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The Ritterman Building
The Ritterman Building
The Ritterman

I was recently invited to have a gander at the new £18m Ritterman Building at Middlesex University which provides astate-of-the-art teaching facility for technology and design.

Environmental sustainability is at the heart of the Ritterman building as part of the University’s commitment in reducing our environmental impact. Sustainable features include solar panels, a bio-diverse green living roof and four living walls that cover 110 square meters. The living wall is the biggest in Barnet and has over 3,500 evergreen plants designed to flower at different times of the year to create interest and encourage wildlife.

Living Wall
The living wall at The Ritterman Building

While the building is impressive in itself is impressive, what goes on inside is amazing as I saw when I was shown around by Franco Raimondi and Zara Newman.

Have a look at some of the things you’ll see there:

pepper
Meeting Pepper
3d pottery
3d Pottery
roller coaster icon
roller coaster

 

Pepper Robot
Pepper Robot
Pepper

Meet Pepper. Pepper as you can see is a robot and robotics is a major element in technology education at Middlesex University. Having Pepper, along with Nao and Baxter, allows students to get to grips with programming robots which is a key future skill.

Although these 3 are the popular image of a robot most robot’s are designed for specific purposes so don’t have quite the humanistic appearance they do. Designed to accomplish specific tasks they can vary considerably.

MIRTO
MIRTO

The students start with an Arduino based robot called Myrtle. More technically know as The MIddlesex Robotic plaTfOrm (MIRTO). This provides the framework for developing increasing complexity in robotics, which is the basis  for the more advanced work that follows. If you want to know more about MIRTO take a look at Franco Raimondi’s Introduction and Version 3 update articles.

Smart Factory Lab 2
Smart Factory Lab

Of course not all robots move around and the facilities in the Middlesex robotics and haptics lab are enviable featuring over 100 workstations with equipment and software including CAD/CAM equipment, an integrated flexible manufacturing system, state of the art automation devices, LabView and Multisim tools as well as associated hardware such as NI-ELVIS training equipment and Compact Rio control systems.

Baxter in action
Baxter in action

We have always been impressed with the work that we see coming out of Middlesex through our sponsorship of the First Year Technology prize. There have been some excellent entries (take a look at last year’s winners) and check more info here.

Ritterman Building
3d pottery
3d Pottery
roller coaster icon
roller coaster

You know that you are only moving a few centimetres at most but you really, really do want to hold on! This is project in the basement (along with some other interesting stuff) which links up an Oculus Rift 3d headset with a seat from a flight simulator. With a clever bit of programming you really feel you are on a roller coaster.

And here I am trying to look like I know it’s hardly moving – but really feeling like I’m on the real thing!
me trying to look like I know it's hardly moving - but really feeling like I'm on the real thing!

 

 

 

 

Ritterman Building
3d pottery
3d Pottery
Pepper
Tweets that are printing a pot

When you enter the Ritterman Building the first thing you are likely to see is the 3d pot maker. This is an excellent example of integrating different technologies . While the pot is created using the 3d printer the shape of the pot is governed by the number of tweets that mention Middlesex University – so an intense period can be seen as a bump on the pot.

 

Of course it is not just tweets that can be used, music is another medium that was used to create a pot for Dame Janet Ritterman to celebrate the buildings opening.

3d Pot Wireframe 2
wire frame
Top down view
Top down view
printing a pot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ritterman Building
Pepper
roller coaster icon
roller coaster

Pixel Bitcoin ConceptBitcoin seems to be making the headlines again with the the exchange rate of nearly $1500:1BTC *.Additionally there has been a lot published on Blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin- but I’ll cover that in another blog. Having been asked a few times about how to buy Bitcoin I thought I’d give you a quick overview.

First of all you will need a Bitcoin wallet to store your stash. The easiest way to get started is to use a hosted wallet such as Coinbase* or Blockchain.info

This will store your Bitcoins and have facilities to receive and pay out.

Now you need to get some Bitcoins to put in your wallet.

Buying Bitcoin

The quickest way is to buy some. If you have a Blockchain.info or Coinbase* wallet you can do this after logging in and you can pay for them either by credit card or bank transfer. Alternatively, you can but from Local Bitcoins – this is a local marketplace for buyers and sellers of Bitcoin.

Mining Bitcoin

This is the traditional way of getting your hands on Bitcoin. The simplest way is to use a consortium such as Genesis Mining. Here you can buy a share of the mining operations and as soon as you have accrued a certain amount it is paid straight to your wallet. When you buy enter this code fl4R29 and you’ll get a 3% discount. You can also mine other coins such as Ether and Darkcoin.

How about some Bitcoin for free?

You will find many places that will offer to make you a fortune in Bitcoin – the majority are scams, the old adage ‘if it looks too good to be true, then it is’ is well worth remembering. But there are some sites that are genuine, although none will make your fortune – they will make you a few pence a week if you are persistent enough – but it’s a fun way to put your toe in the water. Here are a couple we have tried and confirmed that they do do what they say on the tin:

Moon Bitcoin : You can claim some Satoshi (1 Satoshi = 0.00000001 BTC) every 5 minutes. It increases while you don’t claim, but the rate decreases the longer you leave it. They make their money from adverts, so there are lots of adverts on the site. You also have to do a Google Captcha each time you claim – that can get decidedly irritating, but we can see why they do it. How rich will you get? Let’s say you are really keen and claim every 5 minutes for about 10 hours a day – you’ll pick up around 3,000 Satoshi a day + bonuses (see below), so lets say 3,500 or 24,500 a week … and that is worth about £0.21 ($0.26) at today’s exchange rate.

This can increase through bonuses that are applied – there is the daily loyalty bonus: you 1% extra for every consecutive day that you make a claim up to 100% – but miss a day and that goes back to the start. The referral bonus, for introducing another customer; an Offer bonus for taking part in surveys or buying something; and a Mystery bonus which is a random bonus added to each claim.

Free Bitcoin : this one is a bit more fun. Here you get to roll the ‘dice’ (which you can do every hour) and the value you roll will determine how many satoshi you win. The number of satoshi is linked to the dollar value of Bitcoin so it does fluctuate (a good way to keep an eye on the BTC exchange rate). The largest prize is worth $200 and the smaller prizes are a fixed percentage of that. On top of this every time you roll get tickets in the weekly lottery and reward points you can trade for bonuses. On top of this you can bet your winnings on the Hi-Lo game where you can choose the odds you play for. They publish the code they use so you can see it’s fair.

Please note that this is for information only and not a recommendation to buy or sell Bitcoin.

* May 3, 2017 16:27 $1481.00 CoinBase
* if you use this link we will both get $10 worth of digital coins when you have bought $100 worth