Month: August 2013

Elon Musk’s Tesla Model S has achieved the best safety rating of any car ever tested

5 star safety ratings across the board

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the Tesla (TSLA) Model S the best safety rating of any car ever tested. Although the NHTSA doesn’t publish a star rating above 5, safety ratings better than 5 are reflected in the Vehicle Safety Scores. The Model S received a combined record of 5.4 stars.

My favorite part about the results of testing and subsequent rating is this little bit (emphasis added):

“during validation of Model S roof crush protection at an independent commercial facility, the testing machine failed at just above 4 g’s. While the exact number is uncertain due to Model S breaking the testing machine, what this means is that at least four additional fully loaded Model S vehicles could be placed on top of an owner’s car without the roof caving in. This is achieved primarily through a center (B) pillar reinforcement attached via aerospace grade bolts.”

The Model S was so good it broke the testing machine. Four cars could be stacked on top of it without the roof of the very bottom one caving in.

Three different versions of the Model S are available. Their prices range from about $65,000 – $100,000 before tax incentives.

Source | Tesla

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Talkback Notification Issue with Galaxy S3

Whenever I run into an issue with some form of technology I do my best to solve it. Most of that solving comes from lots of Google searches, but this time I wasn’t able to find anything helpful. I was able to resolve the issue, which is why I’m sharing this now, in case someone else comes across the issue and finds this page. Hopefully it can help.

The Situation:
I have a Galaxy S3 from Verizon (SCH-I535). I recently downloaded a bunch of apps that I was trying out, most of which were augmented reality apps. One of them was IOnRoad, which is a pretty cool concept to assist in safe driving. IOnRoad uses the TalkBack Accessibility function. The TalkBack feature is a service to help the blind and otherwise impaired, it essentially reads and describes everything going on on the screen. It can also be used to read aloud other things.
The Problem:
Whenever I booted up my phone the Talkback notification, a little hand icon, would be displayed in the notification bar. When pulled down, Talkback would be listed as an Ongoing service. Upon checking the status of Talkback in the accessibility options of the phone, it was displayed as off. To remove the notification temporarily, I had to turn it on then off again. The notification would be gone until the next time I rebooted.
Now, I probably reboot my phone more than other people do, probably once every few days. I just like a fresh device, and the GS3 has enough battery problems for me to want to make sure no unnecessary apps/services are running the background taking up valuable battery life. Every time I would reboot, the TalkBack notification would be there again.
The Solution:
Now I did a bunch of things and I’m not quite sure which one worked. They are listed below.
  • Uninstalled IOnRoad. This is probably the one. After uninstalling I rebooted. However, I also did some other things:
  • Force stopped the app. This can be achieved by opening up the Application manager under System Settings, swiping left to show the right-most column “All”, scrolling to and selecting “TalkBack” and clicking “Force stop”.
  • Disabling & re-enabling the TalkBack service. This option is right next to “Force stop”, as described above.
When I talked to Samsung support about this, they simply told me to wipe the partition cache. When that didn’t work, they told me it was all they could do and a hardware specialist would have to look at it. Meh. Anyway, that solved the problem! I hope it helps someone else! 

Marketing: Recycling Bins in London now Stalk You

A company called Renew installed “smart” recycling bins in London just prior to the 2012 Olympics. These bins recognize and track the MAC addresses for each person walking by. A MAC address [wiki] is a set of characters that is unique to each WiFi enabled device, including smartphones. As long as your device has the WiFi setting left on, it is sending a signal pinging other devices nearby. These bins simply pic that up and track your MAC address.


Potential privacy issue? Absolutely.

People are not entirely comfortable with this kind of tracking. Privacy is still highly valued by many and rightly so. New technologies can be hard for some to understand and what we don’t understand can be unsettling. Right now throughout developed countries, governments are playing catch-up when it comes to regulation of new technologies. But take into account a few things: 
  • London is already one of the most surveilled cities in the world. The US and many other countries are not far behind. 
  • Every day people give more of the information to social networks and share public status updates about their everyday life. 
  • These devices simply track MAC addresses of phones, no personal information is stored.

