While The Last One Was A Hoax 123-reg Has Actually Deleted People’s Websites

A few days ago we reported on the fact that a company had apparently deleted itself, news which later turned out to be a hoax as part of a bad marketing scheme. For people who used 123-reg, a website hosting company in the UK, the joke may be on them as the company has actually deleted people’s websites.

123-reg has around 800,000 customers within the UK, hosting around 1.7 million sites, said that similar to the hoax, an error was made during “maintenance”, resulting in data from one of their servers being deleted.

The firm issued a statement saying that the company they were working on “restoring … packages using data recovery tools”, a process that is slow and not always effective, as people noted to the previous hoax. 123-reg has recommended that those with backups of their sites should use them to rebuild their sites, as the company itself didn’t have backups of the customers sites.

While the fault is reported to have only affected “67 out of 115,000” servers, it was caused by an automated script. An audit of 123-reg’s scripts is now being conducted and any deletion will now require human approval in the future, something that I’m sure the many companies that have lost business because of this blunder are less than comforted by.

Self-Driving Trucks Hit The Roads In Europe

When it comes to vehicles, there are two new technologies that people are looking forward to. First off there are electric vehicles, with Tesla’s new Model 3 getting billions of dollars worth of pre-orders, then there is the move to automated vehicles. With driverless vehicles gaining momentum, a set of self-driving trucks have hit the roads of Europe in a demonstration that’s set to show the technology off to the world.

Six manufacturers took part in the European Truck Platooning Challenge, courtesy of the Dutch Government. Truck platooning refers to the ability for automated trucks to follow one another in close procession, making use of a slipstream to reduce carbon dioxide and fuel usage.

Travelling from different parts of Europe to the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, with companies like Volvo and Daimler watching as their vehicles picked up cargo from the port before heading back to different locations all around Europe.

With self-driving trucks already looking to be tested in the UK within the year, it could be sooner than we think before large companies start using automated vehicles to deliver their goods. With companies like Google looking to create and release a self-driving car just one of many self-driving ideas, including a self-driving pram, you could soon get to put your feet up and enjoy a movie on those long road trips.

Take A Look At The First Driverless Racecar

With more and more people being interested in driver-less technology it was only a matter of time before it went from the streets to the race track. Formula E have already announced their intention to start a driverless championship, but you can even get a glimpse at the designs behind the first driverless racecar.

Roborace, the world’s first driverless series, released renderings of what their first designs for what autonomous racing cars could look like, and they do not disappoint. Designed by Chief Design Officer Daniel Simon, known for his work on Oblivion and Tron: Legacy, the designs look perfect for a vehicle that no longer has to worry about their driver, offering people the chance to enjoy great looking vehicles doing insane speeds around a track.

While we still have to wait till 2017 before we get to enjoy the series featuring all-electric cars, just seeing the first design reminds us of its potential.

With a trailer to go alongside the design rendering, when will we get to see the next design? With the ability for anyone in the automated vehicle business to take part in the championship, we could soon see designs from big names in both technology and cars manufacturing as they get ready to view and race their cars doing high-speed around tracks.

Want to Watch a Movie in Your Self-Driving Car? Ford Wants You To!

We all know that Ford is one of many companies that are looking at self-driving cars. They’ve even tested their cars in the snow, a weather most of us don’t like driving in at the best of times. What do you do when you don’t have to drive? That half hour trip to and from work every day, or the four-hour drive to see family. Ford has an answer and that’s to keep you entertained with a movie in your self-driving car.

Ford has recently filed for, and obtained, a patent that relates to “autonomous vehicle entertainment system”.  What this actually means if you will be able to put your feet up as a screen comes down over the front of the car, letting you enjoy as the projector between your seats brings you the latest in entertainment.

That’s right, you will be able to enjoy a cinema experience while being driven around by your car. In flight movies built into your car doesn’t sound all that bad does it?

Personally, I like the idea of having something to do in your car, but would you feel safe staring at a screen while you are driven down the motorway at high speed with no one watching out for the broken car or driver that crashes into your favourite automated car.

