Inhabitat’s Week in Green: A VW bug made out of timber
Six years ago a Beijing company proposed an insane lane-straddling bus that could soar over congested freeways. The project just took a step closer to reality, as the Transit Explore Bus is set to begin testing this summer. In other transportation news, Airbus just unveiled the world’s first 3D-printed motorcycle, which has a range of 37 miles and a top speed of 50 mph. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced plans to build transit pods from Vibranium, which takes its name from the fictional metal used to create Captain America’s indestructible shield. A Bosnian retiree handcrafted a gorgeous VW bug exterior from over 50,000 pieces of oak. Vanmoof launched the SmartBike — a next-gen cycle that is virtually impossible to steal — and Google partnered with Levi’s to create a smart jacket for urban cyclists.
Google’s Project Sunroof is a free tool that determines the solar energy generating potential of your home, and this week the program expanded to reach 43 million additional rooftops across 42 states. Meanwhile, MIT developed a new solar cell that breaks theoretical energy conversion limits by turning heat into light. Japanese scientists found a new way to generate energy using ocean water and sunlight. IKEA announced plans to produce more energy than it uses within the next four years. And the world’s biggest floating wind farm is set for completion in 2017.
Building technologies have come a long way in the past 10 years, and this week Dubai debuted the world’s first building to be fully produced by a 3D printer. Danish firm EFFEKT has designed a utopian off-grid town that can produce all of its own food an energy, and a new Green Village in South Africa will be solar-powered and 100 percent car-free. Apple launched its latest store in San Francisco this week: It’s filled with trees and topped with photovoltaic panels. And a brilliant new design for highway interchanges takes a diamond shape to eliminate dangerous left-hand turns.
The After Math: Potpourri
It’s been a mixed week for news with few clear winners and losers — outside of Chewbacca Mom of course, who has been killing it. Let’s see, Takata had to recall 12 million more airbags because they keep killing people. On the other hand, MIT managed to double the efficiency of solar cell technology. Foxconn announced that 60,000 people would get the sack in favor of automated assembly machines but Cornell doctors discovered a better way to predict your chances of coming out of a coma — just like Steven Seagal. Best of all, Florida Man strikes again! Numbers, because everything is shit except for the half of it that isn’t.
Ben Heck’s Hackmanji board game
With a bit of laser cutting for the box and some 3D printing for the pieces, cogs and arms, Ben, Karen and Felix build a new version of the board game Jumanji. (Yes indeed, it’s on based on the 1995 Robin Williams film.) Also in this episode, Karen and Ben get a hold of the original Nintendo Power Glove to hack for a future installment. If you have any show ideas of your own, or simply want to engage with The Ben Heck Show team, visit the element14 Community page.
Best TV catch-up on Freeview Play: Wallander, American Dad and more
With Freeview Play, TVs and set-top-boxes offer the ability to scroll backwards through the last seven days of an electronic programme guide in order to choose catch-up shows to play automatically.
Users only need find the show on any of the supported channels, 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.
The only thing that isn’t quite as simple is choosing the programme itself. What should you watch? That’s why we’ve put together 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?
BBC One (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Sunday 22 May
The latest and last series of Wallander is now available to view through Freeview Play or BBC iPlayer, starting with the first feature-length episode The White Lioness, based on the novel by the same name.
Detective Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh) travels to South Africa on the trail of a mission Swedish national.
No Such Thing as the News
BBC Two (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Friday 27 May
This is the TV version of successful radio podcast No Such Thing as a Fish, which features four researchers of QI discussing the week’s news. However, it focuses more on the lighter, humourous side of news – the stories that wouldn’t usually be discussed in a topical programme.
James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski and Dan Schreiber present the low-key, very funny new(ish) series.
Top of the Pops
BBC Four (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast Thursday 26 May (and most days)
BBC Four is currently repeating archive Top of the Pops episodes chronologically on an almost daily basis and we’re currently at the tail end of 1981.
It’s great retro viewing for those who remember it the first time, with bands like Altered Images and Haircut 100 gracing the stage. And youngsters should watch it too, to see why music television used to be so important in the days before unlimited streaming.
ITV2 (ITV Hub) – broadcast Wednesday 25 May
The hugely successful US adult cartoon show now signs of stopping, now on series 13 in the States. However, you can catch up with classic episodes through Freeview Play, with ITV2 currently showing series six.
In this specific epsiode, Stan discovers that Roger played in the 1980 US Olympic hockey team, but not all is as it seems.
ITV4 (ITV Hub) – broadcast Monday 23 May
ITV4 is currently repeating the classic Tommy Cooper helmed sketch and stand-up show from the 70s.
