May 272015
 

When you are crafting an application which is supposed to send emails to customers, it is a good idea to test its email delivery functionality. Making sure that you are not sending messages to real email addresses is a bit cumbersome. But there is a great solution to this issue – fake SMTP servers. We’ve taken a look at three of them, and here’s what we’ve found:

DevNull SMTP

DevNull SMTP is a Java-based fake SMTP server. It helps you view the client-server communication and troubleshoot effectively if there is anything wrong with your application. These dummy emails don’t actually go anywhere, they are sent to the DevNull SMTP server, where you can view them, and then they get deleted. DevNull SMTP can run from your browser. Alternatively, you can download the application and run it using the command line.

MailCatcher

MailCatcher works in a similar way. It catches all the emails sent to its server and displays them in a web interface. The setup procedure is pretty straightforward – download the program, set it according to the instructions given at the service’s website, run MailCatcher and set its SMTP instead of the default SMTP server of your app. MailCatcher shows your messages as HTML, Plain Text and Source versions. You can also download the original message to view in your email client. MailCatcher is written very simply, so if there is something you’d like to change, you can easily dive in and do it. There are a number of other great features that make MailCatcher a great tool for your email testing purposes.

Mailtrap email server test

Mailtrap is a fantastic service. What really sets this tool apart from the competition is that email testing isn’t the only thing it can be used for. With Mailtrap you can see how your email will be displayed in all major web email clients, test it for spam and blacklist to make sure it lands in your clients’ inboxes, organize your test emails as you like or forward them to regular inboxes.

The setup process is incredibly fast and easy. You simply set Mailtrap as your app’s SMTP server, and that’s it. You can also use one of the following popular framework configs: Symfony, Django, Ruby on Rails, JBoss, Zend Framework, etc.

Mailtrap is available for free, but only if one inbox is enough for your email testing goals. More inboxes and some other features come with two paid subscription plans. The other two services we’ve talked about here are open-source, and therefore completely free to download and use, but they don’t have all the cool features that Mailtrap has to offer. However, if you run an open source or a non-profit project, you’ll be happy to know that one of Mailtrap’s subscription plans is also available for you free of charge.

 Posted by at 4:20 pm
May 202015
 

United Airlines

Earlier in the year, 10k frequent flier accounts were hacked, United is trying to make up for this by leveraging the expertise of the broader community of software engineers. To be clear, this program is not related to any of the third party customer facing web properties or apps.

From Info-Security Magazine:

In the wake of a high-profile frequent flier account hack, United Airlines has rolled out a bug bounty program, promising airline miles for vulnerabilities. A lot of miles too: up to 1 million for a remote code execution flaw.

United said that it’s looking for issues that affect the confidentiality, integrity and/or availability of customer or company information. The eligible list includes: Authentication bypass; bugs on customer-facing websites, the United app or third-party programs loaded by united.com or its other online properties; cross-site request forgery (CSRF) and cross-site scripting (XSS); potential for information disclosure; remote code execution; timing attacks that prove the existence of a private repository, user or reservation; and the ability to brute-force reservations, MileagePlus numbers, PINs or passwords.

 

 Posted by at 5:47 am
May 132015
 

computer science
CC by @matylda

Here’s another brilliant article hosted on Lifehack: 40 Key Computer Science Concepts Explained In Layman’s Terms

It was written by software developer Carl Cheo, founder of technology blog Carlcheo.com.

Read Carl’s fantastic article to find out how to explain to your parents and spouse all they need to know about algorithms and data structures, AI, computer architecture, concurrency, computer security, cryptography and software development methodologies.

 Posted by at 10:11 am
Apr 292015
 

Chester Nez

Chester Nez, the last surviving member of the ‘Original Navajo Code Talkers’ has died at the age of 93. He was a great man. Navajo, artist, writer, Marine, graduate of University of Kansas. He was one of the 29-member Navajo team that created a unique code language out of their own mother tongue. This new unbreakable code helped in defeating Japan on some very crucial fronts.

