August waning

search_for_techSummer in August
Still in standby
With soothing breeze
Here comes September
—Ency Bearis

As summer winds down, and August turns to September, it’s time once again to survey the tech landscape for stories of interest. We do the legwork so you don’t have to.

We found information about a 17-year old Aussie gal who also happens to be a brilliant inventor; some cool photographic effects you can do with your iPhone camera; a university whose library contains not a single paper book; an Internet archive of millions of historic photographs and images now available on Flickr; a cost-effective cloud service from Amazon; and, finally, the next version of Microsoft Windows…is the ninth time a charm?

Ah sweet youth

Someone once said, “Youth is wasted on the young,” but you couldn’t prove it by Cynthia Sin Nga Lam, a 17 year old high school student in Melbourne, Australia.cynthia_lam

Ms. Lam is a finalist in the 2014 Google Science Fair for an invention that generates electricity while purifying water.

Reportedly concerned about issues that are impacting poorer nations, namely water pollution and unaffordable energy costs, Ms. Lam developed the H2Pro, which creates photocatalytic reactions that purify water and produces hydrogen that generates electricity. (By comparison, I couldn’t boil an egg at 17.)

Find out more about Ms. Lam’s invention here.

While it is easy to grow increasingly pessimistic in this world we live in, young people like Ms. Lam give us reason to hope.

Photo ops

And while were on the subject of young people, these folks demonstrate how to do some nifty photographic effects using an iPhone 5S.

Those effects include panoramic photos where one person appears multiple times in the same frame:


Other effects include using binoculars to serve as a zoom lens; transforming the iPhone lens into a macro lens; and creating a makeshift tripod to mount your iPhone.

Check out the full YouTube video here.

Virtual library

To a book aficionado, there’s nothing quite like a feel of a hard-cover tome with heavy weight pages featuring elegant typography. Nonetheless, it seems only a matter of time before the great majority of literature will be in digital form only.


For some universities, the future is now.

Florida Polytechnic University, for example, features a library that offers a number of desktop computers, laptops, and tablets readily available.

Students can access text books and other research materials online.

Reportedly, the university has a deal with publishers that lets students access a title once for free, but any further access by students requires the university to purchase the title for its virtual library.

While real books aren’t going away anytime soon, focusing on digital libraries enables technical schools like FPU to access the latest publications on science, technology, engineering, and math. These STEM publications tend to be frequently updated, a scenario in which paper books make less and less sense.

History in images

The Internet Archive has a mission: universal access to all knowledge. To this end, the non-profit organization announced this week that it has posted millions of historic images to Flickr.glogo2

According to the blog post, a Yahoo research fellow at Georgetown University, Kalev Leetaru, extracted over 14 million images from 2 million Internet Archive public domain eBooks that span over 500 years of content. 

To date, the organization has uploaded 2.5 million of those images to Flickr, which can be found here.

Affordable cloud storage

cloud_storageIn these pages, I’ve written about the need for anyone who stores valuable data on a computer to have a sound backup strategy. Part of that strategy includes cloud storage. The problem has been that cloud storage is expensive.

As the market matures, and competition increases, Amazon is now offering an affordable service dubbed Zocalo.

With a Zocalo account, Amazon is offering users 200GB of storage for $5 per month. The service supports uploading files from PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones. 

From this vantage point, $60 a year for 200GB is a bargain, and with Amazon’s critical mass and reputation, one’s critical data should be highly available and well protected.

Windows nein

Microsoft is reportedly working on the next version of Windows,  and will announce version 9 of the new OS on September 30.WindowsCyan_Web

The software company has struggled with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, which have not exactly captured the public’s imagination.

Installations of Windows 7, and even Windows XP, still outnumber Windows 8/8.1 deployments.

Will number 9 be a charm? Only time will tell.

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