Sunday, December 18, 2016

Argument Fodder: Best P-Wagen Ever?

Which Porsche is the best? Who knows, they are all cool!

Even the original...

More Robot Cars on the Road!

Announced by GM CEO Mary Barra and not long after Uber said it had started a trial self-driving taxi service in San Francisco, and Google said it had transformed its self-driving car project into a standalone business known as Waymo, we see the SAVE Act signed in by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Developed in partnership with major automakers as well as tech firms, it clears the way for self-driving cars devoid of a steering wheel, pedals and a human in control to start testing on Michigan roads. It also lays the groundwork for setting up the criteria required for the eventual sale of self-driving cars to the public. We are seeing more autonomous cars on the road in the U.S.

Delphi and MobilEye to provide off-the-shelf self-driving system by 2019. Both companies have announced that they will bring a fully self-driving (SAE level 4) system on the market for use in a variety of cars in 2019.

In an interview session, Andrew Ng, the chief scientist of the Chinese search engine Baidu expects that a large number self-driving self-driving cars will be on the road within three years, and that mass-production will be in full swing by 2021.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Team that... Cooks together... Performs Better

Over at FastCompany, we read...

"Fun has to be part of the business when you market a lifestyle brand... What began as an informal gathering took on a more bare-knuckles edge last year after the company secured a new $7 million round of funding led by Partech Ventures in April 2015. Now two teams of on-site employees face off quarterly in what Hunter describes as an "ironless" chef cook-off using only tools found around the office..."

"Each team has roughly an hour to plan their meals and take a trip to the grocery store to find what they need, though some will forage for fresh produce right where they are," says Button cofounder Stephen Milbank. Teams get 30 seconds to pitch their finished concepts. They usually need every last one as constraints often lead to interesting or even crazy choices, like the team that used waffles instead of buns for a recent burger-and-salad cook-off.

Read more productivity tips at FC...

Monday, December 5, 2016

From SlashDot,

A single underground deposit of ice on Mars contains about as much water as there is in Michigan's Lake Superior, according to new research from NASA. The deposit rests in the mid-northern latitudes of the Red Planet, specifically in the Utopia Planitia region. Discovered by the Shallow Subsurface Radar (SHARD) instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the deposit is "more extensive in area than the state of New Mexico," according to a NASA press release. It ranges in thickness from about 260 feet to about 560 feet, and has a composition that's 50 to 85 percent water ice, with what appears to be dust or larger rocky particles mixed in as well. None of the ice is exposed to the surface. At various points the dirt covering it is in between 3 and 33 feet thick.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Frozen Embryos Could Lead to HyperSleep?

Read about a team of scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, who managed to completely pause their development, putting the blastocysts (very early embryos) in suspended animation for a month. What's more, they found that the process can put stem cells derived from the blastocysts in suspended animation as well, [and] the researchers were able to prove that the embryos can develop normally even after a pause in their growth. Team member Ramalho-Santos from the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research said... "To put it in perspective, mouse pregnancies only last about 20 days, so the 30-day-old 'paused' embryos we were seeing would have been pups approaching weaning already if they'd been allowed to develop normally." The implications for long-distance space travel are intriguing.

Any Car Autonomous - Via Open source

Read over at the Washington Post how a code jockey has released a system to make any car drive itself... for free...

Read more here...

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Road Sensors Could Aid Autonomous Driving

Volvo is continuing its work on autonomous vehicle technology with a research project that involves the use of magnets to keep self-driving cars on the road. In the 1990s, scientists Dr. Pravin Varaiya, Nortel Networks distinguished professor at Cal and former Director of PATH, and, Dr. Amine Haoui and Dr. Robert Kavaler, researched a solution using in-ground wireless sensors. ITS applications rely on traffic flow sensors to provide vehicle detection; incident detection; ramp metering data; real-time traffic adaptive signal control; roadway volume and vehicle classification archival and planning data; and data for traveler, commercial, and emergency information services. The success of these ITS applications depends largely on the proper design, installation, and maintenance of sensor components.

Read more here...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Direct selling, facilitated by the internet, spreads

Buying direct from manufacturers saves consumers money, and potentially increases profit margins. Amazon, in Italy, is selling Fiats directly to consumers. This is the Tesla sales model, and how many Japanese car companies market domestically.

Read more here...

Monday, November 28, 2016

Robot Trucks take to Ohio Highways

From SlashDot--

"A vehicle from self-driving truck maker Otto will travel a 35-mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 on Monday in central Ohio..." reports the Associated Press. The truck "will travel in regular traffic, and a driver in the truck will be positioned to intervene should anything go awry, Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning said Friday, adding that 'safety is obviously No. 1.'" Ohio sees this route as "a corridor where new technologies can be safely tested in real-life traffic, aided by a fiber-optic cable network and sensor systems slated for installation next year" -- although next week the truck will also start driving on the Ohio Turnpike.
Read more here...

Monday, November 7, 2016

Elon Musk: Basic Income, Because -- Robots

Space entrepreneur Elon Musk believes we’ll eventually need a basic universal income because of “automation.”

“People will have time to do other things, more complex things, more interesting things... Certainly more leisure time. And then we gotta figure how we integrate with a world and future with a vast AI.”

For example, in the future, semi-trailer trucks will be able to drive themselves. And though that won't become the status quo for a while, it will mean that there won't be a need for quite as many truck drivers, says Musk. Some drivers will transition to fleet operators, responsible for monitoring the status of a fleet of trucks, not any one individual truck. If a truck appears to be having issues, then the fleet operator would come in remotely and solve the problem.

"Actually, it's probably a more interesting job than just driving one [truck]," says Musk. It's likely those truck drivers who no longer have a job might see the situation differently. But the optimistic Musk sees increased automation as an overall benefit to society, even an opportunity.

Even the President thinks we should consider radical alternatives.

Read (and watch the video) here...

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cryptography is More than just Hiding Data

The importance of inaccessible cryptographic schemes cannot be denied. While governments claim the "need" to unlock cryptographic codes, "for security," recent examples abound of the need to keep the idea of a "backdoor" out of public discourse.

Cryptography does more than obfuscate information. In this Economist article, we read about, "Blockchains are also the latest example of the unexpected fruits of cryptography." Blockchains enable Bitcoin to operate without central management or authorities. A blockchain is a public ledger of all transactions that have ever been executed in a system. A block is the “current” part of a blockchain which records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed, goes into the blockchain as a permanent entry.

