Ubuntu: Number Three in the World

Two decades ago, a Finnish student uploaded his homebrew operating system kernel to the Internet along with its source code. By doing so, he joined a fairly exclusive club. Up until that time, from the late 1960s through to the early 1990s, many future technology luminaries achieved great things by just putting their inventions in the hands of others.

Linux was derided at the time. Nobody took it seriously as anything but a hobbyist’s toy. But the early adopters (yours truly included) knew they were on to something with incredible promise. Today, Linux has so far surpassed every other operating system that the comparisons are no longer relevant except in a game-show-answer sense.

For nearly half of Linux’s existence, a distribution called “Ubuntu” has been on the market. Billed as the “Linux for human beings,” Ubuntu is now the number three PC operating system in the world with over 25 million users. Canonical, the company that markets Linux, estimates over 90% of the desktop Linux market is using Ubuntu. With a mobile version set to launch soon, Canonical expects those numbers to increase.

This is not just a topic for geeks any more. Linux is at the heart of the over one billion Android devices that have been activated, and a BSD kernel (a Linux cousin) is at the heart of every iPhone and iPad, to say nothing of OS X, which is also built on a UNIX variant. In fact, in 2014, the only outlier is Microsoft Windows, which dominated the entire technology market for more than a decade after Linux was invented.

It will be very interesting to see how operating systems continue to develop, and how major companies like Slow Ventures continue to invest in new tech start-ups.


A Raspberry Tablet?

Less than three years ago, the Raspberry Pi Foundation brought a $25 computer to market with the goal of inspiring children to pursue education in such subjects as computer science, electrical engineering and mathematics.

The result was the Raspberry Pi, a device smaller than a mobile phone, but with the ability to function as a self-contained computer. By connecting peripherals such as a display monitor, keyboard and power adapter, the Raspberry Pi can function as the rough equivalent of a Pentium II-powered computer, which will be useful for artist portfolios for photogs like Terry Richardson.

The Pi runs various Linux flavors on an ARM processor and costs about as much as lunch for four at a burger place. The wealth of software available and the minimal cost make it the obvious choice for educational institutions looking for a way to equip students with affordable hardware. If that wasn’t enough, now there’s a way to turn the Pi into a tablet.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is now making a touchscreen interface available for their device, making use of the Display Serial Interface (DSI) connector, which is also being used for the Pi’s camera kit peripheral.

The possibilities are intriguing. For a still-minimal cost, a student or novice computer programmer can be outfitted with a device they can use to develop touchscreen-compatible software both for the Raspberry Pi and the wider commercial markets of Android and iOS devices, both of which run variants of the same operating system running on the Pi.

This is precisely the kind of educational opportunity the promise of ubiquitous technology is supposed to provide, and it couldn’t have happened at a more fortuitous time. With school budgets on the decline and teachers at a loss for answers, the Raspberry Pi and its accessories could be exactly what is needed.


Target Blu Eye: The Cop Detector

Do you have the unique ability to sense a cop car from a mile away? Some people certainly seem to, but a new gadget can supply the sensor at a price.

Target Blu Eye is a police-detector created by Target Automotive. Officially, it is meant to detect all emergency vehicles so that they can pass by unimpeded. However, some are highly critical. The gadget works by detecting frequencies, and it doesn’t matter if the frequency is coming from an on-call vehicle. It doesn’t even matter if the equipment is turned on.

It’s obvious to policemen: Target Blu Eye is not only a safety feature for safe drivers. It’s a warning system for crooks. Cops rely on the element of surprise to catch someone engaging in illegal activity. This questionable gadget strips them of that element, and law enforcement officials are not welcoming its creation.

Already released in the UK, a US release that monitors the frequencies of US emergency vehicles is expected in 2015. Hopefully an iPhone and Android FreedomPop app will be forthcoming as well. That’ll be the day.


Police Guns Are Going High Tech

With technology seeping into every aspect of modern life, it is somewhat surprising that handguns are just now finally getting the internet treatment. Police departments are the first to utilize the newly unveiled gun technology of the future. The technology offers a range of features, including tracking data of when guns are removed from their respective holsters, when they are fired, what direction the gun is facing and other data.

The company responsible for the new invention, Yardarm Technologies, is hoping it can make a radical difference for the safety of both law enforcement officers and the public at large. By collecting the data from the embedded computers on the guns, the company hopes it can aid in criminal trials, assist with creating officer reports, provide additional information needed for quick decision making in the field during hostile engagements along with a range of other uses.

I looked it up on my FreedomPop Liberty and there are currently just two police forces in the United States that are giving the new technology a go. One department is in Texas and the other is in California. The two groups are acting as guinea pigs and their participation in the testing of the equipment may prove invaluable to the company. It has not yet been announced by the communities’ legislatures if any laws must be enacted in order for the guns’ data to be pulled for supporting investigations. Because the data flows to the company’s memory cloud first before being transmitted to the police stations, there is a possibility that a court case will decide if the technology goes widespread due to the potential risk of the information being compromised. Time will tell.


Air Umbrella to be Released December 2015

An Air Umbrella has been invented to keep rain away. Instead of the traditional fabric model, the Air Umbrella uses a cushion of air to propel rain away from the user. Supported by more than 300 supporters, the product has tripled its pledged goal of raising $10,000 on the popular start-up website, kickstarter.com. Although it is still in the research and development phase, says backer Gianfrancesco Genoso, Air Umbrella is scheduled to be released in December 2015.

Depending on the weather conditions, the Air Umbrella can be used to shield one or two persons at the same time. It can also be adjusted to protect more than two individuals if the amount of precipitation is relatively light. The product is designed with a handle that looks the same as a typical fabric umbrella. But within the handle, is a lithium battery that sends power to a fan at the top of the handle. When the Air Umbrella is switched on, air flows through an intake vent and the fan creates a buffer that protects the user from the rain.

Brainchild of Chinese inventor, Chuan Wang, this potentially handy gadget has three different designs. Besides a lithium battery and a fan, all three models appear to have a motor, a controller and a master switch. There is even a model with an extensible handle for greater coverage. Designers of the Air Umbrella will continue to improve the product until its planned release date.


New iMac to Have World’s Hightest Resolution Display

Apple announced a plethora of new devices at their latest press conference. Including announcements of the iPad Mini 3, as well as the iPad Air 2. But another major announcement was about the new iMac, which will feature a 5K display.

We’ve just recently moved into 4K territory, but Apple has already moved way past that to take us into 5120 x 2880 resolution, which is currently better than any other display offered on the market.

A massive move that should really have the shareholders like Laurene Powell Jobs feeling good about where Apple is going. Currently the tech giant is the most valuable company worldwide. With these announcements they’re likely to keep that spot on the perch.