Thursday, August 21, 2014

Windowless Flights: 2 Planes to Stream Live Panoramic Views

The latest contender for ‘most scary yet exciting passenger cabin ever designed’ has trumped its predecessor – the first version boasted horizontal strips of screen on both sides of the plane’s interior while this latest one features effectively see-through ceilings as well as walls.

The S-512 being developed by Spike Aerospace boasts a four-hour flight time from New York to London, in part due to the reduced engineering requirements of a windowless cabin (and leading to at top speed of 1375 MPH).

In this audacious private jet, the windows and their supporting infrastructure are instead being replaced with view screens that stitch together live footage being shot of the plane’s surroundings while it is in flight.

Meanwhile, six months later, Technicon Design has released concept drawings of Ixion, which likewise uses cameras mounted on the fuselage and wings to capture images for interior high-resolution display, but with an added dimension of also disappearing the rooftop of the cabin.

The nearly-continuous visual experience would be segmented by strips providing lights and air conditioning, and in theory the projections could be shifted on demand, from realtime scenery to other full-surround displays. For now, though, only the first is a series proposal for a real private plane – the latter is a conceptual design pushing the idea further but with no plan for actual deployment.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bike Campers! 8 Ultra-Mobile Pedal-Powered Shelters

You don’t need a gas-guzzling truck to haul around a camper, tent or emergency shelter – you can use the power of your leg muscles with these 8 clever creations made to be pulled by bicycles. These ultra-mobile bike campers range from ultra-lightweight and simple designs made of fabric to floating creations comprised of recycled water tanks.
Taku Tanku, the Towable Floating Tiny House

Lightweight enough to tow by bicycle yet sizable enough to sleep 2-3 people, the Taku Tanku could potentially be used as a disaster shelter, according to designers Stereotank architecture at Takahiro Fukuda. Made from two large recycled water tanks, the shelter is designed to be quick and simple to build. It could be carried by a person, bicycle or car, or towed behind a boat. While it doesn’t have a kitchen or bathroom, it does function as a safe and comfortable place to sleep and comes with a skylight, solar-powered lights and fans.

Micro Gypsy Wagon

This amazing micro gypsy wagon pops up from a coffin-shaped bike trailer to an adorable little abode inspired by traditional Romani dwellings. Measuring about 12 square feet, just large enough to hold a one-person bed and some art supplies, the wagon has storage built under the sleeping pad and can be converted to a sitting space with a small table for dining or computer work. Creator Barry Howard, who has converted school buses, vans and other vehicles into tiny houses in the past, creates custom versions of this cool bike trailer; learn more on Facebook.

Bike Tire Pop-Up Tent

 Forget hauling your tent with you when camping by bicycle; this cool idea builds a pop-up tent right into the front wheel to free up space. A specially-reinforced tire is designed specifically to hold the tent in place as you ride.

Camper Bike

The fact that it’s so closely modeled after a conventional mobile home pulled by a car makes this camper bike creation even more striking. Designed by artist Kevin Cyr, who’s known for a variety of offbeat portable housing, the camper seems to have simply been miniaturized so it can be pulled by a bike. 

Midget Bushtrekka Bicycle Camper Trailer

The only design on this list that’s widely available – including at – the Midget BUSHTREKKA by Kamp-Rite is al lightweight bike trailer with a pivoting wheel set for uneven terrain and a shelter for one. Unsurprisingly, it’s also occasionally used as a homeless shelter, sparking ideas for mobile housing that functions like the shell of a snail.

QTvan Bike Caravan

 “Top speed: how fast can you pedal?” The QTvan by ETA was commissioned during Green Transport Week in the UK to illustrate the efficiency of the bicycle, proving just how far your own two legs can get you. It’s a fully-equipped, single-berth caravan with a bed, 29″ television, tea-making facilities and even a drinks cabinet. Its efficiency can be boosted even further with the use of an electric bike.

Supertramp Fabric Bike-Pulled Shelter

 This trailer might be spare and extremely lightweight thanks to its canvas construction, but it’s substantial enough to haul around a wood stove. Designer Lehman B made ‘Supertramp‘ to bike around London in 2010, raising awareness about tiny mobile living spaces.

Golden Gate Electric Bike Camper

Renowned for his curious geometric mobile housing creations, Jay Nelson created The Golden Gate as a sort of enclosed electric bike camper. It’s made of fiberglass, epoxy resin, plywood, glass, bike parts and an electric motor, and can go 10 miles on a charge up to 20 mph. Inside you’ll find a kitchen, storage, a toilet and a bed.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

PlayStation Now is even better than I hoped it would be

Ever since the PlayStation Now beta launched at the end of July, I’ve been pondering the value proposition of Sony’s streaming offerings. During this soft launch, the selection of titles is extremely limited, and the pricing model doesn’t quite fit. However, the streaming technology itself is surprisingly solid, so it definitely can’t be dismissed outright. I’ll be the first to admit that there is plenty of room for improvement, but let me explain why PS Now is actually better than I expected it to be.

