Category Archives: APPLES

The Driverless Car

I hate to blog about another Google project, but this is at least as interesting as Project Glass if not more so.  Google is also doing significant work on a “driverless car.”  Anthony Levandowski, who is the product manager for the self-driving car, wants to bring this product to the market sooner rather than later.  He doesn’t want to “wait 10 years for the next model or body styles to come out to build this technology.”  The biggest thing standing in this product’s way is the discussion on the cost to insure it.  Two major issues present themselves to the self-driving car: 1) the possibility of this car being uninsurable; and 2) the possibility that the government will intervene.

Levandowski, however, feels that with the further improvement of software and sensors that this vehicle could drive itself safer than the average human driver.  The company designing this car has used this technology on cars and traveled for over 200,000 miles without human interference, a fact that somewhat eased the minds of many insurers.

Much like Project Glass discussed above, Google is not the only company attempting to construct an autonomous vehicle.  General Motors’ Cadillac brand has already been developing their Super Cruise technology, which allows for “fully automatic steering, braking and lane-centering in highway driving under certain optimal conditions.”  This technology does not provide a fully autonomous vehicle, but it does allow the driver to take his/her “hands off the wheel for a long period of time.”  Some of these Super Cruise features will be available in several of Cadillac’s 2013 models.

Several experts have stated that self-driving cars may never happen, and even Levandowski agreed to an extent.  He said that “vehicles would likely never reach the point where the driver could fall asleep at the wheel for the entire ride.”  Significant technological advancements need be made before a fully autonomous vehicle is possible.  Jeremy Salinger, a GM innovation program manager, was quoted in saying that in order “to become fully autonomous, the system has to have tremendously reliable sensing of what’s going on around it and all of the equipment that uses the information from the sensors has to be very, very reliable.”  So obviously a certain amount of reliability has to be attained that is not yet achievable.

Some states, like Nevada and California, are trying to get a head start on others by already making sure that autonomous cars are legal; and Levandowski is hopeful that once the technology is proven to be safe that it will be allowed.  Google is currently looking to partner with a leader in the auto engineering industry in order to further advance the technology.  Levandowski was quoted in saying that “the biggest fear is not being able to inspire you guys because we need to work together on this.  The real danger is the failure of our imagination.”

This is yet another very cool project that Google is working on.  I would personally love to see a fully autonomous car in my lifetime, let alone the next 10 years.  I personally can’t stand long trips alone, and a vehicle like this may eventually get to the point where I can sleep and the car and get me to where I’m going.  I am very much looking forward to this exhilarating product.


Project Glass

One of Google’s latest projects is entitled “Project Glass.”  Through this project, Google hope to successfully develop a prototype for an augmented reality head-mounted display.  The purpose of these “glasses” is to essentially provide a hands free smartphone; the information would be available through the glasses.  They would also allow for interaction with the internet through a series of “natural language” voice commands, very similar to that of Siri, the voice command program introduced on Apple’s latest iPhone, the iPhone 4S.  Unlike the iPhone, however, these glasses will use Google’s Android operating system.

As of now, the prototype for the first Project Glass looks similar to a normal pair of eyeglasses, but instead of the usual lens found in these glasses, Google has inserted a heads-up display.  Google hopes to be able to further develop this technology so that it may be integrated in to people’s normal eyewear, no changes necessary.  Babak Parviz, the electrical engineer who announced this project on Google+, has also been working on adapting this technology so that it is possible to integrate it with contact lenses.  The other announcers of this project include Steve Lee, a project manager and “geolocation specialist,” as well as Sebastian Thrun, who has made a name for himself with his development of Udacity as well as the self-driving car project he has been working on.

On an interview with Charlie Rose, Sebastian Thrun actually operates the Project Glass prototype.  He takes a picture with a button on the headset, and then his eyes visibly tilt as he looks at the a list of personal contacts and picture, which appear automatically.  He then moves his head from side to side in order to select one, with a simple nod to confirm.

The article discussing this interview, which contains a link to the interview itself, can be found at the following link:

This product is not being introduced without skepticism, however.  An article on points out some major flaws and limitations in the Project Glass prototype discussed above.  This article points out how Thrun never actually gives the prototype any voice commands, a feature that has been expected in the prototype since the beginning of April, when a video about the product was initially released.

