In Tumblr’s year-in-review round up, the blogging platform collected some of the most popular posts on the site under several different categories. According to the review, Tumblr calculated popularity by factoring in “total volume of posts and tags (including reblogs) and total traffic.” Tumblr users are passionate about a number of subjects, so it’s no surprise the most popular tech posts highlighted some of the most innovative tech of 2013.
The social media site encourages various types of media, which means that posters don’t need to rely on images alone to show off new and innovative tech that inspires them. Tumblr’s design allows users to view GIFs as part of a whole post seamlessly, like a regular photo. This means users can view the technology in action right on their screens as opposed to loading a video or viewing still shots in succession. Read more…
Later this December, department officials plan to test a portable hydrolysis system that uses “heat, water and bleach-like chemicals” to transform the weapons into a lower grade of hazardous waste that is more manageable, according to a news release on the department’s website. The tests will be conducted on Cape Ray, a U.S. Merchant Marine ship, marking the first time such a test would be performed at sea.
They took off from the city of Goma on Tuesday, where they will help the UN better monitor rebel activity along the nation’s borders with Uganda and Rwanda, according to The Guardian.
The peacekeeping organization was integral to recently defeating M23, a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo that took over Goma at one point last year. But for a nation that has been battered by violent groups for around 20 years, defeating one is not enough, and the 20,000 UN troops throughout the country have not been able to end the bloodshed. Other rebel factions lurk amidst dense forest in remote Congolese terrain, and the UN believes drones will help track their movement. Read more…
We are about to embark on amazing adventure and we need your help. In January we are holding our first Hardware Battlefield in Las Vegas, Nevada to coincide with CES. We will bring 15 great hardware startups, a gaggle of amazing judges, and a 3D-printed trophy of your design.
We need 3D designers to build us an amazing, open source trophy that Shapeways will print for us. If your model is chosen you will receive a Makerbot Digitizer and our unending appreciation as well as a link to your work.
How do you enter? Create a 3D model taller than six inches and submit it to Shapeways with the tag “Techcrunch.” Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, when you’ve uploaded your model and we will pick a winner at the middle of December. You will receive a print and we will use another copy as our Hardware Battlefield trophy.
What are we looking for? Anything as long as it looks great as a trophy, is sufficiently regal-looking, and is amazing. We want robots, planetoids, and 3D printer nozzles blown up to maximum resolution. We want something that epitomizes the spirit of adventure, fun, and hard work that it takes to make a cool hardware startup.
So enter today. We need you and we want our Hardware Battlefield winner to go home with an amazing trophy of your design.
Wi-Fi routers are usually boring. Designed to look as innocuous as possible, designers basically go for the “black box with lights on it” approach and head home. Not Airfy.
Originally introduced at Disrupt Berlin, Airfy is one of the sexiest Wi-Fi routers I’ve ever seen. It looks like a cross between an Art Deco lamp and a Legend of Zelda Rupee. While the device is a fully-compliant 802.11ac/n router, it also acts as a Bluetooth iBeacon and allows you to set up a sort of local, wireless point-of-sale system in your office or shop. Using a mobile app, the service supports mobile payments via a proprietary POS gateway. Finally, the device can also act as a shopping aid.
Not running a corner shop? The Airfy also has 50 built-in LEDs that light up when various things happen on your system. For example, you can have it change color for Facebook updates, commerce sales, or phone calls and you can use IFTTT to program interactive features. You can also add features like “paid” surfing, commercial-based free wi-fi (users can watch a quick commercial to log into your router) and the data is WPA2 encrypted. As a stretch goal the team will add a camera to the mix, allowing you to use the router as a home security device and a built-in audio out for wireless streaming. In short, they stuck everything in here but the kitchen sink.
The team is looking for $169 for the 802.11N model and their standalone beacons will cost $49. They are looking for $100,000 and have raised $2,000 so far. The site is a bit nebulous as to how they’re going to pull off their most exciting features – especially the virtual POS system – but that’s what Indiegogo is for. Considering we’ve seen these routers in the flesh and came away impressed, however, I’m sure the team will figure out all the vagaries before they hit the stores.
Taking pictures is fun, frustrating and rewarding. But the right gear helps minimize the frustration and bump up the other two. This guide covers a range of photographers, from amateur mobile shooters to those with the best gear operating at or near the professional level, so there should be something for everyone. And remember: When in doubt, batteries.
Fujifilm X100s ($1,299)
This is a camera lover’s camera, with an extremely pleasing outer design and functionality that will make the biggest rangefinder nerd sing with secret joy inside their heart. The X100s debuted at CES last year, but it’s not showing its age yet – and it improves autofocus greatly over the original X100, which was itself a strong performer save for that one failing. If it’s low light and candid you’re after, in a relatively portable package with extensive manual controls, the X100s is it.
Sony NEX-5T ($599)
The Fujifilm camera listed above is great for advanced users, but the Sony NEX-5T is an affordable mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that fits the needs of much more novice and general photographers. The 5T offers Wi-Fi sharing over the lower cost 3N, which is why it gets my vote, since that’s becoming a much more important convenience factor with the increased mobile editing power built-in to many of today’s best smartphones and tablets.
iPad Air ($499)
Speaking of those devices, Apple’s iPad Air takes the cake as the photographer’s best friend while on the road. That big, beautiful Retina display combined with the thin and light design of Apple’s latest 9.7-inch tablet make it the perfect blend of form and function for use in the field. And that A7 processor promises big improvements for image editing performance on the tablet, especially as software makers like Adobe capitalize on its newfound abilities.
