A set of podcasts is the 21st-century equivalent of a textbook, not the 21st-century equivalent of a teacher. Every age has its autodidacts, gifted people able to teach themselves with only their books. Woe unto us if we require all citizens to manifest that ability.
Educators are coaches, personal trainers in intellectual fitness. The value we add to the media extravaganza is like the value the trainer adds to the gym or the coach adds to the equipment.
Just as coaching requires individual attention, education, at its core, requires one mind engaging with another, in real time: listening, understanding, correcting, modeling, suggesting, prodding, denying, affirming, and critiquing thoughts and their expression.
…technology trends of the past few years has been the emergence of engineering blogs. They are, mostly, a recruiting tool, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn a lot about how companies operating at varying levels of maturity and scale go about their business.
A few examples:
Building a recommendation engine, foursquare style explains the computational shortcuts you can take when you’re dealing with a lot of data.
Creating an interface for geofences is a look at how Flickr built an interesting feature.
Technology is at its best when it makes people’s lives better, and that’s precisely what we’re going for with our self-driving car project. We’re using advanced computer science to try and make driving safer and more enjoyable.
Our vehicles, of which about a dozen are on the road at any given time, have now completed more than 300,000 miles of testing. They’ve covered a wide range of traffic conditions, and there hasn’t been a single accident under computer control.
We’re encouraged by this progress, but there’s still a long road ahead. To provide the best experience we can, we’ll need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter. As a next step, members of the self-driving car team will soon start using the cars solo (rather than in pairs), for things like commuting to work. This is an important milestone, as it brings this technology one step closer to every commuter. One day we hope this capability will enable people to be more productive in their cars. For now, our team members will remain in the driver’s seats and will take back control if needed.
With each breakthrough we feel more optimistic about delivering this technology to people and dramatically improving their driving experience. We’ll see you on the road!
Last month, Michael Noble of Fresh Energy put up a fascinating list of projections made by energy experts around 2000 or so. Suffice to say, the projections did not fare well. They were badly wrong…
What should we take from this?
The projections weren’t just off, they were way off. You can find similarly poor projections from the ’70s that underestimate the spread of energy efficiency and other demand-side technology solutions (They thought they were going to need hundreds of nuclear plants). Similarly terrible projections were also common in the early years of cell phones.
What do cell phones, energy efficiency, and renewable energy have in common? One, they are dynamic areas of technology development and market competition, which makes straight-line projections pretty useless. And two, they are distributed, with millions of loosely networked people and organizations working on them in parallel. Distributed, human-scale technologies come in small increments. They replicate quickly, so there’s more variation and competitive selection, and thus more evolution.
Here is an excerpt from a Marketplace interview on computer-focused summer camps, they’re surging in popularity:
Queena Kim: Aw…the sounds of summer. Families getting together for barbeques. The sound of BBQ sizzling. Dogs running around.
And 9-year-old Alex is plopped down on a lounge chair totally engrossed in his favorite iPad game, which prompts this from his dad:
Gary: Alex, lose the iPad!
Chances are, these words are being heard across the country. But a growing number of parents are taking the opposite tack.
Instructor: And this is the course that uses x-code so…
Welcome to ID Tech Camps. It started 13 years ago with 200 hundred campers in Silicon Valley. Today, ID Tech says it has about 23,000 campers in 25 states. One week at the camp can cost up to $1,400 — and that comes with the usual camp activities like swimming, games and nighttime pranks.
The chinese are offshoring their work to find cheaper labor…
The market leading computer manufacturer Foxconn is planning a new $1 billion facility in Indonesia.
The new manufacturing plant will create around 1 million jobs in the region. Foxconn is currently discussing its plans with the Indonesian Ministry of Industry.
Foxconn already operates several manufacturing plants in China and Brazil, where it assembles electronic goods for many of the world’s biggest technology companies.
In a statement released yesterday, the company says it was attracted to Indonesia over Malaysia and Vietnam due to its high rate of economic growth – around 6 per cent a year. It also noted that the region is “sorely in need” of formal jobs, giving it a large workforce used to wages of around $100 a month.
A $25 million federal grant will speed the construction of a solar manufacturing plant in San Diego, in an effort to boost U.S. competitiveness.
Semiconductor maker Soitec Solar, recipient of the Department of Energy grant, will pour the funds into equipment at its Rancho Bernando-area plant. Production is set to start before the end of the year on concentrated photovoltaic modules that use optical lenses to focus sunlight on tiny, highly efficient solar cells.
A publicly traded company based in Bernin, France, Soitec entered the concentrated photovoltaics business in 2009 with the purchase of Concentrix Solar, a spinoff of the Fraunhofer Institutes, a network of publicly funded research centers in Germany.
Soitec received the largest share of $37 million in Energy Department grants designed to accelerate high-volume solar manufacturing over the next two years.
More about Soitec’s CPV (concentrated photovoltaic) modules:
Soitec’s CPV modules are built on Concentrix technology. They use Fresnel lenses to concentrate sunlight 500 times and focus it onto small, highly efficient multi-junction solar cells. This technology has helped us achieve world-leading AC system efficiency increases of 25% in actual operating conditions. This is almost twice as high as the efficiency increases achieved using conventional silicon systems.
In the ’80s, when you wanted big hair you whipped out the Aqua Net. But it wasn’t so easy for animators. The Little Mermaid‘s Princess Ariel was meant to sport curls, but the technology just wasn’t there in 1989—rendering that kind of bounce and frizz, cel after hand-drawn cel, was all but impossible. Now, though, animated big hair is finally on the big screen in Disney/Pixar’s Brave.
The movie centers on Merida, a feisty Scottish princess on a quest to save her kingdom from a curse. To illustrate her fiery spirit, filmmakers wanted Merida’s locks to spring off the screen—”Curly hair almost defies gravity,” simulation supervisor Claudia Chung says—but Pixar’s old CG hair simulator (used in 2001′s Monsters, Inc.) wasn’t up to the task.
So in 2009 Chung’s team designed a new simulator named Taz, after the wild Looney Tunes character. It forms individual coils around computer-generated cylinders of varying lengths and diameters. The resulting locks stretch out when Merida runs but snap back into place as soon as she stops. Each strand is also strung through with a flexible “core curve,” like the string of a beaded necklace, that lets the coils bounce and brush against one another without unwinding.