The comedian/magician’s patter is timeless and this is a chance to see why he is still held in such high regard, more than 30 years after his passing.
Channel 4’s Comedy Gala 2016
Channel 4 (All 4) – broadcast Sunday 29 May
Some of the UK’s best comedians all gathered for a stand-up extravaganza on 6 May, raising a huge amount of money for the Great Ormond Street Hospital. Channel 4 packs the mighty event into a two-and-a-half hour special that is sure to raise more than a laugh or two.
Stars performing include Alan Carr, Kevin Bridges, Michael McIntyre and Sean Lock, with music from the likes of Jake Bugg for good measure.
Boris v Dave: The Battle for Europe
Channel 4 (All 4) – broadcast Wednesday 25 May
With the EU referendum rapidly approaching you can bet there will be plenty of TV shows and documentaries about it shown during the build up.
One of the most interesting so far looks at the personal battle between two old friends and Conservative party members, ex-Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron. They each seemingly have more to lose than a public vote.
Get catch-up and on demand TV for £0 per month with Freeview Play. Click here to find out more.
4K copy protection removal shop settles for $5.2 million
Intel and Warner Bros. are still very much embroiled in a war on companies stripping copyright protection from 4K and Blu-ray videos. Hardware seller Ace Deal has agreed to pay the two industry giants $5.2 million to settle a lawsuit over alleged violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Supposedly, Ace Deal knowingly aided in piracy by selling devices that remove HDCP anti-copying measures, making it relatively easy to bootleg the latest 4K movie extravaganza. The shop has already pulled the offending gear from its online store and is barred from selling similar devices in the future, but the small outfit still faces a relatively big, potentially crippling payout.
The verdict is a sharp contrast to what’s happening with LegendSky, which faced a similar lawsuit at the start of the year. It contends that its HDFury gadgets aren’t stripping HDCP, just weakening it (which is legal) — in fact, it counter-sued Intel and Warner Bros. for allegedly making defamatory claims and abusing their market position. Ace Deal didn’t have that defense, so it was far more likely to be on the hook.
Dropbox’s Infinite feature needs deeper access to your computer
On the surface, Dropbox’s Project Infinite sounds great. The feature will give you access to everything in your account without having to store them on your computer. It’s bound to save space, especially if you’re using an SSD with a smaller capacity. As Motherboard reported, though, a lot of people aren’t happy that for the feature to work, Dropbox will need to have deeper access to your system. When the company announced the project, its post said: “With Dropbox Infinite, we’re going deeper: into the kernel — the core of the operating system.”
Since the kernel is the most important part of an OS, Infinite’s critics believe that it’s a security risk to have Dropbox sitting in it. Sam Bowne, an Ethical Hacking teacher at the City College San Francisco, told Motherboard that it’s like Dropbox is “proposing to copy the keys to your house, move in and live with you.” Further, he explained that a flaw in the program could be used to take over your computer.
Despite the backlash, Dropbox head of product Rob Baesman told VentureBeat in an interview that the company can’t change how Infinite works. “We could not do what Infinite sets out to do without using the kernel. It would be technologically impossible.” Unfortunately, he also wouldn’t say whether it’s possible to opt out of the feature when it launches. He echoed the company’s defense of the product, however, telling VB that anti-virus programs typically access the kernel, as well.
Here’s Dropbox’s full response to the controversy:
“We wanted to address some comments about Project Infinite and the kernel. It’s important to understand that many pieces of everyday software load components in the kernel, from simple device drivers for your mouse to highly complex anti-virus programs. We approach the kernel with extreme caution and respect. Because the kernel connects applications to the physical memory, CPU, and external devices, any bug introduced to the kernel can adversely affect the whole machine. We’ve been running this kernel extension internally at Dropbox for almost a year and have battle-tested its stability and integrity.
File systems exist in the kernel, so if you are going to extend the file system itself, you need to interface with the kernel. In order to innovate on the user’s experience of the file system, as we are with Project Infinite, we need to catch file operation events on Dropbox files before other applications try to act on those files. After careful design and consideration, we concluded that this kernel extension is the smallest and therefore most secure surface through which we can deliver Project Infinite. By focusing exclusively on Dropbox file actions in the kernel, we can ensure the best combination of privacy and usability.
We understand the concerns around this type of implementation, and our solution takes into consideration the security and stability of our users’ experience, while providing what we believe will be a really useful feature.”
