Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the category “Technology”

Deepfake – manipulating video to create a fabricated story.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

How’s this sound for another down side of technology?

Applying cutting edge technology to a video, changing the words said, altering the mouth movement to conform to the fabricated words, changing facial expressions, and thus fabricating a new video telling a story that doesn’t exist.

That is called deepfake.

Currently, the technology is at a level where a human watching a deepfake can tell it is fake. Inconsistencies in facial movement or lighting or pixelation will give away the fabrication. Several articles say the technology is advancing so fast that soon humans will not be able to detect a fake just by watching.

Special computer programs can detect the alterations.

A few articles for more background:

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Just another routine space launch and recovery of the booster. What a delight to ponder recollections of the Apollo 11 mission along with another SpaceX mission.

Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule lift off on CRS-18 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Just a few days ago we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon. What an astounding accomplishment and what a joy to remember. Take a look at the grainy views of the launch and walk on the moon mentioned in immediately previous post.

Check out the SpaceX Commercial Resupply Mission yesterday, 7/25/19. CRS-18 carried about 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station. In four weeks about 3,300 pounds of cargo will be returned to earth.

The mission press release says this is the third time this Dragon capsule has flown, which is a new record for reuse.  This is the second time this particular Falcon 9 booster has flown. The booster was successfully recovered.

The announcer on the broadcast said this is the 44th successfully recovery of a booster.

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Friendly tip to people planning a felony: don’t do it. And if you still want to, you might want to avoid planning your escapade with the internet or your phone.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

If you are planning to do something that our society says is a felony, or even thinking about it, please don’t.

Please change your plans. You won’t like the result.

If you are still pondering something that our society says is a felony, or even thinking about it, you might want to avoid using electronic devices that record your planning. Definitely don’t use your phone in commission of the actual crime.

Here are a few examples of what not to do, for amusement of people who are inclined to read my blog.  People likely to go ahead with felonious plans probably are not in my audience.

 

Tip #1

Don’t take along your location recording fitness device while conducting reconnaissance to plan an assassination and definitely don’t take it along for the ‘hit’:  Runners World -1/17/19 – This Runner is a Hitman. His GPS Watch Tied Him to a Mob Boss Murder

A competitive distance runner who moon lighted as a contract hit man took along his fitbit watch as he conducted recon and planning runs for two different assassinations. Also wore it for one of the actual hits. Police looked at the recorded location information on the watch which showed him making recon runs and placed him at the scene of the hit.

Result: Life in prison.

 

Tip #2

Don’t conduct an internet search with questions of whether your plans are illegal: Cleveland.com – 10/19/18 – Brooklyn Woman falsely accused Parma Heights police chief of rape, investigators say.

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Cost and time to cross the Atlantic has dropped by more than 90% in the last 500 years.

Columbus’ Ships. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Transatlantic travel time has dropped radically in the last 500 years.  Time to transit the Atlantic has dropped about 99% and cost has dropped about 95% by my calculations.

Let’s look at several data points for cost and time, then calculate one indicator of improved quality of life.

Human Progress provides fun data points on August 2, 2018 in their post, A Reminder of How Far Transatlantic Travel Has Come.

Update: An earlier post on November 27, 2015 discussed Time to cross the Atlantic – 500 year history.

Update: Added in travel time of Concorde at end of the post.

Columbus’ first trip

The 1492 trip by Christopher Columbus took two years of lobbying before the king and queen of Spain approved 2 million Spanish maravedis to fund the trip. A professor has calculated that would be comparable to about US$1,000,000 today.

The cost seems low to me. I’ll look at that more later.

Crew size was 87 according to this article. The accountant in me is driven to calculate the cost per crewman.  That would give an average cost of $11,494. I’ll round that to $11,500 and ignore any adjustment for several crew members who died on the trip.

His trip took two months, nine days, which I calculate at 70 days (30+31+9).

Mayflower

Mayflower. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

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Update on Chinese space vehicles

Saturn V rocket, loaded for the moon. China is developing the Long March 9 which will have comparable lift capacity. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few fun articles on the Chinese space program.

10/15/17 – Behind the Black – China’s first test space station, Tiangong-1, is out-of-control – The Chinese space agency said they have lost control over the “Heavenly Palace” space station. Its orbit is decaying and it will likely reenter the atmosphere and burn up in the next several months. Most of the station will burn, but there will likely be chunks as large as 200 pounds hit the ground.

