Friday, June 30, 2017

Hsieh Forbes Column: "Three Novel Health Care Innovations"

My latest Forbes column: "Three Novel Health Care Innovations"

Drones! Photosynthesis! AI!

Read more details at "Three Novel Health Care Innovations".

From one linked article:
"This medical drone can deliver an automated external defibrillator to a patient who has suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. In tests, the drone arrived more than 16 minutes faster than an ambulance had."

Won't Get Out Of Jail Free

Minnesota Man tries to use Monopoly "Get Out Of Jail Free" card to get out of jail. Innovative legal strategy does not work.

New From Hans Schantz

If you liked Hans Schantz' "The Hidden Truth", you might also enjoy his sequel, "A Rambling Wreck".

Thursday, June 29, 2017

5 Types Of Tap on iOS 11

"iOS 11 brings 5 different types of tap, but don’t panic":
[O]n an iPad running iOS 11 there are at least five “taps:”
  1. Tap.
  2. Long tap to drag and drop.
  3. Longer tap to delete/move apps.
  4. Special half-long tap to pop up a dock-extra menu.
  5. Press-tap (or long tap) in notifications to access extras.
This last one is the iPad’s stab at 3D Touch. If you use 3D Touch on your iPhone, you’ll be familiar with the feeling of trying to 3D Touch something on your iPad, only to have nothing happen. In iOS 11, if you press as if you were doing a 3D Touch, the gesture works. It pops open a preview of a notification (allowing you to reply to a message, for instance). It also works in apps, popping up an info card in Maps. It works a lot like 3D Touch on the iPhone, only it does it without a pressure-sensitive screen.

No. 2 in the list — drag and drop — is a new kind of touch interaction in iOS 11. Functionally it’s like the old press-and-hold to rearrange icons that dates back to the original iPhone, but it activates more quickly. It’s timed so you don’t really feel like you have to pause, and you’ll know when the touch has activated because the icon darkens and inflates a little...

Bread In Space

"Soon Astronauts May Be Able to Enjoy Fresh Baked Bread in Space":
This story starts back in 1965 during NASA’s Gemini 3 mission when pilot John Young pulled out a corned beef on rye that he’d smuggled aboard the spacecraft and shared it with Gus Grissom, the mission’s commander. But with the first bite Grissom realized there was a problem.

“I took a bite, but crumbs of rye bread started floating all around the cabin,” Grissom told a life Life magazine reporter after the mission.

The worry was that in the weightless conditions, the tiny crumbs could slip behind the control panels and wreak havoc on the sensitive equipment, or end up in an astronaut’s eye or lungs. The corned beef incident was so serious that it led to a Congressional investigation, which helped put the kibosh on bread in space and made tortillas the go-to for space travel. And while there’s nothing wrong with flat bread, sometimes you just want an old-fashioned sandwich on sliced bread. 

The German company Bake In Space is behind a project to develop a special dough for low-crumb bread and an oven in which to bake it on the ISS. According to Sebastian Marco, the CEO of Bake in Space, there a lot of challenges to both creating a tasty bread without crumbs and to baking in a low-gravity environment...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hacking Tinder To Sway UK Election

NYT: Hacking Tinder to sway the UK election:
[W]e designed a chatbot, a smart computer program that deployed an adaptable script. In the two days ahead of the election earlier this month, the chatbot struck up conversations with thousands of young people between 18 and 25 years old on Tinder. The chatbot talked about politics, with the aim of getting voters to help oust the Conservative government. The results were amazing. Over 30,000 messages reached young people in key constituencies.
You know we'll see something like this in the US very very soon.

Big Printer

"GE Plans World's Largest Laser-Powered 3D Printer":
The prototype Atlas printer, announced on Wednesday, can print objects up to one meter long using titanium, aluminum, and other metals instead of the plastics, resins, and filaments that many commercial and consumer 3D printers use. That means it could print an entire engine block for a car or truck, for example, replacing the specialized machines and tooling that are currently required to make those types of products in a factory.
(Via Rand Simberg.) 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual this upcoming week due to external obligations.

Friday, June 23, 2017

DIY Artifiical Pancreas

"This Woman Designed -- And Texts -- Her Own Pancreas"

Underappreciated Medical Inventions

"What Is the Most Underappreciated Medical Invention in History?"

