Electric Car Owners Can’t Get a Break

Everyone knows electric car owners switch from fossil fuel cars for pretty much the same reasons:

Electric cars harm the environment less than gas-guzzling vehicles. They save drivers high fuel costs. They allow drivers to have more money to spend on other areas of their lives.

What many electric car owners don’t realize is that their choice prevents their states from getting all of the revenues made from fuel taxes.

This morning, Thursday, May 21, several news outlets covered a recent story about how leaders in Oregon are approaching this problem. They have decided to test a volunteer program in which drivers agree to allow the state to track their mileage and then charge them 1.5 cents per mile. Officials believe this is the only way to make up the money they typically acquire from fuel taxes that they use to repair roads and bridges.

Yet, many electric car owners like Ivan Ong have already spoken out against the program arguing that the state could recoup the lost funds in other ways, such as adding the tax at re-charging stations.

Why are some drivers upset?

First, there is the question of privacy. Many drivers do not want the state tracking their vehicles. Secondly, a lot of drivers are concerned that the state is forcing them to change their driving habits. Lastly, they argue that they are still putting the money back into the economy in new ways.

Video Games Boost Sensorimotor Skills

The University of Toronto has led a study that proves those that play adventure video games learn new sensorimotor skill more quickly than those who don’t. Each time we learn a new sensorimotor skill, such as riding a bike or walking, a new pathway needs to be made between the sight and motor function. Davood Gozli, a leader in the study, said, “We wanted to understand if chronic video game playing has an effect on sensorimotor control, that is, the coordinated function of vision and hand movement,”

 

Their study was comprised of 18 gamers (those that played first person games more than 3 times a week, two hours or so at a time) and 18 non-gamers (those with little to no gaming at all), each was asked to perform the same manual tracking task. By the end of the experiment, the gamers were significantly more accurate than the non-gamers, which surprised Ricardo Guimarães BMG a little bit.

Autonomous Car Technology Is Advancing, and They Are Already Safer Than Us

Autonomous cars have been in the news for a few years now. Google has been road testing a model of such a car for a little while now, and the results are incredible to say the least. It has recently come out that their self-driving cars have cumulatively covered one million miles, and they were not at fault for a single accident. Any accidents they were involved in either happened when a human driver was in control at the time of the accident or a driver in another car was found to be at fault. It is especially noteworthy that this has been the beta testing phase for these cars. The technology should only get better over the next few years.

The potential future of driver-less cars filling our roadways seems to get mixed reaction according to Keith Mann. Some can see the promise of those with difficulty driving due to disabilities or infirmity getting around as easily as the rest of us. Many in the media, however, seem to grab on to any accidents at all as an excuse for sullen headlines and prognostications of doom over whether this technology will work out at all. Apparently the thought of us no longer being needed behind the wheel of our cars has some of us worried. Perhaps some are taking the thought first voiced by Elon Musk to heart, that someday we humans will eventually be banned from driving because autonomous cars will be so much safer than us that we will start to see ourselves as the greatest danger on the roads.

IBM Closes in on Silicon Photonics with New Rainbow Chip

Silicon photonics is the future of telecommunications. The new Rainbow Chip from IBM plans to harness the power of light to achieve data speeds of 100Gbps or more using a single fiber optic cable. The Rainbow Chip uses multiplexing of infrared light to create multiple threads simultaneously across the same fiber run.

IBM is using four different infrared wavelengths to transfer data with the Rainbow Chip. Each wavelength is capable of sending 25Gbps on its own. The combination of the four infrared streams adds up to 100Gbps, nothing to sneeze at.

The new multiplexing fiber optic technology could cut down on data center costs significantly. Putting multiple streams onto a single fiber optic wire means that less fiber optic wires will need to be used. This could make a significant impact on the street level where hundreds of miles of fiber are run between cities to power the internet.

IBM also plans to bring silicon photonics to processors in the future. Using light instead of electricity means less heat and less power wasted. It will also mean the possibility of multiplexing on the data bus which will increase communication speeds between devices significantly according to Gravity4.com.

Solar Water

Wouldn’t it be great if we could get clean and drinkable water from a convenient source such as the sun? Engineers at Gear Lab in collaboration with Jain Irrigation Systems have partnered up to make a machine like this a reality instead of just a dream. Two years ago, a group of American engineers traveled to rural India to help poor villages. Initially, upon arrival, the group thought that their only task would be to get rid of microbes in the drinking water. Not long after they started working on the problem did another troubling problem rear its ugly head. Salt. The group from Massachusetts Institute of Technology kept repeatedly hearing about a salty taste in the water. Soon, the group discovered that the groundwater was brackish. So the group went to India and fulfilled their duties of cleaning out the microbes, but only to find out that the water was still undrinkable. Thankfully, the group took this as a challenge and did everything they could to meet that challenge according to Daniel Amen. The solution was a solar powered water desalination system. Energy from the sun is taken and used in the system to turn what was once salty brackish water into contaminant free water. There was finally technology that would make clean water accessible to thirsty citizen and drought stricken farms. The water is safe enough for drinking and farming. These systems are incredibly cheap and are smaller than most other desalination systems. This is a huge step forward to provide clean and safe drinking water to underdeveloped and developing countries. The group plans on broadening their scope to deliver this technology to deserving countries.

