Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Social Alarm Clock

My biggest problem as I entered Stevens Institute of Technology was waking up. Alarms appear to have no affect on me and my parents have trouble trying to wake me up at times. There is an app for the iPhone and Android phones called Wakie. It was launched in 2011, and finally made its way to the App Store after a reported nine month wait. It already has 1.5 million users in 80 countries. It's nicknamed the "social alarm clock" and "a friendly community of people who wake each other up in the morning".

Wakie's CEO and cofounder said that there was research that after one minute talk to a stranger wakes up the brain with a 99% guarantee. I actually have this app on my Samsung Galaxy phone  during every exam week. The most effective calls seem to be when a girl wakes me. I try to focus and try to act nice. If a guy calls it becomes awkward and our conversation is short. Either way, I awake enough to get out of bed and start my day.

There is a creep factor when a guy wakes people up for fun by breathing weird and making weird remarks but it does it's job. I've used this app for the past year and I would recommend it to anyone. Maybe not my sister.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/11/tech/mobile/wakie-alarm-stranger/index.html

Solar Sunflower

When I look at solar power stations, I admire what it does, but it has a vibe that it's just wasting space. When walking near Davidson Lab at Stevens Institute of Technology, the solar panels are covering what appears to be a garden with some beauty.

The Sunflower Solar Harvester, developed by the Swiss company Airlight Energy have developed transportable solar power stations that track the sun like a sunflower and cools itself by pumping water through its veins. The power station can produce 12 kW of energy from 10 hours of sunlight which is enough to power several househoulds. The head of research Gianluca Ambrosetti said "It's an integrated system so it supplies both electricity and heat. You can use this heat to drive a cooling system too, if you need refrigeration." This power system will have appeal to those that have multiple requirement and alot of sunlight.

This technology will not replace fuel powered generator sets which produced 10 times the power of one solar sunflower. 100 sunflowers would be needed to run a hospital that requires 1.2mW of power. However, it would be awesome for a small camp hospital with minimal refrigeration requirements for medicines, it could be set up in a remote location and just one dish could satisfy quite a lot of those needs.

This solar power station has visual appeal, portable, and provides multiple functions. When it comes to renewable resources, this is a great new start to the right direction.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/16/tech/innovation/sunflower-solar-harvester/index.html

Amazon shipping robots

Robots from Kiva Systems, a company that is now owned by Amazon, are roaming around the warehouse floor to find everyone's orders online. Amazon now has 10 fulfillment centers across the United States that houses more than 15,000 Kiva Robots. Amazon said the technology inside the centers includes the Robo-Stow, a gigantic robotic arm that shifts orders. There are also new inventory systems that cut down time taken unloading and proceessing products and packages, getting the needed products to the customer quickly. These Kiva Robots work harmoniously and are aware of each other's location which prevents any accidents.
When reading the article on Amazon's Kiva Robots, I was like," Great! Machines are replacing humans again." In a way this is true and Kiva Robots should be more productive and efficient compared to normal humans. However, Amazon released a statement this year that the company plans to hire 80,000 employees to cover the season rush which is 14 percent more that last year. Amazon expects that out of the 80,000 short term recruits, thousands of them will move into full time roles as the holiday period ends.
Amazon has done a great job incorporating new technology into doing great efficient work. Drones for delivery and now drones to work inside the warehouse. It is scary thinking about machines doing most of the work at a Amazon warehouse but amazed at how far humans came.

http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/01/these-cool-robots-are-processing-your-amazon-orders/

Plastic Dresses

With all the great products that can be made with 3-D printing, clothing is the newest product that can now be printed. Nervous System has created a novel process that allows a 3-D printed dress to move and sway like real fabric. The software that Nervous System uses is called Kinetics. Kinetics combines origami techniques with novel approaches to 3-D printing. The dress starts out as a model in CAD, where Kinetics breaks it down into various triangular segments. Once the designer is satisfied, algorithms add hinges to the triangles uniting the garment into a single piece and compress the design into the smallest possible shape to optimize the printing process.
The plastic that is used are cleaned and dyed to various colors of interlocking bricks of plastic. This dress flows and moves as a person does various motions. For Designer Jessica Rosekrantz, she made sure that the 3-D printed dress was comfortable instead of it being a plastic suit of armor. The model's body is 3-D scanned to ensure a perfect fit.
The problem with this dress is that it costs $3000 dollars and does not exactly keep a person warm. It was very interesting to think that designing can now be done on CAD, instead of hand drawing or experimenting with other fabrics. 

