Yes, it’s all going according to the plan.
The news came as a shock, at least for me: Google decided that Google Reader will be shut down as of July, 1st. A lot of reasons have been flying around, with the official statement being that Google needs to focus on fewer products and some saying that they need the engineering team behind Google Reader to start working on Google’s social products (read, Google+). To this, I say: what engineering team?
As far as I can tell, Google Reader hasn’t been updated in ages. Nothing (or close to it) has changed for the last months, if not years. It seems to be, for better or for worse, a finalized product. And if they say the use has been declining, I’m guessing that there isn’t even a storage or server use problem. So, what has its team been working on?
I really don’t get it, but then again, this is and has always been a free product, so we can’t actually demand anything from Google other than a clean way to export our feeds, which they already provide.
What an interesting coincidence: just a few hours after I posted this little question about our capability to simulate the human brain, the SingularityHub posted this piece on how a leading neuroscientist says that Kurzweil’s predictions are rubbish.
Although I find the neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis‘ views a bit extreme, I have to agree (as I said before) that the problem lies on the simple aspect that we don’t know how to develop an algorithm to simulate the brain. It’s true, we have (or we are very close to having) the necessary computing power to do so, but not the knowledge on the inner workings of the human brain to actually make a computable simulation.
But the future will tell us who’s right.
Back in 2007, US researchers have simulated half a virtual brain of a mouse on a supercomputer. Interestingly, Ray Kurzweil, in his 2005 book “The Singularity is Near“, accurately predicted the amount of computing power necessary for that scientific achievement.
What’s really interesting is the prediction that he made for 2013. Check this graphic:
When I close the lid of my Macbook I usually just assume it will go to sleep as expected. This one time, however, when I got back to my office and opened the lid I noticed the Mac was absurdly hot for a computer that has just been in sleep mode.
I decided to test it again and close the lid. To my surprise, the usual flashing light on the macbook didn’t flash at all. It just remained steadily lit. At first, I thought it was some hung app that was causing this so I decided to close every app and check if there was some process using the CPU heavily, but that wasn’t the case. I even tried rebooting and still that didn’t solve the problem. I checked the power settings and nothing pointed to it being the responsible for the sleep mode prevention.
Continuing the work with analog sensors on the Raspberry Pi, I decided to test the PulseSensor‘s behavior in building a pulse sensing application. The Pulse Sensor is a well-designed plug-and-play heart-rate sensor for Arduino but considering that it’s a simple analog sensor that sends values between 0 and 1023, it’s easy enough to use with the MCP3008 ADC on the RPi.
As interesting as the Raspberry Pi may be, it does not have a way to read analog inputs directly, which makes it difficult to use in some DIY projects. Luckily, working with an ADC on the RPi is really simple and easy thanks to this lesson from Adafruit.
In that tutorial, you’ll learn how to setup the MCP3008 ADC with the RPi by using SPI communication to use a potentiometer to adjust the volume of an MP3 that is currently playing. I followed the tutorial and it worked nicely but I had other ideas for this ADC.
What happens when you want to start a band and you can’t find just the right partners to play the other instruments? Well, you can use Legos NXT Mindstorms:[youtube http://youtu.be/QwGM-DxJwTg]
WebGL is starting to draw quite a lot of attention as a simple way to display 3D-rendered scenes on your browser and since it is now supported by the major browsers, it is accessible enough for anyone who wants to try it.
However, if your browser of choice on the Mac is Safari you’ll most likely see an error when trying to access a website with WebGL-based content. This is because Safari does not support WebGL by default and it is not that clear how you get it working on the Mac. In fact, the extension is “hidden” in the Safari settings and you need to perform this two-step process to activate it:
- First got to the “Preferences…” menu and in the “Advanced” tab check the option “Show Develop menu in menu bar”. This will add a new menu at the menu bar with the word “Develop” on the bar. Shocking, I know!
- Then in this newly added Develop menu, choose the option “Enable WebGL”, et voilá!
Mind you this does not work for Safari on Windows. To view WebGL-based content on Windows, you may want to consider using Chrome or Firefox.