Mathematical scrambling is used to boil down an original piece of information into a code, known as a hash. Any attempt to tamper with any part of the blockchain is apparent immediately—because the new hash will not match the old ones. In this way, a science that keeps information secret (vital for encrypting messages and online shopping and banking) is, paradoxically, also a tool for open dealing.... A trusted private ledger removes the need for reconciling each transaction with a counterparty, it is fast and it minimises errors.

Peer to Peer file sharing networks removes the need for centralized databases and heavy storage areas. Think BitTorrent or distributed cloud storage. An increasing number of organizations and political parties have proposed the creation of a blockchain-based system to build a fairer and more transparent voting environment. The Danish political party, Liberal Alliance, proposed using this approach for e-voting.

Anything where an accurate record is needed, a blockchain can be useful. This could be included in the hash to any file, for a record. Instead of having a central source keeping track and controlling the flow of information, all communications are agreed upon through a consensus of all nodes in the network.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bender Would Be Happy

Robots need liquor... Now, they can serve themselves...

As part of a small partnership with Anheuser-Busch, Otto, the self-driving trucking startup acquired by Uber, delivered 45,000 beers from a weigh station in Fort Collins, Colo. to Colorado Springs.

Read more here...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Amazon Should Pick Up Their Empty Boxes to Recycle

Why doesn't Amazon. with their fancy new delivery services, pick up the empty boxes of our purchases, and re-use them?

Of course, you could donate to a worthy cause, packing the goods in your Amazon boxes.

Goodwill – the organization that receives all the unwanted clothes and household items from Give Back Box’s participants – pays for the costs of shipping as a way to increase its donations...
Sophie talks about options for recyling on her blog. Here's a discussion about the idea, on Amazon's forums.

@amazon #bluedog

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Poor Writing Does Not Have to Be a Cost of Doing Business

This article captures a common problem faced by institutions on a daily basis:

Poor writing creates a drag on everything you do. It functions like a tax, sapping your profits, and I can quantify it. American workers spend 22 percent of their work time reading; higher compensated workers read more. According to my analysis, America is spending 6 percent of total wages on time wasted attempting to get meaning out of poorly written material. Every company, every manager, every professional pays this tax, which consumes $396 billion of our national income. That’s more than half of what we pay for Medicare—but the poor writing tax pays for nothing but waste.

Read more here...

Saturday, October 8, 2016

MITRE wants you... to help secure the IoT

Over at SlashDot...

MITRE Corporation, the non-profit corporation that helps tackle some of the trickiest technical and security challenges out there, is dangling a $50,000 prize for anyone who can develop a solution for spotting rogue devices within an Internet of Things network...saying that it's looking for ground breaking new approaches to securing diverse Internet of Things networks like those in connected homes.

"Network administrators need to know exactly what is in the environment, or the network -- including when an adversary has switched out one device for another. In other words, is the smart thermostat we see today the same one that was there yesterday? We are looking for a unique identifier or fingerprint to enable administrators to enumerate the IoT devices while passively observing the network... "

Read more here...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Out with the Old, In with the New -- Solar replacing Coal

The investment in solar by Elon Musk and others is paying off.

For the first time ... First Solar Inc. is making panels for less than China’s biggest producer, justifying more than $3 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. government.
After investing $775 million in technology, First Solar is producing panels for as little as 40 cents a watt, or about 15 percent less than China’s Trina Solar Ltd. In 2019, First Solar’s module cost could be as low as 25 cents a watt, according to analysts’ models.

Read more here...


Jobs from the last two centuries go away, and new ones emerge. In this case, solar workers who once were coal workers...

A solar energy company has announced a new project in Southern Illinois that will retrain former coal industry workers in renewable energy. Solar Alliance Energy Inc., based in San Diego, says it plans to build a 500 kW community solar generation and battery storage project in Southern Illinois over 2.5 years starting in 2017. The pilot project will include a workforce redevelopment program to provide skills training and jobs to 30 unemployed and underemployed coal industry workers.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Basic Income gets a Large Scale Test, in Kenya

Basic income gets a large test,

...wealth distribution known as "basic income" or "universal basic income." Initially proposed in the 1960s, basic income's main goal is to reduce poverty by guaranteeing everyone a minimum salary just for being alive.

Read more here...

Robots and the Last Mile

Pizza delivered hot to your door, via robot!

Starship's robotic couriers will pick up goods from a centrally located logistics hub or storefront and ferry them to homes within a 2-mile radius. Through a partnership with Mercedes Benz, the company is also experimenting with loading a bunch of robots into a modified Sprinter van that drops off bots along its route.

Read more here...

Robots and the Last Mile

Pizza delivered hot to your door, via robot!

Starship's robotic couriers will pick up goods from a centrally located logistics hub or storefront and ferry them to homes within a 2-mile radius. Through a partnership with Mercedes Benz, the company is also experimenting with loading a bunch of robots into a modified Sprinter van that drops off bots along its route.

Read more here...

Robots and the Last Mile

Pizza delivered hot to your door, via robot!

Starship's robotic couriers will pick up goods from a centrally located logistics hub or storefront and ferry them to homes within a 2-mile radius. Through a partnership with Mercedes Benz, the company is also experimenting with loading a bunch of robots into a modified Sprinter van that drops off bots along its route.

Read more here...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Feds Weigh In - Autonomous Car Guideline

In the Washington Post, we read...

The specifics previewed Monday ask manufacturers to document for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) how and where they expect their vehicles to operate, how they will interact with other cars and the roadway, how they validate their testing, how they intend to protect privacy and prevent hacking, and how they would share data collected by onboard computers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

This Drone Picks Up, as well as Drops Off, Packages

The Prodrone Robot Arm Drone can retrieve items, as well as deploy them. Based on Prodrone's existing large capacity airframe, this unmanned aerial vehicle has a pair of five-axis robotic arms that can perform a number of tasks, from picking up and moving objects up to 22 lbs., to cutting wires and flipping switches at altitudes — up to 5,000 feet — where direct human interaction is inconvenient or impossible. Capable of operating in nearly any weather, a human operator is still required.

Check it out here...

Reporters get a look at Uber's self-drive cars in Pittsburgh

Over at the NYT, we read about reporters getting a look at Uber's autonomous vehicles on public roads, in the Pennsylvania city of Pittsburg.

Uber said autonomous cars can reduce vehicle-related deaths, including the nearly 40,000 that occurred in the United States last year, which was the deadliest for automotive-related deaths since 2008 and had the largest year-over-year percentage increase in 50 years, according to the National Safety Council.

