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Weekend tech reading: Wikipedia turns 15, Werner Herzog talks VR, a look inside NASA's vault

By Matthew
Jan 17, 2016
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  1. At 15, Wikipedia is finally finding its way to the truth Today, Wikipedia celebrates its fifteenth birthday. In Internet years, that's pretty old. But "the encyclopedia that anyone can edit" is different from services like Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Though Wikipedia has long been one of the Internet's most popular sites -- a force that decimated institutions like the Encyclopedia Britannica -- it's only just reaching maturity. Wired (also, 10th Anniversary of jQuery​)

    Fast and reversible thermoresponsive polymer switching materials for safer batteries Safety issues have been a long-standing obstacle impeding large-scale adoption of next-generation high-energy-density batteries. Materials solutions to battery safety management are limited by slow response and small operating voltage windows. Here we report a fast and reversible thermoresponsive polymer switching material that can be incorporated inside batteries to prevent thermal runaway. This material consists of electrochemically stable graphene-coated spiky nickel nanoparticles mixed in a polymer matrix with a high thermal expansion coefficient. Nature.com (also, Spike processing with a graphene excitable laser)

    FreeNAS home server build I've spent the last couple months configuring and setting up a new home server. It's going to be used as a storage and media server that is going to be my main back up location as well as serve media. I looked at a few different options for the operating system I wanted to run, I knew I wanted to use an OS with support for an advanced file-system with features like snapshots and check-summing for data integrity, it's going to be used as a storage server so I wanted a file system that wasn't going to corrupt my data. John Ramsden

    Zero-day FFmpeg vulnerability lets anyone steal files from remote machines (updated) A zero-day vulnerability in the FFmpeg open-source multimedia framework, which is currently used in numerous Linux kernel-based operating systems and software applications, also for the Mac OS X and Windows platforms, was unveiled recently. The vulnerability was discovered on January 12, 2016, by Russian programmer Maxim Andreev in the current stable builds of the FFmpeg software... Softpedia

    H.265/HEVC vs H.264/AVC: 50% bit rate savings verified The results and an extensive analysis of the formal subjective verification tests of the H.265/HEVC video compression standard are published in the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology (TCSVT), January 2016. BBC R&D video coding research team focused on evaluations of UHD content and definition of analytics as part of standardisation process and presented in this paper. The full text of the paper can be accessed here. BBC

    ​Werner Herzog talks virtual reality "I'm a skeptic of 3-D, but when I saw the paintings I knew I had to use it," Werner Herzog told Judith Thurman in 2010, after the New York première of his documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams." The film examines some of the world's earliest known paintings, which cover the walls of the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave, in France. For Herzog telling a story about the Paleolithic required the technology of the Anthropocene. Recently, I spoke with him about how the rules of cinema might translate to yet another new form -- virtual reality. The New Yorker (also, This guy just spent 48 hours in virtual reality)

    Stallman's one mistake We all owe [Richard Stallman] a large debt for his contributions to computing. With a career that began in MIT’s AI lab, [Stallman] was there for the creation of some of the most cutting edge technology of the time. He was there for some of the earliest Lisp machines, the birth of the Internet, and was a necessary contributor for Emacs, GCC, and was foundational in the creation of GPL, the license that made a toy OS from a Finnish CS student the most popular operating system on the planet. Hackaday (also, Richard Stallman on data autonomy)

    A 'brief' history of neural nets and deep learning, part 1 This is the first part of ‘A Brief History of Neural Nets and Deep Learning’. Part 2 is here, and parts 3 and 4 are here and here. In this part, we shall cover the birth of neural nets with the Perceptron in 1958, the AI Winter of the 70s, and neural nets’ return to popularity with back propagation in 1986. Andrey Kurenkov (also, Intro to machine learning)

    Electronics that last: How I built an heirloom laptop The Novena Heirloom is a limited edition custom enclosure system I built for use with the open-source Novena computer designed by Bunnie Huang and Sean Cross. It was crowd funded in cooperation with Portland, Oregon-based Crowd Supply. Several prototype concepts were developed for the campaign. After consulting with Huang, we decided to forgo an easel design in favor of a more traditional clam shell laptop. Makezine

    The Rosewill Quark Series power supply review (750W, 850W, 1000W, 1200W) It is well known that Rosewill is a company that started off as a subsidiary of Newegg, originally focused on marketing simple bits and hardware at very competitive prices. Rosewill grew vastly in a relatively short time and fledged into a stand-alone company with an impressive range of products. Today, Rosewill offers a myriad of products from simple cables and adapters to advanced computer hardware, home appliances and office products. AnandTech

    Bitcoin is dead, long live Bitcoin I've been writing about the Bitcoin blocksize debate here at AVC (the only place I write and I’m hard core about that) for the past year. It’s a big deal. At the core of the debate is whether the Bitcoin blockchain should be a settlement layer that supports a number of new blockchains that can be scaled to achieve various goals or whether the Bitcoin blockchain itself should evolve in a way that it can scale to achieve those various goals. AVC

    Inside the eye: Nature's most exquisite creation "If you ask people what animal eyes are used for, they'll say: same thing as human eyes. But that's not true. It's not true at all." In his lab at Lund University in Sweden, Dan-Eric Nilsson is contemplating the eyes of a box jellyfish. Nilsson's eyes, of which he has two, are ice blue and forward facing. In contrast, the box jelly boasts 24 eyes, which are dark brown and grouped into four clusters called rhopalia. National Geographic

    Inside the vault: A rare glimpse of NASA's otherworldly treasures Houston, Tex. -- Building 31 on the campus of Johnson Space Center lacks the Tower of London's majesty and history. No Queen’s Guard stand outside. But this drab, 1960s-era building is nonetheless where NASA keeps the crown jewels of its exploration program. Inside various clean rooms, curators watch over meteorites from Mars and the asteroid belt, cosmic dust, samples of the solar wind, comet particles, and, of course, hundreds of kilograms of Moon rocks. Ars Technica

    A new way to store solar heat Imagine if your clothing could, on demand, release just enough heat to keep you warm and cozy, allowing you to dial back on your thermostat settings and stay comfortable in a cooler room. Or, picture a car windshield that stores the sun's energy and then releases it as a burst of heat to melt away a layer of ice. According to a team of researchers at MIT, both scenarios may be possible before long, thanks to a new material that can store solar energy during the day and release it later as heat... MIT

    Adventure games are suffering from an identity crisis and an image problem Four years ago, I looked at adventure games with wide-eyed optimism. After over a decade of struggle, it seemed like the genre that first made me a PC gamer was making a comeback. Between the countless AGS games from indie developers, Telltale's resurrection of Sam & Max and Monkey Island, and triple-A successes like LA Noire, it looked like players and publishers had faith in adventure games again. PCGames N

    Artificial pancreas system aimed at type 1 diabetes mellitus Researchers will soon undertake one of the largest-ever long-term clinical trials of a system designed to help regulate blood sugar levels of individuals with type 1 diabetes mellitus. If the scientists’ so-called artificial pancreas system performs in patients as they hope, it could lead to commercial trials and eventual regulatory approval in the United States and abroad. Harvard Gazette

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