Skip to content

Archive for


Inhabitat’s Week in Green: Self-driving Uber cars, and more!

The self-driving cars are coming: This week Uber unveiled its first autonomous vehicle, while Google patented a sticky “fly paper” car hood that could protect pedestrians caught in self-driving car crashes. Los Angeles celebrated the completion of its first new metro line in 60 years, while France transformed its trains with beautiful impressionist art. And Taga launched an affordable cycle with built-in cargo space that could be the ultimate family bike.
It was big week for solar power as well. For starters, scientists developed a breakthrough photovoltaic cell that set a new world record for efficiency. Portugal made headlines by running on 100-percent renewable energy for more than four days. The Mistbox is a new device that uses solar energy to cut down on summer cooling costs. And scientists discovered a new form of spiralized light that flies in the face of everything quantum physics says about photons.

As the world’s population expands, food reserves are being stretched thin. Fortunately, researchers have developed a breed of corn that can double crop yields, and a new vertical farm can produce 16 acres of veggies on eighth-acre of land. Water is another pressing issue, and this week a team of scientists developed a paper-thin water filter that can remove bacteria as well as viruses at an affordable price. In other design and health news, researchers developed a new stem cell therapy that could cure blindness, and a UK man received a futuristic bionic arm with a USB port and built-in flashlight.


The After Math: Coming Soon

It’s been an auspicious week for big promises. Google announced a whole bunch of stuff at its 2016 I/O developers conference, though it didn’t have a whole lot in the demonstrable product department. Similarly, a trio of transportation companies announced that they’re working on self-driving cars, IBM showed off a new kind of optical storage system that will eventually do impressive things, Google patented human flypaper that will one day coat cars.


Ben Heck’s Pill-Minder 2000

The Ben Heck Show - Episode 237 - Ben Heck's Pill-Minder 2000

Ben hacks the Christmas Present Protection System project and puts it to better daily use for pill medication monitoring — that way you’ll know if you’ve forgotten to take your meds. Using hardware found in the Salvage Wars, along with the brains of an Arduino,Felix calibrates and tests out the C++ programming code but there’s a slow-down problem. Can you optimize the code? Find a link to the files on the element14 Community page, and while you’re there, feel free to suggest builds to The Ben Heck Show team.


G-Technology G-Drive mobile USB-C review – CNET

The Good The G-Drive Mobile has good performance and works with both USB-C and regular USB devices, right out the box.

The Bad The drive’s storage space caps at 1TB and it’s significantly more expensive than other non-USB-C drives of the same capacity and storage type.

The Bottom Line Get the G-Drive Mobile if you want a solid-performing USB-C drive, but don’t want to pay SSD prices.


The G-Drive Mobile USB-C comes with two standard USB cables, permitting it to work with any computer on the market.

Dong Ngo/CNET

You know the new MacBooks that include a single USB-C port as the extent of their connection options? G-Tech’s G-Drive Mobile USB-C portable drive was made for computers like those. Thankfully, G-Tech was thoughtful enough to pack it with two USB cables: one USB-C cable and a USB-C to USB-A cable which lets you use the drive with a non-USB-C computer.

The $130 drive houses a normal laptop hard drive inside, so it’s not as fast or as expensive as solid-state drives (SSD) such as the Samsung Portable SSD T3 or the SanDisk Extreme 900 (each of these drives costs over $400 for 1TB). Still, there are better deals out there for non-USB-C drives; the WD My Passport Ultra costs just $125 for a whopping 3TB.

Out of the box, the G-Drive is preformatted in the HFS+ file system, which means it will work with Macs without any kind of setup. Like all portable drives, however, you can easily reformat it to work with Windows or any other operating system. There are three color options: space gray, gold and silver. Space gray and gold are available exclusively at Apple Stores.

CNET Labs’ high-speed USB portable drive performance

Samsung Portable SSD T1



SanDisk Extreme 9000 Portable SSD (USB 3.1)



Samsung Portable SSD T3 (USB 3.1)



LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt All-Terrain



Seagate Expansion



G-Drive Mobile USB-C (USB 3.1)



Buffalo MiniStation Extreme



WD My Passport Ultra (Spring 2015)



Seagate Slim



WD My Password Slim



WD Elements






Measured in megabytes per second. Longer bars indicate better performance.

The drive supports the USB 3.1 gen 1 speed standard and delivered a sustained copy speed of 110 megabytes per second (MB/s) for writing and 126MB/s for reading, clearly slower than the more expensive Samsung or SanDisk SSDs, but still plenty fast for everyday activities like backups or movie playback. It doesn’t include any backup software but both Windows 10 and Mac OS have great built-in backup tools.

