For the first time ever, a virtual reality recording system will be flown in space. The project, announced by Deep Space Industries (DSI), will use a spherical video capture system to create a virtual reality float-through tour of the International Space Station‘s science lab.
Feeding into the exciting growth of VR systems created by Oculus Rift, Sony, and Samsung, this project, initiated by DSI, is a cooperative effort with Thrillbox, and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), managers of the ISS U.S.
National Laboratory. This innovative partnership will allow, for the first time, anyone with a VR headset to have a fully immersive astronaut experience aboard the International Space Station. Additionally, CASIS will use the spherical video to familiarize potential researchers with the scientific facilities on the ISS National Lab.
“The space station is packed with equipment, literally in every direction. Gear is built into the walls, embedded in the floor, and tucked into the ceiling,” said
David Gump, DSI Vice-Chair. “The spherical video captured during a float through will enable people to look everywhere, as they would if they were up in the station themselves.”
Deep Space Industries began the project as an early step in developing VR systems to be used for exploring and mining asteroids, and brought in Thrillbox to focus on distributing the captured images to the greatest number of people.
The partnership between Thrillbox and DSI provides the right combination of expertise in space operations and virtual reality, creating a successful project that provides value for CASIS and offers a unique experience to consumers.
The ISS Floating Tour, in addition to being an amazing experience for high-end devices such as the upcoming retail Oculus Rift and PlayStation headsets, also will be viewable on high-resolution smartphones and tablets.
“As excitement about spherical video spreads to more people, Thrillbox is providing a universal player for web sites and personal computers that delivers a sophisticated way to handle this new format,” said Benjamin Durham, CEO of Thrillbox. “The partnership with DSI will allow us to distribute this unique space experience to consumers around the world.”
A video capture rig with multiple cameras covering a spherical field of view will provide a “you-are-there” experience never before available. In addition to entertaining consumers, this detailed video will be used by CASIS for educating potential researchers and potentially by NASA for familiarizing future ISS crews with the ever-changing internal arrangement of the station’s gear and supplies. Read the rest of this entry »
Apple Announces iPad Pro With New Larger Screen
Victor Luckerson reports: Apple announced a new big-screen iPad at an event in San Francisco, Calif. Wednesday. The new iPad, the iPad Pro, will have a 12.9-inch screen with a 2732 X 2048 resolution.
The long-rumored tablet will be the most powerful iOS device ever released, Apple marketing exec Phil Schiller said at the event. The iPad Pro’s A9X chip will be 1.8 times faster than the A8X in the iPad Air 2. The device will also have a 10-hour battery life and a four-speaker audio system for improved sound performance. The iPad Pro is 6.9 mm thick, just a bit thicker than the iPad Air’s 6.1 mm, and also features an 8 megapixel camera.
Before the Apple Watch There Was The Hewlett Packard Calculator Watch, Before That, The Seiko Watchman TV WatchPosted: April 29, 2015
Before the Apple Watch, there was the Hewlett Packard calculator watch. And before that, there was the Seiko Watchman TV watch. A curator from our Museum of American History talks about the evolution of wrist tech on Smithsonian Science News
This April marks the 50th Anniversary of Moore’s Law. Three years before co-founding Intel, Gordon Moore made a simple observation that has revolutionized the computing industry. It states, the number of transistors – the fundamental building blocks of the microprocessor and the digital age – incorporated on a computer chip will double every two years, resulting in increased computing power and devices that are faster, smaller and lower cost.
Hillary’s Middle Finger: She Actually Sent 55,000 (Paper) Pages of UNSEARCHABLE Emails to the State DepartmentPosted: March 9, 2015
— Arthur Kimes (@ComradeArthur) March 9, 2015
From WSJ’s James Taranto:
If you were following the revelations about Hillary Clinton’s private State Department IT operation last week, you probably heard that, as the initial New York Times story put it, “55,000 pages of emails were given to the department” in December after being selected by a private aide to the former secretary. You might have wondered: What does that mean, 55,000 “pages”? Or maybe you just read it, as the crack fact-check team over at PolitiFact did just last night, as 55,000 emails.
It turns out the reference is to literal physical pages. From Friday’s Times: “Finally, in December, dozens of boxes filled with 50,000 pages of printed emails from Mrs. Clinton’s personal account were delivered to the State Department.”
Why did Mrs. Clinton have her staff go through the trouble of printing out, boxing and shipping 50,000 or 55,000 pages instead of just sending a copy of the electronic record? One can only speculate, but there is an obvious advantage: Printed files are less informative and far harder to search than the electronic originals.
