Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Maker Movement

The inspiration for this blog was the creation of a robot. During my brothers work on creating his first robot he discovered the maker movement. Makers or hackers are people who create things using technology such as electronics, computers, programming, CNC machining, 3-D printing or all of these and more. Ordinary people can make extraordinary gadgets.

The maker movement has accelerated with the introduction of hacker spaces. These are places where nerds can congregate to share their knowledge, learn and build things together. Many hacker spaces are important centres for the development of open source software and hardware. Most hacker spaces have open membership and want people from all walks of life to join. Just because you do not know anything about technology does not bar you from membership. You can collaborate with people who do have the knowledge to make your dreams reality.

Hackers pull apart devices and use the parts to create amazing new devices such as robots.

I think eventually makers will transform our society. Soon it will be possible to make any sort of device, even a mobile phone, with off-the-shelf components. We won’t be dependent any more on huge multinational companies to make all our stuff. You could download all the design documentation for free, then 3-D print a really cool custom housing for it. Stick in all the components and then download the latest version of android and install it on your new phone. You could then connect wirelessly to a public mesh network - for free. Before this happens the mobile phone may have become obsolete - replaced with a smart watch or something.

Further on into the future, if breakthroughs continue in robotics and 3-D printing, it will be possible to 3-D print almost anything. Just put all of the components in the correct resource bin and press print. The current proprietary world where everything is protected by intellectual property laws and copyright will start to be irrelevant. In this world everyone is a maker.

This sounds like an anarchist utopia where big corporations and governments don’t exist. I actually think in this world governments could become stronger if they choose to embrace this change. Large corporations can also still compete in this world. It will be a long time before people are able to 3-D print a car. The only thing that will change is that corporations would have to compete with us.

The maker revolution is happening and it will re-make the world.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Things That Drive Me Nuts - (The People Who Play) League of Legends

League of Legends, commonly known as LoL, is one of my favourite games. It’s one of a plethora of games that are based on Defence of the Ancients, or DOTA, which was a Warcraft III mod. In this game two five player teams battle it out in an arena. There are three lanes going from north to south - it is on these lanes and sometimes in the jungle between where the game is fought. The aim is to destroy the enemy base before they destroy yours.

It’s a great game that I really enjoy. The thing it’s a team game and the people that play this game can be a bunch of immature arseholes, who refuse to play as a team. It’s so frustrating. In some games if you do one wrong thing, or even do something unexpected, you will be intensely criticised for it very rudely.

The makers of the game have tried very hard to eliminate this aspect of the game by introducing a tribunal system that rewards good behaviour and punishes bad. And I think it is working. Is a great game that is completely free to play. The micro transaction system does not give some players an unfair advantage. You can pay money for skins which give characters a new look and feel without changing their functionality or abilities.

There is a vast array of champions to select from, with a random set of champions being free to play for that week. You can then buy the champions you like with loyalty points that you earn playing the game.

I give it 4.6 out of 5. (Hang on, this didn’t start out as a review? Just ignore that last line. (And ignore this too.))

In for a penny…. I give the average person that plays league of legends a 1.9 out of 5 - averaging out the two scores give the final total of 3.25 out of 5.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Shark Charged With War Crimes

In protest of the proposed shark cull in Western Australia I am re-posting this article, something I hoped I wouldn't have to do again. Today there is a national day of protest against this cull...

Sharky McFinnigan is to be extradited to The Hague to face numerous charges including crimes against humanity and terrorism.

Sharky was cornered late last week by a heroic group of fishermen who had tracked him across the southern Indian Ocean.

It is believed Sharky will use the, ‘I was only following instincts,’ defence. This has been compared to the, ‘I was just following orders,’ defence often used by Nazi death camp guards, but is probably better than the, ‘if humans did not want to be eaten why do they taste so good,’ defence used by other shark terrorists.

Human rights groups have been vocal over what they say were harsh interrogation methods used by fishermen and in particular the controversial practice of air boarding. This is where a fish is repeatedly brought to the surface to induce a fear of suffocation.

The head of the anti-fish terrorism task force, Mr Donnie Williams said that, ‘these methods are important tools in the toolbox to prevent the sort of undersea terror that these evil fish are willing to risk their lives to commit.’

A spokesman for celebrities against antiterrorism terrorism John Pilger responded to this saying, ‘now with the extrajudicial slaying of Osama Bin Laden, and the defeat of the fictitious Al Qaeda the West needs a new scapegoat. Sharks are to be to the West what Jews were to the Nazis.’

Lord Monckton disagrees stating, ‘John is plainly bonkers. Over a period of many years sharks have convinced the majority of us that they need protection. Did you know that in many parts of the world you can be thrown in prison for swearing at a shark? Wait, I'm not finished. These evil sharks are the people behind green movements around the world. Sharks don't need protection, in fact they have been plotting the downfall of Western civilisation ever since their precious Soviet Union collapsed. Shark protection laws have also caused massive increase in shark numbers and it is this increase and the corresponding increase in fish flatulence that is the real reason behind global warming. I'm afraid, Chris, that the only good shark is a dead shark.’

Sentiments echoed by the Premier of Western Australia the Hon. Colin Barnett, who was heard to say while standing on one of Western Australia's pristine white beaches, ‘We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the oceans, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!’

It is not a good day to be a shark.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Just Thinking

I couldn’t really think of an idea for a blog post so I will talk about some things I have been thinking about today.

I was reading Wikipedia and there was a link to an article about St Petersburg on the front page. This city was founded in 1703 as Russia’s new capital - this is relatively young for a European city. This got me thinking what if we founded a new city today? Why would we do it?

One reason could be to create a special economic zone where taxes were lower and government regulation is greatly relaxed. It could also have modified immigration laws - allowing asylum seekers to work (this was a policy of the Future Party that ran for a Senate seat last year). Large companies such as certain car manufacturers that depend on government handouts and subsidies could be located in this city. This could solve two of the government’s greatest problems.

It is quite possible that this will never happen. Our leaders do not have dreams or ambitions for our country - they are only worried about the next election. You don’t hear leaders making moon speeches anymore. I want big and bold projects such as a very fast train between Brisbane and Melbourne, a gigantic solar thermal power plant or maybe a generation four thorium nuclear reactor (don’t worry they are safe unlike Fukushima).

One thing that definitely needs to happen is a 3-D printer in every school. 3-D printing will be an enormous industry and it is good to give kids the knowledge they will need in the future. This will also get kids interested in design and mathematics both are needed to use modelling software that is the first step of creating an object to be 3-D printed.

My brother and our stepdad are currently working on making a button box for my computer. This is a box that will allow me to press up to 5 keyboard buttons - as it is very difficult for me to use a keyboard. This will allow me to demonstrate my talent at playing computer games.

I started writing a story about an asteroid that gets taken over by a new, human created, intelligent species – hive rats. These are rats that have been modified to be able to communicate through a neural link. This was inspired an actual experiment.

Well, I can’t really think about anything else at the moment…

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

An Open Source Facebook?

I think social networking is a great thing, but there is a dark side. Using social networks give large corporations such as Google and Facebook personal information that was never available to them in the past. There are programs that churn through the vast amounts of data collected and do things such as targeted advertising.

These corporations probably know you better than you know yourself.

The other problem is the number of social networks that you need to sign up to - to stay “in the loop” as it were. Some people don’t like Google Plus so you have to be on Facebook to talk to them and vice versa.

I feel a bit uneasy with the power that we are giving Facebook and Google. A way to solve these problems may be to create a decentralised, open source social network system. I was thinking about this earlier today and did a quick search on Google. There are numerous groups who have the same fear that I do and have come to similar conclusions on how to solve it. Movim and Diaspora are examples of two projects that are ongoing.

Eventually, the world has to give up its Facebook and Google addiction. Do we really want them owning the world?