Your helmet is made HOW?


Alessandra Benedetti – Corbis/Getty

❝ The Vatican’s Swiss Guard soldiers are receiving a high-tech uniform update: Their traditional metal helmets will be replaced with 3D-printed helmets this year.

Since 1914, the Swiss Guard soldiers have worn vibrant dress uniforms inspired by Renaissance-era artwork, The Verge reported. However, the soldiers have to wear metal helmets (morions), which could become uncomfortably hot and cause burns. Last year, the Swiss Guard decided that it was time to upgrade soldiers’ iconic helmets with 3D-printed ones that were more lightweight and comfortable.

The times they are a-changing…

Holiday photos, video, found in frozen seal poop!


Frame grab from seal poop video

❝ Scientists in New Zealand say they have found a USB memory stick containing holiday photos inside a frozen slab of seal poop.

The scat, valuable for studying the health of leopard seals, had been stored in a freezer for a year before it was thawed out for analysis, the researchers said…

❝ The stick was in good condition, “considering where it had come from”, and the researchers let it dry out for a few weeks…“The only clue to who might have taken them is the nose of a blue kayak,” the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said…

I’d like to know the brand of the memory stick. Great survival.

Geeks on Trump’s payroll make him look thinner, fingers longer

❝ The longest government shutdown in U.S. history shows no sign of resolving, and Americans wonder what President Trump and his team are doing.

Now we know. They are doing the important work the people sent them to do. They are elongating Trump’s fingers.

❝ The tech website Gizmodo reported this week that it found at least three retouched photographs on Trump’s social media pages since October, including two in the past few days, in which his body and face have been slimmed, his face and neck wrinkles tightened, his hair cleaned up — “and in one of the strangest alterations, Trump’s fingers have been made slightly longer.”

Trump still hasn’t gotten over Marco Rubio accusing him of being smaller in other body parts – to match his small hands! Har.

The American Trucking Industry needs more than increasing the number of drivers

❝ The US will be short 175,000 truck drivers by 2026, according to the American Trucking Associations. Fewer drivers mean that fewer goods can be moved in a timely fashion, which limits companies from selling more and consumers from enjoying what they’re used to finding in stores or online…

But not everyone agrees that the shortage is the only thing constraining the trucking industry, which moved 64% of all freight shipments in 2015.

❝ …Trucking can be an “incredibly wasteful” industry. Billions of miles are driven every year with nothing in them, many drivers spend hours at shipping docks, and the traditional way of brokering freight through phone, fax, and email is inefficient.

And not only do those factors make the industry less efficient, they make the already-stressful job of trucking that much more burdensome on drivers.

I worked in logistics and traffic management for a couple of decades. Everything from loading freight with a handtruck to managing and scheduling. Solid article with modern solutions. Questionable if the industry will adopt these rational solutions. Cripes, computer-controlled, automated warehouses were available sixty years ago. It’s taken Amazon to get media coverage of what’s possible.

Blood Moon Tonight


Click to enlarge

❝ The viewing circumstances for the eclipse of the full moon tonight will be as good as they can get for much of the United States and Canada. The eastern side of the continent has the best view, but the spectacle of the moon completely immersed in Earth’s shadow will be readily visible from coast to coast. The duration of totality will be longer than normal, too: It will last 1 hour and 2 minutes.

❝ The total phase of the eclipse will be visible from the Western Hemisphere, Europe and the western part of Africa, as well as the northernmost portions of Russia. In all, assuming good weather conditions, this shady little drama will have a potential viewing audience of some 2.8 billion people.

Everyone in our wee Santa Fe County Compound is reminded to remind me to get my butt outside to check this out, tonight.

Robot ATV carries firefighters’ gear

❝ In the fall of 2018, the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting, along with wildland firefighters from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control worked with Honda in testing their Autonomous Work Vehicle in wildland firefighting support scenarios.

Located at the site of the Lake Christine fire, a destructive wildfire that took place the summer of 2018 in Eagle County, Colorado- CoE, DFPC and Honda tested the work vehicles using realistic scenarios that occur during a wildfire. The team focused on utilizing the vehicle to support wildland operations with the goal of enhancing safety and effectiveness. Three missions were tested including initial attack support for dismounted firefighters, support of active fireline development, and autonomous deployment of a communications repeater to a remote site. This evaluation was performed at the Lake Christine fire site after the fire was fully contained and controlled. The initial results of the tests were promising and the CoE looks forward to working with Honda to further this mission.

Yeah, the language is a little stilted, press release-English. The concept is smart and realistic, useful. Certainly, folks here in the Rockies concerned with wildfires would be pleased to see critters like this in use.

30th Birthday of the Engine That Powered the CGI Revolution

❝ When Pixar President and co-founder Ed Catmull announced his retirement earlier this year, people rightly saw his impending departure as a transitional moment for the animation studio. But it’s bigger than that. Catmull’s shadow looms large not just over groundbreaking films like Toy Story and Coco, his influence can be traced all the way back to the dawn of digital visual effects. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The Abyss. Terminator 2. Jurassic Park. All of these titles came out before Woody and Buzz Lightyear, yet all remain watershed moments for VFX—and all used the tool that Catmull and his colleagues helped create at George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic.

RenderMan, as it’s known, came out of ILM’s computer graphics team (the same one that would later spin off into its own company called Pixar). It started as a powerful algorithm, but then became something greater—a graphical interface. “Up until that point,” says Catmull, “the look, the lighting, essentially had to be done by programmers.” A movie like 1982’s Tron might have been mindblowing, but its digital sequences also necessitated an absolutely knee-buckling amount of work, creating its futuristic effects frame by frame. RenderMan, though, allowed effects artists to realize their visions without needing to write code.

CGI Rulez! Most sci-fi geeks would agree. Most would also understand how the threads and techniques reach out into many aspects of today’s film-making regardless of genre. RTFA!

Without context Google’s billion device “Assistant” claim is B.S.


ReBlogged from om.coNick Bilton photo

Google says its “Assistant” (the voice-based query service) is soon going to be on a billion devices –primarily phones, and a majority of them being on the Android phones. There are some obvious questions that the report should have covered. For instance:

  • Are these pre-installed on the OS as part of deals with handset makers or phone companies?
  • What some money involved to get these pre-installed if they were pre-installed?
  • What percentage of these were downloaded by end customers?
  • How many Google Assistant speaker-type devices has the company sold and not just given away as part of some promotion?
  • What is the number of daily active users of the Google Assistant?
  • How is the daily usage trending? Any data? Claiming global active users have grown four times over past one year is utterly meaningless!
  • What countries is the Assitant popular in?
  • And is it GDPR compliant?
  • How does it correlate with Google’s current business model of placing advertising against search results?

In other words, without the relevant context, Google’s claim is no better than old fashion bullshit. For whatever its worth, I find Google Assistant is very good at understanding my accent than Alexa and Siri. They are also much more accurate than those two. Unfortunately, I don’t trust Google to let them into my apartment on a device.

Ditto! I agree.

How Much of the Internet Is Fake?

Quite a lot!

How much of the internet is fake? ❝ Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot. For a period of time in 2013, the Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as people,” a portion so high that employees feared an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event “the Inversion.”

Fits well into my personal lifestyle. You can be both a cynic and an optimist.