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TechnologyJeff Soyer on 17 Sep 2014 04:45 am

From Ars Technica:

On Tuesday, permits for self-driving cars issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) took effect for the first time.

Applications for the permits began in May 2014. Only the Volkswagen Group (which includes Volkswagen and Audi cars among others), Mercedes Benz, and Google have been issued permits for their 29 total vehicles.

[ . . . ]

As Ars reported in May 2014, a manufacturer that wants to test autonomous vehicles has to apply for a testing permit, certify its drivers to test the cars, and secure a $5 million insurance or safety bond.

My concern is not with these test cars, but rather what happens when they are in general circulation and one of them causes an accident or runs someone over (a dog or child darting out into the street). Will owners of such cars have to have $5 million in liability insurance? What if it’s a software glitch, or worse, a hack? I’m not looking forward to seeing these cars on the road. Humans need to take the responsibility for, and exert some effort towards some things in life, and I consider driving a car to be one of them. Not that they do such a swell job of that….

TechnologyJeff Soyer on 11 Aug 2014 03:11 am

From Wired, How to Use Your Cat to Hack Your Neighbor’s Wi-Fi.

TechnologyJeff Soyer on 31 Jul 2014 04:02 am

As Glenn might say, “Faster, please.” From Tech Times:

UC Berkeley computer scientists and vision scientists worked together to create vision-correcting displays–screens that self-correct to the user’s visual impairment. The team used algorithms to direct the intensity of light from a single pixel in an image and then, through a process called deconvolution, aimed the light through a pinhole array to produce a sharp image.

“Our technique distorts the image such that, when the intended user looks at the screen, the image will appear sharp to that particular viewer,” said Brian Barsky, UC Berkeley professor of computer and vision science.

More at the link.

I should point out that my Sony NEX-6 camera already allows for adjusting the electronic viewfinder for those like me who don’t want to wear our reading glasses while using it.

Gun Stuff and TechnologyJeff Soyer on 03 Jun 2014 12:02 am

A very interesting interview with the 3D printed gun designer over at ARN. Here’s a sample:

Q: How do you address opposition to what you’re doing and people who point to the shootings in Newtown, Conn. and say what you’re doing will just make it worse?

Wilson: We can play a numbers game… but, if you argue from principle, freedom is scary. If you want to talk about rights, what does it mean to respect a civil liberty or civil right? Well, it means you understand there are social costs in having that right; that’s why it deserves protection in the first place.

That’s why these people are not practicing civil libertarians to say we should prohibit a whole class of activity because there’s a certain amount of violence or deaths that might happen. This is the cost of freedom.

Q: So, do you think there should be any regulations around the printing of 3D printed guns?

Wilson: No, I’m definitely not concerned with regulating it. In fact, I’m daring people to try. These 3D printers are general use technologies and software agnostic. It’s been amazing watching the United States and other state and municipal governments try to deal with it. All we’ve seen so far is outright bans like in the city of Philadelphia. Well, that’s not very useful and it’s not going to work.

Much more at the link.

Technology and HollywoodJeff Soyer on 30 Jan 2014 05:33 am


Government Corruption and TechnologyJeff Soyer on 18 Dec 2013 07:40 am

Some have accused Microsoft of collaborating with the NSA. A Wired article says, “Not so.” And, the software giant is devising ways to foil the NSA.

Headlines and TechnologyJeff Soyer on 11 Dec 2013 07:43 am

That would be over at Wired: How These 5 Dirtbags Radically Advanced Your Digital Rights. They’re thugs, criminals, what-have-you, but their crimes led to greater protections of your rights.

TechnologyJeff Soyer on 09 Dec 2013 05:15 am

From The Register:

The one thing that made 3D printed guns tolerable to the non-gun-owning community was that they were made of plastic, because metal 3D printers were costly. Now, a bunch of scientists from Michigan Tech are showing off a cheap 3D printer that fabricates in metal.

Metal 3D printing isn’t new, but it’s been expensive until now. The open-source Michigan project, here, offers a bill of materials costing just under $1,200 to build the 3D printer, controlled by a Linux computer.

More at the link, including other links.

TechnologyJeff Soyer on 08 Sep 2013 06:39 am

I understand that in some cities such as “gun free” NY, stealing or robbing people of their iPhones is a problem. Alas, you can’t legally carry a stun gun in NY. But if you’re lucky to be elsewhere? From USA Today:

The Yellow Jacket looks like any other durable, hard-plastic protective case. It can also recharge a quickly draining iPhone battery - adding at least one full re-charge on the go. But what’s really interesting â?¦ is that the Yellow Jacket moonlights as 650,000-volt stun gun.

That’s enough of an electrical shock to drop the average person to their knees in about three seconds. If used correctly, it shouldn’t cause any lasting damage, because it has low amps, (less than 1.0 mA). Still, it’s a serious weapon. And it hurts like hell.

Price tag? About $139.00. More at the link. Note that I didn’t link to the article at USA Today itself because of an annoying auto-start video. I’m getting really sick of those.

Gun Stuff and TechnologyJeff Soyer on 08 Aug 2013 05:52 pm

The writer of this Geek.com story thinks it looks cool. I beg to differ but what do I know about geekness? From the article:

In full-auto mode, the gauss gun can fire 7.7 rounds per second with a muzzle energy of 10.87J, which works out to 42.03 m/s. The goal of this project was to make something portable that also looked cool, so the gauss gun isn’t as powerful as it might otherwise be. You don’t want to get hit by a steel slug going at 42 meters per second, but it’s far short of modern guns. (For example, a 9mm round is usually fired at about 400 m/s.)

More, plus a video, at the link.

You know, all these new-fangled guns (3D, gauss, etc.) are all fine and good . . . I suppose . . . but give me a good, old-fashioned firearm when my life is in danger or I just want to blast a few tin cans at the range.

