Blog Post #355:  Look who took a candid picture!!!

Blog Post #355:  Look who took a candid picture!!!

Taken from: http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/30/technology/google-clips-photography/index.htmlhttp://money.cnn.com/2018/03/30/technology/google-clips-photography/index.html

Okay, here is a concept – a camera placed on a table or someplace and it captures candid pictures.  It might take a lot of pictures, or just a few, but the ones it considered “candid” and “random” will make it onto storage.  

The author of the article doesn’t have pets (cat – or maybe playful kittens; dogs – or cute puppies); but does have children – so there is a great candid opportunity for taking the kids being kids.

While maybe not quite perfect in selecting the candid pictures, the author wrote this:

“The new $249 gadget, released in February, automates much of the job of a certain kind of photographer. You place the 2-inch high white square on a surface, preferably someplace frequented by children or pets. It automatically captures any “candid” scenes it determines are worthwhile with its wide-angle lens.”

“I spent a week with the camera, planting it on countertops, floors and shelves. Unfortunately my cat and bunny both passed away last year, so Clips only had children to work with. Luckily, my children are extremely good looking.”

“Even so, the resulting photos and videos had a common, soulless look to them. The wide-angle meant they were busy, with too much in focus and no appealing composition.”

“Essentially, Clips combines the hands-off approach of a surveillance camera with the visual style of a surveillance camera.”

Well, not quite a ringing endorsement – “soulless look to” the picture; the ‘hands-off approach of a surveillance camera with the visual style of a surveillance camera”.   But, if you are looking for the true random picture – this might just work for you.

The article also states:

“The software looks for children, animals, and faces, preferably within three-to-eight feet of the lens. Clips likes movement, but tries to avoid blurry photos and can tell when something is blocking the lens, like the hand of a curious child. It learns the faces of the people you save the most and takes more pictures of them. It is programmed to have a preference for happy, smiling faces.”

I was trying to think of places and times a camera like this might be nice.  I was at a wedding last weekend – and sure the photographers were trying to get good candid pictures.  Maybe a camera on top of DJ’s stand might be a good place to get candid pictures from the dance floor.

When we visit our daughter’s house, the girls run to “Papa”.  A camera in the right place might capture that random, candid moment.  

What do you think??

 

Bruce

Posted by Bruce White, 0 comments

Blog Post #354:  Cheaper Car Batteries?

Blog Post #354:  Cheaper Car Batteries?

Taken from: https://electrek.co/2018/06/09/tesla-battery-energy-density-cost-breakthroughs/

One of the extra expenses in electric cars is the battery cost.  General Motors is paying $145 for a kilowatt hour for their electronic vehicles.  Tesla is closing in on $100 for a kilowatt hour – a 36% decrease in costs for a kilowatt hour.  Considering the total costs of batteries in an electric car – a significant decrease in battery costs would make the vehicles more affordable.

This article suggests that:

“Elon Musk is generally careful not to use the term “breakthrough” when describing advancements in battery technology but he has used it this week to talk about Tesla’s latest advancements in battery energy density and cost.

“Tesla’s CEO even gave us a pretty good idea of the automaker’s current battery costs.

“One of the automaker’s most important goal is to achieve a battery pack cost of $100 per kWh.

“At that cost, the battery pack isn’t a bottleneck to achieve price parity with gas-powered cars, which would make any of Tesla’s vehicles even more competitive.

“As for the cost at the pack level, Musk sees Tesla achieving that important price point of $100 per kWh for the overall battery pack in less than two years.

“Musk also added that he sees Tesla achieving a 30% improvement in volumetric energy density within 2 to 3 years using current proven technology that “needs to be scaled and made reliable.”

“Such an improvement in volumetric energy density would mean that Tesla could, for example, fit 130 kWh of energy capacity in its current Model S and Model X 100 kWh battery packs and push the range of those vehicles over 400 miles on a single charge.

Taking this concept a step farther, cheaper batteries can work in a lot of things.  That is a good thing.

Would you be interested in an electric vehicle?  In a Tesla vehicle? What is your break point for a new car?

What do you think?

Bruce

Posted by Bruce White, 0 comments

Blog Post #353: Car Dashboards for the future?

Blog Post #353: Dashboards for the future?

Taken from: https://www.hongkiat.com/blog/future-car-technology/

 

While this article highlights lots of new ideas, I’ll pick the ones that I like (after all, it is my blog!!!)

