What New Inventions Did Star Trek Predict?

Posted by Bob Muir on Feb 5, 2014 in Star Trek, Tech

Medical Tricorder

Star Trek has a long history of predicting modern technology years before we made it. Cell phones, video calls, tablets, there’s a lot that wasn’t conceptualized (or at least popularized) before appearing somewhere in the franchise. Naturally, technology keeps making advances, and now Buzzfeed has run down four more Star Trek ideas that are now real. I personally think our early version of the medical tricorder is the most interesting. Maybe our devices don’t quite diagnose every problem, but even videogame camera accessories (like the Xbox One’s Kinect) can make a cursory reading of your vitals, so I’d say creating a medical tricorder that can read everything about your health is plausible based on the work done so far. Read more…

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U.S. Appeals Court Strikes Down Net Neutrality

Posted by Bob Muir on Jan 15, 2014 in Tech

Gavel on keyboard

Well damn. Net neutrality has been considered one of the most important policies for the Internet to have. The concept is that the Internet should be a free and open space to encourage competition and allow smaller sites to grow big; therefore, internet service providers (ISPs) must give equal treatment to all websites and traffic, regardless of how big or small they are. ISPs have wanted to offer faster connections that bigger sites must pay for, or section off certain types of websites for an additional fee. Net neutrality argues that a start-up like Amazon may not have been able to fully grow if it had to compete with other websites that could afford to load faster. Unfortunately, that just got thrown out the window. Read more…



This T-Rex Illusion Hurts My Brain

Posted by Bob Muir on Dec 26, 2013 in Tech

T-Rex Illusion

Sometimes I have difficulty really seeing optical illusions. My brain will just break the image down and I’ll see how it works, or if it’s one of those hidden image things, I can never cross my eyes just right. But this T-Rex Illusion by brusspup, based on a dragon illusion by Jerry Andrus, is just mind-boggling to me. The way it turns its head to keep looking at you had me thinking it was somehow mechanized. But no, it’s just a stationary cut-out, which you’ll realize near the end of this video. But even once you’ve seen the secret, your brain will likely snap it back into the illusion once the camera pans back around. Read more…



A Christmas Tree Of Player Deaths

Posted by Bob Muir on Dec 25, 2013 in Tech, Videogames

Panta Claus

The Legend of Equip Pants is a retro-styled adventure game that usually doesn’t feature any player death. But for Christmas, there’s a new episode called Panta Claus where you can die. The developer tracked some data about where players went and where they died, then compiled it into this animation of the level’s layout. It’s a Christmas tree! The green lines are where 2000 players went in the level, and the red lights are where they died 6000 times, or about 3 per playthrough. If dying over and over in order to give a faux-Christmas tree twinkling lights doesn’t fit the spirit of Christmas, then I don’t know what does. Read more…



US Military Commissions Iron Man-Like Suit

Posted by Bob Muir on Oct 10, 2013 in Comic Books, Tech

Iron Man

I think we can all agree that the Iron Man suit is pretty cool. But we’re still somewhat far away from being able to make them ourselves, right? Apparently not, because the US Army has commissioned a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (which I’m going to abbreviate to “TALOS” because it sounds cool). It’s basically a flightless version of Tony Stark’s suit, possessing features like super strength and night vision. An onboard computer instantly responds to problems, enhances awareness, monitors vitals, and provides life support. And of course, it will protect you from bullets, with full-body ballistic protection that lets the user “walk through a stream of bullets.” Yes please! Read more…



The Long and Dark Tale Behind the iPhone

Posted by Ben Huber on Oct 6, 2013 in Tech


There’s a great, lengthy article from The New York Times which goes deep into the process behind creating the original iPhone. There have long been stories of Steve Jobs’ overbearing, intense style of management, and this is perhaps the greatest example of this. Both as a fault, and as his touch of genius, pushing people to do the “impossible.” It goes into details about how he wanted staff to sleep in the booth before a presentation so nothing gets leaked, or how software developers never saw the phone’s true hardware until the last minute. It’s a crazy story and I hope that we hear even more details about how these amazing devices came about in the future. Read more…

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Valve Releasing Steam Machines Next Year

Posted by Bob Muir on Sep 26, 2013 in Tech, Videogames

Steam Machines

Let’s say you were excited about SteamOS, the living room-focused OS meant to make it easier to play PC games on HDTVs. If you were thinking of buying a new PC to hook up to your HDTV, why not consider a Steam Machine? These boxes running SteamOS are the second of Valve’s three big announcements this week. Valve is working with multiple manufacturers to bring Steam Machines with varying specs to retail in 2014. But before those are released, Valve is testing a high-performance prototype machine, and you could be one of the 300 people to test it for free, if you’re eligible. Read more…

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Valve Reveals SteamOS, A Free OS For Your Living Room