Over at Engadget, their reporter tells us:

Uber's cars will likely learn [the customs of local driving] sooner than later, and I got to see examples of that learning on display in my drive. Apparently, when you're stopped at a red light in Pittsburgh, it's customary to let the first car across from you take a left turn if they need to before continuing straight through the intersection (it's called the "Pittsburgh left," appropriately). The autonomous cars thus are programmed to take a little pause before continuing through an intersection when a car across from it has its left blinker on. That's not about driving "right" or "wrong" -- it's about knowing local rules of the road and respecting them. Every area these cars go into will have their own quirky rules like this they'll need to learn.


While sitting in the back of the Uber, I could look at an iPad mounted to show the riders some details on the car. You can see how far you've driven autonomously, the current speed and a graphic showing the movements of the steering wheel and when the brakes are applied. But most interesting was a view of what the car's radar system is seeing at any given moment. You can see cars, buildings, pedestrians and anything else in range of the car. It'll satisfy the curiosity of people interested in how the car works as well as provide some transparency and possible security to people skeptical about the system.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Chatty Dolphins

We read over at Slashdot,

For the first time Russian researchers have recorded a conversation between two dolphins -- Yasha and Yana -- who were talking to each other in a pool. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Telegraph: Scientists developed an underwater microphone which could distinguish the animals' different "voices" [and] have now shown that dolphins alter the volume and frequency of pulsed clicks to form individual "words" which they string together into sentences in much the same way that humans speak.

"This language exhibits all the design features present in the human spoken language, this indicates a high level of intelligence and consciousness in dolphins, and their language can be ostensibly considered a highly developed spoken language, akin to the human language... Humans must take the first step to establish relationships with the first intelligent inhabitants of the planet Earth by creating devices capable of overcoming the barriers that stand in the way of using languages and in the way of communications between dolphins and people."

The dolphins listened to an entire "sentence" before replying, according to the article, which points out that dolphin brains are larger and more complex than the brains of humans.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

How to Stay in Touch with the Drone Delivery Service

Communicating with drones that typically rely on WiFi is a conundrum for soon-to-exist delivery services and others. AT&T thinks it has a solution. The radio links or WiFi that enable control of unmanned aerial vehicles is limited in range to a few thousand feet, and aren’t reliable for control over long distances.

In Wired, we read:

The solution may lurk in your own line-of-sight—on top of water towers and rooftops, or shrouded by poorly faked roadside “trees.” Qualcomm Technologies and AT&T announced today they’re collaborating to make wide-ranging drone operations reliable and safe, using current 4G LTE and future 5G networks. The drones will connect to the towers via modems similar to those found in smartphones and automobiles equipped with their own cellular broadband capability, and they’ll be controllable from any distance, as long as the drone is within cell range...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Cloud Security is Not As Difficult as One Imagines

Distributed computing in the cloud give customers the opportunity to take advantage of service oriented architecture in incremental amounts without the expense to obtain such assets. Cloud computing can be though of in three ways: Infrastructure as a Service; Platform as a Service; and, Software as a Service. Besides, this style of computing has a few fundamental arrangement models, specifically, open, private, group, and a hybrid. With every one of the open doors exhibited by distributed computing as a business procedure, there are in any case potential dangers connected with the procedure, particularly in the range of security. The point of this paper is to figure out if or not it is secure for organizations to use the administrations of distributed computing as a component of their every day operations to address the issues of their clients and to at last accomplish their business destinations. With satisfactory security controls established, cloud computing is a safe and effective option for organizations to use for their day by day operations.

One such security compromise was the recent security breach of Apple iCloud. This was perhaps a talked about security breach following the unauthorized publication of personal photographs of American celebrities. However, after a thorough investigation, the accounts had been compromised as the result of a targeted attack on usernames and passwords.

Duty regarding security in the cloud environment was an undertaking shared between the cloud administration supplier and the cloud client. In situations where outsiders are utilized, those gatherings will likewise be in charge of security of the cloud. Be that as it may, the cloud client has extreme obligation regarding information privacy, uprightness and access controls (as far as characterizing access parameters and levels of access for clients). The cloud client ought to guarantee that using a cloud administration supplier does not bring about security issues that may trade off consistence with laws and directions. In any business, hazard evaluation is essential in recognizing dangers, organizing them taking into account probability and effect and additionally outlining controls to relieve them.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Who Will Protect the Robots?

BBC has a good article -- without someone to watch passengers, how will robot taxis ensure their fares don't become unruly?


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Can You Tell I Can't Wait to Not Drive!

Another company -- emerging from stealth mode -- announced a retrofit kit to make fleet vehicles, from delivery trucks to car services, self-driving. The kit includes a sensor array, computer and an LED sign to communicate with pedestrians and other drivers.

The company,, is past the dev phase, as it holds a license to test self-driving cars in California, and has already been deploying its systems on open roads.

Read more at CNet

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Thursday, August 18, 2016

If You Live in Pittsburg, an Uber Robot might Drive You


If you live in Pittsburgh and use Uber, get ready to meet some robotic drivers later this month.

That’s according to a detailed new report in Bloomberg Businessweek. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick revealed that the company plans to soon add driverless cars—complete with “dozens of sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers”—to its fleet in Pittsburgh. The goal in the long-run is to replace its millions of human drivers with autonomous vehicles.

The car army won’t be completely devoid of humans, however. For now, the cars will also come with people in the driver’s seat—they’ll just be there to make sure nothing goes terribly, horribly wrong, and to take over in scenarios where Uber’s self-driving tech isn’t yet reliable, such as hen the car is crossing a bridge. Sitting shotgun, and observer will take notes on a laptop. Cameras inside the vehicle will record all of the goings on.

Riders will hail an Uber the usual way, but they’ll be assigned a driverless car at random. (One immediate benefit: The trips will be free, instead of the local rate of $1.30 a mile.) When you get into a car, a tablet in the backseat will inform you that the car is being driven autonomously.

The announcement of the driverless fleet launch comes in tandem with news that Uber will team up with Volvo to develop autonomous cars. The $300 million partnership between the automotive and Silicon Valley giants is already producing results—Uber’s driverless Pittsburgh contingent will be stocked with custom Volvo XC90 SUVs.

Read the whole article...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Autonomous Vehicles -- from Ford

According to the Guardian,

Ford ... announces plans to make self-driving vehicles for companies such as Uber and Lyft by 2021, saying automation of cars will define the next decade

This comes on the heels of a lobbying effort by Ford and others
Read more here...

Saturday, August 6, 2016

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.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Commercial Space Travel to the Moon Approved

With a recently granted approval, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has given the go-ahead for the Moon Express mission to ferry a small lander to Luna in 2017. This sets a framework for other commercial expeditions to the moon, asteroids and Mars. According to the company, the spacecraft will carry a number of science experiments and commercial cargo on its one-way trip to the lunar surface, including cremated human remains, and will beam back pictures and video to Terra. This suggests the MX-1 mission will comply with the Outer Space Treaty.

