Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Technology IQ: A Conversation with Steve Roberts, Dalek Builder Extraordinaire [Video] (12:00)

Want to make your own robotic villain from Doctor Who? This video might just induce you to try, so be very careful. This could be a time consuming hobby! (LAUGH) — Douglas

Technology IQ: A Conversation with Steve Roberts, Dalek Builder Extraordinaire [Video] (12:00)

 

While visiting San Diego WhoCon last weekend so my wife could present a talk, we ran into Steve Roberts from Tucson, Arizona who built this amazing functional Dalek as well as a working K9 and a robot from the Farscape TV Show.

Amazing building with some off-the-shelf technology.

Visit ProjectDalek.com for plans and a build community to help you on your way!


Learn more about Doctor Who with these books and videos!

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library

Monday, October 22, 2018

Smart hubs, IFTTT & Raspberry Pi: How to get started with home automation via CNET

A great overview of the possible parts that might make up your home automation system. Even in my small house I have 4 different control systems for lights and outlets, as well as Alexa control over all of them. It can get complicated quite quickly. — Douglas

So you want a smart home. Great! But where do you start? With so many platforms, assistants, hubs and protocols out there, it can get really confusing really fast. Here's what you need to know if you're ready to dip your toe into smart home automation. 

Read Smart hubs, IFTTT & Raspberry Pi: How to get started with home automation via CNET


Get Raspberry Pi Boards and Components from Amazon
Get Raspberry Pi Boards and Components from eBay

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Marshall Voice promises powerful and loud Alexa-enabled music via CNET

When you need an Alexa-powered device that lives up to your Rock-n-Roll lifestyle, Marshall is happy to provide! — Douglas

Marshall Voice promises powerful and loud Alexa-enabled music via CNET

Marshall Voice promises powerful and loud Alexa-enabled music via CNET

While the Acton II Voice and the Stanmore II Voice look the part of ordinary amps from Marshall, both pack in many smart features courtesy of Amazon's assistant Alexa. The new Marshall Voice smart speakers are on display at IFA in Berlin this week.

Both promise high-end sound quality, as you might expect from a company like Marshall, and help give Alexa a foothold among premium smart speakers. Thanks to Alexa, you'll be able to use the Marshall Voice speakers to control your smart home, check the weather, ask a question or give any of the other commands that Amazon's feature-rich digital assistant can understand.

Read Marshall Voice promises powerful and loud Alexa-enabled music via CNET


Looking for an Echo/Alexa Device?

Check out these recent upgrades and additions to Amazon’s product line! 


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Google's Daydream science labs bring STEM experiments to VR via Engadget

Very good to see that VR is making its way into practical uses, especially in education. — Douglas

It's not always easy for STEM students to find enough lab time to get their work done, which is often essential for their degrees. Whether it's down to student demand, school budgets or students living far away from their university's labs, there are a range of obstacles. To that end, Google has teamed up with Labster to open more than 30 virtual reality labs in Daydream to help students get more lab time no matter where they are.

Those studying for the online BS in Biological Sciences at Arizona State started working in the labs earlier this month, with full course credit available. The degree features 30 VR simulations on topics like animal physiology, ecology and molecular biology. The University of Texas at San Antonio, MIT, McMaster University and other schools in Europe and North America will also let students carry out work in VR labs soon.

Read Google's Daydream science labs bring STEM experiments to VR via Engadget


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Sunday, October 14, 2018

DIY Ceiling Mounted Cable Robot Arduino Project via Geeky Gadgets

DIY Ceiling Mounted Cable Robot Arduino Project via Geeky Gadgets

An interesting Arduino project has been created by Nathaniel Nifong and kindly published to Reddit, offering insight on how to create your very own DIY ceiling mounted cable robot powered by an Arduino Mega development board. More commonly associated with sporting events cable robots offer an easy way to view the action on large pitches and are normally mounted with cameras and microphones.

Read DIY Ceiling Mounted Cable Robot Arduino Project via Geeky Gadgets

Learn more about Arduino with these books and components

Arduino Boards and Components via Amazon

Arduino Boards and Components via eBay


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Alexa News: Netgear combined a mesh router with an Alexa speaker via The Verge

Netgear’s Orbi line includes some of the most capable mesh routers around, and now, the line is about to get even more interesting. Its latest router, the Orbi Voice, is also a speaker with built-in microphones and Alexa. That way, you can place it in a room where you want to play music or listen to podcasts and improve the area’s Wi-Fi reception at the same time.

There aren’t a lot of other products that combine a router with something else. I really can’t think of any, aside from combination routers and modems, since the two products have long had to sit side by side anyway. In most cases, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for a router to be combined with anything else.

Read Netgear combined a mesh router with an Alexa speaker via The Verge


Looking for an Echo/Alexa Device?

Check out these recent upgrades and additions to Amazon’s product line! 

 


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

NASA’s Open Source Rover Is a Miniature Curiosity You Can Build Yourself via Extremetech

NASA’s Curiosity rover has been a huge success, covering more distance on Mars than any other vehicle. The agency has used Curiosity as a tool to promote science and robotics in classrooms around the country, and it even built a smaller version of Curiosity called ROV-E to demonstrate some robotics concepts firsthand. After hearing from students and teachers who want to build their own version of ROV-E, engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have created the Open Source Rover. It’s a small Curiosity-style rover you can build yourself (even if you’re not a student).

Read NASA’s Open Source Rover Is a Miniature Curiosity You Can Build Yourself via Extremetech


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Historical Technology Books: Farm mechanics by Herbert A. Shearer (1918) - 1 in a series

Technology isnt just computers, networks and phones. Technology has always been part of the human experience. All of our ancestors have looked for ways to help the survive and do less work for more gain. Archive.org has a host of old technology books (from mid-19th to mid-20th Century) available in many formats and on a host of topics. Many of the technologies discussed within these books are being put to use again these days in the back to the land" and homesteading movements. You might even find something that could address one of your own garden or farm issues, but has been lost to time and history. Enjoy! --Douglas


Historical Technology Books: Farm mechanics by Herbert A. Shearer (1918) - 1 in a series

Historical Technology Books: Farm mechanics by Herbert A. Shearer (1918) - 1 in a seriesHistorical Technology Books: Farm mechanics by Herbert A. Shearer (1918) - 1 in a series

Historical Technology Books: Farm mechanics by Herbert A. Shearer (1918) - 1 in a series

PREFACE

More mechanical knowledge is required on the farm than in any other line of business. If a farmer is not mechanically inclined, he is under the necessity of employing someone who is.

Some farms are supplied with a great many handy contrivances to save labor. Farmers differ a great deal in this respect. Some are natural mechanics, some learn how to buy and how to operate the best farm machinery, while others are still living in the past.

Some farmers who make the least pretensions have the best machinery and implements. They may not be good mechanics, but they have an eye to the value of labor saving tools.

The object of this book is to emphasize the importance of mechanics in modern farming ; to fit scores of quick-acting machines into the daily routine of farm work and thereby lift heavy loads from the shoulders of men and women ; to increase the output at less cost of hand labor and to improve the soil while producing more abundantly than ever before ; to suggest the use of suitable machines to manufacture high-priced nutritious human foods from cheap farm by-products.

Illustrations are used to explain principles rather than to recommend any particular type or pattern of machine.

The old is contrasted with the new and the merits of both are expressed.

THE AUTHOR,

Farm mechanics 2

Available in PDF, Text, JPG formats, and more

Publication date 1918
Publisher Chicago, F.. J. Drake & co
Digitizing sponsor The Library of Congress
Language English
* Click these links for more books and magazine in that date or subject area

Learn more about the history of technology with these books

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library

Monday, October 08, 2018

Guardin, Guarding the Garden: Turn Raspberry Pi Into a 3rd Eye via Hackaday

Guardin, Guarding the Garden: Turn Raspberry Pi Into a 3rd Eye via Hackaday

If you are a gardener, you’ll know only too well the distress of seeing your hard work turned into a free lunch for passing herbivorous wildlife. It’s something that has evidently vexed [Jim], because he’s come up with an automated Raspberry Pi-controlled turret to seek out invading deer, and in his words: “Persuade them to munch elsewhere”.

Before you groan and sigh that here’s yet another pan and tilt camera, let us reassure you that this one is a little bit special. For a start, it rotates upon a set of slip rings rather than an untidy mess of twisted cables, so it can perfom 360 degree rotations at will, then it has a rather well-designed tilting cage for its payload. The write-up is rather functional but worth persevering with, and he’s posted a YouTube video that we’ve placed below the break.

Read Guardin, Guarding the Garden: Turn Raspberry Pi Into a 3rd Eye via Hackaday


 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Favorite Alexa Skills: Bartending with Alexa and Google Assistant via Gearbrain

Having someone mix you a proper cocktail is part of the allure of going to a bar. Relaxing at home with an aperitif in hand is nice as well. Apps and books can certainly show you how to mix a margarita or a Negroni. Now, your voice assistants can walk you through the recipes as well — with some that tap into your favorite brand of liquor too. Whether you lean towards Alexa or prefer Google Assistant, these tools can get you pouring mixed drinks in your own kitchen.

Read Bartending with Alexa and Google Assistant via Gearbrain

Looking for an Echo/Alexa Device?

Check out these recent upgrades and additions to Amazon’s product line!

 


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Artificial Intelligence Can Identify Wildlife as Accurately as Humans via Yale E360

I have my own biological study that I would LOVE to apply this technology to. — Douglas

Motion-sensor cameras are increasingly being used to track wildlife across the globe, from tigers in India to aardvarks in Africa. But combing through the millions of images captured by these systems is a time-consuming task. Now, scientists have discovered that artificial intelligence is as effective as human volunteers — and much faster — at identifying species in these largely untapped photo repositories.

In a new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers, led by computer scientist Mohammad Sadegh Norouzzadeh at the University of Wyoming, tested whether a type of artificial intelligence called deep neural networks could correctly identify and count species, determine animals’ ages, and classify their behaviors. They analyzed AI’s capabilities using 3.2 million images from the Snapshot Serengeti dataset, which contains photos from 225 camera traps in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park since 2011.

Read Artificial Intelligence Can Identify Wildlife as Accurately as Humans via Yale E360


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Teach, inspire, and empower students with Arduino! - Arduino CTC 101 Program for the classroom

Teach, inspire, and empower students with Arduino! - Arduino CTC 101 Program for the classroom

Akx00002 training

Creative Technologies in the Classroom 101, or CTC 101, is Arduino’s one-of-a-kind STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) program.

Tailored for students ages 13 to 17, CTC 101 is the ideal professional development program for educators.
CTC 101 has been certified by the Finnish Kokoa Education Standard™ that guarantees high educational value and robust pedagogical design on global learning.

If you are interested in the CTC 101 program and want to know more about it, please scroll down and sign up for one of our webinars in English, Spanish or Italian.

Read Arduino CTC 101 Program - FULL via store.arduino.cc


Learn more about Arduino with these books and components

Arduino Boards and Components via Amazon

 

Arduino Boards and Components via eBay


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Favorite Alexa Apps: Jeopardy

Jeopardy is one of the most popular skills on Amazon Echo devices and one of the first games we played regularly. Test your  knowledge of obscure facts on  your own or with a group of friends. We find ourselves playing Jeopardy at some point in the evening almost every time we get a group together.

Favorite Alexa Apps: Jeopardy

To play, simply say...

Alexa, Open Jeopardy

ABOUT THIS SKILL

Did you know that every Jeopardy! category has an “extra” 6th clue? Now you can play those clues on Alexa! With a single voice command, test your knowledge with new clues every weekday. Step up to the podium and play the same categories you saw on the latest episode! Play a wide range of categories including sports, pop culture, travel, world history, and much more! Get the true Jeopardy! experience now as you respond, just like contestants on the show!

