Each digital wind farm begins life as a digital twin, a cloud-based computer model of a wind farm at a specific location. The model allows engineers to pick from as many as 20 different turbine configurations – from pole height, to rotor diameter and turbine output - for each pad at the wind farm and design its most efficient real-world doppelganger. “Right now, wind turbines come in given sizes, like T-shirts,” says Ganesh Bell, chief digital office at GE Power & Water. “But the new modular designs allows us to build turbines that are tailor-made for each pad.”
But that’s only half of the story. Just like Apple’s Siri and other machine learning technologies, the digital twin will keep crunching data coming from the wind farm and providing suggestions for making operations even more efficient, based on the software’s insights. Longtin says that operators will be even able to use data to control noise. “If there is a house near the wind farm, we will be able to change the rotor speed depending on the wind direction to stay below the noise threshold,” he says.
I have fretted for a number of years journalists at major newspapers and magazines have become pre-occupied with consumer tech, and ignore more complex innovation that happens at GE or Boeing or Corning.
One exception is Ashlee Vance at BusinessWeek. I take time to read his stories and have exchanged thoughts with him every so often. He told me last year he was working on a book on Elon Musk, and knowing his style I knew it would not be simple hero worship.
The book is out, and while it appears flashy like much that comes out of Silicon Valley and the LA area where Musk’s companies, Tesla and SpaceX are based it explores gritty operational and other details and presents lots of gory details of the complex man that is Musk.
“He’s set about building something that has the potential to be much grander than anything Hughes or Jobs produced. Musk has taken industries like aerospace and automotive that America seemed to have given up on and recast them as something new and fantastic. At the heart of this transformation are Musk’s skills as a software maker and his ability to apply them to machines. He’s merged atoms and bits in ways that few people thought possible, and the results have been spectacular. It’s true enough that Musk has yet to have a consumer hit on the order of the iPhone or to touch more than one billion people like Facebook. For the moment, he’s still making rich people’s toys, and his budding empire could be an exploded rocket or massive Tesla recall away from collapse. On the other hand, Musk’s companies have already accomplished far more than his loudest detractors thought possible, and the promise of what’s to come has to leave hardened types feeling optimistic during their weaker moments.”
And there is plenty of humor
“A word of warning: There’s going to be a lot of “fuck” in this book. Musk adores the word, and so do most of the people in his inner circle.”
Get yourself a copy to understand this modern day Hughes, Jobs, Ford and Medici rolled in one.
sounds counter-intuitive but what Google is doing internally according to the WSJ
“With this approach, trust is moved from the network level to the device level. Employees can only access corporate applications with a device that is procured and actively managed by the company. In this setup, Google requires a device inventory database that keeps track of computers and mobile devices issued to employees as well as changes made to those devices.
After the device is authenticated, the next step involves securely identifying the user. Google tracks and manages all employees in a user database and a group database that is tied into the company’s human resources processes. These databases are updated as employees join the company, change responsibilities or leave the company. There’s also a single sign-on system, a user authentication portal that validates employee use against the user database and group database, generating short-lived authorization for access to specific resources.”
"Siemens knew the best children's marketers in the world work for Disney, so rather than competing to attract that talent, it decided to partner with [the Burbank, Calif.-based mass-media corporation] instead," says Boudreau, a professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business and the co-author of a forthcoming book titled Lead the Work: Navigating a World Beyond Employment.
The underlying lesson is that "the best talent in the world may not want to work for you in the area you need them to," he says. And, in an economy that is growing ever-more mobile and boundary-less, such partnerships will increasingly be the norm in the year 2020 and beyond -- and will require a significant rethinking of how HR goes about finding the best people.
Positive train control (PTC) is a set of highly advanced technologies designed to automatically stop or slow a train before certain types of accidents occur. Specifically, PTC, as mandated by Congress in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA), must be designed to prevent:
Derailments caused by excessive speed
Unauthorized incursions by trains onto sections of track where maintenance activities are taking place
Movement of a train through a track switch left in the wrong position
PTC is an unprecedented technical and operational challenge. Since enactment of RSIA, railroads have devoted enormous human and financial resources to develop a fully functioning PTC system over the 60,000 miles that are subject to the PTC mandate. Progress to date has been substantial. Railroads have retained more than 2,400 signal system personnel to implement PTC and has already spent $5 billion on PTC development and deployment. Railroads expect to spend more than $9 billion before development and installation is complete.
