Ever Knocked Down the Wrong House Thanks to Google Maps?

We’ve all used Google maps and then had to guess the last few metres as the marker shows us the wrong location. It’s always a pain but, at least, it wasn’t responsible for knocking down your house. That’s correct, the wrong house was demolished thanks to the google maps marker showing the incorrect house. Whoops.

The address in question is 7601 Calypso Dr., which Google Maps also lists as 7601 Cousteau Dr. only the truth is that the second address is actually a block away. Cousteau Dr. was the address that should have been demolished after it was damaged by a tornado only things didn’t go exactly to plan.

The original Google Maps incorrectly pointing to the wrong address

Lindsey Diaz is the owner of one of the houses (the torn down building was, in fact, a duplex owned by two people) on Calypso Drive that was “mistakenly” taken down, with an employee for Billy L. Nabors Demolition going so far as to send her a screenshot of what Google Maps displays. No apology has been issued yet with the company “investigating” the situation, a mistake they rectified when they went to the next block and tore down the correct house.

The duplex that was torn down was in fact still structurally sound and the owners of the property had filed paperwork to start repairs on the property. I guess that whole in the ceiling can now wait as they wait to see how much support they get in rebuilding their homes. It should be noted that Google now shows the correct location for the building, sadly just a little too late to help the demolition team.

What Year is This? The DeLorean is Back in Production!

Great Scott! It’s like something out of Back to the Future today, as the iconic car, made famous by the now legendary time travel movie is back in production!

Thanks to a recent change in the federal law, the facility in Humble, Texas, is now allowed to start making the car again, for what will be the first production of the car in thirty years. The DeLorean was first made famous all the way back in 1985, but it seems the movie fame just wasn’t enough to sell the already failing and somewhat ahead of its time (no pun intended) vehicle. This was further ruined after the founder, John DeLorean, who was arrested on drug charges, and the company went bankrupt shortly afterward.

The cars are iconic, a much-prized collectors item, especially so if they’re modded to look like time machines, flux capacitors and all. How successful the return will be still remains to be seen, or how the car will come back. Will it be improved, or will they keep that iconic if somewhat rubbish specification in its original format? The company is said to use the original authentic parts that have been stored away for many years, but how they use them is what could be interesting.

“It’s fantastic! It is a game changer for us. We’ve been wanting this to happen,” said Stephen Wynne, CEO of DeLorean Motors.

Want to get one ordered? There will be around 300 cars put into production, with the rollout starting at one per month and slowly moving to one per week. With a referb currently costing around $50,000 and a new one $100,000, not a lot of people will be opening their wallets, but the prospect of seeing more of these cars on the road again is one that’s just too fun not to think about.

Would you put in an order for one of the new DeLoreans? If you had the money for it of course!

1882 Patent Gives a Whole New Meaning to the Word Overkill

We mostly associate a patent and technology with modern times,. Our computers, and our inventions are the primary things to gain a patent, but it is something that dates way further back than you first expect and the patent offices have had plenty of work to do for quite a long time. These days we mostly hear about the wars fought between the market giants such as Apple and Samsung and lately even between NVIDIA and Samsung in the courtrooms all over the world and the weapons that they’re wielding are patents.

Luckily all of these patents are harmless in themselves but the 1882 patent application for a mousetrap could be a dangerous one. We all know of the default snap traps used like we saw in cartoons to catch the rodents, but this one by James A. Williams of Fredonia, Texas is a little different as it uses a revolver as part of the trap.

The southern part of the US has always had a special reputation when it comes to firearms and that goes especially for Texas, which also might be the reason for the added bonus in this invention. It can also be used to keep larger rodents, AKA burglars, out of your home due to the added bonus where “this invention may also be used in connection with a door or window, so as to kill any person or thing opening the door or window to which it is attached.”

While this is kind of funny, I’m personally looking forward to some more technology related patents and inventions that will revolutionize our world once more. What huge new invention are you hoping to see next? My faint hopes still lie on holographic displays and maybe even rooms or will we start to see an end to patents as a whole as we’ve seen from electric car manufacturer Tesla and it’s CEO Elon Musk?

