Companies ranging from established giants such as IBM, SAS, and Microsoft to startups such as Tranzlogic and Kaggle offer affordable, cloud-based data-crunching services-which can help you get nondigitized data into data-crunchable form-and today virtually anyone can get his or her hands dirty in the great Big Data mud pile.
Businesses successfully mining Big Data are cross-referencing their internal information-pricing histories, customer traffic patterns-with multiple outside sources to increase revenue by understanding customers' behavior better, reducing costs by eliminating inefficiencies and human bias, strengthening client bonds by anticipating clients' needs, enriching service offerings with new knowledge, and giving employees new tools to perform their jobs better.
Metlife has been piloting insurance kiosks at Walmarts in a few states
“The initial screen requires the user to select from three options based on whom they are buying coverage for – themselves, a family member or as a gift. The next screen offers policies for four age groups – 18-44, 45-54, 55-59 and 60-65. Once the user selects the appropriate age group, the following screen presents two coverage amount options. Based on their inputs, the system notifies the user of the annual rate for their term policy and which color policy package to grab from the kiosk display.
The user then locates their designated colored box on the kiosk display, which contains a prepaid $5 card for the policy amount, and scans it at the store checkout. Once paid, the individual must call the firm to answer six health questions, with no medical exam required. If approved, individuals can activate the term life policy for a full year. Those who don't qualify can get a refund at Walmart."
August is one of America’s biggest travel months—when vacationers hit the road, the airport, or the beach—but getting away doesn’t necessarily mean getting away from it all. Consumer Reports’ 2014 survey of 1,044 American adults finds that 94 percent of travelers bring electronic devices on vacation. In many cases, that tagalong is a smart phone: Two out of three Americans take one on vacation. But that’s not all they carry. These days Americans take three devices along for the ride, on average, according to our survey.
What should be on your packing list? It depends on where you’re going and what you’re doing. If memorable vacation photos are important, for instance, you should consider toting a dedicated camera with a decent optical zoom and image stabilizer, features you’re not likely to get with a smart phone. If you need to keep kids in the backseat occupied, a tablet loaded with videos and games could provide a little peace and quiet. And if you’re contemplating lazy beach reads, a dedicated e-book reader that’s easy to read in the sun will serve you much better than a do-everything tablet.
This is one in a 2014 guest column series which builds on the one in 2009 where 50+ had written about how science/tech has evolved their hobby/interest.
This time it is Simon Griffiths. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa he has been in the enterprise software industry for 20 years. He works on global product marketing for international ERP vendor, SYSPRO. And on his gauge at home where he has recorded daily rainfall just almost as long.
To most people the word "meteorology" conjures up images of a TV presenter talking about current weather conditions and the forecast for the next few days. That portrays the wrong image of meteorology, it’s meteorology as entertainment rather than the science that it is.
Human societies have tried to forecast the weather probably since they started cultivating crops. The subject of meteorology was begun as far back as 350 BC when Aristotle gave it its name. The history of meteorology is an intriguing subject and .">.">summarized well. There are different branches of the subject – e.g., maritime, agricultural.
My introduction to meteorology was as a subject a university, but it was never something I considered too interesting. My views began to change in my final year when one of my lecturers suggested that there was a research job for a company that was seeding clouds in eastern South Africa. As I had no other employment lined up, I applied for the job, and shortly afterwards, got it. That was in 1979.
The job brought me closer to meteorology than ever before – it was a case of academic discussions becoming practical. I launched weather balloons, tracked and recorded the soundings from the transmitter on the balloons, and got to understand the process of forecasting from the company meteorologist. During the summer rainy season I worked on the weather radar and watched how clouds moved and developed in real-time. I even found it interesting to learn about the intricacies of cloud physics, which had been too theoretical for me before. Within 18 months, I could act like an expert and gauge the distance of a storm just by looking at it.