This shipping container home by the Costa Rican firm, Cubica is only 160 square feet. Yet, it can sleep up to four people and is available as a rental in a great vacation destination. The sleeping quarters tucked just to the left of the kitchen may seem a bit snug, but each bed has its own window making the space feel airy. The entire front of the house can be covered up when it’s vacant, because the roof hanging above the deck folds down.
Best part? It has a gorgeous, richly colored rooftop deck that is accessible by a ladder located on the side of the house.
Boeing’s (heavily) modified 767 will gradually replace the aging (some are 60 years old) KC-135 Stratotankers. Foxtrot Alpha has details on some of the newer refueling and other technologies in the tanker
“The KC-46A will feature innovative new technologies and capabilities. A three-point hose and drogue refueling system will be standard along with a fly-by-wire refueling boom. Omitted from the KC-46A design is the traditional 'boom pod' with its bay window and line-of-sight boom control station. Instead, the KC-46A will use a 3D video system fed to a refueling console for boom control.
The Pegasus will be equipped with a modern radar warning receiver and defensive countermeasure systems, along with a full glass cockpit and an advanced navigation system to comply with international standards. When it comes to lugging cargo around, the KC-46A far exceeds the KC-135 in every respect, with 18 palets being carried on a single mission. The Pegasus will also be more economical to operate considering the enhanced capability it provides over the Stratotanker. Other goodies include night-vision compatible lighting and future multi-mission capabilities via in the installation of plug-and-play consoles.”
The next generation of desktop 3-D printers might do away with the excruciatingly slow process that current units use. Researchers have unveiled a printer that replaces the current extruder nozzle that squeezes out melted plastic one layer at a time with light and oxygen.
The makers of the Carbon3D printer have demonstrated a technique they call continuous liquid interface production (CLIP), which grows 3-D printed parts out of a liquid resin bath. Ultraviolet light and oxygen work to build a stronger part in layers just tens of microns wide. Build times can be reduced from hours to minutes, they say.
Another in a series of posts on innovations that often go unheralded. I ran into Anthony Lye, formerly of Oracle, now CEO of HotSchedules and he was telling me about momentum his labor scheduling apps have in the dining industry. It made me think how much technology is reshaping the dining in/takeout experience.
There are reservation apps like OpenTable . For more casual dining, we like to use the NoWait app. Let others wait in line while we drive. You get a text when the table is ready – making buzzers redundant.
Menus have gone digital. Restaurants like Chili’s have moved to tablets which automate the ordering and payment process – not to mention keep kids and grownups busy as they wait.
Tablets/smartphones have become point of sale devices for many restaurants – including in the air. The Delta POS validates your credit card on the in-flight GoGo network, and emails you a receipt. On the ground apps like Cover allow you to split checks and provide choices like Apple Pay.
Carry out/delivery has become much more pleasant when you do not have to order with someone in a noisy kitchen. Services like GrubHub facilitate that. An early version of the Starbucks app shows the art of the possible even with complex order configurations. The Pizza Hut app even comes in an XBox 360 version so you don’t’ disturb your game
Services like Munchery are taking it much higher – delivering locally sourced, high-end meals cooked by Michelin quality chefs in a growing number of cities.
The whole phenomenon of mobile food trucks could not have taken off without fans being able to keep up with changing menus and daily locations via social media and texting services
Finally, there are plenty of peer review sites – Zagat, Yelp, TripAdvisor etc.
General Electric Co. is developing a science-themed documentary series that will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel this fall, a spokeswoman said.
The six-part series, called “Breakthrough,” will be announced Wednesday in New York, Catherine Franklin, a GE spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. The industrial giant, known for exploring new and unorthodox marketing strategies, is co-producing the program with National Geographic Channel, Imagine Entertainment and Asylum Entertainment.
Director Ron Howard, co-chairman of Imagine, (pictured below with Brian Grazer) will helm one of the six episodes, while others will be directed by Hollywood heavyweights including Brett Ratner and Angela Bassett. The series, which will feature GE employees, will explore science and technology topics including alternative energy and aging.
