Posted by: crudbasher | November 18, 2013

3 Recent Tech Advances

I don’t have just one story today, I have several. Obviously one of the most important advances in technology in the last 5 years has been mobile technology. Anything that improves cell phones and makes them more useful will have serious implications for society, including education.

1. Graphine Superconductors. (H/T Gizmag.com)

Professor Dan Li and his team at Monash University’s Department of Materials Engineering has created a graphene-based supercapacitor with an energy density of 60 Wh/liter, which is around 12 times higher than that of commercially available supercapacitors and in the same league as lead-acid batteries. The device also lasts as long as a conventional battery.

Graphine is one of those things that gets me very excited. There are so many people who are doing research into this material and the number of potential applications for it are mushrooming. Materials science is undergoing the same kind of boom as computers have been for the last 20 years. This can change our world.

2. Microsoft releases 3d printing capability for Windows (H/T pcworld.com)

On Friday, Microsoft released its 3D Builder app, which allows Windows 8.1 users to print 3D objects, but not much else.

The simple, simplistic, free app from Microsoft provides a basic way to print common 3D objects, as well as to import other files from SkyDrive or elsewhere. But the degree of customization that the app allows is small, so 3D Builder basically serves as an introduction to the world of 3D printing.

I believe that the free tools that come with Windows are largely crap. I have a laptop at home with Windows 8.1, have tried most of them and don’t use them. They are all flawed in some way in my eyes. Maybe I’m not a typical user but that’s my opinion. It feels to me like some VP at Microsoft said “hey 3d printing is a new thing, let’s put it in somewhere”.

Despite that, this new tool could be of limited use to start introducing high school students to 3d printing.

3. Amazon Cloud lets you rent a virtual PC or Mac. (H/T ars-technica.com)

…the company is using its cloud to deliver virtual desktops to any Windows or Mac computer, iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android tablet. Announced today, it’s called Amazon Workspaces, and while it’s available in a limited preview, it’s not yet ready for anyone who wants it.

[...]

Each user gets 50GB to 100GB of cloud storage (which is mapped to the D: drive), one or two virtual CPUs, and 3.75GB or 7.5GB of memory. Amazon delivers the desktops using the PCoIP remote display protocol, which is also used by VMware’s virtual desktop platform. Amazon Workspaces’ total prices range from $35 to $75 per user per month.

I keep seeing Disaggregation happening everywhere via the Internet. In this case you take the keyboard, monitor, and mouse and split them apart from the rest of the computer. The computer then gets moved to the cloud so you can use it anywhere, especially on mobile devices.

There are some advantages to doing this. The virtual machine can always be kept up to date with the latest software versions. You can scale the number of machines up and down easily from month to month (or semester to semester). It also allows a single computer lab to be used as either a PC or Mac lab.

The downside is the lag you get even with a fast Internet connection.

As I have been saying, the best things schools can do to future proof themselves, is to invest in better infrastructure, not buying iPads.

Folks, tech advances like this happen every day and they are increasing in frequency. It only takes a few to change the whole tech landscape so pay attention. :)

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