Blog Post #387:  The tent ‘healed itself’!!!!  WOW!!!

Blog Post #387:  The tent ‘healed itself’!!!!  WOW!!!

Taken from:  https://newatlas.com/self-healing-tent-nano-cure/55285/

Ahh, Summer!!!  Time to get away for awhile.  Maybe to a camping site, a spot on a beach, even just to the backyard.  BUT … there are those nasty mosquitos. We need a tent for overnight!!

But as I’m setting it up, I snagged one of the tent poles on the tent fabric and got a little tear.  Darn!! And, the forecast is for rain tonight – and that tear is just over where I will be sleeping. And, if it rains as much as the weather forecasters are predicting, it will be more of a bathtub than a tent/bedroom.

BUT “Imperial Motion is pitching a self-healing tent, made out of a proprietary material it calls Nano Cure Technology (NCT).”  Really self-healing? And will it really fix that tear so I don’t get wet tonight? Don’t I need a patch kit and some drying time for the patch to set up?  And it already is sprinkling a little – and the patch won’t even stick to the tent. So, really a self-healing tent?

The company claims: “To gain its healing superpowers, the material starts with a nylon ripstop fabric that is sandwiched between two layers of water-resistant silicone. According to Imperial Motion, when the material is punctured it doesn’t actually break – instead, the nylon threads are just pushed apart. They can be coaxed back together by rubbing the puncture wound with your finger for a few seconds, leaving little to no trace that anything was ever wrong.”

If the article is to be believed, it really only takes a few seconds to fix the tear.  

I remember camping with the Boy Scouts in January (Klondike Derby) and it was about 34 degrees and a very cold rain.  And the tent had a tear. I was in between two others who had air mattresses and the rain soon pooled into space where I was trying to sleep.  Eventually, I left the tent and went to the nearby shelter and a hot fire to warm me up. A self-healing tent would have been great that night!!

The company is working on getting enough funding, but the idea sounds great – especially if you go tenting in less than perfect weather!!

What do you think?

 

Bruce

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Blog Post #386:  The Beaver Robot did it!!!

Blog Post #386:  The Beaver Robot did it!!!

Taken from:  http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2018/06/017.html

Artificial intelligence is stretching out in almost all directions.  Maybe one of the unusual applications is making a robot that does machine learning that is like a beaver.  Seemingly beavers build their dams without a blueprint. (They also don’t go to Home Depot or Lowes to get their wood products).  The beavers seemingly have the main concept of stopping the flow or water. Each pond is different – different rocks, terrain, and even water flow.  The beaver has to adjust to the terrain to make the dam stop the water. And to continue to monitor the environment around them in case of a dam break.  The article says that there is a randomness in nature that the beaver has to adjust to when building a dam.

Likewise trying to develop artificial intelligence applications to work through random environment constraints could be important.  One first concept might occur in search and rescue operations – like after a tornado. After a tornado, the rescue team might need help in finding people buried under debris.  The randomness of what is left after a tornado calls for human rescuers to analyze the situation and to find a path around holes in the ground (maybe even caved-in basements), downed trees, appliances thrown around, and unconscious people.  Human rescuers would use their vision to find a path to when the unconscious person might be buried under the debris. But that might be tricky or even dangerous for a human such as falling down a well or their weight disrupting a precarious balance of boards and bricks.

The solution is to develop an artificial intelligence robot that can work its way around the random destruction.  

The article describes it this way: “Using off-the-shelf components, [the researchers] outfitted a mini-rover vehicle with a camera, custom software and a robotic arm to lift and deposit objects.

“They then created uneven terrain — randomly placed rocks, bricks and broken bits of concrete — to simulate an environment after a disaster such as a tornado or earthquake. The team also places hand-sized bean bags of different sizes around the simulated disaster area.

“Researchers then activate the robot, which uses the algorithms to continuously monitor and scan its environment. It picks up bean bags and deposits them in holes and gaps in between the rock, brick and concrete. Eventually the bags form a ramp, which allows the robot to overcome the obstacles and reach its target location, a flat platform.”