While I was there, and afterwards, the company was featured in several media reports about its cloud seeding work, unfortunately the only website that still has a valid link is to a BBC TV program called The Rainmaker. The Economist also wrote an article called "Cloudbusting", published on 21st August 1999. There were later academic articles about it, such as a report in the American Meteorological Society journal in September 1996.
It was also where I got my first exposure to computing. The company was very data-oriented – as much as it could be then. Its weather radar was linked to a Data General mini-computer where we could record and store the profile of thunderstorms. A particle-measuring laser probe was added to the wingtip of one of the aircraft to get detailed data on atmospheric particles. From one of the particle scans we could clearly see a snow crystal, which lead me to joke that I had seen snow in summer. I learnt to program there, writing programs in Basic and FORTRAN, as a kind of apprentice to the technical director, an ex-US Navy and NASA engineer. During my time the computer was upgraded, and we got new removable disk drives that could hold a whopping five megabytes of data – a lot in those days.
While I was working there in 1980, I was told about one of the great technological marvels of meteorology, the Cray super-computer at NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) in Boulder, Colorado. This was a machine that cost millions of dollars and could compute calculations at a then incredible rate; and it was housed in a special super-cooled environment. These days, the average smartphone has more computing power than that Cray.
The fact that I was introduced to computers while doing meteorological work should not come as a great surprise. Meteorology and technology have been closely linked in recent decades. Computing power is what it takes to do the mass of complex calculations required for a forecast. The two main elements of forecasting are data from observed measurements (wind, temperature, pressure), and the application of physical laws of the atmosphere. A further complication is that while the atmosphere is governed by the laws of physics, the Earth’s weather is a chaotic, non-linear system – in simple English that means it is highly sensitive to initial conditions, and the output is not proportional to the input. That is why a major challenge has always been making accurate weather forecasts for a reasonable period into the future.
Until the advent of computers, it was practically impossible to do this to any great scale. These days we take it for granted that major weather forecasting services use computers to do their numerical forecasting.
Another revolution has been the use of satellite imagery to back up weather forecasting. Until the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) satellites of the 1970s, we could only observe the atmosphere via land- or sea-based weather stations, and then create synoptic charts as a guide to what the weather was doing. Now we can use both to show what the weather is like. This was recently born out to me when there was a warning of a major cold front approaching South Africa.
Only a few years ago, we got our weather news from the radio, TV or newspapers. Now people have apps on their smartphones like AccuWeather and can get hourly information geo-located to their position.
Despite all the incredible technological advances in the last fifty years, meteorologists can still only forecast with any accuracy for a few days into the future, and are known to get even that wrong. I wonder what advances will happen in the next fifty years.
During my visit to Oracle HQ in Redwood Shores this past week I wondered how they had managed to get the America’s Cup boat all the way from the docks to the lake in the campus. How did it manage the traffic on Hwy 101 for one? :)
Sergio Segal, a resident of the city and with even more curiosity than I have had spent hours watching and photographing the helicopter transporting the boat, the mantling and dismantling of the massive crane which hoisted it in place and the end result.
He told me he thought Sheedy Dryage was the contractor. I can believe it. Its website says it is “capable of performing almost any hoisting, rigging, or hauling task efficiently and safely”
John Sontag has seen the future—or at least Hewlett-Packard’s version of it. Sontag, vice president and director of Systems Research at HP Labs, has been in charge of the team developing “The Machine,” an experimental piece of computing hardware that HP executives hope will be the template upon which the future of networked computing is built. In an interview with Ars, Sontag explained how the core technologies of The Machine—memristor-based memory and low-cost silicon-to-optic interfaces—will change the shape of computing.
The Machine is a hyper-dense collection of computing hardware that could be used in anything from a data center to a mobile device. It has terabytes of storage and a much smaller power draw than today’s computing devices—all because of memristor-based memory and optical interconnects.
Thinner, stronger, and more flexible than materials now on the market, graphene is ideal for wearable devices like smartwatches and for tablets that can fold into the size of a smartphone.
