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Sci-Fi

Michelle Sleeper Creates 'Gaming, Comics, and Pop Culture Based Props' 35

Posted by Roblimo
from the add-one-part-3-d-printing-to-three-parts-imagination-and-you're-good-to-go dept.
If you go to a sci-fi or gaming convention you'll see people in exotic "character" costumes, often holding exotic props, with some of the most popular being futuristic firearm mockups of one sort or another. Who makes all these cool fannish items? A whole bunch of artists and artisans, including Michelle Sleeper (who says she got tired of jokes about her name many years ago). She's not only one of these artisans, but is also a committed 3-D printer user, since 3-D printing is how she forms a high percentage of her props (with the word "props" being used here in the theatrical rather than the nautical sense). To keep up with what Michelle is making, you should check her blog. One of her most interesting posts, titled Atlanta Mini Maker Faire: On missing deadlines, failure, and triage, is about preparing for the event where Timothy Lord met and interviewed Michelle.

Even if gamer gatherings and SF conventions aren't your thing, the interview (along with the links above) gives a nice glimpse into the life of an independent artisan who uses technology to create a lot of her art. (Alternate Video Link)
Books

Interviews: Ask Warren Ellis a Question 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
samzenpus writes "Warren Ellis is an acclaimed British author of comics, novels, and television who is well known for his sociocultural commentary. The movies Red and Iron Man 3 are based on his graphic novels. In addition to numerous other comic titles, he started a personal favorite, Transmetropolitan. Ellis has written for Vice, Wired UK, and Reuters on technological and cultural matters, and is co-writing a video project called Wastelanders with Joss Whedon. Warren has agreed to give us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post."
Technology

Remote Vision Through a Virtual Reality Headset (Video) 44

Posted by Roblimo
from the it-looks-much-better-over-there-than-it-does-here dept.
Add some material-handling devices and you'd have software-controlled Waldos, first described by Robert A. Heinlein in the 1942 short story titled Waldo. So while the idea of a pair of artificial eyes you control by moving your head (while looking at the area around the artificial eyes, even if it's in orbit), sounds like futuristic fun, especially if you use an Oculus Virtual Reality device instead of an LED screen, it not only hasn't caught up with science fiction, but is a fair ways behind science fact. Still, the idea of being able to control a vision system deep under the sea or in orbit around Saturn is certainly interesting in and of itself. (Alternate Video Link)
Build

A Low Cost, Open Source Geiger Counter (Video) 46

Posted by Roblimo
from the be-sure-to-take-one-of-these-on-your-next-trip-to-chernobyl dept.
Sawaiz Syed's LinkedIn page says he's a "Hardware Developer at GSU [Georgia State University], Department of Physics." That's a great workplace for someone who designs low cost radiation detectors that can be air-dropped into an area where there has been a nuclear accident (or a nuclear attack; or a nuclear terrorist act) and read remotely by a flying drone or a robot ground vehicle. This isn't Sawaiz's only project; it's just the one Timothy asked him about most at the recent Maker Faire Atlanta. (Alternate Video Link)
Build

The Bogus Batoid Submarine is Wooden, not Yellow (Video) 44

Posted by Roblimo
from the some-people-build-ornithopters-and-some-build-machines-that-flap-their-wings-underwater dept.
This is a "wet" submarine. It doesn't try to keep water out. You wear SCUBA gear while pedaling it. And yes, it is powered by a person pushing pedals. That motion, through a drive train, makes manta-style wings flap. This explains the name, since rays are Batoids, and this sub is a fake Batoid, not a real one. It's a beautiful piece of work, and Martin Plazyk is obviously proud to show it off. He and his father, Bruce, operate as Faux Fish Technologies. Follow that link and you'll see many photos, along with a nice selection of videos showing their creations not just in static above-water displays, but in their natural (underwater) element. Meanwhile, here on Slashdot, Martin tells how Faux Fish subs are made. (Alternate Video Link)
Businesses

An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man 342

Posted by timothy
from the that-trick's-not-so-weird dept.
Any gathering of 65,000 people in the desert is going to require some major infrastructure to maintain health and sanity. At Burning Man, some of that infrastructure is devoted to a supply chain for ice. Writes Bennett Haselton, The lines for ice bags at Burning Man could be cut from an hour long at peak times, to about five minutes, by making one small... Well, read the description below of how they do things now, and see if the same suggested change occurs to you. I'm curious whether it's the kind of idea that is more obvious to students of computer science who think algorithmically, or if it's something that could occur to anyone. Read on for the rest; Bennett's idea for better triage may bring to mind a lot of other queuing situations and ways that time spent waiting in line could be more efficiently employed.
Social Networks

Eggcyte is Making a Pocket-Sized Personal Web Server (Video) 94

Posted by Roblimo
from the my-data-belongs-to-me-and-no-one-else dept.
Eggcyte has been working on this for two years. It's on Kickstarter now; a personal server you can use to share music, video, text, and just about anything else without resorting to cloud-based services where one weak password can put your private celebrity photos (you are a celebrity, right?) into the wrong hands. If you suddenly decide you don't want to share the information on your Egg any more, turn it off. If you suddenly have something new to share, like a video you just shot of the Loch Ness Monster capturing an alien spaceship, you can connect your Egg to the Internet anywhere you find a wireless access point. The main thing, say the Eggcyte people, is that your data is yours and should stay that way. Facebook and other cloud-based "sharing" companies use your data to learn about you. Here in the U.S. their primary purpose may be to show you ads for things you might want to buy. In more repressive countries, cloud-based sharing services may use your private data in ways that could be hazardous to your health. Of course, our government people would never keep track of what we post on Twitter and other online services... or would they? (Alternate Video Link)
Patents

