A low power mode in the battery setting. You are reminded of the mode if your battery falls to under 20% of charge, but you can use it at any time to conserve battery. It does a good job of globally reducing power consumption while still allowing the phone to operate.
Lately, however, scientists have been coming up with methods that are much more sophisticated without being too expensive. In July, developmental biologists Richard Mann and César Mendes at Columbia University in New York City and their colleagues published a paper on MouseWalker: a system they have built to automatically analyse changes in a mouse's gait (C. S. Mendes et al. BMC Biol. 13, 50; 2015). It involves an inexpensive set-up in which a mouse walks on a transparent surface over a high-speed camera that records the animal's footfalls. An analytical technology called machine vision allows the MouseWalker software to discern details such as the position of each step relative to the mouse's body.
Mendes says that this information can be used to detect when something goes wrong with gait, as can happen with the onset of neurological illnesses such as Parkinson's disease. MouseWalker was adapted from FlyWalker, a system that Mendes and his team helped to develop to let neuroscientists track how fruit flies walk after their neurons have been manipulated. Both MouseWalker and FlyWalker are open source: the authors hope that making the software available for free will help to attract users who can add parameters that they had not thought of.
The piece stresses researchers need to understand how their tools work and not fall for trusting black boxes. Too bad this attitude is rare elsewhere.
Not directly related, but interesting is motion dazzle in the animal world. A paper with links to others. One wonders if there is a place for it in sport?
It is very difficult to perform live testing in the domain of mission control systems. No-one wants to take any risk with an existing, valuable satellite, so it is very difficult to test new procedures, techniques or systems in orbit. The OPS-SAT solution is to design a low-cost satellite that is rock-solid safe and robust even if there are any malfunctions due to testing.
The robustness of the basic satellite itself will give ESA flight control teams the confidence they need to upload and try out new, innovative control software submitted by experimenters; the satellite can always be recovered if something goes wrong.
Achieving this level of performance and safety at a low cost is a challenge. To do this, OPS-SAT combines off-the-shelf subsystems as typically used with cubesats, the latest terrestrial microelectronics for the on-board computer and the experience ESA has gained in operating satellites for the last 40 years in keeping missions safe.
The result is an open, flying 'laboratory' that will be available for in-orbit demonstration of revolutionary new control systems and software that would be too risky to trial on a 'real' satellite. By the end of 2013, over 100 companies and institutions from 17 European countries have registered experimental proposals to fly on OPS-SAT. The design and definition phase of the mission is in progress and due to be completed in early 2014. The implementation phase is foreseen to start shortly afterwards, with a launch in 2016.
CryptoWall 2.0 is the latest immunoresistant strain of a larger body of viruses known as ransomware. The virus is thought to infiltrate your computer when you click on a legitimate-looking attachment or through existing malware lurking on your hard drive, and once unleashed it instantly encrypts all your files, barring access to a single photo or tax receipt.
Everyone has the same questions when they first hear about CryptoWall:
Is there any other way to get rid of it besides paying the ransom? No — it appears to be technologically impossible for anyone to decrypt your files once CryptoWall 2.0 has locked them. (My mother had several I.T. professionals try.)
The Chemical Heritage Fondation has a virtual chemistry set for kids - free and much more capable than current "safe" physical chemistry sets, but virtual probably doesn't excite or inspire the few who get hooked. Probably worth playing with and some kids may have fun.
Preview is Apple's OS X basic image rendering program. Other than being able to resize, reorient and export to other formats it doesn't do much - at least I thought. It turns out it has a variation of MacPaint built-in so you can easily annotate images without having to go to something more serious. Limited, but sometimes a very simple tool is all you need.
A wonderful little video showing the a collaboration of the arts and tech. No computer animation is used - just drones building on the expertise in distributed autonomous drones from ETH Zurich, choreography from Cirque du Soleil, and Verity Studios.