Renewable energy firm Urban Green Energy installed two wind turbines inside the metal scaffolding of the tower. The turbines will produce 10,000 kilowatt hours, enough to power the the first floor, home to restaurants, a souvenir shop, and exhibits about the history of the tower.
The turbines are part of a plan to reduce the environmental impact of the tower. The group that runs the tower is also installing rainwater collection systems, LED lights, and solar panels on the tower.
His cinema space has been recognized by the Guiness people six times so far, and there’s little chance of anyone taking his crown away, considering this home theater, which is always a work in progress, has cost him about $6 million. But cinema is an obsession for him, not to mention a business. He runs Kipnis Studio Standard, which designs and installs high-end home theaters, though none quite as elaborate as his own, which is part home theater, part laboratory. Here he tries out new equipment and new concepts, and is always a little ahead of the curve.
For instance, while 4K may be the leading technology in flat panel TVs now (though there are few 4K projectors), he had a 4K projector years before most people knew what that was. In 2006 he set up a professional Sony SRX-T110 projector which displays a resolution of 4096 x 2160. That’s greater than today’s accepted Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160. Kipnis also uses a Meridian 4K reference projector. Both projectors are serious light cannons, with the Sony boasting 11,000 lumens. But he needs firepower to light up his 24-foot wide Stewart Snowmatte screen. The screen employs 4-way motorized masking (controlled with an iPad) that will accommodate any image aspect ratio.
Those restrictions began in the 1950s, when the Federal Communications Commission created the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000-square-mile swath of sparsely populated countryside that straddles the borders of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. Use of the airwaves inside the zone is strictly regulated to ensure that the high-tech telescopes at Green Bank and nearby Sugar Grove can operate with minimal disturbance.
Visitors to these mountain communities might assume that local residents resent the lifestyle adjustments they have to make for the sake of scientific research. But complaints are rarely voiced, and the area even attracts people who are hypersensitive to electromagnetic energy.
“Right now the technology is still too expensive for a mass audience — a good unit can cost thousands of dollars — but the history of breakthrough innovations suggests the price will soon drop significantly. Because of its versatility, the technology has the potential to destabilize more industries than just the entertainment sector. But they can all learn something from the music industry’s long struggle against piracy.
Both P2P downloading and 3D printing revolve around computer files packed with intellectual property — performing artists’ copyrighted songs, in the former, or CAD files that contain firms’ industrial blueprints, in the latter. These files are shared and posted all over the Internet. And just as with music, 3D printing is hard to track because it can occur in the privacy of someone’s home or office; requires little manufacturing equipment or investment beyond the device itself; and features a robust, supportive online community that generally doesn’t view the activity in immoral terms.”
‘American International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG) today announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved AIG’s request to operate small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to conduct inspections for risk assessment, risk management, loss control, and surety performance for customers in the U.S. The exemption also permits AIG to implement a robust research and development program to explore new and innovative ways to employ UAVs in support of the needs of its customers.”
“AIG has already established an international UAV research and development program and conducted flights in New Zealand. These flights have provided valuable insights on technology, flight operations, and image collection techniques that will be incorporated into AIG’s global UAV strategy. AIG’s global presence puts the company in a unique position to build our expertise today and to operate UAVs safely and effectively in the U.S. and around the globe.”
I have been coming to Orlando’s International Drive long before Apple started branding products with “i” in 1998. Events at the Orange County Convention Center, countless hotel stays street for kids’ chess tournaments, family visits to Disney, SeaWorld etc.
I find it fascinating how rapidly the street morphs. The grand Peabody with its pampered ducks is now a Hyatt Regency. Countless gopher tortoises have been relocated to sanctuaries as the street continues to grow. The street now has an Eye which competes with that in London. In contrast, it no longer boasts the giant FAO Schwarz teddy bear.
Yesterday, after returning a rental car, I took the I-Ride Trolley which gives you a glimpse of Americana across the 11 mile street and the spillover into the parallel Universal Boulevard. Some of the best and worst restaurant chains are represented here (click on right to enlarge image with I-Ride stop details). Every brand of hotel is here – and those named after Harris Rosen continue to grow. All kinds of attractions – Ripley’s, Wet N Wild, WonderWorks, mini-golf, helicopter rides.
Jason Blessing, CEO of Plex, excitedly told me about an upcoming trip. He had been invited to spend time as a Distinguished Visitor on an US Navy aircraft carrier out in the Pacific. My immediate request (after telling him how jealous I was) “observe the (unclassified) technology and innovations and send me a guest post”.