Kid Banned From Wearing Star Wars T-Shirt in School

A 7th grade school student has been banned from wearing his Star Wars: The Force Awakens T-shirt at his US school. Colton Southern was told by faculty at George Junior High School in Rosenberg, Texas that he was not permitted to have the graphic on the front of his Star Wars T-shirt exposed at school as the Stormtrooper on the front is carrying a gun (or, in Star Wars parlance, a blaster), the boy’s father revealed to abc13 News.

“It’s political correctness run amok. You’re talking about a Star Wars t-shirt, a week before the biggest movie of the year comes out. It has nothing to do with guns or making a stand. It’s just a Star Wars shirt,” said Joe Southern, Colton’s father. “He’s a Boy Scout, active in church, volunteers at Brazos Bend State Park. There’s not a violent bone in his body. He’s just an excited kid for the movie.”

According to a spokesperson from the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District, which is the jurisdiction George Junior High School falls within, the LCISD secondary school handbook lists “symbols oriented toward violence” as a violation of its dress code. The administrators add that Southern was not reprimanded, and was only advised to zip up his jacket.

Self-Healing Gel Now Carries Electrical Charge

We’ve all had that moment when we’ve heard the crack, the snap or the crunch. Be it your favourite USB drive, your screen or even your laptop, accidents happen and things get damaged. The worst part about this is it’s normally one or two small things that stop you from using that technology again, but what if that changed? What if when you saw your USB stick crunch into a weird shape, you held it together and found it still worked?

Thanks to research scientists at Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas, you could soon see that happening with technology and more. Revealed as the first of its kind, the researchers have managed to develop a self-healing gel that not only repairs and connects electronic circuits but can also carry a charge within itself. The gel not only carries a charge but also repairs itself without external stimuli, such as having to shine a light or heating up the gel, meaning that you wouldn’t have to put your phone on the radiator to fix it. The image shows the gel even holding its own, after being cut in half.

Guihua Yu, a mechanical engineering assistant professor at Cockrell School, stated the gel could be used at ‘soft joints’. The gel could even be applied overtop of traditional joins in hardware, allowing you to continue using old technology while allowing the self-repairing gel to go to work.

Imagine if we had these in the old sliding phones, the ones where the ribbon connecting the screen broke every few months. That’s just the tip of the gel pack for this technology, what would you like to see this technology used for?

School Student Arrested For Bringing Homemade Clock To School

The current world climate is one of placing people into narrow pre-perceived boxes which are based on current world stereotypes. A person is judged solely on their looks, dress sense and their social standing within society among others. Are these connotations correct? No, not really considering an individual could have 6 tattoos and a perception of being a wild character, yet could be kind and gentle.

This notion of stereotyping has sunk to a whole new level after a 14-year-old boy was arrested in Texas on suspicion of constructing a “hoax bomb.” Was it a real or counterfeit bomb? No… it was a clock. Officials at MacArthur High School in Irving alerted police because they thought the device was a threat to the education facility.

The teenager’s name was Ahmed Mohamed’s and below is an image of the homemade clock which was conveyed by Irving Police Department at a press conference. Perhaps it would have been better to ask the teenager concerning the device instead of ringing the police. The teen was subsequently placed in handcuffs and fingerprinted but later released after it was determined there was no threat.

To protest against this ludicrous situation a hashtag by the name #standwithAhmed was born and immediately garnered support from powerful individuals, these included NASA scientists, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and US President Barack Obama. Mr Ahmed’s family have arrived at the conclusion that his detainment was down to his name.

So, what is the response from the school? According to them, they have “always asked students and staff to immediately report if they observe any suspicious items”. MacArthur High School would argue that it’s better to be safe than sorry, but, in this instance could this not have been handled by someone asking him concerning this device? After all, Ahmed said that he had made a clock at home with the view to convey this to his engineering teacher.

