New Tesla Model 3

The biggest name buzzing around the automobile industry nowadays: Tesla. With the Model S that the took the world by storm, as an all-electric luxury sedan, Tesla is no longer a name to scoff at. As was the case for the late scientist as well!

Tesla has been in the industry for a little over 10 years, but only posted profits recently in 2013. Which is no big deal, as surely it will be a gargantuan competitor in the market as it is already proving to be.

Tesla first gained notoriety back in 2008 with its Roadster model, the world’s first fully electric sports car.But Tesla does not only manufacture cars, they are also known for marketing their electric power train components as well. This includes  sales of lithium-ion batteries to be big name automakers such as Toyota and Daimler. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, plan for the future is to eventually offer electric cars at prices affordable to the average consumer, taking over the gas-powered vehicles completely!

His goal may not be too far in sight, at least according to recent news. Tesla recently announced a name for its first completely electric vehicle that is targeted towards the mainstream. The new model will be known as the Model 3, with three strikes in roman numeral form to represent the three (instead of what Ford was guessing, Model E).

A release date has been targeted by Musk around 2017, which is not too far off. The current price tag on the smaller vehicle is set $35,000, which is a decently low price compared to previous models. It has been state by Musk that it will have a range of over 200 miles per charge, simply by using batteries built within Tesla’s own planned Gigafactory. This is also good news for the original Roadster, as it will provide the car a more modern battery capable of going up 400 miles on a single charge! This is especially significant as Tesla has plans to build charging stations all across the United States.

Google to Put Sensors Directly on Your Eye, Deal Signed

These contacts are big news for the world of technology and futurologists all-over the world. Google and Novartis have announced a cooperative effort to collaborate on the development of smart contact lenses, which were revealed by Google X just this past January. What these lenses promise to do is analyze tear fluid in the eye, which would in turn provide constant measurements of a person’s blood glucose levels, using non-invasive sensors. This new and innovative technology would help diabetics manage their disease more easily by wirelessly sending data to their mobile device.

The technology has presently been licensed by Novartis and is being looked into becoming a commercial product, via their eye-care subsidiary Alcon. The co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, stated that he is more than ecstatic to begin working with the latest technology in the miniaturization of electronics, as it will improve of the quality of life of millions across the globe. They want to do-away with the current painful and invasive way we currently monitor glucose levels; which is by pricking a finger and testing the blood droplets many times a day. The ideal plan for the project is for the sensor to be able to generate a reading once per second and act as a warning device for when glucose levels drop. This could be accomplished by putting a miniature LED light within the lens to indicate levels dropping below and above the set threshold.

Not only will this technology benefit those with diabetes, but Novartis also seeks use the technology in order to restore the natural auto-focus of the eye. They hope to achieve this by possibly implanting the lens directly onto your eye. The agreement however does not change the fact that this long-term project will be a while before testable results are produced. Though Google’s glucose-tracking smart lens is most definitely on the road towards certain commercialization. One can only ponder the capabilities of this futuristic technology.

The Great California Divide

Billionaire’s in California have a plan to break up the one state into six separate states instead.  How can such a plan move forward you ask? Well the billionaire venture capitalist behind the proposal has stated that he has gathered enough signatures to place this request on the ballot in the next two years..

The man behind the operation is Timothy Draper, who is founder of a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm. A firm that has made intelligent investments into companies such as Skype, Twitter and Tesla, among other companies. Draper has aggressively been trying to get a ballot initiative to slice up the most populated U.S. state into smaller pieces for months.

The idea behind it is to help us create a more innovative, more responsive, and more local government for each of these new states, that Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the campaign, states is important for bettering the lives of all Californians. By having six states with responsive local governments, states would be more representative and accountable to their constituents. The campaign had garnered a resounding 808,000 signatures according the Salazar, which is more than enough to place the measure on the November ballot of 2016.

The plan has raised bipartisan alarm across the state and its opponents say that it stands little to no chance of gaining approval among the voters. Even if it did gain and win support from the voters, it would still then have to pass through congress, which is also unlikely. According the Steven Maviglio, a Democratic political strategist who helped form the group California to fight Draper’s plan, this proposal is a gigantic and divisive waste of energy, money and time that will only hurt the California brand. The problem is not the fear of it passing, as it has little chance, but that it will scare investment away during a time where the Governor is heralding California into an economic comeback.

