All posts by Marc Prosser

The British army wants You to drive its new tanks – but only if you’re a gamer

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All is not at it used to be in the British army, who are patiently waiting for its new Scout tank, set to be delivered some time in 2020.

The Scout is a complex machine kitted out with sensors, cameras and all kinds of modern electronics. I haven’t been able to confirm it, but there ought to be rumours flying about that it’s actually comes with an iPod docking station. At least there really ought to be those rumours flying about.

Anyway, all this new sensory equipment means that the olden days where a tank was operated by pulling levers are long gone.

Today’s tank crew needs a set of skills that has much in common with your average teen gamer.

“With the capability in the Scout SV, we’re really looking for the type of people who play Xbox games – tech-savy people who are able to take in a lot of information and process it in the proper way,” Kevin Connell, a vice president at General Dynamics, who is developing the tank for the British forces, told International Business Times.

The article goes on to talk about how easy it is to fire the main gun on the new tank…again, rumours ought to be circulating that foreign powers are so scared of this new weapon’s deadly potential that they have tried to incorporate details in the design that would render it less fearsome….like hacking through using control-alt-delete and / or the installation of Alt – F4 keys on the tank’s outside.

The reason for the jokes is: what place does a tank have on the battlefield of the future, which looks destined to be dominated by drones and semi-autonomous vehicles?

Rooftop solar about to slap your utility silly?

According to a recent piece in Computerworld, your utility company’s biggest fear is rooftop solar panels.

OK, it might not be, but it should.

“Rooftop solar panel installations could cut utility profits by 15% or more over the next eight years,” Computerworld says, quoting a federally funded report.

I’m not too sure about US prices and profits, but if this was the UK, that would leave utilities floundering with meagre profit margins of 60 to 70 percent….

Why US tech lobbyists have descended on Brussels

Stop Making Sense

Nancy Marshall-Genzer reports for Market Place:

‘Brussels is home to the European Parliament, but it’s also hosting lots of lobbyists for the U.S. tech industry. Walk down the street near Parliament and you’ll see office blocks that are home to lobbyists representing the likes of Facebook, Google, and other tech companies.

They’ve set up shop because many U.S. tech companies oppose strict new online privacy legislation that members of the European parliament are considering. “It’s gotten a bit out of hand. Very, very emotional,” says Jean-Marc Leclerc, director of the digital economy policy group for a trade association called Digital Europe. Among its members: Apple and Microsoft. Leclerc says there were “thousands of amendments, night votes. It really went crazy.”

Why was it so crazy? The EU is considering an online privacy bill that would give consumers the right to have personal data erased. There would also be new limits on online profiling. The tech…

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5 New Technologies You are Going to Watch @ FIFA World Cup !!!

Take off with Natarajan

Technology is heavily used in many major and international sports events, for instance 6.6 pounds makes all the difference between a gold and a silver medal in the 100-meter butterfly event back in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Badly designed uniforms can take out a whole team, like what happened to team USA in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics recently. In badminton, line-call technology is now used to assist line judges for when players challenge their ball is “in or out” calls.

Vanishing Spray

The FIFA World Cup is also no stranger to technological innovation. The 1970 World Cup, for instance, was the first one to be broadcast in colour. For the first time, footballs fans get to watch matches live on TV from their living rooms and see their favorite teams’ uniforms in all its glorious colors. This upcoming 2014 will be no different when it comes to debuting new…

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Cyber-criminals gearing up for the World Cup

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Interested in the World Cup? Actually in Brazil?

Well, in both cases, you need to be extra careful when it comes to cyber security, as cyber-criminals seem to be bringing their a-game to bear on the tournament.

According to SecurityWeek, cyber-criminals have been tailoring trojans, designing back doors and using major spam runs – all using the World Cup as their theme – in their attempts to gain access to sensitive information and/or access to computers.

The morale is that you’d best be careful in order not to end up as Spain did last night…

Get your next generation MIT robots hot from the oven!

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The MIT researcher Daniela Rus is most likely one of the institute’s leading experts on a couple of things. One is puns and word play involving ‘baked’ and marijuana. And the other is how to create robots in new and innovative ways.

Rus has found a way of creating robots by baking them.

“Rus’ project involves cutting out and “printing” plastic materials that change shape when baked, essentially allowing for self-forming objects that build themselves,” TechCrunch reports.