“We will someday see an era where mobile devices will truly become flexible—easily folded and unfolded—and that’s when we’ll need graphene,” says Claire Kim, a Seoul-based analyst at Daishin Securities.
The first companies to commercialize graphene technology in mobile devices will have an advantage over the rest of the industry, she says.
Oracle invited me to moderate a panel in their DaaS launch today. Watch the whole hour for some great perspectives on this exciting new market category, and our panel starting around 26.00.
Talking to Steve Miranda and Omar Tawakol before and after I got even more excited about the concept
a) There is a new generation of data asset entrepreneurs like Omar (whose company, BlueKai Oracle acquired) who are about separating signal from noise– under NDA I have been briefed by other entrepreneurs focused on supply chain, HR and other DaaS. Scary smart folks.
b) Watching Omar talk about all the social and other marketing data feeds, Steve talking about feeds from machines and wearables, you realize we are not anymore in the Kansas of internal, structured data so many companies are still heavily invested in
c) How rapidly business and deployment models are changing. While the old model of “buy hardware, install software, load data, clean for quality – pay for all that” is not going away the speed of getting started with and the economics of DaaS are going to be compelling
d) How effortlessly Oracle with its decades of data management experience and horizontal and vertical application knowledge could play in a wide range of DaaS categories.
We’re standing in a cavernous airplane hangar not far from the United Technologies headquarters in Hartford, Conn. In a couple of hours Chênevert will be hosting the company’s annual investors conference, and the building is filled with impressively huge displays of the conglomerate’s well-known industrial brands. Nearby is a Sikorsky S‑76D helicopter, an SUV-like 13-passenger aircraft favored by the energy industry for ferrying workers out to oil platforms. Not far away is a Carrier industrial air-conditioning system powerful enough to keep an entire office complex chilled. And then there’s the drivetrain of an Otis elevator — similar to the ones that will be hoisting the 50 double-decker elevators in the 117-story Goldin Finance building under construction in Tianjin, China, and expected to open in 2016.
To Chênevert, however, the star of the show is the newest jet engine from Pratt & Whitney (yet another venerable United Technologies business unit).
If this narrative sounds familiar, that’s because it is: companies have been promising the dawn of the smart home–a futuristic dwelling full of gadgets working seamlessly to satisfy your every whim–since the ’50s. Yet early efforts failed to deliver because of clunky tech and consumer wariness.
SmartThings, which launched in 2012, has arrived amid a legitimate sea change in home automation. In the past few years, the rise of cloud computing has made it easier than ever to build gadgets that connect to the so-called Internet of Things, meaning they can be monitored and controlled from afar, usually with their own smartphone app. There’s also been an uptick in the production of sensors and devices that enable you to smartify objects that are dumb. (Think plugging a desk lamp into an adapter controlled by your phone, or rigging a door with a motion detector that pings you about intruders.) By 2018, the research firm IHS Technology predicts, people will have installed 45 million smart-home services. “We’re really starting to see major volume here,” says Lisa Arrowsmith, an IHS associate director. “It’s an exciting time.”
The hand-held device, called Evzio, delivers a single dose of naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of an overdose, and will be used on those who have stopped breathing or lost consciousness from an opioid drug overdose. Naloxone is the standard treatment in such circumstances, but until now, has been available mostly in hospitals and other medical settings, when it is often used too late to save the patient.
The decision to quickly approve the new treatment, which is expected to be available this summer, comes as deaths from opioids continue to mount, including an increase in those from heroin, which contributed to the death of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in February. Federal health officials, facing criticism for failing to slow the rising death toll, are under pressure to act, experts say.
“The driver still needs to start the vehicle and enter the flow of traffic. But once the Future Truck reaches 80 k.p.h., or 50 m.p.h., a prompt in the system asks the driver to activate what is called the Highway Pilot, which effectively takes over.