He readily agreed – the US Navy asks in exchange for the visit is that DV’s pay $50 to cover the cost of chow while aboard and that they share their experiences with their communities. I am glad Jason is doing so with the New Florence community.
The Stennis, in active service for two decades, is a Nimitz class super-carrier with navy and marine F/A-18 Hornet, EA-6B Prowler, MH-60R, MH-60S, and E-2C Hawkeye planes.
Here are some of Jason’s observations
“Some systems and vehicles used in the military are not new, by design. For example, the plane that flew us out to the USS Stennis is over 50 years old and continues to persist because the platform is functional and easy to maintain. In addition, many systems on the carrier have 2 – 3 back-ups, with the older systems serving as the backup. Think about using your landline at home and how you use it when the cell phone is either dead or you can’t get a signal. The same idea applies to navigation and weapons systems aboard an aircraft carrier.
The US government can be innovative. You don’t usually think of our government as innovative, but many of the ideas that get implemented are a result of ideas from our soldiers on the front line. One such example I saw are the flight helmets used by F/A-18 Super Hornet pilots. To activate a weapons system then simply look at target thru the heads-up display in their helmet and then punch a few of buttons to select which targets to engage and what type of ordinance to use.
-When I asked an enlisted sailor what’s the worst thing about being gone, besides missing family, he said Spotify. After 30 days of not connecting to the Internet a Spotify music library deactivates.
-Limited DirecTV is available aboard, including news and sports. The ships also show current run movies and the USS Stennis showed the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight on Saturday night.
-The food is actually pretty good and ships serve 4 meals a day. Cereal, milk and fresh fruit are available 24 hours a day.
-The espirit de corps is remarkable on this ship. Most young sailors are incredibly excited about the important jobs they have the role they play in national security.
-Most sailors work 16 – 18 hours a day when deployed at sea. The sacrifice they make to preserve our freedom is remarkable.
-The most junior sailors actually drive the boat. I love the irony in this. This is a job that requires a huge amount of concentration and physical effort. They also have a lot of people looking over their shoulder.
-The boat is in ship shape. Revelry happens at 6:30 every morning and then the entire ship’s population cleans from 7:30 – 8:30 AM every day.’
See other photos from Jason’s visit here and a video of a catapult launch here
Excellent article in FastCompany on Disney’s ambitious tech enabled tinkering of the UX at its flagship park in Orlando
“While most observers view Disney’s parks as kingdoms of escapism, Neal Gabler, in his definitive biography of Walt Disney, argues that their success actually derives from "crafting a better reality than the one outside," with a reassuring "control and order" where all is "harmonious." But in the ensuing weeks, working from a trailer behind Epcot, the founding five started digging into the problems that made the reality of Disney World something less than "harmonious." There were the endless lines for rides, food, and bathrooms; parents juggling maps, hotel keys, baby carriages, and bottles of SPF 75; and kids pulling families on long treks to try to visit every attraction. The park was filled with complications, such as a tiered ticketing system with wonky rules.
Given Disney World’s ticket prices, families felt obligated to "divide and conquer," says MacPhee. The team created diagrams illustrating how families, seeking to maximize their time, would crisscross Cinderella Castle, the center of the park, as often as 20 times a day. Worse yet: the swarms of people. On average, 8,000 to 10,000 guests flow through the park’s main entrance every hour. "On the surface, we had super happy guests, but in reality, we were making them go through so much hassle at the park that down the road, they would simply say, 'No más!' " says one former longtime Disney manager. As MacPhee, who has the look of a Division II offensive coordinator, admits, Disney World was on the verge of becoming "dangerously complex and transactional." The team soon presented its ideas to Rasulo. He gave them the go-ahead to rethink everything, including turnstile entrances and paper ticketing. That’s when the project got its code name, Next Generation Experience, or NGE. The founding five soon found themselves on a perpetual shuttle between Burbank and Orlando.”
As I wrote here, the quality of vendor analyst summits has improved dramatically in the last couple of years. Looking at the agenda I was sent ahead of coming to this week’s Oracle Cloud Summit I was prepared for an endless stream of Powerpoint presentations.
