Australia is Spending Millions on Cyber-Security

In this day and age, cyber-security is a huge issue for countries and companies alike, and everyone wants to upgrade and protect their systems. The latest to join this barrage of countries if Australia who recently announced a new strategy in cyber-security.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launched the new strategy in Sydney, with a budget of $178 million, the scheme will look to bolster their defensive and offensive capabilities. That’s right while he didn’t confirm if the country had used its offensive capabilities against other countries, Turnbull did acknowledge it had hacking capabilities by saying that it “adds to [Australia’s] credibility as it promote norms of good behaviour on the international stage and, importantly, familiarity with offensive measures enhances [its] defensive capabilities as well.”

The funding will create new centers for cyber-security and give 5,000 companies the means to test their security. Supporting the country and the companies based within the new funding will look to support an already growing cyber economy, something which the schemes document claims is “growing twice as fast as the rest of the global economy”.

With GCHQ stating that a recent investment into cyber-security didn’t go as well as planned and a recent survey showing that executives thinking cyber-security is an IT problem, any investment to protect people from malicious hackers online should be welcome.

UK University Wins Funding for Robotic Stem Cell Factory

We as the human race are in an almost neverending fight with nature, although there really isn’t any doubt who will in the end. That doesn’t mean that we can’t put up a fight and make the best of everything until then. One of the main areas that we fight in are the diseases that plague us as a race. One of the ways that we combat this is with stem cells, but they are too costly, time-consuming, and labour intensive to be a viable solution for a mass production large enough to cover everyone.

One of the ways that this can be improved upon is with the use of robots that don’t need downtime, work more precise, and don’t require a salary either. The EU has set aside €6 million for the project and the Aston University in Birmingham is going to play a critical role in this project to develop a robotic stem cell factory, which will reduce the cost of manufacturing adult stem cells and open up the opportunity to produce new therapies for a range of conditions.

“Stem cell therapies have the potential to treat currently unmet patient needs and provide therapies for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and Parkinson’s. However, current manufacturing methods for adult stem cells are costly, time-consuming and labour-intensive, so will be unable to satisfy the expected patient demand,” said Dr Qasim Rafiq, academic lead for the project at Aston University and Lecturer in Bioprocess Engineering.

The AUTOSTEM consortium, coordinated by NUI Galway in Ireland, has received the funding through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme to address the current challenges in manufacturing stem cells. The new system will be developed as a scalable, automated robotic system for the growth of adult stem cells.

The clinical product being developed involves isolating and purifying adult stem cells from the bone marrow before growing these in bioreactors to achieve sufficient numbers of cells to treat thousands of patients. This work will be conducted in a sterile, aseptic cleanroom facility operated by a robotic system. That’s another benefit of using robots over a human workforce.

Star Citizen Goes Live For Alpha Backers

Star Citizen was originally designed as a crowd-funded game. This means that after some initial work all the funds for the project are raised by people ‘pledging’ money in order to help Chris Roberts finish his dream video game which will see players flying around a universe with their friends in the same or in separate ships, boarding stations and engaging in dogfights that would make science fiction fans chuckle in joy. The game has now passed a whopping one million backers, making the project the most popular crowdfunded project of all time and as a result players are being rewarded.

Previously access was granted by pre-ordering ships and with them early access passes. Now if you’ve backed Star Citizen you have been granted full access to everything that has been released, from the Star Marine (the first person shooter element of the game) and even future releases such as the Alpha 2.0 build that they are currently working on that will not only contain playable missions and quadrillions of cubic kilometres for players to fly around in but also a taste of their persistent universe.

If you already owned an Alpha Access package you will gain 10,000 United Earth Credits to help fund your expeditions into space, and soon you could find yourselves flying amongst the stars of a £60-million crowd-funded game.

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

Image courtesy of Roberts Space Industries.

Squadron 42 Reveals Voice Actors And Footage

Star Citizen is not only one of the most crowd funded games in history but is easily one of the most anticipated, with the ability to go from piloting a ship and ordering your friends to pilot the ships turrets to boarding and fighting your way through someone else’s ship as a group, eventually taking it over. Piloting, trading and boarding, Star Citizen looks to be an all-encompassing space game. While we await this game we shouldn’t forget the single player campaign, titled Squadron 42, and I doubt after the recent revelations regarding it, we will be able to forget it again.

