The world’s first network of fully self-driving taxis is up and running – Recode: NuTonomy, a self-driving company that spun out of MIT and is based in Singapore and Cambridge, Mass., has just launched the first-ever public test of a commercial fleet of fully self-driving cars.
August 25, 2016
May 12, 2016
April 25, 2016
An interesting article about a potential space drive breakthrough that nobody can explain. This story is cropping up in the more respectable tech press and has been around a while so I’m intrigued. It looks like there might actually be something to it.
December 14, 2015
Ad Blockers Will Force Reforms in Online Marketing | MIT Technology Review: “It’s telling that when the authors of the PageFair-Adobe report asked 400 Americans why they started using an ad blocker, the primary reason they gave was to avoid ‘misuse of personal information.’ Twelve months ago, the research firm Ipsos surveyed people on behalf of the marketing services company TRUSTe and found that concern about online privacy was rising. The top cause for worry: ‘Companies collecting and sharing my personal information with other companies.’ People feared that more than government surveillance. So it’s no wonder that ad blocking hockey-sticked in popularity after it became clear that other mechanisms for protecting personal privacy—such as ‘Do Not Track’ (a function you can activate in your Web browser to request that sites not compile information on you)—were mostly ignored by the online advertising business. When Do Not Track proved toothless, millions of people got their own fangs.
At this point if you’re not using an Adblocker online you’re exposing yourself to way too much intrusive tracking and risk. Glad to see the adblock tech pushing change.
October 31, 2015
“the Tokyo team brewed up a method of making glass that required no container at all: they used gas to push the chemical components into the air, where they synthesized together. The result? A transparent ultra glass that’s 50% alumina and rivals the Young’s modulus of steel and iron, which measures rigidity and elasticity in solids.”
June 6, 2015
“For me, this project was one of the biggest no-brainers in history. Not just because Elon Musk is Elon Musk, but because here are two separate items that have been sitting for a while in my ‘Future Post Topics’ document, verbatim:
– ‘electric vs hybrid vs gas cars, deal with tesla, sustainable energy’
– ‘spacex, musk, mars?? how learn to do rockets??’
I already wanted to write about these topics, for the same reason I wrote about Artificial Intelligence—I knew they would be hugely important in the future but that I also didn’t understand them well enough. And Musk is leading a revolution in both of these worlds.
It would be like if you had plans to write about the process of throwing lightning bolts and then one day out of the blue Zeus called and asked if you wanted to question him about a lot of stuff.
So it was on. The plan was that I’d come out to California, see the Tesla and SpaceX factories, meet with some of the engineers at each company, and have an extended sit down with Musk. Exciting.
The first order of business was to have a full panic.”
April 23, 2015
April 16, 2015
Instapundit: “General Atomics Introduces a Weapons-Grade Self-Contained Laser Cannon That Can Be Mounted On the Roof Of Your Car. ‘What we were able to find out about this thing is that it’s a laser weapon with output energies (that’s output, not total power in the system) ranging from 75 kilowatts all the way up to 300 kilowatts. To put that in perspective, about a year ago we wrote about how Lockheed was using a portable fiber laser to shoot down rockets at a range of 1.5 kilometers using just 10 kilowatts of power. Suffice it to say, 300 kilowatts is rather a lot.’”
April 7, 2015
Utility scale electricity storage and generation from a train and a box of rocks. What a great idea. Engineers are pretty clever.
March 28, 2015
“Forging new habits has become an obsession among technology companies. In an age when commercial competition is only a click away, the new mandate is to make products and services that generate compulsive behavior: in essence, to get users hooked on a squirt of dopamine to the brain’s reward center to ensure that they’ll come back…
It starts with a trigger, a prod that propels users into a four-step loop. Think of the e-mail notification you get when a friend tags you in a photo on Facebook. The trigger prompts you to take an action—say, to log in to Facebook. That leads to a reward: viewing the photo and reading the comments left by others. In the fourth step, you inject a personal stake by making an investment: say, leaving your own comment in the thread. This pattern, Eyal says, kicks off a cycle that lodges behaviors in the basal ganglia, the part of the brain where automatic behaviors are stored and where, according to neuroscientists, they last a lifetime….
“I’m not an advocate for creating addiction,” he says. “Addiction has a specific definition: it always hurts the user. I talk about the pathways for addiction because the same things that occur in the brain help us do something that can be good.”””
I guess that depends on who gets to define “good”.