Equipped with sensors in the front that have ranges of 70 to 250 meters, or 77 to 273 yards, and cameras capable of capturing images in more than one direction, the Future Truck can identify single- and double-lane roads, pedestrians and objects — moving or stationary — and respond to them.”
Smell – the final frontier of sense when it comes to UX design
“For years, scientists assumed that humans could detect some 10,000 different scents. A recent study from Rockefeller University, however, suggests that our noses are far more sensitive than we ever thought. By creating odor mixtures in which some smells overlapped, then asking volunteers to pick out which ones didn’t, researchers determined that we can actually detect more than 1trillion smells.
Monell scientists work tirelessly to crack the code of these scents. Trimmer and her colleagues are trying to figure out what odors light up which combinations of receptors and how genes influence that process. She says they know the receptor combos for at least 40 odors. Less than a trillion to go.
In the hallway outside Monell’s molecular biology lab, industrial-size refrigerators are packed with tiny tubes containing the DNA of different types of olfactory receptors. Inside the lab itself, wooden shelves and cabinets bear fragrant chemical concoctions meant to stimulate the cells.”
Some band members and alumni were skeptical about bringing computers onto the practice field. One complaint: Students have for years rolled up their sheet music and jammed it into the horns of their instruments when they’re not playing, and you can’t do that with an iPad. Other, less specific grousing seemed to center on the concern that the use of tablets marked the first step toward a marching band full of robots. The band has worn the same uniform for 135 years; tradition is important.
Waters insists the iPads won’t change the core of the band’s performance. “This makes the process more efficient, but an iPad can’t perform a halftime show,” he says. “What they’re doing out there is an art form we’ve been perfecting for 135 years, and that’s not going to change.”
Yoshiaki Fujimori wants to be the Steve Jobs of toilets.
Like iPhones, app-packed commodes are objects of desire in Mr. Fujimori's Japan. The lids lift automatically. The seats heat up. Built-in bidets make cleanup a breeze. Some of them even sync with users' smartphones via Bluetooth so that they can program their preferences and play their favorite music through speakers built into the bowl.
Three-quarters of Japanese homes contain such toilets, most of them made by one of two companies: Toto Ltd. 5332.TO -0.08% , Japan's largest maker of so-called sanitary ware, or Lixil Corp. 5938.TO +1.88% , where Mr. Fujimori is the chief executive.
Now Mr. Fujimori is leading a push to bring them to the great unwashed. In May, Lixil plans to add toilets with "integrated bidets" to the lineup of American Standard Brands, which Lixil acquired last year for $542 million, including debt.
Jintronix sells the Kinect for the standard $250 and charges $50 a month for its software, which lets physical therapists program routines for patients and adjust the difficulty as mobility improves.
In one game, the player controls a fish and must motion up and down or draw a figure eight to make it eat. A whack-a-mole-style game designed to strengthen leg muscles asks the patient to walk to various parts of the screen when a bunny pops up. As the patient moves, Jintronix tracks whether he’s performing the exercises correctly so therapists can make tweaks. The software monitors each patient’s progress and compares it with that of people with similar injuries and ages. Yannick Belanger, 44, says it has helped him recover some mobility in his left arm since his stroke in September.
Flood-resistant rice is now spreading as fast as the waters themselves. Five years after the first field trials, 5m farmers across the world are planting more than a dozen varieties of rice with flood-resistant genes, collectively called “Sub 1”. They are proliferating even faster than new rice varieties during the heady early days of the first green revolution in the 1960s. “And Sub 1 is the first of a new generation of seeds,” says Mr Zeigler. If all goes well, over the next few years plants that tolerate drought, salinity and extreme heat will revolutionise the cultivation of mankind’s most important source of calories. But that will depend on the technology working as promised and, in particular, on public policies that support a second green revolution.
Each month more than 11 million people–mostly 35- to 65-year-old women–visit Wayfair.com to browse its massive housewares catalog, an online directory hundreds of times larger than any Sears, Roebuck ever produced. Shipping is free for orders over $49; assembly is usually up to you. Wayfair doesn’t make anything. Many of its goods are produced by mom-and-pop operations, and the site will carry a product even if it sells it only once.
