Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Punch up your iOS 7 app's wow factor by using UIKit Dynamics

Your can improve the user experience of your iOS 7 apps by incorporating UIKit Dynamics features into your development work. Marcio Valenzuela warns: just don't overdo it

UIKit Dynamics adds a new level of features to the overall user experience (UX) of iOS 7 apps. The API is, however, something to be used sparingly and only when needed; otherwise, you might get user complaints about the bounciness of a table view or the Lock Screen camera button, for example.
It's simple to incorporate UIKit Dynamics into your iOS 7 app. Plus, the end result has a really big wow factor that is certain to impress your users. Let's take a quick conceptual drive around UIKit Dynamics.
First, we adopt the protocol into the ViewController, which will implement UIKit Dynamics. Why? Because the objects that will be animated in the end will have to send back a lot of signals like "Hey, I collided with a boundary" or "Hey, I just hit somebody else and I was going this fast, in this direction." In order to receive these messages, we use a delegate and its callbacks.

@interface … <UICollisionBehaviorDelegate>
We need to create the view to animate and the property to reference a UIDynamicAnimator, which is the object in charge of handling animations in UIKit Dynamics.

@property (nonatomic, weak) IBOutlet UIView *square1;
@property (nonatomic) UIDynamicAnimator* animator;
Basically, we would prep all we need in viewDidLoad, such as instantiating an animator to call the shots inside a particular reference view. Then, we create a behavior or set of behaviors we wish to assign to our animatable view. We define boundaries so we can keep our objects inside a view. Finally, we add the behaviors to the animator and set the viewcontroller as the delegate as well as set that animator object to our property in order to hold a reference to it.
Now we sit back and get messages from the animator and the animated view via the callbacks.

- (void)viewDidLoad
[super viewDidLoad];
IDynamicAnimator* animator = [[UIDynamicAnimator alloc] initWithReferenceView:self.view];
UIGravityBehavior* gravityBeahvior = [[UIGravityBehavior alloc] initWithItems:@[self.square1]];
UICollisionBehavior* collisionBehavior = [[UICollisionBehavior alloc] initWithItems:@[self.square1]];
collisionBehavior.translatesReferenceBoundsIntoBoundary = YES;
or:collisionBehavior]; collisionBehavio
[animator addBehavior:gravityBeahvior]; [animator addBehav ir.collisionDelegate = self; self.animator = animator; }
tForItem:(id<UIDynamicItem>)item withBoundaryIdentifier:(id<NSCopying>)identifier atPoint:(CGPoint)p { // Lighten the background color when the view is in contact w
-(void)collisionBehavior:(UICollisionBehavior *)behavior beganConta cith a boundary. [(UIView*)item setBackgroundColor:[UIColor lightGrayColor]]; } -(void)collisionBehavior:(UICollisionBehavior *)behavior endedContactForItem:(id<UIDynamicItem>)item withBoundaryIdentifier:(id<NSCopying>)identifier
{ // Restore the default color when ending a contcact. [(UIView*)item setBackgroundColor:[UIColor grayColor]];

A simple example

Let's say we are building a restaurant rating app. It's a single view app with a plain vanilla UIViewController that has these properties connected to those outlets:

@property (nonatomic, strong) IBOutlet UILabel *restaurantName;
@property (nonatomic, strong) IBOutlet UILabel *restaurantAddress;
tomic, strong) IBOutlet UIImageView *stars1; @property (non
@property (non aatomic, strong) IBOutlet UIImageView *stars2;
iew *stars3; @property (nonatomic, strong) IBOutlet UIImage
@property (nonatomic, strong) IBOutlet UIImage VView *stars4;
tomic, strong) IBOutlet UIImageView *stars5;
@property (non a
Create the animator that will handle the animation inside our viewDidLoad:

// Create animator
UIDynamicAnimator* animator = [[UIDynamicAnimator alloc] initWithReferenceView:self.view];
Add the views we want to animate to the behaviors we want to implement:

