The Self-Driving Edition Saturday, April 22, 2017

Apple Has Developed A Plan To Train Experts In Self-driving Cars, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

The documents obtained by Business Insider include a "Development Platform Specific Training," as well as details about a autonomous vehicle system called the "Apple Automated System." Among the key training issues are instructions on how to regain manual control of an autonomous car, if necessary. [...]

According to the document, Apple drivers must pass seven different tests before they are fully trained. Each safety driver has two practice runs and three trials to pass each test on what appears to be a private course.

Apple Hires Top Google Satellite Executives For New Hardware Team, by Mark Gurman and Mark Bergen, Bloomberg

With the recruits, Apple is bringing into its ranks two experts in the demanding, expensive field of satellite design and operation. At the moment, these endeavors typically fall into two fields: satellites for collecting images and those for communications. [...]

Indeed, Apple may have hired the Google executives for something other than satellite work. It's already trying to use drones to capture and update map information faster than its existing fleet of camera-and-sensor ladened minivans. And in 2015, it acquired Aether Industries LLC, which develops near-space technology such as high bandwidth radio transceivers and high-altitude balloons.


Blackbox Is The iOS Puzzler You Need To Play, by Tom Twardzik, Pop Dust

Blackbox is a hilariously frustrating, free puzzler that challenges players to use their iPhone in ways they'd never thought of (no, not like that!), all to solve its deviously creative and colorful challenges one at a time. [...] Blackbox, created by evil genius Ryan McLeod, creates its unique experience by avoiding the iPhone's defining feature: it's touchscreen.

One Podcaster's (Fruitless) Quest To Replace Skype, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

But here’s the thing: Everybody I know uses Skype. If I’m going to start the painful process of moving house—of getting everyone I’m on a podcast with to, over the course of many months, upgrade their software and get used to a new way of working—I want to move to something that is vastly superior to what we’re currently using. There is no point in dealing with transition costs—inevitably including many lost minutes as everyone waits for someone to install unfamiliar software and figure out how to use it—to make a lateral move.


Apple Is Losing Its Shine In China, by Jeremy Hsu, BackChannel

Though the whims of Beijing continue to pose a threat, the popular narrative of Big Government may have overshadowed a more fundamental challenge to Apple’s business. The Cupertino company hasn’t been a victim to regulation so much as a victim of its own failure of imagination.

Why Old Operating Systems Never Really Go Away, by Ernie Smith, Tedium

Operating systems are the cockroaches of the digital revolution. They’re everywhere, hiding in low-level crevices, and most of the time, you don’t really notice when they’re there—except, of course, when they draw attention to themselves. (Cough, cough Windows 8 cough.) But most of those operating systems fade from view—except when they don’t. Case in point: The company Arca Noae claims it’s about to launch a brand-new version of IBM’s coulda-been ‘90s contender, OS/2. Apparently, there are people who still use it! Tonight’s Tedium surveys the landscape of obscure operating systems and highlights the ones that are with us in ways large and small.

Seeking Privacy In A City Of Sensors, by Linda Poon, Citylab

In short, Singapore is a city—and nation—of sensors, barely noticeable to the average citizen. But they know they’re there. It’s all part of the government’s plan to become the world’s first “Smart Nation,” which was kick-started in 2014 with the rollout of 1,000 sensors. In the grand scheme, Singapore wants to build a network of sensors to collect and connect data from all aspects of urban life—not just traffic and infrastructure but also human movement and behavior. All that information, collected across various departments, will then feed into a central platform, accessible to all governmental agencies. The engineers behind it have dubbed the plan “E3A,” for “Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, All the Time.”

Cosplay Saturday

Little Jyn Erso Cosplayer Delivers Death Star Plans To Leia At STAR WARS Celebration, by Amy Ratcliffe, Nerdist

As Harley ran into Leia cosplayers of all variety of ensemble, she handed over the Death Star plans. I don’t know how many Leia cosplayers were moved to tears by this act, but I’d wager it wasn’t a small number.