Hacktivism & Hackerspaces

Hacktivism is the act of hacking. For many people to hack means breaking into other people’s computer system (mostly for bad reasons) but the real meaning of the verb to hack is to be able to analyse a system or a hardware and modify it to improve it or create something new from it. The people who do this kind of thing are called hackers and they go further into the studying of programming languages and computer systems and not just the simple basis the most people learn.

So it was created a place where these hackers could meet and gather their ideas to create a lot of new and useful things.
These places are called Hackerspaces.
There you can find a lot of different activities that you can join if you want. Some exemples are: to hack softwares, hardwares, programming languages, medias, etc. It is free and opened to the public. If you don’t know anything about the things that they do there, you can join the hackespaces to learn, there are many workshops to teach begginers. And if you already know these things you can join to contribute in many projects.

The site and app Pinterest was developed in a Hackerspace created by its creator Ben Silbermann. He left his job at Google to created a new app that people would enjoy, but he didn’t have a place to build an office, so he created a Hackerspace into his house and there many people helped him to develop the new app that now is a success.[1]

Pinterest site

“This is a picture of the office conference room.”

I was searching about Hackerspaces to write this post and among many things I found a Hackerspace that is close to my house in Brazil. It is called Garoa Hacker Clube.

Garoa Hacker Clube Logo

It is the first hackerspace to be created in Brazil.
They have a lot of events that happen during the whole month and are always changing like lectures about specific subjects and competitions. But they also have regular events that always happen during the week:

 

  • Mondays: old programming (that studies the old program language from classic games) and Dungeons & Velociraptors (that is a specific night only to play Role-playing game and table games).
  • Tuesdays: Getting Slack (this day they get together to develop new apps based on Slackware).
  • Wednesdays: Turing Club (it is a day dedicated to workshops, lectures and talks to spread and get people to know about different subjects related to computing, like information security, software development, encryption and theory about programming language.
  • Thursdays: Arduino Night (a night to learn, teach, build and use Arduino).
  • Fridays: We, Robots (it is a group of robotics that meet every friday to change ideas, discuss subjects about building robots and build some prototyping).
  • Saturdays: Open Hack Day (a day to hack and socialize).

Garoa Hacker Clube – Arduino Night

To tell the truth I didn’t know about the existence of Hackerspaces but I really enjoyed it. When I come back to Brazil I intend to join Garoa Hacker Clube to learn more about many things and to help in some projects that I am able to. It is very important to my knowhow as well as the development of new technologies that will help in the future.

Sources:
http://hackerspaces.org/wiki/Hackerspaces
http://www.monochrom.at/hacking-the-spaces/
https://garoa.net.br/wiki/P%C3%A1gina_principal
http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/hacktivism
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/02/garden/the-rise-of-the-hacker-space.html?_r=0
http://www.businessinsider.com/pinterest-founding-story-2012-4?op=1

Digital Futures

When my grandmother was a child in Brazil (about the year of 1945) she would never thought that one day she would have a computer with a camera integrated in it and with this she would be able to talk to someone on the other side of the ocean. Or that she would be able to watch the handicraft videos that she liked so much to watch on the television as many times as she want on the internet with a thing called youtube.

My mom, as well, would never imagine that she would have a telephone that would be portable, small and that she would be able to access the internet wherever she was with this tiny device. Technology is always chancing and surprising people.

This surprise also happened with me. One of the new technologies that are now on the market is the 3D printer. For me, the printers were just machines that printed texts or images that were on the screen of my computer. But now they are more. They are able to print 3D models of whatever we want to print. It can use plastics, resins, metals, ceramics and some more materials to print objects. Nowadays this technology is still a little bit expensive for everyone to have one of the them at home but we need to remember that when mobiles and computers were invented they were also too expensive to people to have at home and only big companies and important people used to have them. So, as soon as we can imagine, 3D printers will be in all places of the world.

Another thing that we have nowadays that many people in the world would never tell it would exist is the Google Glass. This is one of the highest technologies that we have nowadays. A glass that performs tasks that you tell it to do.

