Tag Archives: use

general design discussion • I made a countdown timer for workshops

In my current job, I’m doing lots of workshops. I find time keeping can be difficult, so I was looking for a countdown timer online and couldn’t find any that’s big, easy to use, accurate and didn’t have obnoxious sounds. So I made one myself! Big Timer is a full screen countdown timer for work stuff, like meetings, workshops and presentations.

Because it’s for work I even took the effort to make it work in Internet Explorer. I had a lot of fun making this, learned a ton about modern web development. Right now, its features may look limited, but there are some nice things, like the + and – buttons that you can hold and set a duration super fast. It’s all optimized for quick handling while staying focused on the participants.

I hope it can be of use to anyone here. Please let me know how I can improve it for your work context!



Coming soon to cities: one transit app to rule them all

If someone living in Logan Square, the hip Chicago neighborhood in the northwest side of the city, wants to head out to the suburb of Naperville one day to pay a visit to her family without taking a car, she has a multi-step journey ahead of her. She could get on the Chicago L’s Blue Line, which would deposit her downtown, where she could either walk 15 minutes or catch a bus to Union Station. Or, if she felt like it, she could hop on Divvy, the city’s bike share system and ride all the way to the station. Still, she’d have to buy a separate ticket for the commuter rail line out to the suburbs.

It’s far from an impossible trip, but juggling multiple transit services requires paying for multiple passes and having a working understanding of the timing of everything: If this passenger wanted to time her L trip and bus transfer to put her at Union Station right when her train out to Naperville was getting ready to depart, she’d have to know exactly when to leave home in order to make that happen.

Cubic Transportation Systems, a company that’s working with the Chicago Transit Authority, as well as Transport for London and the Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York, has developed an app that would essentially do all that for her.

[Image: courtesy Cubic Transportation Systems]

On this new app, which will roll out in Chicago–as well as Boston, Los Angeles, and New York City–in the coming months, a user can access a mobile version of every local transit operator’s ticketing service. In Chicago, that might be Ventra–which works with the L and the city’s bus network–alongside Metra, the commuter rail operator. In New York, passengers could access digitized Metrocards, which pay for the subways and buses, as well as mobile commuter rail tickets, and Boston’s would work similarly. In Los Angeles, the city’s 26 different services are all supported.

Below the different mobile passes, a passenger could enter their location and see a snapshot of all the available transit options near to them. A down-to-the-second tracker will let her know when the next bus or subway will arrive at the nearest station, and Cubic is also integrating with local bikeshare systems to map nearby docking stations and how many bikes are available (soon, people will also be able to pay for bikeshare on the app).

App users can also add favorites, if they tend to use certain lines or transit systems more than others, says Robert Sprogis, Cubic’s global director of product for mobile.

The app, called Cubic Mobile for Travelers, encapsulates a lot of the energy around streamlining and re-prioritizing public or car-free transportation for users. Uber, for instance, recently announced that it will be displaying public-transit data on its app as well as integrating with some bikeshare options, and other apps, like Transit, which displays public-transportation departure times, also is beginning to incorporate bikeshare. However, Cubic takes it a step further by incorporating mobile payments and ticketing–often a sticking point in multi-modal journey planning.

[Image: courtesy Cubic Transportation Systems]

For local bus and subway systems, which often use swipe cards and turnstiles to collect payments, the Cubic app acts as something as a mobile ticketing kiosk. Users can either save their credit card info on the app or connect with existing mobile payment options like Apple Pay to purchase one-time transit passes or top up their multi-use passes. “If you drop down below a certain value on your card, you have the option to set up automatic payments to refill it,” Sprogis says.

How commuter rail tickets are managed on the app is slightly different. Often, rail services require that passengers purchase and display a visual ticket that conductors then check for on board. For that, app users can purchase a ticket in the app, which pops up as a full-screen image, whose background slowly and subtly shifts color. “The whole purpose of that is to eliminate fraud–it proves I haven’t just taken a screen grab of another ticket or photoshopped one,” Sprogis says.