I’m impressed.  Programming a robotic device to adjust to obstacles and to find a path through and around them could be important in search and rescue operations.  Maybe I can program such a robot to find my car keys when I have misplaced them!!

What do you think?

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #385 Hitting the bottle (not the breast)

Blog Post #385: Hitting the bottle (not the breast)

Taken from:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/health/world-health-breastfeeding-ecuador-trump.html

Money talks – or so it seems in this article.  Seemingly the World Health Organization had a simple resolution before it – encourage breastfeeding.  The article states: “based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.”

Sounds like a good plan – encourage breastfeeding as ‘healthiest for children’ – nothing too startling – right?

But then the money started talking according to the article:  “Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.”

And this: “When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.”

“The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.”

So, an innocuous resolution to encourage breastfeeding ended up with the United States as the bully – on little Ecuador.  Drop the resolution – and keep trading with the US and keep getting American dollars for military aid.

So, American women (and couples) – if you were thinking that feeding your child with the healthiest option (i.e. breast milk) think again.  You need to keep buying Enfamil, Similac and supporting American companies (who probably make political contributions).

Nice to know whose side the government is on!!!

What do you think?

Bruce

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Blog Post #384:  Let’s get fit (and compromise national security!!!!)

Blog Post #384:  Let’s get fit (and compromise national security!!!!)

Taken from:  https://www.slashgear.com/polar-fitness-tracker-might-be-a-bigger-national-security-risk-08536905/

Okay, we (Americans) need to get fit.  JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association says that 32.2% of men and 35.5% of women are not just overweight – BUT OBESE!!!  (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_the_United_States)

Some of us use fitness trackers – like Fitbit or (as in this article) Polar Fitness Trackers.  I use Map-My-Walk on my iPhone – but it also might be a security risk like knowing that I took a walk to the Leander Library and back = about 2 miles.  That definitely is something that a foreign government would love to know:

Possible Scenario:

Yuri:  Hey Andrei, I just watched Bruce White.  He walked to the Leander Library and back.

Andrei:  Hmm … he has done that before.  What do you think he is up to?

Yuri:  I don’t know, but I bet it is top-secret.  Maybe a cabal of dissentients meet in the back room?  Maybe they have a storehouse of guns there.

Andrei:  Bruce White?  He’s just a harmless retired professor!

Yuri:  I think he is a ‘sleeper’.  Innocent looking on the outside, but a hotbed of political espionage inside.  

Andrei:  Are there others there?

Yuri:  On some days he walks with Bob McDonald – now there is a radical if I ever saw one.  I think there is a cabal of high-level anarchists there – hiding under the guise of mild-mannered senior citizens going to the library.

Andrei:  Okay Yuri, let’s keep him under surveillance.

<end of scenario>

Okay, not true in my case – I want to get my exercise in – and the library is about one mile one way, so two miles round trip.

Back to today’s article:

Earlier this year, fitness app Strava was reported to have accidentally and indirectly revealed the location of military bases, including secret ones, by providing “heat maps” of users’ runs. Now investigative website Bellingcatreports that Polar, who makes its own fitness trackers and app, has done the same but in an even worse way. It has made it too easy for almost anyone with enough hacking skills to find users, see their runs and walks, determine base locations, and even the users’ homes. It is a security nightmare on both personal and national levels.”

So, an enlisted person taking a run at a military base through easily hacked data sites can be tracked by outsiders.  With some hacking and tracking skills, it can be analyzed before of the fitness tracker application. The military is reviewing its use of such fitness devices on bases.  And … tracking a fitness enthusiast who works for the FBI or CIA can be done.

What do you think?  What price is there to individual fitness – and to potentially allowing access to data that could identify national security sites?

Bruce

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Blog Post #383:  Thai cave rescue – with a kid-sized submarine!!!

Blog Post #383:  Thai cave rescue – with a kid-sized submarine!!!