I do feel suspicion has risen to the point of hysteria, yes there are many instances which have tragically occurred over the decades that have highlighted failures in legislation, but to roll out an overused phrase, would there have been the same reaction if this individual had been of a different ethnicity? It’s a shame that society has reached such a juncture to where even school goers are on the look out for potential terrorists and gun wielding people, one has to wonder as to how far this could go, the only thing I was afraid of at school was algebra, not suspected terrorists.

Thank you bbc for providing us with this information.

Texas Says Hello to Google’s Self-Driving Cars

Do you live in Austin, Texas? Then you may want to keep on the look out for the Google Cars that are now patrolling your part of the world. Several people have been reporting online that they’ve seen the self-driving cars scooting around town recently. That being said, the Google Car isn’t exactly hard to spot, just look for white Lexus with  a massive spinning camera on the top and a rather distinctive Google badge on the side; they’re not exactly stealthy.

Google said they’ve taken the cars to downtown Austin to test “our software in different driving environments, traffic patterns and road conditions.”

This is the first city Google has visited outside of Mountain View, when asked why they chose that city in particular, Google responded “We’ve loved how much Austin embraces innovation.” It’s also a clear winner as the city has Google Fiber and there’s a few Google offices within Austin, making it an easy choice for many of the employees there.

The cars still have two onboard drivers, ready to take the controls again should they run into any rival self-driving cars. Best of luck Google, I’m looking forward to a future of being able to put have a nap in the car on the way to work!

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

RadioShack Plans to Sell Customer Data

Radioshack is planning to sell its customer data, even with opposition from multiple US states. The bankrupt company is looking to recoup some money and has asked a bankruptcy court for permission to sell some assest, part of which are customer data.

The state of Texas is taking the lead from the opposing states, and they have found that the sale could involve as many as 117 million customers. Though contrary to this RadioShack has stated that the customer files offered for sale may be reduced to approximately 67 million. The problem is that this data contains personally identifiable information and this is what the states have a problem with. Texas is seeking with the courts to ensure that Radioshack will have to disclose what that information includes; basic information or extended information like credit card numbers or account history.

It seems that they are keen on keeping the information allowed to be sold to a minimum if they can help it. Unfortunately, we do not see that many companies upholding good moral values when it comes to making a buck and selling customer information has become a standard practice. Do you believe that companies should be allowed to sell its user data?  If so what do you think it should only cover?

Thank you PC World for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Wikipedia

Apple’s First A9 Chips Roll off the Production Line – in the US?

The Korean Electronic Times reports that Apple’s first A9 chips have rolled off the production line – in the United States. Apparently Samsung is producing the chips (although the Korean Electronic Times often likes to say that regardless of reality).

The chips are supposedly being produced in Austin, Texas – a place in the US that Apple seems to like for manufacturing considering its ill-fated sapphire plant was/is there and its 2013 Mac Pro is also produced there. It’s not yet known what these chips will be used for, although it’s most probably for a new iPhone and iPad.

However, it is very early for the chips to be in production and this news coincides with claims from a number of analysts that suggest Apple will produce two completely new iPads and iPhones early next year. For instance, it’s been suggested that the company will release an ‘iPad Pro’ – a much bigger iPad meant for image editing and the like, while there’s also rumours that the company will produce a new, smaller 4-inch iPhone, essentially updating the iPhone 5s for those who like smaller screens.

Whatever Apple is doing with these new chips, we probably won’t know what they are doing for certain until they announce it themselves.

Source: Korean Electronic Times, Via: Forbes

SpaceX Granted Permission to Build Spaceport in Texas

SpaceX have just been given approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to build their massive 56.5 acre spaceport on the Gulf of Mexico, right on the Texas-Mexico border. Of course there is still a lot of work to be done, such as building the damn thing, but it’s a massive step towards making their spaceport a reality.

