Thursday, November 17, 2016

Paper bicycle helmet wins the James Dyson Award

A rain-resistant, folding, paper bicycle helmet has won the prestigious international James Dyson Award for clever inventions.

The EcoHelmet is made from recycled paper woven into a honeycomb structure that protects the wearer’s head from impact from any direction.
It is designed for those using bike-sharing schemes who may not always carry protective headwear.
World-famous inventor Dyson praised it as an “incredibly elegant” solution to an “obvious problem”.
The prize, which is open to university level students or recent graduates, was won by design grad Isis Shiffer, of the Pratt Institute of Design in New York, who bagged a cool £30,000 for claiming top spot.
It beat a wearable asthma management system and smart contact lenses that can measure glucose levels to the award.
Isis said: “I was lucky enough to be studying at Royal College of Art and the Imperial College of London for a semester, and was granted access to Imperial’s crash lab.
“They had a European standard helmet crash set-up that allowed me to gather enough data on EcoHelmet’s proprietary honeycomb configuration to know it was viable and worth developing.”

Friday, September 30, 2016


5 simple steps to follow

  1. Grab a Shoe boxOr a plastic container would be great! Wrap the box and lid separately with Christmas paper
  2. Print Label and choose who you want to give your Christmas Shoebox to and what age.
  3. Fill the boxGet as creative as you like and have some fun with this ! – You can use our 4 W’s as a rough guide
  4. Close the box
    • Include €4 in your leaflet envelope either on top of the gifts or taped to the inside of the lid.
    • To make it easier you can
      donate your €4 on our secure on-line site.
    • With elastic band – please don’t seal with tape as we need to check contents to comply with regulations.
  5. Drop it offTo your local drop off point closest to you
    before November 11th

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kansas family sues mapping company for years of 'digital hell' by Olivia Solon

Geolocation company’s glitch sent police and angry businesses to a remote Kansas farm looking for criminals, and now the residents want compensation.

IP mapping isn’t an exact science and so MaxMind assigns a default address when it can’t identify its true location. That address just happened to be the Arnolds’ property, a remote farm that is located slap-bang in the middle of America.

More than 600 million IP addresses are associated with their farm and more than 5,000 companies are drawing information from MaxMind’s database.

It wasn’t just police who turned up on the Arnolds’ doorstep. Angry business owners would turn up claiming someone at the residence was sending their business thousands of emails and clogging their computer systems. Other people became convinced that someone living at the residence was responsible for internet scams.

A Kansas family whose remote farm was visited “countless times” by police trying to find missing people, hackers, identity fraudsters and stolen cars because of a glitch is suing the digital mapping company responsible.

James and Theresa Arnold sued MaxMind on Friday, filing a complaint in the US district court in Kansas. MaxMind, based in Massachusetts, allows companies to find out the location of the computers used by individuals to access their websites.

According to the complaint, the husband and wife team dealt with five years of “digital hell” after moving into the property in Butler County, Kansas, in 2011.

The couple had been drawn to the farm because it was close to the nursing home where Theresa’s mother was being cared for and the school that their two sons attended. The landlord also allowed the sons to hunt and fish on the surrounding 620 acres of land.

The first week after they moved in, two deputies from the Butler County sheriff’s department came to their house looking for a stolen truck, something that would happen again and again over the subsequent years.

“The plaintiffs were repeatedly awakened from their sleep or disturbed from their daily activities by local, state or federal officials looking for a runaway child or a missing person, or evidence of a computer fraud, or call of an attempted suicide,” the complaint said. At one point, James Arnold was reported for holding girls at the residence for the purpose of making child abuse films.

For half a decade the family was mystified about why this was happening until April this year when Fusion’s Kashmir Hill revealed the truth.

It all came down to glitch in the MaxMind’s IP address mapping database.

IP, or Internet Protocol, addresses are unique identifiers associated with computers or networks of computers connected to the internet. Through its GeoIP product, MaxMind matches IP addresses with their assumed geographic location, and sells that information to companies so they can use it to, for example, show targeted advertising or send someone a cease and desist letter if they are illegally downloading films

IP mapping isn’t an exact science and so MaxMind assigns a default address when it can’t identify its true location. That address just happened to be the Arnolds’ property, a remote farm that is located slap-bang in the middle of America.

More than 600 million IP addresses are associated with their farm and more than 5,000 companies are drawing information from MaxMind’s database.

It wasn’t just police who turned up on the Arnolds’ doorstep. Angry business owners would turn up claiming someone at the residence was sending their business thousands of emails and clogging their computer systems. Other people became convinced that someone living at the residence was responsible for internet scams.

More here:

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Puzzle Book With Pages That Must Be Solved to Unlock the Next by​ James Gould-Bourn

Some books are hard to read, but few are as difficult as the Codex Silenda. Why? Because it actually won’t let you read it unless you’re smart enough to unlock it.