This article goes on to discuss the picture Thrun took of Rose.  The author notes that the picture does appear as advertised, but he says that the image quality is not only unacceptable, but that it is downright terrible.  He states, and I agree, that this problem is quite serious in this day in age with the vast leaps technology has made with digital photography.  He goes on to note that Google does not seem to be taking this image quality very seriously, something I found quite surprising considering Google’s seeming need for perfection.  This author says that the majority of Google’s past products are “half-baked,” which is where I disagree with the author.

Despite these limitations, I find this to be a very intriguing.  It is not the first of its kind, something I was unaware of before looking further into this topic.  Based on some research on my part, I believe that these head-mounted displays began with military uses during the mid-seventies.  It was incorporated into an aircraft for experimental purposes to see if it could aid in targeting heat seeking missiles.  Throughout the history of head-mounted displays, the SAAF (South African Air Force) seems to be one of the primary drivers in implementing these head-mounted displays into their aircrafts.  These displays are still being integrated into the cockpits of modern helicopters and fighter aircrafts.

Pac is back!

This year at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, located in California, those in attendance were treated to quite the surprise. Midway through a performance by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur appeared on stage. But here’s the thing: Tupac has been dead since 1996. The image, a hologram created by the company Digital Domain, stunned the audience. Who knew that an image so real could be conjured on stage in front of a crowd of thousands? Also, SINCE WHEN HAVE WE HAD HOLOGRAMS?

So what’s happening with holographic technology and when did this technology become available? And does this mean that all of those futuristic images we see in movies are out there somewhere that I’ve never seen? Well, not quite. For starters, the Tupac hologram was not technically a hologram. According to, a hologram is a “three-dimensional image formed by the interference of light beams from a laser or other coherent light source,” which the Tupac image was not.

The Tupac image onstage was more of a modern take on an old-fashioned illusion, in which magicians would conjure “ghosts” by projecting images onto transparent materials. According to James Montgomery, a reported for MTV News, “There’s an overhead projector that sort of reflects down onto basically a tilted piece of glass that’s sort of on the stage floor. That then reflects the, well, reflection onto a mylar sort of screen, and it projects in this sort of 3-D kind of thing where it allows the other performers to sort of walk in front of Tupac and basically interact [with] him.”

But technicalities aside, the image of Tupac was amazing, impressive, incredibly realistic, and a huge step forward for holographic technology. People loved it, and are willing to pay to see it, and it would not be surprising to see “holograms” of other deceased stars begin to appear with increasing frequency. With the reaction the performance resulted in, and the potential earnings involved, companies are sure to invest in holographic technology in the coming years, and we are sure to see huge advancements from the technology currently available.

Although the image of Tupac was incredible, holograms such as that seen in Star Wars when R2D2 projects the image of Princess Leia are still far from being commonplace. Projecting an image onto a transparent surface, as was done on stage at Coachella, is significantly easier than projecting an image in open air, and that still cost Digital Domain more than it wanted to pay. Just about any “hologram” you see nowadays will involve reflection onto some surface, and it will be a long time before we see the free-floating holograms from Star Wars.


I’ll Facebook You

Do you have a Facebook account? You’re probably thinking to yourself, that’s a dumb question. Who doesn’t have a Facebook? I do have an account, but I also know a few people who actually don’t do the whole Facebook thing. I enjoy having Facebook. I like being able to connect with people, post pictures, and stay caught up on events on campus. Sure these things can be done in other ways, but I like Facebook. But I also admire those people who don’t have a Facebook. One friend of mine says she sees too many negative things and I can certainly respect that. I do not agree with everything on the site and I certainly do monitor who I am “friends” with, what I post, and what things other people post that comes up on my newsfeed. Facebook is not for everyone. But Facebook is for a whole lot of people. According to Statista, California is the state that has the most Facebook users. In 2011 they were up to almost 19 million people. That’s a few users. North Carolina has the tenth most Facebook users and their numbers are up to a little more than 4.5 million. Not too shabby. Given just those two values, California has more than 4 times as many Facebook users as North Carolina. The following link is where this information comes from and do check it out to see information about other states. What states do you think make up the top 3 with most Facebook users (in 2011)? ( Now I know that California is significantly bigger, but I wouldn’t have predicted that big of a difference. This is only a little bit of information, but cleary Facebook has become a norm and its popularity is overwhelming. You already know this and you don’t need me to tell you.