Fancy Toasters

     Scrolling through cnet not that long ago, I stumbled upon an article asking how much you could justify paying for a toaster. My first reaction to finding articles like this is usually to laugh at how unnecessary it would be to pay such a high price for whatever the either practical or impractical item is, but procrastination led me to clicking the link  and reading through the article since toast could potentially be more important of an issue than I might have assumed.
     The gist of this article was justifying the price difference in appliances that serve the same purpose. All toasters have a similar mechanics. Bread can be lowered into slots where it can toast as it is exposed to heated wires that line the metal grates holding the bread in place. The click that locks the lever into place triggers electromagnetic waves to run through the wires and start the heating process by completing a circuit. After the wires reach a certain temperature as specified by the user, the lever will release and the toast will pop up, ready to serve.
     The factors that make one toaster 25 times more expensive than another are in the additional mechanics that make the toaster unique. A few of the differences listed in the article include automatic lowering of bread, material of the unit exterior(stainless steel, aluminum, plastic) which indicates durability, aesthetic, number of slots, slot size, number of wires, amount of spacing between wires, power usage, timing cycle, heat sensors, and much more. Each element of the toaster seeks to add to the quality of the user's experience making the toast to improve evenness of toasting, time taken to finish the job, aesthetics, safety, energy consumption, etc.
     After spending a great deal of time talking about the features of these fancy toasters, the verdict of the article was that no toaster over $100 was worth the expense and that the $30 Hamilton Beach toaster is really all you need. That lackluster of a conclusion was what I expected from the article, but what I did not expect was the amount of thought and detail that was put into these mechanisms and features. Coming from a very conservative family, when it came down to making a purchase the general consensus was to buy the cheapest brand of the item available. Never had I actually considered the amount of research and thought put into these items which I had always considered unnecessary. As someone who aspires to create applications and products for consumers, it is vital to possess this kind of attention to detail and concern for user experience. While the importance of this concept might not show itself as well in the form of toasters, it is a way of thinking that is very applicable to engineering and computational development. Understanding the consumers restrictions and knowledge is the first step to creating effective products that will enable the proper utilization of the creation's potential.

http://www.cnet.com/news/should-you-ever-pay-more-for-a-toaster/

Elitest Culture Within the Tech Community - identification through Disassociation

     iPhones are ridiculously inferior to nexus and galaxy phones. Never will I understand the sales that Apple rakes in annually for the terrible quality and design of there products, not just with phones, but also with operating systems. It is clear that the one and only Operating system that should exist is none other than Linux. Open source is a paradigm that we must implement to destroy capital America and bring peace and sanity to the world. Wait, are you playing an iPhone game right now? smh iPhone games are the actual worst. PC master race!#winning