The FAA issued a Record of Decision, which means that the agency would be willing to grant launch licenses to the company, allowing them to operate out of the new site. The FAA says that it would be likely that any requests from SpaceX to launch as many as 10 of their Falcon 9 rockets and two Falcon Heavy rockets per year from the privately owned site. Meaning they could theoretically have a launch each month.

SpaceX still need approval from several other agencies, including the Texas Department of Transportation complete their site plan, as they’ll be wanting to build new roads, utility lines and more. Yet with the most important part, being allowed to launch rockets, their plans should be pretty easy from here on out.

SpaceX currently launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, but the new plan means they’ll be able to play around with their space toys on their own turf and timeline.

Thank you Motherboard for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Motherboard.

Apple iMac Spotted Running Windows XP in Austin, Texas Production Line

Microsoft products running on Apple hardware might not have been seen as a big thing, but given the ‘flavour’ added by Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, towards Microsoft during Apple’s WWDC, things are looking a bit awkward. Last Thursday, Cook apparently tweeted a photo of himself touring Apple’s Austin, Texas production line where the Apple Mac Pro is manufactured. This might not be such a big announcement if it wasn’t for something seen in the background of the tweeted photo.

Looking closely on the iMac in the background, it is clearly noticeable that the Apple hardware is running on Windows operating system. Whether it is Windows XP or 7, one guess is as good as the other. However, given the style of the bottom bar, most best are on Windows XP, which is funny since the OS has been discontinued by Microsoft some time ago. Cook looks to have not even seen the ‘issue’ here, but tweets and retweets have been issued, having people buzzing about the Microsoft operating system present in Apple’s production line.

As far as the application running on the Microsoft operating system, reports are that the operating system was used in order to run electronic design automation software (EDA), or something similar in the embedded analysis program software range. As for Apple’s PR, things are not looking so great, since the shot could have been taken from a different angle or at least the ‘issue’ could have been easily spotted before the image was tweeted.

The irony in all this is found in Cook’s speech during WWDC, having the chief executive mocking Microsoft’s poor adoption of Windows 8. Given the tweeted image, Apple might consider adopting Microsoft’s latest operating system themselves, given they are running on a 13 years old operating system with no further security support available.

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of PCWorld

Breaking News: Motorola Mobility Factory In Texas Closing Down

In recent months we have been hearing news at how Motorola’s Texas factory has been seeing a slow decline in profitably, particularly since sales of the Moto X and the Moto Maker scheme have not been as strong as once perceived. Due to its location in the US, the factory has been able to offer a customisation scheme to US customers, where they can make personal alterations to their handset, including the use of different materials and specifications. Sadly though the Moto Maker scheme and the number of Moto X handsets sold in the US have not been doing that well and from a once packed manufacturing plant, the Google owned property now employs little over 700 people – a sign in itself that times are changing and the time was ticking before a major change was going to happen.

The suspicion that the site’s days were numbered was only made more certain after the word early this year got out the Lenovo were looking to take over the Motorola Mobility division from Google and considering the fact that the site is barely turning a profit, it is easy to understand why such a move would be on the cards. Even though the site’s days are effectively numbered, with the closure likely to happen at the end of this year, production of the Moto X handset will continue at two other factories in China and Taiwan; where manufacturing costs are considerably lower than in the US.

Motorola has made a statement saying that the Moto Maker service will continue to be a pre-purchase service to customers, however there are no further details on how the service will continue to run and where it will be made available.

Source: Tech Geek Forever

iTunes Festival To be Held In the U.S. Alongside SXSW

The iTunes Festival will be held this year as well. The difference between all other years and this year is that Apple will be hosting it in the US, and not the UK. Yes, after seven years, the iTunes Festival will be held in the US, so ‘yay’ for those living in the US and ‘nay’ for brits who wanted to attend and can’t go to the US.

The festival is reportedly being held in Austin starting from the 11th of March and ending on the 15th. A much shorter Festival this year, however it is compensated by including a mix of well-known American and European artists, ranging from Willie Nelson to London Gramma. The other bit of good news is that the iTunes Festival will be held alongisde South by Southwest.