DHS Or Eye Of Sauron?

"DHS Is Starting to Scan Americans’ Faces Before They Get on International Flights":
For certain international flights from Atlanta and New York, DHS has partnered with Delta to bring mandatory face recognition scans to the boarding gate. The Delta system checks a passenger is supposed to be on the plane by comparing her face, captured by a kiosk at the boarding gate, to passenger manifest photos from State Department databases. It also checks passengers’ citizenship or immigration status. Meanwhile, in Boston, DHS has partnered with JetBlue to roll out a voluntary face recognition system for travelers flying to Aruba. In JetBlue’s case, you can actually get your face scanned instead of using a physical ticket.

While these systems differ in details, they have two things in common. First, they are laying the groundwork for a much broader, mandatory deployment of Biometric Exit across the country. Second, they scan the faces of everyone -- including American citizens.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Typewriter Revival

"Typewriters attracting new generation of fans"

Tactile Map

"Inuit Tactile Maps of Greenland":
[T]hese maps represent the contours of the coastline in a continuous line up one side of the wood and down the other. The contours of the land are highly exaggerated, allowing users to navigate entirely by feel. The navigator would often carry them under his mittens and feel the contours with his fingers to discern patterns in the coastline. Being made of wood, they are buoyant, so they float if accidentally dropped and could be easily retrieved.

Interviewing Coders

"What if companies interviewed translators the way they interview coders?"

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tesla Fatality Update

"Tesla Driver In Fatal Florida Crash Got Numerous Warnings To Take Control Back From Autopilot"

AI Generated Metal Band Names

"Metal band names invented by neural network":
I gave the dataset to an open-source neural network framework that I’ve previously trained to generate recipes, Pokemon, knock-knock jokes, pick up lines, and D&D spells. As usual the instructions were only to learn what the dataset is like and try to make more of the same. With over 100,000 entries to chew on, the neural network managed to produce results that were… well, surprisingly metal.
I like the AI use of umlauts.

Falling Technique

"How to Fall Down"

Monday, June 19, 2017

AIs Learn Deception

"Facebook Let Its A.I. Negotiate, and the Lying Started Right Away"

Why Amazon Bought Whole Foods

"Why Amazon Bought Whole Foods".  Get used to the concept of the "life bundle":
After today’s announcement, several people on Twitter joked that between Prime and Whole Foods, Amazon may now account for a majority of some urban Millennials’ discretionary spending.

What’s not a joke, however, is that Amazon’s life bundle, like TV’s cable bundle, is fundamentally about the merchandizing of convenience, which is often indistinguishable from sheer human laziness. Driving to the movies and parking is a pain, and cable offered several cineplexes worth of video offerings on the couch.

Similarly, driving to the grocery store, finding parking, seeking out the produce section, and waiting several minutes in Line 6 is a pain. What’s not a pain? Lying on your couch, watching Downton Abbey on Prime Video, and shouting to your Amazon daemon, “Alexa, I need six heirloom tomatoes and a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil for tomorrow’s delivery.”

Changing NYC Street View

"How Google Street View documents a changing New York City"

Friday, June 16, 2017

Groundhog Day Time Loop

"How long was Bill Murray's character (Phil Davis) supposed to be in a time loop in the film 'Groundhog Day'?" (Via C.M.)

Don't Steal These

Items that should be pretty high on your list of "Things not to steal":
1) GPS tracking devices.

Not Just For Young People

"The Octogenarians Who Love Amazon's Alexa"

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Giving Sight To The Blind

WSJ: "What the Blind See (and Don't) When Given Sight".

Medical science answers a previously abstract philosophical question. (Via A.A.)

Subway-Style Map Of Roman Roads

"A subway-style diagram of the major Roman roads, based on the Empire of ca. 125 AD"


AI Video Game Milestone

Alex Knapp: "Microsoft Researchers Developed An AI That Got A Perfect Score On 'Ms. Pac-Man'"

This is super cool:
Using deep learning to develop programs that can defeat video games isn't a new feat, but this accomplishment is notable for several reasons.

First of all, it's notable because of the type of game chosen. The old 1980s arcade games weren't designed to be beaten - they were designed to keep people pumping in quarters. And when Ms. Pac-Man was developed, it was actually programmed to be less predictable than the original Pac-Man, so that it would be tougher for players to beat it.