All the big companies and companies that want to grow in the future have a team to analyse what could be developed for the future. One of the biggest business nowadays is to predict the future, after all, technology is one of the most important things for people from all ages, since little kids to elder people once the companies are producing softwares increasingly easy to use.

So, with the technology we have today and the things that are being developed, it is almost impossible to think about a product for the future that cannot be developed. What could it be? A flying car? Mobiles with holographic calling? Anything is possible.

Sources:

http://www.tees.ac.uk/sections/research/digital_futures/projects.cfm
http://ukdataservice.ac.uk/about-us/projects/digital-futures/details.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing
http://computer.howstuffworks.com/3-d-printing.htm

Internet of Things

Internet of things is the term we use for the new usage of technology around us. For example, nowadays iPhone users can activy Siri and ask it to do things for them like call someone, tell the weather, send a message and all of this things (as well as Android users that have the google service for this too).

All these devices are connected (by cables or by wireless) so everything can talk to each other. And these huge technology is gathering a lot of data that can be used to create things in the future.

Imagine in the future you are coming back to your house after your entire day of work and your house knows that you are coming, so it prepares a hot shower to you and all you have to do when you arrive at your house is to go to your bathroom and take your shower after your tiring day. And after your house knows that you like to watch your favourite tv show, so it turns your tv on and all you have to do is to sit on your sofa in front of the television. And so you like to read before going to bed, so your bedroom turns the light on for you to read and it knows when you finish reading and then itself turns the lights off for you. In the following morning your house knows what time you wake up, so it already boiled water for your coffee and prepared your toasts. It also knows the time you leave your house to work, so in the same moment you leave, your house turns off all the electricity in order to save your money and be safer.

That is what we call Internet of Things. Devices learning our actions, what we like and what we don’t, our routines, and talking to themselves and so they will be able to do things for us without having to be told to.

One example that already exists is the Nest Learning Thermostat that was developed by Tony Fadell and a friend of him while he was building himself an ecological house. The Nest Thermostat has an artificial intelligence that allows it to learn your routine, the days you use it the most, the temperature you use the most and the time you sleep, so the thermostat knows when to turn it on and which temperature to use. If you leave your house to work, for example, and forget to turn it off, it turns off itself because it knows that you left to work. And if  one day you leave for a trip and forget to turn it off and the thermostat does not know that you leave for a trip, so it cannot turn off by itself, you can access it using your device (like your iPhone, iPad or MacBook).

Nest iPhone App

Nest Learning Thermostat

 

Sources:

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Internet-of-Things
http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/05/internet-of-things/
http://www.smartthings.com/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/morganbrennan/2013/10/10/house-of-the-future-how-automation-tech-is-transforming-the-home/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nest_Labs
https://nest.com/

Algorithms

Different algorithms are being increasingly developed  for all kinds of proposes. Not only the computing and robot field are using them on their implementations. We can see the use of algorithms in political campaigns and purchases online or in supermarkets. This growth is causing huge impact in the world, political field, economic field, in the technology field and in social life.

We have algorithms that allows robots to modify their behaviour for different situations. Another one to assist companies in making decisions analysing data coming from social media and news websites and we have the algorithm that uses the searches we do in google and youtube to choose the best ad to play before the youtube videos.

But these are the most commons kind of algorithms. There are algorithms for everything nowadays, and I am going to put here some “different” algorithms that I found:

  • researchers from University of California, Los Angeles have created an algorithm that analyses the movie genre, the release date and the key words related to it and calculates the chances the movie has to win the Oscar.
  • The True&Co is a bra company and when you shop online on its website you answer many questions that are analysed by an algorithm that tells what is the best size and model for you.
  • Lars Backstrom, Facebook senior engineer, and Jon Kleinberg, Cornell University computer scientist developed and algorithm that analyses Facebook connections to identify romantic couples and guess when a relationship is close to its end.

But after reading about all of these algorithms, one of them call my attention as the “weirdest”: An algorithms that connects to a twitter account and “learn” the way and what a person tweets and after her/his death it keeps tweeting for the person. The site is LivesOn and its slogan is:

Slogan from the site LivesOn

Slogan from the site LivesOn

Of course none of these algorithms would work without the Big Data. With the connection of these two important things it would be (and is already being) possible to predict things about the future. It can be an excellent tool in the right hands.

