Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Portables

Getting Charged Up Over Chargers at CES (Video) 32

Posted by Roblimo
from the slip-me-some-of-that-juice-Bruce dept.
First we look at Skiva Technology and their Octofire 8-port USB charger that pulled in nearly five times the requested amount from a Kickstarter campaign. (The 'pulled in X times the requested Kickstarter amount' is becoming a common product boast, isn't it?) Then, for MacBook owners who are tired of having their chargers or charger cords break, we take a brief look at the Juiceboxx Charger Case. These two power-oriented products and WakaWaka, which we posted about on January 9, are just a tiny, random sample of the many items in this category that were on display at CES 2015. Timothy was the only Slashdot person working CES, so it's shocking that he managed to cover as many (hopefully interesting) products as he did, considering that even the biggest IT journo mills don't come close to total coverage of the overwhelming muddle CES has become in recent years. (Alternate Video Link)

Comment: Re:And let someone into my garage? (Score 1) 85

by Roblimo (#48889215) Attached to: 'Never Miss Another Delivery' - if You Have a TrackPIN (Video)

1) You could use the last 4 digits of the package tracking number as the delivery driver's PIN, and tell him or her what to do in a note stuck to your front door. Well, *you* could, anyway. These insensitive clods forgot that a lot of us don't have garages, which means their product is useless to us.

2) Leave packages with neighbors, and if they're not home leave them at the trailer park (or apartment or condo ass'n) office. You can stick a note on your door telling the delivery driver what to do. Of course, this would require the invention of post-it notes or masking tape. Oh, wait....

Security

'Never Miss Another Delivery' - if You Have a TrackPIN (Video) 85

Posted by Roblimo
from the let-me-in-let-me-in-by-the-hair-on-my-chinny-chin-chin dept.
The company is called TrackPIN, as is the product. Its creator, Mark Hall, showed it off at CES. Timothy pointed his camcorder at Mark as he explained how his product would let you get package deliveries safely when you aren't home by giving the UPS or FedEx (or other) delivery person access to your garage, as well as letting in selected people like your maid, your plumber, and possibly an aquarium cleaner. Each one can have a private, one-time PIN number that will actuate your garage door opener through the (~$250) TrackPIN keypad and tell your smartphone or other net-connected device that your garage was just opened, and by whom. You might even call this, "One small step for package delivery; a giant leap forward for the Internet of Things." Except those of us who don't have garages (not to mention electric garage door openers) may want to skip today's video; the TrackPIN isn't meant for the likes of us. (Alternate Video Link)
Bitcoin

Jim Blasko Explains 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 2 of 2) 39

Posted by timothy
from the is-it-cryptocurrency-or-cryptic-currency? dept.
Today, the conclusion of my talk with Jim Blasko (here's part 1), who encourages you to go start your own crypto currency, because it's a fun exercise and because every entrant adds new ideas to the mix. As you'd expect, he's bullish about both his own Unbreakable Coin and cryptocurrencies more generally; how any given given currency performs, though, is an open question: U.S. dollars, Euros, or Yen may not go experience any meteoric rises, but their stability, even with inflation, is a nice feature, and so is their worldwide convertibility.

Regulation, speculation, fraud, and cultural fashions all play a role in making new currencies risky; reader mbkennel yesterday asked an insightful question: "Are you up to loaning bitcoin or something less popular for 10 years?" Confidence in any given currency can be tested with the terms current holders are willing to accept to make loans payable in that same currency. (On the other hand, if large companies will accept it in payment, they've probably got an idea that a given currency will be around next month or next year.) If you've bought any form of crypto currency, what's been your experience, and what do you expect in 10 years? (Alternate Video Link)

Comment: Re: No video on Linux (Score 1) 223

by Roblimo (#48869363) Attached to: The Current State of Linux Video Editing

Yep. I try various video editors every year or so and for the past 7 or 8 years have kept coming back to Vegas. Stable, does even the most complex things I need to do including fancy title work, and is the fastest, least hardware-hungry NLE I've found. Stable? You bet! I'm running a so-so HP AMD duocore with 4 GB RAM and I can't remember the last crash. "It just works."

Improvements in Windows stability over the last few years have admittedly helped. But Vegas gives my clients the best value for their money even if it means I need to boot into Windows to use it.