Posted by Bob Muir on Sep 24, 2013 in Tech, Videogames


The first of Valve’s three big announcements is here: SteamOS, a full operating system based on Linux. SteamOS will be downloadable for free and is intended for use on PCs in the living room. This isn’t Valve’s first attempt at moving from desktop PCs to the living room, having introduced Big Picture Mode that tailors PC games to an HDTV. The OS itself seems tuned to improve game performance, from audio improvements to input latency reductions. Read more…

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Apple Reveals iPhone 5S And 5C

Posted by Bob Muir on Sep 11, 2013 in Tech

iPhone 5S

In what is surely not a shock, Apple has announced the next version of their smartphone, the iPhone 5S. Coming in white, black, and now a slightly-trashy gold, the iPhone 5S looks mostly the same as the iPhone 5, just like the iPhone 4 & 4S before it. There’s a silver ring around the home button with a fingerprint ID scanner for security, but the main changes are under the hood. The new A7 processor reportedly makes this phone twice as fast as the previous one, while OpenGL ES 3.0 improves the graphical capabilities. There’s also the M7, a motion co-processor, used for motion-sensing apps. Read more…

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Sony Announces PS Vita Redesign, PS Vita TV

Posted by Bob Muir on Sep 10, 2013 in Tech, Videogames

PlayStation Vita PCH-2000

If you didn’t get the memo, Sony really, really wants you to buy a PlayStation Vita. The ailing handheld is in desperate need of a good install base. In Japan, they just announced two new products that will hopefully help turn the tide for the system. The first is the PCH-2000, a slightly redesigned Vita that is 20% thinner, 15% lighter, and comes in six colors. The battery now lasts for 6 hours, you can charge it via micro USB, and it comes with 1GB of storage, though you’ll want to consider buying a memory card, like the new 64GB one that costs about $100. A key difference is that this redesign sports a LCD screen instead of an OLED screen, which is sure to help battery life and screen consistency, but is a shame for those of us who love the current OLED screen. This WiFi-only Vita will be out on October 10 and cost the same amount as the current model. But the bigger news is their other big Vita announcement. Read more…

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Elon Musk Really is Making Tony Stark’s Workshop

Posted by Ben Huber on Sep 7, 2013 in Science, Tech


People have been making Tony Stark jokes about Elon Musk for a while now. At first it was just an amusing joke, but now it appears Musk is leaning into it. He’s been creating a virtual workshop not unlike what Stark uses in the Iron Man films to create his armor, using a combination of a Leap Motion controller, Oculus Rift, a projector, and Kinect. Reaching your hands out to control the positioning and shape of a 3D model on the screen is pretty neat, especially being able to view it with the Rift, but I wonder how quickly your arms will tire. Creating more intuitive interfaces is definitely worthwhile though, and I think stuff like this could really explode. Read more…

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Doom Co-Creator John Carmack Now Working At Both Id And Oculus VR

Posted by Bob Muir on Aug 8, 2013 in Tech, Videogames

John Carmack

John Carmack, co-creator of Doom, co-founder of Id Software, and programmer on many, many computer games is joining Oculus VR, the company making the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset for use with games. Carmack was the one who debuted the device at E3 2012, and now he is taking a full-time position at the company as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). However, the award-winning programmer isn’t really leaving Id, either. He’s still planning on working on games, and he’s also not abandoning his rocket company Armadillo Aerospace. Read more…

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Two Former Valve Engineers Making Augmented Reality Glasses

Posted by Ben Huber on May 19, 2013 in Tech


When roughly 25 employees were fired at Valve a while back, people started worrying that the developer was in trouble, but instead it seems they were just canceling hardware projects that they no longer wanted to pursue. Jeri Ellsworth and Rock Johnson were two of those let go, and when they left they got Gabe Newell’s blessing to continue their work at Valve on their own: augmented reality glasses called CastAR. Read more…



The Day When Twitter Lost to Facebook

Posted by Michael Pinto on May 5, 2013 in Tech


As the hype machine is getting revved up for Twitter to go public, the one question I found myself asking was “why has it taken so long?”. And recently I was watching a really well done special on Twitter on Bloomberg TV and they boiled it down to “great service, but no business model”. Slowly Twitter is figuring out that model, but I think the real issue is why Facebook left them in the dust so long ago? Read more…

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The USB Swiss Army Knife: Be Prepared

Posted by Michael Pinto on May 5, 2013 in Tech

The USB Swiss Army Knife

When USB came out it was revolutionary because because it was one format, but as the technology has “matured” it has mutated in a range of sizes thanks to the boom in mobile technology. And thus this USB Swiss Army Knife caught my eye the minute that I looked at it! The idea of not having to run to my box of cables and start searching for “that cable” makes this techie very happy. Read more…



The Google Glass Backlash Begins: The Osborne Effect

Posted by Michael Pinto on May 4, 2013 in Tech

megyn kelly looks like a glasshole

This article at Business Insider is typical of a new breed of backlash articles that bash the unreleased device: “I haven’t worn Glass. While I think it looks neat, I dont see a killer application that makes them worth it.” Read more…

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Is There a Sci Fi Case for Google Glass?