The key to this enterprise is a series of algorithms that fulfills orders–with a 98% success rate that’s improving all the time. Deployed to manage 7,000 vendors and a head-spinningly convoluted supply chain, that secret sauce makes shopping a virtually frictionless experience. Wayfair is as much a data miner as it is a retailer.
Policy Horizons Canada’s latest foresight study examines how four emerging technologies (digital technologies, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies and neuroscience technologies) could drive disruptive social and economic change over the next 10 to 15 years.
“These technologies will impact almost every sector of the economy. One of the most disruptive features of several of the technologies is they increase productivity with fewer workers. Artificial intelligence (like Apple's Siri) combined with data analytics could dramatically change the service sector with fewer workers. In a growing number of sectors, 3D printing could change the economics and location of manufacturing. Synthetic biology could change the economics and flow of raw materials in agriculture, forestry, energy and mining. Governments, business and society will have to work together to ensure there are innovative policies and institutions in place to ride the next wave of technological change. The next 10 to 15 years will be an era of transition. Almost every major piece of infrastructure will likely be under pressure to keep up in areas like skills development, health care, transportation and security. Ignoring or underestimating the rate of change could very well undermine our competitiveness, preparedness and resilience.”
Though this is just a test, paid for by a campaign on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website, and launched gratis by NASA, SpaceX’s customer for the resupply mission, Mr Manchester thinks clouds of sprites could have real applications. Swarms of magnetometer-armed sprites might, for example, be a cheaper and more comprehensive way than existing satellites of monitoring the ebb and flow of charged particles that constitute space “weather”, which sometimes interferes with telecommunications back on Earth.
Gogo had become the name most associated with the ability to check email in the sky, much as TiVo Inc., the pioneer of digital video recording, was once synonymous with the ability to fast-forward through commercials. Like TiVo, Gogo effectively invented its category.
But increasingly with in-flight Internet services, "the resources of a small, independent company may not be enough to carry this through," said connectivity consultant Tim Farrar, the head of the consulting-firm TMF Associates Inc. "Ultimately the big boys are going to dictate how this technology gets adopted."
“In this sedate Northamptonshire town, timetable compiler John Potter refused to let publication be derailed. After the bank refused him a personal loan, he remortgaged his house and used his severance pay from Thomas Cook to buy the rights and specialist software to create the "red book. He and a handful of colleagues produced the first European Rail Timetable.”
“ Readers are delighted. "The legendary continental will survive!" proclaims one email from a loyal reader. Another, a booking clerk on German railways from 1970-1991, thanks them for bringing back "my bible." One woman says her husband "needs his monthly fix." A grateful Swiss timetable compiler sent a large box of pralines. One Internet-meme-savvy fan sent a picture of his cat looking sad atop the August 2013 edition.”
“According to Popular Mechanics, it can take two hours of planning to execute a single minute of firework choreography with musical accompaniment.
Pyrotechnicians can program the whole show from a computer that tells them what type of firework will explode at what altitude, how long it will hang in the air, and what other fireworks should be fired beneath the ‘big frame’ to fill the visual horizon.
And are we designing fireworks to be greener and more environmentally friendly? Yes, says a team of scientists at the US Army’s Pyrotechnics Technology and Prototyping Division. According to the US Army, the worst offending chemical component of fireworks is the oxidizer that sets off the explosion, with the most common types being nitrates, chlorates and perchlorates.”
As many as 1 in 10 patients respond well in clinical trials of experimental medicines that U.S. regulators end up rejecting, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). To understand why these patients had such a response, researchers are beginning to use DNA sequencing technology to determine if the patients they call “exceptional responders” carry gene variations that can lead to better targeted therapies, including new treatments and the reconsideration of others.