//Create behaviors
UIGravityBehavior* gravityBeahvior = [[UIGravityBehavior alloc] initWithItems:@[self.stars1,self.stars2, self.stars3, self.stars4,self.stars5]];
UICollisionBehavior* collisionBehavior = [[UICollisionBehavior alloc] initWithItems:@[self.stars1,self.stars2, self.stars3, self.stars4,self.stars5]];
IDynamicItemBehavior* propertiesBehavior = [[UIDynamicItemBehavior alloc] initWithItems:@[self.stars1,self.stars2, self.stars3, self.stars4,self.stars5]]; prop
UertiesBehavior.elasticity = 5;
The last behavior is actually created to modify certain physical properties of an object, in this case elasticity. There are other properties we can modify in this manner.
We can also add specific boundaries, but in many cases we will want to simply use the view's edges as the natural boundaries, so we use this line:

collisionBehavior.translatesReferenceBoundsIntoBoundary = YES;
Add the behaviors to the animator, set the delegate to self, and reference our animator through its property:

[animator addBehavior:gravityBeahvior];
[animator addBehavior:collisionBehavior];
ollisionBehavior.collisionDelegate = self;
self.animator = animator;
Finally, add the following delegate callbacks to decide what gets done when a collision occurs:

-(void)collisionBehavior:(UICollisionBehavior *)behavior beganContactForItem:(id<UIDynamicItem>)item withBoundaryIdentifier:(id<NSCopying>)identifier atPoint:(CGPoint)p
{ // Lighten the background color when the view is in contact with a boundary. [(UIView*)item setBackgroundColor:[UIColor lightGrayColor]]; }
// Restore the default color when ending a contcact. [(UIView*)item setBackgroundColor:[UIColor grayColor]]; }
-(void)collisionBehavior:(UICollisionBehavior *)behavior endedContactForItem:(id<UIDynamicItem>)item withBoundaryIdentifier:(id<NSCopying>)identifier
That's it! There are lots of neat effects you can use, but don't overdo it, or your users might complain that you gave them vertigo.

Beware the perils of dealing with a 'nested cloud' solution

Mary Shacklett explores the risks of using a cloud provider that relies on a third-party cloud service. 

Cloud will continue its expansion as an IT solution, propagating an ecosystem that could turn into a "cloud upon cloud" architecture. I call this "nested cloud," because every time you peel away one layer of cloud, you're likely to find another cloud layer nested under it.
The best way to illustrate this is with an example of a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider that delivers a specific business solution for a targeted industry vertical.
Let's say a SaaS provider sells an up-to-date customs system that knows the latest trading regulations for more than 100 countries. The niche expertise of a SaaS solution in customs can save a global trading company thousands of hours each year that their internal staff would normally have to spend researching and applying all of these constantly changing customs rules. If the monthly subscription to the cloud is attractive, and it's easy to onboard with the solution, there's almost nothing more to think about—unless you're in IT or risk management and must ask yourself: How many clouds really are there behind this solution?
Cloud has been a fertile area for many new IT startups, and in some cases, even for spinoffs of established businesses. Why? Because you can start a cloud business at a fraction of the cost that you would incur if you had to build or lease a data center and then stock it with all of the IT equipment you would need to run your operation.
Unsurprisingly, 52 percent of all cloud startups said they would not have been able to afford on-premises IT resources at the time they wanted to launch, according to a Rackspace survey."First and foremost, startups that offer software or online services have to prove their business model works in the cloud before they are likely to get any venture capital funding these days," said James Staten, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. "That means their business starts in the cloud." 
But many of these cloud infrastructure providers don't offer service level agreements (SLAs) with any teeth in them, and their SaaS customers, which pale in size to them, have little leverage.
Moz is an example of a SaaS company that decided to move off a third-party cloud for its cloud services and to instead offer the services through its own internal data center. "We create a lot of our own data at Moz, and it takes a lot of computing power," wrote Moz CEO Sarah Bird on the company blog. "Over the years, we've spent many small fortunes at Amazon Web Services. It was killing our margins and adding to product instability. Adding insult to injury, we've found the service… lacking….For our longer stateful processing or apps that need to be available 24/7 with no variability in load we have purchased our own hardware ….We must have staff to manage 1000s of servers at AWS or at our own data centers. The biggest factor was paying for compute on boxes that crashed and yielded nothing we could use to move our business forward."
Enterprises contracting with Moz and other SaaS vendors that run their own cloud data centers have the peace of mind that, when they enter into a contract and agree to SLAs with these vendors, they're really getting "all in one" accountability for reliable services from a single cloud vendor.
In a "nested cloud" solution where you have your SaaS vendor offering one level of cloud and then piggy-backing it onto an outsourced cloud data center that it contracts for with a third-party cloud infrastructure provider, cloud accountability gets nebulous. Who is accountable, for example, when the infrastructure cloud goes down, since it is with the SaaS provider and not with the infrastructure cloud provider that the enterprise has a contract? And if it is the SaaS provider's operation that generates the outage, how do you really know?
These are the perils of dealing with a "nested cloud" solution, which may motivate some SaaS providers that are now relying on third-party cloud service infrastructure for their cloud services to think again—before their clients do.