As always, Apple is using a technological showcase for its Festival, therefore you will get to stream live and on-demand performances from the event on both Macintosh and iOS devices. It might be common to people who have used it before, but for most US residents it can be considered a big thing.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Endgadget

100 Cars Disabled Over The Internet By A Texas Man

According to an article from PHYS, a man fired from a Texas auto dealership used an Internet service to remotely disable ignitions and set off car horns of more than 100 vehicles sold at his old workplace, police said Wednesday.

Austin police arrested Omar Ramos-Lopez, 20 years old, on Wednesday, charging him with felony breach of computer security. Ramos-Lopez used a former colleague’s password to deactivate starters and set off car horns, police said. Several car owners said they had to call tow trucks and were left stranded at work or home.

“He caused these customers, now victims, to miss work,” Austin police spokeswoman Veneza Aguinaga said. “They didn’t get paid. They had to get tow trucks. They didn’t know what was going on with their vehicles.”

Ramos-Lopez was in the Travis County Jail on Wednesday with bond set at $3,000. The Associated Press could not find a working phone number for his family. The Texas Auto Center dealership in Austin installs GPS devices that can prevent cars from starting. The system is used to repossess cars when buyers are overdue on payments, said Jeremy Norton, a controller at the dealership where Ramos-Lopez worked. Car horns can be activated when repo agents go to collect vehicles and believe the owners are hiding them.

“We are taking extra measures to make sure this never happens again,” Norton said.

Starting in mid-February, dealership employees noticed unusual changes to their business records. Someone was going into the system and changing customers’ names, such as having dead rapper Tupac Shakur buying a 2009 vehicle, Norton said. Soon, customers began calling saying their cars wouldn’t start, or that their horns were going off incessantly, forcing them to disengage the battery. Norton said the dealership originally thought the cars had mechanical problems.

Then employees noticed someone had ordered $130,000 in parts and equipment from the company that makes the GPS devices. Police said they were able to trace the sabotage to Ramos-Lopez’s computer, leading to his arrest. Norton said Ramos-Lopez didn’t seem unusually upset about being fired.

“I think he thought what he was doing was a harmless prank,” Norton said. “He didn’t see the ramifications of it.”

Thank you PHYS for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Consortium News

AT&T To Bring 300Mbps Fiber To Austin

Austin, Texas seems to be the new place to be if you are interested in a blazing fast Internet connection as AT&T has announced plans to deploy fiber in the city that will ultimately provide speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

Known as GigaPower, the service will be an extension of AT&T’s existing U-verse program. At launch, it will be limited to 300 Mbps on the upstream and downstream which is said to be the fastest available to consumers from any Austin broadband provider.

GigaPower will initially reach tens of thousands of customers throughout Austin and the surrounding areas later this year. Those that sign up for the 300 Mbps service will be upgraded to speeds up to 1 gigabit per second at no extra cost when it becomes available in mid-2014.

Dave Nichols, President of AT&T Texas, said Austin embodies innovation and social consciousness and is the heart of a vibrant, ever-evolving tech culture and entrepreneurial spirit. With their all-fiber U-verse services, they are building the foundation for a new wave of innovation for Austin’s consumers, businesses and civic and educational institutions, he said.

Google Fiber is already available in Kansas City, and Google is now running ads for the service in Provo, Utah, where it will launch in mid-October. The service has generated a lot of buzz, and AT&T is hoping that it can overcome some of this in Austin by coming out first.

The fee for Google Fiber is $70 per month for Internet service and $120 per month with a TV bundle. For comparison, Verizon’s 500 megabit-per-second service is only available for homes in a phone and TV package for $309.99 per month.

Google may have an advantage with Fiber by starting from scratch and installing a brand new fiber optic network. This allows all Fiber customers to experience the same speeds. AT&T will instead by tapping into an existing network of fiber optics and copper lines, meaning that not everyone will get the same speed.

AT&T said this is just the start of its super high-speed services, but did not state where it plans to go next.