But this could be huge

By tracking people’s movements throughout the day, these bins provide advertisers with incredibly useful data. It could give Company A a huge advantage over Company B. In an example given by the original article, one coffee shop could better understand its customers’ loyalty. Are they getting their coffee in different places on a regular basis? If so, ads could be changed in certain locations to let that customer know of any specials or new flavors.
Bars could use the technology to track gender, dwell time, kind of purchase, and much more. This kind of information is super useful.
In just one day, 12 London bins tracked over 100,000 people, noting their presence almost 1 million times.

IKEA to launch augmented reality app allowing you to see products in your house prior to purchase

Cost: Free
Release: Aug 25
Available for: iOS and Android

Now this is cool. I’ve tested augmented reality apps before but so far I haven’t been super impressed. This article quickly summarizes most of the AR apps I’ve tried and enjoyed so far. Especially Goggles, Skymap, and Wikitude.

The use of this technology for such products is very smart. As per this article, measurements will not be necessary and the catalog app has access to over 90 different products. Apparently it will be a new app released August 25, however the functionality is already in the catalog app linked at the very bottom of this post.

To actually place the furniture in your home, it’s recommended that you have the catalog. This is because the app apparently needs to scan the catalog to get “a more accurate scale of the model, so you won’t have to resize it yourself. The IKEA catalogue becoems the scale reference used by the app to calculate a more accurate scale.” If you don’t have a physical catalog you can download/email it and print out a specific page to scan or just use the “without IKEA catalogue” mode and scale the model yourself with finger gestures.

But that’s easier said than done. I’ve just tested the app and it is a processor hog. It crashed twice on my S3 while trying to place a desk chair in my bathroom. For this to work effectively you’ll need 1) a fast internet connection, 2) a top of the line phone, and 3) some patience.

IKEA isn’t exactly pioneering anything here either. Another app called Furnish (previously known as ‘Ikea Now’) has been doing the same thing for quite some time. (Furnish on: iOS | Android) However, the fact that a large company like IKEA is adopting this concept is pretty neat. I don’t doubt that we’ll be seeing more augmented reality as the technology continues to improve. Imagine this kind of app on Google Glass?

Below are links to the current iOS and Android apps. If I remember, I’ll check back in a few weeks when the update gets pushed/app gets released to notify you of any changes.

iOS | Android

Hilarious or Dumb? App challenges users to throw their phone as high as possible.

It’s called “Send Me to Heaven” and it challenges users to throw their phone as high in the air as they can. Naturally it was rejected by the fascist pigs at Apple, but Google has kindly accepted it to the Play Store for Android.

Owners of more heavy duty phones like the G’zOne Commando might get more use out of this kind of app. Either way I think it’s hilarious.

Google Play Store

App Recommendation: Gyft

Store your gift cards, get free ones, buy new ones, gift them to friends.

This is a great app, especially if you just like getting free stuff. Not only do I store many of my gift cards in this app (simply input the card numbers into the app, plus any security codes), but I also regularly receive free gift cards to spend online. Some of them I don’t care about, but I just find friends on social networks who are interested and give them away!

It makes your wallet lighter. Once your gift cards are stored in the app there is no reason to carry them with you. The app generates a barcode that can be scanned at retail stores.

TL;DR Store your gift cards & get free ones. Free.
Links: Android | iOS

App Recommendation: Unified Remote

Update: Clarified that this app runs over a wifi network.

The only way I’ll be able to maintain a blog is if I make my posts short and concise. So that’s the new plan.

This is a great remote app I’ve been using a lot for a few months now. I really only use it for two things – controlling movies in VLC and turning off the computer because I’m too lazy to get out of bed after the movie is over. But it can do a lot more.

It’s got basic mouse/keyboard input, a remote file system manager, a general media remote (works with iTunes), task manager, and Spotify controls. And that’s just the free version.

To get it working simply download and install the Remote server and run it over your WiFi network. Available for Windows for now, Mac and Linux coming soon. The app itself is available for Android and Windows Phone. Sorry iOS users.

TL;DR This is a great remote app. I highly recommend it.
Links: Official Site | Android | Windows Phone