The laser-cut, hand-crafted, five-page wooden book is created by industrial designer Brady Whitney, who’s been raising funds for the project through Kickstarter. “Each page features a unique puzzle that requires the user/reader to unlock the corresponding bolts in order to progress to the next page,” read’s the website. “As the puzzler moves through the book, a story begins to unfold, depicting the story of an apprentice in Da Vinci’s Workshop who encounters the same Codex. However in the story the Codex acts as a trap set by Da Vinci to capture any would be spies/snoopy apprentices in order to protect his work. The only way to escape is to solve each of the puzzles before the master returns from his trip.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lin-Manuel Miranda: The Hamilton Mixtape

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot
In the Caribbean by Providence, impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?
The ten-dollar Founding Father without a father
Got a lot farther
By workin' a lot harder
By bein' a lot smarter
By bein' a self-starter
By fourteen they had placed him in charge of the trade and charter
And every day while slaves were being slaughtered
And carted away across the waves
Our Hamilton kept his guard up
Inside he was longing for something to be a part of
The brother was ready to beg steal borrow or barter
Then a hurricane came and
Devastation reigned and
Our man saw his future drip drippin' down the drain
Put a pencil to his temple
Connected it to his brain
And he wrote his first refrain
A testament to his pain
When the word got around, they said, "This kid is insane, man!"
Took up a collection just to send him to the mainland
Getcha education, don't forget from whence you came
And the world is gonna know your name!
What's your name, man?

Alexander Hamilton, his name is Alexander Hamilton
And there's a million things he hasn't done
But just you wait, just you wait

[Verse 2]
When he was 10, his father split
Full of it, debt-ridden
Two years later, see Alex and his mother, bed-ridden
Half-dead, sittin' in their own sick, the scent thick
And Alex got better but his mother went quick
Moved in with a cousin, the cousin committed suicide
Left him with nothin' but ruined pride
Somethin' new inside
A voice saying Alex, you gotta fend for yourself
He started retreatin' and readin' every treatise on the shelf
There would've been nothin' left to do
For someone less astute
He would've been dead or destitute
Without a cent of restitution
Started workin', clerkin' for his late mother's landlord
Tradin' sugar cane and rum and other things he can't afford
Scannin' for every book he can get his hands on
Plannin' for the future, see him now as he stands on
The bow of a ship headed for a new land
In New York you can be a new man
The ship is in the harbor now
See if you can spot him
Another immigrant comin' up from the bottom
His enemies destroyed his rep, America forgot him
And me? I'm the damn fool that shot him

Alexander Hamilton
We were waiting in the weeds for you
You could never back down
You always had to speak your mind
But Alexander Hamilton, we could never take your deeds from you
In our cowardice and our shame
We will try to destroy your name
The world will never be the same, Alexander!

Yeah, I'm the damn genius that shot him

Monday, November 16, 2015

The 3-Pipe Solution: The Underrated Creativity of Sherlock Holmes

Holmes is often portrayed as a mechanical logician, but his approach depends more on outside-the-box thinking that, according to modern research, really does help solve problems.

When most people think of Sherlock Holmes, they see a paragon of calculating logic: a chilly, computer-like machine with endless powers of reason. As the UK'sTelegraph put it, "If Holmes is not cold, inhumanly calculating ... he's just not Holmes"—echoing the words of such prior Holmesians as David Grann, who wrote in The Devil and Sherlock Holmes that "Holmes is a cold, calculating machine, a man who is, as one critic put it, 'a tracker, a hunter-down, a combination of bloodhound, pointer, and bull-dog." Even Holmes's creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, tried to dismiss him as "inhuman as a Babbage's calculating machine" when he tired of his creation, just a year before he tried to kill him off entirely in "The Final Problem." But in reality, that perception is far from the truth. In working on my new book Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, it occurred to me that what allows the detective to attain the heights of deduction that he does is the very thing a computer lacks entirely: the power of imagination.

Consider: When Sherlock Holmes is asked to investigate a mysterious death on the shores of a small village in Sussex, he realizes that the cold-blooded, vicious murderer—the victim has terrible weals all along his back, "as though he had been terribly flogged"—is not exactly of the human variety. While the police focus their efforts on Ian Murdoch, a competitor for the affections of the dead man's fiancée, Holmes follows instead a lead of a different sort: the dead man's last words, "lion's mane." Those words, in turn, lead him to the real killer, none other than a deadly jellyfish.

How does Holmes come upon his solution? He not only opens his mind to the possibility of the nonlinear and improbable, the very hallmarks of creativity, but he makes certain that he has that mind stocked with the most esoteric of knowledge. It's easy to remember Holmes's famous rant to Dr. Watson on the necessity of keeping a pristine mind attic (Holmes's metaphor for the human mind). Far harder is recalling the major asterisk that is attached to that warning: A mind attic is only as useful as its contents and how you use them. If you store only the essentials, and follow only the most obvious path, you can be a t-crossing, i-dotting Scotland Yard detective bar none, but aren't likely to advance much beyond that. Your mind will never be able to make those elusive connections that could lead you to identifying a fish as a killer if you don't have the requisite knowledge base to begin with—and if you aren't willing to risk the possibility of letting a killer go free while you take the time to figure things out.

