Friday, December 8, 2017

Meteoric Iron was the Source of Bronze Age Weapons and More

It appears iron from meteorites was used widely to make knives and other artifacts. Previous studies had found specific Bronze Age objects to be made from meteoric metal – such as a dagger buried with King Tutankhamun. This research addresses the question of just how widespread the practice was.

Bronze was the metal of choice for tools, weapons, and jewelry during the Bronze Age – hence the era's name – which began around 3300 BCE. The alloy was durable and easily available, made by smelting copper and mixing it with tin and other metals.

Read more...

Friday, December 1, 2017

High speed wide area wireless data (at internet speeds) looks promising in S. Korean tests:

Last month, Huawei and LG U+ had announced completing dual-connectivity technology verification during a 5G trial in Seoul, providing 20Gbps downlink speeds by simultaneously linking two 5G base stations... Huawei will maintain its capability to provide competitive E2E 5G network products in 2018. LG U+ and Huawei will continue to conduct further research into 5G technologies and build a robust E2E industry ecosystem to achieve business success in the upcoming 5G era...

Claing the world's first at-scale 5G network test, the companies used a 5G "tour bus" to deliver 5G 4K IPTV and used a virtual reality (VR) drone to demonstrate data rates of between 20Mbps and 100Mbps at the LG U+ offices.

Read more here...

Friday, November 24, 2017

Take the Middle Man Out of More Transactions

Uber and AirBnB are in the vanguard of the P2P marketplace model -- their gradual but ultimately huge success of is opening up breakout growth, heralding an explosion in startups with similar models: Taskrabbit, Fivver and others. Marketplace startups are unique because they aren’t just serving one base of customers. These enterprises connect buyers and sellers, service providers and consumers. Their models work when they ensure users are having a good experience with each other, as well as with the respective companies.

Can you tell I am a big fan of P2P exchange-based marketplaces? Companies like AirBnB and Uber have their detractors — some very legitimate: there are some serious issues around discrimination, harassment and worse that these companies have to continue to address. But they also continue to battle against unfair regulations. Laws need to catch up to this new model, not hinder growth and progress.

Obviously, there is growing interest in services like ride-sharing and short-term rentals, where demand is not easily met by traditional means due to capital investment constraints. These new enterprises are simply too big and popular to be pressured to shut down. Nor should they — each new generation reveals in a new world order with new economic realities. Robot cars (and more disruptive, robot trucks) are *ahem* around the corner. Even money (in the form of crypto-currencies, traditionally controlled by governments, is throwing off the shackles of authoritarian overreach.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Why Service Containers are the Future of SOA

For many developers, using the cloud to design and test apps makes sense when they must develop a business application that reaches many via the internet. They need to host it somewhere. The cloud is a utility. If a developer finds that, today, Azure is the most useful, they will deploy with them. If AWS offers something they need or has better terms, they will switch over to them. If the cloud is a utility, then we all want that ability to switch between systems.

Containers offer that. With the benefits of agility, elasticity, and automation of container technology will provide new capabilities to developers supporting web and mobile apps. Containers enable developers to craft environments to spin up new instances, free of constraints and tool conflicts. Keeping web services in containers means developers can also collaborate with system administrators by sharing updates for changes, linking, and testing.

The nexus of container implementation is a cloud orchestration layer for provisioning the infrastructure required to support containers. This enables live migration and monitoring of service resources after the migration. Because containers reduce complexity via abstractions, they remove the underlying infrastructure dependencies. This ability to standardize service architecture with managed distribution and service orientation ensures that containers will lead the way to the uptake of SOA principles.

Read more here...

Friday, November 17, 2017

Universal Basic Income Experiment in Finland

UBI is gaining test environments.

UBI advocates argue that many jobs don’t pay enough to even make rent and buy groceries: people can work full-time and still be below the poverty line. It’s easy to understand why people on the left would advocate for a guaranteed income, but a version of this concept is also popular among libertarians, who see UBI as a way to shrink the welfare state. For example, you could take away food stamps, medicare, and housing subsidies, and replace all of it with this one flat sum.

Read more...

It's not really a UBI experiment, it's more of an unemployment benefit experiment in disguise. Here's the NYT article referenced which essentially deconstructs the entire experiment...

Friday, November 10, 2017

Helo Drone Taxi Test in Dubai

A driverless flying drone has begun testing in Dubai, with hopes that the volocopter taxi two passengers on journeys of up to 30 minutes by air around the city.

Read more...

