Stop “Robber Barons” From Monopolizing Our Internet

If you are reading this and you know what net neutrality is, stop and go tell congress to stop the FCC vote here. Seriously, go do it now.

Okay, for everyone else: the quick version. Net neutrality is the idea that America’s internet should have a capitalist, competitive market, and regulations exactly like those on offline business market. I know, right? What a revolutionary idea. The alternative, which the FCC (the government agency in charge of radio, tv, and phone transmissions, not really the internet) likes to call “free and open internet,” is internet service providers being able to do things that would violate antitrust laws if they happened in the physical world, with a physical product. Comcast would be able to lower internet speeds for certain websites, including those that would otherwise compete with their own streaming services, as Verizon has already illegally done with Netflix for its users.

The FCC voted on December 14th, but even after they vote to remove regulations there are still a few more steps to go through before your cable bill doubles just to keep Netflix and youtube. Congress has the ability to stop the vote, however, as long as they get enough concerned citizens contacting them. Go to https://www.battleforthenet.com/ and sign the petition to keep the internet a free market for everyone.  Then, you can call congress, and the website makes it very easy by giving you a script. Thanks.

Which to Buy: Amazon Echo or Google Home?

The Amazon Echo and Google Home are both hands-free voice activated speakers that you can use to find out the weather, set timers, play music, or ask questions, among other things. With the Google Home pulling it at $129 and the Amazon Echo at $99 (although both are currently on sale for $79), one might choose the Amazon Echo, or “Alexa” just for that reason. However, here are some things to consider:

Amazon Echo:

  • Newly released Echo 2nd generation has a new speaker and new design
  • Comes in 6 colors
  • Can play music from Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, or radio apps like Sirius XM and iHeartRadio
  • Can make phone calls, set timers, manage shopping lists, request an Uber, or order a pizza
  • Can check the weather, your schedule, traffic, or sports scores
  • Can connect to and manage compatible televisions, lights, thermostats, sprinklers, garage doors, and other Echo’s
  • Available in larger and smaller sizes, the Amazon Echo Plus and Echo Dot, respectfully

Google Home:

  • Comes in one color
  • Can play music from Google Play Music, Pandora, Spotify, or Youtube Music
  • Can make phone calls, set timers, manage shopping lists, request an Uber, or order a pizza.
  • Can check the weather, your schedule, traffic, or sports scores
  • Can connect to and manage compatible televisions, lights, thermostats, sprinklers, garage doors, and other Google Homes
  • Available in smaller and larger sizes, the Google Home Mini and Google Home Max, respectfully

Considering these factors, the two products are practically the same. In my opinion, the most important factor to consider when choosing a voice assistant is how connected you are to the brands. For instance, someone who does all their shopping through Amazon Prime may choose Echo over Google Home, whereas someone who has purchased Youtube Red and the new Google Pixel phone may choose Google Home.

How realistic can Japanese robots get?

Japan’s long history with robots first began in the 17th century with a mechanical puppet often used for theatre entertainment called, “Karakuri ningyō”. However, they have come very far with their advancements in technology and robotics.

Continue reading “How realistic can Japanese robots get?”

China’s New Cybersecurity Law

On June 3, China announced its new Cybersecurity Laws (CSL) meant to maintain the internet within China’s borders, however much of the law remains unclear. As of now, only ambiguous reports have been made by officials which don’t provide both Chinese businesses and foreign nations any information on these new cybersecurity laws. Continue reading “China’s New Cybersecurity Law”

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