Technology Reports

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak pranks the Pope, races Segways and is a solid, rolled-gold legend.

The joke is that Steve Wozniak is the "Other Steve" in the history of Apple. But while Steve Jobs may have gotten all the attention for co-founding one of the most transformative companies of our time, Woz has crafted his own path that is inspiring, surprising and occasionally just odd. 

And his unvarnished thoughts on Steve Jobs are gold. 

Shot by David May & Mark Tadic

Edited by Marc Fennell

And if you want to hear a full unedited version of that discussion you can hear it in this episode of Download This Show

Roadtesting Playstation VR

Sony released their new VR headset today at Paris Games Week. I take it for a spin. Much embarrassment ensues. 

Playstation VR Road Test - The Feed

Marc Fennell (That Movie Guy) gives his verdict on the #PlaystationVR.

Posted by SBS 2 on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How Close Is An Accidental Nuclear Detonation?

Nuclear weapons - interview with Eric Schlosser and Marc Fennell

Anyone got a bunker we can hang out in? #TheFeedSBS

Posted by SBS 2 on Monday, October 19, 2015

Just how close have we come to the apocalypse? A lot closer than you might imagine. Just between the years between 1950 and 1980 alone the United States experienced a recorded 32 accidents involving nuclear weapons. That is according to journalist Eric Schlosser, who has documented the many times we've come close to Code Red in his book Command And Control.

There was one nuclear weapons accident in 1961 over North Carolina where a B-52 bomber started to break apart mid-air because there was a fuel imbalance on the plane, and as it was breaking apart the fuselage started to spin. The centrifugal forces on the plane as it was breaking apart pulled a lanyard in the cockpit. And that was the lanyard that a crew member would pull if they were above the Soviet Union and about to bomb.

There were two hydrogen bombs on the plane and hydrogen bombs are dumb. They're machines. When that lanyard got pulled the bombs didn't know they were over North Carolina not over Moscow. One of the bombs went through all of its arming steps, and when it hit the ground there was a firing signal sent. There was only one switch inside the bomb that prevented a full-scale detonation. That would have been a bummer because John F Kennedy had just become President and they literally would have had to evacuate Washington D.C.

Now this particular switch the following year was found to be defective in many of our nuclear weapons. They would have unloaded the weapons from the airplane and realised that the weapons were fully armed because the switch hadn't worked. If one of the defective switches had been in that bomb... it sounds so corny but it would have changed the course of this world.

Again and again, you find examples of hundreds, if not a thousand or more, accidents involving nuclear weapons that could have ended very badly.

The direction which military history has gone since the end of the Cold War has been to very targeted kinds of warfare, drone warfare - and nobody's suggesting that drones are perfect, they're certainly not - but there's a much more surgical approach to modern warfare and in that sense nuclear weapons don't seem to necessarily fit that trend. Do you think nuclear weapons still have a role to play in keeping the world safe? Does the idea of mutually assured destruction still apply?

I think it's more complex. The threat to kill all the civilians of your enemy country is effective. But at the same time it's a psychological threat. And if you get a madman as a leade.r or if you have a group like ISIS or Al Qaeda, who believe that dying on behalf of the cause sends you to heaven, then threatening to kill doesn't have that impact. So in the 21st century nuclear weapons have no purpose whatsoever.

This summer was the 70th anniversary of the destruction of Hiroshima; that was a really crude, inefficient, rudimentary nuclear weapon, and in an instant it killed 80,000 people and knocked down two thirds of the buildings in a big city.

We built, in the Cold War, nuclear weapons a thousand times more powerful than that. The nuclear weapons that Russia, the United States, China, France and Great Britain have are vastly more powerful than that. So I think everyone has to realise that we either work towards reducing the number of these things and eliminating them, or they're going to be catastrophes that make 9/11 - I was in New York City on 9/11, and I saw the aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Center - that will seem trivial compared to what's possible with these weapons.

Can you ever see a future where we are disarmed, or is it just too complicated, and politically and practically difficult?

I think it's within our power, if not to solve it 100 per cent, then to greatly reduce the danger, and the first step is for people to be aware. These nuclear weapons are out of sight, out of mind, literally. They're in silos underground, they're in submarines under the surface; there are these machines waiting to kill you. It's as simple as that. There are still 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world. They're wired up, they're ready to go and if one of them goes off it's going to be a catastrophe beyond description.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Inventor of the World Wide Web

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Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, PayPal, E-Commerce, Wikileaks, Anonymous even LolCats would not exist without this man. In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee created the web and irrevocably changed the course of humanity. He's been speaking in Australia and gave his one and only broadcast interview to Download This Show.

And if you'd like to know more on the topic of Net Neutrality, here's a piece I made for Hungry Beast in 2011

proving ground: sphero

Why re-invent the wheel when you can re-invent the ball. That seems to be the thinking behind Sphero. 

At $170 Sphero is halfway between Wall-E and your favourite pet. You control Sphero with your phone and can let it roll in water, change colour, and even impersonate Evel Knievel.

It may seem stupid, it may indeed even be stupid, but credit where credit is due there is a lot of innovation that’s driving this ball of stupidity.

Inside the sealed white shell is a tiny robot that uses a gyroscope to balance on two wheels. The robot drives up the side of its own shell creating forward and upward movements. Think of it like a Segway stuck inside of a ball. The trick is that it runs on gravity. 

wires, or battery compartments. Instead Sphero has its own built-in batteries that are charged by passing energy through the shell itself.

The charging station is basically a copper coil, which generates an alternating electromagnetic field and Spehro converts that invisible field into electricity.

Where it really gets fun, apart from torturing your cats and toddlers, are the augmented reality games. Sphero uses your phones camera to overlay a game environment, with say zombies, to give you a unique game play experience. It's fun but gameplay can be challenging. After all you are trying to control a ball that has a tendancy to run into objects.

making virtual a reality

 Virtual reality devices have been promised for many years, but until recently those VR devices were expensive and cumbersome. Now there's a flood of portable head mounted devices on the market that aim to bring virtual reality to the masses. The Feed's Marc Fennell looks at the portable devices that are changing virtual reality.