Is this partly because I'm accustomed to Vegas, to the point where I could give classes in it? You bet. But familiarity is also why I stick with Ubuntu (when not doing video work), LibreOffice, GIMP, Pidgin, Bluefish, and other FOSS (and a few commie) programs I've been using for a long time.

Bitcoin

Jim Blasko Explains BitCoin Spinoff 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 1 of 2) 55

Posted by timothy
from the yet-another-cryptocurrency dept.
Las Vegas seems an appropriate place for cryptocurrency businesses to emerge, both because the coins themselves are so volatile that some gambling instinct may be required, and because Vegas is a high-tech outpost with lower taxes and lower rents than many other West Coast hot-spots, well-suited to risky startups with ambition but without huge venture backing.Jim Blasko moved there to work on low-voltage engineering for Penn & Teller, and is a qualified Crestron programmer, too (useful in a town that looks from the air like one giant light-show), but has shifted to a quite different endeavor, or rather a complex of them — all related to cryptocurrency. I ran into Blasko during this month's CES, at a forum with several other cryptocoin startups, and the next day we met to talk about just how hard (or easy) it is to get into this world as an entrepreneur.

Blasko has some advice for anyone who'd like to try minting a new cryptocurrency. Making your own coin, he says, is the easy part: anyone can clone code from an existing entrant, like Bitcoin, and rename the result — and that's exactly what he did. The hard work is what comes after: making worthwhile changes, building trust, and making it tradeable. Blasko's done the legwork to get his own currency, which he's bravely called "Unbreakable Coin," listed on exchanges like Cryptsy, and is working on his own auction site as well. He's also got an interesting idea for cryptocoin trading cards, and had a few prototypes on hand. (Part 1 is below; Part 2 to follow.) Alternate Video Link
The Internet

The 'Radio Network of Things' Can Cut Electric Bills (Video) 172

Posted by Roblimo
from the trying-to-bring-the-electric-power-grid-into-the-21st-century dept.
We all love 'The Internet of Things.' Now imagine appliances, such as your refrigerator and hot water heater, getting radio messages from the power grid telling them when they should turn on and off to get the best electricity prices. Now kick that up to the electric company level, and give them a radio network that tells them which electric provider to get electricity from at what time to get the best (wholesale) price. This is what e-Radio is doing. They make this claim: "Using pre-existing and near ubiquitous radio signals can save billions of dollars, reduce environmental impact, add remote addressability and reap additional significant societal benefits."

Timothy noticed these people at CES. They were one of the least flashy and least "consumer-y" exhibitors. But saving electricity by using it efficiently, while not glamorous, is at least as important as a $6000 Android phone. Note that the guy e-Radio had at CES speaking to Timothy was Scott Cuthbertson, their Chief Financial Officer. It's a technology-driven company, from Founder and CEO Jackson Wang on down, but in the end, saving money is what they sell. (Alternate Video Link)
Technology

Talk to the World Through Ubi -- and Use Gestures, Too (Video) 38

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-quite-star-trek-but-getting-there dept.
'The Ubi is an always-on voice-activated computer ready to help. Just plug it in, talk to it and it'll help you connect with your world.' That Kickstarter project description back in 2012 helped UBI raise $229,594 even though they only hoped for $36,000. So now they sell Ubis for $299, as you can see for yourself by clicking the "BUY NOW" button in the upper right corner of www.TheUbi.com, their site's main page. A cynic might say that a decent Android phone can perform most Ubi functions, including a growing number of home automation control tasks, and that Android voice recognition gets better with each new release. But Ubi is cute, and round, and "you can talk through it to the ones you love."

That's great, but Android phones can do that, too. What a smartphone can't do is compete with Ubi Interactive, which may finally give us gesture-based computer input that is not only exciting in a Star Trek way, but is also practical for home and business use. This, along with Kinect, looks like a product that has a solid future ahead of it. (Alternate Video Link)
Hardware

EnOcean Wireless Sensors Don't Need Batteries (Video) 46

Posted by Roblimo
from the almost-like-heinlein's-gramps-schneider-in-magic-inc. dept.
'The EnOcean technology is an energy harvesting wireless technology used primarily in building automation systems; but is also applied to other applications in industry, transportation, logistics and smart homes,' says Wikipedia. There's also a Siemans spinoff company called EnOcean, and today's video is an interview with its president, Jim O'Callaghan. But EnOcean technology is the real star here. The idea is that energy-efficient sensors can be powered by energy harvesting, i.e. drawing energy from their surroundings, including such low-level sources as light, temperature changes, and pressure, which can be the pressure of your finger on a switch or even changes in barometric pressure. The EnOcean Alliance has a professionally-produced video that describes their technology and notes that self-powered wireless sensors not only save energy but save miles of wire between sensor nodes and controllers, which means it's possible to install more sensors sensing more parameters than in the past. (Alternate Video Link)
Power