How many times have you met somebody for the first time, you wanted to stay in touch, and you told them, “I’ll Facebook you.” I have done that so many times. Now ask yourself, how many times were you able to find them? This is where I wasn’t as successful. If you found them, did you really stay in touch? Once again, for me, that wasn’t particularly successful. Your Facebook experiences are different than mine, but alike at the same time. Why do we always use Facebook as a way to connect with people these days? Sure, it’s easy. Well, at least it seems easy. Do we really get to know people? Maybe. Maybe not. Facebook is so popular, but I can’t help to wonder, is it actually good? Are we really benefiting from it? I like being informed aout events on campus and Facebook is often my source for finding out. Do we replace meeting up with people by chatting on Facebook? These are all things I think it’s important for us to

Is It Really “That” Important?

Technology is important, but just how important is it? First of all, it is absolutely everywhere. I don’t think anyone can go anywhere anymore without dealing with some sort of exposure to technology. Technology is in our hands, in our laps, next to us, in front of is, and in our bodies. Speaking as society as a whole, we are always carry around cell phones, iPods, or some small piece of technology. How many times have you seen a picture of a group of people and somebody, likely a few of them, have some device in their hand? I actually see this quite often. Maybe it’s good. Maybe it’s not so good. I think it goes to show how seemingly important technology is. I think most of us would agree that technology provides us with good things. With technology we are able to access things more easily, communicate better, and simply be connected to more things. However, I think it’s easy for people to get so caught up and consumed with technology that it becomes too important. Technology grows into being something that we become dependent on. We think that we “have” to have it. My generation has always been around a lot of technology and has seen technology really grow exponentially. But I remember the days when technology wasn’t as important as it appears to be today. I remember using dial-up to get internet. Slow internet. At my house I couldn’t be on the internet if one of my family members was on the phone. And when I was on the internet, our phone line was considered “busy” and nobody could call in and we couldn’t call out. Today, we can be on the internet, have 5 different tabs up, talk on the phone, and chat with someone online. None of these things make any of the other things “not work.” When I mention the stuff about dial-up it really wasn’t that long ago. In the technology world, it was like a century ago. It is so interesting when I talk about the technological changes that I have seen and been around for, which really isn’t a whole lot, and compare that to what my parents have experienced. You have probably heard some phrases similar to “I’ll die if I lose this phone.” Our technology means so much to us today and we act as if it some of our most important valuables. Maybe they are for some of you. When I listen to my parents talk about their childhood and growing up, they certainly didn’t have the technological advances that I have the pleasure of having today. They didn’t have a cell phone. They couldn’t text their friends. They couldn’t post events on Facebook. They couldn’t check the bus schedule. They had to use typewriters. They had to write out their notes in class. Like I said, technology is not a bad thing. But I do think the advancements that we have today make us too dependent on technology. It’s like we just can’t live without our devices. My grandparents and parents did great without all of the technology that we have today. I think it’s easy for us today to take advantage of the basic things that we have today. I think sometimes we focus entirely too much on technology while there are so many other important things. You may totally disagree with me and that’s perfectly fine! I’ll wrap up with this: I enjoy my cell phone and laptop. I often catch myself saying just how much I “need” them. I don’t exactly “need” them, but there are very useful and some things are made easier because I have the privilege of owning them.


If you take a look at the link listed above, one of the first things you’ll notice is “Siri. Your Wish is its command.” It certainly caught my attention. Instantly, Apple is promoting Siri in a certain light that pretty much says it can do it anything and everything. Maybe it can. I do not have 24/7 access to Siri, or any access really, because I am not the owner of an iPhone. I hear things about Siri from other people and I have seen her used briefly, maybe only once. Someone in my family got an iPhone a few months ago and Siri was one of the first things she talked about. This was my first knowledge of Siri. I was kinda confused at first and thought it was crazy. Technology in general is so over my head and I would think to myself, “How can some device know so much, do so much, and be so smart?” One of the more specific things I was told by my relative was that Siri would help in saying “Tar Heels.” What? Are you serious? Those were my main thoughts. How could I not be excited that Siri was smart enough to know the Tar Heels are the only way to go! Unfortunately disappointment followed that excitement because when my relative tried to get Siri to say Tar Heel, it did not. Sad. So maybe it can’t quite do everything. Or maybe the voice that is speaking into the iPhone has to be extremely clear and precise. I am still determined to hear Siri say Tar Heel. With the popularity of iPhones seemingly increasing, I think I will very much so have my chance. I would assume that this is not Siri’s most popular feature and since she can supposedly do it all, let’s see what else Apple has to say about it.

