Thursday, April 11, 2013

Insert Coin: Skydog brings cloud-based networking to the home

In Insert Coin, we look at an exciting new tech project that requires funding before it can hit production. If you'd like to pitch a project, please send us a tip with "Insert Coin" as the subject line.

DNP NDA Skydog brings cloudbased networking to the home, offers parental controls and bandwidth allocation

It's safe to say that most people's idea of home networking involves the following steps: buy a wireless router, set it up with an SSID and a password, and then never ever think about it again as long as the WiFi keeps working. But if you're one of a dedicated few who want deeper IT admin-level control over your family's internet usage, then a new Kickstarter campaign from PowerCloud Systems just might be right up your alley. The product is called Skydog, and while you do get a slim and compact dual-band 802.11n five-port Gigabit router out of it, Skydog is really more about the cloud-based platform than the physical hardware. Customers are able to visually survey who and what device is on their home network, manage permissions based on that information, allocate bandwidth priority, troubleshoot network issues with ease and more.

PowerCloud Systems is no stranger to cloud-managed networking -- it's been providing just such a solution to enterprises such as hotels, schools, multi-dwelling units and retail chains ever since 2008 when it was spun out of Xerox PARC. In order to bring that level of sophistication to the home audience, however, the company needed consumer-facing software to simplify the process for the masses, and that's exactly what it has tried to do with Skydog. After the break, we offer a tour of the service and interview the people behind it to see just why they're seeking funding via Kickstarter.


Source: Skydog (Kickstarter)


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Facebook Home Review: Surrender Yourself Unto Zuck

Facebook Home isn't a Facebook Phone, nor is it really "a bunch of apps," or a new operating system. It's an admission: Facebook means a lot to me, and is an interesting view of my life—and I want to look at it all the time, everywhere I go. If that sounds like you, Home is where your heart should be. If not, your phone will become something you hate. More »


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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Monster Watts WiQiQi puts wireless charging in Samsung Galaxy phones without new cases

Monster Watts' WiQiQi slips wireless charging into a Galaxy S 4 without a new case

Samsung already has wireless charging options for phones like the Galaxy S4, but they require a separate cover that adds a slight amount of bulk. For Monster Watts, that's still too much. The company's upcoming WiQiQi charging receiver is thin enough to slip under the existing cases of both the S4 as well as the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II, giving them the same Qi-based wireless power as official kits without disrupting the design or wrecking compatibility with accessories. Kits for the two phones already on the market should be available as soon as the middle of this month, with discounted early pricing for a receiver-and-charger bundle starting at $45 (normally $78) for the GS3; a WiQiQi for the GS4 won't show until around early June at a regular $88 price, although it should also start at $45 for advance buyers. Monster Watts' wire-free solution isn't seamless, but it may be one of the more elegant in an era when wireless charging is only occasionally built-in.

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Source: Monster Watts, Indiegogo


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Plumbing Work: Your Guide to New Plumbing Installation

plumberHiring a plumber to sort out the water in your home can be surprisingly expensive ? so why not see what you can do yourself before getting a professional in?

Few home-owners in the UK are comfortable with the idea of changing pipes by themselves in their own households. The very idea sounds scary and complicated, and you might think that no matter how much you plan ahead and prepare for every outcome, things are bound to go wrong ? and you might even end up with a flooded property.

Fortunately, however, things rarely end up going that bad. In fact, many DIY enthusiasts become more confident and more and more proficient by starting small (changing pipes, fixing leaks etc.) before undertaking fully-fledged installation projects; and by the time such a project comes round they are ready to construct a comprehensive plan and give it a go before hiring a professional. To help you with the different kinds of plumbing and appliance installation commonly found in UK homes, we?ve put together the following plumbing repair guide, which should help act as a vital resource in helping you to gather all the right tools and learn each and every plumbing process necessary, step-by-step!