Traditional treatments such as chemotherapy kill healthy cells along with malignant ones, but targeted therapies are designed to leave healthy cells unscathed and home in on cancer cells that make tumors grow and spread. The catch is that they don’t work for everyone, and even patients who find them helpful tend to develop resistance over time. The NCI and academic medical centers including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., are creating a national database of exceptional responders to aid research. “What was yesterday’s miracle event is today becoming a subject of scientific inquiry,” says Leonard Lichtenfeld, an oncologist and the deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.
Google already has a large lab division, Google Research, that is devoted mainly to computer science and Internet technologies. The distinction is sometimes framed this way: Google Research is mostly bits; Google X is mostly atoms. In other words, X is tasked with making actual objects that interact with the physical world, which to a certain extent gives logical coherence to the four main projects that have so far emerged from X: driverless cars, Google Glass, high-altitude Wi-Fi balloons, and glucose-monitoring contact lenses. Mostly, X seeks out people who want to build stuff, and who won't get easily daunted. Inside the lab, now more than 250 employees strong, I met an idiosyncratic troupe of former park rangers, sculptors, philosophers, and machinists; one X scientist has won two Academy Awards for special effects. Teller himself has written a novel, worked in finance, and earned a PhD in artificial intelligence. One recent hire spent five years of his evenings and weekends building a helicopter in his garage. It actually works, and he flew it regularly, which seems insane to me. But his technology skills alone did not get him the job. The helicopter did. "The classic definition of an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing," says DeVaul. "And people like that can be extremely useful in a very focused way. But these are really not X people. What we want, in a sense, are people who know less and less about more and more."
Fortune interview with Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity
“Facebook has a class internally that they used to be teaching just to internal engineers to become basic data scientists. And we digitized on this specific class so everybody in the world can become a data scientist at the level a Facebook engineer is required to be a data scientist. You might argue this is kind of giving away some of the competitive advantage, but the truth is it's really great for the world that now everybody in the world can take this class, free of charge actually, and tool themselves up, to be able to educate themselves with our help. Obviously the class doesn't contain any confidential Facebook information. It's at a level which is industrywide, and Udacity as a policy only accepts these kind of classes. We don't do proprietary classes because we are really passionate about democratizing education.”
“They are landscape architects, environmentalists, urban farmers, soil scientists, and horticultural visionaries who have turned their personal passions into pursuits that collectively reshape our homes, gardens, neighborhoods, and public spaces.”
Nice data visualization in Popular Science of 20 scientific fields with most published articles - click image to enlarge
“Every scientific idea has its day. Theories are born and experiments are designed; results are put to the test, then disproved or accepted as canon. As scientists discuss an idea, they cite the paper that proposed it in their own work. Then, as the conversation moves on, references to the paper drop off. The rise and fall of citations serves to measure the lifespan of a paper’s underlying ideas. Popular Science visualized that pattern across disciplines. Generally, citations peak more quickly today than they did 50 years ago. According to Jevin West, an information scientist at the University of Washington, that trend could be because there are more scientists tackling problems, or because technology has connected them better, accelerating the conversation.”
This is the cockpit of Bloodhound SSC, a supersonic car being built by a British team to set a new land-speed record by driving at 1,000mph (1,609kph). Most of the controls on the right of the driver are used to make it go and those on the left are to stop it, using a combination of wheel brakes, air brakes and parachutes. The car uses a jet engine from a Typhoon fighter aircraft and a hybrid rocket. It will be driven by Andy Green, a Royal Air Force pilot, who holds the existing land-speed record of 763mph in Thrust SSC. This was set in 1997 at Black Rock Desert, Nevada. As this desert is not big enough for the new record attempt it will take place on a larger expanse of flat ground at Hakskeen Pan in South Africa’s Northern Cape. Testing will begin there next year along with an attempt to reach 800mph. If all goes well, Wing-Commander Green will try for 1,000mph in 2016.