Augmented Reality Heads-up Display:

This incorporates information on your windshield – such as speed, GPS for turns, information on gas stations, restaurants and more.  The article states:
Having augmented reality display on a car windscreen would add a lot of functionality to the car. We would be able to see information like speed, navigation details and even the name of an incoming call with minimalistic designs on our windscreens.

Batteries:  

Okay, electric cars will need lots of batteries (especially for longer trips).  This concept is to make the body with batteries (disguised as body parts – door panels, roof panel). The article comments on this:

As batteries used in existing electric cars are bulky and heavy, manufacturers have to find a suitable place to put the large amount of batteries, and at the same time, ensure that the car is well balanced throughout. What will be really cool is to have batteries hidden in plain sight by replacing the cosmetic parts of a car.

Self-healing paint:

So that scratch in the grocery store parking lot is ugly – well, with self-healing paint it disappears in a matter of time.  Again, the article shares this thought:
Self-healing paint has been around for some time now, but somehow hasn’t been implemented in consumer cars yet. Whatever the case may be, this is one cool technology – surface scratches will magically disappear after just a few minutes and your car will look like how it once was.

The article ends with this statement:

Technological advancements have certainly surpassed our expectations of what can be integrated into cars. However, some of these advanced features we have looked at may come with hefty price tags. Nonetheless, we can still hope for a time where technology becomes more efficient and cheaper, allowing for all these cool and futuristic features to be implemented in cars of every price range.”

 

What would you like to see in your future vehicle!!!

 

Bruce

Posted by Bruce White, 0 comments

Desalination Issues

Blog Post #352:  Desalination Issues

Taken from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-dont-we-get-our-drinking-water-from-the-ocean/ce

For years I’ve been waiting for a cheap(er) way to desalinate seawater.  I view this as one of the last frontiers in global change.

Can you imagine with me – the global change with desalination of seawater?  Deserts (like Mojave in California; Saudi Arabia could bloom; the Sahara would be green.  That could be a major economic change. One thing that all humans need is food. So, a place like Saudi Arabia can pump oil – but doesn’t have enough water (but has seawater along its coasts).  What if desalination was cheap and Saudi Arabia could have an abundance of water? They could become the next ‘Imperial Valley’ of crops and produce.

But, this article explains:

Even with all of the water in Earth’s oceans, we satisfy less than half a percent of human water needs with desalinated water.* We currently use on the order of 960 cubic miles (4,000 cubic kilometers) of freshwater a year, and overall there’s enough water to go around. There is increasing regional scarcity, though.
“So why don’t we desalinate more to alleviate shortages and growing water conflicts?
“The problem is that the desalination of water requires a lot of energy. Salt dissolves very easily in water, forming strong chemical bonds, and those bonds are difficult to break. Energy and the technology to desalinate water are both expensive, and this means that desalinating water can be pretty costly.”

The expense is significant.  But with technology (although I don’t have a clue how it would be done), I anticipate that some enterprising company will find a way to break that chemical bond between salt and water cheaply.  

We have talked about disruptive technologies before, but I think desalination of seawater will happen (maybe not in my lifetime), and will really be a ‘game changer’ for this blue planet.  (Of course, that might not be the right environment case as we would end up with mountains of salt on the shorelines of the world!!)

What do you think?

Bruce

 

Posted by Bruce White, 0 comments

Blog Post #351:  Privacy is a Human Right

Blog Post #351:  Privacy is a Human Right

Taken from:  http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/04/technology/apple-vs-facebook/index.html

Privacy – what a concept!!  

According to Dictionary.com, privacy is defined as:

  1. the state of being apart from other people or concealed from their view; solitude; seclusion:
  2. the state of being free from unwanted or undue intrusion or disturbance in one’s private life or affairs; freedom to be let alone:
  3. freedom from damaging publicity, public scrutiny, secret surveillance, or unauthorized disclosure of one’s personal data or information, as by a government, corporation, or individual:

But in this day and age, privacy is being infringed – especially online.  

Let’s talk of the non-computer (kind of) infringement.  We have a “ring” doorbell. It records everyone who comes to the house (I’m guessing there is a distance factor so it doesn’t pick up people walking by the house).  Many houses, many businesses, many places have security cameras. With facial recognition, (although not many individuals have access); a business or people department can identify a person fairly quickly.  Crimes are solved by looking at camera footage and identifying the person. So, privacy when committing a crime may not be a human right.