Read more here...

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Electric Utilities Change Rate Schedules to Rob You of Solar Savings

Electric utilities change the rate schedule so owners of solar arrays pay a higher rate during the evening, and can only sell power back to the grid at a lower rate than previous.

Read more here...

Thursday, July 28, 2016

After 18 Years, SAAS provider NetSuite Pays off Big

Oracle is to acquire NetSuite, a software-as-a-service provider that makes the ambitions claim of being the very first cloud company. NetSuite has been working for 18 years to develop a single system for running a business in the cloud.

Read more here...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Solar for everyone -- Elon Musk will make Tesla Car Company a broader brand

By snapping up Solar City, Elon Musk plans to provide Solar for everyone, and will make Tesla Car Company a broader brand. Plus - you can make your Tesla part of the autonomous fleet, when you are not using it...!

You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you're at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost. This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla. Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Scrap Welfare -- Give Everyone a Paycheck. We are going to need it -- when Robots do all the work

Many are lobbying for a bold social experiment to help eradicate poverty and protect workers in an increasingly automated economy... the idea of guaranteed minimum income for everyone. Guaranteed minimum income is a system of social welfare that guarantees that all citizens have an income sufficient to live on.

The Atlantic:

The idea isn’t new. As Frum notes, Friederich Hayek endorsed it. In 1962, the libertarian economist Milton Friedman advocated a minimum guaranteed income via a “negative income tax.” In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” Richard Nixon unsuccessfully tried to pass a version of Friedman’s plan a few years later, and his Democratic opponent in the 1972 presidential election, George McGovern, also suggested a guaranteed annual income. In a 2006 book, conservative intellectual Charles Murray proposed eliminating all welfare transfer programs, including Social Security and Medicare, and substituting an annual $10,000 cash grant to everyone 21 years and older. The Alaska Permanent Fund, funded by investments from state oil revenues, sends annual dividend checks to the state’s residents.

While recently Swiss voters rejected an option, the idea of guaranteed income is compelling, in the face of the on-going robot revolution. Other proposals are being debated elsewhere, including the Netherlands, Finland, Canada and New Zealand.

Here's an interesting take on the concept...

And Forbes has an excellent summary of the Netherlands experiment...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Want to See things More Clearly? Use low-cost, high res Micro Len technology!

Flat lens promises a revolution in optics, and they are unlike the curved disks of glass found everywhere from cameras to binoculars. Instead, it is made of a thin layer of transparent quartz coated in millions of tiny pillars, each just tens of nanometres across and hundreds high. Singly, each pillar interacts strongly with light. Their combined effect is to slice up a light beam and remould it as the rays pass through the array... The team is already working on beating the performance of its first prototypes.

Read more over at this source... on BBC.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Why Our Government Hates Drones

Over at Wired, read why the government hates drones:

...why the government freaked out when a $400 remote-controlled quadcopter landed on the White House grounds last week, you need to look four miles away, to a small briefing room in Arlington, Virginia. There, just 10 days earlier, officials from the US military, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FAA gathered for a DHS “summit” on a danger that had been consuming them privately for years: the potential use of hobbyist drones as weapons of terror or assassination.

The conference was open to civilians, but explicitly closed to the press. One attendee described it as an eye-opener. The officials played videos of low-cost drones firing semi-automatic weapons, revealed that Syrian rebels are importing consumer-grade drones to launch attacks, and flashed photos from an exercise that pitted $5,000 worth of drones against a convoy of armored vehicles

Read more at Wired

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Almost a Flying Car

In Nevada, a prototype flying drone taxi made by a Chinese company is getting closer to testing. As we read at The Consumerist, EHang is working with the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development to enable the firm to develop a testing program for its autonomous aerial taxi. Ehang's autonomous helicopter may soon shuttle a passenger anywhere, no pilot required. Well, within the 20-minute, 60mph range.

Watch a Naval version video here...

The Verge:

Ehang, a Chinese drone company, announced a new product at CES it's calling the Ehang 184, an all electric quadcopter scaled up from a drone so that it's large enough to carry a passenger. Ehang calls it an autonomous aerial vehicle, I prefer personal pilotless helicopter, but if you need to explain what it is to anyone, just say it's a driverless car for the sky.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Autonomous Cars -- Uber Drivers May Be Next in the Queue for the Dole

Now Uber, the nearly-ubiquitous car lift company, is getting interested in autonomous vehicles. Ar the BBC, we read,

Uber's ultimate goal is a complete end to car ownership - and it's wasting no time.
It wants you to be able to summon a car, have it arrive in less than five minutes, and take you where you want to go.
In major cities it has just about hit that goal. The average time for being picked up by an Uber is less than five minutes. This week, the company began a scheme that gave all residents in a small San Francisco community $100 (£68.50) every month to spend on Uber.
But Uber's big inconvenience is the fact it needs drivers, and so this line of research is about eliminating that final piece of the puzzle to boost profits even more.
Uber isn't alone - rival ride-sharing service Lyft announced a tie-up with Chevrolet to use autonomous driving as well, but it's Uber that seems unstoppable in its goal to be the dominant force in global ground travel.

As interest builds in self-driving cars, everyone seems to be getting in on the action. Big names such as Google and Apple are working diligently, but so are many other companies, as we see in this list. Will cooperation help speed our ability to get rid of the personal car? Perhaps sharing the map data that many of these systems use is one answer. Announcing their acquisition of Here Maps last year, Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW stated that “the high-precision cameras and sensors installed in modern cars are the digital eyes for updating mobility data and maps”. The idea of crowdsourcing map data, one of Google's big advantages, gives them a leg up over traditional firms.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Package Delivery via Drone: faster, cheaper

Read about how DHL's drone delivery will make getting packages to remote places more cost-effective:

The latest version of DHL's delivery drone has made more than 100 successful deliveries and can get parcels to remote villages faster than transporting them across difficult terrain in a car. The third generation of the company's Parcelcopter completed a three month test period of autonomously carrying parcels to and from set locations in Bavaria, Germany.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Jonny Cab Coming Soon

In The Wall Street Journal we read that Lyft customers in a “yet-to-be-disclosed city” will soon be able to select self-driving cars from a menu within the ride-hailing app on their smartphone. These cars will still have humans in the driver’s seat at the onset to intervene if the system fails and to satisfy laws about taxi operation, “but the driver is expected to eventually be obsolete.”