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Just Get on the Streets already

Many experts agree —self-driving technology is already capable of making our roads significantly safer. A study from the RAND Corporation suggests self-driving technology be rolled out despite its imperfections.

Read here...

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Crypto Currency Funds... Deleted. $300 million gone

A developer trigger a bug that locked up multi user wallets, then, deleted the contents...

Effectively, a user accidentally stole hundreds of wallets simultaneously, and then set them on fire in a panic while trying to give them back.

Read more...

Friday, November 3, 2017

Ban the Car... from Cities

With so many deaths that could be avoided, many wonder why we should allow cars into cities...

"More than 40,000 Americans were killed by cars in 2016 — the equivalent of a fully-loaded Boeing 747 falling out of the sky once every three days. It's more than the 33,000 annual gun deaths, and more than the 20,000-plus people killed by synthetic opioids that year. Half of those automobile fatalities occurred in urban areas; about 6,000 of them were pedestrians."
Read why cars should be banned from cities...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Apple Self-Drive Tech is Self-Contained, for Easy Deployment

Apple has a different approach -- creating a "thing" that can be grafted onto any vehicle to make it self-driving. Apple has been working on its own version of autonomous driving, codenamed Project Titan.

...the majority of the compute stack is likely contained within the roof unit itself, rather than stored elsewhere in the vehicle, and noted that it had six LiDAR units on the front and back. Such a self-contained unit would be pretty easy to pop onto any car really without requiring many additional modifications to the vehicle itself, which is probably why Apple has opted for such a design...

Read more...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Coming Soon to a Road Near You (if you live in California)

Next year, autonomous cars without human drivers will be allowed on California roads.


The California Department of Motor Vehicles will allow autonomous cars without steering wheels, foot pedals, mirrors, and human drivers behind the wheel to be tested on its roads starting next year. The department released its revised regulations today governing the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads.

Read more at the Verge

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Struts Framework Problem led to Equifax Data Breach

Hackers gained access to millions of credit report holders' information via a known Java Struts vulnerability.

The credit reporting agency Equifax announced on Sept. 7 that hackers stole records containing personal information on up to 143 million American consumers. The hackers behind the attack, the company said, “exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files.” That vulnerability, according to a report on the data breach by William Baird & Co., was in a popular open-source software package called Apache Struts, which is a programming framework for building web applications in Java. Two vulnerabilities in Struts have been discovered so far in 2017.

The breach details can be found here...

Read more...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Some Legislative Movement on Autonomous Vehicles

Congress might be making progress on self-driving cars: a bill put forth addresses manufacturers seeking to test robot cars have to demonstrate self-driving cars are at least as safe as existing vehicles. States could still set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance, and safety, but not performance standards.

The U.S. House ... unanimously approved a sweeping proposal to speed the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls by putting federal regulators in the driver’s seat and barring states from blocking autonomous vehicles.

The House measure, the first significant federal legislation aimed at speeding self-driving cars to market, would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year. The cap would rise over three years to 100,000 vehicles annually.

Read more...

Friday, August 25, 2017

Are Worker-Owned Cooperatives an Economic Panacea?

Perhaps more employee ownership would improve the performance of companies?

Shareholder value maximization has many issues but the most important one is that it “drains” a large part of the profits from companies both because shareholders control the board of Directors and thereby dictate how the profits are redistributed (to their advantage), and also in a desperate attempt to retain shareholder. Given the ever increasing free flow of capitals, investors can shift their capital allocations continuously to seek the highest return on investment at the lowest risk. This “free market” environment encourages a “race to the bottom” and a skewed allocation of profits between dividend payouts, investments inside the company, and investment in human capital (working conditions, wages…) In an economic system which relies heavily on consumption as the main driver of growth, squeezing human capital investments is tantamount to suicide (and no, credit is no substitute for a decent pay).

Read the whole concept here...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Vikings Lead the Way -- Drone Delivery in Reykjavik

Iceland is never too cold to try new things -- a startup is offering deliveries via the air:

Drone logistics startup Flytrex has teamed up with Iceland's main online retailer, AHA, to launch a courier drone service in Reykjavik. Specifically, it's serving one part of Reykjavik -- robotic fliers carry food across a river in the city, cutting the delivery time from 25 minutes to 4.
Read more here...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

UBI update - rich guys get behind the idea

Richard Branson and other entrepreneurs are supporting further research into universal basic income.

Read more...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Counter-Point: Robots Are Our Friends

Over at Wired, the author claims robots won't be taking our jobs. The case of SoftBank is referenced, to highlight current anxiety:

In a less anxious world, Pepper might come across as a cute technological novelty. But for many pundits and prognosticators, he’s a sign of something much more grave: the growing obsolescence of human workers. (Images of the doe-eyed Pepper have accompanied numerous articles with variations on the headline “robots are coming for your job.”)

