Productivity startup aims to make the Internet less distracting

At any given moment there are thousands of videos, Facebook posts, tweet-storms and memes to keep you from getting work done. But Saent, a new productivity startup aims to make its users more productive with a combination of distraction-blocking hardware and software.

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At a basic level, Saent acts much like other distraction-reducing software. When enabled, the desktop app blocks sites and apps that are identified as “unproductive” in order to encourage short term productivity. But Saent takes this concept a step further with the addition of a physical device.

Slightly smaller than a coaster, the hardware component of Saent is a small bluetooth-enabled plastic button. When paired with your desktop — the company is planning a Windows and Mac app — a touch of the button will launch what the company calls a “focused work session.” Each session, which is either 30, 50 or 90 minutes long, will block apps and websites that are designated as “unproductive.” An indicator light on the deice will track your progress during yours focused work session with the indicator filling up as you get closer to finishing.

As you complete more focused work sessions, you accumulate points, which are tracked in the app’s dashboard. Coworkers and friends are able to follow one another and compete for points within the app. The accompanying software also generates reports based on your behavior, such as the times of the day when you are most and least productive. Future versions of the software will be able to make personalized recommendations based on your previous habits, the company says.

Though the software also works as a standalone app, Saent cofounder Tim Metz, a self-described productivity expert, says the physical device is key for long-term success. “If it’s just virtual you’re probably going to forget about it,” Metz said, noting that productivity apps are easily ignored if they only live on your phone or computer. “If you have a physical or visual cue, that makes any behavior change much stronger if there’s something in the environment to actually remind you.”



The company is currently crowd-funding Saent’s launch through Indiegogo. Metz said he expects the device and desktop apps will be available to backers beginning in November and mobile apps will be available later on. The device costs $39 during the Indiegogo campaign and will cost between $49 and $69 after the crowd-funding period. The desktop apps will follow a freemium model with subscriptions ranging from $5 to $10 a month.

Microsoft HoloLens has a disappointingly small field of vision


Microsoft HoloLens fulfills our nerdiest Star Wars fantasies, finally making holograms a reality. But as futuristic as the augmented reality headset is, one complaint many people who have tried the headset on (myself included) have is its narrow field of view (FOV).  In a new video that highlights how HoloLens can be used to learn about anatomy, Microsoft briefly shows just how narrow the headset’s FOV is — more like a transparent display that floats in front of you as opposed to immersing you in full 360-degrees the way VR headsets like the Oculus Rift do.  SEE ALSO: HoloLens needs more work, but using it with ‘Minecraft’ is so damn cool  As you can see in the screenshots below and the video embedded above, it’s not pretty.   hololens-fov-1 IMAGE: MICROSOFT  hololens-fov-2 IMAGE: MICROSOFT I had a chance to try HoloLens at E3 as part of a Halo 5 experience and I can report the FOV is indeed an issue. Mashable games reporter Adam Rosenberg also took issue with it.  But if you’re thinking that Microsoft could improve things by the time the headset launches, don’t hold your breath.  Video game publication Giant Bomb sat down with Microsoft’s Kudo Tsunoda (guy who invented Kinect) to talk about HoloLens’ FOV, in which he replied: “I think you’re never going to get to full peripheral field of view, but certainly the hardware we have, the field of view isn’t exactly final. But I wouldn’t say it’s going to be hugely noticeably different either.”  There’s no official launch date for Microsoft HoloLens outside of the “Windows 10 launch timeframe.” Windows 10 will be available later this month on July 29. Microsoft also hasn’t announced pricing for the HoloLens.

'Cooler Computers, Smartphones Using Graphene Film'

Almost half of the total energy used in running a computer goes in cooling it down. That is going to change now.Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have developed a method for efficiently cooling electronics using graphene-based film.

Getting rid of excess heat in efficient ways is imperative to prolonging electronic lifespan, and would also lead to a considerable reduction in energy usage, experts said.

The film is attachable to electronic components made of silicon and has a thermal conductivity capacity that is four times that of copper.

A team led by professor Johan Liu from Chalmers University had earlier shown that graphene can have a cooling effect on silicon-based electronics, but the challenge was to stick a thick layer of graphene to silicon chips.

“We have solved this problem by creating strong covalent bonds between the graphene film and the surface, which is an electronic component made of silicon,” Liu said.