Taken from:  https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/08/us/elon-musk-thai-cave-rescue/index.html

I don’t think Elon Musk sleeps!!  So with everything else he is involved with, he is also working on ideas to rescue the Thailand soccer team that is in a flooded cave and may not be able to get out.  One of his companies is the Boring Company (that notably is working on boring a tunnel from O’Hare airport to downtown Chicago). That company could bore into the caves – but it would take some time to get the equipment to Thailand – and to build the tunnel / bore into the cave.

The article states: “Billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk shared photos and videos of a metallic pod that may help rescue a group of boys trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Footage shared on Musk’s Twitter account shows a group testing the device in a Los Angeles high school swimming pool.

“Musk said in a tweet Sunday evening that the pod — or “kid-size submarine” — was en route to Thailand and would arrive in about 17 hours.

“Hopefully useful,” he said in one tweet. “If not, perhaps it will be in a future situation.”

“His updates came after US and Thai officials confirmed Sunday that four boys had been rescued from a flooded cave network after spending 15 days trapped along with their soccer team and coach. They were escorted out by a group of Thai and international divers.

“Eight boys and the coach remain trapped, and the ordeal has been a closely watched news story around the globe.”

So a kid-sized submarine to get the boys out just might do the trick.  (More conventional ideas just seemingly are taking too long (with monsoon rains on the way).  

The article goes on: “Musk explained the metal tube would be “light enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps” in the cave, and “extremely robust.”

If so, this is a pretty exciting use of technology.  Let’s hope this works.

 

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Blog Post #382:  “Honey I’m pregnant!!!  My mattress told me!!!”

Blog Post #382:  “Honey I’m pregnant!!!  My mattress told me!!!”

Taken from:   https://www.cnet.com/news/fertility-monitors-help-couples-pregnant-conceive/

Well, I’m outside my expertise on this one!!!  As a 70 year old male with two grown children, if my wife (age 67) came to me and announced she was pregnant – I’d have a heart attack on that spot (not that I’m opposed to more children – but ….)

But, for those that are interested in becoming pregnant (aka ‘conceiving’), there are some things that can help in terms of technology.

The first is not necessarily new – tracking a woman’s fertility cycle:

The article states: “While planning for pregnancy by tracking your cycle isn’t novel, fertility technology promises to take some of the guesswork out of the pregnancy equation by pinpointing the best days to conceive.  There’s a growing field of designated wearables and monitors with the sole purpose of keeping tabs on your reproductive health. Unlike the apps, they use more than just basal body temperature to do the tracking for you and determine your prime window for ovulation.”

And more:  “These fertility devices take a few different forms, but they all promise roughly the same result. The $249 Ava tracks your menstrual cycle by collecting data such as skin temperature, resting pulse rate, breathing patterns, heat loss and body movement as you sleep. The information then transfers to its mobile app, which uses algorithms to determine your optimal window of fertility.”

BUT – you can also put a similar device under your mattress!!!  Again from the link: “The EarlySense Percept ($199) monitors data like heart rate variability and breathing patterns through a white disk that you place under your mattress. Its app also collects the information wirelessly and evaluates it to predict your next period, ovulation date and six-day fertility window.”  (So … yes, your mattress (or really the white disk under your mattress) will wirelessly send the data to your phone)

And … there is much more – even on the male side:  “Infertility is often seen as a woman’s problem,” says Dr. Michael Eisenberg, an Associate Professor of urology at Stanford University. “But only about one- third of infertility cases are women, 30 percent are men and 30 percent of the time it’s both.”

So … technology is at work in a lot of different (and interesting ways)!!!

What do you think?  If you wanted children would you make the investment in a technology fertility device?

Bruce

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Blog Post #381:  Two of my favorite topics – TOGETHER – Tesla and Power


Blog Post #381:  Two of my favorite topics – TOGETHER – Tesla and Power

Taken from:   https://electrek.co/2018/07/04/tesla-powerwalls-save-day-heat-wave-vermont/

I think Elon Musk is a visionary for our times.  Sure, he makes mistakes (and sometimes big ones with SpaceX rockets exploding and Tesla unable to meet production schedules); and sure his ideas are different (using the “Boring” company to dig a high speed tunnel from O’Hare airport to downtown Chicago in minutes); using Solar Power; and electric cars.

