, but with a 100w, 1.5 metre long tube. Anything worth doing, is worth over-doing.
This is interesting for a couple of reasons:
1) it’s amazing DIY technology… a robot doing something that the average human could not do… but doing something completely useless.
Maybe this is all working towards something useful – there’s been a flotilla of motor-driven steadicams recently (balancing machines)… with the usual camera-speak prefix “Affordable”, which actually means “Ten times more than the price of the camera”… but I don’t know if that’s ‘useful’, in the way that we (not just humanity, but the biosphere) need things to be useful.
What we really need is a shift from scarcity based economics, to abundance-based. So we can feed and water the 7 billion people on the planet, without destroying the biosphere.
Just for a laugh, we should kill all be billionaires as well – but let’s get radical abundance sorted first. If we sort that, then there won’t be any billionaires, because billionaires tend to be billionaires because they’re running artificial-scarcity regimes that allow them to skim the entire surplus (and not so surplus) value that humanity creates.
And I don’t know if balancing a robot on a football is a good way of doing that. Too early to tell. It might be, in an indirect way.
TL;DR : Amazing tech doing something useless.
2) It was made by a Chinese Startup (fuck ‘startups’)… a Chinese Startup who specialises in doing stuff for “Makers”, ie: people in the west who need a bit of a helping hand with their kickstarter/indiegogo projects. Which is a really cool idea I think.
The website, is an unsettlingly unpopulated shell, which appears to have been blatantly pinched from some Czech Web Dev guys. This does not bode well… but ignoring that for the moment*, I quite like the idea of linkage between geeks from our radically different global economies.
I’m not sure why I like the idea of this – it is in a way just low-level exporting of jobs to places that have no labour laws, but there’s something quite cyber-punk about it… and for me personally, if I’m partnering with someone from another country, I’m happy to pay them the same rate that I pay myself. It’s not about cheap labour, it’s about dissolving barriers between “Nations”.
A Nation is basically just a circle drawn on a map where people are taxed to buy weapons to fight people in other circles… with whom they have no particular quarrel, but the circle-leaders “want more”. It’d be good to get rid of this bullshit… and cross-border geek-collaboration is probably a pretty good way of doing it, because we are interested in building systems. We understand ecosystems – usually (in my experience) better than actual biologists do. And we just want people to like us. We’re more interested in making a really cool great big thing that saves the world, than making money.
Don’t believe me? This site is running on a LAMP stack, with WordPress on top, and jQuery on the side, written by me, in my spare time – which I have a lot of. All of that is open-source, and in case you didn’t know, LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP run the internet… an increasingly, so does WordPress (and it isn’t even very good)).
Part of the problem with geeks (or anyone for that matter) wanting to save the world, is that we’re not actually talking to the bits of the world that could possibly (if we actually listened to them) do with our help. Cross-border/ideology geek projects are a way around that.
Another possible example of this is a Mexican / US startup that does micro-copters
Which looks a bit more together on the web front – although it does seem to be a bit more old-school as well… copyright symbols at the foot of every page. A Copyright Symbol (©) is a special badge that means “Damaged”. “From The Past”.
My first foray into Tindle rang similar bells – I was buying electronic expertise from a guy in Nepal – there’s something good about dealing with other people one to one. I guess it’s to do with the knowledge you’re not dealing with some sweat-shop somewhere, who leave no corner uncut, and who will never tire of finding ways to short-change you.
* So how come you’re always railing about copyright, but somebody copying and pasting someone else’s web-site is “bad”?
Well… it boils down the the subtle and important distinction surrounding copyright and plagiarism. Breaking copyrights/patents is to ignore an artificial scarcity… a legal fiction that has been set up so someone can get ‘something for nothing’ – plagiarism is identity theft.
There should be no laws governing plagiarism – the penalty should be (as it is in comedy), embarrassment… loss of credibility. That’s enough.
What Ufactory are doing web-wise is (in my opinion) on the “identity theft” side of the line. I’d see this more as plagiarism than breaking an artificial scarcity against which someone is charging monopoly rents. It’s not a particularly big deal – but the fact that they don’t take pride in ‘building their site themselves’, but would rather (hermit-crab-like) move into someone else’s shell, doesn’t really bode well as far as geek-to-geek synchronicity of vibe goes.