To get started with PS Now, all you need is a PS4 and a North American PSN account. Simply launch the PlayStation Store, and scroll down to the “PS Now” menu item. From there, you can select from roughly 100 PS3 titles that are currently offered. Unfortunately, you’re going to need to whip out your credit card at this point. The prices vary between the title and rental length, but everything is too high right now. At launch, the cheapest price was $3 for four hours, but a handful of games are now down to $2 for the same four hour chunk.

For testing purposes, I ended up paying $8 for 30 days of access to Saints Row 2. With a service like Redbox, you can rent a game for roughly $2 per day. On Amazon, I can buy a physical copy of Saints Row 2 for under ten bucks. If the four hour chunk model is going to stay, it needs to dive below a dollar — preferably fifty cents a pop. If Sony wants to keep the entry-level purchase in the $2 to $5 range, the minimum number of rental hours needs to increase by at least sixfold. For the relatively ancient games available on that service right now, there’s no excuse for charging so much money. If Sony ever starts rolling out recent AAA titles on PS Now, then maybe we can talk about this premium pricing.

It’s certainly not all bad, though. The rental processes is as easy as buying any title off of PSN, and PS Now titles are featured on the main menu just like any native PS4 game. Provided that you have a substantial pipeline with relatively low latency to Sony’s servers, the experience is pretty much seamless. Load times don’t seem any worse than local copies of PS3 games, and the streaming experience has been rock solid the entire time. I haven’t seen any noticeable dips in performance, and latency hasn’t been an issue at all. Sure, the input lag isn’t going to match a local game, but everything that I’ve seen is playable. Even driving and fighting games have worked well for me, so I can’t complain.
After just a few minutes of playing a game over PS Now, I completely forget about all of the crazy streaming tech powering the experience. Frankly, that’s the highest praise I can give it. Provided that Sony can implement this same quality of service all over the world, it seems as if the core Gaikai technology powering PS Now is a real winner.

More than anything, I’m excited to see what Sony does next with PS Now. There has been plenty of talk surrounding PS1 and PS2 support, and it seems inevitable that we’ll see PS4 games grace the service before long. PS3, Vita, PS TV, and Sony smart TV support is definitely in the cards, and Sony already let slip that some sort of subscription-based pricing model is currently under development.
It’s now clear that game streaming has a lot of potential, and Sony has a commanding lead here. Microsoft has yet to publicly discuss a streaming or backwards compatibility strategy, OnLive is just now digging itself out of the hole it fell in a few years back, and Valve’s attempt to move into the living room is stalling. With a few tweaks here and there before PS Now leaves beta status, Sony might just have something special with PlayStation Now.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Runaway Teen Lives in Walmart for Four Days on Stolen Food and Drinks

A teenage boy from Corsicana, Texas, recently ran away from home and found refuge in the unlikeliest of places – at Walmart! Employees of the Corsicana Walmart discovered the 14-year-old kid after he had been living at the store for four days straight. To their great surprise, he had built a secret hidden compound for himself where he managed to live undetected.
News channels in the U.S. have released exclusive photographs of the two campsites that the teenager had built. One was located on the baby products-aisle, behind big stroller boxes. The second one was behind stacks of paper towels and toilet paper on a different aisle.
Surprisingly, customers who had walked down these aisles didn’t have the slightest suspicion of the teenager’s presence. “You never expect that you’re at Walmart and someone has been living there for four days. That’s crazy,” said Walmart customer Myrna Aguilar.

The two hidden campsites consisted of a make-shift bed, and room to store food and other items that he’d stolen from the store. He’d conducted the petty thefts rather ingeniously – by making a small crack in the back wall of the drink aisle to grab juice. He even managed to get himself a fish from the pet section of the store. To avoid detection, he would change his clothing every few hours, which he would also steal from the store. In fact, he was so concerned about being caught that he wore diapers instead of using the store’s restroom.
The boy was eventually discovered when employees found a trash trail that led straight to his hideouts. He tried to run out of the store, but they managed to grab hold of him and notify the police, who released the boy into the custody of relatives. According to the police, the boy lives with his parents but disappeared from his aunt’s home on July 28, where he was staying while his parents were out of town.

“In runaway cases it is not standard procedure to notify Child Protective Services unless there is an indication that the juvenile was a victim of possible abuse or neglect or was living in a dangerous environment,” the police clarified. Since this did not appear to be the case, the authorities simply let the boy go home.
Meanwhile, Walmart customers who witnessed the boy’s discovery are wondering about his parents’ attitude towards the whole episode. “I’m wondering what his parents think, and how come he didn’t come home, and why aren’t they worried about him,” asked customer Megan Nicholson.

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