Likewise I like looking at energy.  I think renewable energy is a good concept – although it does take a lot of (non-renewable) materials to build wind turbines and solar panels.  I like the concept of cleaner air with less burning of coal and fossil fuels.

Today’s article highlights a recent heat wave in Vermont.   In a heatwave everybody wants to stay cool. Air conditioners are running at their maximum (and using electrical power).  When we lived in South Dakota, our electric utility gave us a small discount if they could take certain appliances (like clothes dryers) off line when electrical peaks were coming.  The choices are fairly simple – cut back on electricity; have to buy electric power at much higher prices (or to ‘fire up’ another generating plant (most likely using coal) when peaks are expected.

Green Mountain Power has partnered with Tesla Powerwalls to have electrical storage.  So, when the heat wave hit, instead of cutting back – or buying power from (say) Canada – or firing up another generator – they just took stored energy from their customers.  

The article says:
“Now they are deploying the Tesla Powerwall 2 to create a sort of “virtual power plant.”

“Under their agreement with the electric utility, homeowners who receive a Powerwall are able to use it for backup power for “$15 a month or a $1,500 one-time fee”, which is significantly less expensive the ~$7,000 cost of the device with installation, but in return, Green Mountain Power is able to access the energy in the pack to support its grid, like a virtual power plant.

“With 500 Powerwalls now, it’s over 5,000 kWh of energy capacity to release during peak demand, like when everyone is running their AC during a heat wave.

“It’s still not a very large capacity, but it is already making a difference for a relatively small utility and it is growing fast as GMP aims to have 2,000 Tesla Powerwalls deployed by the end of the year.

“As the capacity increases, GMP can more easily respond to peak in electricity demand with stored renewable energy instead of more costly and polluting fossil fuels.”

We had a home generator when we lived in Connecticut.  There were two long periods of time when storms had knocked down power lines and we were without power.  The generator used natural gas (a fossil fuel), was very noisy and only provided some basic power (mostly some lights and refrigerator).  Having a Powerwall would have been good – and then being part of a grid and being able to share stored power with others would have been great!!!

 

What do you think?  Is this a long term or short term solution?

 

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #380:  I LOVE technology terms like Kubernetes

Blog Post #380:  I LOVE technology terms like Kubernetes

Taken from:  https://medium.freecodecamp.org/learn-kubernetes-in-under-3-hours-a-detailed-guide-to-orchestrating-containers-114ff420e882

Some computer humor (humour) today!!!

Many, many years ago (when almost everything was from a mainframe computer).  I used my punch cards and Fortran or COBOL and a big IBM system, there was a little ditty that was a paraphrase of Genesis 1:1.  “In the beginning, there was the bit, and the bits became bytes, and bytes become words and confusion covered the face of computing; and IBM looked upon it and said ‘It is profitable’!!”

After those many years, I still am learning (although not quite to the degree I was before).  I’ve learned the ‘blame game’ (not from me, but from others):

Me:  What went wrong with my computer?
Hardware Person:  It was the software faults

Developer/software person:  No it was the hardware faults

Security Person:  No, no no!! It was the network’s fault

… and continuing – something went wrong in the cloud; sunspots; the internet service provider was down; we’re using Unix, but the server is running Microsoft; (and many more)

But, the real mistake was probably an “ID ten T” error (or user error) [“ID10T” as in the user screwed up again]!!  (I was really an expert in ID ten T errors!!!)

I found in a discussion group the term “Kubernetes”,  I had no clue what that was, but my friends at WIkipedia helped me out:

Kubernetes (commonly stylized as K8s) is an open-source container-orchestration system for automating deployment, scaling and management of containerized applications. It was originally designed by Google and is now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. It aims to provide a “platform for automating deployment, scaling, and operations of application containers across clusters of hosts.” It works with a range of container tools, including Docker.”