If clunky pipe-work is regularly keeping you awake at night, then you might need to replace some of the rustier, older components for a more efficient and smooth-running water system. Wherever they are in your home ? between cavity walls, in the loft or basement, or under floorboards ? getting to these pipes can be tricky, and for the most promising results you should always make sure your work area is clear and clutter-free before getting started. Carry out a risk assessment if necessary, and get an extra pair of hands to help if you?re worried about making a mess (or to help in case of water overflow). Laying new pipes is also a regular part of most kinds of plumbing installation, including the range of DIY jobs listed below ? so make sure you have all the necessary equipment to hand if you plan on giving things a go yourself.

bathroom toiletFor most home-owners, bath installation can sound like a complicated and tricky type of plumbing work which shouldn?t be attempted by anyone other than a professional. In fact, disconnecting an old bath tub from your water mains and replacing it with a brand new porcelain model can be completed by anyone (although you might need an extra pair of hands to heave things around!) As long as you are prepared for some heavy lifting and have all the proper tools (including a ledger board, putty knife and galvanised roofing nails) at your disposal, there?s no reason why you shouldn?t give it a go yourself!

All the new components of a toilet can usually be bought as part of a single-purchase package deal and don?t require too much internal plumbing work. You simply need to fit the new model to the main waste pipe and secure the new toilet to the wall and floor of the bathroom. For more detailed guidelines to installing a toilet, see the main step-by-step article here.

How to Fit a Radiator

Updating an old, rusty and inefficient radiator with a brand new model can be a great way to reduce wasted heat and save money on your utility bills ? plus it?s pretty easy to do by yourself too!

Installing Kitchen Sink Units

Whether you want an ordinary fit-in kitchen sink or a more complicated corner model for your home, fitting a new kitchen sink unit is surprisingly easy ? many home-owners can have the entire job completed in a single day! You will have to hook up the drainage pipes to your property?s main waste/disposal pipe, but otherwise it merely involves assembling new cabinets and/or merely securing the sink model in place!

Power Shower Installation

Power shower units often come in two different types: either a standard electric model or a mixed shower with an integrated booster pump. Although the latter unit is easier to install (and can even be fitted directly into the existing faucet or exposed pipe work) electric power showers are usually more reliable. Nevertheless laying internal pipes involves a lot of stripping back of cavity walls and lifting up of floorboards, and is usually best left to be dealt with by a qualified professional.

How to Install a Dishwasher

As we get well into the twenty-first century a new dishwasher is no longer considered much of a luxury by ordinary UK living standards; in fact, it?s become a staple of most kitchens, and is a great way to save time on washing up and reduce water wastage in your home! Installing a new model can be tricky, however, as (like washing machines) the units are extremely heavy and delicate, and require careful manoeuvring into the correct position.

Remember, these articles are designed merely to give you an idea of what to expect if you go ahead and carry out these jobs by yourself; they aren?t fool-proof and don?t account for all eventualities. If you?re worried about fitting new plumbing yourself or lack the confidence to tear up floorboards or replace old pipes, you should always contact a professional contractor to do the work instead. These plumbers ?whether local tradesman or part of national franchises ? are usually fully trained, and have all the necessary experience in their chosen fields ? so you won?t have to worry about a flooded property or poorly functioning appliance while the work takes place! For those who fancy giving it a go, however, these guides should help you to plan ahead and come up with a step-by-step programme before you pull out the DIY kit and get stuck in!



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Italy's Bersani meets Berlusconi to seek end to impasse

By Steve Scherer

ROME (Reuters) - Italian center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani met his center-right rival Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday to discuss the election for the next president of the Republic, offering hope of a breakthrough in the deadlock left by elections in February.

"It was a good meeting but we're at the beginning," Enrico Letta, deputy leader of Bersani's Democratic Party (PD), told reporters in parliament.

He said the meeting had focused only on the issue of the next president, not on any possible deal to form a government, which has so far proved impossible for the deeply divided parties to secure more than 40 days after the election.

Letta said there would be further meetings in the next few days with Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) and other parties but said no names were discussed at Tuesday's meeting, intended to prepare the way for the start of the presidential election process on April 18.

The election of the next president, to succeed Giorgio Napolitano whose term ends on May 15, is the next big test for the parliament, which is split between the two traditional center-right and center-left blocs as well as the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.

It is unclear how far any accord over the presidential election will clear the way to a deal that would allow a government to take office but the tone struck following the meeting was much more cordial than it has been in recent days.

"It was useful to get clarity on the criteria we need first to agree on a range of names, then on a person who can unite the country," Letta said.

"In a moment of great division we feel a strong need to give a signal of unity to the country. That's why we want to try to find unity around a name we can both support," he said.