... IMAGINE YOU’RE THE pilot of an old Cessna. You’re flying in bad weather, you can’t see the horizon, and a frantic, disoriented passenger is yelling that you’re headed straight for the ground. What do you do? No question: You trust your instruments—your altimeter, your compass, and your artificial horizon—to give you your actual bearings, and keep flying.

Now imagine you’re an economist back on the ground, and a panic­stricken software engineer is warning that his creations are about to plow everyone straight into a world without work. Just as surely, there are a couple of statistical instruments you know to consult right away to see if this prediction checks out. If automation were, in fact, transforming the US economy, two things would be true: Aggregate productivity would be rising sharply, and jobs would be harder to come by than in the past.... “Low productivity growth does slide in the face of the story we tell about amazing technological progress.”

Read more...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hidden Messages in Signs... for Robots Only

The company 3M is helping autonomous cars by encoding hidden messages in road signs.

3M is using its expertise with signs to assist with autonomous car development. The company, which now boasts 90,000 employees, is tucking invisible messages into traffic signs to help self-driving cars figure out where they are.

Read more here...

Sunday, August 13, 2017

This offers a visual depiction of the various software development methodologies.

The only thing more difficult than building software for a client, is explaining how software is built to a client.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

UBI vs the Robots

With advances in artificial intelligence and robotics, many people's jobs will be up for grabs. And we are entirely unprepared as exponential advances, most notably in form of artificial intelligence, will eat away employment as humans' primary source of income. There may be an answer, in the form of a direct payment to each of us.

Universal basic income (UBI) is gaining momentum worldwide. Switzerland held a referendum on the introduction of a nationwide UBI (which it rejected) in 2016,1 Finland is currently testing it for some people, and India is considering replacing its welfare state with a UBI.2 The UBI is an unconditional cash payment that flows monthly from the state budget to everybody. It is transferred from public to private accounts throughout an entire lifetime, from birth to death, without any application or preconditions to be fulfilled by the beneficiary. It is supposed to cover the socio-cultural subsistence minimum. However, the determination of this minimum level of subsistence is a political and not an economic decision.

Some suggest work can be divided into a few categories: routine and nonroutine, cognitive and manual. Routine work is the same stuff day in and day out, while nonroutine work varies. Within these two varieties, is the work that requires mostly our brains (cognitive) and the work that requires mostly our bodies (manual). Routine work started to stagnate at the end of the last millennium because some of that work is easily handled by machines.

One approach to machine intelligence is with neural networks, a tool of artificial intelligence. This provides a means for machine learning that can leverage big data -- the data sets being created and standardized. Everything we do is generating data, and lots of data is exactly what machines need in order to learn to learn.When computer code is wrong, it is self-corrected, further improving error detection and expanding the capabilities of the particular a.i. Bigger data sets speed such learning, and lower the error rates. No, this isn't SkyNet: think of robots as technologies, such as machine learning algorithms running on purpose-built computer platforms, that have been trained to perform discrete tasks that currently require humans to perform.

As others have written, "During the Obama administration, a report of the president was published (no longer available at whitehouse.gov) that included a very dire prediction: "There is an 83% chance that workers who earn $20 an hour or less could have their jobs replaced by robots in the next five years. Those in the $40 an hour pay range face a 31% chance of having their jobs taken over by the machines." Clearly, the robots are coming."

Read more here... and here...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Why Micro-Services are the "Go to" for Service Oriented Architecture

Within the SOA universe, a micro-service architectural approach means developing a single application as a suite of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with a lightweight mechanism, such as an HTTP API call. Micro-services are built around business processes, with independent and fully automated deployment machinery. There is a bare minimum of centralized management and services may be written in different programming languages and use different data storage technologies.

Microservices are designed to be independently deployable, whereas SOA services are often implemented withing a single monolithic environment. SOA is an architectural pattern in which application components provide services to other components -- but those components can belong to the same application. Micro services deconstruct services from apps.

Read more here ...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Cloud Computing Moving Front and Center of Federal IT Strategy

For federal agencies, cloud computing is now a lynchpin strategy. But the options are varied: public, private and hybrid cloud deployments. A variety of factors impact the decision to include the Cloud in IT strategy:
-- Compliance with Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) for cloud providers
-- Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) requirements for security
-- Security options for the various cloud models (public, private or hybrid) and provider
-- Designing a cloud migration

Both OSS and cloud computing individually offer potential benefits for federal agencies to improve their efficiency, agility, and innovation, by enabling them to be more responsive to new or changing requirements in their missions and business operations.