Instead I was impressed with the variety of perspectives – not just product centric, but executive, sales field, customer, partner as well. Day 2 was similar but focused more on HCM products – a bit of a repeat of the themes I had heard in Washington last month, but with a newer set of customer and executive voices
Thomas Kurian, President, set the tempo for day 1 with a slide a minute for 45 minutes where he summarized Oracle’s growing portfolio of –as-a-service offerings – SaaS, Paas, Iaas and DaaS. The man has a breathtaking command of Oracle products and you have to admire how efficiently he covered the portfolio. Across the two days, 20+ presenters marched through, by my estimate, over 750 slides.
CEO Mark Hurd took a different tack and presented more on state of the industry and a handful of slides with lots of white space, and instead answered several questions from the audience.
The night before as part of a reception, Oracle had several booths to show off its investments in UX. Day 2 we got to visit the applications UX lab with all kids of devices, motion analysis, eye tracking and other technology. The end result is a pleasing front end to a growing set of Oracle apps. Between the two days Oracle, also managed to showcase 20 short demos across the sessions.
Three panels hosted by Shawn Price, SVP Oracle Cloud, showcased 14 Oracle customers/partners, and 5 of Oracle’s field executives representing a breadth of industries and geographies. Many of them were available for conversations during the rest of the day. On Day 2, two HCM customers and two Oracle (internal) HR executives provided additional color
The setting – Half Moon Bay for Day 1 and Redwood Shores for Day 2 -allowed for plenty of fresh air and also pleased my FitBit. With so much to cover, it was thoughtful of Oracle to allow for enough “outside time”
Finally, given the mass of content at most of these summits, I find myself chasing the vendor for copies of slides for days afterwards. Oracle had them all on an internal portal by the afternoon of Day 1 and on a zip drive for Day 2. A minor detail, but again reflective of the logistical feat the event delivered.
I heard a few analysts bitch about information overload – clearly there was with that much content. Others complained there was not enough detail in some sessions. To me, that’s what follow up calls are for.
I for one appreciated the large investment Oracle made and for packing so much into the two days. It’s miniaturization applied to our world of content.
“..all 30 ballparks will have a new tracking system called Statcast that can rank defensive powerhouses just as well as star batters. It uses cameras, radar, and sophisticated AI to put numbers on every element of a play—from the rpm of the pitch to the exact trajectory of the ball to the fielder's split-second defensive moves.”
The Infinity Tower in Seoul, S. Korea will appear invisible using an LED facade system
“Cameras will be placed at three different heights on six different sides of the building to capture real-time images of the surroundings; three other sections, each filled with 500 rows of LED screens, will project the individual digital images.
Through digital processing, images will be scaled, rotated and merged to create a seamless panoramic image that appears on the LED rows to create the illusion of invisibility.
In essence, whatever is going on behind the building will be projected onto the front of the building.”
The Dry Valleys are almost entirely ice-free, except for a few isolated glaciers. The only surface water is a handful of small lakes. Inside the canyons, the climate is extremely dry, cold and windy; researchers have stumbled upon mummified seals in these gorges that are thousands of years old.
Yet there is life in this extreme landscape. For instance, bacteria living under Taylor Glacier stain its snout a deep blood red. The rust-colored brine, called Blood Falls, pours into Lake Bonney in the southernmost of the three largest Dry Valleys. The dramatic colors offer shocking relief to senses overwhelmed by the glaring white ice and dull brown rocks.
Under the test, Amazon customers with Internet-connected Audis agree to give DHL couriers electronic access to their trunks and then set the approximate location of their car and a window of time. The couriers then leave the package inside the trunks.
Amazon said it hopes to roll the service out internationally after the experiment begins in Germany in May.
“Mamedi teamed up with former college buddy Nami Zarringhalam in 2009 to create the app, which catalogs the contact lists of everyone who registers, so if a sufficient number of its 100 million-plus users know the John Smith in Brooklyn you’re seeking, you can find him.
And the app predicts which John Smith you want -- or, more likely Rajiv or Aditya, since it’s gained the most traction in India -- making suggestions based on the people you know. Just as important, Truecaller will show on your phone’s screen the identity of callers who are among the 1.6 billion numbers in its database, and it allows you to block calls you don’t want.”