Recently Apple’s CEO Tim Cook announced that their Safari browser will be able to stop some tracking by Facebook, Google and others.  

The article states:

“The Safari-maker said Monday that it will give users the ability to stop Facebook, Google and other platforms from tracking them across the web through “like” and “share” buttons.

“The announcement is Apple’s most significant counter yet to Facebook’s data collection practices, and comes after years in which Apple executives have criticized Facebook as reckless with user privacy.

“We’ve all seen these like buttons and share buttons,” Apple software VP Craig Federighi said at the company’s annual developer conference. “Well it turns out, these can be used to track you, whether you click on them or not. So this year, we’re shutting that down.”

“When Safari users arrive at a page with a Facebook like, a pop-up window will appear that asks: “Do you want to allow ‘facebook.com’ to use cookies and website data while browsing [this site]? This will allow ‘facebook.com’ to track your activity.”

So, built into Apple’s Safari browser will be an ‘opt out’ option while on Facebook (or other platforms).  So, you will not necessarily be tracked as you go from site to site.

Of course, Facebook is (generally) free to users; and Google searches are (generally) free – but both Facebook and Google need revenue to pay their employees and their stockholders.  They get that money by charging advertisers to selectively target users.

Google might be a better example.  If you are looking for an online MBA program, and use Google to search for such, your screen will populate with ads from online MBA programs before other returns.  Plus that search is now recorded and some other site may start to show MBA online program advertisements. Plus Facebook (while not part of the Google search) is watching “in the wings” and also keeping track and will populate your Facebook page with relevant ads.  

I have commented before that I never get ads for cat food in my feeds (or … dog food either).  I have never searched for cat food or dog food.

I applaud Apple’s interest in allowing users to keep private in their Facebook and other accounts.  I’m sure Facebook is trying to find a way to keep gathering data on users though!

What do you think?

Bruce

 

Posted by Bruce White, 0 comments

Blog Post #350:  So, how old are you?  (remote control)

Blog Post #350:  So, how old are you?  (remote control)

Taken from: https://www.cnet.com/products/amazon-fire-tv-cube/preview/

I remember as a kid having a television with maybe 13 channels – and probably only 4 – ABC, CBS, NBC and maybe PBS.  To change channels, you got out of your chair and went to the TV, and turned a dial. Sometimes it was clear enough to see, and sometimes it was like watching in a snowstorm.  The screens were small – 13” (diagonal measure – as compared to today’s huge measurements).

Now, not all was perfect, sometimes you might have to change the antenna to get better reception; some people put aluminum foil on the rabbit ears to get better reception; some people put antennas on their roofs to get stations better.  BUT – we had TV’s!!! WOOOO!!!

There were many times when I stood with a mirror in front of the TV while my dad was behind the TV adjusting the horizontal or the vertical images and he needed me to show him how it looked (so he wouldn’t have to crawl out from behind the TV to see).

Then remote channel changers came along – and cable television (with 200 channels – and sometimes nothing too interesting to watch).   

What a joy – I can sit in my favorite chair watching a show (and maybe recording another, or having ‘picture-in-picture’ so I can see one program in the main screen and another in a small screen.  I could change the channel from my chair, adjust the sound and color, and even set a timer so it would go off after an hour (so I could take my nap).

But, now Amazon has a voice activated control through their Alexa device.

“The newest Alexa gadget can turn on and control your TV, cable box, sound bar and more using just your voice.”

Now I can say “Alexa turn on the TV”; or “Alexa go to channel 25” (in our area that is the weather channel) and more.

Our son-in-law (and daughter) have four remotes on their coffee table: one for the power; one for the speakers; one for the Tivo / Netflix device; and one for something else (and … to confuse his father-in-law).

But, with the this new device, all I need to control the system will be some simple voice commands.  The article states:

“The Amazon Fire TV Cube infuses your TV and other entertainment gear with the ability to be controlled with just your voice. Designed to sit happily in your AV system, this diminutive little box aims to replace a coffee-table full of remotes with “Alexa” voice commands. Or at least keep you from reaching for the clicker quite so much.”

I’m not sure how it will work at our daughter / son-in-law’s house with two five-year-olds.  One will be saying I want to watch Peppa Pig; the other Thomas the Tank Train; son-in-law saying “Alexa turn to the Purdue football game”; and our daughter saying “Alexa turn to HGTV” – and probably at the same time.  

So, from TV’s that were all snowy and needed adjusting, and requiring physically getting out of a chair to change channels – to a voice activated remote.  We’ve come a long ways!!!

