Man, depositions can be rough on some people. I personally know of situations in which various parties have thrown their laptops down in a temper tantrum, expert witnesses breaking down in tears or faking illness to take more time to prepare, or the time when an infamous developer parked his Ferrari right outside the room where his deposition was being held where he would try to claim he was broke, and have even seen video of a deposition in Texas where a fist fight broke out (Google it – you won’t be sorry…). (more…)

As the construction industry becomes more reliant upon technology, we must follow the proven examples of other industries and adopt standards for exchanging information.

It started with CAD. All of a sudden there was a way to create drawings electronically that could improve the precision of the design process and reduce the repetitive labor associated with manual drawing/drafting. As software developers saw the opportunity for creating CAD programs for the AEC industry, a bunch of different options sprouted up, each with its own unique file format. Quickly it became apparent that it was in the industry’s best interest to standardize those file formats to make it easier for design teams comprised of multiple distinct entities to collaborate.  (more…)

Perhaps because of the requisite remote control making it look and feel like a toy, for some reason people seem to think that drones are just toys. Not that they can’t be a ton of fun — it is just that they can really screw up the already complicated and difficult to understand airspace above our heads.

Consider then the following points:

  1. The FAA has incredibly detailed and complex regulations governing every aspect of flight, right down to the toilets in the lavatory and the screws securing the overhead bins
  2. The FAA has been very vocal about its intent to regulate both recreational and commercial drone operations
  3. You don’t mess with the FAA

I learned this last point firsthand during the ground school portion of my flight training prior to earning my private pilot license. And now it seems that a prominent commercial drone photography operator is learning that lesson as well, according to Digital Trends:

A Chicago-based company that specializes in aerial photography using drones has agreed to pay a $200,000 penalty to settle a case brought by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which had accused it of violating aviation regulations. The figure was a significant reduction on the colossal $1.9 million the FAA had originally proposed.

The company, SkyPan, will also have to hand over an additional $150,000 if it breaks FAA rules in the next year, and another $150,000 if it fails to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement.

The flights at the center of the dispute took place over Chicago and New York City between 2012 and 2014.

My son was just a few weeks old when I got my Blackberry. He turns 15 in two weeks. Risking repetitive stress injury to my thumb, that device allowed me to keep a $500-million R&D campus construction project moving forward, while still being able to go to doctor appointments and spend time with my young family.

It was when I successfully declined a meeting invitation and then rescheduled that meeting for a later time—from the comfort of a blanket on the beach—that I finally realized what a profound impact the Blackberry’s functionality would have on people’s lives. It took Apple showing the world what was truly possible with mobile technology, and Blackberry’s repeated missed opportunities have now led to its downfall, according to CNET:

BlackBerry’s decision closes a significant chapter in one of the most storied franchises in the phone industry, and it puts an even higher premium on the company’s shift of focus to software and services. BlackBerry was among the high flyers in the early days of mobile phones. Legions of “CrackBerry” addicts in the white-collar workforce tapped away at its trademark physical keys in the early 2000s.

Like many other companies, BlackBerry failed to anticipate the rise of Apple’s iPhone and of phones running Google’s Android software, which knocked BlackBerry back on its heels for years. Consumers have paid little attention to its phones despite the company’s attempts to modernize the BlackBerry software and, in a last-ditch effort last year, to embrace Android.

It’s been an unstoppable descent. In 2009, BlackBerry controlled one-fifth of the phone market, just behind Nokia. Today, it holds a tiny fraction of 1 percent, according to Gartner.

Never judge a book by its cover, we are told from a very young age. (Marketers know better—consumers always judge a book, or anything else for that matter, by its cover.)

MIT’s Media Lab, in conjunction with the Georgia Institute of Technology, has developed a technology that will decipher text printed on the pages of a closed book. PBS has more:

This scanner exposes the contents of the concealed pages by relying on terahertz radiation. Terahertz waves mimic X-rays and soundwaves by being able to penetrate surfaces. Moveover, different chemicals — ink on paper for example — absorb terahertz radiation in different amounts. By beaming terahertz waves at a book, the MIT Media Lab device can skip through pages, but also tell the difference between blank and ink-filled parchment.

The gadget shoots these waves in short bursts, a portion of which bounce back whenever they encounter the small slivers of air between the pages. Meanwhile, computer scientists at Georgia Tech developed a sophisticated algorithm that deciphers these reflections when they return to the scanner.

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First Samsung was forced to issue a recall for all Galaxy Note 7 phones due to faulty batteries. Then the government issued warnings to the public telling anyone who would listen that they should not even turn their Galaxy Note 7 devices due to the life-safety risks posed.

But apparently the recall hasn’t gone far enough, as one unlucky construction worker from California discovered, according to Ars Technica:

On May 30, construction worker Daniel Ramirez was working at a site in Akron, Ohio, when he heard a strange noise coming from his pocket, which contained the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge he’d bought just two months earlier. “It was like a high-pitched whistling noise,” Ramirez’s attorney, Mike Morgan, said in an interview with Ars. “After that there was an explosion, like a loud bang.”

Ramirez tried to get the phone out of his pocket, but succeeded only in burning his fingertips. “It melted his clothes to his body, so he had to strip down,” Morgan said. “By that time, the damage had been done.”

Now, Ramirez has sued (PDF) Samsung in New Jersey, where the company’s North American branch is headquartered. The complaint, filed on September 8, includes photos of Ramirez’s husk of a phone, his charred pants, and gruesome pictures of the skin grafts and scars on his leg.

Me? I’ll stick with my iPhone.

New rules proposed by the California Energy Commission would require that both desktop and laptop computers use less energy than is required for current typical models, beginning as early as 2019.

According to Reuters, the biggest impact will be on desktops and in order to meet the new energy requirements, it will add an estimated $14 to the retail cost of desktops. However, this would translate to around $40 of energy savings over a 5-year usage period.

According to the NRDC, the total amount of power consumed by computers and monitors would be reduced by about a third once there is a complete turnover in existing stocks of devices.

The first phase of the rules would take effect in January 2019 for desktop and notebook computers. The standards would kick in for workstations and small-scale servers in January 2018 and for computer monitors – covering screens 17 inches and larger – in July 2019.

The standards for desktops, which use far more energy than notebooks, will add about $14 to the retail cost of computers but save consumers more than $40 in electric bills over five years, according to commission estimates.

Who will this really impact? Gamers and anyone doing anything with 3D and virtual reality (VR). In order to drive overclocked CPUs and super-powerful graphics cards, souped-up workstations use a ton of energy, produce a lot of heat that increases cooling requirements, which in turn uses more energy.

Moore’s Law could very well become intertwined with California state law.

It takes 13,760 individual nickel-cadmium cells, each about the size of a desktop PC and weighing about as much as a full-grown adult, to create the world’s largest battery. Vice’s Motherboard column has more:

On August 27, 2003, the Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA), the cooperative that provides power to the Fairbanks area, powered up BESS, aka the Battery Energy Storage System. Larger than a football field and weighing 1,500 tons, BESS exists to ensure continuity of electric service. If the supply of electricity coming in from relatively distant coal plants to the south is interrupted, BESS kicks in until local power plants can be put online.

BESS can hold things down powerwise for all of seven minutes. It functions as what’s known as a spinning reserve. It’s a bridge between primary and backup power and is generally taken to mean some amount of excess generating capacity that is at any given time pre-synchronized to the grid. If power goes down, switching the spinning reserve on should be seamless.

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