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Better Ways to Get to Work -- While We Wait for Autonomous Cars

Read about car share and other upgrades coming thanks to technology, over at the WSJ--

Ride-sharing firms Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. are experimenting with carpooling services that are changing how people get to work. Both companies, best known for providing a fleet of private drivers that can be matched to individual passengers through their smartphones, have introduced technology that groups strangers as passengers—thus saving commuters money—by using algorithms that match distances and times of trips with other people going to similar places or in similar directions.

In Late March, Lyft launched Lyft Carpool, a pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area, to address a heavily congested section of Highway 101 between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. That program matches commuters with other commuters rather than private drivers. The company also is working with the regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission to expand carpool lanes along that route...

Researchers are looking at how mobile apps, social media and predictions about traffic flow can all combine to deliver a better commute. Of course, the NYT has information on how Uber is looking to relieve congestion.

Call up the app, specify your destination, and in exchange for a significant discount, UberPool matches you with other riders going the same way. The service might create a ride just for you, but just as often, it puts you in a ride that began long ago — one that has spanned several drop-offs and pickups, a kind of instant bus line created from collective urban demand.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Titanium Bathtub vs the Software-Wacky Boondoggle

The Air Force is offering up a showdown between the A-10 and the F-35. We know which will triumph! The Titanium Bathtub vs the CooCoo Boondoggle

From Wikipedia:
The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is an American twin-engine, straight wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic in the 1970s. It entered service in 1976, and is the only United States Air Force production-built aircraft designed solely for close air support, i.e. close quarters support of ground troops. This includes attacking tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets. The A-10 was effective in Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War. It has also served in combat in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and against the Islamic State in the middle east.
The A-10 was intended to improve on the performance of the A-1 Skyraider and its poor firepower. The A-10 was designed around the 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon that is its primary armament. Its airframe was designed for durability, with measures such as 1,200 pounds (540 kg) of titanium armor to protect the cockpit and aircraft systems, enabling it to absorb a significant amount of damage and continue flying. Its short takeoff and landing capability permits operation from airstrips close to the front lines, and its simple design enables maintenance with minimal facilities. The A-10A single-seat variant was the only version produced, though one A-10A was converted to an A-10B twin-seat version. In 2005, a program was begun to upgrade remaining A-10A aircraft to the A-10C configuration with modern avionics for use of GPS guided weaponry and a Helmet Mounted Cueing System.
The A-10's official name comes from the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt of World War II, a fighter that was particularly effective at close air support. The A-10 is more commonly known by its nicknames "Warthog" or "Hog". Its secondary mission is to provide forward air controller - airborne (FAC-A) support, by directing other aircraft in attacks on ground targets. Aircraft used primarily in this role are designated OA-10. With a variety of upgrades and wing replacements, the A-10's service life may be extended to 2028.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters undergoing final development and testing by the United States. The fifth generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground attack and air defense missions. The F-35 has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant. On 31 July 2015, the first squadron was declared ready for deployment after intensive testing by the United States.
The F-35 is descended from the X-35, which was the winning design of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. It is being designed and built by an aerospace industry team led by Lockheed Martin. Other major F-35 industry partners include Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems. The F-35 took its first flight on 15 December 2006. The United States plans to buy 2,457 aircraft. The F-35 variants are intended to provide the bulk of the manned tactical airpower of the U.S. Air Force, Navy and the Marine Corps over the coming decades. Deliveries of the F-35 for the U.S. military are scheduled to be completed in 2037[16] with a projected service life up to 2070.
The program is the most expensive military weapons system in history, and it has been the object of much criticism from those inside and outside government — in the US and in allied countries.[20] Critics argue that the plane is "plagued with design flaws," with many blaming the procurement process in which Lockheed was allowed "to design, test, and produce the F-35 all at the same time, instead of ... [identifying and fixing] defects before firing up its production line."[20] By 2014, the program was "$163 billion over budget [and] seven years behind schedule." Critics further contend that the program's high sunk costs and political momentum make it "too big to kill."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The next hit to the labor market: robot lorries

Autonomous cars such as the GoogleCar tend to get our attention, but the autonomous vehicles most of us are likely to interact with first are going to be lorries and trucks. The big rigs that haul almost anything consumed will be much safer if drivers do not get fatigued on long trips. They are also far more efficient if they can "platoon" together, drafting behind each other.

So check your rear-view mirror: the driverless truck is coming, and it’s going to automate millions of jobs -- I mean, eliminate! From TechCrunch:

A convoy of self-driving trucks recently drove across Europe and arrived at the Port of Rotterdam. No technology will automate away more jobs — or drive more economic efficiency — than the driverless truck. Shipping a full truckload from L.A. to New York costs around $4,500 today, with labor representing 75 percent of that cost. But those labor savings aren’t the only gains to be had from the adoption of driverless trucks. Where drivers are restricted by law from driving more than 11 hours per day without taking an 8-hour break, a driverless truck can drive nearly 24 hours per day. That means the technology would effectively double the output of the U.S. transportation network at 25 percent of the cost.
Robot trucks?! If you just passed a truck glowing blue on the Nevada highway, it means that a robot is at the controls. For testing, autonomous models have LED lights that turn different colors according to whether a human – or the computer – is in control. From the BBC: Daimler’s truck is capable of “level three” self-driving – on a scale that goes from zero to four - which means it can take over the driving itself if required. But the company says the driver will only become a passenger under a controlled set of circumstances.
The system was first demonstrated in Germany last year but on a closed section of road. When BBC Future joins the testing team, it’s on a section of a public highway. And on Nevada’s freeways, the driver can now chill out, or even take care of paperwork on the truck’s built-in tablet.

Friday, April 15, 2016

US anti-encryption law is so 'braindead' it will outlaw file compression Burr-Feinstein's proposed legislation will screw over the NSA, too, says Bruce Schneier

The Register has a good article on the inanity of proposed U.S. legislation regarding encryption.

The proposed bill put forward by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to force US companies to build backdoors into their encryption systems has quickly run into trouble.

Less than 24 hours after the draft Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016 was released, more than 43,000 signatures have been added to a petition calling for the bill to be withdrawn. The petition, organized by CREDO Action, calls for Congress to block the proposed law as a matter of urgency.

Meanwhile, in the technical world, experts have been going through the legislation and pointing out glaring holes in the draft bill. Bruce Schneier, the guy who literally wrote the books on modern cryptography, noted that the bill would make most of what the NSA does illegal, unless No Such Agency is willing to backdoor its own encrypted communications.

"This is the most braindead piece of legislation I've ever seen," Schneier – who has just been appointed a Fellow of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard – told The Reg. "The person who wrote this either has no idea how technology works or just doesn't care."

