Category Archives: reviews

Donald E. Knuth talks about New The Art of Computer Programming Book Chapter

Donald E. Knuth Talks about SAT SolversIn his latest talk about SAT solvers at the Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU), Computer Science pioneer Donald E. Knuth gave a deep and quite emotional insight about his life-long, epic work on the book ‘The Art of Computer Programming’. The Art of Computer Programming, aka TAOCP  represents the one and only global reference on algorithms, their analysis and computer programming in general and is the standard work for all computer scientists worldwide.

Donald E. Knuth talked about his recent chapter within TAOCP on SAT solvers and how fascinating these satisfiability problems as well as the derived problem and number patterns are. Knuth invited the audiance to ask all kind of questions, which span detailed explanaitations on his love for TEX as well as for his CWEB language, to quite personal topics, such as Prof. Knuth’s love for organ music and that he might also write down his own organ composition. During his trip through Austria, Prof. Knuth also had the chance to play on famous local organs, such as the organ within the monastry of St. Florian where Anton Bruckner was playing in 1850.

To summarize, Prof. Knuth gave a fascinating and very inspiring talk about his actual work and it seems as if there will be a lot of topics and chapters within the coming years!

He also shared an interesting advice with his audience: “If you are not fascinated and interested in what you are doing, then you are the only person to blame for!”

 

Spotnick – How to Track the Location of Your Friends on Facebook?

Spotnick - Locate and Track your Facebook Friends, Image source: Spotnick.at

Spotnick – Locate and Track your Facebook Friends, Image source: Spotnick.at

Some days ago a friend told me that his team just published a brand new iPhone and Android App called Spotnick that allows mobile Facebook users to immediately locate and track their friends. After connecting to Spotnick by using your Facebook account, you are shown a map on which you can locate your linked Facebook friends. As far as your friends are not updating their location in realtime, Spotnick uses the actual home address, or the last known address your freinds entered within Facebook. The Spotnick app also allows to track and update your own address in realtime, so that you can select people who are allowed to see your realtime location. Spotnick app was published for Android as well as for iPhone.

Spotnick - Locate and Track your Facebook Friends

Spotnick – Locate and Track your Facebook Friends, Image source: Spotnick.at

Spotnick - Locate and Track your Facebook Friends, Image source: Spotnick.at

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player OneReady Player One, a science fiction novel written by Ernest Cline, is set in the year 2044 after a global energy breakdown and economic recession. As resources are rare these days, the remaining people live under poor conditions in crowded megacities, where they spend their time working and living in a virtual world called OASIS. OASIS is a massive multiplayer online simulation game created by computer game programmer genius James Halliday and his close friend Ogden Morrow. Halliday, with no heirs or other living family, dies suddenly and leaves a treasure hunt video will that promises the ownership of OASIS and his company to those who can solve puzzles hidden in OASIS. Three keys (Copper, Jade, and Crystal) are hidden throughout the universe of OASIS and pass through the matching gates will receive his fortune and controlling the virtual  OASIS universe. As Halliday grew up during the 1980s pop culture, the treasure hunt is a funny retro story about the rise of arcade and computer game during the 80s.

Those of you who grew up during the late 1980s, playing arcade games and owning an Amiga or C64 computer, will definitely love this book as i did!

Book – The Human Face of Big Data

Did you ever wondered what the Big Data Hype means to us in reality? Information and communication technology, advanced network bandwidth and intelligent data analysis and prognosis enable fantastic insights into our modern society. No matter if you are collecting data within urban areas, such as the different ways Pizza delivery is taking in Manhattan on a Friday afternoon or analyzing the crop in large agricultural facilities. Within the book The Human Face of Big Data, the authors Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt present the human and society dimension of this new hype on analysing and prognosis of all kind of information.

The Human Face of Big Data captures, in glorious photographs and moving essays, an extraordinary revolution sweeping, almost invisibly, through business, academia, government, healthcare, and everyday life. It’s already enabling us to provide a healthier life for our children. To provide our seniors with independence while keeping them safe. To help us conserve precious resources like water and energy. To alert us to tiny changes in our health, weeks or years before we develop a life-threatening illness. To peer into our own individual genetic makeup. To create new forms of life.  And soon, as many predict, to re-engineer our own species. And we’ve barely scratched the surface . . .

The Human Face of Big Data

Desktop Docking Station for Samsung Galaxy Tab

This incredibly practical little desktop docking station for Samsung Galaxy Tablets is all you need to transform your ordinary Samsung Galaxy Tab into a full featured POS vending machine. Just put your Galaxy Tab inside this Desk Dock and replace your traditional cashier POS system with a cool and lean Tablet instead. The Desk Dock is compatible with most of the Samsung Galaxy Tabs such as the 7.0, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Galaxy Tab 8.9, Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, Galaxy Tab 7.7, Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. The Desk Dock charges your Galaxy Tab™ conveniently at your desk while checking email, listening to music, or just taking in your favorite photos in digital picture frame mode – all while your Tab charges. Your tab is fully functional while charging in the Multimedia Dock and positioned at an ideal angle for working or playing. The 3.5mm audio out jack supports external speakers or home stereo connection.

Udacity – 21st Century University

udacity

image taken from udacity.com

Adult education and lifelong learning is changing a lot within the last years. Traditional universities and lecturers often do not accept the fact that time and technology has changed and that the next generation of scholars will learn differently than the generations before. One famous lecturer that recently talked about this change is Peter Norvig, one of the leading Artificial Intelligence experts worldwide.

The American computer scientist and Artificial Intelligence expert startet a virtual class along with his college Sebastian Thrun on artificial intelligence. His class was visited by 175 students from Stanford and more than 100,000 via an interactive webcast. Peter Norvig is talking about the fact that we are teaching knowledge in classes with the same methods today as we did hundreds years ago. So he argues that today we have the possibility to change the way we are teaching and that we could produce a lot more positive educational effects with our modern infrastructures.