Interviews: Ask Florian Mueller About Software Patents and Copyrights 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Florian Mueller is a blogger, software developer and former consultant who writes about software patents and copyright issues on his FOSSPatents blog. In 2004 he founded the NoSoftwarePatents campaign, and has written about Microsoft's multi-billion-dollar Android patent licensing business and Google's appeal of Oracle's Android-Java copyright case to the Supreme Court. Florian has agreed to give us some of his time in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Privacy

The Correct Response To Photo Hack Victim-Blamers 622

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
Bennett Haselton writes As commenters continue to blame Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities for allowing their nude photos to be stolen, there is only one rebuttal to the victim-blaming which actually makes sense: that for the celebrities taking their nude selfies, the probable benefits of their actions outweighed the probable negatives. Most of the other rebuttals being offered, are logically incoherent, and, as such, are not likely to change the minds of the victim-blamers. Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
Build

Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video) 155

Posted by Roblimo
from the let's-not-forget-nixie-tubes dept.
Chris Gordon works for a high-technology company, but he likes analog meters better than digital readouts. In this video, he shows off a bank of old-fashioned meters that display data acquired from digital sources. He says he's no Luddite; that he just prefers getting his data in analog form -- which gets a little harder every year because hardly any new analog meters are being manufactured. (Alternate Video Link)
Networking

It's an Internet-Connected Wheelchair (Video) 22

Posted by Roblimo
from the the-internet-of-things-keeps-rolling-along dept.
If you're in a wheelchair, wouldn't it be nice to have your chair automatically alert a caregiver if changes in your heart rate or another vital sign showed that you might be having a problem? And how about helping you rate sidewalks and handicapped parking spaces to help fellow wheelchair users get around more comfortably? Steven Hawking endorses the idea, and the Connected Wheelchair Project, in this short video. (You can see our interviewee, David Hughes, at 0:58 and again at 1:38.) This is an Intel project, in conjunction with Wake Forest University, run by student interns. | Besides helping wheelchair-dependent people live a better life, the Connected Wheelchair Project may help prevent Medicare fraud, says Hughes in our video interview with him. Falsified requests for durable medical goods are a huge drain on Medicare's budget. What if a connected wheelchair spent all of its time far from the home of the person to whom it was assigned? That would be a red flag, and investigators could follow up to see if that wheelchair was in legitimate hands or was part of a scam. | The Connected Wheelchair is still proof-of-concept, not a commercial product. Will it see production? Hard to say. This may never be a profitable product, but Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has said that that this project is an example of how “the Internet of Things can help change lives.” (Alternate Video Link)
Space

Send Your Own Radiosonde 90,000 Feet Into the Sky (Video) 48

Posted by Roblimo
from the gonna-take-you-higher dept.
Radiosonde, weather balloon, near-space exploration package... call it what you will, but today's interviewee, Jamel Tayeb, is hanging instrument packages and cameras below balloons and sending them up to 97,000 feet (his highest so far), then recovering them 50 or 60 miles away from their liftoff points with help from a locator beacon -- and not just any locator beacon, mind you, but a special one from a company called High Altitude Science with "unlocked" firmware that allows it to work with GPS satellites from altitudes greater than 60,000 feet, which typical, off-the-shelf GPS units can't do.

Here's a balloon launch video from Instructure, a company that helps create open source education systems. The point of their balloon work (and Jamel's) is not that they get to boast about what they're doing, but so you and people like you say, "I can make a functioning high altitude weather balloon system with instrumentation and a decent camera for only $1000?" This is a lot of money for an individual, but for a high school science program it's not an impossible amount. And who knows? You might break the current high-altitude balloon record of 173,900 feet. Another, perhaps more attainable record is PARIS (Paper Aircraft Released Into Space) which is currently 96,563 feet. Beyond that? Perhaps you'll want to take a crack at beating Felix Baumgartner's high altitude skydiving and free fall records. And once you are comfortable working with near space launches, perhaps you'll move on to outer space work, where you'll join Elon Musk and other space transportation entrepreneurs. (Alternate Video Link)
Medicine

Professor Kevin Fu Answers Your Questions About Medical Device Security 21

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
Almost a year ago you had a chance to ask professor Kevin Fu about medical device security. A number of events (including the collapse of his house) conspired to delay the answering of those questions. Professor Fu has finally found respite from calamity, coincidentally at a time when the FDA has issued guidance on the security of medical devices. Below you'll find his answers to your old but not forgotten questions.
Sci-Fi

Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 2) 27

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-keeps-on-slipping-into-the-future dept.
You might want to go back to Video 1 before watching this one (or reading the transcript). This video is the second part of our recording of a panel discussion at the recent science fiction convention in Detroit. Panelists include writer and forensic science expert Jen Haeger; professor and generally fascinating guy Brian Gray; and expert in Aeronautical Management and 20-year veteran of the Air Force Douglas Johnson. In this video, they continue running down a list of science fiction predictions, both successful and unsuccessful, and evaluating how realistic or far-fetched each now seems. (Alternate Video Link)
Sci-Fi

Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 1) 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-mention-of-the-singularity dept.
Science fiction is the domain of predicting future technology. But we rarely stop to account for which predictions come true, which don't, and which are fulfilled in... unexpected ways. A panel at the recent science fiction convention in Detroit explored this subject in depth, from Star Trek's communicators to nanotech and cloning. Panelists include writer and forensic science expert Jen Haeger; professor and generally fascinating guy Brian Gray; and expert in Aeronautical Management and 20-year veteran of the Air Force Douglas Johnson. In this video, they run down a list of science fiction predictions, both successful and unsuccessful, and evaluate how realistic or far-fetched each now seems.

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