All things considered, if you’re looking for an affordable USB-C portable drive, the new G-Drive Mobile USB-C is a relatively cheap alternative to SSD-based portable drives. Those looking for a non-USB-C portable drive should check out this list for more affordable options.


Best TV catch-up on Freeview Play: England’s Euro 2016 warm-up and more

Freeview Play is an incredible useful tool that gives you the ability to scroll backwards through the electronic programme guide and choose catch-up shows to play automatically.

Just find the show listed in the last seven days, click on it and it’ll open up in one of the dedicated streaming apps and stream without any fuss.

At present, BBC, ITV and Channel 4 programming is available to scroll back to on Freeview Play, while Channel 5’s can also be played through the Demand 5 app on supported devices. UKTV Play shows are also coming to the platform.

However, will all that content to view, what exactly should you watch? Here’s our tips on the best programming available through Freeview Play right now.

READ: What is Freeview Play, when is it coming to my TV and how can I get it?


Britain’s Got Talent

ITV (ITV Hub) – broadcast on Saturday 21 May

Ahead of the first live semi final on Sunday 22 May, the judges deliberated over the acts they’d like to see take part throughout the following week.

Some semi finalists were already known, of course, with golden buzzer acts Beau Dermott, 100 Voices of Gospel, Anne and Ian Marshall, Jasmine Elcock and Boogie Storm already progressing.

Wembley Stadium

International Football – England v Turkey

ITV (ITV Hub) – broadcast on Saturday 21 May

With Euro 2016 rapidly approaching, England took on Turkey at Wembley in its first warm-up game ahead of the tournament.

Several players were missing from the line-up – notably those from Liverpool and Manchester United, thanks to their respective domestic final appearances – but it’s well worth a watch regardless to see how the team might manage in France.


Louis Theroux – A Different Brain

BBC Two (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Sunday 15 May

Documentary maker Louis Theroux is never one to shy from hard or painful subjects, including this latest available through Freeview Play.

He visited several people with long term brain injuries in this special short film to discover the issues they have to face in Britain on a daily basis.


The Great British Sewing Bee

BBC Two (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Monday 16 May

The Great British Sewing Bee is back and it has been getting better and better as each year progresses – almost to the level of its inspiration, Bake Off.

Now it’s on series four and 10 new contestants take up the challenge of making beautiful items.


Judge Rinder

ITV (ITV Hub) – broadcast on Wednesday 18 May

Criminal barrister Robert Rinder might not be an actual judge as such but he does have the authority to decide on cases that usually entail one person owning another money.

It’s addictive viewing, mainly because of Rinder’s sharp wit.


Celebrity Juice

ITV 2 (ITV Hub) – broadcast on Thursday 19 May

The last in this series of the off-the-wall quiz show sees Rickie and Melvin, Ayda Field and Jimmy Carr joining regulars Fearne Cotton, Holly Willoughby and Gino D’Aampo on the teams.

Keith Lemon (Lee Francis) once again larks about as the host.

Channel 4

The Big Bang Theory

E4 (All 4) – broadcast on Saturday 21 May

As series nine is coming to a close, E4 had a weekend crammed with episodes of the hit US comedy.

The geekiest show around has also been commissioned for three more years in the States, so now’s a good time to check out why.

Get catch-up and on demand TV for £0 per month with Freeview Play. Click here to find out more.


Six machines that build a better world

By Cat DiStasio

When it comes to construction, technology can go a long way toward making building projects faster, more economical and safer. Robots that can alleviate back-breaking manual labor and cut down on injuries are a welcome addition to work sites, and they can do everything from building a brick home to constructing a steel bridge. Other cool machines have been engineered to help those in need, like a 40-foot-tall 3D printer that makes mud houses for developing nations. With so many complicated tasks in the construction world, it’s amazing to think about how machines can help us do them better, more powerful and often more eco friendly.


Wristband that measures alcohol levels wins US competition

BACtrack is a San Francisco company known for making breathalyzers for both law enforcement and ordinary people. But it won the $200,000 grand prize at a National Institutes of Health-sponsored competition for a different kind of blood alcohol monitor altogether: a wristband much like Fitbit and other fitness trackers that can measure BAC from your sweat. The device, called “Skyn,” detects alcohol using a fuel cell technology similar to that used by law enforcement. However, it’s less bulky and more discreet than existing equipment.

Skyn can’t exactly replace breathalyzers cops use, since it can take up to 45 minutes for alcohol to be transmitted through the skin. But authorities or researchers can use it to continuously monitor someone’s BAC levels. You can even get it yourself if you want to keep an eye on your drinking habits or want data to show the doctor later. The device can warn you if you’re drinking too much, especially if you’re driving. Plus, it can notify a family member if it detects alcohol in your system while you’re supposed to be on a quest for sobriety.

