The National Ocean Service, part of NOAA here in America reports that:
“According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are over 332,519,000 cubic miles of water on the planet. A cubic mile is the volume of a cube measuring one mile on each side. Of this vast volume of water, NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center estimates that 321,003,271 cubic miles is in the ocean.
That’s enough water to fill about 352 quintillion, 670 quadrillion gallon-sized milk containers!”
If you’re glad you know that, you are obviously a Citizen of Tech! In today’s show, we acknowledge our software overlords, let the cars do the driving, investigate Lego prosthetics, deep dive on diving, and more.
So we start off looking at tech news of today with a disturbing-yet-awesome story from the ubernerds at MIT…
Programs patching programs
- MIT Software called Helium.
- “revamps and fine-tunes code without ever needing the original source, in a matter of hours or even minutes.”
- The process works like this: “The team started with a simple building block of programming that’s nevertheless extremely difficult to analyze: binary code that has been stripped of debug symbols, which represents the only piece of code that is available for proprietary software such as Photoshop. … With Helium, the researchers are able to lift these kernels from a stripped binary and restructure them as high-level representations that are readable in Halide, a CSAIL-designed programming language geared towards image-processing. … From there, the Helium system then replaces the original bit-rotted components with the re-optimized ones.
- Results: Helium can improve the performance of certain Photoshop filters by 75 percent, and the performance of less optimized programs such as Microsoft Windows’ IrfanView by 400 to 500 percent.” Their full academic paper (PDF) is available online.
Uber wants to buy all 500k of Tesla’s Autonomous Cars in 2020
- Uber wants to dump the driver. “If Tesla can produce half a million cars by 2020, then Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will buy them all for his service, according to venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson..”
- I don’t think self-driving cars are actually viable by 2020. Referring to Automobile Magazine, August 2015 edition.
- Expense – these cars are loaded with technology.
- Legislation – who’s responsible when a driverless car kills someone? State by state issue.
- Improvement in data distribution systems – automated cars need real-time information about roads and traffic. We’re not far here, but things aren’t perfect. Map databases are a big one.
- That said – people who *do* drive cars kill people. Isn’t it likely that when the software is fully baked that a driverless car is less likely to kill someone, and the percentages of automobile related fatalities goes down? Radar can see better, software isn’t subject to distractions, etc.
Lego-compatible Prosthetic Limb Gives Kids Something To Smile About
- Creator Carlos Arturo Torres Tovar fom Umeå (OO-Meh) University in Sweden
- It follows the basic premise of LEGO: Let your imagination run wild!
- The system is compatible with both your average LEGO set and Mindstorms (LEGO’s DIY robotic line), allowing children to swap the prosthetic’s standard three-finger gripping attachment for one of their own creations.
- It’s about empowering the child. “Using IKO’s simple twist-and-lock mechanism, children can easily pop their prostheses in place without the help of an adult, which Tovar hopes will empower them along the way. From there, it’s a simple matter of building, taking apart, and building again. An arm can be a fully-functioning digger, a laser-shooting blaster, or a deep-sea science submersible. With IKO, the possibilities are as endless as the imagination.”
- “Playing makes sense to all of us,” says Tovar. “So why not build a bridge? It’s about learning. Creating. [And just] being kids.”
iPhone 6S Rumor Roundup
- Apple is expecting this phone to be a huge hit – 85-90M production run requested.
- Mostly the same form factors – 4.7 & 5.5 inch screens. A 6C is rumored as a plastic phone with a possibly a 4” screen.
- 2GB RAM
- Force Touch
- Better aluminum chassis — 7000 series (bendgate)
- 32GB / 64GB / 128GB Flash storage
- Pink (rose gold?)
- Faster LTE. “Qualcomm MDM9635M LTE chip, which supports download speeds of up to 300 Mb/s.”
- Unconfirmed camera improvements from 8MP to 12MP.
- Announcing in August or September with availability in mid to late September.
Feature – Diving Through History
Today I Learned
Today I learned that in the ancient Persian Empire, an idea was debated twice: drunk and then sober. The idea first had to sound good in both states of mind before being considered a good idea… according to Heroditus.
The Optical Telegraph
- It’s 1796, you need to get a message from London to Portsmouth (60 miles) how long does it take? Would you believe 15 minutes?
- The first practical telegraph system was inaugurated in France by Chappe in 1794; this was a semaphore or moving-arm type. The stimulus for this was command and control of the French armed forces in the Revolutionary wars. The idea was quickly adopted in Britain, (which was at war with France for almost all this period) where there were clear advantages in rapid communication with the coastal ports where the British Navy was based. After tests a shutter type was adopted, rather than a semaphore, and by the end of 1796 two telegraph lines were in operation.
- A shutter telegraph station had six pivoted boards, which could be swivelled by the ropes leading down to the cabin, so they were either visible or edge-on.
- Six shutters gives a 6-bit binary code, allowing 63 non-zero states to be transmitted. These were allocated as the 26 letters of the alphabet, ten numerals, and some useful preset sentences, such as “Defeat the French Navy immediately”.
- The average London-Portsmouth message took about fifteen minutes to get there. Data-compression was used in the form of omitting the vowels in common words. The preparatory signal could be sent from London to Deal or Portsmouth, and be acknowledged in two minutes; an early version of the “ping”.
This magic exoskeleton for industrial workers is the future—we know, we wore one
- “The exoskeleton is incredibly neat: there are shoe-like platforms that fit beneath my shoes. Going up my legs were some large velcro straps and bendable metal brackets following up to my knees. There, a hinge allowed me to bend and jump as normal. When the exoskeleton rose up to my hip area, it met a metal ring that went around my entire waist. There, at my right hip, was a strange device where a large swing arm fit into a socket. At the business end of this arm was what I thought was a 30 to 40 pound power sander, or some other large power tool.”
- “Connected further up my torso was a stripped down backpack—replete with two traditional shoulder straps—but also with a column along my upper back area for Angold to drop weighted discs onto, to act as a counterweight. The suit is totally mechanical: it has no battery of any kind.”
- “In 2012, the company debuted its flagship product, the “Ekso,” an exoskeleton designed to help people regain mobility after a spinal or other injury.”
- “As the skilled construction workforce gets older, and with fewer younger workers coming up to replace them, older workers can potentially work longer and suffer from fewer injuries with an exoskeleton. If Ekso Bionics can capture even a small slice of those future construction jobs, it seems set to do well.”
That about does it for this episode of Citizens of Tech, now we recommend you kick back and enjoy a cold Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster…but very carefully!