Create Your Own LCARS System Using A Raspberry Pi

Star Trek has had a lasting impact on everything from science fiction to people’s everyday lives. Everybody who has watched the series has their own generation, and for myself it was the Next Generation. I remember watching the first episode when it aired and gazing at the screens as they pressed buttons without having to type long commands into a keyboard. This was all done thanks to a system known as LCARS and thanks to some clever coder you can now create your LCARS system.

With nothing more than a Raspberry Pi and his wits, Toby Kurien created a home automation system based on the classic science fiction interface. If that wasn’t cool enough, Kurien has also released the code for the interface system on GitHub, meaning you can not only download and tinker to your heart’s content if you prefer something a little different you can change out the assets, giving your system a whole new look.

Created using Python, the software supports touchscreen and means that when combined with the latest Raspberry Pi, you can create your own little LCARS tablet or wall panel to help control your home, car or even just to play games on. How long before someone modifies it to control the starship Enterprise drone we wonder.

Volvo ROAR is an Automated Bin!

Volvo is known for their safe cars, my own family has the saying that Volvo’s are the people’s tanks. They are known for other things and soon they could be the ones responsible for your bins thanks to ROAR.

ROAR (RObot based Autonomous Refuse handling) is designed to help those who come pick up your bins every week. ROAR is a two-part system, with the first part being a drone. The drone creates a “target” for the robot, named ROARY, that enables it to locate and navigate towards the target bin, with it even picking up obstacles and moving around the threats.

ROAR is the brainchild of three universities undergraduates with both Chalmers University of Technology, Mälardalen University and Penn State University to help create the project. The second part of the project is the automated emptying of bins. When you approach the back of a garbage truck it detects how far away a person is, when you are too close the process ends meaning it is safe and keeps curious passersby out of harms way from the large lifting and crushing mechanics.

You could soon see a single person traveling in the truck, with a small selection of drones and copters helping pick up your truck with minimal manpower and risk to both you and the neighbourhood. What do you think about the idea? Is the concept of automating everything going a little too far when it will even take out your rubbish?

Hungry? Don’t Worry! The Delivery Robot Starship Is Here!

It gets late, you could go to the kitchen and cook a nice warm meal but every bone is your body is crying out to sit down and play one game, watch one more movie or even to just keep reading. You select one of your favourite fast food places and place your order, waiting the half hour before you get a message saying your food is waiting for you outside. Upon opening the door, you don’t see a driver or even a car but instead a small robot, the smell of your food making you hungrier by the second. Say hello to the Delivery Robot Starship!

The small drone is designed and created by some of the founders of that popular video software Skype. With a top speed of 4mph, the Starship isn’t build to travel the galaxy or even the country but within a few miles, it can safely navigate thanks to the cameras that will not only stop it before it collides with anyone else walking on the paths but in some cases it even steps out the way, letting people walk past in a polite fashion rarely seen by automated vehicles.

While it is in early develop, the ability to delivery up to 20 pounds worth of equipment could help people deliver everything from your takeaways to your morning shopping. With plans to expand its testing in the UK followed only by testing in the US by April, you could soon see a Starship near you.

Nest Being Turned Off By Glitch From 2015

Nest is a name that flies around these days, settling in homes all over the world. The little piece of hardware is designed to allow you remote and smart control of your heating, from detecting when you’re nearly home, to turning the temperature down while at work, the device is there to make your life easier and you feel more in control. That was until people were hit by a glitch from 2015 that resulted in Nest being turned off!

People stormed online, like they often do these days when things go wrong, saying they were waking up in the dead of a night to a cold house. Finding that it is a known problem, but there was no fix in place for it yet.

Matt Rogers, the founder and vice president of engineering at Nest, stated that the bug came from a software update in December. “We had a bug that was introduced in the software update that didn’t show up for about two weeks”, in his statement apologizing for the issue. While Nest state that the issue has been fixed for 99.5% of their customers, the fix that is recommended features everything from turning it off and back on again to charging it for several hours.

