Sunday, March 9, 2014

What the Latest Ruling on UAVs Really Means...


No really... the profound truth about this ruling is that it means absolutely nothing for most people and companies waiting for their chance to cash in on the Unmanned gold rush.  If you happen to be a small company or individual who wants to use your quadcopter to deliver beer, then you may be able to start doing that; just don't get too comfortable.  Also, I would advise against making any large capital investments in new equipment just yet since the FAA has already appealed Judge Geraghty's ruling.

For those of you who are far too busy to read the full decision, the bottom line is that the FAA made some mistakes in the wording that it used to identify traditional manned aircraft vs. model aircraft.  This mistake ensured that model aircraft (or UAVs) do not fall under the same FARs that manned aircraft do.  In addition, the Policy Notice that was used to ban UAVs in the first place was found to be an internal memo with no regulatory effect on the general populace.

Still, I'm not rushing out to buy stock in Tacocopter.  It's not because I don't love tacos (which I do) or because I don't think it's a good idea (which it is.)  At this point, the reality is that we simply can't have a million little aircraft flying around without some sort of regulation to keep everyone from running into eachother.  Private pilots can still file VFR and fly around without anyone knowing where they are, including that UAV carrying my delicious tacos.  I know it's a big sky and a little airplane, but bad things happen and we should take steps to mitigate those risks.  The FAA has to consider not only what the landscape looks like today, but also what it will look like in the future as more and more uses for UAVs become clear.

So does this mean that the FAA can't regulate the use of UAVs?  Yes and No.  For today, their power is limited, and you are free to take all the real estate photos you want.  That being said, I imagine the FAA will quickly correct their legal errors and force those little robotic cash cows (and their owners' revenue projections) back down to Earth.

Share your thoughts.  Should the FAA ease restrictions on commercial UAV use?

*Unless you happen to be Raphael Pirker who no longer has to pay a $10,000 fine to the FAA.

Full Decision from Judge Geraghty

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Life in a Networked World

     Physicist Brian Cox believes that 'everything is connected,' and I am inclined to believe him.  Now, while he is talking about particle physics, I am talking about computers but the idea is the same.  When I wake up in the morning, I look at my smartphone to see the local weather forecast for the day and to check my email.  I then turn on my television and watch the news while I make my breakfast.  While driving to the gym, I stop at a red light (that was likely controlled by a remote terminal) and look up at the red light camera that sits on the corner (also networked). Once I get to the gym, I scan my card, whose serial number is checked against their network database of members.  While working out I stream music on Pandora (gotta love unlimited data!)  While headed home, I decide that I want to grab some lunch.  I stop in to pick up a sandwich and realize I don't have any cash so I decide to use my NFC enabled phone to pay.  The NFC chip communicates with their networked terminal which then processes the charge through their remote management facility.  I head out and decide to grab some cash on my way home.  I walk up to the ATM, and after imputing my information; await the response (and cash) from my bank.  While at home, I shower sit down to eat while streaming some Hulu Plus to my networked television.  Once my show is over, I jump onto my computer to do some homework but just end up watching 2 hours worth of Youtube and Engadget.  Whether it be the internet or a LAN, it seems that almost everything we use today is networked in some way.  The rapid availability of data and communication makes connectivity a must in today's fast paced society.  To be honest though, I kinda missed the days when you could just fall off the radar.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What's your 'must have' website?

With the advent of the Internet, we now have 24/7 access to just about any information or entertainment content that we could ask for.  According to Internet services company, Netcraft, there are over 644 million websites on over 225 million domain names.  The explosive growth of the Internet shows no signs of slowing down, with a growth of around 5% a month.1  With all these sites, it’s almost impossible to choose just one that is most important to my daily life.  On a purely geeky level, I would suggest a site such as Engadget or Gizmodo.  I often spend hours a week perusing the articles on those sites, and rely on them to keep me on the bleeding edge of all things technical. 
However, if I look at the site that really helps me, I would have to say that Facebook is probably at the top of my list.  Some people (myself included) may have concerns about Facebook’s privacy policy, or their use of my personal information for advertising purposes but I still couldn’t do without it.  I am frequently overseas for months at a time, and Facebook helps me stay connected to my friends and family while I’m away.  Being able to stay up to date with my friends and family and seeing their pictures and videos helps to make my deployments more bearable.  Lately I’ve been thinking about migrating to Google+, but the users just aren’t there yet.  So for now, Facebook is my must have website, what's yours?
Feel free to check out my Facebook page here.