“But producing the pattern of slits is not as simple as just overlaying them on an origami crease pattern and adjusting the widths accordingly, Rus says. “You’re doing this really complicated global control that moves every edge in the system at the same time,” she says. “You want to design those edges in such a way that the result of composing all these motions, which actually interfere with each other, leads to the correct geometric structure.”,” MIT say of the new method in a press release.

More importantly, MIT released this video of how to bake a robot:

DOS computer system bug halts Belgian election results

voting-bug

A computer system that’s roughly as old as the first Secret of Monkey Island computer games is currently drawing out the excitement of the recent Belgian European, federal and regional elections.

The country used an e-voting system for the election – an e-voting system using DOS era hardware and software. I kid you not.

“The voting machines in question are x86 PCs from the DOS era, with two serial ports, a parallel port, a paltry 1 megabyte of RAM and a 3.5-inch disk drive used to load the voting software from a bootable DOS disk,” IT World reports.

Even though the system is roughly as old as Asterix’ village, the real issue seems to be a bug in the voting software. The bug caused “incoherent” election results when trying to add up preferential votes.

“The fault appeared in the system despite the fact that the application was especially developed for these elections, was “tested thousands of times” and was certified by PriceWaterhouseCoopers,” ministry spokesman Peter Grouwels said.

You’d expect the certification to be written in stone….

Belgium – the country of chocolate, comics…and computers from the crustacean period.

Can Wikipedia medical articles kill you?

drwiki_1

According to a recent study, words might pack way more of a punch than sticks and stones if you’re seeking medical advice.

The study reviewed a number of Wikipedia articles on common medical conditions and found that around 90 per cent of the articles contained errors.

Now this is in itself a worrying state of affairs, but according to the study it gets worse:

‘47% to 70% of physicians and medical students admitting to using [Wikipedia] as a reference,’ the study says.

That basically means that your doctor might be using Wikipedia as a reference for finding out what’s wrong with you – and how to treat it. Scary, huh?

Especially if you look at the advice that the people behind the study gave to the BBC.

A side note:

The study was published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. Now I don’t know if it’s a case of Wikipedia wanting to get its own back, but the on-line lexicon’s description of osteopathy includes the following:

‘The practice of osteopathy does not always adhere to evidence-based medicine (EBM). There are few high-quality research studies demonstrating that osteopathy is effective in treating any medical condition other than lower back pain.’

So people who don’t always adhere to evidence-based medicine carried out a statistical analysis….I’m sure there’s irony there somewhere, but I’m just not sure where it is…..

Your ‘smart’ fridge will broadcast adds – which may or may not (ever) exist

Photo: Ryan Steele
Photo: Ryan Steele

Imagine that you’re about to run out of milk. This sucks, because it means a trip to the store. Now imagine that your fridge is ‘smart’ and can see that you’re about to run out. Seeing as it’s ‘smart’ it can order the milk by itself – it would, however, just like to talk to you about what you’re missing out on by not switching to the new IsMilk brand.

Sounds wacky? Well, according to Google, this is the future of tomorrow, and not a hundred years.

“We expect the definition of “mobile” to continue to evolve as more and more “smart” devices gain traction in the market. For example, a few years from now, we and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities. Our expectation is that users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future, and thus our advertising systems are becoming increasingly device-agnostic,” the company wrote in a recent report.

And that’s fine. I mean, ads everywhere makes sense – especially if you’re Google.

What doesn’t make sense to me is the basic concept of a smart fridge. The definition of ‘smart’ in relation to intelligence is ‘having or showing a quick-witted intelligence.’ The fridge is basically going to be able to count. Lots of milk equals good, some milk is worrisome and no milk is bad. Surely that doesn’t make something smart?

A truly smart fridge would potentially let everything go old, giving its owners food poisoning – just because it was incredibly bored with just counting and then ordering things that were in short supply.

Oh yeah, it will also be capable of broadcasting adds. Adds that according to Google are ‘device-agnostic’.

The definition of ‘agnostic’ is ‘a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.’ So in this case the fridge, this means that it believes that nothing can be known about whether or not adds exist – and if they did, you wouldn’t be able to describe them or what they were like.

I’m not sure if that’s smart or incredibly stupid….