Weigh security risk vs. productivity gain when using the FileThis billing service

FileThis is a cloud billing service that fills a hole in productivity, but it may also introduce a potential security vulnerability. 


 Image: iStock/maxkabakov

FileThis, a cloud service that grabs and organizes account statements from hundreds of vendors, exited beta in February 2014 after two years in development. The service fills a hole in personal data mining; there is no standard file format for billing data, and the labor of logging in to each individual account to download monthly statements can be daunting for people who maintain open accounts with a variety of companies.

What is FileThis?

Once a week (or more frequently, depending on your individual plan), FileThis will automatically log in to the website of a company you specify, download the statements from that company, convert the statements to PDF (if they aren't already in that format), and store them on third-party cloud vendors such as Evernote, Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive, among others, in a neatly and consistently tagged and categorized manner. Alternatively, you can opt to keep the files on the FileThis Cloud, which is leased space from Rackspace or AWS, according to the company. (Learn more about the risks of signing up with a cloud provider that doesn't have its own data center.)
FileThis offers this service for hundreds of companies across a variety of industries, including telecoms (AT&T, Verizon), insurance (Anthem, GEICO, UnitedHealthCare, etc.), general retail (Amazon, Target, etc.), clothiers (American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, etc.), utilities (conEdison, Duke Energy, etc.), credit cards (American Express, Discover, etc.), investment banks (Fidelity Investments, E*TRADE, PNC, etc.), other houses of high finance (Ally Bank, Wells Fargo, etc.) and miscellaneous companies such as the home security firm ADT and trash removal firm Waste Management.
For most users, this is likely adequate. Retail, insurance, and telecoms operate (for the most part) nationally, and FileThis has an appropriate depth in support for regional services, such as Central Maine Power, NVEnergy, and PSE&G, among others. Users of FileThis not living on the coast likely will not find their electricity provider on the service. For example, Westar Energy, the largest electric provider in Kansas, is not supported by FileThis at present.

A minor complaint about UI best practices

The entire user interface (UI) of FileThis after login is presented in Adobe Flash. This somewhat baffling decision impedes usability, particularly on mobile, as support for Flash on mobile is low, at best, on modern devices. The amount of actual interaction with FileThis can be minimized—it runs automatically and can offload data to other cloud services—and iOS users can use an official app instead of the website.
Independent of the difficulty of using this on mobile, the prospect of having an entire website presented in Adobe Flash harkens back to darker days of the web, with cumbersome, awkward designs that lack basic features found in standard web pages, such as tab navigation.
In addition, Flash-dependent websites quite likely run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA), which may be a potential concern for FileThis, as California courts have historically been very permissive on the type of suits that can be filed for ADA noncompliance. 

Security concerns about the keys to your kingdom

The method through which FileThis obtains this account statement information might raise eyebrows. In order for FileThis to collect your information, you must provide them with your username and password information for every account you wish to track with the service. This should give pause to anyone considering using the service, as the potential damage that could result from a security breach would be massive, particularly when multiple financial accounts are involved.
To its credit, FileThis purports to use AES-256 encryption. In addition, the account credentials entered into the service cannot be viewed after entry; that is, exposing your FileThis credentials doesn't automatically give away your credentials to other services, unless the username and password between two websites (DirecTV and FileThis, for example) are the same. The centralization of account information for the entire digital lives of thousands of users must be a tantalizing target for would-be hackers.
This potential vulnerability highlights a need for a formally defined XML-based file format for billing records, which can be retrieved through a read-only API, to be adopted across industries for record consolidation.

Speak out

What is your opinion of the service FileThis provides? Is it worth the potential security risk, or is the potential risk overblown? Share your thoughts in the discussion.

10 industries 3D printing will disrupt or decimate

As it evolves, 3D printing technology is destined to transform almost every major industry and change the way we live, work, and play in the future. 