Rest in Peace Chester!

Read the full story at War History Online.

 

 Posted by at 12:56 pm
Apr 272015
 

biocarbonengineering

Ex NASA man wants to plant a billion trees every year…with drones. The drone start-up is will counter industrial scale deforestation using industrial scale reforestation.

Here’s a description of the technology they’re using:

We use emerging technologies to deliver precision planting and mapping to increase the uptake rates and the likelihood of healthy forest development.

There are a variety of tree-planting techniques, including planting by hand and delivering dry seeds by air. However, hand-planting is slow and expensive, and spreading dry seeds results in low uptake rates.

Our solution balances these two methods. First, by planting germinated seeds using precision agriculture techniques, we increase uptake rates. Second, our scalable, automated technology significantly reduces the manpower requirements and costs. Finally, our mapping UAVs will also provide invaluable intelligence on planting patterns, landscape design and appropriate timing.

 Posted by at 6:51 am
Apr 242015
 

For anyone who places bets frequently, the best choice for where to get those bets is online. Not only do you cash in on free bets occasionally, but you’ll also find the best odds that are available. It’s convenient and you can bet as easily on your phone as on the PC, so wherever you are, you can get a bet on at a moment’s notice.

Betting exchanges such as Betfair make even more sense if you want to cut out the middle man, as there is no bookie, just a commission to pay on winning bets. Using an exchange also allows you to take a contrarian position and make a profit when there are lots of sentimental bets backing England to win the next international football match, or hopes are high (unrealistically so) for England’s chances in the upcoming Rugby World Cup, for example.

clip_image001
CC by Unofficial England Rugby

But there is a way to improve your profit margins even further, and that’s through the use of the betting apps that have been designed work in tandem, such as BBS Schedule or MarketFeederPro which can scan the market for the best margins. There are lots of different apps available, and they all facilitate your betting system through a number of different features, such as one-click betting, charting, ladder trading and fast price refreshes.

clip_image004
CC   by stacey.cavanagh

Some apps also feature a triggered betting function. Using the function of triggered betting you can save both money and time as you have much greater control over the staking plans and systems you’re employing. At a superficial level, triggered betting means you can set a stake limit, meaning that your stake remains the same whichever sports market you’re betting on. Similarly, you can set the app to only back or only lay outcomes in particular markets. Another way you can set triggered betting is to always back the favourite, regardless of which sport, or set it so that bets are only triggered when a selection falls into a certain range. Triggered betting reacts more quickly than you would be able to when there is a sudden market change. This is often particularly relevant in a big horse race, such as The Grand National or the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

If you’re interested in moving your betting up a few gears, then a small investment in a betting app subscription could be really helpful. There are plenty of tutorials on how to get the most out of a betting app, and many have simulation mode so that you can test out different systems or triggered betting plans without risking real cash. Then, whenever you’re ready, you can switch to placing real money bets and, hopefully, watch your profits soar.

 Posted by at 2:44 pm
Apr 232015
 

Not all of the mobile startups launched last year were warmly met by users. Of course, developers will not stop experimenting and presenting new applications. So, there is no doubt that 2015 will explode with new inventions.

Here are 5 mobile startups to watch in 2015.

Slack

This startup will be interesting for enterprises looking for an innovative communication and messaging app. Slack allows workspaces sharing files, sending private messages and using group chat rooms. This communication app has quickly gained recognition in the business world and is already used by many big and small enterprises. In fact, this is one of the fastest developing enterprise applications ever created. There is no doubt that the demand for Slack will grow this year.

The startup has raised $180 million in funding. Among its world-famous investors are: Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins.

Wish

This is a real catch for shopaholics. This mobile shopping application is somewhat similar to Pinterest. The app exhibits items you wish buying. The startup founders are pretty sure in their success and hope their pet project will raise 100 million dollars and will later be evaluated in 1 billion dollars.

For the moment, Wish was funded $78.7 million by Jared Leto, GGV Capital and Legend Capital.