Crying Wolf at the World Cup

Faking injuries is a major epidemic and a problem needed to be addressed in pro-level sports. This problem is not unique to soccer either, as baseball players are also known to fake being hit by a pitch, but it certainly is a serious problem during world cups. Desperate times call for desperate measures; as players will do almost anything to take home that winning trophy. And according to a report, the home team Brazil takes the cake for faking injuries.

The Wall Street Journal had recorded and timed the tournament for the first 32 games to observe every instance where a player appeared to be injured and later returned to the game. It should be noted that it may also include legitimate injuries, but the number is too large to not think there is some foul play going on. There is a reported 293 instances, which is hard to overlook. A lot of these so called injuries were suffered by winning teams, which one can  conclude was pulled to drain the clock, resulting in four times the amount of time wasted.

In just the first two games, players from Brazil had gone down with injury a total of 17 times before returning to play. During the opening game against Croatia, Brazilian players were barely staying in the game, and had thus taken a late lead thanks to a Fred because of controversial dive. The following penalty kick was performed by famous striker Neymar, who is also known to be quite the actor.

In the end, though Brazil had flopped the most, the players were resilient enough to get back in the game quite quickly. They time in at wasting 3:18 due to injuries, which is only about the middle in rankings. Leading the pack however is Honduras with 7:40 and France close behind with 7:19 spent rolling on the ground. The strongest teams to not be knocked off their feet include Bosnia and Herzegovina, who were only hurt twice clocking in at a total of 24 seconds in their first two games

 

Net Neutrality

The big discussion buzzing around the internet currently is regarding Net Neutrality. ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon,and AT&T have been trying to gain the ability to throttle web services based on how much people are paying for connectivity. Basically creating an internet fast-lane for companies that can afford it, while leaving us average customers in the dust.

The problem with leaving slow lanes for the masses and fast lanes for the ones with the most money is that it places a clear disadvantage on start-ups; as they lack the abundant resources internet giants have access to.The internet becomes no longer a level playing field, as the economics of digital services tilt in favor of entities already established, such as Google. Do we really want a select few companies having the biggest say in what our internet consists of? To prevent monopolies, it is important that this does not happen.

Just recently a protest was held outside of Google’s Mountain View HQ by a small group of pro-net neutrality activists, calling themselves OccupyGoogle. They have apparently been apprehended by California authorities for trespassing on private property. What is interesting is not that people are being arrested, but that they are being arrested for such a low-key protest that was not even directly targeting Google itself. The reason they chose to occupy Google was in order to call for help. OccupyGoogle has setup a website asking Google to help protect net neutrality and defend internet freedoms, by backing a public campaign with their weight to lobby the FCC during a period of public comment, ending July 15th.

Though Google has generally been known as a strong advocate for net neutrality, they feel it could do more to champion the cause, especially at such a critical time. Google has currently declined to comment on the arrests made, but hopefully soon some light shed.

Growing Old, and Staying Sharp

Afraid of growing old and losing functionality of your mind? Everyone fears that their memories will fade and that their sanity will slowly slip away as the years grow thin. But according to studies at the Mayo Clinic, there is a simple way to avoid this: by living a life of the mind.

Even if you’re late into life, it is not too late; more often pursuing cerebral leisure pursuits can still help greatly. If you’re already in an intellectually stimulating career or participating in good education, you’re already well on your way. These things also offer a uniquely strong protection! A lifetime of intellectual enrichment could possibly delay the onset of cognitive impairment, successfully preventing the impending epidemic of dementia.

This is important not only for your own health and well-being, but because dementia is both emotionally and economically devastating for families and society as a whole as well. In order to measure the impact of intellectual enrichment on cognitive decline, two different forms were put to the test in a clinical setting. One base on mid to late-life cognitive activity, and one based on occupation and education attainment. The subjects in this experiment were 1,995 elderly, ranging between the ages of 70 to 89; with 27 percent at risk for developing late-onset Alzheimer’s.

