Category Archives: Technology

Daily trends and happenings in technology world

Ruling gives FAA more power over drones than local governments

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Getty Images

When it comes to drone regulations, the FAA’s rules trump anything local governments conjure up. That’s what a federal court in Massachusetts has proven when it ruled in favor of a commercial drone owner who sued the city of Newton over its drone ordinance. Newton resident Michael Singer filed the lawsuit in a bid to eliminate some of the city’s rules that don’t align with the FAA’s, including having to register with every municipality it has to fly over and to maintain an altitude of 400 feet and above over private and Newton city property. Two of the rules he chose not to challenge prohibit operating drones in a reckless manner and the use of drones to spy on people.

Singer argued that having to register with every municipality would make flights impossible, since an unmanned flying vehicle could cross several for a trip that takes a few minutes. In addition, the FAA requires UAVs for businesses to fly under 400 feet. US District Judge William G. Young explained that “Newton’s choice to restrict any drone use below this altitude (400 feet) thus works to eliminate any drone use in the confines of the city, absent prior permission. This thwarts not only the FAA’s objectives, but also those of Congress for the FAA to integrate drones into the national airspace.” Singer said the ruling “ensure[s] that the skies would remain open for new technology that would benefit society.”

Since we’re still figuring out which drone rules and regulations work, the judge’s decision could influence similar cases and even local authorities’ decisions regarding drone use in the future. Doug Johnson, Consumer Technology Association’s VP of Tech Policy, said the ruling “establishes a rock-solid affirmation that the federal government unequivocally holds jurisdiction over the drone industry.”

 

 

Jared Kushner uses private email for White House business

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Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

You don’t have to be a former presidential hopeful to draw heat over using private email for work. Politico has revealed that presidential senior adviser (not to mention son-in-law) Jared Kushner has been using a private email account to conduct White House business. He has used the account since December to discuss event planning, media coverage and “other subjects” with both key White House members and advisers, including former strategist Steve Bannon, ex-chief of staff Reince Priebus and National Economic Council leader Gary Cohn, among others. The account was set up in December as part of the transition, but it’s been in use well since President Trump took office.

Some of those involved messaged him first, including from their own private accounts.

An attorney for Kushner, Abbe Lowell, has been quick to acknowledge the ongoing use but is also downplaying its scope. Kushner has sent or received “fewer than 100 emails” between his personal account and White House officials, Lowell says. These “usually” included forwarded news stories and opinion pieces, and were typically started by someone sending a message to Kushner rather than the other way around. The lawyer says that Kushner is honoring the Presidential Records Act, which requires archiving all presidential correspondence (and related material), by forwarding messages to his government account.

The problem that it’s difficult to verify that this forwarding is taking place. It also reflects a tendency of current White House staff to rely much more on private messaging instead of government supplied accounts. Unlike past administrations, it could be much harder to keep a historical record if staff are regularly using private accounts. And while analogies between this and Clinton’s private email don’t fit all that well (Clinton was using a private email server for potentially sensitive correspondence), it’s hard to escape the irony of attacking a politician for using private email only to do that yourself.

 

 

Television with built-in Fire TV makes better use of your voice

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Engadget / Cherlynn Low

One of the Element Fire TV Edition set’s main hooks is clearly its Alexa voice control, so it stands to reason that the entire television stands to benefit the more you can use it, doesn’t it? Sure enough, Element is trotting out an update that makes better use of voice recognition. You can enter text into fields using your voice instead of the keyboard, which could take a lot of the pain out of filling out forms and certain search boxes. Also, you can rename inputs to more familiar terms and use Alexa to switch to them — you can specify that you’re jumping to your PS4 instead of “HDMI2.”

The upgrade isn’t all about verbal communication. Element went so far as to tweak the standard picture setting for higher contrast, particularly black levels, and adds customization for element like gamma and white balance. You can alter the image quality for individual inputs, too, and it’s possible to add individual channels to your favorites from the On Now row that shows what’s hot. These and the Alexa improvements won’t necessarily make you skip over a high-end set, but they could make Element’s unit a more tempting proposition if you’re on a budget.

