Category Archives: #IOT Internet of Things

High school #Drones #Quadcopters racing as part of #STEM curriculum

A group of high schools in Hawaii have spent the past year studying physics, aerodynamics and learning how to build quad copters, culminating in a multi-high school competitive quadcopter racing program. Very cool!

Students participate in first interscholastic drone race

In some ways, this is similar to FIRST Robotics, also an awesome program for students interested in learning more about engineering, planning, fabrication and organizing complex projects. There are now many similar programs – nice!

Suspicionless “Forensic” Border Searches of Electronic Devices Are Unconstitutional

In a victory for privacy rights at the border, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today ruled that forensic searches of electronic devices carried out by border agents without any suspicion that the traveler has committed a crime violate the U.S. Constitution.

Source: Fourth Circuit Rules That Suspicionless Forensic Searches of Electronic Devices at the Border Are Unconstitutional | Electronic Frontier Foundation

The government can still do manual searches of electronic devices – both entering or exiting the country, per this Court ruling.

Google and Amazon seek to “own” airspace by de facto kicking out radio control model airplane hobbyists #Drones #modelaircraft #airplanes #stem

Google, Amazon and others have asked Congress to require that model aircraft hobbyists be Federally licensed pilots and place radio transponders on all model aircraft. This would apply to everyone from the 8 ounce toys flown by children the legislation may ban youth from flying radio control aircraft) to typical hobby model planes.

Model airplane enthusiasts have been flying model aircraft since before the FAA was formed and have a safety record better than any other category of aircraft…. by far.

Google and Amazon are attempting to seize airspace for their own commercial operations. In economics this is classic rent-seeking behavior where industry intends to use regulation to seize assets (and profits) for itself. While Amazon and Google reap the financial benefits, the costs would be borne by hobbyists who receive no benefits.

Google and Amazon are hinting via their lobbying request that their drone technology does not actually work to see and avoid other aircraft – unless all other aircraft carry beacon transponders. This is akin to self driving car proponents (Uber, Tesla, Google, Apple, Amazon) requiring all cars carry transponders so their own self driving vehicles will work. It is similar to say, having cellular phone companies demand that all Wi-Fi users be licensed. This is known as a “land grab” by those who seek to use government’s power to seize others’ assets for their commercial operations.

Go here to send email and find phone numbers of Congressional representatives. Contact them urgently as this matter may be up for a vote shortly.

Source: Protect Section 336 – Don’t let Google repeal Section 336!

Update: The US House of Representatives approved H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Bill, and retained protections for hobby flyers of radio controlled model aircraft. The bill will next go to the US Senate, which may not occur for several months, and then to a conference committee to negotiate differences between the House and Senate version of the bill. Approval is expected before the end of September, when current spending authority for the FAA ends.

“Arrogance Peaks in Silicon Valley”

Says M.G. Siegler, Google Ventures General Partner

There’s something that has been in the back of my mind for some time now. And while it pre-dates the Facebook fiasco, that situation certainly brings it to the forefront. Increasingly, it feels like people in our industry, the tech industry, are losing touch with reality.

Source: Arrogance Peaks in Silicon Valley – 500ish Words

I earned an MBA in mid-life. Prior to that I was a software engineer and software project manager. Up until then, everything in life was in need of a high tech solution – because, as you’ve heard, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Every where I looked I saw opportunities for more tech and more software. Earning the MBA broadened my perspective to see more opportunities that did not require more tech to make life better. I suspect my brain was wired much the same as everyone else drunk on tech.

We see this phenomena today when, in response to nearly every question about Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg responds with “More artificial intelligence will solve this!” It won’t solve it, but it sounds good to people in tech.

When techies sort of realize that they collect a lot of personal data and privacy might be an issue, they collectively decide that privacy no longer matters. Really?

They seem oblivious – to the point of not caring – about the dangerous and reckless way their technology is used to wreak havoc on the world around us. This is the problem that M.G. Siegler is writing about in his blog post.

AccuWeather app continues spying on user’s location #privacy

New tests reveal that while one privacy-invading feature was removed in an app update, the app still shares precise geolocation coordinates with advertisers.

Source: Despite privacy outrage, AccuWeather still shares precise location data with ad firms | ZDNet

This is done without the user’s consent.

Accuweather says it uses one’s location data to provide local weather forecasts but it appears the primary purpose is to optimize ad revenue. A side effect is that a dossier of our movement is constantly maintained by corporations.

With Android, if you use the GPS location features of the phone for any purpose what so ever, Google logs your location in the cloud. You cannot opt out of this – your choice is to use location services and be surveiled by Google, or not to use any GPS location features.

We now use an offline Garmin navigation product which presumably is not logging our location as it is only connected to the Internet a few times per year to update the software. But we really don’t know – may be Garmin is also logging our location albeit with a months long delay.