The Chicago Ventra app, which Cubic also developed and launched in 2015 as something of a pilot for this new app, essentially does all of this already, and according to Mike Gwinn, CTA’s director of revenue and fare systems, has been very popular, but it will be replaced with the new Cubic platform in the coming months to offer more capabilities.

While Chicago has been an important testing ground for the technology, “this app is designed to have global capabilities,” Sprogis says. While it will look different in each region that incorporates it–the local transit authorities all give input on the specific designs of the app–it will essentially have the same function wherever it is deployed. That does not mean, however, that if you live in Los Angeles and travel to Chicago, you can use the same app for both cities–for now, Sprogis says, each city will have a unique apps that all must be downloaded separately

Because the app aggregates and streamlines payments for all transit taken along a single journey, there are obvious implications for fare adjustments according to income or other indicators. But Sprogis emphasizes that the respective transit authorities that Cubic is partnering with are the ones who ultimately decide if they will use the system to implement fare-capping or other equity measures.

Matt Cole, VP of Cubic Transportation Systems, is hopeful that they will, and he also has another overarching hope for the rollout of this new app: That it begins to shift urban dwellers away from private car dependency and back onto transit systems. “There’s just not enough space for everyone to travel in low-occupancy vehicles,” he says. By designing an app that takes the scramble of organizing different payment methods and the gamble of guessing bus and train arrival times out of the equation, he hopes that soon transit will feel as seamless as hopping in a car.

Sodium-based batteries could be great alternative to lithium

New evidence suggests batteries based on sodium and potassium hold promise as a potential alternative to lithium-based batteries.

The growth in battery technology has led to concerns that the world’s supply of lithium, the metal at the heart of many of the new rechargeable batteries, may eventually be depleted.

“One of the biggest obstacles for sodium- and potassium-ion batteries has been that they tend to decay and degrade faster and hold less energy than alternatives,” says Matthew McDowell, an assistant professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech.

“But we’ve found that’s not always the case,” he adds.

For the study, which appears in the journal Joule, the research team looked at how three different ions—lithium, sodium, and potassium—reacted with particles of iron sulfide, also called pyrite and fool’s gold.

As batteries charge and discharge, ions are constantly reacting with and penetrating the particles that make up the battery electrode. This reaction process causes large volume changes in the electrode’s particles, often breaking them up into small pieces. Because sodium and potassium ions are larger than lithium, it’s traditionally been thought that they cause more significant degradation when reacting with particles.

In their experiments, the reactions that occur inside a battery were directly observed inside an electron microscope, with the iron sulfide particles playing the role of a battery electrode. The researchers found that iron sulfide was more stable during reaction with sodium and potassium than with lithium, indicating that such a battery based on sodium or potassium could have a much longer life than expected.

The difference between how the different ions reacted was stark visually. When exposed to lithium, iron sulfide particles appeared to almost explode under the electron microscope. On the contrary, the iron sulfide expanded like a balloon when exposed to the sodium and potassium.

“We saw a very robust reaction with no fracture—something that suggests that this material and other materials like it could be used in these novel batteries with greater stability over time,” says graduate student Matthew Boebinger.

The study also casts doubt on the notion that large volume changes that occur during the electrochemical reaction are always a precursor to particle fracture, which causes electrode failure leading to battery degradation.

The researchers suggest that one possible reason for the difference in how the different ions reacted with the iron sulfide is that the lithium was more likely to concentrate its reaction along the particle’s sharp cube-like edges, whereas the reaction with sodium and potassium was more diffuse along all of the surface of the iron sulfide particle.

As a result, the iron sulfide particle when reacting with sodium and potassium developed a more oval shape with rounded edges.

While there’s still more work to be done, the new research findings could help scientists design battery systems that use these types of novel materials.

Sugar cubes solve big problem with lithium metal batteries

“Lithium batteries are still the most attractive right now because they have the most energy density—you can pack a lot of energy in that space,” McDowell says.

“Sodium and potassium batteries at this point don’t have more density, but they are based on elements a thousand times more abundant in the earth’s crust than lithium. So they could be much cheaper in the future, which is important for large scale energy storage—backup power for homes or the energy grid of the future.”