And farther down in the Wikipedia link was this:

“ Its development and design are heavily influenced by Google’s Borg system, and many of the top contributors to the project previously worked on Borg. The original codename for Kubernetes within Google was Project Seven, a reference to Star Trek character Seven of Nine that is a ‘friendlier’ Borg. The seven spokes on the wheel of the Kubernetes logo is a nod to that codename.”

That really made it perfectly clear!!!  Of course, it made me want to go back and watch Star Trek and find the character “Seven of Nine” (glad, that is not my name).  I also thought of all those years I ‘wasted’ in the classroom when all I really needed to do was to watch Star Trek!!!

Ah yes, so after all these years, the phrase is almost the same, with one change:  “In the beginning there was the bit, and the bits became bytes, and bytes become words and confusion covered the face of computing, and Google looked upon it and said ‘It is profitable’!!”

The article said I could learn how to orchestrate containers in three hours.  I’m used to orchestrating with instruments – orchestrating with containers might be interesting!!!

Bruce

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Blog Post #381:  Old Technologies in Warfare?  Fun-and-games in Israel

Blog Post #381:  Old Technologies in Warfare?  Fun-and-games in Israel

Taken from:   https://theconversation.com/gazas-fire-kites-and-balloon-bombs-ignite-tensions-99341

Kites?  Balloons?  Old school, right?  After all, Ben Franklin flew a kite with a metal key on it in a storm to see if lightning would hit it.  Balloons? What would a kids birthday party be without them?

(As I write, I picture the Dick van Dyke scene in Mary Poppins – “Let’s go fly a kite”!!)

So, in this article, Palestinians in the Gaza strip (next to Israel) are flying kites across the border into Israel.  But – many have a flaming device attached to them. They might have burning charcoal or oil-soaked rags on fire. Some even have delayed so that the fires will be started sometime in the future after the kites are launched.  So when the wind is right, the kites take off, the kite strings are cut, and the kite flies wherever the wind takes it. Eventually, the kite has to come down. It might be in a farmer’s field, or in a forested area. And (assuming the fire is still burning) they can set the field or forest on fire.  So, an old-school concept in modern warfare.

The article states that the fires are burning fields and forests. The forests are mostly wildlife preserves and are chasing deer, birds and other animals out of their habitat.  

“By mid-June, protesters had launched more than 600 kites and balloons, igniting 412 crop and forest fires. No injuries have been reported. But more than 3,200 hectares (32 square kilometres) of farmland and forests have burned. Agricultural damage is estimated at around US$2 million and firefighting expenses at US$550,000.”

If you stop and think, what does a kite cost?  A few dollars maybe? Through in burning charcoal or a burning oil-soaked rag – and maybe $20 (and probably not that much).  

But there are indirect expenses too.  Tourist numbers are down (I have to ask myself if I was visiting Israel would I want to visit the Gaza strip anyway?).  

So … how do you stop this?   Israeli forces are using remote-controlled quadcopters to ram the kites -and bring them down quickly – or even push them back over the border.

So, in this day-and-age, flying a kite can bring a lot of destruction fairly cheaply.

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #379:  Can I have the next dance Sophia?

Blog Post #379:  Can I have the next dance Sophia?

Taken from: https://www.facebook.com/WTFuture/videos/watch-sophia-the-robot-take/388472918288251/

So here is Sophia – a humanoid robot.  I can beat her in a race (she only goes about 0.6 miles an hour – hey – I can get a mile in about 15 minutes – or 4 miles an hour).  She can do some dance steps – smile (the links says about 60 facial expressions). Her speech is somewhat limited – some scripted responses and some artificial intelligence (AI).  

(Do watch the video – it is about a minute long).

Sure this is a prototype = but how soon before we get C3PO?  (R2D2 wouldn’t be quite as interesting).

Do you want a robotic helper around the house?  Is this the future?

Hmmm … I’m guessing my wife might like a robot better than me – doesn’t eat anything, just plug the robot in at night, give simple directions, doesn’t sleep, obeys directives, doesn’t argue – hey I can be replaced!!!

What do you think?

Bruce

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