Find: phone tech is NASA tech - cheap Android-based satellites with Nexus hardware later this year

NASA set to launch cheap Android-based satellites with Nexus hardware later this year


Faced with a shrinking budget, NASA will in many ways need to reinvent itself if the agency hopes to continue leading the charge in space exploration. There’s perhaps no better example of that “do more with less” mantra than the PhoneSat project, the goal of which is to build the lowest-cost and easiest to assemble satellites ever placed into orbit. To create such a thing, engineers have turned to off-the-shelf consumer gadgets for parts, harnessing the internals of Google’s Nexus hardware as the brains of the operation.

Find: Valve will make hardware - maybe this will be the disruption the pc market needs

Valve says it’s jumping into the computer hardware business

valve jump

In a job listing for the “industrial designer” position on Valve’s website, the company has finally made its hardware ambitions explicit: Valve says “we’re frustrated by the lack of innovation of in the computer hardware space, so we’re jumping in.” The job listing says that “even in basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed much in any meaningful way over the years,” but stops short of naming alternative hardware. For months, evidence suggesting Valve’s entrance to the hardware market has piled up: there’s the rumored “Steam Box” platform, murmurs of a wearable computing project, and job listings for engineers.

"There’s a real void in the marketplace."

Valve hasn’t confirmed any specific plans for devices yet, but the…

Find: US falling further behind - Ireland calls for minimum Internet speeds of 30Mbps

Ireland calls for minimum Internet speeds of 30Mbps

With the exception of Google Fiber, the United States isn’t exactly breaking records when it comes to high-speed Internet policy. The National Broadband Plan, which was released two years ago, says that there should be a minimum level of service of at least 4Mbps for all Americans. Since then, not much has happened.

But across the pond in Ireland, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, has recently decided that that’s not nearly enough.

On Thursday, he outlined a new broadband plan for Ireland that puts the United States to shame. He says that half the population, largely in the urban and suburban cores, should have speeds of 70Mbps to 100Mbps, with service of at least 40Mbps to the next 20 percent of the country. Finally, he writes, there should be a “minimum of 30Mbps for every remaining home and business in the country—no matter how rural or remote.”

Find: Quad-HD TV hits shelves

New dvd standard can’t be far behind.  Still too big though. 

Ultra-HD TV sets to hit shelves just in time for Christmas

A new ultra-HD TV coming from Sony By December, U.S. stores will sell a TV set with four times the resolution of today’s best HDTVs, Sony says. The set will measure 84 inches on the diagonal, making the screen area four times as large as the common 42-inch set.

Find: Twitter revs up mTurk with Clockwork Raven

Looks handy!

Crowdsourced data analysis with Clockwork Raven

Today, we’re excited to open source Clockwork Raven, a web application that allows users to easily submit data to Mechanical Turk for manual review and then analyze that data. Clockwork Raven steps in to do what algorithms cannot: it sends your data analysis tasks to real people and gets fast, cheap and accurate results. We use Clockwork Raven to gather tens of thousands of judgments from Mechanical Turk users every week.


We’re huge fans of human evaluation at Twitter and how it can aid data analysis. In the past, we’ve used systems like Mechanical Turk and CrowdFlower, as well as an internal system where we train dedicated reviewers and have them come in to our offices. However, as we scale up our usage of human evaluation, we needed a better system. This is why we built Clockwork Raven and designed it with several important goals in mind:


In Clockwork Raven, you create an evaluation by submitting a table of data (CSV or JSON). Each row of this table corresponds to a task that a human will complete. We build a template for the tasks in the Template Builder, then submit them to Mechanical Turk and Clockwork Raven tracks how many responses we’ve gotten. Once all the tasks are complete, we can import the results into Clockwork Raven where they’re presented in a configurable bar chart and can be exported to a number of data formats.

Here’s the features we’ve built into Clockwork Raven to address the goals above:

  • Clockwork Raven has a simple drag-and-drop builder not unlike the form builder in Google Docs. We can create headers and text sections, add multiple-choice and free-response questions, and insert data from a column in the uploaded data.