The second and perhaps most notable aspect of this accomplishment, though, is the approach that the researchers took to solve Ms. Pac-Man. Rather than develop a single intelligent agent to learn the game, as other researchers have done, this team instead used a number of simpler intelligent agents to learn a single aspect of the game. For example, there are agents learning about ghost behavior, about fruit behavior, about pellet behavior, etc.

Each individual agent (there's over 100), develops a course of action it thinks Ms. Pac-Man should follow based on the small part of the game it's focused on. Those decisions are then aggregated, and the program moves Ms. Pac-Man based on the weighted average of preferences from the individual agents....

Monday, June 12, 2017

Cat Physicist

"The Secret History of the Cat Who Authored a Physics Paper"


Jupiter's Moons

"With two newly discovered satellites, Jupiter now has 69 moons."

Eureka Moments

"How 'Eureka' Moments in Science Happen"

Friday, June 09, 2017

Hidden Prison Computers

"Inmates built computers hidden in ceiling, connected them to prison network".

This is astounding:
Inmates at a medium-security Ohio prison secretly assembled two functioning computers, hid them in the ceiling, and connected them to the Marion Correctional Institution's network. The hard drives were loaded with pornography, a Windows proxy server, VPN, VOIP and anti-virus software, the Tor browser, password hacking and e-mail spamming tools, and the open source packet analyzer Wireshark...

A forensic analysis of the hard drives found that they were loaded with "malicious" software and that inmates used the computers to apply for credit cards, research tax-refund fraud, search inmate records, and obtain prison access passes for restricted areas. "Additionally, articles about making home-made drugs, plastics, explosives, and credit cards were discovered," according to the report.

The inspector general's report found that inmates "took two computers that should have been disassembled, placed hard drives into the computers, installed a network card, transported the computers across the institution for approximately 1,100 feet, through the security check point without being searched or challenged by staff, accessed an elevator to the third floor and placed the two computers in the ceiling of the P3 training room." The report added that "they also ran wire, cable, and power cords to connect the devices undetected onto the ODRC (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction) network."
Via Bruce Schneier.

Onion And Economics

"Onion articles that illustrate economic themes". (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Earth From ISS

"Stunning Photos of Earth from the International Space Station"

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Not Back To The Future

"Man Receives Ticket After Hitting 88 mph In His DeLorean"

Knitting And Spying

Knitting and spying during wartime.

Manslaughter By Texting?

"Can you commit manslaughter by sending texts? We're about to find out"

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Googled Diseases

"The 20 most-Googled diseases"

Marvel Art

"I Recreated Famous Works Of Art Using Marvel Toys".

My favorite:


Feynman On Trains

A Richard Feynman video classic: "How the train stays on the wheels"

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Google Vs Apple Maps After One Year

Interesting: "A Year of Google & Apple Maps". (Via J.W.)

Private Moon Landing

"First Private Moon Landing Gears Up for Launch by Year's End"

Body Armor Update

"Air Force cadet creates bulletproof breakthrough". (Via H.R.)

Monday, June 05, 2017

Haggling and Game Theory

"What's the best way to haggle?"

Flamingo Stability

"Flamingos are more stable on one leg than two"

Quiet Place

BBC: "Inside the quietest place on Earth"
The specially constructed chamber is hidden in the depths of Building 87 at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, where the firm’s hardware laboratories are based. Products like the Surface computers, Xbox and Hololens have all been developed here. Microsoft’s engineers built the room – known as an anechoic chamber – to help them test new equipment they were developing and in 2015 it set the official world record for silence when the background noise level inside was measured at an ear-straining -20.6 decibels.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Artemis, Chapter 1

The first chapter of Andy Weir's new book Artemis is now viewable for free online.

Data Protection Across Borders

"Introducing Travel Mode: Protect your data when crossing borders"
Travel Mode is a new feature we’re making available to everyone with a 1Password membership. It protects your 1Password data from unwarranted searches when you travel. When you turn on Travel Mode, every vault will be removed from your devices except for the ones marked “safe for travel.” All it takes is a single click to travel with confidence.

CRISPR Explained At 5 Levels

"A biologist explains CRISPR to people at five different levels of knowledge"