 

Think about it!!

 

Bruce

Posted by Bruce White, 0 comments

Blog Post #349:  Choosing to be happy

Blog Post #349:  Choosing to be happy

Over a year ago I attended a workshop on “Living Well Aware” (see: http://www.livingwellaware.com/)

This week’s on Livingwellaware.com article is about being happy.

Quoting from the author:  Dr. Patricia Sulak

Happiness comes from the inside not the outside.  Life will never be perfect.  People will never do exactly what we want them to.  To me, happiness is a state of peace, joy, and love:  PEACE with unwanted past events and current situations that are not going as we would wish.   Finding JOY even in the mundane tasks and the many blessings we have. The ability to LOVE our family, friends and others, even in difficult times.  For me personally, happiness is a connection with a higher power as I strive to be the best version I am capable of being – no matter what life circumstances.  It’s knowing that I am not in control of most of life events, life is transient, and, importantly, I am not perfect and neither are others.

Choose to be happy!  Start and end each day in a state of GRATITUDE.  Look for the good in everyone and everything, rather than focusing on the negative.  Search for peace, joy, and love in the present moment, dumping depressive thoughts of the past and anxious thoughts of the future.   Let’s make a conscious decision to personally take full ownership of our emotional state and lead a life of happiness that is ours for the taking.

We get to choose how life goes – we can choose to be happy.  

This week we got a letter from the IRS informing us that they had audited last year’s return and we owe money.  That was not happy news, but we can choose our happiness.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “ in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  Wow – what a concept – give thanks even for an audit from the IRS? Give thanks for a flat tire?  Give thanks for the unexpected death of a loved one? Give thanks for when I burned my hand cooking?  Give thanks when I hit my thumb with the hammer when I was doing some minor construction? Give thanks for my surgeries last year?  YES.  

That is tough –  but doable. We need to CHOOSE happiness; we need to CHOOSE to give thanks – in EVERYTHING.  

How about you?  Can you choose happiness?  Can you give thanks for EVERYTHING?

Thinks about it!!

Bruce

Posted by Bruce White, 0 comments

Blog Post #348 Uncensored Internet Access (or Not)?

Blog Post #348:  Uncensored Internet access (or not?) – A Chinese view

Today we look at this article:

https://www.ozy.com/acumen/are-chinese-youth-desperate-for-uncensored-internet-access/87020?utm_source=dd&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=06042018&variable=8e233d577055ce202c56c4a28f1e4dc7

Americans are generally able to see almost anything on the internet – although some may not be good and some may be.  While I haven’t tried (and I’m not going to), we can Google “how to build a bomb” and I’m guessing get directions. I’m not sure “How to have a School Massacre” is findable, but probably something similar (and again, I’m not going to try – even for research sake).

On the other hand, China restricts internet access to Chinese viewers.  In particular this might be for things like rebellion, descent, international news and views.  

But, in a recent study, ways to get around the restricted internet access was given to 1,800 undergraduates in Peking for 18 months (compliments of Peking University and Stanford University).  Aha – now these students could look at ANYTHING. What freedom – (and what little use).

The article states: “Half Of Chinese Youth Wouldn’t Use Uncensored Internet, Even If You Gave It To Them For Free.”

A quote from the article says: “Jeffrey Wasserstrom, a historian at the University of California, Irvine, says it’s not that the Chinese aren’t aware of censorship, but rather they might not care because most of the things they do on the internet — like people the whole world over — aren’t about finding edgy news stories.

So, (my interpretation), even though they could have access to international news – most said in other words: “I don’t care”.  I thought about that. Do I look at international news? Do I look at what (say) the Chinese press says about our government? Do I look at Belarusian news? (I have in the past before visiting Belarus).  In most cases, no. Yes, I get American news – and that runs enough of the variety that I want. Some Americans do even less – such as only watching Brand F or Brand M for news – and accepting just what they want to hear.  

One Chinese student studying in America said: “people seem to prefer browsing content that’s relatively close to them geographically, despite censorship. ‘The Great Firewall, on the macro level, has likely little coercive impact,’”

So, while Americans and western Europe may decry the censorship in China, even when access was given and students were able to bypass the censorship easily, the majority didn’t take advantage.  (Some did though – check the article).

So, the censorship topic was, if you will, a big “ho hum”.  

What do you think?  Do you read international news?  Do you read opinions about the United States from another country?  Why or why not?

