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September 23, 2014

Ray Ozzie’s ‘Talko’ app is not the right productivity tool for the Atlanta Hawks

New team collaboration / messaging apps are seemingly everywhere, from Trello to Slack to (now Microsoft-owned) Yammer. A new entrant Talko is interesting not only for its pedigree -- the team is led by Lotus Notes co-creator and former Microsoft Chief Technical Officer / Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie -- but because it marks a return to the days when our phone was a tool for voice communication, instead of primarily text or pictures. In an introductory blog post, the Talko team describes an app that lets users talk, share and do. The idea is that communicating by voice while everyone is online is easier and others can catch up with the conversation at any time, since the data is cached on Talko's servers. Right now the app is iPhone only, while Talko says Android and web apps are on the way.


Dropping in photos and sorting ideas with various forms of tags is nothing new, but Talko is focusing on the first element, voice communication, whether it's through real-time live chatting or shared messages left for the team. The "social productivity" tool is free to try and the team tells TechCrunch that it plans a business model where users pay a fee to have access to older archives of their calls or data. A price isn't set yet either, but it's "likely" to cost less than $10 per month to look back further than a week or so. As-is, it's probably worth downloading and poking around a bit before that guy at the office (you know which one) brings it up on a conference call tomorrow before you go back to using Google Docs.

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Source: Talko Blog (Medium), Talko (iTunes)

September 23, 2014

UPS now lets you use 3D printers in nearly 100 US stores

UPS Store 3D printing

UPS' experiment with in-store 3D printers apparently went off without a hitch -- the shipping service has expanded the availability of 3D printing services from six test markets to nearly 100 locations across the US. While the hardware is still concentrated in a relatively small batch of cities, such as New York and Chicago, there's now a much better chance that a shop near you has the gear for printing everything from prototypes to a one-of-a-kind phone cases. There's no word of any additional rollouts at this stage. However, it's reasonable to presume that more stores will get on-the-spot object making if it proves popular with crafters nationwide.

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Source: UPS (1), (2)

September 23, 2014

Dartmouth’s StudentLife app can tell you if your mental health is hurting your grades

Student using smartphone in lecture hall

Not sure if you're depressed? Your smartphone may be able to clue you in. Researchers at Dartmouth have developed an Android app that keep stabs on student behavior -- silently logging how long they sleep, the number of conversations they have, how much time they spend in class, at social events or at the gym and even stress levels and eating habits. Using well-known mental health surveys as a benchmark, researchers were able to use the data to determine if students in its test group were depressed, stressed out or lonely, and eventually found correlations between mental health and academic performance.

Researchers discovered, for instance, that students with high levels of social activity tend to have higher grades, but also may be less physically active. Students who were found to be more physically active and socially engaged tended to be less depressed, too. A more fleshed out version of the app could potentially warn students if their mental state is worsening, and could additionally use that data to predict their GPA. Still, such an app could be awhile off: the app's creators admit that there are some security concerns that need to be worked out. The test program, at least, is secure - researchers anonymize all of the data taken in my the smartphones, and at this point participants aren't even given feedback from the app, as it could effect student behaviors and contaminate the research. Either way, the functionality is compelling: in the future, your phone might be able to give you mental health diagnosis on the fly.

[Image credit: Alamy]

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Via: Technology Review

Source: Dartmouth, Science Daily

September 23, 2014

MakerBot’s Bre Pettis opens a workshop for 3D printing innovation

When MakerBot announced that Bre Pettis would be stepping down as CEO earlier this month, we knew he wasn't going far. Today, the 3D printing guru's new project was revealed. The Pettis-led Innovation Workshop at Stratasys is called Bold Machines, and it looks to push "the frontier of 3D printing technology." Leveraging Solidscape 3D printers and devices both of the aforementioned outfits, the studio will work alongside "innovators" to flex its muscle. So, what's on tap to start? A movie made entirely with 3D-printed characters. The film focuses on Margo, a detective whose parents have gone missing during a space exploring expedition, and a businessman's evil schemes. In fact, you can go ahead and print your own Margot figure now, and production files for other characters, including the sinister Mr. Walthersnap (pictured with Pettis above), will be made available for at-home printing in the future.

