Thursday, August 27, 2015

Facebook's 'M' is social media's new digital assisant

Facebook's 'M' is social media's new digital assisant

Quite a few companies have been coming out with their very own digital personal assistants, and you probably recognize most of their names: Siri, Cortana, Google Now. While Siri has a pretty powerful foothold in the market, Cortana and Google Now have been making serious splashes onto the scene. Now, it appears to be Facebook's turn.

Following on the curtails of Facebook Messenger's success, the social media site has developed and released M, the personal assistant who can help you straight from your chat box. The social media giant knows that this a pretty huge addition to roll-out all at once, and has accordingly added plenty of human hands to help keep the gears greased on the whole project.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

University chemists created a spectrometer small enough to fit in smartphones

MIT University creates quantum dot spectrometer

Scientific researchers over at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have recently created designs for a spectrometer that can be built so small that it would fit in the palm of your hand. In fact, it would be so small, that it could fit inside of your smartphone!

The chemists working on the project applied a recent technology that has been burgeoning in the fields of biology and computing, called quantum dots. Quantum dots are incredibly small nanocrystal semiconductors that have been used to label organic molecules and improve high-end electronic hardware, but now they can help identify the chemical breakdown of a sample merely by examining the light coming off of it.

YouTube Gaming might be the new Twitch.tv

YouTube Gaming might be the new Twitch.tv

Streaming video games has been easier than ever thanks to a recent explosion in live streaming sites like Twitch. While posting videos on a site like YouTube is one thing, letting your audience join the moment with you and perhaps thousands of other people is a whole 'nother.

So, to keep up with the times, YouTube will be adding a new section to their popular service. It'll be simply titled YouTube Gaming, and will allow you to stream your gameplays live just like any other streaming site. Viewers can comment, like, subscribe, and learn about your channel from the same screen, which is great promotion for anyone who can rack up a few viewers.

We'll see if enough users switch over to the YouTube Gaming streaming experience, but first the Google site has to overcome the well-ingrained competitors. YouTube will need to educate inquiring channels on how to properly connect and stream, and that can be an unclear process. One bonus for the service seems to be a significantly better streaming quality -- and users are definitely excited about that.

Monday, August 24, 2015

NASA makes a free calendar of Space Telescope's images

NASA makes a free calendar of Spitzer Space Telescope's images

You can thank NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope for this set, a dozen of humanity's most glorious images of space gathered together in a digital calendar for your browsing pleasure. And I gotta say, it's a pretty rad calendar (did I just say rad?) that you could print out and slap up on your college dorm-room wall, if you were so inclined.

You can get the Spitzer 12th Anniversary Calendar here, in the .pdf filetype. Mike Warner, the Project Scientist for the Space Telescope, says of the calendar that "you can't fully represent Spitzer's scientific bounty in only 12 images, but these gems demonstrate Spitzer's unique perspectives on both the nearest, and the most distant, objects in the universe." One small step for education, one giant leap for freakin' awesome pictures.

Russian Wikipedia banned in Russia

Right, I know some of those letters.
tl;dr: In a perhaps-not-so-surprising step towards total censorship for Russia, the Roskomnadzor (communications agency for the nation) ordered every internet service provider in the country to block the Russian version of Wikipedia, one of the world's leading repositories of knowledge.

If you have been following news on the state of the Internet, you may have heard about the infamous Roskomnadzor already. This is the agency responsible for banning Reddit in Russia... but only for a few days or so, as Reddit soon caved and removed the post violating the Roskomnadzor's policy. The post in question educated users on the cultivation of psychedelic mushrooms (aka shrooms).

The Russian Wikipedia is now under the same pressure from the government, but this time it's related to a hashish form of cannabis called charas. Wikipedia's page on the subject contains pertinent information on (you guessed it) the cultivation of charas, which really seems to have whipped the Roskomnadzor into a frenzy. After sending Wikipedia a notice to remove the article that went unheeded, the entire site was blocked as punishment.

Download Rolling Stones "Start Me Up" for free, legally

"We're smiling because we're rich as shit!"
Microsoft is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their legendary Windows 95 operating system by allowing a free download of the Rolling Stone's hit classic "Start Me Up." Yup, no charge, no gimmicks, just make your way on over to the Windows Store before the day is up. That's 11:59 pm, Pacific (PST), based on Microsoft's location in Redmond.

The cost of offering this deal for free? Apparently no one really knows what Microsoft paid for the rights to deal, because the Rolling Stones blew it out of proportion way back when, and Microsoft hasn't spilled the beans since. If you're to believe the Rolling Stones, it cost Microsoft $10-$12 million. That's a lot of dough for a song!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

VHS Camcorder app for the iPhone

"I bought a boombox just for this."
If you have four bucks to blow and an urge to record iPhone videos in VHS quality, then boy oh boy do we have the app for you, aptly named the VHS Camcorder. You can use the app to instantly record footage as though you were back in your college days in the 80s and 90s, complete with timestamp options and all.

Want a grainy effect, like the static interference of yesteryear? Just slide your finger across the screen of your iPhone and voila! Seeking to emulate the piss-poor balance of parents sending in funny videos of their kids for the entire nation to laugh at? All you gotta do is tilt the smartphone. Marvelous.

What could really be the purpose of this rinky-dink little app? Well, off the top of my head, I can think of fooling grandmas on the Internet into thinking some really anachronistic stuff is going on, or just plain ol' fudging family videos. The possibilities are endless, but only in analog.