Rhossili Bay Beach & Sheep

Rhossili Bay Natives. This photo is available to licence on EyeEm.

#105

Friday, May 4, 2018

In This Edition:
NAWR, logos, Snap Spectacles, neuomorphic computing, public datasets, Stack Overflow for teams, KRUSTY, neophobia, Connolly's of Leap & art memes!

This week we had some visitors from Ireland in Swansea and I took them on a trip to Rhossili Bay and Worms Head on the Gower Peninsula. Rhossili beach is spectacular and regularly features on many top beaches in the world listings.
The white house on the right of the beach is The Old Rectory which is halfway between the two villages of Rhossili and Llangennith. The house was used as a radar station in World War II, was featured on the Torchwood TV series and can now be rented as a holiday home from the National Trust, albeit with a long waiting list that can stretch into years.
This photo is available to licence on EyeEm.

NAWR ANOIS #2 - Softday, Simon Kilshaw

Softday

On Saturday, we welcomed Softday and Simon Kilshaw to Swansea to perform in the second NAWR ANOIS concert.

Softday are an amazing art science duo that perform large scale works based on environmental and societal topics. They sonify many datasets and combine them with collaboratively sourced music, sound and their own compositions. During the concert they performed their latest work, Sounds of the Unthinkable, which is the culmination of a project drawing attention to the residual pollution in Cork harbour caused by the former Irish Steel plant at Haulbowline, and the pending decision to build an incinerator at Cork harbour. The piece includes a recording of an empassioned speech given by Jeremy Irons to An Bórd Pleanála in opposition to the incinerator, along with a recording of the bells of the cathedral in Cobh and a local group of singers.

Simon Kilshaw, a digital luthier, demonstrated some of his custom built electronic interface instruments which he uses in his compositions. He also performed an octophonic piece controlled by a brain wave reader.

Photos from the concert can be viewed here.

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365 Hidden Meanings Logos

Image credit: Daniel Carlmatz

Swedish designer Daniel Carlmatz challenged himself to create a typography logo that includes a hidden or implicit meaning everyday for a year. His results are great and can be seen here.
I'm a sucker for a good negative space logo!

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Snap Spectacles 2.0

Image: The Verge

Snap has released the second version of its Spectacles smart(?) glasses. These ones are $150, shoot HD video and, new to this version, can take HD photos. According to The Verge, they are less bulky and easier to use. If predictions come true, we'll all be wearing glasses like these, or better ones from Apple, in the next few years.
The progress of these wearables reminds me of when camera phones first emerged. Everyone was frightened by those clunky flip phones with their silver lenses and crappy image resolution. In Ireland, gyms and schools issued edicts banning the use of camera phones as soon as they became widely available. What kind of monster would want to take a camera into a gym anyway? Fast forward a few years and the #gymselfie is so 2016. Google Glass and Sepctacles v1 were perhaps like the early camera phones and soon we'll all be posting our #glassview photos :-)

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Neuromorphic Computing

Image: Michael L. Schneider*, Christine A. Donnelly, Stephen E. Russek, Burm Baek, Matthew R. Pufall, Peter F. Hopkins, Paul D. Dresselhaus, Samuel P. Benz and William H. Rippard

Two recently published papers have demonstrated significant advances in neuromorphic computing. The brain on a chip systems use conductive plates separated by a switching medium in order to emulate the synapse structure of the brain, which allows data to be both stored and processed in situ. This model would do away with the round trip travel time of information to and from storage, thus increasing the processing time and reducing the energy usage.

The neuromorphic system in the first paper reports a 95% accuracy in recognising samples using a neural network. The system in the second paper takes the hardware a step further by manipulating the medium between neuron proxy plates, allowing computation to be baked into the chip. Doing so increased the firing rate of the chip to several orders of magnitude faster than human neurons while using 1/10,000th of the energy of biological neurons.

While this is all amazing, some practical limitations still apply, for now. The systems usually need to cooled to absolute zero to operate and also need to be scaled to number in the millions in order to conduct complex computations.

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Stack Overflow For Teams

Image: Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow has launched a teams product, which includes a private searchable questions and answers knowledgebase and Q&A engine, stored on a dedicated network in a logically seperated database.
Pricing starts at $10 per month for the first 10 users and $5 per user per month thereafter.

Stack Overflow are one of the best in the business at building these types of systems, however as with any knowledgebase, it is only as good as the information put into it. Or to be more specific, the information in and the interaction within. Hopefully this product will spread among more traditional enterprise, where information sharing and discussion may not be intuitive work practices :-)

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KRUSTY

NASA's Kilopower Reactor. Image credit: NASA

NASA have successfully completed testing of a nuclear fission power system called KRUSTY (Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology). The reactor uses Kilopower, technology based on using the heat produced by the nuclear fission of uranium to produce power. The prototype built by NASA, running at 800 degress celcius produces 1kW of power but can be scaled up to produce 10kW. Reactors to be built for mission to the Moon and Mars aim to produce 40kW.

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Podcasts Of The Week: Akimbo Ep.10

Crossing The Chasm. Image credit: Geoffrey Moore

Seth Godin has recently started a new podcast called Akimbo, in which he discusses a topic and answers questions on the previous week's topic. As with all of Seth's content, it is excellent. Episode 10, The Regular Kind is particularly good.

In it he discusses how something becomes the norm, the regular kind, even if it does not merit its superior position. A lot of the time, things are the default purely from over-exposer and marketing. He gives some interesting examples and then digs below the surface about why we as individuals either yurn for the safety of the familiar (neophobia) or for the thrill of the new (neophilia). Things become the regular kind because the neophobics are usually in the majority.

This got me thinking about how in the software world, this struggle or counter-balance forms a large part of life. We build software to do new things but have to sell them and convince people to change their habits and use our software.
Often internally within companies, we need to propose new projects, solutions or concepts in the hopes that our colleagues and/or bosses will see the value in this new approach, instead of doing it the way it has always been done, the regular way.

The episode expands the concept by revealing that we are complex individuals and one can be both a neophobe and neophile in the many different areas of life.
I find this helpful to remember when facing someone on the opposite side of the neo-chasm. I'm a natural neophile and sometimes get frustrated with the lack of enthusiam in others about the latest thing, but then I remember, I always buy the regular unleaded, despite the benefits that the super unleaded is supposed to give my car engine :-)

 

 

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Connolly's Of Leap Playlist

Sam Mc Nicholl of Connolly's of Leap has published a Spotify playlist with music from each band and artists that has played in the amazing West Cork venue over the last 2 years. It's a fantastic roster of Irish names and music!
If you haven't been to Connolly's of Leap, you must attend a gig there the next time you are in Cork. I experienced my first ever music lock-in there last year when The Bonk played (check out some photos here).

 

Funny Thing Of The Week: Classical Art Memes

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See you next week!

See you next week :-)

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About Found This Week

Found This Week is a curated blog of interesting posts, articles, links and stories in the world of technology, science and life in general.
Each edition is curated by Daryl Feehely every Friday and highlights cool stuff found each week.
The first 104 editions were published on Medium before this site was created, check out the archive here.

Daryl Feehely

I’m a web consultant, contract web developer, technical project manager & photographer originally from Cork, now based in Swansea. I offer my clients strategy, planning & technical delivery services, remotely & in person. I also offer freelance CTO services to companies in need of technical bootstrapping or reinvention. If you think I can help you in your business, check out my details on http://darylfeehely.com