The MakerBot factory is located in Brookyln, New York.
 Image: Louis Seigal
 For better or worse, the 3D printing industry is poised to transform nearly every sector of our lives and jumpstart the next industrial revolution. Sound like a hyperbole? We've compiled a list of 10 major impacts the 3D printing ecosystem will have on businesses, consumers, and the global economy.

If you're just diving into the world of 3D printing, first take a look at my introduction on 3D printing industry basics to quickly get up to speed: 10 facts on 3D printing: Understanding tech's next big game-changer.

1. Massive environmental impacts

Traditional manufacturing is often wasteful and dirty. In many ways, 3D printing lessens that waste and the carbon footprint manufacturing has on the Earth.
  • Fewer wasted materials: Only the raw materials needed to create the object—be it plastic filament, metal powder, or carbon fiber—are used. Using biodegradable PLA plastic filament in fused deposition modeling printers like MakerBot is a good start.
  • Possibility of longer life spans: Product parts can be replaced with 3D printing (or at least, that's the idea for the future), so the entire product doesn't have to be thrown away and replaced each time it malfunctions.
  • Less transport: Products often travel across many continents to get to their final destination. With 3D printing, the production and assembly can be local. Raw materials are the only things that will ship, and they take up far less space.
  • Fewer unsold products: If a company makes a product, the ones that are discontinued or not sold often end up piling up in landfills. 3D printing can improve this because companies can make them as needed.
This is all great in theory, but research shows 3D printers themselves have inefficiences that make them less environmentally friendly. An inkjet 3D printer wastes 40 to 45 percent of its ink. And if a printer isn't turned off or unplugged, it uses an excessive amount of electricity. As the printers become more accessible, manufacturers will need to figure out how to improve these issues.

2. Creating a new art medium

The "maker" movement is getting more niche—now we can call it the artisanal movement. 3D printers are being used to create new types of modern art, like this 3D headdress created by artist Joshua Harker, which debuted at 3D Printshow in New York City. The printers can also recreate pieces that aren't accessible to everyone around the world, which helps museums. For instance, the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam has teamed with Fujifilm to recreate 3D replicas of several Van Gogh paintings.

3. Innovation in education

A few months ago, MakerBot announced MakerBot Academy, a crowdfunded plan to get a 3D printer into every school in America. "It can change the whole paradigm of how our children will see innovation and manufacturing in America," MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis said in the announcement. The company also recently announced a plan to turn colleges and universities into MakerBot Innovation Centers. Starting with State University of New York at New Palz, the centers are equipped with 30 3D printers along with several 3D scanners to help train engineers, architects, and artists and increase motivation for growth in the industry.

4. 3D printing in zero-gravity

One of the most logical uses for 3D printing is printing parts, tools, and other gadgets for astronauts while they're in space. It can also help accelerate the building of parts for the International Space Station. To address these problems, Made In Space was formed by a group of space veterans and 3D printing enthusiasts. They have partnered with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center to launch the first 3D printer in space. It will manufacture parts in zero-gravity, and the hope is to make space missions more self-sufficient.  
On a related note, an engineer won a grant from NASA last year to prototype a machine that will print food that's better than the freeze-dried stuff astronauts normally eat. Watch the 3D printer make a pizza below:

5. Revolutionizing mass manufacturing

Mass production is the biggest challenge in 3D printing, but with the adoption of large-scale printers and rapidly evolving technology to produce parts faster, the printers will completely disrupt traditional manufacturing in many industries:
  • Food: Anything that exists in liquid or powder form can be 3D printed, so naturally, printed food is one of the next big conversations.
  • Military: The machinery for the military is often customized and replacements must be made quickly. A 3D gun has already been printed, so it's only a matter of time before the technology catches on in this industry.
  • Electronics: The size, shape, and materials used to make electronics make this industry a natural candidate for 3D printing.
  • Toys: Home 3D printers and open source design will change the way children create and play.
  • Automotive: This industry is already utilizing the technology—Ford reportedly uses 3D printing to test parts. High-end and smaller auto companies will benefit first, though 3D printing could improve the efficiency of making replacement parts for any company.

6. Changing medicine and healthcare

Bioprinting is one of the fastest-growing areas of 3D printing. The technology uses inkjet-style printers to make living tissue. Organovo, the most well-known company who does this, plans to commercialize 3D-printed liver tissue sometime this year. They have also partnered with the National Eye Institute and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences to print eye tissue.
Researchers at Human Methodist Research Institute said they have created a more efficient way to create cells. Called Block Cell Printing, this process allows 100 percent of the cells to live instead of the 50 to 80 percent that normally survive during the current process. All of this naturally raises questions about the development of complex organs, so bioprinting is destined to turn into a big debate due to moral, ethical, and political concerns.