Set for a release in 2016, Squadron 42 will see its players take the role of a UEE Navy combat pilot, letting you fight both in space and on land as you build everything from your character to the relationships you have with others characters aboard a large Capital Ship.

To bring life to the story, Star Citizen has hired none other than Gary Oldman, Mark Hamil, Gillian Anderso and Andy Serkis among some of many to bring life to the universe. If you were wondering just how awesome that would make the game, find Gary Oldman’s character, Admiral Bishop, explaining the world you are about to fly into.

Thank you DSOGaming for the information.

Image courtesy of Roberts Space Industries.

Successful $73,000 Kickstarter Campaign Plagued by Money Issues

Financially backing a Kickstarter for any amount always involves a certain degree of risk as the final project may never come to fruition or match your expectations. Ideally, backers should see themselves as financial investors which allows you to access certain equity perks in exchange for money. While there has been a great number of success stories including Broken Sword 5 and FTL, the majority of published articles revolve around failed or controversial Kickstarter campaigns.

It’s quite common for Kickstarter projects to fold due skepticism and fairly large monetary targets. Although, many developers can dramatically underestimate the required budget to cover coding, marketing and the business side of things. Sadly, this is the case with Midora, a 2D action-adventure in the style of many classic role-playing games. Initially, the game was a resounding success and attained $73,000 to fund the project. However, the developer has released a thorough statement regarding their financial woes which reads:

“On the subject of money, there are certain things that I will admit. I will admit that the amount needed to create this game was largely underestimated for the campaign. I knew that the game would need more than $60,000 to be made. However, like many others, I didn’t think for one second we could reach a goal higher than $60,000, especially after two failed campaigns and no prior advertising. With $60,000 in our hands, it would have been rather easy to create an Early Access and go from there. That part you probably knew already, and we aren’t the first to have made poor decisions. Now what most of you don’t know is how much was actually used in the development so far, and the answer is very simple: all of it. But how much exactly? Between $45,000 and $50,000. You wanted numbers, you got numbers. Not a single cent of that money was used to pay anything other than bills, food and development costs.”

“But wait, kickstarter only takes 5% of the total! How can that be?”. One word: taxes. We were heavily taxed from all places imaginable and everybody wanted a piece. We of course knew that would happen, but we never expected to be left with so little. After hiring another artist and paying existing debts, there was not much to work with… and yet we tried. We tried as hard as we could to bring you Early Access and we nearly succeeded. What we have done in 3 months last year was the most we had ever done on any project, and it was amazing. And yet we could not release anything due to lack of money, often doubts and poor timing. Running out of money quick has a way of pressuring you and transforming your life into a mess, simply because you need to secure more before it happens.”

This entire situation emphasizes how expensive video game development is even for smaller indie studios. It can be quite tempting to reduce the funding target to entice more prospective buyers and guarantee funding. Unfortunately, this can cause a myriad of problems and make the original backers feel quite angry.

Most Funded Kickstarter In Europe Yet To Ship Products – Two Months Behind

Kickstarters are great way of supporting and helping to realise your dreams with everything from building the mythical city of Minas Tirith, to creating new smart watches for your phones and even to buy a kickstarting website. So what happens when these go wrong?

Torquing Group, a start-up based in Wales, raised £2.3 million in under two months this year in order to fund a handheld drone, named Zano. The initial schedule for the Zano to be shipped was back in June 2015, however when this was missed Ivan Reedman, CEO of Torquing Group, stated that the Zano would be shipped in early July.

Come mid-August and the drones have yet to reach their backers, which leads many to question the benefits of crowd funding. With Reedman posting on their forum on the 10th and a picture being posted (shown above) of boxes and boxes, they may soon be ready to release.

It should be noted though that when Ars Technica visited the group, they were unable to fly the drone or even witness it aloft, which raises concerns given the limited footage of the Zano actually in flight.