One example cited is: "...in May 2011, the US Department of Veterans Affair (VA) CIO stated to avoid costs, and to find a way to involve the private sector in modernizing Veterans Integrated System Technology Architecture (VistA; electronic medical records system), the VA turned to open source. In response, the VA launched the Open Source Electronic Health Record Alliance (OSEHRA) in August 2012 "as a central governing body of a new open source Electronic Health Record (EHR) community".

The approach to move data and applications to the cloud can vary. With critical IT assets in play, the importance of carefully selecting a plan and determining the most appropriate cloud service type and provider, is crucial. Results vary, but with the right support, organizations reap performance, reliability and cost savings from a successful deployment.

Read more here...

Monday, July 24, 2017

Get into the State of Flow

When a writer, a software developer, or an artist is completely engaged, they exeprience flow, also known as "the zone" In this mental state a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

"Scientists are still learning why people say they feel increased amounts of unity, reverence, and happiness in the water, Nichols told me. But if you look at the scientific recipe for flow states—the psychological term for when people are fully and pleasantly absorbed in what they're doing—being in water checks a lot of the boxes."
Read more at The Atlantic...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bird Watch: Ravens are super smart

Birds are smart -- and ravens are very smart. Until recently, planning for the future has generally been considered to be unique to humans. Studies in the past 10 years have suggested that apes and scrub jays are also able to make such plans.

Studies have suggested that corvids rival chimps in cognitive self-control. Ravens can imagine being spied on, and crows display puzzle-solving skills comparable to those of apes and human children.... Scientists from Sweden’s Lund University found that ravens appear to have the ability to plan for the future...


Read more here...

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fusion - in another research area, China is pulling ahead

Chinese experts have passed yet another world fusion record using the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST). The experimental fusion system managed to maintain a stable plasma state for 101.2 seconds, with the temperature peaking at 50,000,000 Kelvin (89,999,540°F, 50,000,000°C), we're told. By contrast, the temperature at the core of our Sun is around 15,000,000 Kelvin (26,999,540°F, 15,000,000°C). This beats the previous sustained fusion record at this temperature, also held by the Chinese.

Read more at The Register...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

China Ahead in the Autonomous Car Race

Baidu said it hoped to have autonomous cars on China's roads by 2019 - so long as the law allowed it - before expanding to other markets including the US.
Earlier this year Baidu also opened up its self-driving car codes to software developers via the 'Apollo' open-source platform in the hope it would spur innovation.
Two of its autonomous vehicles using Apollo version 1.0 were on display at the developers conference, the Wall Street Journal said.
Google parent company Alphabet, Ford and GM have also built and are among those testing self-driving cars.



Read about his misadventures here...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Osprey-Like Drone with Variable Angle Thrust

A traditional quadcopter is designed to achieve 6 degrees of freedom — three translational and three rotational — and piloting these manually can prove to be a challenge for beginners. Hexacopters offer better stability and flight speed at a higher price but the flight controller gets a bit more complex.

Read more...

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Aquaman

In the movie The Abyss, there are scenes in which oxygenated liquid has a mouse dropped in it. The mouse almost drowns, but then adapts to the liquid it has inside of it and breathes using that water. Is such breathing via some specialized water possible? The scene with the rat breathing an oxygenated perfluorocarbon fluid was real. The rat was breathing a liquid, and some countries actually censored that scene due to perceived animal cruelty. This is real technology -- perfluorocarbons are routinely used today in liquid breathing ventilators for premature newborns with severely underdeveloped lungs.


Read more at...

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Long Arm of the U.S. Law Extends Across the Atlantic?

The request for Supreme Court intervention concerns a 4-year-old legal battle between Microsoft and the US government over data stored on Dublin, Ireland servers. The US government has a valid warrant for the e-mail as part of a drug investigation. Microsoft balked at the warrant, and convinced a federal appeals court that US law does not apply to foreign data. The government told the justices that US law allows it to get overseas data, and national security was at risk.


Read more....

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A University of Michigan public-private partnership is testing vehicle to vehicle communication, finding that it makes autonomous prototypes even safer. V2V works by wirelessly sharing data such as location, speed and direction. Using DSRC, or Dedicated Short Range Communication, V2V can send up to 10 messages per second. This communication allows cars to see beyond what is immediately in front of them -- sensing a red light around a curve, or automatically braking for a car that runs a stop sign... One drawback is that the technology has to be installed in the majority of cars and infrastructure (such as traffic lights) to function adequately.