Also for the mobile photographer, the Glif from Studio Neat has just undergone a redesign that makes it compatible with virtually any smartphone device. The original was a single piece of ABS plastic, but this one introduces a single moving part to accommodate devices of different thicknesses. You might not think that tripod-mounting your iPhone or Galaxy S4 is going to make a huge difference to your pictures, but with apps that cater to long exposures and for surprisingly sharper results, traditional tools like a tripod can’t be beat.
Incase DSLR Pro Pack ($149.95)
I am constantly rethinking my ideal camera bag, but the Incase DSLR Pro Pack has remained on top of the heap for the longest time now, and I don’t foresee ditching it anytime soon. It lugs everything I need with ease, including laptop, chargers and cables in addition to one or two bodies and a number of lenses. It’ll weigh a ton fully loaded, but the straps distribute the weight evenly to save your back, and it’s so sturdily constructed it’ll last for years even under the heaviest of loads.
Future Bluetooth devices will be more flexible, have better connectivity and play nicer with other gadgets in the coming months. Bluetooth 4.1, set by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), upgrades the short-range wireless standard with a number of feature improvements.
If you’ve ever had the experience of losing, say, a Bluetooth audio stream because you stepped out of range of your phone or PC, then you’ll appreciate this latest change. With the new standard, devices will be able to quickly and automatically reconnect once you’re back in range.
Google has started sending out invites to Google Glass Explorer Edition owners, offering them a one-time swap of their device for a new version. Everyone who purchased the original Explorer version prior to Oct. 28, 2013, is eligible for the swap
While the swap is entirely optional, it’s free and it bring several improvements. According to Google, the new Glass Explorer Edition is a bit faster, more durable, and compatible with upcoming prescription frames.
The new Glass is also compatible with new accessories; on the other hand, old accessories might not work. Read more…
When the power goes out, it’s terrible. Nothing works, and for some reason it’s impossible to remember that: I always find myself doing things like “well if I can’t watch TV I can at least read this book, I’ll just turn on the light…” and then nada of course. With SmartCharge, a new Kickstarter project, that might actually work, since it’s an LED bulb with a built-in power reserve that remains on uninterrupted when the rest of your power goes off.
The LED bulb component of SmartCharge fits standard light fixtures and cuts power usage by up to 90 percent vs. incandescents, and should last 25 years under normal usage conditions, if everything goes as predicted. When the power goes out, the SmartCharge bulb has a reserve battery built-in that’s good for up to four hours of lighting, which should be enough to weather most storms and brownouts.
The key to SmartCharge’s magic is that it recognizes and remembers the position of the light switch before the power outage, and then continues on again after the power returns as if nothing had ever happened. This smart switch position memory even works with two and three-stage lights, but there is a downside: It only works with one light in a series controlled by a single switch at the moment, though the founding team is sorting out a way it can work with a single switch that controls a whole bank of bulbs.
Founder Shailendra K. Suman previously started a successful propane gas tank metering company, as well as a lost item tracking gadget startup, and he has worked for Northern State Power in the past and has two degrees in engineering, so he knows a thing or two about brownouts and building things.
SmartCharge is seeking $50,000 in funding, and has already raised nearly $15,000 of that with 42 days left in the campaign. Backers qualify for a pre-order of a single SmartCharge bulb starting at $35, which is actually very reasonable when compared to the price of even basic, non-smart LED bulbs these days. Suman anticipates shipping to backers will begin in April next year.
Stratasys, one of the two giants in the 3D printing market (the other is 3DSystems), is on a roll. This summer it bought one of the biggest and beloved home 3D-printer makers, MakerBot, and watched its printers churn out the first 3D-printed gun. Now it’s back in the news for suing printer reseller Afinia for infringing on its patents.
These patents cover some of the most basic aspects of 3D printing, from the process of creating “infill,” the cross-hatched pattern that printers use to support the inside, to the heated plate that keeps objects stuck during printing. MakerBot, in fact, has long infringed on these very same patents and, for most of its existence, has skirted lawsuits, albeit with positive results. Many smaller manufactures haven’t been so lucky.
Even Formlabs, makers of the Form One stereolithographic machine, weren’t immune. They went to market last December while facing down 3D Systems lawyers for daring to use a similar printing technique.
Why is Big 3D finally paying attention to little guys like Formlabs and Afinia aka Microboards Technology, LLC? It’s because they’re finally getting traction in the home market. While it’s usually fine for B2B companies to snipe each other – nobody cares when big CRM smashes some puny competitor – this sniping is actually hurting the industry. By slowing down the adopting of home 3D printing, Stratasys and 3D Systems are cutting into their own bottom line. IBM, in the 1980s, never actively attacked the “clones” that sprung up on the market and we now have a variegated ecosystem of hardware that ranges from mobile devices to mainframes. No one stopped Linux from copying techniques and tricks used by Unix and, eventually, Windows, and the result is a deep and rich vein of open source computing prowess.
Patents served Stratasys and 3D Systems well when 3D printing was hard. To compete with them, competitors had to have deep pockets and be ready to pay licensing fees. Now that literally anyone can build an MakerBot-like FDM machine out of a few simple parts – this guy made one for $100 – the impetus for protection is far more mercenary. They are, in short, threatened.
The EFF has been trying to swat down fake patents, for better or worse, but the problem will continue to plague small makers until the patents expire. It does not benefit Stratasys to troll the small guy (unless it’s to protect its MakerBot investment, which would be a delightful bit of irony) and, in the end, it hurts the industry as a whole. The more people who know how to do home 3D printing, the more people who will be interested in professional products. That said, perhaps Stratasys is concerned that the home 3D printers will supplant its professional business. If this is the case, it’s a baseless fear akin to Ford being afraid of go-kart hobbyists.
Patents are fine when they truly protect the filers from predators. When the filers themselves, become the predators, however, the issue clouds the market, destroys innovation, and makes the big guys look mean. That’s not good for anyone.