(Hat tip to Behind the Black for the next two articles.)

10/18/17 – GB Times – China’s Tiangong-1 space lab will soon reenter the atmosphere, but there’s no need to panic – Disclosed reason for the “Heavenly Place” space lab not being able to maintain orbit is a battery charger failed, thus meaning the batteries couldn’t be charged.

Current guess is perhaps the last half of January for reentry into atmosphere, where most of the 8.4 ton spaceship will burn up.

10/17/17 – GB Times – China progressing with work on new medium, heavy, and super-heavy Long March launch vehicles – Articles says China is working on several new rocket designs.

New models include the Long March 8 and Long March 9.  Some stats:

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More tidbits from the technology revolution

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Fun articles on technology change that caught my interest over the last few months:

  • Yes, your color printer may very well be marking every printed page as belonging to you
  • Not only are land lines disappearing, growing number of people won’t answer the doorbell unless you text first
  • Dropping oil prices are a worry for central bankers, even as that saves consumers bunches of money
  • Amazon is developing its own delivery system
  • IBM has fewer employees in the US than in India
  • Google drew a multi-billion dollar fine from the EU

6/7/17 – BBC – Why printers add secret tracking dots – A large portion of color laser printers add tiny yellow dots to the page in order to allow tracking of which specific printer was used to print a specific page.

This is handy for criminal or espionage investigations. A particular leaking case is in the news, with the perpetrator having been found using microdots.

Might be handy for tracking down whistle blowers.

The espionage angle isn’t of interest to anyone reading my blog.

If you every want to keep something you print really private, you might want to pay attention.

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More news on SpaceX

Echostar 105/SES-11 Mission” by SpaceX is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

One article pondering how the planned super-heavy lift rocket from SpaceX will open up space travel like the DC-3 did for air travel. The third reuse of a Falcon 9 booster and the 18th recovery of a booster.  Also, three articles on SpaceX’s plans for Mars colonization:

In a major speech, Mr. Musk revealed the revised plans for SpaceX’s journey to Mars. The revision I see is a slightly scaled-down interplanetary spacecraft which can be multipurposed for lunar activity, resupplying ISS, or any other mission requiring heavy lift.

The vehicle will have 31 engines instead of the 47 planned a year ago. It will still lift 150 tons into low earth orbit.

Key concepts will be reusability of lift vehicles and in-orbit refueling to get vehicles ready for the interplanetary trip. Concept will be capsules can land vertically and will be able to take off without crew input.

Interplanetary capsule will be designed to have 100 person capacity and will have areas on board for entertainment.

The first trips to Mars could be in 2022 or more likely delayed until 2024. That is only 5 or 7 years from now.

Outlines of the Mars colonization plan are in line with what I’ve read before.

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Radical drop in cost of lighting as indicator of how much better our lives are today

From really expensive candles to cheap electricity for brighter light bulbs. What luxury we now have!  “Trip the Lights Fantastic” by Anne Worner is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

One measure of how radically life has improved over the centuries is how much nighttime illumination can be purchased from a certain amount of labor.

For example, George Washington calculated that it cost him £5 a year to provide himself five hours of reading light every evening. That is the equivalent of about $1,000 today.

Imagine spending $83 a month to light only one lamp in your entire house.

We are amazingly rich today.

This insight provided by Human Progress on 2/15/17:  How the cost of light has fallen by a factor of 500,000.

Here are some reference points provided by the article:

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More news on drone use in the private sector.

The Wedge-tail eagle is aggressive enough to take out drones with seven-foot wingspans. Photo “wedge-tail 32” by Jim Bendon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Fun stories on the private sector use of drones:

  • Toy drone regulations in U.S. knocked down
  • Demand for commercial drone pilots is growing
  • How about using a swarm of disposable drones to deliver disaster aid?
  • Wedge-tail eagles taking out big drones

5/19/17 – The Hill – Court strikes down rule forcing toy drone users to register with govt – The FAA rule requiring every operator of every toy drone to register is contrary to a congressional law that prohibits the FAA from regulating toy drones. That is the conclusion of the federal Second Court of Appeals in DC.

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Transatlantic transportation costs in 1937

1937 Hindenburg disaster shown on cover of magazine in 1950. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A Niche in Time: “One of the Worst Catastrophes in the World” by Doug Messier at Parabolic Arc on 9/26/17 describes the May 6, 1937 Hindenburg Zeppelin disaster than ended the age of passenger flights on rigid airships. More in a moment on the ticket prices for transatlantic travel.

