A month with the Catalyst Fermentation System

I’ve been following the multiple “easy” brewing systems available online for a while now and have never found one that truly spoke to me. Devices like the Minibrew seem great but price and shipping problems have always kept them out of my boozy little hands. So, rather than wait for the perfect automatic system, I decided to look at the Catalyst Fermentation System, a $199 carboy kit that promises to make brewing as easy as boiling some oats and hops and managing a trub.

Fermentation is a fairly simple process. At its core you create a “tea” or juice using sugar-rich ingredients and introduce yeast. The yeast eats the sugar, produces carbon dioxide and alcohol, and dies. In wine you try to drive out the CO2 and clarify the product as much as possible and with beer and…

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Satellogic raises $27M for affordable, high-resolution imaging satellites

Space tech company Satellogic has raised $27 million in a Series B round led by Chinese internet giant Tencent, and with participation by CrunchFund (disclosure: co-founded by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington). The company also launches its sixth micro-satellite into orbit on June 15, aboard a Long March-4B rocket that took off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

What Satellogic offers that’s unique is affordable, high-resolution imaging in a micro-satellite platform, with the ability to capture photo data of the Earth at 1 meter resolution. By comparison, Planet’s constellations of 142 satellites offers imagery at resolutions ranging from less than 1 meter to up to five meters.

Satellogic’s products also carry hyperspectral imaging, with 30 meter spatial resolution from…

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Logitech’s Slim Combo for iPad Pro really boosts your portable productivity power

Logitech has a long history of making keyboard accessories for iPad, and it has a new product out in time for the release of the latest iPad Pro 10.5 and 12.9 updates. The Slim Combo, which is available for either size device, includes a back cover case with an integrated Apple Pencil sleeve, and a keyboard that uses the iPad’s Smart Connector.

The two piece approach results in a slim, flexible accessory package for the iPad on the go, which is pretty much a perfect combo for business travelers or creatives who want to pack light.

While it’s a ridiculous neologism, Microsoft’s ‘Lapability’ comes to mind when using the Logitech Slim Combo, since the back case includes a fold out kickstand that does a pretty good Surface Pro impression, letting you prop up your iPad Pro with…

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Razer makes virtual currency push with $20M investment in Asian payment firm

Razer has invested close to $20 million into Malaysia-based online payment firm MOL Global as part of a push to establish its virtual currency for gamers in Asia.

The deal sees Razer subsidiary ZV-Midas buy equity from existing backers MOL Investment and Hotel Resort Enterprise in a deal that values the MOL Global business at around the $100 million mark.

Gaming company Razer, which made its name selling high-end peripherals and gaming laptops, introduced its ‘zVault’ digital wallet and ‘zGold’ rewards program for its gamers back in March. The strategy seems like a long-term effort to keeps gamers’ money inside the Razer ecosystem, via its services and services of its partners, and bolster its e-commerce business through rewards and incentives.

This week’s investment…

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The e-Mosquito bites you to monitor glucose levels

Researchers at the University of Calgary have released the latest version of their “Wearable Microsystem for Minimally Invasive, Pseudo-Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring,” a watch-like wearable that “bites” you every few hours to draw blood and test your glucose levels.

The system uses a shape memory alloy actuator which contracts when heated and then snaps back into its original form. “When equipped with a small needle, the SMA-based actuators produced much greater penetration force into the skin than the bioelectric actuators and allowed the team to significantly miniaturize the device,” writes IEEE Spectrum.

“The idea is to have periodic, spontaneous and autonomous biting resulting in reliable blood testing, said researcher Martin Mintchev. “It’s a very…

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SmellPGH lets you report weird smells in Pittsburgh

Today in odd apps I present SmellPGH, an app that lets you report weird smells in Pittsburgh. Why would you do this, you ask? Well hold on.

“If you smell something bad in the air, chances are that air isn’t good to breathe,” said Beatrice Dias, project director for the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab. “Smell PGH provides a way for citizens to both report unhealthy air to authorities who can investigate it and alert other users so they can avoid it.”

In other words if you smell something, say something. The project is part of a wider effort to assess air quality through a semi-automated system and was created by the CMU Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab, a group dedicated to creating a more technologically fluid generation and…

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Amazon’s Echo Show gets more practical by adding support for smart home camera feeds

Amazon today announced a notable new trick for its next-generation Echo device, the Echo Show (aka the one with the screen), which could make it a more compelling purchase: it will be able to display the live streams from a number of smart home cameras. Already, companies like Ring, Arlo, Nest, August, EZViz, Vivint, Amcrest, and IC Realtime have created Alexa Skills that will use the new functionality, Amazon says.

In addition, Amazon is introducing a Smart Home Skill API that will allow developers to integrate live video feeds from their smart home cameras with the device.

The Echo Show, announced in May, is due to begin shipping next week.

The $230 Wi-Fi enabled device offers the same features found in Amazon’s smart speaker Echo – like the ability to talk to Alexa, play…

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Google Glass is apparently still around — and just got its first update in nearly three years

Dust off your Google Glasses, those who still have them — the $1,500 face computer is back in the spotlight today with a few updates.

Today, in its first update since September 2014, Google Glass got a “MyGlass” companion app update, some bug fixes and now supports Bluetooth. That means the new “XE23” version can now hook up mice, keyboards and other Bluetooth-enabled objects to their Glass device.

The app update rolled out yesterday and, in an even bigger surprise, the firmware update for Glass came out today.

So, Glass is alive? Well, yes, but it never really died. Despite seeming to go the way of the Dodo (you can’t buy it anymore and Google shut down the website in 2015), it never really left us, it just “graduated” from Google X after failing to capture consumer…

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The Baggizmo Wiseward is more than a wallet

In a hole in your pants there lived a wallet. Not a nasty, dirty, wet wallet, filled with the receipts and cigarette papers and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, boring wallet that fit nothing and there nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a Baggizmo wallet, and that meant lots of gadgetry.

It had a perfectly flat folder design, with a programmable NFC chip installed. The wallet opened to a built-in motion sensor and theft deterrent system and it even had an ultraviolet light that can test the bills inside for authenticity. The wallet wound on and on and came in multiple colors and even had a rechargeable battery built in that recharged using a wireless charging station. It had plenty of other features including a customizable internal LED for illumination in dark…

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