 

 

Robots learn to walk naturally by understanding their bodies

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EPFL

The challenge with bipedal robots isn’t so much getting them to walk at all (although that’s sometimes a problem) as it is getting them to walk naturally. They tend to either step cautiously or quickly run into trouble. Swiss researchers think they can do better, though: they’re working on COMAN (Compliant Humanoid), a headless robot designed to master walking. The automaton is more graceful through a combination of more flexible, elastic joints and a control algorithm that helps the bot understand its own body.

COMAN is aware of the symmetries in its dynamics and structure, which helps it not only walk with a natural gait but carry objects, navigate uneven surfaces like stairs, and react to surprises. If you push the robot, for instance, it knows exactly where to place its foot so that it doesn’t tip over like some of its peers. And thanks to that added flexibility, it’s more likely to survive that rudeness.

The technology is a long way from reaching robots you can interact with. For one thing, these machines would need ‘heads’ or some other way of exploring the world on their own. They may be particularly clever when they arrive, though. The team is also exploring the possibility of teaching bipedal robots t coordinate in shared actions, such as carrying a table. You could eventually see moving robots that have no problems hauling your couch down a flight of stairs.

 

 

Office 365's revamped web launchers put you to work sooner

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AOL/Microsoft

Sometimes, it’s not your productivity apps that need a tune-up… it’s how you get to those apps that needs work. And Microsoft knows it. The tech firm has redesigned the Office.com front end and Office 365’s web app launcher. There’s now a recommended section that surfaces the activity that’s relevant to you, so you can quickly jump to where you’re needed — say, a Word file that needs edits or your recent PowerPoint presentation. You can also search for people, apps, documents and sites right from the get-go.

Things promise to be simpler once you’re waist-deep in work, too. There’s a streamlined Office 365 web launcher that focuses just on the most common apps and those you use often, so you’re not wading through menus to return to a favorite tool. You can pin apps if you know you’ll need to use, them, and there’s a prominent recent documents section that will switch you back to that all-important report. If you’re not sure which app to use, you can explore recommended apps to get resources, install desktop apps and otherwise determine whether or not it’s the right tool for the job.

Microsoft expects these updates to reach Office 365 users “soon,” so don’t be surprised if they aren’t visible right away. Whenever you get them, it’s clear that Microsoft is increasingly treating Office’s web version as its own sort of operating system, not just as a collection of apps. This won’t necessarily lure you or your company to Google Apps, but it could make the Office experience more cohesive.

 

 

I wonder who these new Ikea wireless charging ads are aimed at

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Ikea a few years ago started selling furniture that contains circuitry that charges devices wirelessly. That’s not something new. But now that the iPhone 8 and iPhone X are going to be the first Apple products to support wireless charging out of the box, Ikea is launching a brand new campaign to promote its products. The new advertising initiative targets Apple fans directly, and it’s hilarious.

“IKEA has been very progressive with wireless charging, and we are thrilled that new iPhone owners finally can make use of one of the most powerful lamps we’ve ever made,” Creative Director at IKEA Creative Hub Morten Kjær told Design Taxi

Ikea is using some of Apple’s signature slogans and adapts it for its needs. That’s how This changes everything becomes This charges everything.

Similarly, Apple’s Think different becomes Ikea’s Link different.

Image Source: Ikea

The iconic One more thing… is also prominently featured in an Ikea ad version. It now says: One more thing… It’s also a lamp.

Image Source: Ikea

Then there’s also your regular Siri jab: Siri, what lamp should I buy reads an ad.

Image Source: Ikea

Apple juice is also one other iPhone-centric commercial from Ikea.

Image Source: Ikea

Expect to see these ads everywhere, now that Ikea is looking to relaunch its wireless charging products.

As for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, they work with regular Qi wireless chargers, including the ones that power Ikea’s own furniture and lamps. Apple doesn’t sell a charger of its own yet, but it will launch AirPower at some point in the future.