Read more...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Universal basic income -- Another Supporting Study

The Green Institute has released a new paper, Views of a UBI: Perspectives from Across Australia, that records the views of different Australians on universal basic income (UBI), a contentious policy idea that is slowly gaining international currency.


read more...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Apple's Autonomous Aspirations

Apple's secret self-driving car may be inching towards a reveal. For example, Apple was among a list of manufacturers and tech companies, granted permission in California, to test its autonomous fleet, along with Volkswagen, Tesla, Google, Mercedes, and others.

Read more....

Monday, June 5, 2017

Drones for Personal Transportation

While the FAA has change the rules ...

Soon personal drone use
http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21701080-personal-robotic-aircraft-are-cheaper-and-safer-helicopterand-much-easier

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How difficult is it to integrate RESTful services in SOA?

For many service-oriented architects, we still see monolithic applications built from one code base. Enterprise Applications are often built in three main parts: a client-side user interface (consisting of HTML pages and javascript running in a browser on the user's machine) a database (consisting of many tables inserted into a common, and usually relational, database management system), and a server-side application. All business logic for handling a request runs in a single process, allowing the basic features of the language to divide up the application into classes, functions, and namespaces.

The term "Microservice Architecture" has sprung up over the last few years to describe a particular way of designing software applications as suites of independently deployable services. While there is no precise definition of this architectural style, there are certain common characteristics around organization around business capability, automated deployment, intelligence in the endpoints, and decentralized control of languages and data.

Most development efforts use a project model: the goal is to deliver software which is then considered to be completed. On completion, the software is handed over to be maintained, and the project team is disbanded. Microservice development tend to avoid this model, preferring instead the idea that a team should own a product over the full life cycle.

Read more from this bloke...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bond Villain Wins in Iceland, Volcano to be used for... good?!

We learn that...

Iceland says its geothermal power station at Reykjanes can produce clean energy independent from fossil fuels by generating electricity from the heat stored inside the earth
It's named after a Nordic god and drills deep into the heart of a volcano: "Thor" is a rig that symbolises Iceland's leading-edge efforts to produce powerful clean energy.

If successful, the experimental project could produce up to 10 times more energy than an existing conventional gas or oil well, by generating electricity from the heat stored inside the earth: in this case, volcanic areas.
Launched in August last year, the drilling was completed on January 25, reaching a record-breaking depth of 4,659 metres (nearly 3 miles).


Read more here...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Work Outside for Better Health

Need a place to enjoy the sunshine, blue skies and a place to charge your mobile? OUTBOX is an innovative workspace offering on-the-go professionals a perfect spot to escape the office -- work and create in the fresh air. OUTBOX was designed in creative partnership with Architectural Technology students from the Department of Applied Technology at Montgomery College.

This month, the Outbox, an outdoor office space in Silver Springs (sic) in the US state of Maryland, reopened for the summer. It was created last year by real estate development firm Peterson Companies
Read more here...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Town in Canada to utilize Uber in place of Busses

The town of Innisfil will subsidise a portion of Uber fares for all trips with taken by residents within the town's boundaries, in place of building out a public transportation system based on busses.

Read more...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Interact with Each Other, not Your Phone

Using a Faraday Cage, a pub owner has figured out how to bring back the art of conversation.

Read more...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Drone with a Fuel Cell - long flight time

Chinese manufacturer MMC introduces its new technology of hydrogen UAS HyDrone 1800 with upgraded specifications to meet higher standards in professional applications. The Feria Aeroespacial México 2017 (FAMEX 2017) kicks off at Mexico City on 26 April. Designed for use in the toughest conditions, the drone is wind-resistant, rain-resistant, cold-resistant and still incredibly lightweight. Most importantly, HyDrone 1800’s hydrogen fuel cell technology provides a flight endurance of 4 hours or of a stunning 50+ hours when combined with MMC tethered technology.


Read more... http://www.uasvision.com/2017/04/25/second-generation-hydrogen-fuel-cell-drone/

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Amazon is Making Fuel Cells -- to hell with batteries!

Amazon’s fuel-cell idea echoes its approach to Cloud Computing. A stake in Plug Power allows Amazon to replicate its end-run strategy in the materials handling sector, where Plug’s fuel cells offer significant advantages over the incumbent lead-acid batteries.

Read more here...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

VW to build a National Charging Station Network for Electric Vehicles


As part of its court settlement with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the DieselGate scandal, Volkswagen agreed to invest $2 billion in electric vehicle infrastructure in the US. 