Activities that researchers considered cognitively stimulating, performed at least three times a week, include playing music and games, taking part in arts and crafts, and obviously reading books and magazines. After participating in said activities, subjects then went through an assortment of neuropsychological tests, which were designed to measure a variety of cognitive skills, such as  language, executive functioning, and memory.

Those who had greater levels of educational, cognitive, and occupational activity were independently associated with a lower risk of dementia. The difference was huge. The onset of cognitive impairment was postponed by around over eight and half years, when comparing the top 25 percent in terms of lifetime intellectual enrichment to the bottom 25 percent.. The effects of higher education and keeping cognitive activity constant were especially pronounced, providing at least five years of  protection.

For those with lower intellectual involvement in mid-life. it is important to beef up mental stimulation. It will have a profound impact at staving off cognitive impairment for those people who are at higher risk. So remember, it is never too late!

 

 

Bitcoin, the Future of Currency?

 

What is Bitcoin, what is a cryptocurrency, and why should I use it?These are questions many are asking, and questions that many more will be asking in the near future.

A cryptocurrency is a medium created for the secure exchange of information. It is the use of currency that which implements the principles of cryptography to incorporate a decentralized, distributed and secure information economy. And Bitcoin was the first of it’s kind, introduced way back in 2009, live for trading.

Bitcoin, introduced as an open-source software by developer Satoshi Nakamoto, is basically a payment system. The payments that occur in the system are denoted in ‘bitcoins’, and are recorded in a public ledger using this unit of account. There is no central repository or single administrator, as transactions are done peer-to-peer, and it is considered a decentralized virtual currency by the US Treasury.

But how does one obtain a Bitcoin? They are created as a reward for payment processing work done by users who offer their computing power to record and verify payments into the public ledger. This activity is called ‘mining’. And companies or individuals participate in this process for freshly generated bitcoins and transaction fees. Other ways to obtain bitcoin is in exchange for products, fiat money, and services. Users are capable of receiving and sending bitcoins electronically, for an optional transaction fee, via a wallet software based on a mobile device, personal computer, or a web application.

Now, the big question: Is Bitcoin the currency of the future? As a form of payment for all sorts of products and services, bitcoin has seen major growth. Currently, one bitcoin is worth $564.8, and has seen highs over $1000! The reason major merchants, like Overstock.com, are in support for the switch to bitcoin is because fees are lower than the 2-3% imposed by credit card processors.

So what is the problem with using Bitcoin? The fees are paid by the purchaser instead of the vendor, so they lack consumer protections. They can be stolen and also chargebacks are not possible. Though commercial use of bitcoin is currently small, its use by speculators is much greater and the reason prices tend to skyrocket. Bitcoin has also faced scrutiny , as its been used on the online blackmarket via such sites as Silk Road.

Considering these factors, its easy to realize it has its perks and falls. Though bitcoin may not stay, it is highly likely at least some other digital currency will pave its way to our future.

Social Engineering, A Looming Threat

What is Social Engineering exactly? It is the act of deceiving others in order to reveal to you sensitive information. Who is at risk? Pretty much every company.

There are many ways for a Social Engineer to strike. But first, what is the goal of the social engineer? You have something they want. Information. It can be any level employee that holds it too. They basically collect as much information as they can on a company through reconciliation, so they can then formulate a method of attack. For example, a receptionist at your company’s help desk reveals to a person on the phone the version of Adobe Reader the company is running. This person can now look up the vulnerabilities related to this version of the software and then implement an attack through methods such as phishing.

Why did the receptionist give this information in the first place? Because the people behind the call are well acquainted with the art of deception. They simply had to seem friendly (could have called several times beforehand to build trust) and offer something like a free update to your software by claiming they are with the company. Without verifying their credentials, it is easy to be misled. You could have been employed at the register belonging to a theme park and a father of three asked you to boot up his coupon via usb on your company computer. The whole system has now been compromised with a root-kit based virus, and all of your company’s information has been leaked.

Too much to take in and feeling frightened? Not to worry, because the first step towards preventing these types of attacks is through awareness. Know that if you are head of a company, you’re likely to be a prime target (though you are NOT the only target). They will relentlessly collect all information on you and try to creatively tailor their attacks using personal information on you; such as your favorite sports team. If something seems too good to be true,  like free tickets to a baseball game in an email, it probably is. Always double check your sources, and never open unconfirmed attachments in email. Remember to educate yourself in Social Engineering and stay aware, so you can rest easy!