Still looking at the same link, I think one of Apple’s most interesting selling points is “Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back.” Ok, sounds like Siri is a person. When I read it I kind of think, what can’t Siri do? As you continue to read on their website, the idea of Siri being like a person becomes more possible. Apple even tells its consumers to “talk to Siri as you would to a person.” It becomes your own personal assistant and messenger. With all that Siri is capable of, it almost devalues people and what we are actually capable of. Is Siri supposed to do our work for us? Have we become so lazy that we need a technological device to find a place for us? Apple gives the example of “Tell my wife I’m running late.” If you are fully capable of speaking, can you not get in touch with your wife, or whomever it may be, and give them a simple message? Apparently, you can ask Siri to text people for you. Laziness. In addition, you can carry on conversations with Siri, just as if it is a person standing next to you. Kind of crazy!

I’m not saying that Siri isn’t helpful, because it is. However, I do think Siri can be used too much and for too many “simple” things. Remember, I don’t have an iPhone, but I think it would be easy for some people to become too dependent on Siri. I think it’s something that iPhone users should be cautious of and they should probably not make Siri their new “best friend.”

The iPhone is popular… very popular!

The iPhone is everywhere. Everywhere I look there is somebody with an iPhone attached to them. It’s a world full of iPhones.  Is it possible for people to distance themselves from these multi-functional pieces of technology? I would like to think so. But do I really think so? Nope. Unlike a whole lot of people, I do not have an iPhone. However, I have used other people’s iPhones briefly. One thing I know for sure, is you can play some pretty cool games. I am particularly a fan of Temple Run. In my opinion the purpose of a telephone is not to play games, but I know that a lot of people do and I would if I had one. Then again, I am apparently not up to date with my mobile device since I don’t own an iPhone, much less any kind of smart phone. My phone is a touch screen though, so I guess I’m not completely out of the loop. Anyways, a phone is useful to me if I can call and text people. Apparently the iPhone goes way beyond that in what it allows people to do. Is it a good thing that a piece of technology, no bigger than about 6 inches, can do so much? It’s debatable. It has the ability to serve a whole lot of people, in a whole lot of ways, but is it causing our society to become too dependent on technology? Are we becoming so lazy that we have to ask Siri to locate places for us? I don’t know; it’s debatable. It’s really easy to say that a lot of people use iPhones, but how many people constitute “a lot”? Let’s find out.

According to data from Statista, there were 72 million iPhones sold in 2011. The iPhone was first introduced in 2007, and since then Apple has sold 140 million. For the year 2011, the iPhone brought in 47 billion dollars for Apple. Another outrageous stat is that the sales from this one product for 2011 accounted for more than 40% of Apple’s total revenue. Crazy! All of this information can be found by going to the following link. Be sure to take a look because there is a lot more interesting facts and stats.

The Future of Transportation

Recently a new technology called Evacuated Tube Transport has been getting a lot of attention in the public eye. With reported possibilities of traveling from New York to Los Angeles in 45 minutes and Washington, D.C. to Beijing in two hours, it’s easy to see just what has gotten the public buzzing.

How does it work? It is basically an enclosed tube that eliminates the friction normally associated with travel. No friction means more efficient traveling. ET3, the company heading the efforts, reports that an evacuated tube could provide 50 times more transportation per kilowatt of energy than electric cars or trains currently provide.

The system is also designed in a way that would be quite safe. Being in it’s own one-way tube, a capsule would pretty much have no chance of being in a collision. It would also travel in a protected environment that would be virtually unaffected by weather. Finally, though it will travel at incredible speeds, the capsule would likely only experience around 1G of force which is around the normal amount of force that a human would experience in a car.

Will we see a technology like this come to fruition in our lifetime? Time will tell.


Caine’s Arcade

Caine Monroy is an incredible kid. A 9 year-old boy from Los Angeles, Caine was forced to spend much of his summer vacation at his father’s used auto parts store. While you or I probably would have spent most of the time whining about being bored, Caine made the best of it. Caine had grown up loving arcade-style video games, so with all the down time he had combined with all the cardboard boxes in the back room of his dad’s store, Caine built his own arcade.

What started out as a small basketball goal taped to a cardboard box evolved into a full-blown multi-game cardboard arcade, complete with a claw machine, all handmade by Caine. Caine has a shirt that says “staff” on it, and a calculator taped to the front of each game for added realism. He will even climb into the back of the boxes and push tickets out through a slit in the front of the game when the player does well. Caine sells four-game passes for a dollar each, or you can buy a “Fun Pass,” which includes 500 plays, for two dollars.