Manufacturers are aware of that need for speed. Induction ranges and cooktops are growing ever more popular, single-serve coffeemakers are crowding store shelves, and faster settings are being built into washers and dishwashers. Buyers of electronics have a different definition of fast; they want devices that stream, process, and download swiftly. Whatever the product category, all of that clock-watching can pay real dividends: 15 minutes here, an hour there. If you owned one of each type of product on these pages, you could save more than two hours per day. Just think of what you could do with that!
But, wait, as the old infomercials said, there's more to Solar Roadways than just free daytime electrons. Silicon in a roadway brings intelligence and opportunity. You don't really want to paint over photovoltaic cells with lane markers, so LED lighting will serve that purpose, making the lines easier to see at night, and able to change as traffic conditions dictate (or turn off when nobody's around). They can even provide real-time warning signs for upcoming traffic hazards.
Since snow also kills the power collection, heating elements will melt and dry the road, greatly improving safety, slashing plowing budgets, and building the case for this technology in the northern latitudes where less solar energy can be collected. Built-in pressure sensors could detect animal or pedestrian traffic, triggering illumination and warning messages. Finally, the smart panels will know when a neighbor gets damaged and summon a crew to quickly swap out the 110-pound panel. The latest design envisions 2-foot-wide hexagonal panels supported by a roadway underlayment similar to normal roads, the whole works sloped to drain water into a trough with an adjacent cable run that carries power and smart-roadway wiring. These troughs could also be sized to accommodate telecommunications and power cabling, eliminating fragile and unsightly overhead lines.
Still in “Early Access” (invite only) Google’s foray into a wireless service is interesting for several reasons. From the Google blog
“We developed new technology that gives you better coverage by intelligently connecting you to the fastest available network at your location whether it's Wi-Fi or one of our two partner LTE networks. As you go about your day, Project Fi automatically connects you to more than a million free, open Wi-Fi hotspots we've verified as fast and reliable. Once you're connected, we help secure your data through encryption. When you're not on Wi-Fi, we move you between whichever of our partner networks is delivering the fastest speed, so you get 4G LTE in more places.”
“…for $20 a month you get all the basics (talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering, and international coverage in 120+ countries), and then it's a flat $10 per GB for cellular data while in the U.S. and abroad. 1GB is $10/month, 2GB is $20/month, 3GB is $30/month, and so on. Since it's hard to predict your data usage, you'll get credit for the full value of your unused data. Let's say you go with 3GB for $30 and only use 1.4GB one month. You'll get $16 back, so you only pay for what you use.”
Another in a series of places and things we don’t necessarily consider “cool” but where innovation and technology keep evolving
Have you been to a Best Buy lately?
I had not in a while, and expected a wide range of Apple and Microsoft and Samsung products, but was surprised they only took up a quarter of the floor space. The store has become a wider showcase of technology in our next-gen lifestyles
The new Pacific appliance section has refrigerators with enhanced humidity control technology, convection microwaves, infrared grills, robot vacuums and dishwashers with apps.
The Magnolia home theater section has the latest in 4K Ultra HD TVs, Dolby and other audio gear.
Other sections are focused on the connected home with products like DropCam surveillance, Nest thermostats, and Hue smart LED lighting. Still and connected cars with Zubie tracking/diagnostics, and after market Bluetooth speaker, rear cameras and smart mirrors. Other sections carry FitBits and other trackers and iHealth monitors.
The Geek Squad now does home theater design and connected home installations.
I have a feeling our local, humble Best Buy is going to be a part of our changing lifestyles for a while.
For all its clout, Product Hunt doesn’t have a lot of frills. It’s a website and e-mail newsletter that every day singles out 50 or so recently-introduced things Hoover, his team and a group of discerning volunteers decide are noteworthy. Readers “vote up” what they like, moving them higher on the site, where they get more attention. Startups are so hot in Silicon Valley that the industry needs a startup to curate them.
As readership’s grown, Product Hunt has become a virtual town square for tech’s cheerleaders, with people posting feedback about new products and startup founders like Groupon’s Mason answering questions about their latest inventions. Hoover has guarded who can comment, limiting the number to 8,000 thus far who were brought in through an invitation system. Mason says the biggest challenge for Product Hunt will be ensuring it’s not overrun by the Internet’s default to vitriol.