Read more... https://electrek.co/2017/04/14/vw-nationwide-150-kw-fast-charging-network-electric-vehicle/

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Uber - autonomous or bust

Uber worries that if a competitor comes to market first with a fully autonomous vehicle then it would crush The company in every market that they could launch in.

Many automakers worry that consumer purchases of cars are coming to an end (http://www.economist.com/news/business/21685459-carmakers-increasingly-fret-their-industry-brink-huge-disruption). Cars are sitting idle 95% of the time so it doesn't make sense for most people to have them (at least in major city centres). As a result, automakers have been starting their own ridesharing programs, like BMW (http://reachnow.com/). Tesla's program is starting soon as well (http://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-driverless-ridesharing-plans-could-take-on-uber-2016-10) allowing consumers to opt-in for their vehicles to be a part of it whenever they'd like but banning the use of their vehicles for other ridesharing programs.
So far Uber has actually been working with different automakers, but they worry that an automaker that they can't partner with or purchase from will beat them to market. And even if it is an automaker that's willing to sell to them, what's stopping that company from selling to their competitors? Whether he's right or wrong, Uber's CEO believes that they must be first and the best. Yes, I think that you're right in terms of the importance of establishing patents (and potentially having even competitors pay royalties) but with driver salaries being one of their largest costs, if a competitor can come to market and undercut their costs by 30% while being more profitable, they're in trouble - especially if they can't buy those cars themselves. -- commented elsewhere

Read more...

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Is a Cloud-based ERP the Future?

Over at TechTarget,

Today, most manufacturers that have migrated to the cloud have hybrid cloud environments, meaning they use a mix of different types of cloud computing and on-premises deployments of IT resources for the optimal balance of agility and cost. Hybrid environments are often necessary, as cloud ERP vendors do not always have every capability a manufacturer might need. Functions such as distribution and warehousing are easily carved off to reside either on-premises or with a different cloud service provider.

Read more here...

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Let the AI Drive, And We All Win...

If we can push humans and their tendencies out of the loop, and put cars under the control of cooperative AI systems, we might just be able to nuke traffic, or at least severely mitigate it. To this end, computer scientists at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed a new intelligent routing algorithm that attempts to minimize the occurrence of spontaneous traffic jams-those sudden snarls caused by greedy merges and other isolated disruptions-throughout a roadway network. The Nanyang researchers' algorithm starts off by just assuming that, given enough traffic density, shit is going to happen. Someone is going to make a greedy merge-something is going to cause enough of a traffic perturbation to result in a network breakdown. Breakdown in this context is a technical-ish term indicating that for some period of time the traffic outflow from a segment of roadway is going to be less than the traffic inflow. "We assume that the traffic breakdown model has already been given, and the probability of traffic breakdown occurrence is larger than zero, and our goal is to direct the traffic flow so that the overall traffic breakdown probability is minimized," Hongliang Guo and colleagues write. Put differently, "Our objective is to maximize the probability that none of the network links encounters a traffic breakdown."

Read more at...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Further Loss of Jobs from Automation Coming -- But Increases in Productivity and Wealth, Too

Nearly 40 percent of jobs in the U.S. may be vulnerable to replacement by robots in the next fifteen years, according to a new study by the research firm PwC. Other major advanced economies have fewer jobs at risk. The study estimates that 30 percent of jobs in the United Kingdom could be threatened by technical advancements in automation from AI and robotics, compared to 35 percent in Germany and 21 percent in Japan.

Less educated workers face the highest risks of automation. But these new technologies will also boost productivity, wealth, and spending. This should generate jobs in service sectors that are less easy to automate, but could also increase income inequality.

Read more at their site...

Friday, March 24, 2017

FLying in circles is bad... Landing in circles, on the other hand...

We know additional airports are difficult to build, and are the mercy of wind directions and speeds when it comes to takeoffs and landings. Limit to their capacity can also cause delays. The Endless Runway Circular Airport is a new concept that would use a circular, 3.5 km banked runway to ensure planes always land and take off with a headwind. Big enough to fit even a major hub airport inside, it would also take up less space than some conventional layouts, allow up to three planes to take off or land at once, and seamlessly adjust to the conditions outside without needing to make runway changes.

Read about the project here... and check out BBC's article here...

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Don't want to return that hired bicycle? Just leave it anywhere...