7. Transforming the home

Humans love their home conveniences, and home 3D printers are becoming smaller and more affordable—MakerBot's smallest printer is just over $1,300. People can print custom jewelry, household goods, toys, and tools to whatever size, shape, or color they want. They will also be able to print make replacement parts right at home, rather than  ordering them and waiting for them to be shipped. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, home 3D printing could evolve into a $70 billion industry per year by 2030.

8. Reaching disconnected markets worldwide

The Gigabot 3D printer is larger, more affordable, and is being used to print logos for StartUp Chile, a Chilean government program for emerging entrepreneurs.
 Image: re:3D
 Developing countries are often completely disconnected from global supply chains for even the most basic products, but 3D printing has the ability to bring them into the loop. The best example of this is Austin-based startup re:3D, which had a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign last May with Gigabot, an industrial-sized, affordable printer designed to work in developing countries. The company has a localized presence in Latin America, specifically partnering with StartUp Chile, a Chilean government program that empowers local tech entrepreneurs. The Gigabot will be used for many of the projects in Chile, like 3D design internships, manufacturing clothing, and experimenting with printing using recyclable materials.

Another way 3D printing can help developing countries is through partnerships with 3D printing researchers. For instance, many countries in the developing world are in dire need of prosthetic limbs, but don't have access to the technology or the education that is required to make their own. A Canadian professor is creating a way to make a prosthetic limb that is about 80 percent as good as one that could be made by hand. The lab is sending the prosthetics to disabled Ugandans.

9. Impacts on the global economy

The 3D printing industry will have far-reaching effects on the global economy. McKinsey Global Institute recently released a report that said 3D printing will cause major disruptions in the global economy by 2025. The analysis firm predicts it will bring about new product development cycles as the systems become cheaper. More companies will adopt the technology and product creation will focus on client feedback and customer-centered design. The industry is also reducing the cost of of entry into markets, allowing very niche businesses to pop up everywhere.
China is already investing in the technology to rival this rapid growth rate in the U.S. and Europe. In June 2013, the country announced a gigantic 3D printer they claimed was the world's largest at the time at 1.8 meters in diameter, and there are rumors they have plans to build even larger ones. It's not clear what impact the technology will have on the economy yet, but it could give China a competitive edge in domestic production. Because 3D printing promotes localized production, this will also affect China's current large-scale manufacturing industry.

10. Intellectual property threats

Sharing 3D printing schematics on websites like Thingiverse and Shapeways seems easy enough, but free designs are bound to cause issues with intellectual property as 3D printing becomes more mainstream. Most of the designs are unpatented, so they can be copied repeatedly and sold by anyone. Expensive or designer objects can also be reverse-engineered or replicated and sold at a cheaper price.
Now, established companies are starting to go after users of these sites, arguing that they are infringing on copyright or violating intellectual property laws. However, most of these designers are building upon original designs, making them better, or localizing products to better suit the needs of people in their area. It will be an ongoing conversation. The industry will have to figure out how to make sure large corporations don't squash entrepreneurs and designers in their fight to protect copyright laws.

10 facts on 3D printing: Understanding tech's next big game-changer

As 3D printers are become more affordable and versatile, they are destined to disrupt multiple industries. Here's what you need to know about this quickly accelerating technology.  

makerbot replicator 2.jpg

The MakerBot Replicator 2 enables users to make big objects, up to 410 cubic inches. It was released in 2012 and was designed for the desktop of an engineer, researcher, or creative professional.
 Image: MakerBot

 The world of 3D printing is exciting. With more affordable machines, creative entrepreneurs, innovative startups, and new materials, the industry is rapidly evolving.
Since the invention of the 3D printer in 1983 by Chuck Hull of 3D Systems, companies have popped up all over the globe, attempting to make the most innovative machine. Here are 10 reasons why 3D printing matters—maybe you'll decide the equipment is a worthy investment, or maybe you'll just be convinced this futuristic technology will one day have a place in your business or home.