Bruce

Posted by Bruce White, 0 comments

Blog Post #347: Technology for Education – AI, AR and VR

Blog Post #347: Technology for Education – AI, AR and VR

As we have seen AI (artificial Intelligence), AR (augmented reality)  and VR (virtual reality) are expanding

Today’s article is from:  https://www.prometheanworld.com/blog/5-education-technology-trends-2018/

Some years ago now (like 6 or 7), I heard of research into AI for the classroom.  The educational learning experts have determined that we learn in seven ways: visual (seeing), aural (hearing), verbal (words), physical (movement), logical, social (interpersonal), and solitary (intrapersonal – learning by oneself).  These learning styles can cross over – such as in a history class, we learn by hearing the teacher lecture (aural and verbal); or in team assignments by hearing the ideas of others on our team and aggregating the ideas (social).

So, wouldn’t it be great if in our learning environments, we could find a particular style that worked will for a particular person.  Say, I’m learning math and having an equation on the blackboard (visual) helps me, but maybe another student learns with a physical style – so having that person stand when they answer or discuss a question might make their learning stronger.  

But, finding out each person’s learning style (and … even if they have different learning styles for different subjects – or combination of learning styles for a particular lesson) is not a simple thing to do.  And, it may be that over time our learning styles change.

Then through in artificial intelligence and augmented reality – to determine and enhance the way one learns; and put virtual reality (visual and auditory) on top of it – education CAN become very real to each and every student.

This article talks about AI / and VR.  In particular it says:

“New technology will provide teachers with tools for delivering enhanced learning experiences through augmented and virtual reality (VR) in 2018. After the success of Pokemon Go, we witnessed the emergence of augmented reality (AR) in education in 2017. Teachers are increasingly using AR to layer virtual content on printed materials to enhance understanding and inspiration.

“With the release of increasingly affordable and accessible VR accessories, we can expect more from this technology in 2018.  The number of free apps and teaching platforms designed specifically for virtual education is growing. VR and AR will move from experimental to ubiquitous in learning. “

(Now, ubiquitous is one of my favorite words – meaning ‘present, appearing or found everywhere’).

Certain educational experts have said that if a child doesn’t learn to read by third grade, then life will definitely be against them.  They may drop out, be unsuccessful in learning, join gangs, etc. If these concepts could be used in kindergarten, first and second grades to find the most appropriate learning style for teaching a youngster to read – many of society’s ills might be avoided.  

But, it is going to take a lot of time, lots of experimenting and patience – but (in my opinion) we do need to be working in this direction!!!

What do you think?

Bruce

Posted by Bruce White, 0 comments

Blog Post #346 Inclusion

Blog Post #346:  Inclusion

Today, a bit off topic – but thinking of love and inclusion.

I’ve been remembering bits and pieces of an old poem and found it today.

Edwin Markham wrote:

“He drew a circle that shut me out- Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle and took him In!”

As I write this, recently a TV actress had a racial slur and got her (new) show cancelled very quickly.  We have had other prominent people that (still) have shared racial, gender, ethnic and other negative statements.

I like the quote from Markham.  “BUT LOVE AND I” – we need to LOVE.

I frequently write from a Judeo-Christian perspective.  I see Biblical comments like “Love one-another”; “Love is patient, love is kind,  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”

I see other concepts like forgiveness (How many times must I forgive?  Seven times? Answer: No, 70 times 7 times).We have the perspective that we are ‘made in the image of God’.  So, if you will, the homeless person on the street; the black person, the Muslim person, the greedy businessman, the governor who has slept with a woman while married, even those that have chosen alternative lifestyles – are also ‘made in the image of God’.

Mother Teresa cared for some of the ‘poorest of the poor’.  She said “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.  Are we doing that? She also said “Peace begins with a smile”.

So, if somebody is drawing a circle that shuts you out – you need to be the ‘bigger person’ and draw a circle that lets them in!!   Let everyone in – don’t exclude any – love conquers all!  (And even if they still exclude YOU – be the ‘bigger person’!!)

Even just a smile and a friendly nod can help lift another person’s spirit.

Let me finish with part of a song made famous in the musical / movie Bye-Bye Birdie:

Gray skies are gonna clear up
Put on a happy face.
Brush off the clouds and cheer up
Put on a happy face

And spread sunshine all over the place
And put on a happy face!!

So, are you putting on a happy face today?

Bruce

Posted by Bruce White, 0 comments