National Go Skateboarding Day!

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year again. That’s right! It is officially national Go Skateboarding Day. 

Skaters around the world are gearing up with their skateboards, longboards, or whatever else they choose to roll with, and hitting the streets. A holiday believed to be inspired by famous ‘No Skateboarding’ signs  changed to ‘Go Skateboarding’ by skaters, has become an infamous day for millions around the world to gather up and participate in doing what they love most. It was originally created by the International Association of Skateboard Companies (IASC) to inspire people around the world to start skateboarding and make it more accessible through several events held in major cities everywhere. It had even received a Special Congressional Recognition from the US Congress for promoting skateboarding as a sport back in 2004.

The event was originally titled ‘All City Skate Jam’ by 5boro Skateboards owner/found, Steve Rodriguez, who first started it up back in 2002 in NYC. Go Skateboarding Day now gathers up thousands of participants in NYC annually, and is considered one of the largest single gatherings of skateboards in the world. And thus now, an official holiday.

The event is not without malevolent incidents either of course. Though a majority of skaters are not like this at all, many have become associated with mischievous behavior, hence coining the term ‘skate-rat’. Skaters have never exactly been in good terms with police, as they’re known to break-up gathers on property where skaters are not wanted, in fear of them causing damage. It is not without warrant, as many areas where skaters had once inhabited become layered in broken glass and graffiti. The punk-rebel attitude within the culture caused great turbulence in the past among both police officers and skaters. Before it was a sport, it was simply niche activity practiced by outcasts.

Years have changed this however. Thanks to figure-heads such as Tony Hawk, Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva, and, more recently, Rob Dydrek. The once hobby has now become a sport thanks to such events as the X Games and Dyrdek’s Street League Skateboarding competition. Skaters around the world compete to win prizes, and more importantly, claim the throne as the best skateboarders in the world. This has made the vibe around the sport still rough, but a lot cleaner than it used to be, especially with events like these promoting friendly and good moral values. Many like Nyjah have made a career out of the sport thanks to these events, and GSD will only continue to inspire others to participate in future generations to come.

 

The $25 Smartphone

What company would ever release a smartphone for so little money? Why Mozilla of course! 

The browser of choice for many, Firefox’s company Mozilla has plans to release a $25 smartphone by the end of the year. Many are unaware that Mozilla already has a mobile operating system, Firefox OS. But how can it compete against competitors that have a stronghold on the market like Android or Apple iOS? Both of which offer bountiful applications, top-of-the-line hardware and a well-known platform.

Firefox OS, on the other hand, is an unproven operating system upstart, with few developers working to make interesting new software content. If the competitors already dominate a majority of the existing smartphone market, what is Mozilla’s plan of action? To create a brand new customer base of smartphone owners.

The plan is to sell the $25 Mozilla smartphone, with Firefox OS, to emerging markets in countries like Indonesia and India. This is because many people in these countries still do not have smartphones, as they often come with hefty price tags. Many still rock old-school “feature phones”, as spending extra on higher end phones can mean the difference between poverty and sustaining life. By bringing the $25 smartphone to regions such as these, they can then compete with the feature phones, causing a mass shift to upgrade among the consumer base. Once the large volume of current old-school mobile phone users finally make the switch, then suddenly we have the Firefox OS becoming a relevant player in the mobile OS game.

Why do we care if the Firefox OS becomes successful? Because if it is, that means a surge of software entrepreneurship within emerging markets. There have been only a comparatively small number of developers working on low-tech apps before this. Though the apps they created were simple, they were very impressive nonetheless; based on SMS and WAPP which are today considered outdated. This an opportunity for new developers to shine ,providing jobs for the people and the apps consumers desire.

The only issue they face now is the infrastructure within these countries. They must convince telecom leaders and lawmakers to build more cell towers, lay down fiber, etc. for their networks. Otherwise, the infrastructure will remain the main issue facing Mozilla’s plan to capture these emerging markets with their $25 bet.