Headspace

Many enterprises across Silicon Valley are obsessed with meditation nowadays. They believe, meditation is the best method of helping employees boost their productivity. Headspace founders decided to snatch good money on this trend and created an application that allows users meditating on their own time. More than one million users in over 150 countries are already meditating with Headspace.

Funding capital of the meditation app is equal to 4 million dollars. The names of investors are kept under wraps.

Instacart

Want to buy groceries and have them delivered to your door, without leaving the comfort of home? This is not a dream, as with Instacart you can purchase groceries online or from your mobile phone.

Instacart has a decent funding capital – $154.8 million. The main startup investors are Sam Altman, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Khosla Ventures, Aaron Levie.

Yik Yak

This gossip applications with a fancy name has taken college and high school students by storm. Yik Yak allows posting anything you want absolutely anonymously. Being a location-based app, it enables watching information posted by the nearby people only. To stop the spreading of rumours, some schools have blocked Yik Yak.

The app has raised $73.5 million in funding.

If you have your own startup idea in mind, however you do not know how to put it to life, Lezgro team is ready to help you. This is a company with an excellent experience of custom software and application development. High-end web and mobile applications created by Lezgro are highly prized by their customers across the world.

 Posted by at 9:08 am
Apr 212015
 

Linear Actuators in Robot’s Motion   

Introduction

A robot motion can be controlled by Linear Actuators (for example www.progressiveautomations.com/track-linear-actuator). A linear actuator is an electric device that used in converting the revolving motion of a DC motor into linear movements. Linear movements refer to the pull and push movements that make it possible to lift, push, tilt or pull objects simply by using a remote. Linear actuators are useful in robotic applications to help them in performing such movements.

Methods

There are multifaceted methods of using linear actuator to perform robotic motions. However, a simple method requires an external source of power popularly a DC motor which is attached with a gearbox. One can use an external control box such as PLC where one plugs in the actuator’s plug into a control box. If one does not wish to use a control box they can cut the plug and stick the two wires into a battery or switch.

Requirements

The general tools required include an aluminum sheet, a driller, fasteners, and two sets of small wheels. The aluminum sheet is used to install the motor to the robot’s body by drilling two holes into the bottom right and top left of the aluminum sheet. The fasteners on the other hand are used to install the motor onto the robot by drilling two holes into the motor’s installation panel.

Linear actuator1

How It Works

The first step involves connecting the servo motor controller to the Direct Current motor and connecting the servo motor controller to the micro controller. This ensures that power is supplied to the actuator and the robot. The servo ensures the correct voltage is supplied to the linear actuator while the micro controller also helps on determining the amount of power needed to run the robot and the actuator. The wheels are then installed on the robot to provide motion to the robot. The wheels are attached to the robot and the motor by drilling holes on them and fastening them properly onto the devices using the fasteners. After the motor is turned on, the amount of power required to run the application should be adjusted. The control boxes and remote controls allow a person to control the movement of the linear actuator.

Linear actuator2

 Posted by at 12:02 pm
Mar 312015
 

machine learning

Coursera has just opened a new version  of the course “Machine Learning” in the on demand format.

Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed. In the past decade, machine learning has given us self-driving cars, practical speech recognition, effective web search, and a vastly improved understanding of the human genome. Machine learning is so pervasive today that you probably use it dozens of times a day without knowing it. Many researchers also think it is the best way to make progress towards human-level AI. In this class, you will learn about the most effective machine learning techniques, and gain practice implementing them and getting them to work for yourself.

The on demand format allows you to work through the materials at your own pace. All materials are available at any time, and there are no deadlines for exercises or assignments.

 Posted by at 6:48 am
Mar 042015
 

The psychology of gambling – what it is that makes it so appealing – is a little understood phenomenon. Some things, of course are self-evident: we all like easy money; we all enjoy the sensation of winning, and we all enjoy a sense of playful recreation. These simple explanations hold good for just about every human society that we have any knowledge of. People like gambling – but that doesn’t explain why we seem to like it so much.

cards

Creative Commons courtesy of  Images_of_Money 

Increasingly, research into what it is that people find so attractive is adding to our understanding of this seemingly universal human impulse. In the process, we are learning more and more about the fundamental drivers of our more general behaviour. In this sense, studying gambling offers a window into the psychology of market behaviours and other mass phenomena.