While only a small problem for some, Nest is often seen as an option for those who are unable to move around a lot, such as the elderly, letting their friends and family check in and ensure that their heating is at a suitable level during the cold winters. A small problem for some can be a serious matters for others, and I’m certain that Nest will be looking into how this software update caused this problem.

FCC To Post List Of Robo Callers

A thousand a day may seem like an exaggeration but when you pick up the phone to the robotic voice saying you’ve just won a great deal or that they are offering you the same deal you hanged up on five minutes ago, Robo callers and telemarketers can prove a nuisance.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in America hopes to combat this by releasing a list of all Robo callers and telemarketers that it receives complaints about. Recently the FCC reminded phone carriers that there are no legal barriers to do-not-disturb technology, a system where you able to block incoming calls from certain numbers, and the FCC hopes that its new list of potential offenders will be used by companies to help block and limit the number of robotic voices you hear on your phone.

Two things should be noted about this plan. The complaints that may end up with a number on the blocking list are not always fact checked by the FCC, so the system isn’t perfect for catching all the correct people (and maybe including some innocent ones). The other thing to note is that Robo callers are still legal in the US for charities, government and political groups, so it may not be so easy to catch all those calls.

How many Robo callers do you receive every week? Would you like to see a similar name and shame process put in place with your network providers?

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Michael J. Fox Demonstrate Nike Self Lacing Shoes From Back To The Future

Yesterday was the day for Back To The Future fans, the day that Doctor Brown and Marty McFly travelled to the future and we were promised dreams of hoverboards, flying cars and self-tying shoelaces; two out of three isn’t too bad is it?

First we had the hoverboard, made by Lexus, the hoverboard floats but does require you to have a metal floor beneath it. And now we even have Nike revealing the self-tying shoes that we dreamed of. Not only did Nike make these, but who did they send a pair to? None other than Michael J. Fox.

More than happy to show them off when he appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show Live, showing off how a button on the side of the ankle can be used to tighten and loosen the laces, meaning you no longer need to tie all those knots.

As if this wasn’t good enough, all proceeds from the shoes will go to the Michael J. Fox foundation, a charity dedicated to helping conduct research into Parkinson’s Disease. While Fox owns one of the only pairs at this moment in time, more are set to go on auction next year with the hopes to help raise funds to eliminate Parkinsons within our lifetime.

A great gadget and a great cause, what more can you ask for?

The Tesla Autopilot System is Surreal

Tesla is certainly a pioneer of vehicle technology and continues to innovate in this market. The concept of autonomous cars is becoming more widely accepted and provides a glimpse into the future. Recently, Tesla’s Autopilot system was showcased in a real world scenario. The software is capable of detecting the speed and behaviour in densely populated areas.

As a result, the system automatically steers, swaps between lanes and adjusts speed. Additionally, it can navigate to a parking area and perform parallel parking. At first this appears bizarre and almost frightening given our distrust towards technology and familiarity with manual driving. Once that initial hurdle is over, the driving is quite serene and less stressful than the typical daily commute.

Despite this, there are still some safety concerns in regards to pedestrians and unexpected events. Clearly, the Autopilot system requires a great deal of further testing and first-hand experience before consumers feel confident using it. Its potential though is nothing short of revolutionary. While some car enthusiasts love driving, others find it to be a daily annoyance. This is usually caused by aggressive drivers.

Would you feel comfortable in an automated vehicle? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Army Wants Automated Defences For Their Bases

Security is of key importance for a lot of people, be it locking your door before you leave for work or having your phone so you can call people if something happens. We all like that kind of security, but some are most vested in developing it beyond what we currently have.

When it comes to the Army, security is even more important where the perimeters of their bases are at stake. A new prototype being tested at Fort Bliss is looking at replacing the three or four guards in a tower by one in a command bunker. The new system, dubbed ‘Tower Hawk’, looks to pack a Browning 50 caliber machine gun and a .338 Lapua sniper rifle atop a tower that can be unpacked in less than an hour by six soldiers.

