Aug 142013
 

University of Vermont

The University of Vermont is opening up it’s Evolutionary Robotics course to the public.

This is the Ludobots course which has an interesting method of student learning and participation requirements before being able to join in the bigger initiatives of the course, this is called the Discovery Track which you can learn more about in this video. The video outlines the 10 levels of work and participation with other students before becoming a ‘scientist’ asking and researching bigger questions in the robotics field.

There’s lot of coding opportunities, lots and lots of tutorial videos, you can also view the syllabus + assignments and much more.

From the professor of the program in his AMA on Reddit:

The prerequisites for the Ludobots course requires nothing more than a beginner’s background in programming. While the assignments may take longer depending on your experience level, we believe that the step-by-step progression each assignment has makes it accessible enough to a wide variety of people.

The course works with a ranking system. At the first rank you just submit an assignment; if you receive a passing grade you move on to the second rank. At every rank beyond the first you must grade an assignment that you have already done, using a rubric on each assignment page, and receive a passing grade on that rank’s assignment.

Once you have received a passing grade on each assignment you can work on evolutionary robotics research with us. Essentially the ranking system is in place to make sure that contributors to our research can be trusted. If your contribution is validated by others — or you provide a sufficiently interesting hypothesis of your own that others pursue — we will include you as a co-author and all write up a research paper together.

The ludobots site is an experiment for us as well: we’ve never tried this before, so we’re very eager to see the results!

 Posted by at 12:18 am
Jul 252013
 

Super Mario Bros!

Check out the Super Mario Bros action figures from everbuying I found.

The site has all kinds of Electronic Gadgets. Everything from multifunction tools, 3D glasses and electronic cigarettes! I really like the portable solar panels to power up your mobile devices. If you do go for one of the solar panels, check for compatibility with your device and check the power capability meets your device’s needs.

 Posted by at 6:07 pm
Jul 102013
 

Games

Thinking about online games, I wonder what the most addictive online games are, or were. We each have our own preferences so here’s my list.

Today I play Bejeweled on my tablet and on my mobile phone. It’s mindless, easy, mildly entertaining when jewels explode or get zapped. Yes, it’s a simple interface, and it works quite well. You can find it on gamehouse.com.

Another favorite addicting game is Plants vs. Zombies, it’s not as popular or addicting as Angry Birds, but again the interface is simple and the game play is simple. And the fun never dies! Who doesn’t like pea plants shooting their peas to kill zombies across the lawn? If you use the Chrome browser, there’s a Plants vs. Zombies app in the store.

I like the Tower Defense style of games, one of the more addicting I find is the Whiteboard Tower Defense, it’s got a great interface and I love the audio from the critters. Basically the game takes place on a whiteboard with colored markers and the critters wiggle their way across the board while your towers take them out to wails of “Ouch, owie!”

Online bingo is becoming more and more popular, for people new to online bingo you may not know how to get started, I recommend mybingoday.co.uk. It’s great for beginners and advanced game players to discover apps, sites, how to get started.

No need to head to the old bingo parlor, just look online for free bingo no deposit bingo and you can play from the comfort of your own home. You will still meet new people and network with other bingo players, too.

One of the most addictive games online today is Raft Wars 2; it’s taken the online gaming world by storm when most people have migrated to console games. Story: Somebody built a waterpark right on top of your buried treasure. Sneak into the waterpark, fight your way past security and find back your gold and diamonds.

There you have it, my list of the most addictive games online ranging from the classics like Bejeweled which bring back fond memories, to the new hotness like Plants vs. Zombies and cultural favorites like bingo. The thing they have in common is a relatively simple user interface, the rules are basic and with just enough strategy required that it’s attractive and addictive to kids and seniors and all walks of life.

 Posted by at 5:59 am
Jun 252013
 

Eco-Friendly

We’ve become accustomed to the most common ways to reduce energy in our homes and at work, including using more public transportation, turning off the lights in unused rooms, replacing light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs and CF bulbs.

In the last couple of years I’ve been paying more attention to my energy consumption and finding ways of reducing my carbon footprint. One big consumer of energy are data centers, and as our applications and devices push more of the processing to the cloud, I expect that usage to increase year over year dramatically.

A few years ago it was found that data centers were expected to consume 19% more energy in 2012 than 2011. This is likely a trend that will continue, and addressing this is one good way for some data centers to differentiate themselves.

There are other non-intuitive things you can do to reduce your energy footprint in the cloud. This includes hosting your web services with a company that actively reduces energy usage through heat reduction in their data centers and using more efficient server power supplies like here, in 1&1.

Other things you can do that may be intuitive for us geeks, but not for all our friends and family is to adjust the power management settings on their PCs and laptops to aggressively reduce energy. In Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 there are advanced settings to turn off the screen or reduce screen lighting a little, to turn off the hard drive if not actively loading/saving files. Here’s a video for Windows 7 that walks you through changing these settings.

What additional, non-intuitive things can we do to reduce our energy usage?

 Posted by at 6:12 am