1 March 2012 Web Server Survey.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Oh Sprint...why dost thou spurn my affections?

A man should have a passionate relationship with his wife, his kids, his friends...but not with his cell phone company.  Then why is it that I have such a love/hate relationship with Sprint?  This weekend, Sprint did something that not only shows a lack of business acumen, but also just made me really grumpy.     This Saturday was the NEW release date for the HTC EVO 4G LTE for Sprint (a mouthful I know...more on the ridiculous naming conventions later.)  Like any good early adopter would, I went on down to the store to pick one up despite the fact that I knew I would have to pay full price for the phone since I wasn't eligible for an upgrade yet.  I know that $549.99 +tax is a big chunk of change, but I had the itch and it had to be scratched...TODAY...and nothing was going to stand in my way (or so I thought).  I walked into the store, filled with the electric anticipation that comes with purchasing a new flagship device.  Imagining the bright  720p screen, the snappy response of the dual core processor, and the blazing download speeds of LTE made my heart race inside my chest.  It's like a Porche for your pocket, and I was ready to break it loose.  The nice young man behind the counter pulled out the box, and asked for my number so he could begin my upgrade.  I responded that I wasn't eligible for the upgrade discount, and just wanted to pay full price for the phone.  Suddenly his face fell sullen, and he informed me that he could not sell me the phone for full price during the first two weeks after the phone's release.  It was strictly for new lines and upgrades with a new two year agreement.  Well, if it was a new agreement they required, I gladly offered to sign up for one.  Once again, the increasingly disappointed salesman informed me that there was nothing he could do to override the system and sell me the phone.  He suggested that I call Sprint Customer Care and 'buy out' the remainder of my contract so that I could upgrade my line.  After 45 minutes and different 4 Sprint Reps, I was finally told that I was not eligible to buy out my contract.   So there I was, offering to pay the unsubsidized cost of a new phone AND renew my contract, and there was nothing they could do.  Sprint's policy had effectively punished me for being such a good customer and buying phones too often.  Aren't early adopters EXACTLY the people that you want to have your flagship device in the first days after a launch that has already been delayed by two weeks?  After an hour of phone calls on my part, and 'let me try one more thing' on his part, the patient salesman suggested that I open a new line.  I would have to pay $20 monthly for it, but it would get me the phone today, and at the reduced price.  This was an absurd suggestion...What did I need another line for?   I just wanted that phone in my hand, and I wanted to go home.  Sprint created a policy that was designed to bring in new customers and retain current customers who are out of contract, but they forgot that the people they really need to retain are the people who buy new phone every year, and advocate the company to their friends and family.  What was a boy to do?   I couldn't buy the phone at any price just because I bought a phone within a year prior.  Sprint...why do I love you so much, when you hurt me so bad?


P.S.  If anyone wants the number of my new line..just let me know.

P.P.S.   EVO 4G LTE was totally worth it :-)

Hello World

My name is Jonathan, and I'm a technoholic.  I'm also a Senior, bent on graduating this August and taking 9hrs this summer to make it happen.   I usually try to keep all of my incoherent technological ramblings to myself but it's been getting harder and harder to keep it in.  Lately, I've been testing the waters with my wife, and she has informed me (ever so politely, of course) that she has absolutely NO desire to hear anything I have to say about technology or gadgets, and that I should find another outlet (or a friend).  Since friends are more difficult than computers, I must welcome you to my new outlet.  For those of you who are like me, this is a safe place where you can come to discuss, complain about, review, or just admire all the new technology that is changing the way we live.  I warn you now, I have a proclivity towards mobile devices and speak of them quite frequently.  I'm open though, to discussing just about any kind of technology that you can think of.  If you want to get an idea of what I'm about, feel free to peruse some of the sites below.

The Verge
WebOS Nation

Since I believe that mobile technology is the future, I plan on spending the next couple of weeks delving deeper into a technological topic in order to develop some complex ideas about how mobile technology has changed, and how our interpersonal communication has changed as a result.  I am particularly interested in the emergence of mobile operating systems, and how their respective backers have positioned them to propel their companies into the new era of personal communication devices.  I'm also interested in how those devices; combined with social media have actually seemed to make us less social in public.  I'll be fine tuning these ideas over the next week or two, and am open to any ideas or questions you might have.

Thanks for Comin Out..