In many large Chinese cities, there are many brightly coloured “dockless” share bikes, haphazardly piled on the pavements in their thousands. Dubbed “Uber for bikes”, they are the product of a whole host of new startups, aggressively competing for territory and investment. The scale is stunning -- in less than a year, Mobike alone has flooded the streets of 18 Chinese cities with upwards of a million new bikes. Since last April, the company has placed more than 100,000 of their trademark orange-and-silver bikes in each of the cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

In the EU, using the AirDonkey app, one can rent one's bike out when not using it. To "donkify your bike," you order an AirDonkey kit (which is expected to cost 80 euros), which contains a lock and panel that you mount on your bike. You park your bike wherever you like and then take a picture of your bike. Then, you create a profile for your bike on Airdonkey, upload your picture, choose a drop off location, list unique features of your bike, for example, a baby seat or a carrier on the back, and lastly you select a daily and weekly rental price for your bike.

Read more here at the Guardian...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Who would have thought -- react decisively to the financial crisis, come out on top. Iceland thaws!

Iceland eased capital curbs ending almost 9 years of controls on businesses and citizens -- established after its banks collapsed during the financial crisis. Icelandic banks crashed under the weight of debts amassed over years of overseas expansion. As with Ireland and other states, instability spread throughout other European nations. Such excesses helped to inflame the financial crash. The government started dismantling capital controls last year by easing restrictions for local residents, in an island country with around 330,000 people.

Over at the NYT:

Nine years after a giant banking crash made Iceland a symbol of the global financial crisis, the government on Tuesday effectively declared that financial stability had been restored as it ended longstanding restrictions on the flow of money into and out of the country.

Read more at the NYT...

Friday, March 3, 2017

Hate litter in our waterways? Innovative way to clean them up

How many times have you been hiking with your dogs along your favorite river, stream or creak, only to cringe at the plastic bottles, cigarette butts, and other crap floating past? Maybe you have participated in "clean the creek" activities, like we have around our area?

How about applying some basic mechanical engineering ingenuity to automate clean-up? In Baltimore, Maryland some enterprising persons have done just that... With a water wheel!
http://youtu.be/v5l7s6wC50g
Watch how it works here...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Is Uber Doomed?

From SlashDot:

When an Uber self-driving car ran a red light last year, they blamed and suspended the car's driver, even though it was the car's software that malfunctioned, according to two former employees, ultimately causing Uber cars to run six different red lights. But technical issues may be only the beginning. An anonymous reader writes:
Jalopnik points out that in 2016 Uber "burned through more than $2 billion, amid findings that rider fares only cover roughly 40% of a ride, with the remainder subsidized by venture capitalists" (covering even less than the fares of government-subsidized mass transit systems). So despite Google's lawsuit and other recent bad publicity, "even when those factors are removed, it's becoming more evident that Uber will collapse on its own."

Their long analysis argues that the problems are already becoming apparent. "Uber, which didn't respond to questions from Jalopnik about its viability, recently paid $20 million to settle claims that it grossly misled how much drivers could earn on Craigslist ads. The company's explosive growth also fundamentally required it to begin offering subprime auto loans to prospective drivers without a vehicle."

Last month transportation industry analyst Hubert Horan calculated that Uber Global's losses have been "substantially greater than any venture capital-funded startup in history."

Read more from Hubert Horan here...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Goodbye Screens, Hello Choice (and less legroom)

Airlines have figured out we don't want to watch little screens with four crappy films...

The screens and their wiring add weight to the plane, and when fuel prices are high, every pound makes a difference. Another financial incentive: Without the screens, carriers can install slimmer seats, which means they can accommodate more passengers and earn more money, Brett Snyder, the author of the airline industry blog “Cranky Flier,” said in an interview.

“Rise of in-flight Wi-Fi aside, the zero screen purchases made by Southwest aligns with the fact that many of the carrier’s flights are shorter in duration than the time it takes to finish a movie,” he said, as reported in the NYT.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Are Microservices the Future of Cloud Computing?

SAP President Steve Singh is already looking to the future, and shared his forecast on an episode of CNBC’s “Mad Money”:

There’s another shift coming, and that’s from cloud computing to microservices. Now I realize that microservice is a bit geeky so maybe I can give you a simple example. When Kate, your producer, sent me an email saying, ‘hey would you like to come on the show’ obviously, I always love seeing you so I said, ‘I’ll be there Thursday.’ And just in that email thread, it automatically decided that I should book travel for Steve out to New York so I can join you on the show. All of that happened from the email. So what’s happening is the email is saying, look I need to book travel. I’ll just call Concur and have Concur do it for me. So as a user, I don’t go into Concur. I just go about my normal daily routine and the applications start to take actions for me all seamlessly.”
Concur is the travel expense software startup that Singh led through its sale to SAP for $8.3 billion in 2014. The acquisition turned SAP into one of the largest cloud companies in the world. As part of the deal, Singh joined as an executive board member and president of business networks and applications. Here's a site that touts SAP microservices. Read more about the SAP president's ideas...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Robot bees to polinate