Tags: finds tools

Researchers achieve ‘highest possible’ 100,000dpi color laser printing

Photon scale imagery. 

Researchers achieve ‘highest possible’ 100,000dpi color laser printing

lena nano (

Researchers in Singapore have achieved what they claim is the “highest possible resolution” for color laser printing. The team demonstrated the technique by printing the common Lena test image at just 50 by 50 micrometers and around 100,000dpi — any smaller and the light would bounce off each pixel and diffract, resulting in a blurry picture. The pixels are actually constructed from tiny pillars topped with gold and silver nanodisks, but an effect called plasmon resonance means it’s possible to define the color of reflected light by varying the dots’ diameters and the spaces between them.

We’ve seen (and questioned the utility of) screens with Retina display-beating resolution, and color print technology has long been able to go beyond…

Find: Errol Morris on which fonts we trust more

At least one report says some fonts are more trusted than others. 


Errol Morris on why some fonts are more trustworthy than others

Google fonts

Last month, filmmaker and writer Errol Morris (known for documentaries Standard Operating Procedure and The Fog of War) quoted a brief paragraph and asked New York Times readers if they agreed with its premise: that “we are living in an era of unprecedented safety.” Though the question ostensibly measured whether the reader was an optimist or pessimist, Morris was actually testing something different: are people more likely to trust text when it’s written in certain fonts?

Now, Morris has published his results, along with an interesting essay on writing and font styles and analysis from psychology professor David Dunning at Cornell University. It turns out that people who saw the statement in “starchy” and formal font Baskerville were…

Tags: finds nyt text ux vx

Find: Amazon launches rental service for paper textbooks

Amazon launches rental service for paper textbooks

Amazon Textbook RentalJuggernaut Amazon is striking another blow at the traditional textbook industry by offering semester-long rentals of physical books. The listings for a number of textbooks now include a “rent” option that’s usually around $50 for a title that sells for $170. According to Amazon’s FAQ, the books are rented out by the semester (counted as 130 days), with one 15-day extension allowed. Textbooks are shipped at standard prices, and the cost of returning them is paid by Amazon. Depending on their luck, renters might receive a book that’s new or one that’s gently used.

Ebay’s and other sites rent textbooks at roughly similar prices, but Amazon’s ubiquity means it’s likely to make the practice more mainstream. While Amazon also offers a…

Coffee and visualization. And film! Three loves of mine.

They have a kickstarter page….

Vittles Film + Counter Culture Coffee = Cafe Sense

I’m glad I ran into the guys of Vittles Film at the Indy Weekly Awards outing this weekend.  It was gorgeous weather and lots of people jammed into the American Tobacco Historic District with vendors set up showing off their flair.  As I was walking around congratulating the recent winners I stopped at a tent because I noticed a small postcard with a coffee tasting wheel advertising a documentary called “Cafe Sense”.  I had heard about this documentary through Counter Culture Coffee but had yet to watch it.  First, its a great documentary and you should check it out below or at their website here  Second, support what they are doing.  Their craft is excellent and their story telling is superb.  Hats off Vittles crew, I hope we meet again very soon! 

Find: Jony Ive - focus, lead and disseminate

Focus: you can’t do everything you’re interested in. Edit yourself, say no and work on your thing. 
Disseminate: let others have what you make. Mass produce it. Like the eames motto create the best, for the most, for the least. 

Lead: don’t follow focus groups. Take control, know needs, and seize opportunities to meet them. 

Apple’s Jony Ive: ‘really great design is hard’

Jony Ive

In a recent interview with Wired UK, Apple industrial designer Jonathan Ive spoke about the challenges of crafting well-designed products for mass production. He said “our goal isn’t to make money” but “what makes us excited is to make great products.”

He goes on to explain that Apple doesn’t do market research, saying “it will guarantee mediocrity and will only work out whether you are going to offend anyone.” Ive said that when Steve Jobs returned to Apple during its moment of financial turmoil, it was “his resolve was to make better products,” rather than traditional business austerity techniques, that brought about Apple’s return to success. While Ive’s description of Apple’s philosophy on the genesis of new products seems quite…