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Via: TechCrunch

Source: Bold Machines (1), (2), (3)

September 23, 2014

Adobe buys Aviary to bring photo editing to more mobile apps

Image editing via Aviary

The world of image editing has changed a lot in the past few years -- you're now about as likely to tweak a photo on your phone or tablet as you are on your PC. Adobe is clearly aware of this shift, as it just bought Aviary and its cloud-savvy image editing platform for an unspecified amount. The two firms will work together on bringing Adobe's editing tools and Creative Cloud services to more mobile apps. That photography app you just downloaded on your phone could create Photoshop-friendly pictures, for example. There's no set timetable for integrating Aviary into Adobe's software platforms, but the quick turnaround from the Behance acquisition suggests that you'll see more powerful mobile editing suites within a matter of months.

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Source: Adobe, Aviary

September 23, 2014

Cosmic dust definitely clouded Big Bang researchers’ findings

Earlier this year, researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the BICEP2 telescope in Antarctica were thought to have found evidence of gravitational waves produced during the first moments of the big bang. The discovery was heralded as one of the most important discoveries of our era -- unfortunately, the results were contaminated. While going through peer-review, astronomers began to wonder if cosmic dust may have skewed the results. Now the verdict is in: it did, but that doesn't necessarily mean the theory is false.

A report sourcing data from the European Space Agency's Planck satellite explains that there was too much dust in the original researcher's view of the sky to guarantee that what they saw was really gravitational waves, but that doesn't mean they didn't measure any waves. The theory still makes sense in its own right, but now that researchers are aware of the effects of the cosmic dust on observing evince of it, it's just harder to verify. Basically, more time and research is needed. That's a little frustrating, sure, but hey -- that's science.

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Source: New York Times, Arvix

September 23, 2014

Mobile Chrome apps get improved notifications and sign-ins

Chrome Apps for Mobile

Google's Chrome Apps for Mobile project has been handy for developers who want to repackage their websites as native apps for your phone, but the resulting projects have been limited in what they can do -- it's pretty obvious that they're recycled. As of now, though, they'll behave much more like apps built from the ground up for your Android and iOS devices. A new version of the project lets you provide your identity to these apps by signing in, and they can send you rich notifications with content previews, much like what you're used to on Android. There's also much better support for messaging and other services that need to talk to servers. Developers will have to build these features into their software before you'll notice the difference, but don't be surprised if the lines between native and web apps suddenly get very blurry.

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Via: The Next Web

Source: Chromium Blog

September 23, 2014

Valve makes finding your next Steam game easier

When Valve debuted game-recommendation tags not long ago, it was apparently a precursor to something much bigger. Today the PC game-sales juggernaut has revealed a new look for its store that aims to put games in front of you that you didn't even know you wanted. By utilizing the tags, your gaming history and a few other aspects, Valve has redesigned the homepage so that it'll apparently make finding games you're interested in a lot easier. The Discovery Queue gives you a chance to browse through suggested releases, wishlist them or skip updates on titles completely. Valve says that the list will refresh daily, giving you a chance to possibly find the next killer indie before anyone else.

Presumably these ratings, as well as the ability to follow "curators" that act as tastemakers for gaming, will go to further establish a taste profile (similar to what Netflix does). Oh, and as you can see in the image above, the app now sports a blue color scheme. Almost makes you want to buy something, no?

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Source: Valve

September 23, 2014

Japanese company plans to have working space elevator by 2050

Who does want to go to space? No less, in an elevator. While NASA's been working hard for years trying to find the necessary tools to do just that, other firms are doing the same across different parts of the world. Japanese construction company Obayashi, for instance, is one of those, and today it revealed its plans to have a fully functional space elevator by the year 2050. As Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports, Obayashi says it is working to build a space elevator that can reach 96,000 kilometers (roughly 60,000 miles) into space, capable of transporting people and cargo at a much lower cost than the rockets traditionally launched from Earth. The trip on Obayashi's space elevator is said to take a total of seven days one-way, with the destination being a space station that would be built specifically for this scenario.

Obayashi knows the road to build a space elevator won't be easy, particularly because some of the materials required aren't available in this day and age. That said, the Japan-based outfit believes that things like the current development carbon nanotechnology will be of huge help in turning the project into reality. According to Obayashi's Research and Development Manager, Yoji Ishikawa, "The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it's possible." "Right now we can't make the cable long enough. We can only make 3-centimetre-long nanotubes but we need much more... we think by 2030 we'll be able to do it," he told ABC.

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Via: CNBC

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation