Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hack the Quake

Direction Katmandu  and HackTheQuake

A technology competition is taking place in Kathmandu next month with an aim to innovate new projects to help the national reconstruction process in wake of the devastating April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks.


IoE Alumni, a network of ex-students of the Institute of Engineering (IOE) of Tribhuvan University, and Janaki Technology Pvt Ltd are jointly organising the HackTheQuake event, that will award three best technologies with Rs 50,000 and help execute them.


Issuing a press statement today, the organisers have called for "innovative ideas and concepts that use locally available resources, are cheap to make and do not require a lot of hi-tech equipment." The ideas can cover a number of sectors such as temporary housing, toilets, drinking water access, information access, and solar electricity access.


Tech enthusiasts can submit their proposals to help the reconstruction process by June 15 and the best three proposals will be selected by a judging panel and public voting.





How to get kids' attention? Skype in the classroom

How are some teachers getting kids interested in learning? Skype in the classroom!

Skype is making waves in the classroom, quickly becoming one of best ways to get kids interested in learning is to make it fun and interactive. TODAY's Erica Hill reports.


To Spark Creativity, Pursue Happiness


If you want to increase creativity, it helps to be happy. Positive emotions increase our curiosity in the world around us and open our minds to new experiences, skills and ideas. In PBS's series This Emotional Life, they discuss the link between creativity and positive emotions:

Researchers have found that creativity is less likely to occur in the presence of sadness, anger, fear, and anxiety—and that it is more likely to occur with positive emotions, such as joy and love. One study found that people are more likely to come up with a creative idea if they felt happy the day before, and then they feel happy when they are creative. Creativity contributes to an "upward spiral" of positive emotions and greater happiness.

Just by being creative, we can kick start an upward spiral of positive emotions which allow us to handle the often negative environment we create within. 

What happens when the stress becomes too much to bear? We can create our way out of that as well. In an article from The Telegraph, they suggest three activities inspired from our childhood to reduce stress: coloring, writing and physical play. By focusing on a simple repetitive task, coloring calms our mind and acts as a meditative technique. Writing for 15 to 30 minutes about a stressful life event improves not only your mood, but also physical health, memory and sleep. And how could jumping on a giant trampoline or playing in an adult ball pool not put you in a good mood?


Windowless Planes to Hit Skies in Next Decade, Company Says

ABC News and Vimeo

Imagine flying on an airplane and being able the clouds all around you. That's what one company plans on achieving in the next 10 years -- an airplane without windows.


The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), a U.K.-based cutting edge technology association, envisioned the next generation aircraft in efforts to conserve fuel, while drastically transforming the customer experience.

"Removing the windows will significantly reduce the weight of the aircraft, saving fuel and therefore reducing operational costs," says Matthew Herbert, marketing manager for CPI. "The windows will be replaced by high quality flexible OLED displays that are connected to digital cameras integrated into the exterior of the plane," he says.

Lower operational costs, the company claims, will in turn result in reduced airfares.


Machine-Learning Algorithm Mines Rap Lyrics, Then Writes Its Own

Technology Review

University of Aalto researchers developed a machine-learning algorithm that recognizes the salient features of a few lines of rap music and then chooses another line that rhymes in the same way and is about the same topic. The researchers focused on the way assonance, which describes the repetition of similar vowel sounds, appears in rap lyrics. The researchers trained the DeepBeat algorithm on a database of over 10,000 songs from more than 100 rap artists. DeepBeat converts words into phonemes and then scans the list of phonemes looking for similar vowel sounds while ignoring consonant sounds and spaces; it also seeks sequences of matching vowel sounds in the previous two lines or so, and defines the rhyming density as the average of all the longest sequences in the lyrics. This technique enabled the researchers to rank all the rap artists in the database according to their rhyming density. The team used this metric to compare the automated raps with human-generated ones. They programmed DeepBeat to analyze a sequence of lines from a rap lyric and then choose the next line from a list that contains randomly chosen lines from other songs as well as the actual line. "An 82-percent accuracy was achieved for separating the true next line from a randomly chosen line," says University of Aalto's Eric Malmi.


Brain implant allows paralysed man to sip a beer at his own pace

New Scientist

Implants placed in the region of the brain that governs planning of motor movements could give people who have suffered spinal injuries more fluid movement. The California Institute of Technology's Richard Andersen and colleagues placed an implant in the posterior parietal cortex of a man paralyzed from the neck down. They report the man controlled a robotic arm with unprecedented fluidity. People with similar injuries have controlled prosthetic limbs using implants placed in the motor cortex, but placing implants in an area of the brain responsible for the mechanics of movements has resulted in delayed, jerky motions, as the person thinks about all the individual aspects of the movement. Each implant contained electrodes that recorded the activity of hundreds of individual neurons, and the patterns of electrical activity from each neuron firing while the subject imagined making different arm and eye movements were recorded for almost two years. The researchers then transmitted data from the implant to a computer, which translated it into instructions to move a separate robotic arm. "We thought this would allow us to decode brain activity associated with the overall goal of a movement--for example, 'I want to pick up that cup', rather than the individual components," Andersen says.


Smartphones, Twitter Help Gauge Crowd Size

University of Warwick researchers used data from Twitter and from Italian phone companies to develop a computer model that can accurately show the size of a crowd. The model could help first responders in an emergency, according to the researchers. The mobile phone system is cellular, meaning it is a grid comprised of pockets where users are connected via a relay antenna. When there are more users in a pocket, a spike can be seen in the volume of phone calls, short messaging services messages, and tweets. The researchers transcribed these spikes into estimates of crowd numbers. They first calibrated the model on data collected during 10 soccer matches at the San Siro stadium, where the attendance was known. The researchers then used the model to estimate the number of people at Milan's Linate airport at different times of day. "Accurate estimates of the number of people in a given location at a given time can be extrapolated from mobile phone data, without requiring users to install further applications on their smartphones," the researchers note.


Lessons in Creative Alchemy from Black Sabbath


…the value of embracing the problem of your problem. A way of using the weight of an obstacle to your advantage. Consider this the next time you're faced with an impossible brief, or an unreasonable, yet unmovable, demand. At such a point you have three choices. You can fight against it. You can give up. Or, as Mr. Iommi did, use the cruel hand that fate has dealt you to your advantage and create a whole new kind of music.


Food & Wine unveils its emoji keyboard for foodies


Time Inc.'s Food & Wine has rolled out an emoji keyboard that includes a burger, taco and even a cronut.

The keyboard features more than 25 emojis, GIFs, and stickers that the company says reflects "the biggest food obsessions of the moment."

Emojis also include chefs and trendy restaurant dishes, such as the live-ant-covered shrimp at Copenhagen's Noma


Your Next Tweet Could Save an Endangered Animal

Adding a smiley face, shining sun or a cute monkey emoji to a social media post can enhance the message more than simply using words. The World Wildlife Fund has taken a cue from the world of emojis and is using the colorful and animated icons to improve the lives of animals in need.
Through their new campaign #
EndangeredEmoji, users are invited to tweet 17 handpicked animal emojis to raise funds to directly aid their real life animal counterparts. Each emoji is worth €0.10 ($0.11), and at the end of the month WWF will tweet users with their total #EndangeredEmoji use, providing a link to donate.