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Iconic Development For
How many times have you
been stuck for an icon, and we’re not talking about a common or garden Wingding? Mock ye not, it can happen, especially if you are a
designer, web or otherwise, artist or just a garden shed tinkerer, looking for
an icon to dress up your latest home-brew gadget. Well, to save you searching
the web the good folks at Google, specifically the Google Design division, have
just made a whopping 750 icons and glyphs available as open source images and
code. They’ve just
published the whole lot on the GitHub
code-sharing website as 24 and 48 pixel SVG files, plus PNG versions for use on
web pages and iOS apps, and not forgetting top quality hi-dpi PNG formats for
specialist users. You can download the whole lot for free, or click the Preview
button to see what’s available and if you have been wondering where to find
that elusive battery 60 percent charge symbol, now you know.
Compact Fusion Coming?
Yes, yes, we’ve heard it
all before but news reaches us, via Gizmodo, of an exclusive report in Aviation
Week magazine regarding a compact fusion reactor proposal from Skunk Works.
They’re a division of Lockheed Martin, famous for developing stealthy aircraft
and experimenting on crashed UFOs (possibly…).
Nuclear fusion is what powers the Sun and unlike nuclear fission, the
stuff that makes atomic bombs go bang, it’s pretty clean, doesn’t go bang,
generates negligible waste and should be of no interest to terrorists.
Basically it works by heating a plasma – an electrically charged gas – up to
the point where ions in the plasma fuse together, and in doing so, releases
very large amounts of energy, in theory more energy than is needed to sustain
the process. It’s a win-win situation, but there’s a problem. For fusion to
take place the plasma has to be heated up to hundreds of millions of degrees
centigrade, hotter than any known material can withstand so it must be
contained inside a large vacuum chamber and held in place by powerful magnetic
fields, essentially a magnetic ‘bottle’. It looks a bit like a donut, with the
plasma running around the inside, and most importantly, not touching the sides.
Up until now most experimental fusion reactors have been based on the Soviet
Tokamak design, and they’re very big, complicated and expensive to build and
thus far not very successful. The Skunk Works design is much smaller, not much
larger than a jet engine in fact and because it is relatively small the
designers say that they can get to the prototype stage in just 10 years, and in
15 years, be in a position to start producing 100MW fusion reactors, small
enough to fit inside a shipping container. That’s enough power for 80,000
homes. Fusion is the Holy Grail of cheap sustainable energy and we’ve seen many,
many claims over the years that it is just around the corner. At this stage there’s
no way of knowing if this will come to anything but sooner or later someone is
going to crack this nut, so here’s hoping that this will be the one!
Pirates beware, Warner Bros
has unleashed an army of ‘robots’, designed to track down and curtail the
activities of those suspected of stealing or distributing its movies and media.
It’s okay we’re talking not about Terminator-style killbot turning up at your
front door. The robots in question are software programs or bots that mimic the
behaviour of humans, searching the Internet for movies to download. This
information, which comes to us courtesy of Torrent Freak,
was revealed in heavily redacted court records that came to light following a
series of lawsuits between the studio and a file hosting service. The papers
describe how Warner Bros use the bots to research links to sites allegedly
infringing its copyright by hosting or linking to content. When it finds one it
automatically sends a Takedown Notice to the suspected offender. Apparently it
focuses its attention on around 200 sites but here’s the rub, the process is
fully automated and according to the documents, the material is not downloaded,
reviewed or checked by humans, which calls into question the accuracy,
legitimacy and even the legality of the exercise. Without conducting follow-up
checks there would seem to be no way of knowing if the bots are correctly
identifying dodgy material, or even the possibility that it may be perfectly
legitimate. More revelations are promised soon.