The National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy funded the research. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors.

Source: Georgia Tech

The post Sodium-based batteries could be great alternative to lithium appeared first on Futurity.

The legendary Apple research group that shaped our world

Before Steve Jobs gave it the ax in 1997, the Advanced Technology Group developed some of the most influential technology of the century.

At this year’s WWDC, Apple delighted some users with a new feature in macOS Mojave. Called “Stacks,” the new functionality automatically sorts your desktop clutter into neat stacks of file types at the blink of an eye. Stacks aren’t really new, though. Like many other aspects of the technology we use today, they evolved from the work of Apple’s research center: the Advanced Technology Group.

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McDonald’s will test plastic straw alternatives in the U.S.

The news comes after the company announced it would adopt paper straws at all of its U.K. locations this year, reports USA Today. It’s not known at this time what material McDonald’s will use for its alternate straws in America, but paper seems to be the option of choice for food chains ready to ditch plastic straws. Plastic straws have come under fire from environmental activists because of their single-use nature and the fact that they don’t easily biodegrade. Worldwide attention to plastic straw use and alternatives picked up after a video of a sea turtle with a straw up its nose went viral last year.

Meet the microbe that breaks the "universal rule" of DNA

In a similar way to the binary code of ones and zeroes that tell a computer program what to do, living cells follow instructions encoded in DNA to construct organisms. It’s long been thought that any given DNA sequence would always create the same protein every time a sequence is read out by the cell, but now researchers have found the first exception to this “universal rule,” in a species of yeast that chooses between two different translations each time.

Continue Reading Meet the microbe that breaks the “universal rule” of DNA

Category: Biology


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general design discussion • Re: design on the go – computers

I’ve had the yoga thinkpad p40 for a bit now and its replaced my workstation. SW and powersurfacing plugin also running Freeform modeling plus. The downside is that that my screen has crack ( closed it with popcorn kernal near hinge) and finding a replacement screens are not easy or cheap. Its still cracked and causes the pen to jump to the last half inch and stay a while. I cant really use sketch programs on it becuase od this. Overall its pretty good of you need nvidia quadro and wacom pen.

That hp 360 looks pretty good though!–


American Express to take plastic out of the ocean to put plastic in your pocket

The American Express card made from upcycled marine plastic waste is expected to be available within ...

Though efforts are underway to try and tackle the plastic waste problem – from cleaning up floating plastic for reuse to cutting back on single use packaging in stores – the growing number of heart-wrenching images of vast islands of floating waste plastic available online show that there is still much to be done. Yet many of us carry around slim slabs of plastic in our wallets and purses, and when a credit card expires it can end up adding to the waste mountains. American Express has announced a collaboration with Parley to create the first credit card made mostly from ocean plastic.

Continue Reading American Express to take plastic out of the ocean to put plastic in your pocket

Category: Environment


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Gallery: Rugged campervans (and campervan-like 4x4s) of Germany's Abenteuer & Allrad show

Another high-riding Toyota Land Cruiser camper courtesy of Desert-Tec

The Volkswagen badge may have dominated among the grilles of camper vans and truck campers at Abenteuer & Allrad 2018, but not every camper there was a “people’s car.” From expanding Sprinters, to pop-top Land Cruisers, there were plenty of camper vans – and 4x4s with neatly integrated, color-matched camper cabins – that wore badges from the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Fiat. And this group included some of the most impressive small motorhomes of the show.

Continue Reading Gallery: Rugged campervans (and campervan-like 4x4s) of Germany’s Abenteuer & Allrad show

Category: Automotive


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branding, packaging, & retail design • Re: Rendered Product shots for packaging

neilsondesign wrote:

I ‘m doing a research if we can use a rendered product shots instead of using a traditional photography with the actual product.
1. Are there companies doing a rendered image for their packaging and collaterals?
2. If yes, do you have samples of these type of packaging or photo realistic renderings?

The rendered product shots often come out better than photographs taken through traditional photography, but personally, I prefer traditional photography. And my shots don’t look bad either.