He pointed out that it isn't just cryptographic code that would be affected by this poorly written legislation. Schneier, like pretty much everyone, uses lossy compression algorithms to reduce the size of images for sending via email but – as it won't work in reverse and add back the data removed – this code could be banned by the law, too. Files that can't be decrypted on demand to their original state, and files that can't be decompressed back to their exact originals, all look the same to this draft law.

Even deleted data could be covered, he opined. Are software companies to put in place mechanisms to retrieve any and all deleted information?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Emoji on Different Platforms -- Look Different, Can be Misinterpreted

A study by the GroupLens Research team at the University of Minnesota examines the variations between some popular emoji presentations and how they are perceived. The most widely misinterpreted is the “grinning face with smiling eyes” emoji, which—depending on the platform—can range from the rosy-cheeked cherubic face of glee to the anguished clenched-teeth look of constipation.

Comparing the differences in emoji across platforms is interesting. GroupLens researchers asked subjects to rate 22 anthropomorphic emoji from five platforms by sentiment, using a scale that ranged from strongly negative to strongly positive.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Commercial Drone Service - Set to Take Off?

The Guardian: A committee sponsored by the US government is recommending standards that could clear the way for commercial drone flights over populated areas and help speed the introduction of package delivery drones and other uses not yet possible... The Federal Aviation Administration currently prohibits most commercial drone flights over populated areas, especially crowds. That ban frustrates a host of industries that want to take advantage of the technology...

The first category of drones would weigh no more than about a half-pound. They essentially could fly unrestricted over people, including crowds. Drone makers would have to certify that if the drone hit someone, there would be no more than a 1% chance that the maximum force of the impact would cause a serious injury.
For the three other categories, the drones would have to fly at least 20ft over the heads of people and keep a distance of at least 10ft laterally from someone.
Drones in the second category are expected to be mostly small quadcopters – drones with multiple arms and propellers, and weighing 4lbs to 5lbs – but there is no weight limit. Flights over people, including crowds, would depend on the design and operating instructions. Manufacturers would have to demonstrate through testing that the chance of a serious injury was 1% or less.
Drones in the third category could not fly over crowds or densely populated areas. These drones would be used for work in closed or restricted sites where the people that the drones fly over have permission from the drone operator to be present. Those people would be incidental to the drone operations and flights over them would be brief, rather than sustained. Manufacturers would have to show there was a 30% chance or less that a person would be seriously injured if struck by the drone at the maximum strength impact possible.
Drones in the fourth category could have sustained flights over crowds. Working with the FAA and engaging the local community, the operator would have to develop a “congested area plan” showing how flight risks would be mitigated. As before, the risk of serious injury would have to be 30% or less. Safety tests would be more exacting and the FAA would set a limit on how strong the drone’s maximum impact could be.

The FAA initially described the panel as a “micro” drone committee. The agency defines such drones as those weighing less than 4.4lbs. But the committee decided not to set a weight limit for most of the categories. That means it’s possible that any “small” drone, which the FAA defines as weighing less than 55lbs, could win approval to fly over people if the drone met the safety criteria laid out in the recommendations. For example, a smaller drone that flies at higher speeds with fast-moving propellers may prove more of a risk than a heavier drone that flies more slowly and whose propellers don’t rotate as quickly.
Read more at the Guardian...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Serverless Architectures

Serverless architecture can mean moving the business logic layer of a three-tier solution off to a fully distributed environment. The logic tier of the three-tier architecture that resides in this cloud-based, highly available, scalable, and secure realm means it uses thousands of servers; however, by leveraging the serverless architecture pattern, management is simplified:
- No operating systems to choose, secure, patch, or manage.
- No servers to size, monitor, or scale.
- No risk to your cost by over-provisioning.
- No risk to your performance by under-provisioning.

There is no “one” way of doing serverless, Paul Johnson writes,

Serverless becomes about exposing individual functionality rather than a whole server.
Serverless is about saying exactly what needs doing when responding to an event, and increasingly ignoring what underlying technology is required.
But it’s also about removing the need to manage uptime, server maintenance, upgrades, security vulnerabilities etc. The only bit you need to be aware of is your code. That’s it.

Read more at Paul's blog...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Drones (well, unmanned aerial vehicles) Are Gaining Ground

A recent report highlights the increase in momentum for commercial adoption of unmanned aerial vehicles:

Drone manufacturers and software providers are quickly developing technologies like geo-fencing and collision avoidance that will make flying drones safer. The accelerating pace of drone adoption is also pushing governments to create new regulations that balance safety and innovation. The FAA is set to release new regulations this spring could help boost adoption. Safer technology and better regulation will open up new applications for drones in the commercial sector, including drone delivery programs like Amazon’s Prime Air and Google’s Project Wing initiatives.

Of course, you still need a pilot's license to operate commercial drones. This is smart, but the size o said aircraft need to be taken into consideration. And, much like the GoogleCar, we need a framework for artificial intelligence-controlled aerial vehicles.

Gary Ritter, director of the Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies at Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center: "Google's recent self-driving car is programmed to be courteous and cautious...." Based on artificial intelligence software, some Google vehicles have driven over 200,000 miles on public roads, using high-accuracy map data, video, LIDAR, radar, and wheel sensors.

Ritter cited many reasons to move towards increasing automation, including improved safety, reduced congestion, energy savings, and innovative mobility options such as advanced rapid transit, on-demand vehicle sharing, and providing mobility to currently ineligible drivers. One of the biggest consumer-oriented reasons is driver convenience.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Cities are the source of civilization -- perhaps time to supersede nation-states?

Forward looking individuals are inviting the world’s mayors to collaborate on solving some of humanity’s most vexing problems – Benjamin Barber, Don Tapscott and Richard Florida – who believe that our times and circumstances require nothing less than a global parliament of mayors. This would be a voluntary network of elected municipal officials and others, managed by collaboration and consensus, to advocate for more effective urban policy. Cities, after all, are the birthplace of civilization, and hubs of innovation.

The Global Parliament of Mayors is an unprecedented new experiment in democratic global governance platform by, for, and of cities. Mayors from cities large and small, North and South, developed and emerging, will convene in September 2016 to identify and pursue in common the public goods of citizens around the world

Tapscott is best known for a series of successful business books touting the benefits of collaboration technology, chief among them the 2006 Wikinomics, while Florida is known for his theory of the “creative class”; and Barber has significant experience thinking through the dynamics of democratic governance.

At the Guardian:

We do in fact live in a post-Keynesian epoch – an era in which, for reasons both fiscal and nakedly ideological, most states have retreated from the provision of citizen services they used to undertake as a matter of course. Margaret Thatcher’s sweeping logic of privatisation has had such impact that even egalitarian Finns are now worried about losing their national health service.