Dervaes lives on a micro-farm in the middle of Pasadena, where she and her family depend mostly on the land to live. What they have: a chicken coop, dwarf goats, edible landscaping and a front-porch farmstand. With just one-fifth of an acre to work with, she, her siblings and her dad have been able to make a living growing vegetables and hosting workshops. Last year, they produced $60,000 worth of sales on their property.
“The backyard is the most wasted space in America. It’s been a learning process,” Jules Dervaes, the patriarch of the family, says. “To consistently produce a large amount of food for 10 years without depleting the soil has been difficult.”
The operation is called Urban Homestead, and it’s a city farm with an educational focus. Produce is sold on the front porch or online, and workshops, from making bone broth to fermentation, are held inside the house.
If you’re big fan of both wireless charging and IKEA’s affordable line of furniture, then you’re in luck. The world’s largest furniture retailer just announced a new collection called IKEA Home Smart, a series of home furniture with built-in induction charging capabilities.
Created in conjunction with the Wireless Power Consortium, each piece in the line comes fitted with Qi wireless chargers, so you can use it to replenish the battery on any of the compatible devices currently in the market (e.g. LG G3, Moto 360, the new Galaxy S6). That’s right, instead of buying a piece of furniture and a wireless charging pad, you get both in a single purchase.
As I continue my “Humble Things” series, I popped in to see a Norman Rockwell exhibit at a local museum. In his remarkable career, Rockwell brought so many day to day, humble things to life especially in his long series of Saturday Evening Post covers.
As I was admiring his work I kept wondering how it would be different today.
Here's my musing:
I think Rockwell would observe the fading art of the family meal hijacked by all our electronics
He would likely bring out the mood at today's airports, especially the excitement when flights are on time
He would paint himself taking a selfie and instead of the pipe he would likely have a Apple Watch and his glasses would be from Google
He would update the mailman with the UPS man with Amazon deliveries
and the cop would likely be a lady and Rockwell would bring out her body camera, walkie talkie and all.
“We’ll invite a select number of companies to an exotic Mediterranean islandwhere they can escape the mental noise of the day-to-day and focus on the things that really matter. Your co-founding team will be connected to the biggest names in the industry, receive 1:1 mentorship and training, have the opportunity to pitch to international investors, get connected with international media, and will embark on an investors roadshow pitching in five different cities at the end of the program.”
Continuing a series on things we take for granted when we should stop and think how far we have come.
In 1851, Verdi’s classic opera, Rigoletto opened. It was an instant hit and soon gondoliers in Venice were belting out La Donna e Mobile. Then it gradually spread around the world if you could afford to go to the opera. Gradually, as in years.
The walls, carved out of 270-million-year-old limestone deposits, help keep humidity low and temperatures at a constant 68 degrees, eliminating the need for air conditioning or heating. Tenants have reported saving as much as 70 percent on their energy bills, says Ora Reynolds, president of SubTropolis landlord Hunt Midwest. Rents run about $2.25 per square foot, about half the going rate on the surface. "It's also a question of sustainability," says Joe Paris, vice president at Paris Brothers, a specialty foods packager that employs about 200 workers underground. In addition to Paris Brothers, 51 tenants have rented nearly 6 million square feet of space. Others include LightEdge Solutions, a cloud computing company that uses the mild climate to help cool servers, and an underground archive that contains the original film reels to Gone with the Wind and Wizard of Oz.
The U.S. Postal Service keeps hundreds of millions of postage stamps in an underground distribution hub at SubTropolis. There's still plenty of space here, with about 8 million square feet of land to develop—almost 10 times the floor area of Kansas City's tallest building. To reach capacity, Hunt Midwest may have to consider additional uses. Underground real estate has been used to grow mushrooms in Pennsylvania and vegetables in London.
Hundreds of millions of particle collisions take place every second, at the heart of LHC's detectors. The sensors generate about one petabyte of data every second, an amount no computing system in the world could be able to store if it was generated for any prolonged period.
Most of the data is discarded quickly, as sophisticated systems select what could be of interest for the scientists and filter out the clutter. Then, tens of thousands of processor cores go even further and choose just one percent of the remaining events - information which then gets stored and is later analyzed by physicists.
The datacenter can save 6GB of data per second at the peak rate of the LHC. However, this gigantic machine doesn't run 24/7. "We're expecting about 30 petabytes per year of LHC run two - that would represent something like 250 years of high-definition video," Frédéric Hemmer, IT department head, told ZDNet.