1. 3D printing is a key industry to watch in 2014

Enthusiasm is high, and so is the market for 3D printing in both consumer and enterprise space. According to Gartner research, printers under $100,000 were expected to grow almost 50 percent in 2013, and will increase 75 percent this year. Right now, enterprises are using the printers to prototype objects, but we'll see an increasing amount used to make product designs this year.

2. 3D printers are empowering "makers"

Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired, wrote in his book, Makers, that a new industrial revolution is underway because of open source design and 3D printing. Many entrepreneurs are using micro-manufacturing to create smaller batches of customized products. And with crowdfunding sites, they don't have to rely on venture capitalists to fund these endeavors.

3. Customization is the next step in 3D printing technology

Soon enough the question won't be how we will print things, but what we will print. Customization is the next buzzword in the industry, according to Pete Basiliere, lead Gartner analyst for 3D printing. Replacement parts, toys, and random designs and schemiatics found on the internet can all be customized to fit consumer needs. Because the machines can print one piece at a time, this can be done relatively easily. Shapeways, for instance, is a website where customers can connect with designers and order customized products such as jewelry and home decor.

4. There are several types of 3D printing technologies

  • Fused deposition modeling: MakerBot is one of the best examples of this technology. These printers melt a plastic filament and deposit the plastic in layers until it fills up the model. There are two types of plastic, both of which MakerBot uses: ABS, which is sturdy and made from oil-based resources, and PLA, which is biodegradable and made from plant-based resources.
  • Stereolithography: These machines use a laser to cure a resin and build the prototype one layer at a time. Rapid prototyping, another form, doesn't use supports to hold up the part so that it can be built faster, but in basic stereolithography, the supports must be manually removed from the part.
  • Selective laser sintering: Lasers are used to sinter powdered metal, binding the powder together to create a solid structure. After each layer is sintered together, the structure drops and the next layer is built on top of it.

5. People are making all kinds of things with 3D printers

Check out Makerbot's Thingiverse—the things people create with 3D printers are extraordinarily creative. It's a community for makers where they can upload digital designs or photos of objects they have made with 3D printers. The website has more than 100,000 models and that number is growing every day. From Storm Trooper pen cups to household planters to customizable necklaces, the options of objects people can make are seemingly endless.

6. Ethical dilemmas of 3D printing will be a growing conversation

robohand makerbot.jpg

A Robohand was created with the MakerBot to avoid the expense of traditional prosthetics.
 Image: MakerBot

 Get ready for it—the next great debate will be about the political, ethical, and religious questions 3D printing technologies raise. This is particularly important for bioprinting, which is already accelerating at an alarming rate. Scientists at Cornell University successfully printed a human ear last year, and scientists in Scotland are developing a way to print embryonic stem cells.
Another issue is weapons. In 2012,a man 3D-printed a gun and shared the blueprints on his website (they garnered 100,000 downloads in the two days before the U.S. State Department took them down). He successfully fired it last year, landing himself onWired's list of deadliest people on the planet.

7. Lower prices will drive consumer adoption

As smaller companies make their own 3D printers or crowdfund them, the prices are going to continue to drop. Already, Makerbot's smallest printer—which will begin shipping this spring— is available for $1,375. That still seems pricy for a lot of us, but it's quite affordable for the technology.
"Of course you're always going to have a people particularly invested in the technology who will have the means to spend the money [on their own printer]," Basiliere said. "But as prices come down some more and consumers start to buy them, that number of dedicated consumers will continue to grow."
The prices for larger machines used in manufacturing enterprises are not lowering as quickly, he added, but they will improve in performance and enhancements to more rapidly and efficiently produce parts.

8. HP is going to get in the game at some point

The 3D printing leaders are making themselves known, but there's an elephant in the room: when will HP join the ranks and produce this technology for the mass market? The traditional printing giant has a five-foot-tall 3D printing prototype in the basement of its Palo Alto research lab, and the company said they plan to release a product this year.
"3D printing is in its infancy," CEO Meg Whitman said at a tech conference in Bangkok last October. "It's a big opportunity and we are all over it. We will have something by the middle of next year."

9. 3D printing is going to completely revolutionize manufacturing as we know it


The Cube is a home 3D printer marketed to use to make toys and other small objects.
 Image: Cube

 Open source electronics allow companies to iterate designs and experiment with schematics and product parts. Eventually, they won't need to design every piece in-house and they won't need to ship every part because local or regional makers can design and/or print the parts themselves. Big supply chains will be a thing of the past.
Most companies aren't grasping this technology yet because it's going to change the industry so dramatically. According to Basiliere, the key to long-term growth in the manufacturing industry is the number of materials 3D printers can use, which is small but growing quickly as well.