Prime Members get a free subscription to Double Jeopardy! with 6 extra clues every weekday. Just say “Alexa, open Jeopardy” and play to get started. Double Jeopardy! is $1.99 per month without a Prime membership.

Celebrate over 30 seasons of America’s Favorite Quiz Show®—enable the skill and play today!

Looking for an Echo/Alexa Device?

Check out these recent upgrades and additions to Amazon’s product line!


* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Diagram of All the Batteries via FlowingData

This would be a great infographic for the wall of your favorite maker space! — Douglas

If parenthood has taught me anything, it’s that when your kid’s toy needs a battery, you will not have the right size. This is a simple fact of life.

In the most recent challenge to this pillar of truth, a Gekko toy (from the show PJ Masks, obviously) needed a button cell battery. I dug into my battery drawer — a reflection of toys past — naively thinking that I must have the right size. The excavation showed that I was in fact incorrect.

The natural next step was of course to look up battery sizes and chart all of them.

Read A Diagram of All the Batteries via FlowingData


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Monday, September 24, 2018

Raspberry Shake Detects Quakes via Hackaday

Raspberry Shake Detects Quakes via Hackaday

The Raspberry Pi’s goal, at least while it was being designed and built, was to promote computer science education by making it easier to access a working computer. What its low price tag also enabled was a revolution in distributed computing projects (among other things). One of those projects is the Raspberry Shake, a seismograph tool which can record nearby earthquakes.

Of course, the project just uses the Pi as a cost-effective computing solution. It runs custom software, but if you want to set up your own seismograph then you’ll also need some additional hardware. There are different versions of the Raspberry Shake, the simplest using a single Geophone which is a coil and magnet. Vibrations are detected by sensing the electric signal generated by the magnet moving within the coil of wire. Other models increase the count to three Geophones, or add in MEMS accelerometers, you can easily whip one of these up on your own bench.

Read Raspberry Shake Detects Quakes | Hackaday via Hackaday


 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs

An interesting link found among my daily reading

Friday, September 21, 2018

Favorite Alexa Commands: New Alexa Devices in all classes

Favorite Alexa Commands: New Alexa Devices in all classes

Amazon released a score of new and updated Alexa devices yesterday. Here are links to all of them.

For me, the updated Echo Dot is the most interesting, although finally getting a full-blown Echo Plus with included Hue hub would also be a nice addition to the home.

Hera are all the devices linked directly to Amazon where you can find all the tech specs on each.

 


 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Travel Tech (and more): Aluratek - Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Transmitter

Travel Tech (and more): Aluratek - Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Transmitter

Travel Tech (and more): Aluratek - Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Transmitter

When flying long distances on airliners, especially in Economy class, I try to make my life a bit easier each time I fly. For our most recent trip to Milan, Italy for a screenwriting conference, family visiting and sightseeing, I decided I wanted a better audio experience than the past.

On previous trips I had brought my own on-ear headphones, which helped a bit, but the wires were still a constant headache as you got up and down during the flight — something very necessary when you are spending 11+ hours in a tin can shooting through the sky ay 500+ miles per hour. (LAUGH)

Back in January I picked up the VAVA MOOV 28 Wireless Headphones Sports Earphones from Amazon to replace — yet another — dead pair of Apple headphones. These have delivered great performance and significantly cut down on environmental noise. So much so that I needed to be more careful when out walking as my hearing was supressed and I couldn’t always hear cars and bikes approaching. This feature, though, seemed like it would be great on n airplane, though.

Now, I don’t have hundreds of dollars to put out for a nice pair of over-the-ear noise cancelling headphones as much as I might want them, so I went looking for the way to use these new headphones on the plane. This meant picking up this small (the size in the picture is quite deceptive) Aluratek - Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Transmitter from my local Best Buy, I was cutting it short on time and needed to pick it up locally to insure I had it for the trip.