CES 2015: WakaWaka Sheds Light On Technology, Profit, and Philanthropy (Video) 17

Posted by timothy
from the beats-candles-6-ways-to-sunday dept.
Camille van Gestel and co-founder Maurits Groen started solar-centric manufacturer WakaWaka with an explicit aim other than making money, though he's certainly not opposed to making some along the way. So it's not a non-profit, but van Gestel calls WakaWaka, which was named in a roundabout way after the Shakira song, a "purpose-driven company," with that purpose being -- no exaggeration needed -- to cast light on the world. They're doing just that, with the aid of recycled materials, low-power LEDs, and efficient solar cells. As a result, one of the portable light products that the group has created has become one of the most valued possessions among people displaced by the war in Syria, and more are lighting up villages in Haiti and elsewhere. I talked with Van Gestel at this year's CES, where the company's picked up a pair of CES Innovation Awards, and he has some advice for people who'd like to turn their technical skills to philanthropic endeavors, especially ones that involve hardware or technical infrastructure. Some of it can be summed up as "Spread the wealth, but don't do it for free." Between ongoing feedback gathered from users, a buy-one-give-one style distribution system, and requiring participation by recipients, he says WakaWaka has been able to reach people with their solar lighting products in a way that's much more valuable than just dumping hardware on them, and along the way has gotten a lot of feedback from the buyers whose purchases subsidize the company's non-profit activities. (Alternate Video Link.)
Education

DuinoKit Helps Teach Students About Electronics (Video) 61

Posted by Roblimo
from the you-don't-even-have-to-know-how-to-solder dept.
This is something Timothy Lord ran across a few months ago at a Maker Faire near Atlanta: The DuinoKit. Think of it as a fancier (and pricier) version of the venerable Radio Shack Electronic Learning Labs and you won't be far off. Plus, as the name DuinoKit implies, it's based on an Arduino, which means that right off the bat it packs a lot more learning punch than the Radio Shack kit. DuinoKit was financed by a KickStarter campaign that asked for $19,500 and raised $57,478 from 250 backers. And for those of you who worry about being called nerds because you're carrying a DuinoKit around, you can relax. It comes in a 'Secret Agent Carrying Case.' Really. Read their What is the DuinoKit? Web page carefully and you'll see. (Alternate Video Link)

Comment: Re: Dupe (Score 1) 840

It's already been beaten to death up-thread. The benefits are things like more efficient space utilization and improved aerodynamics. The cost is that something that doesn't happen very often is less convenient. For the majority of car owners who were never going to change their bulbs anyway, there is basically no cost at all. I think that most "reasonable people" have no idea what is required to change their bulb, as galling as it may be for you. Calling it a safety concern is just about as hyperbolic as it gets. Seriously, how often do you blow a bulb? While driving? In a snow storm? If this is your number one issue, go ahead and get yourself a fifty year old chevy. It'll be a death trap in that snowstorm in a lot of ways, but it'll be really easy to change the headlight. (Not actually true: it required a screwdriver, and the screw was likely corroded and a PITA to remove in the dark on the side of a road. Even 50 years ago most people didn't really care about this issue.)

Comment: Re: Dupe (Score 1) 840

But your point is basically "it shouldn't because I say so", which isn't really compelling. Who cares if it's many hours of driving? Most of the time if I lose a headlight I'm only really sure that it's out when I get to the garage and confirm that there's only one bright spot on the wall; there is sufficient redundancy in the system that driving on a single light is a non-event. In a case where it's really, really, dark and you really can't see well enough on one bulb, the odds are that the bright is still working fine. The odds that the second light will immediately go and that you'll be driving with no regular light is significantly less than the odds that the janky bulb stuff in the glove compartment or rattling in the trunk will have failed due to rough handling. This is simply a non-issue for any reasonable person, even if it really pisses you off.

HOLY MACRO!

Working...