10. 3D printing is going to cause disruption in many industries

We know 3D printing will upheave mass manufacturers, but what else will the technology affect?
Well, just about everything. Educators can print tools or designs in schools. Artists will have a new medium to work with. Healthcare providers can quickly create what they need in-house. Parents will be able to replace toys or broken household items in a matter of hours.

Windows 8.1 gives malicious code the boot(s)

Windows 8.1 includes a variety of security controls designed to guard against malware compromise during the boot process. 

Windows boot process
The Windows operating system has a number of security controls, and most users have some sort of anti-malware security suite installed on their Windows PC -- but those things can’t protect you until the operating system is up and running. There are threats out there that can compromise a system during the boot process, before the Windows defenses are enabled. Microsoft recognized this threat and developed additional protections during the boot process.
There are three different boot protections, and which ones work on your system depends on the hardware you have in place. Let’s examine the different boot security controls and how they work, so you can understand what protection you have in place during the boot process on your PC.

Trusted Boot

The primary boot process security control is called Trusted Boot. It monitors the boot process and guards against malicious code trying to hide or execute. If malware is able to load before the Windows security controls and anti-malware tools are active, it can hide from those tools or compromise their ability to detect threats.
Trusted Boot makes sure that the Windows components that are loaded during the boot process have not been altered or tampered with by malware and that anti-malware software is loaded ahead of any third-party applications or device drivers. In the event that malware is successfully loaded during the boot process, Trusted Boot attempts to automatically remediate the issue and remove the threat.

Measured Boot

This feature complements Trusted Boot and provides third-party verification and attestation that the boot process is secure. Measured Boot only works on systems with a Trusted Platform Chip (TPC). Measured Boot takes measurements of each phase of the boot process, and it signs and securely stores the data in the TPM.
The measurements can also be used as an additional layer of defense. The data can be sent to a Remote Attestation Service that compares the measurements against known good values and validates that the boot process is secure. The Remote Attestation Service can issue a Device Claim, certifying the PC as secure, and that Device Claim (or lack thereof) can be used to control access to the network.

Secure Boot

Secure Boot takes Trusted Boot to the next level on Windows 8 certified systems, which includes the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). It prevents rootkits and other malware from loading during the boot process, because only authorized code signed with a recognized certificate is allowed to execute.
If you want to boot an unsigned or unrecognized operating system on a Windows 8 certified PC -- either standalone or in a dual-boot configuration -- you can disable the UEFI Secure Boot option. With Secure Boot disabled, the boot process is less secure.


To sum up your options, Trusted Boot works on systems even without a TPM or UEFI. Measured Boot and Attestation of boot measurements are only possible on systems that have a TPM to securely store the signed measurement data. Secure Boot required hardware that supports UEFI.
No matter what boot protection you use, the bottom line is that Microsoft has taken steps to secure the boot process and ensure that malicious code is not able to run during boot up, before the operating system and security software are active to defend against them.
What boot protection do you have on your Windows 8.1 machine(s)? Has it ever failed to protect your system from malware? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

Apple's CarPlay will drive the future of car dashboards

Apple is taking over your dash, integrating iOS with big in-car nav screens via partnerships with a ton of carmakers and a new feature called CarPlay. 

Apple is finally taking over your dash, integrating iOS with big in-car nav screens via partnerships with a boatload of carmakers and a new feature called CarPlay.
Ferrari CarPlay

