Print Anything

3D Printed Cells Bowl - Math Art by @Dizingof

3D Printed Cells Bowl – Math Art by @Dizingof (Photo credit: Dizingof)

And I mean anything.  Trust me.

Whatever new technology comes along someone will use it, or combine it with something else, to create something unique.  And this is true of 3D Printing.  The technology has been around for a while, used by designers and engineers to create prototypes and demonstrations for shows, and has now matured to the point where desktop and portable devices are soon to be available although some, like the Kickstarter-funded Formlab Form1 have come up against patent issues that are ongoing.

The idea, of slowly producing three-dimensional solid objects layer by layer by laying down material one layer on the next or selectively laser-fusing or curing liquids to form the layers, at the moment produces solid parts that can be assembled like an Airfix model kit but there has also been an intriguing chocolate 3D printer which could prove popular too. Already there are online archives of things to download and print from models of the Eiffel Tower to AK-47s – as I said, someone will always find a use for such tech.

The hope is that in future the technology could combine multiple materials in a single object, extending the technique beyond plastics and further improving the detail achievable although at the moment the printers can create tiny details, and even using the materials to replace structures like steel beams.  One amazing use is a device called a 3D Bio-Printer that can print out a hybrid natural-synthetic cartilage which once implanted acts as a support for natural tissue to regrow.

Which medical miracles brings us to two Japanese uses for the technology:  firstly a 3D photobooth that can scan your body and create a plastic mini-me, perfect for those who are so into model railways they want to be in their model railways, and secondly Fortean Times this month (FT297 pp10) reports on a clinic in Tokyo that uses a “Bio Texture” process and MRI scans to give parents-to-be a chance to see and hold their baby months before birth.  The “Shape of an Angel” service is £800 plus the cost of the MRI scan.  Imagine the scene, a family get-together, the baby photos are brought up on the wall projection to embarrass the teenager as parents sometimes do…   “This is you when you were five… ah, when you were two… look, you were only a few hours old there…  go get the box…  this was you when you were minus three months”.

Apps The World Needs

2Lens toy camera

2Lens toy camera (Photo credit: slimmer_jimmer)

Forget universal translators and apps that make it look like your phone is a cheap toy camera from 1973 while allowing you to say “look how cool I am, I’m a real photographer because my pictures look so authentic”, the world needs apps for people (like me) who can’t remember other people’s names, those who can’t motivate themselves to use the gym membership they bought and the many who really need to prove that the person they’re listening to is very, very wrong.

Gizmodo has made the call, now we need brave developers to step up, any takers?

[Gizmodo UK]

Normal Service Will Resume Shortly

Information overload

Information overload (Photo credit: Martino!)

This blog is just over a month old and it’s not been the best month to start something this time-consuming.  I have also found though that although I have plenty of ideas for articles most of them require a bit of research and source material and this is where I found a problem.

I have thousands of bookmarks in Firefox and lists of information in various places but no cohesive structure to tie it all together so at the moment I’m doing my best headless chicken impression to copy all these various sources of information into one place and this is where modern technology comes into its own again.

I realised a few weeks ago that an elephant could help me.

Before you ask what I’ve been smoking this elephant is the logo of Evernote whose collection of apps for just about any platform and even a webapp that I can access from work or any other computer is making this task of organising my virtual box of scraps of paper manageable.

I have notebooks containing whole articles or collections of notes or links to webpages that will become articles while other notebooks contain information on wider subjects that will be useful for many articles or books.  All these notebooks can be grouped together to organise things further and pages in one notebook can be linked on other pages so you can create webs of information in one place, ready to be pulled together, mixed vigorously and foisted onto the web, baked to perfection like a chocolate gateaux.

Combined with resources such as search engines and online encyclopaedias this ability to connect, sort and utilise the huge amount of information at our fingertips is one of the true 21st Century wonders.

NFC: No thankyou

Using a TaiwanMoney ticket checker smartcard r...

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

If I’d told the banks, when I first saw their ads for contactless cards last year, that not having any authentication whatsoever (like a PIN) was a bad idea then I’d be saying “told you so” now.

Initially I thought that the ad with the chap on a waterslide waving his card at the till was a bit of artistic license but no, you don’t have to type a number or anything, which made me think if I only have to swipe past the reader what’s to stop someone swiping a reader past my card?

And of course that has now been found to be possible, especially since the advent of NFC equiped mobiles that unscrupulous types can simply load an app onto.  As an aside this also provides more evidence for Apple’s defence of its walled garden approach to app purchasing as such apps could only be loaded onto so-called jailbroken phones (either Apple or Android).

Either way it’s an issue that many besides myself saw coming and it’s surprising that the card companies didn’t even seem to consider it to be a problem and still don’t, stating that the information retrieved can’t be used (at least online or in a customer-not-present transaction) without the CV2 code, this doesn’t answer the question of whether this information can be put on a blank card and usedthat way, as a contactless card.

There are, however, patents in process for systems that prevent this kind of theft, like one that is simply a touch switch that only enables the NFC chip when you have the card in your hand which is a much better solution than the only current protection which is to slip your card into a shielded sheath.

Remember to practice safe card use people.