Thinking outside the Blackbox

Blackbox :: infamous puzzles, more commonly known just as Blackbox, is “a refreshingly oppressive puzzle app” that challenges you to think outside the box; the box being your phone. The game has over 4 million downloads and more than 50 innovative levels, with even more available for purchase. What makes this game special is that each level is solved without touching your phone.

Each level is called a “light.” You solve the level by turning on the light, or making the box go from empty to filled in. Some involve turning your phone, using your location, or using your camera. Some technically involve touching your screen, where you have to adjust a setting like the brightness of your screen or your wifi.

When I first got this game I thought it would be pretty easy. I couldn’t really think of many challenges that don’t involve touching the screen. But I was very wrong. The first few levels used the phone’s interface, so I thought that would be the case for most of the levels and tried to do all kinds of things like using siri, taking photos, and charging my phone in hopes of beating the level, but once I figured out that the solution had nothing to do with those things I felt kind of dumb for not figuring it out at first.

The creator of Blackbox, Ryan McLeod, said he was tired of iOS puzzle games and wanted one that granted “ah-hah moments.” I certainly felt this while playing some levels that took hours of me fiddling around in settings or spinning my phone in all directions. Other levels, however, have granted me nothing but frustration, because even though I know how to solve them, either I can’t or I have to wait 30 days. But I know that once I finally beat those levels, I will feel very accomplished. Also, if anyone downloads the app and has a pink QR code, please let me know.

Self-Driving Trucks Tractor-trailers are Coming to Roads Near You


          Self driving vehicles have always been seen as a dream in the future, as is finally seen in one of the most popular transportation vehicles in the nation, trucks. This new technology leads many truck drivers concerned about not only their jobs now but in the coming future. They are worried that technology will take over their positions and they could lose their jobs. With self driving cars, there have been countless advertisements ranging from Google to Uber about the latest craze that will soon become popular in the future. Yet, many experts don’t know if this will be happening quite soon. First of all, they are extremely expensive, many people will lose their jobs, and customers aren’t positive that this new technology is safe. “I could hear the man who taught me to drive telling me what he always aid was rule number one: ‘Don’t hurt anybody,”’ (Mugriyev, Texan truck driver). People such as Roman Mugriyev, a Texan resident fears that safety is the biggest concern.

           As multiple companies continue to test self-driving trucks, more technical problems have arose which delays the start to this technology that people have mixed feelings about. As Greg Murphy describes it, “This system often drives better than I do.” As a truck driver, Murphy is surprisingly excited to see how this new technology will become about it in the future. He understands that there are “the opportunities and challenges posed by self-driving trucks that might seem to merely echo those associated with self-driving cars.”

              Economically, self-driving trucks might be seen more often on roads in the coming years than with cars due to the long stretches of highway that truck drivers have to go through. In addition, truck drivers have to play close attention to their movements by “cutting down on wind drag and saving on fuel” while the self-driving cars will have a way that stopping for gas is not an option. Yet, with these benefits there comes obstacles that these trucks have to face. First, experts say that it will be practically impossible to honor the same skills that current truck drivers have with their years of experience and training in piloting. Humans unlike machines have unique judgement when driving and technology might not be able to match that awareness of a professional trucker.

             As the future holds many exciting opportunities for many different people, there comes disadvantages and obstacles for others who have to try to embrace this new change. I think that it is important that technology is constantly evolving and I would like to be inside a self-driving car one day, but as a truck-driver, my position could be replaced by a cheaper and more efficient piece of technology. While this technology is improving and advancing everyday, they do “figure to be more controversial” and set drawbacks in our political and economical aspect of the business world which might come in “ways that lal would not necessarily would welcome.”

                           Written by Mia Gradelski, Junior Student Help Desk

Apple’s new Face ID system uses a sensing strategy that dates back ‘Structured light’ and artificial intelligence.