     That entire paragraph is my attempt at summing up the elitest culture that is VERY prevalent in computer science and the tech community. I must hear at least half of these statements being made several time a day by my peers and it is quite unsettling. this blog post is not meant to be a rant about people expressing their opinions and preferences, but rather it is a questioning of why individuals within the tech community must present their opinions in such a condescending manner.
     One of the many regrets I have in life is not playing more video games as a child. My sister was never very fond of video games, so if I had to play it would have meant playing by myself. Autonomous gaming is definitely an acquired taste, something which I do not have. As a result of my lack of knowledge and skill in gaming, I spent much of my time participating in other subcultures, that is until I found the game that would consume my life for the following two years. Puzzles and Dragons is a match three mobile game that incorporates the idea of unit management similar to that of training and evolving Pokemon. The game, at its core is very simple, but in order to really partake in the experience, players must be well-versed in monster updates as well as current events that are posted on the games main website. This Japanese mobile game was released in US iOS app stores in October of 2012 and quickly took my 80% Japanese high school by storm. a month after its release to the american market, I began to play Puzzles and dragons thinking it would be merely a phase just like cut the rope, angry birds, and candy crush, but I was gravely mistaken. I, to this day, very actively play this game to the point of setting alarms in the middle of the night so that I won't miss special dungeons.
     The reason I bring up my obsession with this game, is that as soon as I got here and spoke about it to other CS majors, I was instantly scoffed at because I was advocating a mobile game. Techies are so quick to judge others based on their preferences and skill sets that it makes fitting into the culture quite difficult. The topic we went over in class, identification through disassociation and association was one I really enjoyed that brought this issue to light. Identification through disassociation is a consistent trait that spans even beyond the students onto the professors. Having preferences is perfectly fine and encouraged, but they way those preferences are vocalized does matter. What individuals of this discourse fail to realize is that their disapproval of the general community for their lack of knowledge is offensive and creates a negative image for other computer scientists as being condescending and judgmental. While I do enjoy computer science, I do see this attitude as a major issue within the community that I would like to see corrected. The type of phone in my pocket and the OS that I am running are completely irrelevant to who I am as a person and as a computer scientist. to be judged and categorized on such factors is childish and overall unnecessary.

Feminism

     Something I see pretty often, not as much recently, but frequently at a certain point in time, is the association of radical feminist and actually feminists.  For clarification, a radical feminist is an activist with very different motivations than that of actual feminists. Rather than striving for equality, radical feminists look toward female superiority, putting down men whenever they get the chance in order to feel a sense of authority. Having spent more time on tumblr than I am proud to admit, I can vouch for the fact that many of these radical feminists are motivated by a severe case of penis-envy that clearly does not represent what feminism is about.
     This topic of radical feminists is definitely bring brought to light more often in practical conversation. I can think of at least 5 instances where this topic was brought up in classroom situations since I have gotten to Stevens, which is something that I am really proud to say. The Instructors of this institution bring up the topic of feminism as a means of combating ignorance. From these discussions I have yet to hear any questionable responses, giving me a little more faith in humanity, that is, until I have to observe the ignorance that exists in the actual community.
     Two weeks ago, I was playing Smash 4, me and my other friend being the only women playing out of a total of 8 players. During the team battle, my female friend had been the lone survivor of her team at some point, to which she responded in protest by shouting, "NO YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME ALONE I'M A GIRL!" or something along those lines. I threw some serious side-eye before I told her how that statement was a deprecation to all women, something that no one should say, especially not another woman. The fact that she said this as a reflex is really what I had the biggest problem with. Not only does it show her own insecurity in herself, but it also shows her intrinsic belief that women are inferior to men in her situation. It is small events like these that really highlight the issues that stand in the way of feminism, some of which were well represented in the panel that occurred a couple of weeks ago.
      One of the things I am always unsettled by is seeing women put down the general female population. I have never been a key-board warrior activist for feminism, nor have I even been vocal about the issue of feminism, but in the face of those types of situations I feel the obligation to speak up. It is a sad truth that women cause the downfall of other women to feel superiority, because all it really goes to show is that individuals disregard for their own gender. other issues mentioned in the panel that I had really never thought about was the idea of chivalry co-existing with feminism. chivalry can exist with feminism as long as it is reciprocated and is not expected. The idea of being polite and doing good to others is a concept that should apply to all people regardless of gender, but there are aspects of traditional chivalry that definitely don't do well with feminism. Men feeling the obligation to act like men is something I find to be very irritating, like needing to pay the bill, or needing to be of some service to women. In order to co-exist with feminism, chivalry must focus on equality and reciprocation, not a one sided obligation based on gender.