Municipal administrators, by contrast – beset by rising waters, crumbling infrastructure and vulnerable populations – are forced to be practical, empirical, and far more immediately accessible to their restive and squabbling constituencies. They don’t enjoy the luxury of ideological posturing. Anyone interested in pragmatic, sleeves-up responses to the various crises that afflict us might therefore be well-advised to look to them for insight.

See this site for more about the Parliament of Mayors

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Government is Blotting Out Sunshine Laws

Lack of transparency hurts democracy. And the current administration has been running rough-shod over the Freedom of Information Act. Its backlog of unanswered requests at year’s end grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000. It also cut by 375, or about 9 percent, the number of full-time employees across government paid to look for records. That was the fewest number of employees working on the issue in five years.

The Freedom of Information Act is supposed to deliver on the idea of a government “for and by the people,” whose documents are our documents. The ability to get information from the government is essential to holding the people in power accountable.

Read more about the lack of responsiveness with FOIA requests, at the Washington Post...

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Keep Resisting the Government, Apple is Urged

Many technology and privacy advocates are urging Apple to keep fighting the FBI's demand for access to iPhones... but there is hope:

A magistrate judge recently ordered Apple to comply with this request. Apple in turn filed a Motion to Vacate, arguing that in complying with the FBI’s request, the company would be forced to weaken a valuable encryption platform at a time when the United States desperately needs stronger, more effective encryption. And... this week Apple is appearing before Congress to address the issues raised. The legal grounds for the FBI’s demand come from the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and the All Writs Act (AWA). Under CALEA, there is a strong argument that Apple cannot be legally required to create new software of any kind for any department of the federal government. Enacted in 1789 as a stop-gap that allows the government to efficiently administer its given legislative privileges, the AWA is being given an impermissibly broad interpretation by the FBI. Apple should do what is necessary to preserve our enduring constitutional values, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those values also include the privacy and speech rights protected by the Constitution.

Read more... at TechCrunch

Friday, March 11, 2016

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures - A New Approach

From Slash-Dot

For the last 17 years, the American not-for-profit MITRE Corporation has been editing and maintaining the list of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs). According to a number of researchers, MITRE has lately been doing a lousy job when it comes to assigning these numbers, forcing researchers to do without them or to delay public disclosure of vulnerabilities indefinitely. The problem is getting worse by the day, and the situation has spurred Kurt Seifried, a "Red Hat Product Security Cloud guy" and a CVE Editorial Board member, to create a complementary system for numbering vulnerabilities.

CVE® International in scope and free for public use, CVE is a dictionary of publicly known information security vulnerabilities and exposures. Here's details about Kurt Seyfried's recommendation.

Monday, February 29, 2016

New Data Rules between the U.S. and E.U.

Details are forthcoming about a new trans-Atlantic data transfer agreement so that companies such as Google and Facebook can keep digital information flowing between the two regions while paying greater heed to privacy concerns. Under the so-called E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield, companies will face stricter rules over how they move people’s digital data from the European Union to the United States. American officials have also agreed to new limits on the powers of the country’s intelligence agencies to gain access to Europeans’ online information when it is transferred to the United States. As usual, the conflict between the EU and US is over balancing individuals’ privacy concerns with national security, supposedly. Most controversial were requirements from the European Commission to limit how U.S. intelligence agencies collect data on Europeans when companies send their personal information to the United States.

Read more at the Harvard Business Review...

Leap Day 100 Years Ago - the Cloverleaf

The cloverleaf interchange (junction) was patented in the US by Arthur Hale, a civil engineer from Maryland. It is a two-level interchange in which left turns (in countries that drive on the right) are handled by loop roads (US: ramps, UK: slip roads). To go left (in right-hand traffic), vehicles first pass either over or under the other road, then turn right onto a one-way three-fourths loop ramp (270°) and merge onto the intersecting road.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

Netflix Goes Full-on Cloud Only

Netflix closed its last remaining dedicated data center. All of Netflix' business infrastructure -- and there is a lot of it -- runs in AWS. This includes the streaming video we all enjoy, to managing its employee and customer data. Leveraging scalability of Amazon Web Services seems to be the main motivation: these days, Netflix has "...eight times more customers using its video streaming service than it did in 2008, when it started using AWS. The streaming application is also constantly changing as more and more features get added and relies on more and more data." While Amazon and Netflix are competitors, this also makes them business partners.

And Netflix is not just innovative, they share. At Network World, we read that "...During the past two years Netflix has pulled back the curtains to provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how it runs one of the most popular video streaming websites on the Internet, almost entirely in the public cloud. The company has open sourced dozens of tools it’s developed internally. In doing so, some argue that Netflix is turning into one of the most important cloud computing companies in the industry, not only by proving that a company making $3.7 billion annually can run some of its most critical workloads in the public cloud, but also by sharing with developers how it’s being done and providing others with a path to follow."

Remember that is built around the model of high-volume, low-margin e-commerce, while its Amazon Instant Video and other streaming services are basically add-ons. For Netflix, video streaming is the company.

So if Netflix can be 100% cloud-based, who else will follow?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Smart Home Devices... Government Spying Conduit into Your House

Many surveillance experts believe we are entering the “golden age of surveillance”, and privacy advocates have known about the potential to exploit the internet of things for years. Law enforcement agencies are increasingly serving court orders on companies for data they keep on citizens. In testimony by the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, we learn...

that the internet of things – the many devices like thermostats, cameras and other appliances that are increasingly connected to the internet – are providing ample opportunity for intelligence agencies to spy on targets, and possibly the masses. And it’s a danger that many consumers who buy these products may be wholly unaware of.

Read more at the Guardian...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Government says A.I.s are to be treated the same as Humans

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made it possible for Google to create a self-driving car that doesn't also have a human driver inside the vehicle that can take over if necessary. In this setup, the autonomous driving software itself would be the vehicle's legal "driver"; none of the human passengers would require a driving license.

"In this setup, the autonomous driving software itself would be the vehicle's legal 'driver'; none of the human passengers would require a driving licence." \\

Read more over here...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Porsche Completes Photovoltaic Monolith

At StackOverflow, we read about Porsche's commitment to electrifying vehicles. While the car maker is not so keen on autonomous drive, they are interested in the performance and reliability of electric motors.

The company is making significant investment in photovoltaics demonstrates Porsche’s drive for additional electric car research, as well as conservation of resources. Porsche announced that its first all-electric car would be available by the end of this decade.