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 28, 2013 in Tech

X-Ray Gogs

There’s been quite a bit of geek controversy if Google Glass will be “the next big thing” or the next Apple Newton. The biggest advocate of Google Glass is Robert Scoble, but frankly I don’t trust Scoble because he’s like a fickle mistress always chasing the latest love interest. Once upon a time Scoble was swearing that Twitter would change the world, but now you can find him ensconced at Google+. So if I don’t trust the tech bloggers to get this right who do I trust? Science fiction of course! Read more…


75 Years Before Google Maps There was the Iter Avto

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 27, 2013 in Tech

75 Years Before Google Maps There was the Iter Avto
It’s funny that some tech ideas come out years before the actual technology is there to make it useful:

“You might think that in-car map readers are a recent invention – given that you need satellite navigation technology to make them work. But a crude form of the car tech was actually around as early as 1930. The Iter Avto, which used a map on a scroll, is believed to be the first onboard direction guide. Just like the modern devices such as a Tom Tom or Garmin, the device was positioned on the dashboard of a car – and came with a set of paper maps.” Read more…


Twenty Years Ago This Ad Would Have Excited Your Inner Geek

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 25, 2013 in Tech

Egghead Software Stores Ad, 1993

This ad for Egghead Software from 1993 is a great look at the state of technology from twenty years ago. The first thing you notice is that the hot product is an MS-DOS 6 upgrade which brings one back into a time before Windows 95 took over the world. While there were people using Windows 3.1 most nerds hadn’t fully embraced it yet if they were running older machines. The other funny thing about this ad is it features vintage floppy discs available in 3.5″ or the really ancient 5.25″ size. Read more…



Aaron Swartz Documentary: The Internet’s Own Boy

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 24, 2013 in Tech

Aaron Swartz

Normally I tend to tune out at the mere word “Kickstarter” but this film project looks interesting and worthy:

“Currently titled “The Internet’s Own Boy,” the new film by Brian Knappenberger, director of “We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists,” follows internet activist and programming pioneer Aaron Swartz from his teenage emergence on the internet scene and involvement in RSS and Reddit, to his increased interest in political advocacy and the controversial actions he allegedly took in downloading nearly four million academic articles from the online service JSTOR. The film explores Aaron’s arrest, the prosecution’s tactics in bringing the case to trial through the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the CFAA, and the impact a seemingly small hacking gesture had on Aaron’s life and the future of information access on the internet.” Read more…



Why Android is the Best Thing to Happen to Apple

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 24, 2013 in Tech

1995 – Macintosh 5200 LC

On Hacker News I came across this amazing vintage Steve Jobs quote: “The Mac user interface was a 10-year monopoly,” says Jobs. “Who ended up running the company? Sales guys. At the critical juncture in the late ’80s, when they should have gone for market share, they went for profits. They made obscene profits for several years. And their products became mediocre. And then their monopoly ended with Windows 95. They behaved like a monopoly, and it came back to bite them, which always happens.” Read more…

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The Lesson of Apple: Exciting isn’t a Good Thing

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 23, 2013 in Tech

The Original iPod

Being a tech nerd I recently came across this terrified plea on Hacker News:

“There hasn’t been much excitement or rumors about what Apple will do next. Is the next version of iPhone really all that exciting anymore? What do you think Apple will do to stay current; or would you think that with the lose of Steve Jobs, Apple will expire? There’s the iWatch speculation/rumor, but is this all that interesting? What is so exciting about an iPhone on your wrist? Or do you think Apple is developing some cool device using graphene? A watch that could unfold into an iPhone then further unfold into an tablet would be amazing. But, I don’t feel like Apple will be pulling this rabbit out of their hat. What do you think?” Read more…

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Sony Officially Announces PlayStation 4

Posted by Bob Muir on Feb 21, 2013 in Tech, Videogames

PlayStation 4 Controller

Hoo boy, where to begin? As promised, today Sony announced the future of PlayStation, the PlayStation 4. With an x86-64 8-core AMD CPU, a 1.84 TFLOPS AMD GPU, and 8GB of RAM, the PS4 has enough horsepower to run engines such as the Unreal Engine 4. The system uses a new controller, the DualShock 4; it’s close to the DualShock 3, but with a touchpad in the middle, a light to help identify each player’s controller, the ability to be tracked by the new PlayStation 4 Eye (included), and a Share button for some cool new features. Read more…

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Oculus Rift Grows Closer to Reality

Posted by Ben Huber on Jan 14, 2013 in Tech

Have you been paying attention to the long and exciting story of the Oculus Rift? It’s a virtual reality headset that has been making waves in the gaming community as the first “good” VR equipment. Originally a Kickstarter that took flight, it has now grown into an impressive production that will launch a developer SDK in March along with a prototype headset, and a final consumer version by the end of the year. So far every impression of it has been glowing, with fans and journalists alike saying that it’s a great experience, if a bit disorienting at first. Check out some video below! Read more…



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