GeekSpeak for 2013-11-23

Bitcoins and Cat Cannons Break Ground

The Geeks convince themselves they are no threat to security and report on TruCrypt’s impending security audit. Also bitcoins’ value spike, the impending new Apple HQ, the uses for identifying someone by how they type, cats as the most useful memonic, why you would want vein-vision glasses, teeny tiny satelites and how to launch them, and bicycle navigation.

NSA spying prompts open TrueCrypt encryption software audit to go viral

A unique effort to crowdsource a security audit of the popular TrueCrypt open source encryption software appears to be going viral three weeks after it was launched by two U.S. based researchers in response to concerns that the National Security Agency may have tampered with it.

The intiative has so far garnered more than $57,000 in donations and bitcoins and attracted over 1,000 volunteers from 30 countries, including a techncial advisory group comprised of some of the world’s best regarded cryptographers.

The initiative’s IsTruecryptAuditedYet website has received more than two million hits from users in 70 countries.

Bitcoin Accepted by Cyprus University

The University of Nicosia has begun accepting bitcoins as payment for its courses, as well as launching a Master of Science degree focusing on digital currencies.

Bitcoin Accepted by Virgin Galactic

Despite Bitcoin’s growing popularity, the venues where you can actually spend the virtual currency still remain relatively few in number.
But thanks to Virgin founder Richard Branson, you can at least use Bitcoin to soar into space on Virgin Galactic, which will begin taking passengers on sub-orbital flights in 2014.
“One future astronaut, a female flight attendant from Hawaii, has already purchased her Virgin Galactic ticket using bitcoins,” Branson wrote in a blog posting on Virgin’s Website, “and we expect many more to follow in her footsteps. All of our future astronauts are pioneers in their own right, and this is one more way to be forward-thinking.”

Apple HQ Cleared for Construction

A little over two years since Steve Jobs presented his case for it and after the occasional setback, the Cupertino City Council has finally given Apple full approval to go ahead with its futuristic campus.

Users ID'ed through typing, mouse movements

Researchers have built a continuous authentication platform that can accurately identify users based on their typing patterns.

A series of 90 minute typing tests carried out on 2000 people at Iowa State University found users could be identified with a half percent margin of error based on the way they hit keys.

Memrise Launches CatAcademy App That Deploys Cute Cats To Teach You Spanish

Meet Cat Spanish by CatAcademy, a new iOS app from language learning startup, Memrise, best known (prior to this feline foray) for its eponymous crowdsourced mnemonic creation platform. Memrise’s founding team has a background in psychology, neuroscience and memory-related research. CatAcademy draws on some of the technology and techniques the startup uses in that platform but stands on its own two feet as a separate (paid) app that’s reaching out to a new audience.

Smart glasses let nurses see veins through skin

The glasses use near-infrared light to highlight deoxygenated hemoglobin in a patient’s veins and capture the images with two stereoscopic cameras. The cameras then project the vein images onto the see-through glass screens. “With this we can image a large field of view for peripheral veins,” said David Yeh, executive vice president of sales at Evena Medical. “This is helpful to locate appropriate veins for IV access…. One stick , one nurse, in one minute.”

“Studies have shown that up to 40% of IV starts require multiple attempts to locate and access a vein, which not only wastes valuable nursing time but also delays therapy and causes patient discomfort and dissatisfaction,” Evena Medical CEO Frank Ball said in a statement. “With Evena’s Eyes-On Glasses, nurses can quickly and easily locate and access the best veins for each patient – even in challenging clinical environments such as pediatric or neonatal units.”

Hammerhead, a better way to navigate while cycling

Shaped like “T” the Hammerhead communicates with an app running on your smartphone and indicates which way you should go to reach your destination using daylight visible LEDs that run across the bar of the “T”.

For example, a right turn is indicated by the lights appearing to the right while the direction of your destination is shown by a single red LED. Watch the video to see what it’s like in use.

ISS Astronauts Fire-Up Awesome 'Cubesat Cannon'

As if the International Space Station couldn’t get any cooler, the Japanese segment of the orbiting outpost has launched a barrage of small satellites — known as “cubesats” — from their very own Cubesat Cannon!

Of course, the real name of the cubesat deployment system isn’t quite as dramatic, but the JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) adds a certain sci-fi flair to space station science.

The Japanese space station module, Kibo, is equipped with its own robotic arm and exterior platform that can be used to carry out experiments not only in microgravity, but also in the vacuum of space. It is with the robotic arm, with J-SSOD attached, that, on Nov. 19, three cubesats (one joint Japan/Vietnam Earth-imaging experiment and two NASA-sponsored missions) were launched with the help of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata and NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins.