Posts Tagged ‘engineering’

UK: Drink Tea, for the Love of God!

October 14, 2016

Mark Rittman of Hove, East Sussex, spent 11 hours trying to make his morning cuppa with a Wi-Fi tea kettle, live-tweeting his ordeal because of course he would. As an Englishman, he required his morning tea; as a 21st-century man, he wanted to brew it by voice command through his Amazon Echo and iPhone.

Mr. Rittman is a data specialist and not unfamiliar with things digital, but the “Internet of Things” needs work. The connection between the kettle and the Wi-fi base station was problematic; a“mandatory recalibration” caused the iWifi base-station to reset; the Hadoop cluster in the garage went barmy, saturating the network and blocking MQTT integration with the Amazon Echo. Or something. He finally boiled water in a saucepan and made tea by hand before writing code to integrate and debug the system.

Video: “Drink Tea (for the Love of God!)” by  Kula Shaker, 2008. George Orwell narrates. Animation by Model Robot.

Kula Shaker website

Related:

Tea Making Tips,” 1941 (i.e. wartime) film by the Empire Tea Bureau (10:00).

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German Robot Grills Sausage

August 2, 2016

German Robot Grills Sausage
German engineers have built a robot that grills brätwurst because of course they would. The FZI Research Center for IT at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology hooked a robotic arm to a laptop to create BratWurst Bot, which grills, flips, and plates sausages.
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Space Elevators

June 12, 2016

Space elevators explained, by Kurzgesagt (German for “in a nutshell”).

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NASA’s Bouncy Castle in Space Stays Flat

May 27, 2016

Bouncy Castle in Space!

Last month NASA sent an inflatable room — the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module or BEAM — into space via SpaceX as a home improvement for the International Space Station’s Tranquility Module. Like many home improvement projects, all did not go according to plan, and yesterday the big balloon didn’t inflate worth a damn. Perhaps a Rubbermaid garden shed will do? Home Depot is open until 10 tonight.

More:

“The ISS’s New Space Module Fails Its First Inflation Attempt,” Emma Grey Ellis, Wired

“ISS controllers defer BEAM module expansion,” Pete Harding, NASASpaceFlight.com

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Image (“BEAM deployed – artist concept”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Hyperloop One Open Air Test

May 13, 2016

Hyperloop One let the public watch a test of its propulsion system on Wednesday. The sled, powered by a linear induction motor, only traveled a half mile on the North Las Vegas test track, but it did that in 2 seconds. The plan is to use this technology to propel passengers and freight, in vehicles suspended over tracks by passive magnetic levitation, through sealed low-pressure tubes at 750 mph (1,207 kph). That’s San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes, theoretically.

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Marie Antoinette, Dulcimer Player

March 26, 2016

La Joueuse de tympanon,” Queen Marie Antoinette musical automaton created by watchmaker  Pierre Kintzing (1745–1816) and cabinetmaker David Roentgen (1743–1807), presented to King Louis XVI in 1784. The French queen purchased it the following year. From the collection of the Musée des arts et métiers de Paris. Video via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

h/t: Sadie Stein

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Domino’s Robot Pizza Delivery

March 25, 2016

Domino's Robot Pizza Delivery

Domino’s R&D lab in Australia, in collaboration with Marathon Robotics, has developed the Domino’s Robotic Unit (DRU) prototype, a self-propelled autonomous unit that will deliver hot pies to your door. DRU is said to be “cheeky and endearing” with “a friendly persona.” Do you still have to tip?

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Boeing Planes Will Have Self-Cleaning Toilets for Fastidious Fliers

March 14, 2016

Boeing Planes Will Have Self-Cleaning Toilets for Fastidious Fliers

Engineers at Boeing Research & Technology (BR&T) are testing an airplane lavatory that cleans itself of microorganisms with ultraviolet light. Maybe they can fix that smelly hand soap while they’re in there. The UV light isn’t the kind that will give you a tan, so you’ll have to wait until your plane lands in Hawaii. Actually, the purifying lights won’t go on at all if someone is in the john.

We don’t know how the competition will respond to this tech development. Will the new Air France toilets have bidets? Peut-être.

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Dieselgate: Volkswagen or Bosch?

October 7, 2015

11 million Volkswagen diesel cars, 500,000 of them in the USA, have emissions-test-cheating software that allows them to produce lower emissions when tested by regulators and higher-performance dirty exhaust while they’re actually on the road. Now that WV has been caught, EPA is acting accordingly. Volkswagen engineers were certainly involved, but the Wolfsburg firm may not be the only one snared in Dieselgate. Most VW electronic equipment and software is built by Robert Bosch GmbH:

“It isn’t clear whether Bosch provided Volkswagen with the software at the heart of the scandal, or whether any of the Bosch-built components interacted with the software.

‘How these components are calibrated and integrated into complete vehicle systems is the responsibility of each auto maker,’ the Stuttgart-based company said.

Still, questions over how the software worked and who was responsible for installing it have spilled over to include Bosch.

German newspapers have reported that Bosch told Volkswagen in a 2007 letter that the use of Bosch-made software to manipulate car emissions was illegal. Volkswagen declined to comment Friday on the reports.”

— “Bosch Could Get Drawn Into Volkswagen Emissions Litigation,” Robert Wall, Wall Street Journal

So if Bosch knew VW was hacking their software, why didn’t they tell the authorities? Worse: Did Bosch tell the German government, which took no action other than suppressing the information?

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9th Grader Handcuffed and Arrested for Bringing a Clock to School

September 17, 2015

9th Grader Handcuffed and Arrested for Bringing a Clock to School
Last weekend a proud 9th Grader constructed an electronic clock at home, and he brought it to school on Monday. Naturally, he was handcuffed and arrested. That’s natural in Irving Texas, anyway — if the student’s name is something like Ahmed Mohamed.

14-year-old Ahmed showed his clock to a teacher who decided it was a bomb and called the principal, who called the police; they put Ahmed in handcuffs, took him in and fingerprinted him. Now they’re saying they arrested Ahmed for staging a bomb hoax; clearly they should have arrested his teacher and principal for that. All charges against Ahmed have been dropped; we can expect civil suits against Irving’s government and school district.

The city of Irving, part of the DFW Metroplex, brags about the large high-tech firms located within its limits. There may be more welcoming places for those multinational companies and their culturally- diverse workforces, towns where those employees and their families would not be regarded with hate and suspicion.

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