The system was revealed at the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 16.1, an event that is designed to allow NATO members to share their new technologies. With all the stations wired together it means that one soldier can replace several on lookout duty, with the ability to defend their outposts from the safety of a bunker.

With a person controlling the system, and the ability to look out and defend the output while protecting lives all through a networked system.

Thank you Engadget for the information and image.

Netherlands First To Introduce Self Driving Shuttles To Public Roads

We’ve been hearing about them for a while. Self-driving cars are a popular thing for people, companies and countries, Companies like Google, who state that their self-driving cars are actually too safe for urban areas, and Heathrow, who operate a self-driving pod system at terminal five, it would seem that automated vehicles are going to be a big thing in the near future. While Google is testing their self-driving car on public roads it has its limits, and it would seem the Netherlands are going to be the first to introduce automated shuttles to the public roadways.

Titled WEpods, the small shuttles can fix up to six people in and are planned to run between two towns in the Netherlands. Ede and Waegeningen are about seventeen-minute drives away from one another, with the latter being a large center for farming and agricultural research thanks to its university.

The buses will be designed to go at roughly 15 miles per hour and will have a real person monitoring via camera so that if anything goes wrong they will be able to quickly respond. Set to be the first permanent public use of an automated vehicle without a dedicated human presence, the project hopes to launch on the 30th November this year.

Would you be excited by a similar project coming to where you live? Would you feel safe in a bus without a driver or would you prefer to have someone there just in case?

Thank you Gizmondo for the information. 

Image courtesy of Wageningenur.

Podulator – A Sign of Future Transport?

James May is known for a lot of things, amongst which is the show Top Gear of which he only recently stopped hosting. Known to have a keen interest in motorised vehicles, James’s latest twitter post is of a different type of vehicle.

As seen above, James seems to be at Heathrow, advertising the future of transport displayed at Terminal 5. The pod-based system allows you to travel between the station at terminal 5 and the two based in terminal 5’s car park. The system is not a new one, with it celebrating over 1 million autonomous miles back in 2013.

Featuring 3.8 kilometers of one-way track for the pods, it’s almost like a personal train between the stations. The one comparison I can draw is with trains, but the private and personal carriage like nature reminds me of the old cabin based trains, for those who have never experienced this, think about the Hogwarts train (shown below).

With companies like Google making automated cars, we could soon see Pod like cars working on a large scale, across an entire city or maybe even a country? Could companies like Uber and your local taxi soon be replaced by automated cars which you call at the press of a button?

Thank you Ultra Global PRT for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Ultra Global PRT and Harry Potter Wiki.

Tesla Demonstrates New Snake Like Charger

We’ve all seen the spaces, car parking areas with small rods sticking out the floor and a big sign saying “electric car parking space”. With electric cards on the rise, charging them is becoming more and more important to companies and their users. One of the big issues is the cable you need to plug in. Imagine leaving your car pumping fuel into itself while you went into the supermarket to do your shopping? Now imagine not having to plug your car in at all, instead it plugs itself in! Tesla’s new charger does exactly that.

Back in December, Elon Musk, product architect at Tesla Motors tweeted saying that they were working on a charger that “automatically moves out from the wall & connects like a solid metal snake”. Today, they revealed that project.

The actual design does look like a solid metal snake, and the way it moves just seems to be like it’s taken the concept from a creepy science fiction film.

Soon you may just have to park up and walk away as your car gets plugged into and charged while you’re doing your weekly shop, nothing could go wrong right?

Thank you to the Verge for providing us with this information.

Hawking Amongst People Who Call For Ban On Autonomous Weapons

Terminator, Matrix, lots of movies have the same plot, weapons which have very little or no control and they go haywire before finally taking over the world. I mean come on, even Power Rangers went and did the plot!

Now some of the biggest names in the world, Steven Hawkings and Steve Wozniak amongst them, have called for action to be taken to prevent automated weapons. That is, things like drones which match your face to a picture and then order a missile strike, all without a person pressing a single button.