In a separate statement, PDL secretary Angelino Alfano said the next president would have to be acceptable to his party although he did not repeat Berlusconi's previous demands that the center-right should choose the head of state.

"The president must represent national unity and therefore cannot be, or even appear to be, hostile to a significant part of the Italian people," he said.

No clear favorite has emerged although several names have been floated including former prime ministers Romano Prodi and Giuliano Amato and former European Commissioner Emma Bonino.


The vote for the next president will be vital because with his mandate about to expire, Napolitano no longer has the power to dissolve parliament and call new elections and it will be up to his successor to find a way out of the deadlock.

Bersani, who won a majority in the lower house but fell short of the Senate majority which would have allowed him to govern, has so far refused Berlusconi's demands for a "grand coalition" between the two rival forces.

The other main force, the 5-Star Movement led by ex-comic Beppe Grillo, has refused any alliance with either of the big parties it blames for Italy's deep social and economic crisis.

In an interview with RAI state television, Bersani stuck to his rejection of Berlusconi's demands to form a coalition, saying the center-right leader had shown during the technocrat government of Mario Monti that he could not be trusted.

"When I meet him, I will say, 'We haven't forgotten. We know you even if you try to disguise yourself'," he said.

"We're trustworthy and we look for trustworthiness in others, if there are proposals, we'll see. Only they shouldn't come with proposals for a 'governissimo' because that's not possible. If they've got other ideas, we can talk about it."

Bersani has so far stuck to his hard line on Berlusconi despite increasing calls from senior figures in sections of his party for a dialogue with the center-right to avoid a potentially destabilizing return to the polls.

He wants to present a limited set of proposals to parliament and seek a wider accord among the parties for a broad series of institutional reforms, including changes to the widely criticized electoral law which led to the stalemate.

Berlusconi has demanded that the center-right be allowed to choose the next head of state as the price of its support to a government led by the center-left. He says the only alternative is new elections at the earliest date possible in June or July.

(Additional reporting by Roberto Landucci; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Michael Roddy)


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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Available Mechs and Golems

RolePlayGateway is proudly powered by obscene amounts of caffeine, duct tape, and support from people like you. It operates under a "don't like it, suggest an improvement" platform, and we gladly take suggestions for improvements or changes.

The custom-built "roleplay" system was designed and implemented by Eric Martindale as of July 2009. All attempts to replicate or otherwise emulate this system and its method of organizing roleplay are strictly prohibited without his express written and contractual permission; violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

? RolePlayGateway, LLC | with the support of LocalSense


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China confident it can control bird flu outbreak

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is confident it can control an outbreak of a new strain of bird flu, a senior Chinese health official said on Sunday as the World Health Organization (WHO) said there had now been 21 human cases of the H7N9 flu with six deaths.

China has said it is mobilizing resources nationwide to combat the new strain, monitoring hundreds of close contacts of confirmed cases and culling tens of thousands of birds where traces of the virus were found.

"We are confident we can effectively control it (H7N9)," the head of China's National Health and Family Planning Commission Li Bin told Reuters on the sidelines of a World Health Organization-backed event in Beijing.

Li did not elaborate, but she is the most senior Chinese health official yet to publicly comment on the subject.

In an update from its headquarters in Geneva, the WHO said more than 530 close contacts of the 21 people now listed as confirmed cases are being closely monitored for any signs of similar disease.

"At this time there is no evidence of ongoing human-to-human transmission," it said.

The bird flu outbreak has caused global concern and some Chinese internet users and newspapers have questioned why it took so long for the government to announce the new cases, especially as two of the victims fell ill in February.

The government has said it needed time to correctly identify the virus.

The WHO's representative to China, Dr. Michael O'Leary, repeated that no evidence of transmission between humans has been found and praised China for its efforts to determine the source of the virus.

"I'm very impressed with the action of the laboratories in this regard," O'Leary said at a World Health Day event in the Chinese capital.

"China is demonstrating their ability to get on top of this problem quickly," he said.

In 2003, authorities initially tried to cover up an epidemic of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which emerged in China and killed about 10 percent of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide.

Other strains of bird flu, such as H5N1, have been circulating for many years and can be transmitted from bird to bird, and bird to human, but not generally from human to human.

(Reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing and Kate Kelland in London, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Jason Webb)


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