In a trust driven environment such as those used for Kickstarters and other crowd-funded projects, how do we  guarantee that when people back and support a project done by a small team, they receive what was promised to them or get their money back? With disaster tales becoming all too frequent with kickstarted projects, could their time soon be ending?

Thank you Ars Technica for the information and the image.

Bartesian Is the New Kitchen Aid for Alcoholics

Technology is here to make our life easier, at least that’s the intent and that becoming alcoholics also want to benefit from new inventions. Okay, that might be a bit harsh to say, but it’s honestly not a good start for you when you buy a machine to mix cocktails at home. That said, it was only a matter of time until this became mainstream and I’m also sure that there is a big market for the Bartesian.

Bartesian recent successfully funded its Kickstarter campaign and raised a total of over $115,00 earlier this month and that alone shows the potential in the market. People have become lazy and want everything at a press of a button, and that includes the favourite cocktail.

With a simple tree-button step-by-step interface, the Bartesian can only make six drinks right now, but that can easily be expanded later on. It uses a capsule principle in the same way as you might know it from coffee makers that now come with everything from pads over pods to capsules. Plop in a capsule, select your fluid, and press a button. The drink is ready.

When you insert a capsule into the Bartesian, it will read a barcode off it in order to add the corresponding liquor and water. The capsules in themselves only contain concentrated mixes for flavour and colour. Then the machine will prompt you for the appropriate glass and your drink is ready.

Bartesian requires four basic liquors: gin, vodka, rum and tequila. Fedorak says they’re experimenting with new recipes, but will launch with the three classics Cosmopolitan, Margarita, and Sex on the Beach and the three originals Uptown Rocks, Bartesian Breeze, and Zest Martini.

This will most likely never be the tool for the aspiring drunk, but it might be a great tool for the weekend warrior that wants to serve fancier drinks than beer at their next party. The Bartesian will set you back $299.00 and a 12-pack of capsules will cost $20.00.

Thank You Engadget for providing us with this information

Musk Donates $7 Million to Future of Life Institute for AI Risk Research

It is no secret that Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, PayPal and SpaceX, as well as other people, is concerned where the current unsupervised and at times reckless efforts in AI will lead us. Maybe we won’t see an evil Google robot army, by choice or accident, but there is a risk that something could go wrong when we teach our machines too much.

Musk recently donated $7 million to Future of Life Institute (FLI) for its research on the risk of artificial intelligence. FLI is an organisation that is working on discovering any dangers or threats that artificial intelligence may pose. This isn’t the first time Musk backed this research, the last time being in January where he gave $10 million.

The $7 million will be used to help fund 37 project proposals from 300 previously reviewed proposals. According to Max Tegmark, the president of the Future Life Institute, the research they approved, and will be conducting, are concerned on real issues. These include economic impact, job impact and even ethical problems.

“We’re staying focused, and the 37 teams supported by today’s grants should help solve such real issues,” Tegmark stated.

The complete list with all 37 proposals can be viewed on FLI’s website and include studies such as how an AI will consider their human counterparts to how to keep AI weaponry under human control.

Thank Tou iDigitalTimes for providing us with this information

Bruno Is the World’s First Smartcan

Do we really need smarter trash? It appears so as a new project on Kickstarter introduces us to Bruno, the world’s first smart trashcan. While the idea in itself isn’t that bad, I can’t help to think that this is just taking it one step too far on both the laziness and smart scale.

Bruno will be available in five different colours, White, grey, blue, red, and as stainless steel version. Its mission, to make your life easier. It comes with a built-in vacuum at the bottom so you just have to sweep the dirt in front of it and remove the need to get out the dustpan and bend down to sweep it up. The next mission is for those who forget to take out the trash on trash day, although one could argue that every smartphone already has that feature in the calendar or alarm apps.

Bruno will also notify you on your smartphone before you run out of trash bags and gives you the option to order new ones directly. Surely a convenient feature, but is it really a common problem to run out of dustbags?  The lid has motion sensors and will open without the need to touch anything which indeed is a nice feature when you got both hands full with things to throw away.