From Slasdot,

A ... reader writes: An engineer in Japan has built a 1.6-inch "pollinator-bot" and successfully tested it in his lab. The drone's creator "has armed it with paintbrush hairs that are covered in a special gel sticky enough to pick pollen up, but not so sticky that it holds on to that pollen when it brushes up against something else," reports The Economist. They write that his experiments with the tiny drone "show that the drone can indeed carry pollen from flower to flower in the way an insect would -- though he has yet to confirm that seeds result from this pollination." While flown by a human pilot, next he hopes to equip the drones with their own flower-recognizing technology.

Read more here...

Friday, February 10, 2017

Ford Bets on an Unknown, in the Race to Autonomy

We learned that...


Seemingly out of the blue, Ford announced today that it's investing $1 billion in Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based company building self-driving technology. Ford is effectively buying the previously unknown startup, which was founded by engineers from Google and Uber. Argo AI will operate as an independent subsidiary and will focus on developing a software platform for Ford's self-driving car, which the company is targeting for 2021. Notably, Ford is also planning to license the technology out to other companies.

Read more...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Autonomous Air Taxi From Airbus

The autonomous plane can fly a single passenger on trips of around 50 miles. From a report on FastCompany: Airbus teased two possibilities for the Vahana on December 14: an electric helicopter and a plane with wings that tilt up to enable vertical take off and landing, or VTOL. After its engineers ran the numbers on both types, Airbus today announced that it's building a prototype of the sci-fi looking tilt-wing plane, which will begin test flights before the end of the year. "The vehicle is being built. Parts are being made as we speak," says Airbus chief engineer Geoffrey Bower. The company's goal is to get air taxis in service in about 10 years, possibly partnering with ride-hailing companies like Uber. "We would love to see what that kind of partnership might evolve into," says Maryanna Saenko of Airbus Ventures

Read mOre at FC....

Monday, January 30, 2017

New Spacesuit to go with New Spacecraft

Soon, astronauts from will use a new spacecraft, the Boeing Starliner. They will also utilize the Boeing Starliner Spacesuit, a cutting-edge backup system to the new craft, bringing more safety and comfort.

Thanks to advances in materials, it's 10 pounds lighter than the exit and reentry suits worn aboard the space shuttle, with the ability to let water vapor out yet keep air in. The new helmet and visor are integrated, the gloves are touchscreen-friendly to accommodate modern controls, and the joints are more flexible, letting the brave men and women who wear it move more freely.

See this at NASA...

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Friday, January 13, 2017

Could Drones Help Protect the Chesapeake Bay?

Aerial photos are used at present to track pollution into the Chesapeake Bay. Could drones help?

Aerial photos have been a part of environmental litigation for decades, but advocates say they are becoming even more important because of privacy concerns and so-called “ag-gag” laws in effect in several states now that forbid citizens from going on a farm property to take photographs or videos. More than half of the states have enacted restrictions on drones and their use for photography, though not Maryland or Virginia — yet.



Read more....

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

More Robots Coming.... To a Sidewalk Near You!

Not just aerial unmanned vehicles, but terrestrial, as well, are making their way to us...

Designers of futuristic cityscapes envision airborne drones dropping off your packages and driverless cars taking you to work. But the robotic-delivery invasion already has begun — in the form of machines that look like wheeled beer coolers scooting along the sidewalks.

...But Missy Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab at Duke University, worries that new technologies such as drones and sidewalk robots are being developed without enough attention paid to how they will interact with people or to how people will react.

“It’s a huge problem in robotics, which are developed by engineers” who know little about human interaction, she said. “Look at Google Glass,” she said. The eyeglasses had tiny screens that allowed Internet access, and wearers could take photos and videos using voice commands.

Read more at the WaPo...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Universal Income -- Some Already Have It

Some critics of universal basic income decry it on the basis that a UBI would deliver individuals income in a way that is divorced from working. Such an income arrangement would, it is argued, lead to meaninglessness, social dysfunction, and resentment. Passive income — income divorced from work — already exists, in the form of capital income.

Read more here...

Monday, January 2, 2017

Downside of Robot Cars - Less Kidneys


Should autonomous cars reach anywhere near their potential of saving lives, the US will face a decline in available organs for transplant.


Read more...