Several factors led to the end of rigid airships. The disaster took out half of the Zeppelin fleet, the U.S. blocked export of helium so the German company had no choice but to use (and would have continued using) explosive hydrogen, fixed wing aircraft were emerging as an alternative (specifically the then-cutting edge DC-3), Zeppelin travel was more expensive than ocean liners, and the disaster destroyed public confidence in the Zeppelins.

Check out the full article for more details.

According to the article, here are some tidbits on the cost of travel to cross the Atlantic at the time on the luxurious, faster airships and slower cruise ships:

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Technology changes overtake the iconic Boeing 747

Boeing 747” by allenthepostman is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

United will make a big deal of its final flight of a 747 on November 7 with retro uniforms for flight attendants, a stylized ‘70s menu, and entertainment fitting the era.  Forbes reports on  9/19/17:  The Boeing 747 Came In With a Bang And Now It Will Go Out With One.

Delta’s final international flight of a 747 was on September 7. Their final two domestic flights of the 747 were for evacuation of people in advance of Hurricane Irma.

Article describes the launch of the 747:

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The story on Silk Road, an on-line drug bazaar, shows the power of rationalization and self-deception

Cover of “American Kingpin” from Amazon. Used under fair use.

The sad tale of Ross Ulbricht and his on-line drug bazaar called Silk Road is a good study of the outer limits of how far rationalization can carry a person.

It is also a frightening illustration of Jeremiah 17:9. From the New International Version, ponder:

The heart is deceitful above all thing and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Considering the tale of Silk Road is useful for accountants wanting to learn about the outer fringe of the internet and he investigative power of the federal government, believers who would like an illustration of the frightening level of deceit that lives in the human heart, and anyone else wanting to learn more about the dark worlds that normal people will never see.

My posts are gathered into two collections:

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More explanations of virtual currencies and possible applications

bitcoin” by komersreal is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Several recent articles provide more background on Bitcoin and other blockchain tools. For your daily brain stretching:

  • Blockchain as a possible tool for fast and cheap international payments
  • China is working to restrict blockchain transactions
  • Central banks ponder issuing of their own virtual currencies
  • Tax status of blockchain transactions and the IRS is out fishing for tax evaders
  • Description of blockchain as being the internet of money, comparable to how the internet moves and stores information

8/28/17 – Journal of Accountancy – Blockchain opens new era for cross-border payments – Moving money from one country to another is time-consuming and costly. There are fees at both ends. It takes several days for the money to arrive. An error in one digit of the routing or account information means the transfer will go astray and take more time and money to locate.

Blockchain offers the opportunity to make international transfers near immediate and at a fraction of the cost.

For an illustration, picture a company paying international vendors. Or an international worker sending part of his paycheck back to his parents in his home country. Or a mission organization moving funds to its many field offices.

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Video shows why rocket science is difficult. More fun news on the wide open frontier of space.

How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster – Elon Musk posted a video of failed launches. You might call this a blooper reel. I prefer to call it:

This is why rocket science is called rocket science.

Enjoy the incidents of “rapid unscheduled disassembly”:

 

(Link: youtube=https://youtu.be/bvim4rsNHkQ00)

As you chuckle at the failed recoveries, keep in mind SpaceX has recovered 16 boosters, reused 2 of them, and has recovered 2 Dragon capsules, having already reused 1.

That, is rocket science.

9/22/17 – Behind the Black – Soyuz launches Russian GPS satellite – In the fun-to-watch race for most launches in 2017, Russia now has a slight lead over SpaceX.

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France has armed its MQ-9 Reapers. Background on MQ-9 drone.

An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, piloted by Col. Lex Turner flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt) (Interpretive text accompanies the official USAF photo.)

Some background on the MQ-9 Reaper, an upgrade to the MQ-1 Predator. Also, France has armed the Reapers it has deployed in Africa.

9/20/17 – Strategy Page – Counter-Terrorism: Up Close and Constantly – France has 6 U.S. made MQ-9 Reapers in its inventory. Five of them are Niger, used for counterterrorism operations in surrounding countries. The remaining one is in France, used for training. Six more are on order.

To improve capabilities, France started loading the MQ-9s with Hellfire missiles. Their Tiger helicopter gunships already use that missile, so they were in stock and the French munitions maintainers already knew how to load and handle them.

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