Sources:

[1]   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algorithm

[2]   http://computer.howstuffworks.com/question717.htm

[3] http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33713/Google-YouTube-Make-Algorithm-Updates-and-Other-Marketing-Stories-of-the-Week.aspx

[4] http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/features/2014/01/16/title-who-gets-an-oscar-nod-sociologists-develop-an-algorithm-for-oscar-recognition/

[5] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/01/15/chasing-oscar-nominations-is-like-gambling-in-the-lottery/

[6]  https://trueandco.com/

[7] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/business/bra-selling-web-site-uses-algorithm-to-determine-fit.html?_r=1&

[8] http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2426572,00.asp

[9] http://liveson.org/connect.php

[10] http://www.geek.com/news/algorithm-tweet-after-you-die-1540405/

Big data

The number of people that use internet increases day by day. Nowadays people can have access to the internet wherever they are using different kinds of technology such as cellphones, tablets, video games, computers and many others. This huge increment of internet users is creating a big concentration of data that is being called Big Data.

When you are using the internet for whatever it is the reason, you are generating a lot of data about what you are seeing or searching and creating Big Data.

The real issue about Big Data is not the huge collection of data that is being done but what is going to be done with all this information. The organisations (or whoever controls it) have to know how to make as best decisions as possible.

Gather data can be very useful and helpful for the human kind. With all of this it is possible to get and understand values that can help organisations to act the way community need them to, for example, modify some things to avoid traffic, identify the worst healthy problems and try to solve them or at least reduce some of the problems people may have.

Companies like Ford and Nike  has a team to analyse the results of analysis of Big Data to create new products to their users. They are using the analysis of Big Data with sustainability. Ford, for example, created a new model of car for 2015 that is lighter, uses aluminium alloy components and a new engine that reduces fuel usage. And Nike after a big data analysis found new alternatives to the usage of their materials. They are now using new resources for their production.

Amazon, as well, are using the Big Data generated by its users to improve their customer service. They have all the information about the user they need. Since name, address, phone number and email to what products they have searched and bought. They are using all this data to create a relationship with the user when he/she contact them for some reason.

Big Data and Metadata (that is the information behind all these data) can be one of the biggest things to help changing the future of the world to good if we know how to utilize this powerful tool.

Sources:

http://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/big-data.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_data
http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/ford-nike-big-data-smart-sustainable-design
http://www.fastcodesign.com/1669551/how-companies-like-amazon-use-big-data-to-make-you-love-them

Crazy little (little?) thing called… Internet!

That the internet is a very big thing, it’s not breaking news for anyone. But can you imagine or guess how much big it really is?

We have sites coming from all around the planet earth and we can have access to them anytime we want to. And how is it possible?

One thing we do have to keep in mind is that the internet is completely physical. All the data (I am talking about all the information that you can have access when you are using internet) is concentrated in servers that are physical computers used to save all this files. And some people may think “but I use wireless internet” but to create the wifi signal it is necessary a router connected to the internet by cables.  And there are also many cables passing through countries and continents (many of them by the sea).

This way we can start to see how big the internet actually is.

And as an experience to see how things really work, I traced the path data course until the final destination.

I decided to use the site of my university from Brazil, which is www.fateczonasul.edu.br.

traceroute to Fatec Zona Sul website

The packets pass through Goldsmiths router, after to the UK Academic Joint Network Team, in London.

pic1 pic2

After that they go to Switzerland, TeliaSonera International Carrier. To leave London the packets have to pass through a submarine cable, but there are many cables that leave the UK to the rest of Europe, so, it is not possible to find out by which one it is running.

pic3 pic4

The United States of America is the next place where our data goes to. There are some cables that connect that part of Europe and USA like FLAG FA-1, Apollo and TAT-14.

pic5 pic6

And then from USA to the final place… BRAZIL. The packets this time pass through the only cable that connects the Usa and Brazil, Sebras-1.

pic7 pic8

Sebras - 1

Sebras – 1

This analyse was very important to understand how things actually work, how the data is divided and how it travels to arrive where we really want, once I am not a “simple user”, I am a computing student and a future professional in this area.