But the arcade is just one side of this story. It just so happened that Caine’s one and only customer was Nirvan Mullick, a filmmaker interested in social change. Nirvan took a special interest in Caine, and approached Caine’s dad about making a short film about Caine’s arcade. After he got permission, Nirvan then began organizing a flash mob at the arcade. In case you don’t know, a flash mob is basically when a bunch of random people convene in a public place and perform a coordinated action that might seem pretty unusual. The goal of this flash mob was just to have huge amount of people show up and play Caine’s cardboard arcade games.

So Nirvan went about publicizing the event, creating a Facebook page and Twitter account for Caine’s arcade. Using all of the digital resources he had, Nirvan gathered hundreds of people who went to the arcade and surprised Caine with their presence. Needless to say the surprise worked, and gave Caine an experience he will surely never forget.

Nirvan filmed the whole event. He interviewed Caine and his dad about the arcade and their experiences with the event, and made a short film. The original flash mob took place October 2, 2011, but the final HD video was just released online this past Monday, April 9, 2012. In the three days since the video was posted, it has over one million views, and “Caine’s Arcade” has been one of the trending topics on Twitter. Caine’s Arcade has over 30,000 “likes” on Facebook, and over 2,000 followers on Twitter. A website ( was also created, on which you can read about Caine, watch the video, and even donate to a scholarship fund created for Caine so that he can go to college someday. As of today, Thursday April 12, 2012, over $113,000 has been raised, surpassing the original goal of $100,000 and still climbing.

This is digital storytelling at its finest. What started out as a child just trying to pass the time stuck at work with his dad has turned into a national phenomenon, and given a boy who might not have had it the opportunity to go to college. It can do some serious good in the world. It is a growing method of communication, and can be vastly influential. Caine’s arcade is just one of many similar stories out there on the web, so keep your eyes open and help out when you find a good cause like Caine Monroy.

Are you ready for graduation and beyond?

With graduation quickly approaching, and students already overloaded with information and emails, the decisions that will shape student’s future can be overwhelming.  From choosing between going into graduate school or the work force, picking the most desired area of work, honing on of skills developed during undergraduate, a lot of choices must be made in a short amount of time.  But there is a resource available to all students that is often forgotten or overlooked: the University Career Services.  This department’s sole focus is on preparing students for graduation and the paths that lie beyond.  There are several key tools that UCS provides, as well as in person resources.


Careerolina is, as the name suggests, a tool that will help students choose their future career as well as networking them with people who will be able to help set up jobs for the students.  On the Careerolina site, which is accessible with a UNC Onyen, even if the Onyen has expired so Careerolina remains useful even after graduation, provides job and internship listings, a breakdown of the most popular careers and their projected growth, surveys for students who do not yet know what sort of job they would like, as well as a calendar and schedule of upcoming events.  These events include job fairs where students will be able to meet representatives of companies that are hiring.  This key networking component gives students an advantage that puts them above people who are looking for jobs without these connections.

From College to Career

UCS also provides several helpful documents that are aimed to prepare students for what life will be like outside of the academic setting.  Because students have been in the classroom for so many years, moving into the work place is a big transition, and UCS hopes to ease that transition with a few helpful hints.  These tips include how to adjust to specific work settings, how to interact with fellow employees, as well as laying out several key differences between school and work; while you can get away with missing a class, missing a day of work is not the same!

Resumes and Letters

Another key area that UCS focuses on is teaching students how to properly prepare a resume and cover letter.  While these takes appear simple and students have been preparing resumes since high school, a properly laid out resume with the right information on it could be the difference between an employer taking notice of your name in a stack of 200 applicants or just being another sheet of paper someone has to look over.  They even include videos on how to prepare cover letters and references and a thorough slide show, with video presentation, on resumes.

Departmental UCS Staff

While the whole UCS staff is trained to help students find the career that is just right for them, UCS also has staff in the specific departments who are more focused on students in those departments and the possible jobs for them.  These UCS coordinators are constantly looking for new opportunities to send on to the department to share, or to share directly with the departmental listserv.

With all of these tools, it is hard to believe that students never use UCS, but for some students, there is just too much information being given to them that they do not recognize useful information when they see it.  For some, any UCS email is just one of 40 in any given day, with 4 or 5 coming from professors announcing a pop test the next day or an assignment has been moved up, parents asking if they are coming home for the weekend or why they are spending so much money, jobs asking if they can devote more time for less pay or cutting time for even less pay, student organizations announcing some activity for the week, or any one of so many emails that pour through the campus system each day.

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