— Melissa Clouthier (@MelissaTweets) March 9, 2015
I’m still trying to wrap my head around the notion that Hillary Clinton gave the State Department PAPER copies of some of her email. PAPER.
— RB (@RBPundit) March 9, 2015
Our computers have become too easy to use.
Joanna Stern writes: Right out of the box, they’re ready to go. No installing operating systems, no typing into a command-line prompt like in the old days. We don’t even have to hit save anymore.
Most weeks, I’m the first to celebrate this and to say I miss nothing about the way it used to be. But not this week.
This week I’ve been using the $35 Raspberry Pi 2, a bare-bones Linux computer no bigger than a juice box. And I’ve rediscovered something I had forgotten: the thrill of tinkering with a machine and its software. Of course, that thrill is accompanied, from time to time, with the urge to take a baseball bat to an inanimate object.
The Raspberry Pi is the antithesis of our polished, hermetically sealed Apple and Windows PCs. Open the cardboard box and all you’ll find inside is a green board covered with chips, circuits and ports. There’s no keyboard, monitor, or power cord. There isn’t even an operating system. And that’s all by design.
It was made by a U.K.-based nonprofit called the Raspberry Pi Foundation to encourage today’s children, around the age 10 and up, to learn more about how computers really work. Children today “have wonderful technology in their lives, but they are deprived of learning how it works,” Eben Upton, co-founder of the foundation, says. So while every other electronics maker has been slaving away on ease-of-use features, Mr. Upton decided to deliberately create a computer that dials back the user friendliness.
After using the Pi 2, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a great way for children and teenagers to learn about computer hardware and software. It’s also great for us curious adults who are interested in knowing more about the worlds of open-source and software coding, and don’t mind typing arcane commands into a DOS-looking interface to get there.
But don’t let that scare you. I challenged myself to see what I could do with the little thing and it put my problem-solving skills and patience to the test. Even if you’re someone like me, with little to no computer coding knowledge, you’ll be amazed by the number of things you can do with a $35 computer.
A $35 Linux Computer
My journey all started with gathering the right pieces to make the Pi my main computer for past few days.
Not only doesn’t the Pi come with an operating system, there isn’t even a hard drive inside. There is, however, a MicroSD card slot. So I did what the very helpful Raspberry Pi websites and community of experts tell beginners to do: I bought a $10 card preloaded with Raspbian, a basic Linux OS optimized for the Pi. (You can download the free software and put it on a card you already own, too.) Later this year, a new version of Windows will be released for the Pi.
OK, so it costs a little more than $35. I also bought a $5 plastic box to house the board, a $13 USB Wi-Fi dongle and a $8 Pi-compatible MicroUSB power cord from Adafruit.com, a website that sells the Pi and a selection of hardware add-ons for it, and provides tutorials.
With those things, plus a USB mouse and keyboard and an HDMI monitor I already had (TVs work fine, too), I was up and running. To get started, I did have to type some text into the command line and go through some installation processes, but believe it or not, it took less time to set up the computer than to bake a real raspberry pie. (Even with a pre-made crust!)
Raspbian, which launched a Windows-style graphic interface once I installed it, provides a basic desktop and menu with access to programs and settings. Using the preloaded Web browser, I’ve been able to do most of what I do on my laptop—check email, Twitter, Facebook. I also downloaded the free LibreOffice suite from the preloaded Pi Store. Read the rest of this entry »
The riveting psychodrama of Toronto city politics
For the Toronto Star, John Barber writes: Now that Rob Ford has so abruptly left town, fate has arranged for an interlude to divert our attention until the fateful day he returns, fully rehabilitated after a quick turn in some spin-dry drunk tank, to scare us once again into believing he might actually get re-elected. It so happens we have a provincial election to amuse us until that fateful day — after which, if past is prologue, all attention will return to the riveting psychodrama of Toronto city politics.
Would NDP Leader Andrea Horwath have had the nerve to bring down Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals had Rob Ford not been whisked into guaranteed oblivion mere hours before the budget came down? Attention to any provincial theatrical would have been divided at best as long as Rob Ford remained lurching in the wings, threatening at any moment to swing across the stage scattering cluster bombs of scandal. They are lucky to have it to themselves for the brief period it will take Ford to forgive himself.
But they only get one month. The main event — the drama of “der Crack-Burgermeister von Toronto” — goes on and on.