We remember Holmes's organized logic. We forget that in his mind space, there dwell not only jellyfish with stings that kill, but polyphonic motets and obscure paintings, tomes on bee keeping and discussions of philosophy. Holmes knows that the earth goes round the sun, and then some. And he isn't afraid to employ that knowledge in a non-traditional way. How can he discover the real killer unless he is willing to consider a possibility so seemingly outlandish that it makes him look like a doddering old man? Over and over, his is not the approach of a ruthless logician, but rather one of someone who knows all too well the power of the creative mind.

Why, then, do we tend to forget this essential element of Holmes's approach? As it turns out, it's not at all uncommon to sweep aside the uncertainty of imaginative meandering in favor of the certainty of hard science. Nobel-winning physicist Richard Feynman often expressed surprise at just how often people did that very thing: forget how central creativity is to the scientific method. "It is surprising that people do not believe that there is imagination in science," he once told an audience, echoing the lament of fellow physicist Albert Einstein who, too, bemoaned our propensity to embrace logic at the expense of imagination and intuition—and did so as early as 1929. Now, there is evidence that this tendency to dismiss the imagination of the scientific approach goes much deeper than mere observation. In their frustration, Feynman and Einstein captured what appears to be a basic tendency of the human mind.

In 2011, a team of psychologists led by Jennifer Mueller decided to test a common paradox: Even though we say we value creativity, we often tend to reject creative ideas. The problem, they hypothesized, might lie in our inherent distrust of uncertainty. To test their assumption, they asked a group of participants to take part in a task known as the IAT, the implicit association test. Originally designed to test racial biases, the IAT has since been used to look at bias in any number of areas—age, sex, weight, and the like—by measuring the time it takes for someone to react to a given characteristic that's been paired with a label of either "good" or "bad" by pressing a previously designated key. If we're slower to respond when the trait of interest is paired with negative labels than when it's paired with positive ones, that discrepancy is taken as evidence of bias. In this particular instance, the target concept was creativity.

The researchers first assigned participants to either a certain or an uncertain condition. In the one, subjects had no opportunity to earn extra money, while in the other, they were told that they would potentially receive extra payment, as determined by a future lottery. Both groups then completed the IAT, where creativity-related words, like "novel" or "original," and practicality-related words, like "constructive" and "useful," were paired with positively and negatively valenced stimuli, like "rainbow" and "vomit," respectively. They were then asked to rate their explicit attitudes toward creativity.

What the psychologists discovered might seem counterintuitive, in the age of Apple and Steve Jobs's "Think Different" motto: When faced with uncertainty, we tend to be biased against creative thought. Despite their explicit assertions to the contrary, participants in the uncertain condition—the one in which they believed they had a chance to win money—repeatedly favored practicality over creativity.

Perhaps it's not so surprising, then, that we forget the very thing that makes Holmes, Holmes: his willingness to embrace that uncertain path. The view of Holmes-as-machine is both simpler and safer. It is a line of thinking more in tune with our implicit biases than its alternative—after all, isn't the world as uncertain a place as they come?

Creativity requires novelty. Imagination is all about counterfactuals and untested possibilities that don't yet exist. It is, in short, all about uncertainty. And uncertainty is as frightening as it is potentially embarrassing (there's never a guarantee of success, is there?). Why do you think Conan Doyle's inspectors are always so loath to depart from standard protocol, to do anything that might in the least endanger their investigation or delay it by even an instant? Holmes's imagination frightens them. They aren't willing to take a step back, pause in their headlong pursuit of the culprit, and see whether their path is in fact the best one to take.

But that shortsighted linearity need not be the status quo. After all, many a thinker realer than Holmes manages to overcome to overcome that fear of uncertainty and failure to come up with ideas of incredible daring and imaginative reach. So, how to master that unacknowledged predilection for the tried and true? The answer, once again, might come from Holmes's habits, specifically, from his practice of mindfulness.

When faced with a problem, Holmes often favors the three-pipe solution: Rather than spring into action, he sits with his pipe and allows his mind the time and space to process the case at hand. Such mindful concentration, new research shows, may lead to increased connectivity in the brain's default network, the connections that are active when our brain is in its so-called resting state, in between overt, directed activity. And that connectivity? It may, in turn, allow us to be more creative.

In a study published this fall in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of Oslo found that connectivity in the default network was related to the quality of past recollection and future speculation in a group of more than 100 children and adolescents: The greater the neural ties, the better the subjects performed on a standard cue-word task, where they had to either recall a past event or imagine a future scenario as prompted by neutral prompts like "forest" or "travel."

Could increased creativity, then, be a mere quiet pipe away? If we rush too quickly to be scientific, to begin our experiment or catch our criminal as soon as possible, we risk never getting to the answer at all. But if we not only remember just how central imagination is to the very scientific method, but then make a habit of quietly reflecting on whatever problem confronts us instead of jumping right in, we may find ourselves over time becoming more creative to begin with, strengthening those very neural connections that will in turn allow us to arrest that jellyfish—and avoid the very embarrassment that we thought we'd escape by sticking only to the path of the tried and true.