Amongst the concerns raised are things such as an “AI arms race”, creating a generation of weapons which could act and expand, with everything from assassinations to terrorist acts being planned and conducted without anyone’s knowledge. While this letter stretches the definition of automated devices, the benefits exist in things such as robotics which can react to medical needs as soon as they appear.

With discussions going all the way to the United Nations, a ban on automated weapons could be getting closer. With big voices such as Steven Hawking speaking out against a danger that could end the world as we know it in a very short space of time.

Thank you Engadget for the information.

Image courtesy of BAE Systems.

Automated Gun Turret Can Decide When To Shoot

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has long been seen as the answer to many of life’s evolutions, but the question of injecting an autonomous brain into an unknown being has yet to be fully achieved. But this vision could be one step closer to becoming reality, with the development of a gun turret which has the ability to track targets without the need for human interaction.

The weaponry in question has been developed in the city of Daejeon, South Korea by an arms manufacturer who has designed and built a gun turret that’s able to identify, track and shoot targets, theoretically without the need for human mediation. Below is an image which conveys this piece of kit, it packs 50 calibre bullets which is enough fire power to incapacitate a truck The Robot gun has a range of some 4 kilometres which to put into perspective is over 2 miles. it looks like an angry K9.

The gun turret is already being implemented in numerous locations in the Middle East, including three airbases in the United Arab Emirates (Al Dhafra, Al Safran and Al Minad)

While impressive, this technical combat gun raises questions regarding the future, if you fully automate a gun which is able to theoretically decide to shoot someone, you would certainly need a radical re think of the programming behind such decision. The ability to provide refined ethics in a situation is unique to the development over millions of years of the human brain.

Look at it this way, if a child was spotted by the robot walking towards say a group of people while holding a replica gun which in fact is a toy. Will said machine be able to correctly inform itself and hold fire? Or will it compare a toy gun to that if an actual firearm before opening fire. As a gun turret cannot arrest someone, owning to the fact of no arms or legs, will it just shoot everytime it senses danger?

Until AI can fully comprehend all emotions correctly within the laws which govern life’s decisions, I would be extremely wary of automating a gun which can decide who to shoot.

Thank You BBC for providing us with this information

Google’s Delivery Drone Shown in Action

Google isn’t just working on self driving cars, they also want to take it to the skies. We’ve seen them with their Wi-Fi balloons before to spread internet to rural areas, but this one is a bit more commercially aimed. The secretive Google X team has been working on Project Wing for a couple of years now, a drone based delivery system. We’ve seen similar in the past from Amazon, but that was more a theoretical part where Google shows us an actual working prototype in action.

Google is a good guy that helps to evolve in many areas and isn’t just a profit mongering company. In the same way these new automated flying vehicles aren’t so much planned for the next generation On-line Google Mall, but rather to help in areas where help is needed fast, but at the same time aren’t easy accessible by conventional means. They could deliver medical supplies, water or food for example.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”600″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gN3sDaxMgsM[/youtube]

With just a few of these drones in action, it’s easy to see how they could make a real difference in emergency and catastrophe situations. In the video however we see the drone drop off some snacks for the dogs. This is also, in a way, a good deed.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with these information

Image and video courtesy of Google.

Turn Any YouTube Video into an Animated Gif

This site isn’t that new, at least the domain was registered all the way back in 2010, but I hadn’t seen or heard of it before. It isn’t much in itself, but it’s very useful for quickly creating animated memes to bombard your friends with.

It all works very simple. You start by editing your URL of the video and just change youtube.com into gifyoutube.com. The page will load the video, you set the time to start and length and hit generate. A short while later you’re presented with an animated gif you can download and share.

No need to fuzz around with any third party tools, youtube rippers or similar. To be clear though, this is technically a third party tool as it has nothing to do with YouTube/Google. The project is built by the team behind the super GIF-centric messaging app Glyphic.

The tool is very basic and you can’t set exact frame grabs, but it’s a great little tool to quickly create and send between friends.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of TechCrunch.