Another in a series on places you are pleasantly surprised to see things evolve with technology and innovation. In recent trips to Staples and Office Depot I have seen a range of newer products. They have always carried printers and laptops and navigation units, but the newer products reflect the changing home and small office technology landscape
Point of Sale
Time and attendance
Staples, of course, has a significant foray into home automation with their Connect hub and mobile app
This continues a series of how things we don’t notice much have evolved. Well, it’s tough to ignore the vibrant colors in a paint store but few of us stop and admire how tech savvy the color selection, matching and mixing process has become.
The range of color palettes – physical and virtual – keeps growing
If you have the formula from an earlier can of paint, it’s easy to order more. Mobile apps can help get you “close enough” to a manufacturer's shade. Or take a small sample from a previous can and most stores have a spectrophotometer which can approximate the recipe.
Then the software takes over and precisely mixes the contents and agitates the mix for consistency.
Approximate is the key word, because devices need to be regularly calibrated. And there are so many varieties of sheen – semi-gloss, satin, eggshell etc. Still, it is impressive to watch the whole process.
Buying Minecraft allowed Microsoft to deploy billions in cash parked overseas (and far from the U.S. taxman). Forbes identifies Spotify, Shazam, Soundcloud and other acquisition candidates for US companies looking to use their international cash reserves.
Another in a series on ordinary things we often overlook even though they are much smarter than ever before. The Automated Postal Center, the kiosk available at over 2,500 branches, is said to be capable of doing 80% of tasks the employees there perform. In reality, most people who go into a branch appear to ignore them (in 2013, they generated an average of only about $ 500 a day)
I have tried the kiosks for a range of transactions (buying sheets of first class stamps, renewing PO Box, estimating international postage, printing an Express Mail label) and found them much quicker than waiting in line for personal service.
To me, the most impressive service is around processing of packages. So many components at play - the weighing scale and rulers, zip code look up feature (using touch screen keypad or the pin pad), shipping label printer, credit/debit card reader, the receipt printer ( with tracking information), the security camera and the nearby chute - all combine to make self- shipments of most packages under 70 lbs a breeze. Ok, not so intuitive the first time you do it, but gets easier with each use.
Have you filed your taxes yet? If you don’t eFile, try out the kiosk this week. Yes, it allows you to add a Certified Mail option most use in communicating with the IRS.
When Cossman went to Ambrym, he and his team used a drone to map out every nook and cranny of the volcano, covering both craters. That map was in turn made into a full three-dimensional rendering. Using the Unreal game engine inside an AvayaLive Engage virtual environment, it's possible for anyone with a login to explore Ambrym from the comfort of their laptop screen. Which is what I'm doing. With a jetpack.
The jetpack is a video game conceit. The crater is full of steep edges, and jetpacks are a simple solution to avoid getting stuck. Even without the difficulty of climbing up, the crater itself is huge. The avatars stand about six feet tall in the virtual environment, and while moving in the game is less physically taxing (not to mention less life-threatening) than crawling around an actual volcano, it’s not much faster if you don't use the jetpack.
Part of a series of how things we barely notice are becoming incredibly feature-rich
Let’s start with auto mirrors – I am using examples from my SUV but after-market offerings work with most models and in many cases are even “smarter” with embedded technology.
The Side Mirrors
The Blind spot detection icon flashes on left mirror when a car is approaching in the left lane (right one for right lane). The mirror tilts downwards when the gear is in reverse to allow you to better see the curb when you are parking
The memory settings for seats also adjust the mirrors so other drivers don’t have to fiddle when them, or you when you get the car back. The mirrors can be adjusted remotely, and are also heated – handy in cold winters
The mirror housings have turn indicator lights to supplement those that blink in the front and rear of car. The right mirror has a convex spotter and both housings can be folded for parking in tight spots
Rear View Mirror
Mine is a electrochromic auto-dimming, night vision safety mirror with a Z-Nav compass display. The controls are for HomeLink (radio frequency transmitters for garage and other controls) and Hyundai BlueLink support (for roadside assistance, navigation and other services)
To give you an idea how rich each feature is, the compass can be adjusted for “True North” in each of the 15 Magnetic Zones in N. America.
We have come a long way from the 60s when the side mirrors were an option on cars!