Moreover, functionalisation using this kind of bonding doubles the thermal conductivity of the graphene.

“Increased thermal capacity could lead to several new applications for graphene. One example is the integration of graphene-based film into microelectronic devices and systems, such as highly efficient Light Emitting Diode, lasers and radio frequency components for cooling purposes,” Liu said.

“Graphene-based film could also pave the way for faster, smaller, more energy efficient, sustainable high power electronics,” he said.

Bad Weather Casts Doubt on Doubt Impulse 2 Pacific Flight

Solar Impulse 2 was in a holding pattern over the Sea of Japan on Monday as organisers warned that bad weather in the days ahead could block the aircraft’s ambitious bid to cross the Pacific Ocean.

The seventh leg of the round-the-world journey was set to take pilot Andre Borschberg, 62, on a six-day, six-night flight from the Chinese city of Nanjing across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii, an 8,500-kilometre (5,270-mile) flight.

Borschberg completed Solar Impulse 2’s first overnight leg, with the aircraft relying solely on batteries charged by the sun’s energy, but poor weather ahead threw the rest of the marathon leg into doubt.

“Yesterday we had the possibility to cross the weather front just before Hawaii on day five,” the Solar Impulse team said in a statement.

“However, with the forecasts we now have, we don’t see this possibility anymore, which means that for the moment the road to Hawaii is blocked.”

Borschberg will stay in a holding pattern over the Sea of Japan, a map on the team’s website showed.

“Whilst we wait for the forecasts, we have decided to hold the position of the aircraft. We have asked Andre to stay where he is,” the statement said.

Organisers still held out the possibility of continuing the leg, however.

“During this time we will analyse where he will have to go to find a possibility to cross that front,” the statement said.

The journey began in Abu Dhabi in March and is scheduled for 12 legs, with a total flight time of around 25 days.

Promote green energy
The flight from Nanjing to Hawaii is the longest section of the maiden solar-powered global circumnavigation, an attempt to promote green energy.

The journey began in Abu Dhabi in March and is scheduled for 12 legs, with a total flight time of around 25 days.

Speaking on Saturday hours before the departure from Nanjing, Borschberg told reporters that the plane could land in Japan in case of technical problems.

Planners had identified airports in Japan should the plane need to make a stop, but the open ocean offers no such possibility, he said.

“As soon as we leave this part of the world, then afterwards we are in the open sea. There is no way to come back,” Borschberg said.

But failure could mean a parachute descent into the ocean, hundreds of kilometres (miles) from rescue.

No ship is trailing the plane as it travels far too fast for a maritime vessel to keep up with, even though its maximum speed of 140 kilometres an hour is much slower than conventional jet aircraft.

Solar Impulse 2 is powered by more than 17,000 solar cells built into wings that, at 72 metres, are longer than those of a Boeing 747 and approaching those of an Airbus A380 superjumbo.

The plane is the successor of Solar Impulse, which notched up a 26-hour flight in 2010, proving its ability to store enough power in lithium batteries during the day to keep flying at night.

Ridiculed by the aviation industry when it was first unveiled, the venture has since been hailed around the world, including by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Nasa Orbit Pavilion Lets World Science Festival Visitors Listen to Satellites

The US space agency has debuted a “Nasa Orbit Pavilion” at the World Science Festival in New York that is offering the visitors an auditory experience inspired by Nasa’s Earth-watching satellites.

The visitors enter the curved metal enclosure and get to listen to calming sounds like waves crashing and crickets chirping, reported.

The sounds come from all directions – gliding from one end of the dome to the other on different paths.

These sounds represent each of the 20 active Nasa Earth satellites passing overhead.

A network of speakers creates the “movement” of the sounds.

“Most people do not know that Nasa studies the Earth. It is good to do Earth science from space because you get a global view,” Dan Goods, Nasa visual strategist, was quoted as saying.

During the presentation, a Nasa presenter reminds the visitors that these satellites must be launched into space.

Then the speakers play the sound of a rocket taking off. The sound moves across curve of the structure, giving a realistic impression of movement. Then the calming sounds return.

Toward the end, a voice calls out the names of Nasa satellites currently studying the Earth as well as the International Space Station (ISS).

The eighth annual World Science Festival, ending on Sunday, has brought together the brightest scientists with the most interesting jobs on the planet.