For example, a study published in the journal Psychopathology, by Professor Pinhas Dannon and Doctor Ronen Huberfeld of the Beer Yaakov Mental Health Centre in Tel Aviv showed that when it comes to betting on sports there is little or no advantage to be gained from ‘expert’ knowledge of the sport itself. This is obviously a finding that will have sports fans scratching their heads. How can this be?

The researchers had three groups of subjects place bets to predict the outcome of 16 second round Champions League soccer games. One group comprised professional sports gamblers, the second comprised knowledgeable soccer fans who did not ordinarily bet and the third was made up of people with no prior interest in either betting or soccer.

The results were surprisingly even. When it came to the crunch all three groups were comparable in their success rates. In fact, the two highest performing subjects came from the third – ‘ignorant’ – group. The researchers concluded that there is a mythical quality to ‘expert knowledge’ which aficionados get a kick out of.

What that means in practical terms is that if you are tempted to back a horse on the basis of its name – if you are attracted to Irish Saint at the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival for example – then you can put your money down safe in the knowledge that in reality you know every bit as much as the next man or woman. And much as they will be getting a kick out of thinking that they know something the rest of the world has missed – and we all know that feeling – you will be enjoying a taste of schadenfreude on a grand scale.

Research elsewhere however has shown that there is a peculiarly shared, social aspect to gambling that was previously unrecognised. Professor Josep Marco-Pallarés, a psychologist at the University of Barcelona, writing in BMC Neuroscience, suggests that when we watch others gamble, our brains respond as though we are gambling, too. His research used EEG brain wave technology to measure respondent’s neural reactions to other people’s gambling. He found that even if a subject was not betting themselves, they experienced the same mental response as gamblers they were watching closely.

So much for the schadenfreude!

What this points to an innate herd instinct to share in the emotional reactions of others. And this, perhaps takes us back to where we started. Gambling, like sport, is a fundamentally social activity. It’s appeal lies in the ability to generate that deep social connection between people. It may pit them into adversarial but, like boxers who embrace at the end of a gruelling bout, they will fundamentally recognise the profound value they see in coming together in the first place – however confrontational that might appear at first glance.

As numerous sages down the years have noted, the business of gambling and the gamble that is business are much the same thing. Difficult as it may be to swallow, the research into gambling poses some searching questions for anyone who takes their professional expertise too seriously.

Professor Pinhas Dannon’s and Doctor Ronen Huberfeld’s findings concerning the ‘mythical quality’ of expert knowledge are summarised here.

 Posted by at 1:07 pm
Feb 262015
 

john p craven

I served on submarines in the US Navy during the cold war. John P. Craven, a former Navy scientist whose innovations in ocean technology and exploration led to some of the nation’s most celebrated feats of espionage, died on Feb. 12 in Hawaii. He was 90. The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, his family said.

From 1959 to 1969, as chief scientist of the Special Projects Office, Dr. Craven led the Navy’s drive to expand its presence into the crushing depths of the sea. Among other things, he turned submarines into spy machines that could reach down miles to inspect and retrieve lost enemy matériel, including nuclear arms.

Read the full story on NYTimes.

RIP John.

 Posted by at 8:02 pm
Feb 212015
 

Scanaflo™ is a urine test kit in development that will empower people to monitor their health at home.

Health tech startup Scanadu is working on the cutting-edge of a new type of medical technology that could one day put the hospital in the palm of our hands. Scanadu is now in the testing phase with Scanaflo. This is an iPhone-ready urinalysis strip that, with just one pee, knows if you are pregnant, diabetic or have been smoking weed.

Found via TechCrunch

 Posted by at 1:32 pm