 Credit Ferrari

Introduced this week at the Geneva International Motor Show, CarPlay (née iOS in the Car) is the culmination of Apple’s plans to fully integrate the iPhone into every car.
"What if you could get iOS on the screen that's built into your car?" asked Apple SVP (andFerrari board member) Eddy Cue during the WWDC keynote last year when iOS in the Car was first introduced. Apple, which saw huge success pushing iPod compatibility onto automakers last decade, is now in prime position to put its thus-far one-of-a-kind phone/dash integration into millions of cars.
Ferrari, Mercedes and Volvo all introduced CarPlay-compatible rides in Geneva, with Honda, Hyundai and Jaguar promising compatible models later in 2014. Apple has partnership commitments from a dozen other marques including BMW, Ford, GM, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Toyota, too.
Notably missing from that list is VW/Audi, which earlier this year partnered with Google and several other automakers to promote Android as an in-car entertainment platform -- though GM, Honda and Hyundai were also involved in that project and all are on board with Apple's initiative.
Apple's Siri digital assistant is heavily integrated with CarPlay, acting as the main point-of-contact for drivers, though it works with the knobs, buttons, or touchscreen in the car as well. It supports a number of native iPhone apps (Maps, Phone, Messages, Music) plus a bunch more off the App Store including Apple's Podcasts, Spotify, Beats Music, iHeartRadio and Stitcher, with more options to come. Notably missing is Pandora, a direct competitor to Apple's iTunes Radio, though that company is clearly hoping to be involved in the future.
Mercedes CarPlay

 Credit: Mercedes

Mercedes -- shown in the C-Class above -- uses both voice input and the control-knob, while both Volvo and Ferrari combine voice control with an in-dash touchscreen. Engadget tried the Ferrari implementation in Geneva and said CarPlay was responsive and easy-to-use.
The first thing we noticed is how speedy everything is. Apps load quickly, and Siri's contextual algorithms hastily recognized our voice commands and responded appropriately. Apple has also implemented safety features to ensure services do not draw your attention away from the road and push forward its "hands-free" theme. For example, when we sent or received a message from a contact, Siri would only read the message back to us and we never once got the chance to see its contents.
Currently, CarPlay only works with iPhones that use the Lightning Cable -- the iPhone 5, 5c and 5s -- and the phone must be physically plugged in, though Volvo said wireless support is in the works.

When iOS in the Car was revealed nine months ago, it was the first major move by a consumer electronics company to put the features of your phone directly into your vehicle. The list of partner carmakers is impressive, and, if CarPlay lives up to the billing, this is a impressive first salvo in the next automotive tech war.

New Google Glass app makes objects interactive in real time

A new app from Blippar brings real-time image recognition augmented reality to Google Glass users. 


View while using Blipper Glass app and looking at an object.
 Photo: Blippar

Imagine walking down the street while wearing Google Glass and, as you pass a store, news of a sale at that retailer appears in your field of vision. Or, as you visit a tourist spot, Google Glass automatically displays a note left by a previous visitor. These are features that a new image recognition app from Blippar is making a reality.
Last week, Blippar debuted an app, Blippar Glass, that uses real-time image recognition augmented reality to bring lightning-fast information to Google Glass users, said CEO Ambarish Mitra. Blippar is a visual discovery/augmented reality marketing company with a client list that includes Google, Coca-Cola, Nike, Sony and General Mills.
Blippar originally developed this app for use with smartphones, and now it’s available for Google Glass. “While we were building this business [for smartphones], Google announced its Glass product and we felt this was an absolute natural extension to what we were doing,” Mitra said.
“When the Glass actual physical product came out, critics and skeptics said it’s low powered and couldn’t support real augmented reality. What we mean by real augmented reality is physically noticing something in the real world and putting a layer on top of it,” Mitra said. “This is the first time in the world that anybody has shown that Glass could be used beyond taking pictures and video and using maps and actually used for looking at objects to give people additional information.”

Wikipedia of the real world

Mitra described using the app as a “Wikipedia of the real world just by looking at things. That’s where we are heading in the business.”
Right now, the app isn’t available to the general public. It will be available in four to six weeks for current Google Glass users, and when Google rolls out Glass to a widespread audience later this year, the app will be available to everyone, Mitra said.
“We are going to work with Google now to actually pre-release it for them to deliver it to their network of Google Glass users. We’d like to be getting market feedback,” he said.
The app uses a cloud-based recognition engine. When a user views something that is recognized by the Blippar database, it recognizes it within 300 milliseconds, Mitra said. 

Future uses for app

Mitra said he wants to see wearables, and the app, become mainstream. He said he foresees future uses such as a New Yorker looking at their Metro card, and finding out which trains are running and when. Users can also add their own content into the database, such as notes for people visiting sites they’ve been to, similar to Yelp reviews.  “And you don’t just leave a note, but text, video, picture, messages,” he said.
Mitra explained, “Treat this as a browser between the digital and the physical world. People can add billions of pieces of content through Blippar. It’s not picture taking. It’s literally looking at it. You don’t have to press a button. You get real time information. You move your head from one product to another and you get new information. Everything happens in real time.”