February 4, 2015
Over 300 businesses now whitelisted on AdBlock Plus, 10% pay to play | Ars Technica: “Since 2011, AdBlock Plus, a popular browser plugin that blocks online ads, has kept a ‘whitelist’ of websites that are allowed to serve ads despite the presence of the AdBlock Plus plugin. In an e-mail to Ars, AdBlock Plus Communications Manager Ben Williams wrote that currently, the browser extension has granted a pass to ‘over 300 sites/entities’ out of ‘over 1,500 applicants’ to the company’s whitelist. That’s up from October 2013, when AdBlock Plus allowed the ads of 78 sites or entities out of 777 applicants.”
If I had the resource I would introduce a $5/year “real” adblock that nuked ALL ads. Then retire a rich man.
January 14, 2015
With a few mods we’re at the “help me Obi-Wan Kenobi” phase.
January 8, 2015
2015 is getting an extra second and that’s a bit of a problem for the internet | The Verge: “On June 30th at precisely 23:59:59, the world’s atomic clocks will pause for a single second. Or, to be more precise, they’ll change to the uncharted time of 23:59:60 — before ticking over to the more worldly hour of 00:00:00 on the morning of July 1st, 2015. This addition of a leap second, announced by the Paris Observatory this week, is being added to keep terrestrial clocks in step with the vagaries of astronomical time — in this case, the slowing of the Earth’s rotation. And it’s a bit of a headache for computer engineers.”
Going to have to watch the atomic clock online that day to see “23:59:60”. Weird.
MakerBot Invents a Way to 3D Print With Limestone, Metal, and Wood – Popular Mechanics: “The world of 3D printing is getting some new materials to work with, creating the potential to print some really innovative objects.
At CES, MakerBot just announced a new move to allow customers to print with metal, wood, and limestone. To be sure, these will be composite materials, with the metals and other printed materials alloyed with the plastic. But it means that users will be able to create functional tools through 3D printing, moving the technique beyond gorgeous sculptures, toys, and trinkets. “
December 16, 2014
Absolutely worth the read:
Edward Snowden: The Untold Story | WIRED: “Snowden and his colleagues had discussed the routine deception around the breadth of the NSA’s spying many times, so it wasn’t surprising to him when they had little reaction to Clapper’s testimony. ‘It was more of just acceptance,’ he says, calling it ‘the banality of evil’—a reference to Hannah Arendt’s study of bureaucrats in Nazi Germany.
‘It’s like the boiling frog,’ Snowden tells me. ‘You get exposed to a little bit of evil, a little bit of rule-breaking, a little bit of dishonesty, a little bit of deceptiveness, a little bit of disservice to the public interest, and you can brush it off, you can come to justify it. But if you do that, it creates a slippery slope that just increases over time, and by the time you’ve been in 15 years, 20 years, 25 years, you’ve seen it all and it doesn’t shock you. And so you see it as normal. And that’s the problem, that’s what the Clapper event was all about. He saw deceiving the American people as what he does, as his job, as something completely ordinary. And he was right that he wouldn’t be punished for it, because he was revealed as having lied under oath and he didn’t even get a slap on the wrist for it. It says a lot about the system and a lot about our leaders.’ Snowden decided it was time to hop out of the water before he too was boiled alive.”
The rest of this excellent interview details even more appalling behavior that the secret organizations commit.
People say Snowden betrayed his oath to his country. I believe it’s more like he betrayed his oath to the government, and the government is the one that betrayed the country. Betraying his oath to a betrayer is simply proof that he’s back on the right side.
I’m pretty much coming to the conclusion that I’m glad he did what he did.
December 15, 2014
December 4, 2014
Hi Def, lights off, sound up. The last shot nails it for me.
November 17, 2014
“However, social media is anything but unfettered. It can be leveraged to spread rumors, undercut the opposition or create a false sense of public pressure, computer analysts and public relations representatives say.
‘There have been smear campaigns since Adams and Jefferson in the early 1800s and we’re seeing the same thing here, with just a new set of tools,’ said Richard Levick, chairman and chief executive officer of Levick, a public relations and strategic communications firm in Washington.
‘Where do undecided voters, journalists go to get their information? Google. So controlling the search engine is hugely important. We need to know who is our audience, how do we reach them, how do we engage them, and then, how do we control the territory?’ he said.
Many digital public relations shops are deploying social media robots, or ‘socialbots,’ built by software programmers and deployed by political campaigns to block Twitter feeds, build support for otherwise unpopular opinions and create a flood of content for their own agendas that hopefully will end up in someone’s Facebook or Twitter feed and then be liked or reposted by a real individual.”
(Italics mine) Sheesh. Battling twitter-bots meant to shape public opinion? Don’t believe everything you read or see reposted on FB (on either side).
October 23, 2014
How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri – NYTimes.com: “To Siri, With Love”
This short article about an Autistic boy and his iPhone actually made me a bit misty-eyed. Good on ya, Apple, for enabling this kind of thing.
October 16, 2014
Lockheed Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough – Business Insider: “Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade.”