Over the past year, the country's leading online seller of movie tickets has started producing original shows and acquired a company that specializes in tie-in promotions with retailers. On Thursday, the company will announce the acquisition of Movieclips, a Zefr Inc.-owned outfit that produces movie-related video programming and stores movie trailers and indexed movie clips.
Traditionally when a user types in a web address, his web browser sends a request to access the site’s servers. CloudFlare acts as a virtual middleman, fielding requests and neutralizing threats. The startup also stores some of its customers’ content on servers across the U.S., Europe, and Australia, an approach that enables pages to load superfast because the content is located closer to the web surfer. It’s an approach not unlike that of older rival Akamai Technologies , but CloudFlare uses a freemium model: A free basic plan promises sites speed tweaks and protection. Paid options serve up faster performance and deeper security features. As Prince likes to point out, his little startup now signs up as many as 5,000 new users a day, roughly the size of Akamai’s entire client base.
To boost sales at vending machines among consumers who rely largely on credit cards, PayRange’s USB-size Bluetooth-enabled device can retrofit a cash-operated machine to accept payments via the company’s smartphone app
Marchetti sought to bring the exclusive world of luxury and the highly accessible world of e-commerce together. Before his plan could succeed, he had to achieve the impossible: Convince tech-averse luxury designers to trust him with their storied brands.
You could say that he has succeeded. Today, Yoox is a $605 million business. The Italian company designs and operates online stores for 37 luxury brands, including Armani, Alexander McQueen, and Brunello Cucinelli. Yoox handles merchandising, digital production, packaging, and delivery on behalf of its clients, in essence becoming a one-stop-shop for luxury brands just now trying to understand online sales.
One of the treats during my visit to Chicago this week was a visit to the Field Museum – in particular an archive of the 1893 Worlds Fair in the town.
The world was introduced to Wrigley’s gum and the Ferris Wheel at the fair. It was also a major showpiece for electricity – Tesla’s alternating current had its moment in the sun.
Darwin’s writings about various species and the importance then of mining, forestry, whaling and other fishing were particularly prominent in the exhibits. Photo above shows minerals - amethyst, tourmaline and fluorite and below of other natural resources - Oils, resins, grains, wood chippings and fibers from the exhibit.
Later walking around the museum and seeing other exhibits about today’s protection of the Amazon forests, the impact of fracking on our prairieland and about asteroid mining and DNA analysis was poignant.
We have come so far in 120 years, and yet in some ways we are still so primitive.
“All of your necessary electronic connections are already pre-wired, and BlueTooth and WiFi are built into the vehicle. Two included 32-inch HD flat screen televisions at the front and rear of the room provide crystal clear visual displays for business (via HDMI or VGA connections)or entertainment (via a digital satellite system), while each individual seat includes iPad/iPod connections, 12V smartphone charger ports, access to the power privacy blinds, and more. “
“Be ensured of your privacy and freedom of roadside distractions thanks to a sound deadening package, complete insulation package, complete privacy shade package, and dark tinted side and rear windows.”
“ Storage is plentiful inside the private chamber, and a rear closet provides space to store additional suitcases and hang business attire when traveling longer distances. “
“Your driver, who can be reached via Intercom or by the lowering of a power soundproof partition, will have conveniences such as a Kenwood navigation system, cruise control, separate satellite radio, Pandora music services, in-dash DVD/CD player, rearview camera, iPad connection, and more all while seated in deluxe leather seating."
Popular Mechanics has a gallery of innovations to make trains safer including safety lasers. “If an object falls, the lasers trigger a live video feed in a central control room. The size-sensitive lasers are designed to ignore objects—such as passing trains—that are larger than humans”
I don’t ride city buses much, but Bus route 146 in Chicago yesterday was a pleasant experience.
The tickets are electronic
The inside of the bus has plenty of digital displays including the information on the stop approaching.
But even more impressive is the Bus Tracker. Many of the stops have digital displays and you can us several iPhone or Android apps or request text messages to update you of bus progress. GPS devices report bus location data back to CTA servers and from there various stops and patron devices are notified.