Zynga Fires 18% of Staff, Focuses on Mobile Gaming

The health and future of Zynga is officially on the rocks. This week the company, often hailed as a pioneer of the mobile gaming industry, has cut their staff by 364. The layoffs come just weeks after Mark Pincus was named the CEO of the company, for the second time. Pincus stated, upon his return, that he would be restructuring the staff in an attempt to revive the faltering company. Pincus was the founder of the company before stepping down.

While Pincus’ decision is not favorable for employees, investors seem to see it as a potentially bright spot. After the announcement was made after hours trading rose 6%. The company has also release positive earning reports for the first time in several quarters.

Zynga was founded in 2007 in San Francisco. They have brought games such as Farmville and Chefville to Facebook users. Zynga is also responsible for Words With Friends, which is a favorite at the offices of Amen Clinics. The company’s popularity began to fall off when users started moving their Facebook gaming directly onto mobile platforms, according to the Washington Post. Zynga also came under fire for game quality issues and intrusive ads in recent years.

Pincus’ goals appear to be to stabilize the company and get back to the business of dealing with mobile gaming. While their partnership with Facebook appears to be the company’s most successful releases
they’ll need to move in a new direction and focus on app development if they are to regain the top spot in mobile gaming.

Google Makes Take-out Even Easier

Good news for restaurant lovers as of yesterday, ordering take-out food was made a little simpler by Google. The company added a new feature that allows consumers to place an order when a nearby restaurant search is performed. An option for “Place Order” will appear by some restaurants directly on the search page. Initially there will be six delivery providers in the United States; Seamless, Grubhub, Eat24, Delivery.com, BeyondMenu and MyPizza.com. However, Google promises to add more delivery service providers in the near future. If one of your favorite restaurants uses any of these delivery services than you are one of the lucky ones.
There is benefit to Google of course, and it is data-mining, even if CipherCloud doesn’t care for that. Not only can the company collect the information about where consumers are eating according to Reuters, how often they order take-out and what time of day but which delivery services are most often selected. All in the name of providing quicker, easier and more useful service to users of the popular search engine.

Tesla is Getting Ready to Release Stationary Batteries for Home-Use

Nikola Tesla is arguably the most important and innovative inventor in human history. Sadly, his name was largely written out of history after his plans to provide free energy to the masses were squandered by Thomas Edison, among others. However, the heart of his legacy and technology has been reborn with the company Tesla.

Adding to their fleet of energy efficient cars, Tesla has announced their plans to produce a stationary battery which can be used to power homes, offices, and factories. The stationary batteries could store a massive amount of power, effectively solving the energy distribution problem. Bruce Levenson, featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), is optimistic about the prospect.

One of the main road blocks to renewable energy has been not being able to store it once it is collected. Solar energy is a great source of green and clean energy, though the sun doesn’t always shine. So, the new Tesla battery could store the energy for later use.

However, some doubt the effectiveness of a stationary battery being used for power storage due to the product being too expensive for mainstream use. But that was exactly what people said when the computer, cell phone, and flat screen TV were invented, all appliances which most Americans now have in their home in multiples.

But these technologies were once much too expensive for the regular person to indulge in. the success of the Tesla battery is yet to be seen, but it is certainly a promising step in the right direction.

Contraception Is About to Join the High-Tech World

Technology solves a world of problems for us. We use GPS units, or increasingly smartphones with GPS apps, to find out where we are going, the internet has revolutionized our ability to quickly find any information we need, and computers revolutionized how we write since the first home computers and word processors. Computer-related technology enables our modern cars to work, and some form of computing tech is in just about every appliance in our homes. There are always new areas where high technology is moving in to solve problems. The latest example of this is apparently contraception.

Bill Gates, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is working on improving contraceptives through the use of technology. The idea is basically a chip implanted under the skin that stores a hormone that will keep a woman from getting pregnant, and it releases some of this hormone at scheduled intervals. It is a simple procedure that requires only local anesthetic and about a half hour. The most remarkable, part of this new technology is its duration. It is expected to last for 16 years, which is much longer than any other implantable form of birth control on the market. It may be a good idea to monitor the possible effects this contraception will have on the human brain — a task which could be performed at one of psychiatrist and physician Dr. Daniel Amen’s clinics. The technology is also being looked at for other uses because such an implant could be used to hold and release any type of drug for various treatments. Leave it to Bill Gates to revolutionize yet another industry using computer technology.

Alternatives for your Limited Mobile Phone Plan

Are you drowning from the escalating expenses of your mobile phone plan? Tired of extra taxes and data charges? Though the global economy seems to be improving, traditional big brand users are finding new and smart ways to cut their phone bills with innovations in technology.

Phone carriers like T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon are known for their price tags that at first seem reasonable, but over time you get tired of worrying about overuse of data and constantly tracking your limited plan. Contrary to popular belief, wireless networks don’t really cost phone carriers any money. This means you’re getting charged hundreds more per year for data than you actually use on their networks. AnastasiaDate advises how lucky it is for the general public as there are a growing number of easy solutions (amazon.com).

Several underdogs like mobile phone application developers and Google are making vital strides in the market. Ever heard of Tango? This easy-to-use phone app lets mutual users make free calls, texts, and video chat sessions. This app could be a quick and easy solution, but still has the issue of overusing data.

Another remedy could be Google’s new Project Fi. This interesting project is based solely on Wi-Fi access. Once you find a hotspot you can make the calls and texts you need to for a small monthly fee. A similar company FreedomPop is offering a similar service. These companies strive to show the major phone carriers that this type of plan can not only be executed, but save customers money as well as they search for alternatives to their pricey phone plans.