As always with Kickstarter, you’ll find several offers to choose from. Early early birds were able to reserve a Bruno can for $139 plus shipping, but those 100 are already gone just as the 200 normal early birds for $149 plus shipping. The next step has a limited amount too for $159, but there are still some of them available. There are also family packs with up to 10 Bruno smart cans in one package for the large families or offices that want one of these everywhere.

If you got interested and want a Bruno for either convenience or just laziness, then you should head on over to Kickstarter and reserve yourself one and get it as soon as it rolls off the production line.

Game Developers Support Nepal Earthquake Relief Funding

It’s always heart-warming when gamers and developers come together to help out when catastrophe strikes.

Last week, on April 25th, a 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake hit Nepal with an aftershock of 6.6 and a second aftershock measuring 6.7 the next day. The death toll climbed to more than 6,800 people, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“I am heartened and encouraged by the generosity and solidarity shown to date, but I am also conscious of the urgent need to provide emergency shelter and basic goods and services to people affected as the monsoon season rapidly approaches. So many people have lost everything,” – Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs

In light of the recent events, a multitude of gaming companies have taken action to relief support and we all can support funding for the disaster. Eve Online developer CCP Games has initiated their ‘PLEX for Good’ drive, which raised $190,890 for the Typhoon in the Philippines during November 2013. PLEX cards are in-game items that can be purchased and used to add game-time to your account. CCP is offering two virtual in-game T-shirts for your Eve Online character for each PLEX donated to the cause.

Destiny has taken a more physical route by offering real-life T-Shirts, shipping in early June, for $24.99 with 100% of the profits going toward Nepal relief effort funding. Further more, they are offering an in-game shader and emblem code with every purchase of the aforementioned shirts.

Just as well, as reported by Crunchyroll.com, SEGA has already donated more than $16,800 to the Red Cross and for a limited time when gamers can make in-game purchases, SEGA will match the amount spent toward the relief funding. Games mentioned to be included in this drive are:

  • Phantasy Star Online 2
  • Puyo Puyo! Quest
  • Chain Chronicle
  • Hortensia Saga

Smart Helmet Is Indiegogo’s Fastest Funded Campaign of $1 Million

The world’s smartest helmet, the Skully AR-1, is the fastest Indigogo campaign to hit the $1 million donation milestone. Looking at this helmet and what it has to offer, it’s really no surprise.

They had set a fundraising goal of $250.000, an impressive amount of money on it’s own, but it didn’t take them long to pass this. Only 45 hours into the campaign, the $1 million was breached. At the time of writing, the donations are up to $1.152.724 and that with 26 days left to go.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdcWd594lRw[/youtube]

The Skully AR-1 offers the user with a heads-up display, a rearview camera and GPS navigation. It can also connect to your phone for internet access, hands free calling or streaming music. The connection to a mobile phone is done via Bluetooth. On the helmet side it also features such things as Anti-scratch and glare visor and perfect-fit laser cut foam padding.

If you got interested in this pretty awesome new helmet, you can head over to Indigogo and pledge your donation, it all starts at $1.499.

Thank you Indigogo for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Indigogo.

Wargaming Donates £75k For RAF Museum Education Centre

Wargaming, the online developers for the worldwide MMO game, World of Tanks, has announced it will be donating £75k to the RAF Museum in Cosford, Staffordshire.

The donation will be used to fund the building of a new education centre at the museum, as well as funding exhibitions at both the Cosford location and in London.

The RAF is currently restoring a Dornier 17 German bomber plane and those visiting the museum will be able to see the plane in action on their smartphones using augmented reality, as well as taking part in other interactive exhibits.

When asked why a gaming company should feel the need to sponsor a museum, Wargaming boss, Victor Kislyi said:

“Wargaming is passionate about military history, so we jumped at the opportunity to help be part of a truly historic endeavor.”

The benefits to the RAF Museum itself are obvious. It’s Director General, Peter Dye, beamed that the funding will allow it to tell an historical story in an innovative way whilst:

“Augmented reality, mobile applications and the use of user-generated content are new developments for the Museum and we are excited about exploring their possibilities.”

The funding announcement coincides with the beta-testing of Wargaming’s newest MMO game, World of Warplanes.

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