Finally CTA is also a partner with Google Transit which integrates transit stop, route, schedule, and fare information so for visitors like me makes planning even more efficient.
There are already legendary islands off China’s southern coast where the millions travel to play games of chance. Soon an additional island (Hengqin) will host throngs of gamers turning out to watch others play Xbox, complete with a 15,000-seat arena.
The arena will be the centerpiece of a $2.8 billion gaming theme park. A Hong Kong-based developer, Lai Fung Group, has just announced plans to build the video game complex. A handful of dedicated facilities for video game competitions have begun to emerge, part of a trend that marks a sort of coming of age for “e-sports.”
At the Plex social event last week, Cindy Jutras, Frank Scavo and I found what we thought was a quiet corner to chat. Quiet other than a stream of folks posing for photos in all kids of wigs and streamers and in contorted poses. That I could ignore – but the geek in me could not ignore a funky looking printer.
So I went to look and it was actually a Martin Yale cutter and it was putting together old-style flip photo books. Amazing efficiency to keep up with that crowd – the video below explains the simplicity of the design which is also used to bulk process business cards. Newer models reduce the manual loading even more
Next thing we saw was Frank posing with headgear – he later sent us an email saying his granddaughter was amused with his flip book. The outside is pictured above.
The inside I have photos of and will use to blackmail Frank someday
In 1995, the Samsung Chairman dismayed with poor product quality ordered a bonfire of his phones.
Twenty years later, quality is much higher priority at the company. As USA Today writes
Some tests are automated, while others involve more personal interaction. For example, devices are placed into a chamber filled with dust to test for faulty circuits. They're dropped in water or shot with a nozzle of water to see if they corrode or go on the fritz. Phones are tested to see how they handle sweat. They're twisted to determine how far they can bend without breaking.
Samsung drops the devices off a platform from various heights and angles, and analyzes them for cracks, loose parts or other damage. It's a good way to tell if they can survive a clumsy owner.
Can they survive the kid who loves to press — and keep pressing — buttons? To test this, Samsung runs an automated machine with knobs that repeatedly press the home button — Samsung won't reveal how just many times — until that button finally fails.
Leading into the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Adidas addressed these issues with the new "Brazuca" ball. The 12th official World Cup ball designed by the company, it features six propeller-shaped polyurethane patches that are thermally-bonded together.
The 2010 Jabulani ball had eight panels. The 2006 ball had 14. Before that, the balls were made of 32 internally-stitched panels. By decreasing the number of panels, they decreased the seams, creating a smoother surface. This smoother surface allows it to travel at higher speeds before it started knuckling.
“The figures are striking. The Defense Department's Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office lists the number of troops unaccounted for from past conflicts: World War II has 73,547; Korea 7,883; the Cold War 126 and Vietnam 1,642. In comparison, Iraq and other conflicts (which also include Afghanistan, Desert Storm and Libya) have a total of six. Six unaccounted for in more than three wars; clearly something changed.”
“Innovative technology has enhanced this advantage by greatly increasing the ability of American troops to project force and rescue isolated troops. GPS technology allows American ground troops to accurately determine their location and call for precision-guided munitions that provide quick, accurate and direct combat support.Drones can linger and search over the battlefield, streaming superb battlefield intelligence. Satellite communications, emergency beacons and computer technology stretch the communications zone so that units remain connected and personnel can be located.”
“Imagine a digital tattoo that transmits skin temperature; a transparent sensor on a contact lens that tests for glaucoma; a pliable pacemaker wrapped around a beating heart; and an implant that controls pain after surgery, then dissolves harmlessly when it is no longer needed.
Each one is an experiment under way today in the biophysics of personal medicine.
At laboratories in the U.S., Switzerland, and Korea, bioengineers are developing unusually flexible ultrathin electronics that promise to free medical diagnostics from the clinical tethers of cables and power cords, to make measuring vital signs more intimate and effective.”