This Japanese “All Alone” Tent Lets You Wile Away Hours at The Computer in Solitude

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When you’ve got a lot of work to do on the computer (or you just want to look up awesome makeup, snacks, or shop for fun stuff) you probably want to be left alone, right? Hopefully, you’re not up to anything weird or sinister. It’s good to have some privacy, though, in case you’re binging on some weird show you don’t want anyone to know you like or anything. That’s why Japan’s Bibi Lab has created the bizarre Bocchi Tent, which is a solo tent meant to act as a “room in a room” that you can buy and shut yourself up in as you get on with the day’s activities. Whatever they may be, anyway.

The tent itself is available in Japan for about $94, which is around 10,346 yen if you’re in Japan. The tent can open up and close in just a few seconds, and it’ll pop up in the exact same shape you put it away in. It’s also well-ventilated, with several mesh openings in the walls and the ceiling of the unit. You can close all of the zippered off areas and the makers of the Bocchi tent claim that it will supposedly block out every trace of outside light sources, leaving you completely in the dark. It’s not quite vantablack, where it’ll suck in light and all that weirdness, but it’ll be pretty dark.

The pop-up tent creates a space where you can have a private nap or some time away from the rest of the world. It’d be great for an apartment if you find that space is at a premium, or if you have to work in a confined space often where prying eyes may be spying on what you’re up to. You can actually order one if you think you might have a use for it, and chances are you’ll probably think of one. It’s available right now via Amazon Japan in two sizes, one a little bigger than each other, but both the same price. Just make sure you try not to use it for any weird, nefarious purposes. Stay away from the Bocchi tent, Light Yagami. We’ve warned you.

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Maze-like chip helps spot aggressive cancer cells

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Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing

It’s difficult to spot cancer cells — just one in a billion blood cells are cancerous. How do you isolate them to know the trouble someone is facing and eventually treat it? By drawing the kind of mazes you enjoyed as a kid, apparently. Researchers have developed a microfluidic chip that uses a circular labyrinth to separate cancer cells from the rest of your bloodstream and spot the stem-like cells that will aggressively spread that cancer. Ultimately, it’s a creative use of physics. The curves tend to push larger cancer cells forward (smaller regular cells cling to the walls), while the corners mix things up and put white blood cells in an ideal position.

And importantly, it’s much faster than conventional methods, which use markers and traps to gradually bind cancer cells. Blood flows quickly, so you’re only waiting minutes to pinpoint the cancer. And if you need better results than you got the first time around, you just have to add another chip.

The technique could be the key to a new wave of cancer treatments. If you can single out aggressive cancer cells, you’ll have a better sense of how to treat the cancer in question. In an ongoing breast cancer trial, for example, it’ll show whether or not blocking a immune signalling molecule might reduce the number of stem-like cancer cells. This won’t necessarily lead to cures for stubborn cancers, but it could offer hope in situations where a cancer would otherwise be impossible to stop.

 

 

Leave It To the Dutch to Make Rain Barrels Attractive

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Rainwater harvesting usually conjures images of farms or developing countries. But the process of collecting and storing runoff is becoming a popular practice among home and business owners.

Now, anyone can hoard free water with Raindrop—the IKEA equivalent of a water barrel.

Created by Dutch designer Bas van der Veer in 2009, and produced by local pottery company Elho in 2011, a revamped version was unveiled during this month’s Spoga Gafa garden trade fair in Germany.

Redesigned “from the ground up” with major technical updates, as well as new colors and finishes, the Raindrop goes on sale at garden centers, DIY shops, and online starting early next year.

Choose from different colors and finishes (via Bas van der Veer)

Simply fit the rotund device onto any drainpipe (between 50mm and 80mm thick), then watch as the built-in watering can gather H2O automatically when it rains.

“This way, the user doesn’t have to fill the can with our precious tap water, but uses ‘free’ rainwater instead,” the product page said. “With the small tap at the bottom of the barrel, the watering can be refilled after using it.”

Complementary and relatively clean, rainwater is ideal for washing your car or pet, filling a backyard pool, and hand-watering the lawn.

Tap into your personal rainwater supply (via Bas van der Veer)

Not everyone has the luxury of an expansive garden, though. For those folks with a green thumb and a balcony, Bas van der Veer also offers the Pure Raindrop Mini—a smaller version of the Raindrop.

The same concept applies: rain collects in the can, user waters plants, the planet gets to live another day.

Looking for something more heavy duty? The firm’s Pure Rain barrel boasts a capacity of 125 liters and—get this!—a bird-bath lid. Because what’s better than communing with nature as you fill up a watering can?

The sleek receptacle is specifically designed to coordinate with Elho’s Pure range of handmade gardening products.

Anyone can go green by harvesting rainwater. But, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes: Remember that pollutants may be picked up in the flowing liquid; consider filtering your water before drinking it or using it to irrigate edible plants.

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The 7 best free iPhone games of the week

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Now that iOS 11 has arrived, you’re probably looking for as many reasons as possible to mess with your iPhone, especially if you got an iPhone 8 on Friday. Why not download a bunch of free games that just hit the App Store, some of which take advantage of iOS 11’s ARKit? And if you don’t see anything that tickles your fancy below, feel free to check out the ever-expanding archive of free games.

Flat Pack

Flat Pack. A 2D and 3D platform mix-up!

Features:
• Cool traps and enemies that escape the confines of the level.
• Take to the skies and explore 30+ levels each with there own unique twist.
• Featuring brand new AR Mode! Manoeuvre around levels in a real world environment.
• Wrap your brain around this 2D and 3D hybrid!
• One handed platforming at its best.
• Epic Boss Fights!!!
• Explore and find all of the secret stars to unlock a secret ending!

Download Flat Pack


Golden Arcana: Tactics

Welcome to the world of Arae! A place where fantasy and science coexist in harmony and civilizations bask in a golden age thanks to the power of Cards to solve their issues. But this is not a time of peace, and tactical conflicts between nations are very common.

But a new threat has descended upon Arae. The Voraces race is ravaging all life and it looks like nothing can stop them.

Take the leadership of this adventure and, along with your allies, unleash the power of the Arcana, ages-old Cards with legendary abilities. Will you be able to save the world from the Voraces?

[Features]

—–EPIC ONE PLAYER CAMPAIGN—–
Get new Arcana in order to defeat powerful enemies and save the world of Arae in a gripping story!

—–BE THE ARCANA SUMMONER—–
Unleash the power of the Arcanes to recruit new allies and create the perfect group. Each character has unique skills in all shapes and forms!

—–INNOVATIVE RTS BATTLE SYSTEM—–
Fight real time battles where the action never stops! Use your cards wisely if you want to emerge victorious!

—–FREE GAME—–
Nothing needs to be paid for! Everything can be unlocked by playing the game, such as recruiting new characters or improving their skills!

Golden Arcana combines RPGs and card games in an incredible sci-fi and fantasy adventure to save all of humanity.

Download Golden Arcana: Tactics


Homescapes

Welcome to Homescapes! Help Austin the butler bring warmth and comfort back to his wonderful family’s mansion. Come on in—adventures await you from the moment you walk in the door!

Beat colorful match-3 levels to renovate and decorate rooms in the mansion, unlocking ever more chapters in the exciting family story along the way! What are you waiting for? Make yourself at home!

The game features:

● Unique gameplay: help Austin renovate the house by swapping and matching pieces!
● Interior design: you decide what the house will look like.
● Exciting match-3 levels: tons of fun, featuring unique boosters and explosive combinations!
● A huge, beautiful mansion: discover all the secrets it holds!
● Fantastic characters: watch them live their lives and interact with each other in the in-game social network.
● A cute pet: meet а naughty and fluffy cat.
● Invite your Facebook friends to help you create your own cozy atmosphere in the house!

Download Homescapes


Micropolis!

Micropolis is a city building game with a civilization theme that that spans through thousands of years. Construct and level up buildings to gain gold. Expand your cities and use skills to increase production. Advance in time to unlock new cities and powerful technologies which take you through the ages.

Micropolis has been created as optimal iPhone and Apple Watch experience that can be played with either device.

FEATURES:
* Four different ages and unique cities
* Simple and intuitive game design for quick gameplay sessions
* Powerful technology tree that unfolds by completing different ages
* Skill system which enables faster progression through the eras
* Challenges and rewards

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME:
* Use Digital Crown or swipes to move in the game world
* Construct buildings that generate gold
* Level up houses to gain more population
* Expand your empire to new districts
* Visit Shop for free gifts and use skills for faster progress
* Unlock new Technologies by Advancing into future Eras

Download Micropolis!


Pinball Cadet

The year is 2030 and mankind is being threatened by Invaders from a nearby galaxy. We need an intergalactic Pinball hero to protect us!

Only those with outstanding Pinball skills will be chosen to defend Earth.

Pinball Cadet, we have selected you as our new captain!

But not so fast! Before you are deployed into space to fight off the Invaders, you must first prove yourself in the MMS Pinball Trainship – the ultimate Pinball Warfare Simulator.

Pinball Cadet Features:

– Easy to learn, hard to master gameplay.
– Humanity has never seen a 2D Pinball game with physics this realistic.
– Trap, Cradle, Post Pass, Dead Flipper Pass, Backhand Shots and many more real life Pinball Skills.
– Innovative Mechanics bring Pinball to the Digital Age.
– Huge “Open Board” game. Explore every nook and cranny on board the MMS Pinball Trainship.
– EPIC BOSS FIGHTS!
– COMING SOON: Pilot your ship to the top of the Galactic Leaderboards and get the highest insignias for your merit.

Cadet? Do you have the Pinball skills needed to captain the MMS Pinball Battleship and save humanity?! We are counting on you!

Download Pinball Cadet


Stormbound

Tactical gameplay, card collection, and gorgeous 2D and 3D art combine in Stormbound: Kingdom Wars!

Immerse yourself in the rich world of Stormbound, as four kingdoms struggle for dominance. Construct a deck of unique and powerful cards and then dive into real-time battles against other players.

Novel gameplay combines your favorite aspects of collectible card games with the tactical strategy of board games. Play cards from your hand to the game board and then watch your units march on the enemy base.

FEATURES:
*Tactical gameplay that rewards the most clever strategists
*Real-time PVP battles against players all around the globe
*Dozens of powerful cards to collect and upgrade!
*Incredible 2D and 3D art immerses you in the world of Stormbound
*Four distinct kingdoms with unique advantages and playstyles

Download Stormbound


Terra Battle 2

Terra Battle 2 brings a completely different game-play experience, while preserving the highly-praised core battle mechanics in a fantastic epic RPG.

The new world map lets players travel alongside their companions and allows for more strategic gameplay as you set up your formation before entering a battle. The countless encounters and farewells throughout the course of your heroes’ journey promise to be even more emotional and intense than ever before.

How will the people who live on “Terra” unravel the truths and mysteries of their planet? An epic fantasy RPG awaits you.

Download Terra Battle 2

After Math: Like looking into the future

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AOL

It was an exciting week for futuristic technologies. Knightscope debuted its newest roboguard, Nest showed off a face-recognizing outdoor camera, and Google came up with a way to close your garage from anywhere in the neighborhood. Numbers, because how else will you know how long to wait for the future to arrive?

Gallery: After Math September 24th, 2017 | 7 Photos

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Happy Birthday, Barbara Gordon!

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via thisafterpartyisawingding.tumblr.com

This weekend is the birthday of a Batman Family favorite, Barbara Gordon! With her movie debut coming ever closer, I’d like to talk about her history, identifies, and future.

Some fans might not realize that Barbara Gordon was actually created for TV similar to Harley Quinn in Batman: The Animated Series. She was created by William Dozier, Julie Schwartz, and Carmine Infantino for the live action Batman series with Adam West at the request of producers and played by actress Yvonne Craig. She premiered in Detective Comics #359 in 1967 by Gardner Fox and Batgirl co-creator Carmine Infantino.

Daughter of Commissioner Gordon, Barbara had unique insight and access to help fight crime and assist Batman. Similar to Supergirl (whose birthday was yesterday), Batgirl was bounced around different books over the years and never quite launched into her own title. Also similar to Supergirl, by the 80’s DC Comics decided the only thing they could do with Barbara is have her be attacked, though this time not lethally.

In the infamous story The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, Barbara is shot by The Joker and left paralyzed. Rather than just writing off the character, John Ostrander, Kim Yale, and Luke McDonnell reintroduced Barbara in 1989 as Oracle in Suicide Squad #23. Now in a wheelchair, Barbara’s role shifted to being a watcher and master strategist as one of the most important supporting characters in DC Comics.

In 2011, the New 52 reintroduced Barbara as Batgirl having her recover from her wounds in The Killing Joke which is how she remains today. Though many fans are thrilled to have the old Barbara back, many others were sad to see Oracle go and lose such an important disabled icon in comics. Both are perfectly understandable positions to hold.

So celebrate Barbara Gordon today! Watch some Batman 66, pick up some great comics by people like John Ostrander and Gail Simone, or the current Batgirl Rebirth trade!

The EK7000 is a 4K action cam as good as a $400 GoPro Hero5, but it only costs $73

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If you’ve been toying with the idea of picking up a GoPro Hero5 Black but the sky-high price tag is causing you to balk, you’re about to be very happy that you didn’t pull the trigger. Check out the AKASO EK7000 4K WIFI Sports Action Camera instead, a killer camera that films in 4K and does pretty much anything a GoPro can do. It has a 4.3-star rating from more than 5,500 customer reviews so you know you’re getting a great product, and costs a small fraction of what you’d spend on a Hero5.

Here are the highlights from the product page:

* 4K Ultra HD Action Camera. Professional 4K 25fps & 2.7K 30fps video with 12MP photos at up to 30 frames per second for incredible photos, which is 4 times the resolution of traditional HD cameras.
* Wireless Wrist Remote Control Sports Camera. With a wrist 2.4G remote, you can capture the world in an all-new way. Controlling the camera, framing shots or recording video is convenient.
* Longer Battery Life. AKASO EK7000 action camera comes with 2 rechargeable 1050mAh batteries. Each battery can record up to 90 minutes. No more worry about the recording time for this action camera.
* Built-In WIFI & HDMI, edit & share your action in minutes. Just download App(iSmart DV) on your phone or tablet and connect with this action camera. Wi-Fi signal ranges up to 10 meters.
* 100 feet waterproof camera. AKASO EK7000 is designed to withstand extreme environments, together with durable waterproof case. With the accessories, transform it for indoor and outdoor activities.

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Walmart Wants to Deliver Groceries Right to Your Fridge, Even if You Aren’t Home

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via walmart

This Walmart delivery guy sure looks happy. You know why he looks so happy? Because he’s on his way to a customer’s house with a load of groceries, and he’s going to have the whole place to himself.

The next big thing in grocery shopping is store-to-fridge delivery, even when you’re not home. It’s Walmart’s latest attempt to lure American consumers away from Amazon, and it just might be crazy enough to work. As long as you’re willing to get past the whole “there’s a complete stranger in my house” thing.

Walmart does make it all sound incredibly convenient, though. You’ve got a lot going on, what with your job, your family, your cat, and all the hilarious and super-important Imgur uploads you need to check out before the end of the day.

You don’t have time to shamble from aisle to aisle at a store to re-stock your shelves. You don’t even have time to park, run in, and grab your pre-packed order. Well, maybe you do have the time to do that… but who wants to deal with the hassle of navigating a busy Walmart parking lot after a long day just to grab a few provisions?

Not you, not when someone will gladly take them to your house and pop them right into the fridge so they don’t spoil. Just think about it… Instead of dreading an after-work shopping trip you could simply shop for your groceries furtively during that boring departmental meeting and arrive home later to a bevy of dining options.

It really does sound pretty awesome, and it’s not like Deliv doesn’t do background checks on the people they hire. Plus it’s super easy to set up a houseful of connected cameras these days if you want to monitor the process from entry to exit.

The Ben Heck Show: Motor control

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Stepping onto the other side of the camera, Max decides he wants to learn more about motors, from motor control to motor drivers. Luckily, Felix is on hand to play teacher as he takes Max on a comprehensive tour. Will the combination of DC motors, transistors, electromagnets and Arduino coding prove too much for Mr. Olmstead to master? Or can Felix push his new student to create a successful working concept? Connect with the team over on the element14 Community.