Man Builds Own Remote Control for Google Chrome

Jeff Bower decided that Google’s Chromecast accessory needed an upgrade, so he decided to go ahead and make his own remote control for this streaming USB device.

His remote was designed through a Raspberry Pi model B architecture, connecting it to a case and buttons. According to our sources, the total costing of this unit was around $55 US. with the programming being completed through the help of Pychromecast, which is a development kit designed for the Chromecast and Raspberry Pi technology.

According to reports, this unit functioned well with Chromecast apps such as Google Play movie store – with Bower stating that unfortunately the remote didn’t function correctly with third-party apps.

Bower discussed his build and findings on his personal Google+ page, commenting on facets of development and Netflix compatibility:

“When I tested against Google Play and Plex content (the majority of my viewing) it worked great, but as I dug deeper into the implementation I realized that Plex only works because of a custom file describing the commands (Plex is nice like that). Netflix is another story entirely, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the clear that can be captured and they’ve got a habit of locking out third party controls.”

Image courtesy of BGR and ebower.

Student Hacks Microscopes – Saves £100,000

A student at Brunel University in London has saved £100,000 by hacking USB microscopes.

The PhD student needed a highly sophisticated microscope for his research into cell movement. However, the best microscopes available for this type of work can cost upwards of £100,000 – something he couldn’t afford.

So, he bought 3 USB microscopes from the internet, costing around £30 each, and modified them to get the higher magnification he required. His modifications turned out successful and Adam Lynch ended up saving himself thousands of pounds.

He spent a whopping £160 on his invention that now allows him to use tools that were meant for kids to look at leaves, to look at the inextricably small movements of cells.

Source: BBC News

OkCupid Follows in Facebook’s Footsteps, Admits to be Experimenting on Humans

After the Facebook fiasco and their little research on human behaviour, it seems that its time for OkCupid, the online dating service, to do the same. The service is said to have admitted that it too had manipulated what is shows users in order to see what would happen.

Three examples of the experiment are said to have been posted by OkCupid’s co-founder, Christian Rudder, in an article entitled “We Experiment On Human Beings!”. It can be viewed over at the site’s OkTrends blog.

“OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing,” said Rudder. “Neither does any other website. It’s not like people have been building these things for very long, or you can go look up a blueprint or something. Most ideas are bad. Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”

It is said that when talking about Facebook and its experiment that involved manipulating users’ news feeds in order to study their real-life reactions, Rudder stated the following:

“Guess what, everybody,” he says, “if you use the internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.”

The first experiment is said to have happened in January 2013, when the website removed all user images and called it “Love is Blind Day”. The user count is said to have been low on that day, but those who were online proved to have responded 44% more often to messages.

The second one involved the user’s rating, a score given to them by other users. Rudder attempted to see how much the user’s profile image counts when rating someone by presenting a small subset of users with their profile text hidden. He stated to have found that only 10% of the typical user’s score is based on what they write about themselves, while 90% is based on the profile image.

The final experiment is stated to have been more “controversial”, having OkCupid tweak with the users’ “match” rating. It is basically used to show people’s “compatibility” rating based on the information given by the user.

“In the back of our minds, there’s always been the possibility: maybe it works just because we tell people it does. Maybe people just like each other because they think they’re supposed to? Like how Jay-Z still sells albums?” Rudder stated

OkCupid has then tweaked the compatibility ratings for most of its users and noticed how many single messages led to a full conversation. The experiment noted that most users do not talk to each other due to the low compatibility ration, for example 20% or 30%. Change those to a 90% and it seems that ‘weird things happen’.

All in all, what Facebook and OkCupid did are far from ethical, but it still underlines a solid truth in all. When information is available on the internet, we tend to trust it more than we trust ourselves. Do we really need a webpage or app to tell us who to love or what to believe in?

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The Guardian

Wikipedia Entry Regarding MH17 Crash Reportedly Edited by the Russian Government

Changes spotted by a Twitter bot which monitors Wikipedia edits from Russian government IP addresses indicate that an Internet user revised a Wikipedia entry regarding Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Since the bot monitors government IPs, the only conclusion drawn is that someone within the Russian government wanted to make some modifications to the ‘truth’ out there.

It is said that the anonymous user changed one sentence in a Russian-language page that lists ‘aircraft accidents in civil aviation’. The original sentence stated that “the plane was shot down by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation.”

However, the revised entry (modified in less than an hour after the original was posted) stated that “the plane was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers.” The Telegraph received information that a user from the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company made the changes, but nothing is for certain.

The aircraft is said to have carried 298 people when it crashed, with no known survivors. US officials have said that the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists, having Russian authorities helping them destroy evidence at the crash site. However, separatist leader, Alexsander Borodai, denied that pro-Russian rebels touched the crash site, accusing the Ukrainian government of preventing experts from accessing the site.

The Wikipedia bot monitoring revisions from US Congressional IP has signalled 13 Wikipedia article changes to a variety of topics on Monday as well. It is said that in at least once case, an anonymous user edited an article on Crimea, the region annexed by Russia from Ukraine in March.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Mashable

Modified Version Of “Google Now” Available In Any Android Supported Language

Up until now, Google Now app could be used only when the device is set to English US and would not allow non-English users to use the application in their native language. However, Sletmo from XDA has found a way to modify the source code in order to use Google Now in any Android supported language format.

For example if you want to search for restaurants in German, or a place in French, now you can. And the results are also displayed accurately in the language set to the device. This is quite a remark for the guys at XDA, but nothing new since they are not new in this business. We just have to wait and see if an official version of Google Now will be released however.

To install the modified version of Google Now, all you have to do is replace the existing system app, either Velvet.apk or GoogleQuickSearchBox.apk,a with the modified version. Naturally, you will need root access to do this. We also recommend making a backup of the original file, in case anything goes wrong.

Thank you Endgadget and XDA for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Endgadget.