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”

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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This is what creative destruction looks like: disruption in the taxi, TV, and retail industries.

If you wish to become obsolete or gain hands-on experience with bankruptcy laws, the above strategy will work well. Cartoon is provided courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Companies and industries that can’t keep up with changes in technology or demographics or the internet are getting hit hard.

A few more hits to the old way of doing things:

  • collapsing price for taxi medallions
  • tricks to hide low TV audiences; gaming the ratings
  • more closures of Sears stores
  • Toys ‘R’ Us files for bankruptcy protection

The wide use of Uber and Lyft has affected the taxi industry. As one measure of the technological disruption, consider the price of a taxi medallion in New York. One cannot operate a taxi there without a medallion.

There is apparently a thriving business, or at least there used to be a thriving business, in buying a medallion and then renting it out to someone who wanted to drive a taxi.

The market for medallions has collapsed. Consider the following graph by Mark Perry, described in a tweet on 7/6/17.

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Amazing news in the wide open frontier of space exploration

Falcon 9 booster a fraction of second before successful recovery. Now *that* is rocket science. A few minutes earlier it was 120+ miles up in the air moving away from the recovery site.  “Orbital Test Vehicle 5 Mission” by SpaceX is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

Lots of fun articles in the last two months describing the wide open frontier of space exploration.

  • Ghana puts their first sat into orbit. Yes, Ghana. Very cool.
  • In the GPS world, Japan gets another sat in orbit and an Indian launch fails.
  • SpaceX may have more launches this year than Russia and one commentator thinks SpaceX will be dominant in the launch market for decades to come

7/8/17 – Behind the Black – Ghana launches its first satellite and 223 Live News, Ghana’s first Space Satellite enters Orbit – A cubsate built by university students in the western Africa country was launched from the ISS. The small satellite will take pictures of the country in low- and high-resolution. It will also be able to broadcast the national anthem and other music during national events.

Ghana is the first sub-Saharan country to get a satellite in space.

The sat went to the ISS on June 10 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.

How cool!

7/24- Popular Mechanics – Why the First True Spaceliner Will Change Everything – The beautiful DC-3 reduced the time for coast-to-coast travel.

Before the DC-3, it took 25 hours and 15 stops for fuel and repairs to cross the country. With the DC-3, there were only 3 stops for fuel.

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Drop in cross-country travel time using a DC-3

Another post has a comment on how much the DC-3 shrank travel time to cross the country. Here is a description of how much that beautiful bird cut the time:

7/24- Popular Mechanics – Why the First True Spaceliner Will Change Everything – The beautiful DC-3 reduced the time for coast-to-coast travel.

Before the DC-3, it took 25 hours and 15 stops for fuel and repairs to cross the country. With the DC-3, there were only 3 stops for fuel.

(A video of DC-3s in a 2013 flyby follows, if you are interested.)

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More on the capabilities of firefighting aircraft

Found a great resource from CAL FIRE, Firefighting Aircraft Recognition Guide, which provides a photo and background of the fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft in the Cal Fire inventory.

Some of the fun highlights, along with a few more photos:

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Capabilities of fire-fighting air tankers

Courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture, photo by Lance Cheung, in public domain.

An article in the Daily Bulletin on 9/2/17, Cal Fire’s new firefighting aircraft is pricey – but worth it, officials say, describes the capabilities of a 747, the newest tanker on the Cal Fire roster. Article also described capacity of several other tankers.

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Update on military drones and anti-drone technology

An MQ-9 Reaper performs during an air show demonstration May 29, 2016, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.)

Here are a couple of articles on drones in the US inventory and anti-drone technology.

9/16/16 (yeah, about a year old) – Strategy Page – Warplanes: Reapers Replace Predators – Good background on MQ-9 Reaper.

USAF bought another 30 Reapers in 2016 at a price tag of $13M each. This will bring the total inventory up to 200 by 2019. Article says there were almost 150 Reapers currently in service back in mid-2016.

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Vector Space Systems, another competitor, focused on small satellites

Illustration of small satellite, a.k.a. cubesat. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Previously mentioned Vector Space Systems here. A video at Behind the Black prompted me to dive deeper. Here’s what I found.

8/3/17 –  Behind the Black – Video of Vector test launch – Nice video of the second test launch from a new, private space company, Vector.

Company does not have their guidance control system installed so there is visible wobble a second or so after launch. The third launch will have G&C installed.

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Update on military drones

MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech Air Force Base, Nev., during a local training mission June 9, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo/Paul Ridgeway)

A few recent articles on military drones: New US variations in use, shootdown of military drones in combat zones, anti-drone technology, and increasing exports of Chinese drones.

My observation: the military drone arms race is on.

7/2/17 – UPI – New Reaper drone variant performs first combat mission – The first in a new series of MQ-9 Reaper drones flew its first combat mission. Referred to as the Block 5, the drone dropped a precision bomb (GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions) and fired two missiles (AM-114 Hellfire).

Oddly, the article says targets were ISIS positions but does not identify the country where the strike took place.

USAF Staff Sgt. aircraft armament systems specialist inspects an MQ-9 Reaper at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan Aug. 18, 2014. The Reaper is launched, recovered and maintained here.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez/Released)

6/8/17 – Wall Street Journal – American Pilot Shoots Down Armed Drone in Syria – A drone, described as Predator-style, was shot down by a U.S. pilot after the drone fired on a patrol by forces the US supports.

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