BACtrack’s entry bested eight other prototypes submitted to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The NIH division launched the Wearable Alcohol Biosensor Challenge in an effort to find discreet, non-invasive wearable technologies not just for use by authorities, but also by individuals. Among the eight, seven were similar wristband-type devices, while one was a tattoo that changes colors. Since the agency judged the entries based on accuracy, we’re guessing Skyn is the most precise among them all at this point in time.

According to Reuters, the company hasn’t submitted Skyn to the FDA for approval yet, but BACtrack says it’s releasing a limited quantity this fourth quarter. You can sign up on BACtrack’s website to get a notification when the wearable is ready for pre-order.

Source: NIH, Reuters, BACTrack (1), (2)


Second ‘The Division’ update raises the stakes

Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment are willing to try quite a few things to keep you coming back to The Division, but their latest approach is particularly direct: they’re upping the ante. Ubi has revealed that its second free update, Conflict, will include “high-value targets” where you only get one shot at success. If you die or take too long, you’ll miss out on a nice reward. Also, the Dark Zone is that much more dangerous now that other players can hijack your loot during extraction. Don’t assume that you can relax just because you’ve dropped off your gear, then.

There’s more than those two additions, of course. You’ll get new Incursion mission (Clear Sky) targeting an anti-air missile site, and there’s the obligatory round of fresh equipment. There’s enough to keep you around for at least a little while when the update arrives on May 24th. The big question is what happens when the attention shifts to paid add-ons, which start arriving in June. Will gamers pay to keep The Division fresh, especially when rival MMO-style shooters like Destiny are vying for their attention?

Source: Ubisoft


Lumsing’s 8000mAh portable battery is slim, light-weight and just $11 (review)

Smartphone hardware has improved in just about every area, with exception to battery life. Over the past decade, smartphones have consistently given us about a day of battery. For some users, like me, battery life is an area I wish manufacturers would improve and allow us to get through at least two full days of usage.

Sadly, that day has yet to come. Instead we have grown fond of external battery packs since they come in a wide range of sizes, and are relatively cheap.

For the past couple of weeks I have been testing the Lumsing 8000mAh portable battery and am quite happy with it.



  • Battery: Li-Polymer
  • Capacity: 8000mAh
  • Input: 5V 1.5A
  • Output: 0~ 2.4A dual USB
  • Size: 4.8 x 2.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Weight: 6.45 oz
  • Warranty: 12 months


I’ve reviewed and used over ten portable batteries in the last year, and have come to the general conclusion that they’re all pretty reliable. Some batteries have features such as Fast Charge, wireless charging, flashlights, water and dust resistance, and the list goes on.


What I have come to learn is that I prefer portable batteries that are actually small enough to carry in my pocket. The Lumsing 8000mAh battery is probably the most perfectly sized battery in combination with the capacity. If you get a battery over 10000mAh they are generally big and heavy. It’s also rare that one person would need more than two full charges unless they are going on a camping trip without a source of power. Most of us need one to two full charges throughout a day or two, so 8000mAh is just right. It’s the Goldilocks of batteries.

My Samsung Galaxy S7 edge has a 3600mAh battery, and I easily get two full charges from the Lumsing 8000mAh portable power pack. It doesn’t have quick charge or Qi wireless charging, and that is okay with me. All I need is the energy the Lumsing power pack stores, and it supplies the right amount of power when I’m running low. It is quite pocketable at just 4.8″ long, .6″ thick, and rather light-weight at just six ounces.


The build is far from fancy, yet it is solid and durable with a matte finish. It won’t draw attention for its good looks, but the Lumsing 8000mAh battery is a bargain at a cost of just $10.99 with free shipping included from Amazon. Its best feature is the size which allows me to carry it with me without noticing it bulging from my pocket.


If you’re looking for a no frills, well-built and right sized portable battery, the Lumsing 8000mAh portable battery is the one for you. It costs just $10.60 at Amazon with free shipping included, and supplies enough power to get you an additional day or two when you’re away from a power outlet. I highly recommend picking up one of these power banks from Lumsing.

Get it at Amazon for just $10.60.


Inside Moog’s Minimoog Model D synth factory at Moogfest

When Moogfest kicked off in North Carolina this week, the company announced that the iconic Minimoog Model D was going back into production during the festival. What’s more, the analog synths are being assembled on-site at the event right in the middle of a temporary Moog store that’s chock full of audio gear. Being the curious folks that we are, we went to check it out the process inside the pop-up factory and watched a little bit of the magic happen in Durham.

%d bloggers like this: