I think, considering the Cold War-like levels which the US-Russia relationship has reverted to, Putin won’t be delivering NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden on a silver platter anytime soon. Still, it’s just as well that he agreed to a sit-down with The Guardian now, just in case tensions escalate and he gets stuck behind the new wall of frost.
In the clip, the soft-spoken Snowden talks about how preposterous the claims that he’s a spy for the Russians really are and maintains that, even if he winds up in Guantánamo, he “can live with that.” He goes on to contend that privacy is not only possible in this day and age of the Internet, but it’s likely that tech can improve on our definition thereof. But it would take the Governments putting the kibosh on the pretense that the data we store online and the pen-to-paper data are intrinsically different.
As for the Cloud-backed Internet users among you, Snowden gives some sage advice, taking a swing at the mighty Dropbox for putting Condoleezza Rice, as hard an opposer to keeping users’ data private as you’re likely to find, on their board. If you’re looking for an alternative storage app to Dropbox, check out the entire 14-minute interview. See what you make of it and let us know in the comments section:
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard by now about Apple’s keynote that was delivered yesterday, alongside a whole roster of new products – most of which we’d been expecting. The most mind-blowing of the lot though, has to be the Apple Watch, which Apple’s Tim Cook put on full-screen display using the “One more thing…” cue (a turn of phrase that his predecessor, Steve Jobs, coined).
The Apple watch straddles a new frontier in wearable tech that everyone’s been itching to conquer. Apple got there yesterday, showcasing the sleek-looking gadget that will be come on the market early next year. Here are the features we can’t wait to get our mitts on, as introduced by the Apple CEO yesterday – although he did mention there wasn’t nearly enough time to cover them all! No worries though, the selection he made is impressive to say the least:
- Apple just put us on a health (i)Watch! But the gadget isn’t just a pulse, workout and fitness tracker…
- it’s basically a miniature computer, encased in sapphire glass and stainless steel…
- it’s gesture-activated, powering up when the wearer raises his/her wrist…
- it’s priced at $349 or upwards (for the high-end models)…
- it features a digital dial, or “crown,” which does all the heavy lifting: it allows the wearer to zoom into apps, or make adjustments on any digital wheel, and it doubles as the home button…
- it’s equipped with a Taptic engine which allows the wearer alone to feel the notifications pushed onto the watch, as vibrations on his/her wrist…
- it comes in various shapes and sizes, with different looks spanning three unique collections…
- it pulls all kind of data out of Apple’s basic utility apps (weather, maps, stocks, global time, calendar etc.) and even comes with a voice-activated search engine…
- the Maps app features a different vibration for each direction you might need to turn into
- it facilitates communication with friends, tap-coding messages and even allowing the wearer to send out finger drawings…
- it allows the wearer to buy on-the-go, via the new Apple Pay system, with just a tap…
- it integrates with all sorts of apps, from Twitter to Nike, all of which look better than ever even on such a tiny display…
- “And it is so much more… the list of features is a mile long!” (Tim Cook)
And, just to get into the right frame of mind about this historic event, get properly pumped up by this six-minute replay edited by The Verge from the full presentation – that’s now available for download as a podcast on iTunes (here).
Carl Sagan once noted, quite sententiously: “The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.” Still, nothing will deter human kind from finding Blue Dot copies among the stars and proving him wrong. Some are convinced Earth will become uninhabitable, through climate change, or some apocalyptic disaster etc., sooner rather than later. Others just like to dream big and indulge in humans’ natural, if often destructive, imperialistic tendencies.
On that note… introducing the QUEEN B!
The artist who worked on these sketches couldn’t be pegged as a budding colonizer – like most artists, Noah Hershberger puts his mind and his imagination to work on larger-than-life concepts merely for the thrill of the adventure. This time the stakes were even higher: he concocted a would-be Mars dwelling for humans at the behest of NASA – their Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Makerbot thought to open the hunt for most feasible Mars architecture to everyone, via a competition. Hershberger’s winning specs feature a beehive-like structure which would filter out Martian air and radiation, while keeping the inside quarters lung-friendly. Dust storms and low temps would also be no match for Hershberger’s nifty hive, which would be weatherized with hot water tanks tucked under the floors!
It would ideally be 3D-printed out of dust found on the Red Planet itself, rather than traditionally built, but as for everything else, he’ll be letting the worker-bee engineers sweat the how-to’s. What do you make of this ingenious model: sci-fi hokey-pokey or a valid answer to the questions of the future? Check out more photos of the “indoors” blueprints on the Queen B’s Thingiverse page and leave your thoughts below!
When all the diplomatic cards have been played, all the threats have been made and all the sanctions enforced – maybe, at the end of the day, it’s the all-mighty power of money that will sway Vladimir Putin. The Virgin Group founder is staking his cred and his entire business network on that assumption, as he wades into the Cold War-like tensions between Western leaders and Putin’s Russia. The intervention staged by Richard Branson comes in the form of an open letter, which he got major business leaders from both sides of the current Ukrainian drama to sign – most notably, five of the top-ranking businessmen in Russia!
The signatories include high-profile names from the West (the chief executive of Unilever, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, former eBay president Jeff Skoll among them), but also the “self-made” heads of Russian businesses that stand to lose their a villa or two, should their president stay the warmongering course. The cooler heads at the helms of mobile phone retailer Svyaznoy, retailer Foodline Group, the Rolf Group, as well as business lobbyist Igor Yurgens and serial restaurateur Arkady Novikov, have all answered Branson’s clarion call. The letter they signed aims to make the Russian president see the error of his ways and get him to the negotiating table.
But can this really make a dent in Putin’s stance toward the Ukraine? It’s unlikely that he’ll turn around and defuse tensions with a snap of his finger, but I guess it can’t hurt to have him backed into a wall by his own people – the rich oligarchs, that is, whose woes might actually count for something in his eyes. Or this stunt of Branson’s – a decidedly Western approach – might just fuel Putin’s land-grabbing fire even more. Either way, it’s great to see the business world waking up to the fact that war doesn’t pay.
This has got to be a sign that we’re edging ever closer to the pinnacle of robot evolution – introducing JIBO:
Having already reached and surpassed its $100,000 goal tenfold and then some on KickStarter, this cute white family robot designed by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. To get the obvious questions out of the way, JIBO is a “he.” He’s programmed to be a communicator (he has the smoothest voice!), an emotional presence around the house, an autonomous camera-operator, a nanny for your kids, a conveyor belt for texts, voice call messages and everything in between and so much more. The pint-size robot (11-inch tall and as light as a laptop) is also connected to the cloud, so no data will ever be lost.
This is, in effect, the next major leap towards that new lifestyle the tech world’s raving about: the Internet of Things. So hurry up if you want this little guy in your home: with just a couple of weeks left of the crowdfunding campaign, time is running out fast on your getting your mitts on the JIBO Home Edition at a veritable bargain! And another thing – don’t you find JIBO vaguely familiar? (Hint: That’s Eve from Wall-E on his right, there! A match made… right here on Earth.)
The upscale (to say the least) residence sitting atop a 560ft double skyscraper, the second tallest building along the Mediterranean coast, will let its owner look down on the world in style. It’s been dubbed the world’s priciest penthouse and, looking at the facilities alone, you get why someone would shell out a fortune (it’s expected to go for upwards of €300m) to get their hands on it. Wouldn’t you?
To watch this bee-stung babe traipse around the tower, looking for her date who, wouldn’t you know it, she finds grabbing a massage… you’d be tempted to fly over there in a jiffy and take a gander at the amenities offered by the luxury dwelling. Or you could just settle into your chair and drool over the specs and photos below:
The foremost eye-catching feature of this sprawling, four-story penthouse is its private infinity pool that overlooks the sea. It even comes with a waterslide that connects the top floor to the pool, located several floors down – the best bit of a waterpark, right at your fingertips! Designed by Albert Pinto, the peerless penthouse also has the foodies covered, with a kitchen on each floor, and features five bedrooms, a dining room and a living room – all affording awe-inspiring vistas in every direction.
And, if you’re wondering what prompted the high-rise being built in the first place, it’s all about the money – unsurprisingly enough. Monaco has long been granting shelter from taxes to the super-rich, but given the latest globalization trends, it’s quickly becoming the only option for billionaires who want to flaunt their stuff without anyone looking under the hood. Switzerland, the other go-to safe haven in Europe, has recently been pushed into releasing its citizens’ banking behaviors to tax authorities elsewhere, which made its jet sets jittery enough to jump ship into Monaco.
So you’ve got one year left to grow your fortune: come September 2015, when the works on the Tour Odeon are scheduled to wrap up, this jaw-dropping piece of real estate will be commanding its price, and taking a lot of hearts prisoner, I bet!
Leave it to an inventor-artist to start our day off on cloud nine! David Bowen is the brains behind kinetic devices that bring the outdoors in: by tapping into the power of water, wind and, now, clouds, the innovator manages to scale nature down, translate it into movements that our minds can grasp, and fit it all under our roofs. Look at his latest contraption, for instance:
The whole rig might look complicated, because it probably is, but the gist of it comprises a video camera pointed at the clouds and connected to a robotic mechanism that mimics their shapes, billows and sways. By taking a regular run-of-the-mill grand piano and mounting this one-of-a-kind thingamajig (yes, we’re going with that) inside, Bowen basically brings the clouds down to earth. Or takes us up to the heavens – however you want to look at it.
If you find yourself in France this autumn, you should check out the artist’s latest work at L’assaut de la Menuiserie, where he’ll be putting on a solo exhibition. Until then – if you’ve finished picking up your jaw from the floor! – take a look at some of Bowen’s other, equally amazing installations:
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