I feel the same way about cars. Hybrid, all electric? No thanks. I like the smell of fossil-fuel exhaust in the morning; it smells like reliability.

Technology and Gun Stuff NewsJeff Soyer on 08 Aug 2013 07:00 am

Well, it’s an improvement, anyway:

The rifle represents Matthew’s second prototype and is called Grizzly 2.0. The barrel of the first prototype cracked after firing just one round, so he adjusted the barrel’s thickness and fired 14 rounds from the next model before experiencing any problems.

The Grizzly 2.0 is a single shot rifle. The user reloads it after each shot by taking off the barrel, clearing it of the spent shell casing, and loading another round.

Video at the link.

TechnologyJeff Soyer on 24 Jul 2013 04:07 am

That tired, old Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) could be used against you. From Wired:

The New York Times, for example, imposes a 10 articles-a-month limit for non-subscribers, allowing users to browse 10 articles for free but then requiring payment for subsequent use. But the method the New York Times and other publications use to identify users is unreliable and easy to circumvent, even inadvertently. Clearing one’s cookies periodically — or even using a browser’s private browsing mode — bypasses the flimsy paywalls and allows users to continue reading stories.

Under an unsophisticated judge’s take, this act could be interpreted as exceeding “authorized access” (of 10 free articles a month) — and is therefore a potential, prosecutable violation of the CFAA.

Read the whole thing.

I don’t worry too much about cookies because, frankly, it makes life miserable when surfing if you don’t allow them. Also, it allows me to go back to some sites without having to log-in again. I do block “3rd-party” ones.

The article also discusses other ways some online services track you, and work-a-rounds. Not that I could ever find more than 10 articles in the New York Times that I would want to read. I like my news to be unbiased.

TechnologyJeff Soyer on 23 Jul 2013 01:57 am

From Techdirt:

” [Create It REAL], which sells 3D printer component parts and software, recently announced that it has come up with a firearm component detection algorithm that will give 3D printers the option to block any gun parts. The software compares each component a user is trying to print with a database of potential firearms parts, and shuts down the modeling software if it senses the user is trying to make a gun.”

This could be potentially effective in limited application, but even Create It REAL admits its software will likely be easily circumvented, as it looks for very specific “firearm characteristics.” Instead, it aims to prevent people from “accidentally” printing out a gun, something aimed more at deflecting liability than actually stopping gun manufacturing.

Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed says this feature is essentially useless. No one’s going to “accidentally” print a gun.

It does point to a future where 3D printers incorporate DRM of some sort, perhaps government mandated. More at the link.

TechnologyJeff Soyer on 07 May 2013 06:58 am

Warning, auto-start video at the link. From KSDK TV:

Sure enough, Raber’s product, called Armored Nutshellz, can withstand multiple shots from a 9 millimeter handgun and a .22 caliber pistol.

Raber makes Armored Nutshellz in his basement by combining several layers of Kevlar and another fabric called Dyneema. Through trial and error, he found the perfect recipe.

Originally he invented it for athletes but police departments and the armed forces are interested in it now.

Okay, I’ll leave all the puns and jokes to you readers.

General and TechnologyJeff Soyer on 28 Apr 2013 08:06 am

You’ll be able to download the source code for it. Details here.

Sorry for such quick posts but it’s cold out this morning, sitting in the parking lot mooching off a store’s open wi-fi.

TechnologyJeff Soyer on 23 Apr 2013 06:16 am

From CNN:

They’re using technology to create guns that only fire in the right hands. These so-called smart guns can recognize a watch, a ring or even just a grip.

For more than a decade, researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology have been working on a grip-recognizing gun similar to the one James Bond uses in “Skyfall.”

Sensors on the grip — similar to the touchpad on a laptop — measure the pressure applied and the size and shape of the hand holding the gun.

The only thing you should need to worry about is whether the gun has ammo. Not, is the battery operating the electronics ‘run-down’ or whether the ‘grip-recognition system’ has a bug in the software and fails to function.

Plus, you could never loan the gun to a spouse. Or, if your teen is home alone, he/she couldn’t use the gun against a home invader.

TechnologyJeff Soyer on 23 Mar 2013 08:49 am

You’ve seen it in dozens of sci-fi movies and television shows. Someone is talking to someone located in a remote location and a 3-d holographic image appears. Much better than the tired-old video screen, right? Well, it’s coming to your smart phone and tablet:

A new kind of three-dimensional display developed at HP Labs plays hologram-like videos without the need for any moving parts or glasses. Videos displayed on the HP system hover above the screen, and viewers can walk around them and experience an image or video from as many 200 different viewpoints—like walking around a real object.

And just think how much more interesting obscene calls will become. . . .

TechnologyJeff Soyer on 25 Jan 2013 10:19 am

From US News & World Report:

If you are worried that drones are going to soon track your every move, you will soon be able to pop on a hoodie or burqa that will make you all-but-invisible to eyes in the sky.

The fashionable and security-conscious can now purchase “Stealth Wear,” clothing made from a silver-infused fabric that reflects heat, thereby making its wearer invisible to thermal imaging cameras.

Writers of “prepper books” have a new chapter to add.

TechnologyJeff Soyer on 07 Jan 2013 10:46 am

Coming soon -maybe this year- will be computers you wear.

TechnologyJeff Soyer on 20 Nov 2012 03:57 am

From Technology Review:

Researchers at Georgia Tech have created a device that takes advantage of static electricity to convert movement—like a phone bouncing around in your pocket—into enough power to charge a cell phone battery. It is the first demonstration that these kinds of materials have enough oomph to power personal electronics.

Looks like corduroy pants are about to make a big comeback.

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