Thank you TechSpot and IBTimes for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of IBTimes.

Google Moto X Manufacturing Facility Has Been Added To Google Street View

Google seem to love cracking out their mapping technology and wandering around odd places, we’ve seen the inside of sweetshops, Easter Island, up mountains and more. A little closer to home for Google though is one of their factories, more specifically the place where the Motorola Moto X smartphone is being manufactured.

The new Moto X is being made in the U.S. a big change from the majority of handsets that are now made by companies such as Pegatron and Foxconn. Located in Fort Worth, Texas, Google has put in the effort to allow us a digital tour of the factory using their Street View technology.

Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside has said that the factory created over 2000 jobs for Fort Worth in just four months and that Google is still hiring in the area. Obviously a great investment for Texas, but if you want to take a look yourself you can explore the factory right here on Google Streetview.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Google Maps.

Texas Protects Email Privacy With New Bill

The United States government keeps trying to do more and more with cyber-security. When I hear that a new bill is coming out, I immediately think that they are trying to take away more of our privacy. Every once in awhile we get to see the government protecting the people.

Of course I am one of those meticulous people, who like to make sure I have my facts straight, and a lot of the time it is difficult to verify, but with laws, it is really easy. There is a wall of text for this bill some of which has been edited out.

Texas bill (HB 2268)

Relating to search warrants issued in this state and other states for certain customer data, communications, and other related information held in electronic storage in this state and other states by providers of electronic communications services and remote computing services.

  1. INTRODUCED Mar 4, 2013
  2. PASSED HOUSE May 7, 2013
  3. PASSED SENATE May 22, 2013

The fourth step is for the governor of the State of Texas to sign or veto the bill. If they sign the bill, it will become law, if they veto the bill it will then go back to the drawing board.

Essentially it appears to be saying that email is going to be considered property, if we throw our email in the trash, does it then become fair game? Will email service providers give us the ability to “burn” our mail? Will the “LAW” have a loophole to get at our email without the proper paperwork?

This bill has moved fairly quickly, and I do not feel that it is right how bills are passed. The United States is a democracy, where the people get to decide and vote on what they want. Passing bills without a vote by the people places more of a dictatorship, in my humble opinion. Though this seems to be an update and more for protecting the people from the old law stating that emails over 180 days are able to be obtained by the “LAW” without proper procedure.

Source

Google Fiber May Come To Austin, Texas.


Google and the City of Austin are apparently going to hold a meeting next week for an announcement as both has given away invitations to various media, but both have not provided any details about the reason for the event.

As it says on the invitation itself:

On Tuesday, April 9, at 11 a.m., the City of Austin and Google will make a very important announcement that will have a positive impact on Austinites and the future of the city. We anticipate more than 100 community leaders and elected officials to be in attendance to celebrate this announcement. The event invitation is attached for your convenience. Although we cannot share the details of the announcement with you in advance, we know readers will want to learn more, so we encourage you to join us on Tuesday.

For those who aren’t aware about it yet, Google offers Google Fiber that provides download and upload speeds 100 times more than what consumers in United State get access to at the much lesser prices in comparison with the established internet service providers. Its because of there, there has been an increase of newer tech startup companies in Kansas City.

It was first established in Kansas City in July, which then encourages Time Warner Cable to changer their offer plans. Most likely until now, Kansas City is the only place with Google Fiber. Since Eric Schmidt clarified that isn’t their side project, its only a matter of time that other cities will get to enjoy such service in the near future.

Austin City is not only favourable to many tech startups, but also is a home to many well known tech companies such as Dell, Intel, Samsung and National Computers. The implementation of Google Fiber’s service will boost the city’ favourable conditions for a startup.

According to VentureBeat’s sources, it is being said that the announcement is most likely involves the implementation of Google’s superfast broadband internet service ‘Google Fiber’ in Austin. There is also a possibility of Google opening up a campus in Austin or some sort of partnership that involves the city and one of Google’s service. In any case, it will be involving the city-wide local community.

Source: Venture Beat