According to this article, Porsche does not plan to develop self-driving vehicles.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Coffee + Science = Yum

As one of the most popular beverages on this planet, coffee has a mostly unique place (and tea). And we know there's benefits -- such as this study from Korean researchers, who found that study participants who consumed 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day were less likely to show the beginning signs of heart disease.

PS writes,

Coffee doesn't just keep you awake, it may literally make you smarter as well.
The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which is a stimulant and the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world.
Caffeine's primary mechanism in the brain is blocking the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine.
By blocking the inhibitory effects of Adenosine, caffeine actually increases neuronal firing in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine Many controlled trials have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, demonstrating that caffeine can improve mood, reaction time, memory, vigilance and general cognitive function

Bottom Line: Caffeine potently blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, leading to a net stimulant effect. Controlled trials show that caffeine improves both mood and brain function.

At Ars Technica, they write, "There are more than 1,000 chemicals in a typical cup of coffee. While scientists haven’t yet teased out each one individually for closer examination, they have nailed down the big players in terms of taste and potential health benefits..."

Read more here...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Raptors to take down Drones

In the Netherlands, the police are training eagles to attack unauthorized drones!

See the video here and read about it here...

Monday, January 18, 2016

GoogleCar Obsolete Already??

Tired of waiting for autonomous cars? Skip right to autonomous aerial vehicles!

“The ready-to-fly AAV is a manned drone capable of automatically carrying a passenger through the air, simply by entering a destination into its accompanying smartphone app. Due to the 184’s fully automated navigation, made possible by EHang’s 24/7, real-time flight command center, passengers have no need for a pilot’s license – they simply sit back and let the drone take over from there.”

Read more at GearJunkie

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Can Your Online Profile Replace Your C.V. or Résumé?

In a recent communique with a potential customer, I was asked to send a resume, even though I had forwarded my LinkedIn profile. I was dismayed that someone in the tech industry would still be wedded to the static nature of a Word document. It is certainly my opinion that the role of "telling who you are" is best accomplished through a person's online presence -- LinkedIn, a professional landing page, or perhaps even FaceBook. If one is in the job market, I believe it makes more send to send potential employers to your LinkedIn page instead of sending a Word or PDF version of your résumé or C.V. If you are like me, you might use your LinkedIn profile to include not only your qualifications, but testimonials from colleagues and clients, and other information such as publications or successful projects. I feel that the need to establish professional credentials is best served efficiently by sending someone to a LinkedIn page. This will convey relevant experience, and in a place that is maintained because it’s easy to update on a regular basis. Further, as an IT professional, I can appreciate the concept of the "single source of truth" model for data -- instead of uploading copies a résumé to job banks, or keeping track of various versions, outdated or otherwise defunct.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Possible Discovery of Gravitational Waves

From the Guardian:
If gravitational waves have been discovered, astronomers could use them to observe the cosmos in a way that has been impossible to date. “We would have a new window on the universe,” Krauss said. “Gravitational waves are generated in the most exotic, strange locations in nature, such as at the edge of black holes at the beginning of time. We are pretty certain they exist, but we’ve not been able to use them to probe the universe.”

Einstein predicted that the waves would be produced in extremely violent events, such as collisions between two black holes. As gravitational waves spread out, they compress and stretch spacetime. The ripples could potentially be picked up by laser beams that measure minute changes in the lengths of two 4km-long pipes at the Ligo facilities.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Google Cars Don't Have to Be Perfect, Just Better Than the Average Driver

Autonomous cars dont need to be perfect -- just a bit better than people texting, being drowsy, fiddling with the GPS, slightly inebriated, etc. And Google Cars are... learning...

Bad weather is just one obstacle to drivers, but by being even just a little better than the average driver, self-driving cars will decrease accidents, reduce injury and death, and save us all money. Think about it: radar isn't affected by rain or fog or nighttime. Can you see in the dark or a downpour?

"As we're developing the technology, we've made sure our cars are aware of how rain may affect their ability to drive," says Google. "Our cars can determine the severity of the rain, and just like human drivers they drive more cautiously in wet conditions when roads are slippery and visibility is poor."

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Looking Ahead to a Cool New Year!

In the new year of 2016, what will you the IT decision-maker need to be aware of? Of course, my focus is on Cloud computing, web services and other cool technologies, but what will gain traction?

Drones and other autonomous actors. While the focus has been on the US Federal Aviation Administration wanting to control pilot-driven remote aircraft, true advancement will come from autonomous control. Artificial intelligence is slowly advancing, soon we will see more ground and air vehicles operating on their own. For example, thank of Google’s autonomous driving car, or Amazon’s coming drone delivery service.

Internet of Things. Even now, millions of devices supply information to the Internet. And thanks to inexpensive embedded systems, potentially billions of other devices that would not be classified as a "computer" are communicating over networks, mostly with other machines. Low-cost computing, low-cost or free connectivity, and the relative ease for software and processors to make connectivity happen, will make it possible for organizations, governments, companies, and even individuals to collect detailed data from all sorts of devices — and automate them in many ways.

SOA and cloud deployment of applications. For an eternity (in technology terms), developers have built native applications, for a particular device and platform/OS. Data associated was stored on the device, although perhaps uploaded remotely. Depending on the nature of the app, Internet connectivity might not even be a factor. This will change radically in 2016: mobile cloud apps don’t require a download; you can use the mobile cloud app UI in a browser window on the remote device, and an Internet connection will be required because data will be transferred between the mobile device using JSON over HTTP/S.

Advanced customer relationship management. You should be looking at proactive security architectures, and the ability to deliver self-service or automated response to customers. Because every organization wants to deliver activities designed to enhance the level of customer or stakeholder satisfaction, more efforts will be directed at preventing a negative customer event from occurring. Anticipating a need to prevent escalation reduces devilry costs and leaves the target user with a better feeling about the organization. Notifying a customer of account activities, sending reminders, and reflecting a “human touch” in communications are all ways of advancing CRM — and can be automated by analyzing past interactions with that user.

Three-D Printing. The promise of “mass customization” will mean personalized products, manufactured on demand at the end-user location. Newer, cheaper 3D printing technologies will mean consumers create exactly the objects they want from available models, or modify those models for their own needs. Full industrial-sized products, such as cars will not be too far off.

What else? I am sure quantum computing will become more of a reality, as the power to process huge volumes of data from GPS-enabled apps, data marts, and “internet of things” devices will have to be analyzed. Marshaling the swarms of drones overhead will require non-human air traffic control. Highways will become more safe, but with greater volumes of vehicles packed into lanes. More will be done, with less resources, freeing us to undertake high-value pursuits.