LED lights point shoppers in the right direction

Imagine that the products on the shelves of a supermarket could talk.  Not in a “Hi, how are you?” kind of way, but just enough to tell a central computer where they are in the store, so that the computer could tell shoppers where to go to find them.  That’s what a new system is supposed to do, using blinking overhead LEDs and low-power radio frequency tags on merchandise.

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Graphene: The perfect water filter

Chalk up another miraculous property to graphene.  Apparently it’s also the world’s best water filter, in that, when a graphene oxide membrane is prepared properly, it will let water pass through it and nothing else.  Coincidentally, this also makes it great for distilling alcohol.

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New technique for harvesting algae with micro-bubbles

Scientists at Sheffield University have figured out a new way to separate particles of algae from the water that it grows in through the use of micro-bubbles.  This isn’t a brand new idea – micro-bubbles have been used to purify water and separate out algae for a while now – what they’ve figured out is a method of doing it cheaply and with much lower energy requirements than previous techniques.  This should reduce the costs for harvesting algae for producing food or biofuels – whether it’ll be enough of a reduction to make a difference is another question, but every little bit helps.

The Engineer   Futurity   PhysOrg

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D-Dalus, a bizzare new kind of flying machine

PopSci has an (unfortunately, very brief) article on a new kind of flying machine, which is capable of hovering and rapid forward movement, all with a completely out-there propulsion system.

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DARPA’s itty-bitty super-cheap eavesdropper

Hidden cameras and other spy gadgets are all very well and good, but the suckers can get expensive if you’re buying them in quantities that require a forklift to move, like the CIA and other intelligence organizations do.  Hence why DARPA funded an inventor to whip up $50 mini-computers that can be hidden almost anywhere and eavesdrop on people – they’re so inexpensive that agencies can afford to loose some.

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New schedule

My apologies for disappearing for 48 hours, real life smacked me upside the head.

Leaving that aside, one of the things that I’ve learned about this blog thingamajig after working on it for a month is that it takes about 3 hours a day (sometimes more) to put up 5-10 interesting, somewhat articulate posts.  While I enjoy the process, it’s taking time away from other things that are more important, so I’m going to be experimenting with ways to trim back on time devoted to it.

One of the immediate things I’m going to be doing is cutting some stuff from my newsfeed (as painful as that is for me).  This will include CNET, Wired, Engadget, Slashdot, and PhysOrg, to name a few.  I’ll put links to the sites that I’m not going to use into a single page, if you want to see recommendations for useful (and very big) news sites.  Another thing I’m going to try is switching to a weekly update schedule, rather than a daily one, allowing me to skip a day or two and then catch up later without feeling like I’m playing hooky.

So that’s the plan.  Big updates on the weekends, not so much in the middle of the week, and I’m cutting some of the bigger sites from my list.  We’ll see if this reduces the workload to something I can manage for more than a month at a time, and whether it messes with the quality of my postings.

So, till I spam your inboxes/rss feeds next, I’ll leave you with this:  http://techcrunch.com/2012/01/27/a-really-nice-flying-ornithopter-video-for-your-friday-enjoyment/

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Hold your horses, fanboy: why 3D printing isn’t going to revolutionize everything

Technology Review has an excellent summary of 3D printing as a technology here.  They also just posted a rant about the limitations of 3D printing, and how the people who are gushing about the technology need to stop trying to boost everybody’s expectations.

 

Update:  And now an opposing viewpoint from a guest writer at Technology Review’s been posted here.

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