Source: VentureBeat, Motherboard
Nest’s co-founder is releasing a smart kids’ go-kart
Nest co-creator Tony Fadell isn’t focused solely on making intelligent thermostats and smoke detectors. He recently unveiled Actev Motors, a company whose inaugural Arrow Smart-Kart promises to give kids a taste of what smart cars are like. The electric go-kart includes GPS, a and WiFi to keep junior drivers safe. Parents using a mobile app can geofence the kart’s driving area, limit the top speed or hit a stop button in an emergency. In other words, even younger kids (5- to 9-year-olds are the main targets) can motor around without getting in over their heads. There’s also a proximity sensor to automatically prevent accidents.
Older children can use the Arrow, too, and it’s customizable. You can slap on different body styles (there’s a Formula 1-style kit), install a higher-capacity battery or even get a drift kit to unleash your kid’s inner Ken Block. It’s not a trivial purchase — a starter kit costs $600 if you pre-order, and it’ll normally cost $1,000 — but it could easily beat your neighbor’s Power Wheels when it arrives in early summer.
For Fadell, this is as much about education as spoiling young ones. He explains to Forbes that he hopes to “teach the new generation” about electric cars. The tyke driving an Arrow this year could be driving their own EV a couple of decades down the line. And before you ask: yes, there’s the possibility of an adult version for grown-up racers.
Source: Actev Motors
Cinematic VR maker Jaunt needs a new CEO
Let’s say you run a well-funded startup in the super-hot virtual reality sector. What would you do — bask in your success? Don’t tell that to Jaunt CEO Jens Christensen. After just three years at the cinematic VR company he helped create, Christensen is stepping down to “move on to [his] next adventure.” The company didn’t explain the move in a statement to Fast Company, but Christensen is known as a “serial entrepreneur” that doesn’t sit still for long. Most likely, he’s off to make the next big thing.
Co-founder Arthur van Hoff will take the CEO spot while Jaunt finds a more permanent replacement.
This doesn’t mean that Jaunt is in trouble… far from it, actually. The company recently got $65 million from Disney, and it wants a new CEO who’ll “continue scaling” as the firm takes VR into the mainstream. Simply put, it might need fresh leadership to bring VR videos to the wider public. You might be that much more likely to don a headset the next time you visit the store or theater.
Via: Fast Company
Phonebloks creator isn’t entirely happy with Project Ara
Dave Hakkens, the brains behind the Phonebloks modular phone concept, thinks Google could do better when it comes to Project Ara. In a blog post, Hakkens said he wasn’t happy that the modular phone’s latest version puts its processor, battery, antenna, sensors and screen in a single skeleton and that only add-ons like the camera, speakers and projector are available as swappable modules. When Hakkens dreamed up Phonebloks, he envisioned each component as a module you can replace. The Dutch designer announced the concept in September 2013 not knowing that Motorola was cooking up a similar project. The two later collaborated on Project Ara.
Hakkens thought up his concept as a way to reduce e-waste, but if all the important components are in one skeleton, then users will still end up tossing their phones out after a while. Further, he believes that Google should work with other companies to create an ecosystem of modules instead of doing everything on its own.
The Dutch designer’s vision, as you can imagine, wouldn’t be easy to execute. Nevertheless, he thinks Google has the resources as one of the most powerful companies in the world to cook up a better modular device. He does seem to be happy with one aspect of the new model, though: its blocky design, which is reminiscent of the original concept’s looks.
Source: Dave Hakkens
ASUS’ GeForce GTX 1080 is faster and more colorful
NVIDIA’s official GeForce GTX 1080 is fast, but let’s face it: you’re really waiting for the third-party cards that push the limits of what the high-end graphics chipset can really do. And it looks like your patience just paid off. ASUS has revealed the ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080, and it pushes well past what NVIDIA’s board can do. The regular Strix runs at a 1.76GHz base clock speed (with a boost to 1.9GHz) versus the reference model’s 1.6GHz, and an overclocked version bumps that to 1.78GHz (boosting to 1.94GHz). You’re only looking at a few more frames per second in your games, but that can make the difference between a glass-smooth 60 frames per second and the occasional hitch.
There’s more to it than just raw speed, too. You get customizable lighting that includes color-shifting and patterns — you can even have the lights pulse to your music if you want your PC to serve as a tiny disco. ASUS’ mix of heatpipes and custom-shaped fans also promises a card that’s 30 percent cooler and three times quieter than NVIDIA’s stock hardware.
The best part may be the price. While NVIDIA’s own GTX 1080 costs $699, the standard Strix will sell for $620; even the higher-clocked version costs $640. You could buy a brand new game with the price difference, folks. You’ll likely have to wait until June 4th to get ASUS’ card, but it’ll probably be worth the wait if you’re building a gaming rig that has to last for years.
Source: ASUS (1), (2)