GeekSpeak for 2012-09-01

Tarzan Swinging in the Facebook Cloud

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Tricorders, Tarzan Physics, Wolfram Alpha Facebook, hover bikes, What is the Cloud? Space flights for anyone, spammers the social disease, sign language translation gloves and more GeekNews.

“Wow Spock, that’s complicated. All we ever see are bananas and an occasional coconut..”

Jedi Hover Bike Is as Awesome as It Looks, But You’ll Never Fly One

After 8 years in the making, Aerofex has created a low-altitude tandem duct aerial vehicle (that’s right, a hoverbike). It doesn’t look much like the ones in Star Wars, though. More like sitting on top of 2 large downward-facing fans.

What is the Cloud?

Take a look at Wikipedia’s definition of Cloud Computing – quite good… here is an image too…

Wolfram Alpha - awesome Search engin for facts

Ask Wolfram Alpha what is the cloud? means, and you get a fantastic response.

Ukrainian Students Develop Gloves That Translate Sign Language Into Speech

Using gloves fitted with flex sensors, touch sensors, gyroscopes and accelerometers the EnableTalk team has built a system that can translate sign language into text and then into spoken words using a text-to-speech engine.

Virgin Airlines Offers One Frequent Flier A Trip To Space

Now through August 7, 2013, Virgin America is promising the customer with the most miles at the end of the year a chance to win a ride to space on Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo.

Marcus H – writes in…

Well, by now I’m sure that you have gotten plenty of comments about this, but just in case, Space Ship 2 is a sub-orbital flight just to the “edge of space” topping out just above 100 Km. To go into orbit involves much greater velocity, with the need for a much bigger engine, and then the ability to dissipate this energy during re-entry.

Wolfram Alpha is giving everyone the chance to mine their own Facebook data.

Wolfram Alpha bills itself as a “computational knowledge engine.” In contrast to other search engines like Google and Bing, Wolfram Alpha offers up objective data: type in the name of a person, for example, and you might receive their dates of birth and death, a timeline, and a graph of Wikipedia page hits.

Facebook To Roll Out Email- and Phone Number-Based Ad Targeting Next Week

Facebook will be launching new features next week that allow advertisers to target their ads to customers based on contact information that the advertiser has already collected. It’s a way for businesses to connect their Facebook ads with the customer lists they may have built up elsewhere.

Facebook Open Compute Project

In a keynote presentation at LinuxCon, Amir Michael, Facebook’s hardware lead, discussed the Open Compute project they started. Essentially – Facebook designed their own hardwre specs for servers and server stoarge racks; then shared all of their design specifications, CAD drawings, and reference materials under open licenses.

All the Spammers in the World May Only Make $200 Million a Year

Now, in a new paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Justin Rao of Microsoft and David Reiley of Google (who met working at Yahoo) have teamed up to estimate the cost of spam to society relative to its worldwide revenues. The societal price tag comes to $20 billion. The revenue? A mere $200 million. As they note, that means that the “‘externality ratio’ of external costs to internal benefits for spam is around 100:1. Spammers are dumping a lot on society and reaping fairly little in return.” In case it’s not clear, this is a suboptimal situation.

Microsoft Services Agreement

The new Microsoft Services Agreement is very readable. Good job, Microsoft!

The Physics of Tarzan Swings

When Tarzan leaps from a swinging rope, when should he let go to jump furthest? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think.

Survey of Knowledge of the Cloud

A survey done by Wakefield Research this month revealed some interesting facts about the majority of US citizens. It would seem that most of them do not understand what “the cloud” is and are confused when this term appears in a conversation. Also, a large number of them claim to have knowledge of what the cloud is when asked in an interview (14%) or in a discussion (56%) and, believe it or not, 17% say that they have faked knowing what the cloud is on a first date!

"Real-life tricorder" to be tested on International Space Station

While still impressive, the capabilities of early “tricorders,” such as the Scanadu and Dr Jansen’s tricorder, fall well short of the Star Trek device that inspired them. But new technology to be tested on the International Space Station (ISS) brings the age of instant diagnosis of medical conditions using a portable device a step closer. The Microflow could also make its way into doctor’s offices here on Earth where it might help cut down on the number of follow up visits required after waiting to get results back from the lab.

The Microflow is a miniaturized version of a flow cytometer, which analyzes cells suspended in a stream of fluid as they pass single-file in front of a laser. As the suspended particle passes through the beam, various detectors positioned where the stream meets the laser can analyze the physical and chemical properties of the molecules or cells in the stream. Because they work in real-time, flow cytometers offer diagnosis in just 10 minutes of everything from infections, to stress, blood cells and cancer markers. They can also identify bacterial pathogens in food or water.