Monthly Archives: March 2016

Science makes telekinesis a reality!

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A team of researchers at Duke University headed by brain interface expert Miguel Nicolelis is the reason for a recent breakthrough. They have built a wireless brain machine interface (BMI) that can control a wheelchair. This was tested on two primates. The two monkeys were able to manoeuvre the wheelchair using their mind to get to the place where a bowl of grapes was placed as their reward. Basically, the brain signals are converted into an algorithm that translates cortical activity into physical movements. Brain imaging shows that they were able to calculate distances between themselves and the grapes.

srep22170-f1The BMI was a wireless, high throughput multi-channel device implanted in the brain and the primates used about 300 neurons for motion. The device tracked their brain signals for trajectory to navigate toward the target. This was then used to move the wheelchair in the same path.

This brings a tremendous opportunity for heavily paralyzed people to be able to navigate independently. This opens up a whole lot of possibilities. In future, this could be extended to include other daily activities as well where one can control all the surrounding objects by just using their mind. This is good news for Stephen Hawking, I’m sure!

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Collaborative consumption

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With the rise of social media, many predicted it to be the end of real life interaction; that everyone is doomed to a life of isolation and loneliness. But we as social beings, as our primitive instincts dictate, came up with this brilliant-brilliant idea of sharing resources as always. Just like we share our thoughts, ideas, pictures, personal information online, people resorted to share things they own but don’t use 24/7. A famous collaborative consumption example is the power drill. You don’t need a power drill 24/7/365, you just need the hole, wouldn’t it be nice to share it or rent it while it’s not in use!

Most of us would have used at least one or two sharing economy websites. Very popular examples are Airbnb, Couchsurfing and Uber.

So, the textbook definition of sharing economy or collaborative consumption is, it is an economic model based on sharing, swapping, trading, or renting products and services, enabling access over ownership. It is reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume.

Here is a video of Rachel Botsman, an expert in collaborative consumption explaining how it kicks bottom. In this talk, she mainly explains what is collaborative consumption and the types of collaborative consumption – redistribution markets, collaborative lifesyles, product service systems. She further discusses how collaborative consumption goes deeper than consumption itself, it reshapes the current model of consumption, reinforces the positive values of our society such as trust, individual identity and community bonding and makes way for sustainable living.

This helps us save money, socialize and be a good citizen. Now, if you want to join the sharing economy, here is the link to an article which lists out different areas of your life : books and media, transportation, travel, fashion, farming, living space, office space, parking lots and social lending and the websites under each category that facilitates the collaboration

http://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/strategy/disruptive-business-models-based-on-collaborative-consumption/

Top 15+ disruptive business models based on collaborative consumption

 

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Brave new world

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Today life is as exciting as one can imagine. The internet startups are getting crazier every passing day. They provide more opportunity than ever. Technology is so empowering that we are equipped enough to start our own internet startup in our basement. Especially for those who love travelling, this is the best age to live in. We are no longer chained to desks and chairs stuck inside four walls.

Netflix is recruiting “grammasters”.  They pay for your travel, you get to visit popular TV shows and movie sets, take pictures and upload them on instagram. They pay you $2000 per week for this, and this is a two week gig. All this by just adding “#grammasters3” hashtag to three of your Instagram pictures. No cover letter, no filling up 20 pages of unwanted information. It’s quick and effective. How exciting is this! For more information visit their website

My point is, just when I was thinking travel blogging, WWOOFing and the like, and freelancing while traveling are the coolest things and I stumble upon this. Needless to say, because of the Internet, teenagers and 20 somethings can become successful entrepreneurs, travelers need not be the homeless hippies anymore and artists have a bigger platform to showcase their skills for monitory rewards. This is the age of innovation and creativity, and technology lays as its foundation.

 

Pros and cons of Linux from a layman’s perspective

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About 7 years ago, I was forced to experiment with operating systems, as my Windows wouldn’t work without crashing every now and then. It still does, I probably restore factory settings more often than most people. Considering I was in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, I didn’t have trouble finding geeky friends to teach me a thing or two about Linux. This is where my journey with Linux began. You should know upfront, I am no expert in computers although I do have a bachelors degree in Computer Science and work experience in the IT industry yet I can be considered pretty much a non or semi technical person for all intents and purposes. In this post I am going to tell you about my experience with Linux.

I experimented with Linux distributions, a lot of them. Initially I started off with Debian, on hindsight, might not be the best option for a beginner. Progressively I experimented with Mandriva, Fedora, OpenSuse and Ubuntu for personal use and CentOS for professional use. My favorite distro is Ubuntu till now. Mainly because Ubuntu is extremely user friendly and it is easy to find solutions for technical issues for Ubuntu more than the others as it is more commercial than the other distros.

Things I absolutely love about Linux –

  • It is supremely simple to understand the OS structure
  • You have all the freedom to play around with it. If you are good enough, you can manipulate the scripts and files, fix issues by yourself, make things work your way. This brings us to the next point.
  •  Transparency. It is open source, hence you can find every bit of information online and get enormous help from the Linux community. It is a brotherhood which is committed to make things better for this world. Such is the resolve of this community.
  • The concept of ‘copyleft’. GNU believes in free information. That, access to information for free is everybody’s right. Copyleft is the opposite of copyright. According to GNU’s website – “To copyleft a program, we first state that it is copyrighted; then we add distribution terms, which are a legal instrument that gives everyone the rights to use, modify, and redistribute the program’s code, or any program derived from it, but only if the distribution terms are unchanged. Thus, the code and the freedoms become legally inseparable.”
  • Linux file system can read the Windows file system but unfortunately not the other way round. I find this very fascinating. It means, you can run both Windows and  Linux on one device and you can access your Windows files through Linux system. You can either partition your hard disk or run Linux as a virtual OS on Windows.
  • The values of open source community is built on non monitory incentives. They work because they are interested and some are even passionate about it. It’s an anarchic decentralized community that values every idea. Owing to this huge community of developers worldwide, improvements, patches and bug fixes are rather robust and done fast. Updates are released rather frequently. Some fix problems and some create new ones which will be discussed in the next section.
  • Windows applications can be installed on Linux using Wine software. I’m sure there are several other software which can do this. Also, there are plenty of alternatives for every Windows application.
  • Linux terminal is fun with a lot of pop culture references, funny command outputs and snide comments.

So why am I using Windows now? Is Linux for everyone? Before you take the plunge, you must know a few things.

Initially when I first started using Linux, I used to constantly run into small issues that generally are not encountered on Windows at all.  To begin with, if you are installing Linux yourself, it can get tricky and lead to certain unwanted situations where you lose all your data especially when you want to install it with your Windows system. You could sometimes miss installing the boot loader and end up in a pretty bad situation. But with the latest distros and user friendly distribution like Ubuntu, things are generally simpler. Generally drivers and other essentials for most hardware devices come with the package but sometimes you have to install it. It can take a little bit of time to get used to running executable files and installing software on your device. Solutions to very simple problems, such as unable to run a video file, might seem too technical and frustrating initially. Alternatives to applications like Microsoft Suite is not really comparable with their open source counterparts. But with SAAS – software as a service trending these days, eg: Office 365, you won’t need as many alternatives. As discussed above, updates sometimes along with fixing certain problems, creates others that you need to troubleshoot.

My advice is this –  Linux can offer you a lot more than you can expect and imagine. It will empower you with freedom of choice. You just have to be patient, slowly get yourself into it and remember there is always a solution to every problem and your help is just a shout away.

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