Recent Articles By John Martellaro [RSS]

HAL-9000: Meet Alexa. Sorry Dave

· · Cool Stuff Found

The Verge has picked up on an Indiegogo project from the Master Replicas Group. Licensed from Warner Bros, it’s a replica of the HAL-9000 communications station from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. MRG says they’ll marry this unit with Amazon’s Alexa technology.  OMG. Now you can have the best of both of these voice assistants. (Hopefully with none of the downsides.) Pre-order now for January delivery. Starts at US$419.

HAL-9000: Meet Alexa. Sorry Dave

AI Mania. Can We Keep Up?

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AI concept

New payment systems abound. Artificial Intelligence mania continues. AIs interrogating other AIs and probing their minds. AIs doing cancer diagnosis. And mostly right but sometimes wrong. Facial recognition bites back. Can we keep up?  It’s all in Particle Debris page 2.

TMO Background Mode Special Edition Chat with Kelly Guimont: TV Mysteries

· · Background Mode Podcast

Kelly Guimont on Background Mode.

Kelly Guimont is a Contributing Editor for The Mac Observer and Social Media Manager for Smile Software. She first appeared here in December, 2015 to tell her career story and has returned several times for interesting technical discussions. In this special edition, we chat about our favorite movie or two, and how, for some movies, the music has become a thing in itself, the soundtrack of our lives. Then we delved into the legendary BBC/CBC mysteries: Foyle’s War, Murdoch Mysteries, Shetland, Death in Paradise, and Broadchurch. For most of these mysteries, we look at their celebration of place that becomes an integral part of the show. Join us as we explore together what makes these shows so cool.

 

MIT Research: An Aerosol Spray of Nanobots

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Aerosol nanobots injection chamber.

Indeed, the nanobots in this MIT research are primitive, but the present and future prospects look to be amazing. “The first [component of the aerosol] is a colloid, an extremely tiny insoluble particle or molecule…. The second part of the sensor is a complex circuit containing a chemical detector built from a two-dimensional material, such as graphene. When this detector encounters a certain chemical in its environment, its ability to conduct electricity improves. The circuit also contains a photodiode, a device that can convert ambient light into electric current. This provides all the electricity needed to power the circuit’s data collection and memory.” This is fascinating research, well explained in the link. It will open new doors.

Get Ready For Planet Mars Close Approach on July 31

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The planet Mars.

On 31 July 2018, the planet Mars will be closer to Earth than it has been in 15 years. Technically, it’s called opposition, and the distance will be 35.7 million miles (57.6 million kilometers.) Look south in the late evening, west of the constellation Sagittarius, to see the dazzling red planet. Even a small telescope will bring out some detail, polar cap, etc. And check with your local planetarium for a special observing event. This NASA doc has the details.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Novelist and Freelance Tech Writer Dan Moren

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dan Moren on Background Mode.

Dan Moren is a novelist, freelance tech writer and prolific podcaster. He’s written for Tidbits, Fast Company, Popular Science, Yahoo Tech, and Tom’s Guide. He was a senior editor at Macworld for many years and continues to write the excellent Stay Foolish column there every Friday. Today he also writes for Six Colors and hosts severable popular podcasts, including Clockwise and Inconceivable! We chatted about his years before Macworld and how he launched his career by writing about Star Wars for a newspaper (most interesting) and later bumped into Jason Snell at a Macworld Expo. Dan told me the story about the development of his SciFi novel, his favorite Mac and his favorite writing tools for both fiction and tech. Finally, Dan briefed me on the many different podcasts he hosts.

The True Scale of the Sun and Earth Distance is Amazing

· · Cool Stuff Found

Most diagrams in magazines and web pages that show both the Sun and Earth, say, eclipse diagrams are mere schematics. The true scale is wrong in relative size and distance so both can fit in a convenient graphic. And so we fail to appreciate the size of the Earth relative to the Sun. And distance. But Bill Nye did a great demo a few years ago that brings it all home.

The True Scale of the Sun and Earth Distance is Amazing

Why We Hunger For the Latest Gizmo. Or iPhone

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iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus top selling smartphones

It’s called The Diderot Effect, and it explains modern consumerism, why you buy things you don’t need. It all started when we were told as kids that we just had to have the awesome decoder ring found in that special cereal box. Today, unless we’ve seen the latest superhero movie or have the latest iPhone, we are somehow less of a person. Our goods define our identity. This linked article provides some perspective on manipulated consumerism.