In order to use the economics of the Internet, Udacity was founded to connect some of the greatest teachers to hundreds of thousands of students all over the world. Udacity emphasises to offer high quality Web delivered lectures all over the world, no matter if you are sitting in UK or in Africa. So far Udacity offers a good number of mostly technical courses by different quite well known teachers.

Udacity was founded by three roboticists who believed much of the educational value of their university classes could be offered online. A few weeks later, over 160,000 students in more than 190 countries enrolled in our first class, “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence.”

 

udacity, 21st century university

image taken from udacity.com, 21st century university

A Maker’s Dream: Unboxing the new Arduino Education Starter Kit

Today, i received one of the first samples of the new Arduino Educational Starter Kits by RS and i have to admit that beside it’s cool design this educational starter kit is one of the most exiting collections of electronics i have ever tested. It comes in combination with an Arduino Projects Book that gives a detailed description of each Arduino experiment on more than 170 pages. For each project, Massimo Banzi, co-founder of Arduino gives an online video instruction, in which he explains the details. The tutorials start from the very beginning, how to set up your Arduino development environment and explain in simple incremental steps how to build more complex examples, that include all kinds of sensors, motors and even a LCD display (all part of the Arduino Starter Kit).

Unboxing my new Arduino Starter Kit

The entire Arduino Starter kit really contains an impressive collection of electronic components and all parts you need to start immediately. It consists of following major parts:

  • Arduino Projects Book
  • Arduino UNO Board
  • USB Cable
  • Breadboard
  • Wooden base
  • Jumper Wires
  • Photoresistor
  • Temperature sensor
  • Tilt sensor
  • LCD screen 16×2 characters
  • Lots of LEDs
  • DC Motor
  • Servo Motor
  • Piezo
  • H-bridge motor driver
  • Optocouplers
  • Transistors
  • Capacitors
  • Diodes and resistors
  • Poti
  • Buttons

Here are some pictures i took during the unboxing of the Arduino Starter Kit.

Samsung Galaxy Camera that comes with Android OS

A clever move by Samsung, after they lost over a billion$ to Apple in court, is to spread Google’s Open Source Android operating system to as many different devices as possible. One of these devices was published this week in form of a new Samsung Galaxy Camera. Samsung is the next big vendor after Nikon and Polaroid that publishes an Android based Camera device. Samsung Galaxy Camera offers a 16 magapixel cmos chip and 21x optical zoom. Samsung Galaxy Camera already ships with the recent Android version Jelly Bean 4.1.

Due to the fact that Android offers access to a large amount of software and apps, the Samsung Galaxy Camera offers a collection of software features, such as to allow users to organize their photos in folders directly on the camera.

GALAXY Camera Image7

GALAXY Camera Image3

Book Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game, written by Orson Scott Card in 1985, for me belongs to the top 10 in modern science-fiction stories, due to a fantastic story that deals with computer games and human intelligence. The book, which is based on a initial short story, won several awards, such as the Hugo and the Nebula awards.

Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin, the novel’s protagonist, lives with his kind parents and his sadistic elder brother Peter, until the government recruits him to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training. Since the human world barely survived two conflicts with the Formics, an insectoid alien species, which are called Buggers by most of the people, the government proactively recruits and trains children in an orbiting Battle School. The children are trained to fight against each other in strategic battles, where each battle group tries to score against other groups. Soon it becomes clear that, in spite of his youth, Ender is one outstanding strategic player that never looses a battle. It seems as if Ender could be a natural born player who could save the earth if the next wave of predominant alien Buggers appears to overrun mankind…

Book Review: Daniel Suarez, author of Daemon, Freedom and Kill Decision

Daniel Suarez became one of my favourite tech authors within the last years. Daniel Suarez, who was born on 21. Dezember 1964, is a US software developer, system consultant and primarily an amazingly cool science-fiction author. He started to write under an anonym Leinad Zeraus, before he wrote his three best selling thrillers Deamon in 2006, Freedom (TM) in 2010 and his newest title Kill Decision in 2012. You can find more about Daniel Suarez on his webpage.

Deamon 

Deamon, written by Daniel Suarez in 2006, is one of the best and most thrilling tech and science-fiction novels i have read within several years. The story begins with some misterious kills which are all somehow connected to the natural death of the great cyber game designer Matthew Sobol. Sobol, the genius owner and creator of one of the most successful, interconnected computer games, definitely had a plan for the world after he passes away. So it is detective Peter Sebeck who has to find all the parts of this genius puzzle to rescue the world from Matthew Sobol’s demonic plan.     

Freedom (TM)

Within the second part of his amazing debut title ‘Demon’, Daniel Suarez thrills his readers with continuing the story of an unstoppable computer virus that starts to blackmail banks and whole industries. This virus is the beginning of a public revolution against copyright industry, corrupt financial industries and even against police and governments. This story tells a tale about an artificial intelligence supported public revolution that frees our minds from trademarks, copyright and corrupt capitalism. All in all a really great finish for Daniel Suarez’s Deamon thriller.

Kill Decision

Kill Decision is Daniel Suarez recent book, which deals with drone war and swarm intelligence. It tells us a story on anonymous wars where swarms of machines pull the trigger against humans. Linda McKinney is a myrmecologist, a scientist who studies the social structure of ants. Her research results are stolen by an unknown force that tries to overrun the american homeland with a drone army. Together with Odin, a secretive Special Ops soldier who has detailed inside knowledge on this faceless enemy, McKinney has to arouse the world before it is too late to stop this machine intelligence.