I tried out the pairing while sitting at my desk ti make sure it would work once I got on the plane. Several reviews had mentioned issues with pairing. This worked perfectly the first time. I turned on each device and placed it into pairing mode. After about 15 seconds they recognized each other.

Another issue I had seen mentioned with Bluetooth transmitters is that the volume levels weren’t sufficient for some people. In my case, though, after insuring the volume was set to full on the transmitter and on the audio source, I could turn up my headphones loud enough that it was actually uncomfortable. My experience with the devices on the plane was the same. I connected the transmitter to the headphone jack in the seat back in front of me, powered it up and the headphones, set the setback entertainment volume to 90% or so and enjoyed excellent audio — especially compared to the typical cheap headphones given out by the airlines. This, combined with the natural noise-muffling of the in-ear headphones meant I could hear my movies perfectly and listen to audio as I drifted off to sleep, something I like to do on planes.

Not that you necessarily need it, but I found that the transmitter had plenty of power to reach me even as I walked about the cabin to stretch and visited the bathroom. I simply forgot to take off my headphones and only noticed when was was standing 20 feet away or so that the music was still in my ears.

Both  Aluratek - Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Transmitter and the VAVA MOOV are rated for 9-10 hours of battery life and that was almost exactly what I got. that said, since I had a USB port at my seat, I could have recharged either, or powered the transmitter continuously, from that plug. I did give a quick recharge to my headphones towards the end of our 11+ hour flight and then was able to continue listening without any trouble.

While most International Flights use more modern aircraft and provide standard 1/8” headphone jacks, you might find that picking up a airline headphone convertor — which take the two-prong connector and converts it to a standard headphone jack, might be worthwhile backup. I would also recommend a right angle 1/8” adapter, instead of the straight cord that comes with the the transmitter, in case you happen upon an aircraft with the headphone jack on the inside of the armrest. This will prevent you from damaging or being inconvenienced by the transmitter.

Overall, I was very happy with my experience with the Aluratek - Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Transmitter and plan to use it around the house for both sending audio to my media center sound bar and turning older powered speakers into bluetooth speakers.

You can now talk to Amazon’s Alexa app on your iPhone via Fast Company

Adding in my iPhone I am rapidly expanding my collection of Alexa devices without rally purchasing anything new. — Douglas

You can now talk to Amazon’s Alexa app on your iPhone via Fast Company

I have no doubt that there are a lot of iPhone and iPad users out there who also have an Alexa device, like an Amazon Echo, in the house. The question is how many of them love Alexa so much that they would use that digital assistant on their iDevice instead of Siri.

For those that might, Amazon released a new version of its iOS apptoday, and for the first time you can talk to it rather than just use it to manage other Alexa-enabled devices. The app can respond using voice or by displaying information–such as weather forecasts, sports scores, movies times, and calendar appointments–on the phone or tablet screen. The problem is getting to it. If you want to talk to Alexa you have to launch the app and then push a button on the screen. With Siri all you have to do is say, well, you know.

Read You can now talk to Amazon’s Alexa app on your iPhone via Fast Company


Get an Echo Alexa Device for Your Home

See all Echo Models

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Monday, September 17, 2018

Demystifying The ESP8266 With A Series Of Tutorials via Hackaday

Demystifying The ESP8266 With A Series Of Tutorials via Hackaday

If your interest has been piqued by the inexpensive wireless-enabled goodness of the ESP8266 microcontroller, but you have been intimidated by the slightly Wild-West nature of the ecosystem that surrounds it, help is at hand. [Alexander] is creating a series of ESP8266 tutorials designed to demystify the component and lead even the most timid would-be developer to a successful first piece of code.

Read Demystifying The ESP8266 With A Series Of Tutorials via Hackaday


Learn more about Arduino with these books and components

Arduino Boards and Components via Amazon

Arduino Boards and Components via eBay


An interesting link found among my daily reading