Preview: The SDK 2015.03.06 includes stories about the hoverbuildings, fob-less entry, & gattaca of the not-so-distant future being just a few more reasons to fear the engineers, plus a bit of light-hearted don’t-we-all-love tech that no one needs to buy but is going to be awesome.
The Hoverbuildings, Fob-less entry, & Gattaca of the Not-So-Distant Future
Hendo hoverboard: Where we’re going we don’t need roads…, The Guardian, March 6, 2015
“Arx Pax has its own startling ambitions: using MFA [Magnetic Field Architecture] to levitate buildings – from homes to hospitals – to help them escape damage from natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. The hoverboard is a headline-grabbing calling card for its longer-term social goals. ‘Sometimes the big breakthroughs are as a result of the naive daring of the outsider. And that’s us,’ says Greg Henderson, who founded Arx Pax with wife Jill. ‘We approached this with a social goal in mind: to be able to protect equipment and structures from earthquakes, floods and rising sea levels. The passion that drove all this came from the desire to really make a difference in how we build for mother nature’s bad days.’”
Via @StuartDredge @GuardianTech
Note: Now THAT’s “hacking for good”! Arx Pax raised their money on Kickstarter, allowing others to purchase the “whitebox” developer kit for building their own hover tech.
Cloud Computing Can Make Any Old Beater a Connected Car, Wired, March 8, 2015
Today, “Just about every major automaker has developed a proprietary app that lets owners do things like track their car’s location, review fuel consumption, and see how fast their kids are driving. . . That means that everyone who bought a car before these systems became common (or was too cheap to spring for one) is a potential customer for an aftermarket system, and offerings have multiplied of late. Among them is Delphi’s Connect, which plugs into any car’s OBD-II port to provide location tracking, service alerts, and the ability to use one’s smartphone as a key fob and turn the car into a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot.”
Via @ADavies47 @Wired
Note: Of course, remember this: “One step on the path toward making any car a self-driving car, it turns out, is making any car a connected car.”
The Connect is $99 ($199 if you want 4G connectivity). Check DelphiConnect’s site to see whether your car’s key fob is compatible with Delphi Connect (i.e., whether your car is compatible with Delphi’s amazing use-your-phone-to-unlock-your-car feature). If your car isn’t, don’t fret – neither was mine 😦 And if you’re some engineer, and you’re all “well I’ll just take their tech & hack it to work with my car, no biggie”, take note of this article from January: WTF! It Should Not Be Illegal to Hack Your Own Car’s Computer (Wired, January 23, 2015) “the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) just had to ask permission from the Copyright Office for tinkerers to modify and repair their own cars. . . . ‘Because Section 1201 of the DMCA prohibits unlocking ‘access controls’—also known as digital rights management (DRM)—on the software.’ . . . You can buy a car, but you don’t own the software in its computers. That’s proprietary; it’s copyrighted; and it belongs to its manufacturers.” So, don’t hack your car. It’s seriously against the law.
Engineering the Perfect Baby, MIT Technology Review, March 5, 2015
“Scientists are developing ways to edit the DNA of tomorrow’s children. Should they stop before it’s too late? . . . Luhan Yang, a Harvard recruit from Beijing [has been] a key player in developing a new, powerful technology for editing DNA called CRISPR-Cas9. With [George] Church, Yang . . . founded a small company to engineer the genomes of pigs and cattle, sliding in beneficial genes and editing away bad ones. . . ‘Germ line’ is biologists’ jargon for the egg and sperm, which combine to form an embryo. . . The fear is that germ line engineering is a path toward a dystopia of super people and designer babies for those who can afford it.’ . . . How easy would it be to edit a human embryo using CRISPR? Very easy, experts say. ‘Any scientist with molecular biology skills and knowledge of how to work with [embryos] is going to be able to do this,’ says Jennifer Doudna, a University of California, Berkeley, biologist who in 2012 codiscovered how to use CRISPR to edit genes. . . ‘Most of the public,’ she says, ‘does not appreciate what is coming.’”
Via @AntonioRegalado @TechReview
Note: So, Gattaca is coming. And I tried to keep the snippets above to as much to the simple neutral facts as possible, but there are absolutely a plethora of issues on both sides. Playing God is a valid concern, and the article also brings up several sympathetic scenarios where society might want this therapy available. But let’s say society decided that we aren’t responsible enough to play God. What are they going to do – make it illegal to edit genes using CRISPR? Take away all of the CRISPR supply? I think now it’s more about regulating how CRISPR can be used. And for that, I’m going to have to drag my Biotechnology Law class into the discussion. Stay tuned 🙂 Also the name CRISPR seriously sounds like a breakfast food to me.
Instilling More Fear from the Engineers
How Hackers Could Use A Nest Thermostat As An Entry Point Into Your Home, Forbes, March 6, 2015
“Security researcher TrapX Security is showing off how hacking an internet-connected thermostat made by Google-owned Nest can be the jumping off point to gaining control of other devices in your home. . . . But it’s also important to note that there is no evidence that a Nest device has ever been compromised like this out in the wild, according to Nest . . . [because] the attacker has to first get physical access to the device. . . by going through the device’s USB port.”
Via @AaTilley @Forbes
Note: Even the article admits, “It’s also worth noting that infecting a computer or smartphone would be a lot more effective means of launching an attack on a home network.”
So, don’t stay up at night fretting over your Nest getting hacked – hacking your Nest is hard. How hard? The article goes into a lengthy discussion of how ARP “(Address Resolution Protocol)” tools work in order to explain how TrapX hacked the Nest. And remember, the hacker had to have physical access to – that is, be able to touch – your Nest. I spared you from it, but, by all means, check it out. They explain just enough about how they hacked the Nest without actually enabling you to do it.
Still, in light of this, and most news on The SDK regarding security hacking, think twice before swiping right for any engineers on #Tinder. They are always to be feared near… well… anything that can be utilized in an alternative fashion. So, they should be feared near everything.
As a recovering engineer, I must consciously remember that I am a Law Student by day now, and thus my desperate desire to build things like an automatic lock-up system for my iPhone with a changing password that will only unlock once my alarm goes off (yes, a very specific desire) must be put on hold.
Please Read Anything Above Before These (Killer) Stories I Buried At The End. . .
How the Apple Watch will transform the most successful store strategy in a generation, The Washington Post, March 6, 2015
Apple plans to release two higher-cost editions of their Apple Watch, “including one wrapped in 18-karat gold that some retail analysts have speculated could fetch a price tag of $5,000, possibly even $10,000. . . To find an audience for such a product, Apple will have to do far more than demonstrate that the watch conveniently will fit into people’s lives. The company will have to prove that wearable tech can be a status symbol, even for the super-affluent — something no tech company or watchmaker has ever accomplished before.”
Via @SarahHalzack @HTsuka @TheSwitch @TheWashingtonPost
Note: If anyone can convince us all that we should be spending even more outrageous amounts of money on our tech toys, it’s Apple. Plus, as I tweeted yesterday – this seems like a pretty good way to burn away your estate and avoid paying estate taxes. Or, it’s, you know, the gift for the mother/father who has everything.
Windows 10 Start menu turns transparent in new leaked build, Ars Technica, March 6, 2015
“In build 10031, the Start menu has gained a degree of transparency. Windows 10 for phones also includes transparency on its Start menu, though the implementation is slightly different there—on the phone, it’s the tiles that are translucent. In Windows 10, it looks like it’s only the background to the Start menu that’s translucent.”
Via @DrPizza @ArsTechnica
Note: This last one is a very, very critical news update. Oh Windows 10, how you tease me.