           We all are familiar with touchID used on all newly released iphone models, yet since Tuesday, with Apple’s new release of three new iPhone models, there is a new way for people to unlock their phones in a more secure and easier way. This new system is groundbreaking and extremely innovative in the technology world. “The system relies not only on neutral networks-a form of machine learning-but also on a slew of sensors that occupy the real estate near the selfie camera on the front of the handset.” Along with this new feature on their phones which costs a whooping $1000 to purchase, this feature is only present on this new model.

         This system works with a complex facial-identification process that is used through a True Depth camera system. It takes an infrared image and uses the IR image and the dot pattern of neutral networks to create “a mathematical model of your face”, stated by Phil Schiller, a senior vice president at Apple. In addition, structured light is a key technique of projecting something onto a three dimensional object to help computer vision systems detect depth. What was fascinating to me was that this technology dates back to decades and is called the structured light method.

This system most importantly “taps into the power of neural networks to crunch the data it gathers during the face identification process.” This is a powerful tool that relates to artificial intelligence. It is a program that computer scientists teach by feeding data. Apple is not the only brand that is starting to use face identification. Samsung’s S8 phones and their new Note8 devices already have a camera that use the face ID feature, yet it isn’t as secure as the fingerprint reader. Personally, I would rather use the fingerprint sensor on my phone as I do now, since I believe it is more secure and is better at detecting than I predict the FaceID system will work. Yet, with Apple constantly improving their technology, some day these new model phones will become affordable and used by everyone.

                               Written by Mia Gradelski, Junior Student Help Desk

Will The Recent Disasters Spur On A New Era Of Drones?

The prospect of drones one-day delivering mail, performing rescue operations, or missions deemed too dangerous for humans has been continuously proposed as a dream of the future being offered now. Before September, the drone business was in a limbo of pros and cons, with every article of success having a counterstory of some failure. However, after the recent natural disasters drone designing companies are convinced that a new ear of drones is approaching. During Hurricane Harvey, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned amateur drone pilots to avoid flying, as they would likely do more harm than good. After an initial delay of operations, however, certified pilots were asked for help.

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Twitter changes character limit to 280!

The first sentence of this article about Twitter was written in 140 characters, so we can show what has long been the top length of a tweet.

Ever since Twitter’s genesis in 2006, it has famously put a restriction on tweets longer than 140 characters.  In other words, there was a hard cap at 140 characters.  If one wanted had more to say than that, then they had to publish multiple tweets.  That is, until today.

Twitter said in a statement that they believe this change will encourage people to tweet more, perhaps because of the ability to express more information.  They too said that in a trial run, the expanded limit led to an increase in “likes, retweets, and engagement” as well as the users feeling “more satisfied” with how they were able to express themselves (nytimes.com).  The company also reported, however, that in the trial run only 5% of tweets exceeded the 140 limit.  Nevertheless, it seems that the increase has allowed its users an easier platform to get their point across without having to send multiple tweets.

Twitter’s subtle yet long-desired update will prove to be monumental.  Not only will users be able to fully express their opinions, but too engage with one-another like never before.  An increase in engagement will ultimately lead to more users and activity on the social media platform, which then poses bigger threats to its competitors like Facebook and Reddit.

Electric Airplanes May Soon Take Flight

Planes today are engineering marvels, but they require a lot of money. But, electric aircraft are starting to take flight, and it is becoming cheaper than ever to learn how to fly.

Electric Aircraft Concept Art
Concept art of hybrid planes made by Zunum Aero.

Planes today are engineering marvels, connecting people and small towns to the world. But everyone would agree that they are not very efficient at travel, and can be expensive to maintain when fuel costs are high. Electric planes are a hope to solve that problem, by replacing traditional planes with more economic and environmentally friendly, electric planes. The companies behind these concepts explain that these planes would run totally on electricity and cut ticket prices, so flying could become cheaper for you and me.

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Major YouTube Changes

There are many websites online that are dedicated to nothing more than pure entertainment, but no website is more supreme than YouTube. Created in 2007, YouTube was a website meant to be a social media outlet, allowing the user to upload videos of themselves for others to view, like, comment, and share with one another. It exploded in a huge way. Continue reading “Major YouTube Changes”