Tech Tuesday 4/9/18 – Oscar is On Travel Edition

Live from Phoenix, AZ!

Tech Tuesday 4/9/18 - Oscar is On Travel Edition

I’m in Phoenix this week looking for a place to live for a year (my wife has been tasked to relocate and rebuild her org), so my time got squeezed this week.  Not enough links to bother with headings, so I’ll let the comments give you a heads up.

01Beer, Wine, and Brain Pearls.  The possible link between Alzheimer’s and a primitive part of our immune system

02Using antibodies to remove the brain pearls.

03 – Marine Biologist gets a nudge (and then some) from a whale she was swimming with, only to later realize there was a tiger shark swimming nearby.  Was it protective altruism, or just whale play and coincidence?

04 – Rattlesnakes, the next big name in antibiotics.

05Treating chronic pain with RNA, instead of opiates.  Who gets to ruin this first, the drug lords, Big Pharma, or the DEA?

06 – Vacuum grip with muscle.  It’s kinda like those suction hooks for the shower, where you move a cam to pull the cup in tight and form the seal.

07 – Arizona banned the Uber.  In addition to the visual camera system having low resolution (I kinda assumed the bad resolution was a by product of putting the video online, but perhaps it was a low res source), Uber may have also been skimping on LIDARs.  If they were using low res cameras and a reduced LIDAR package for cost savings, then Uber deserves to take it on the chin for this, and hard.  And I say that still fully of the opinion that the pedestrian contributed considerably to her own demise.  But I just have no patience for companies who cheap out on prototype systems that are still being debugged.

08 – The intersection of bees, slime, and engineering systems.

09 – We joke about how people really shouldn’t be reinventing the wheel, and then somebody goes out and does just that.

10 – When labor gets pricey

11 – When cars can park themselves, parking becomes a packing optimization problem.


Photo by Ken Lund Tech Tuesday 4/9/18 - Oscar is On Travel Edition


A Navy Turbine Tech who learned to spin wrenches on old cars, Oscar has since been trained as an Engineer & Software Developer & now writes tools for other engineers. When not in his shop or at work, he can be found spending time with his family, gardening, hiking, kayaking, gaming, or whatever strikes his fancy & fits in the budget. ...more →

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29 thoughts on “Tech Tuesday 4/9/18 – Oscar is On Travel Edition

  1. 10 – I think we’ve talked about this general topic (not this specific story) before. That is, attempts to automate the harvesting of crops picked by hand has long been a holy grail of the agricultural sector. (I first learned about it in a college course on wine)

    And you know, good. Arduous seasonal agricultural labor is, and has always been, literally the worst job in human exisitence. I mean, there’s a reason why a much of this labor force for centuries were people forced to do this work at sword point.


  2. Moving to Phoenix: I am so sorry. In fairness, I haven’t been there in twenty years. Perhaps it has gotten better. But I’m guessing not. My take was that it combined the worst aspects of desert climate with SoCal-style freeway-centered sprawl, while managing to largely dodge the good aspects. There are parts of Arizona I would live in willingly, and in a couple of cases even eagerly. Phoenix ain’t one of them.


      • I lived a couple of years in Flagstaff in the early 1990s. I absolutely loved it. I haven’t been back in twenty years, so I can’t speak to what it is like now. If you are a hiker, northern Arizona has endless possibilities. In addition to the obvious places to visit (e.g. Grand Canyon, Sedona, etc.) there are several Indian cliff dwellings. If you are interested in that sort of stuff, the Heard Museum in Phoenix is excellent, and the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff is surprisingly good: not a special trip by itself, but a worthy part of a visit to town. Combine it with a trip to the Lowell Observatory. Be sure to ask the docent about Martian canals. They love it when people do that.


  3. I have several relatives in Phoenix, most of them in Chandler which is a decent area – good luck with the move.

    01 – Proof beer and wine are good for you (general collective you since this could benefit all of us)

    09 – This is a great idea. Awhile ago I struggled thru hauling around a knee scooter after breaking my foot. Something with larger wheels would have been much better and easier to use, but wouldn’t have folded to fit in the car (not the trunk, but the inside of the car where I could get to it from the driver’s seat), so this invention would improve that sort of mobility issue as well.


  4. 09 — I noticed in that wash of promo material, there was only one place in the video, quick and partly obscured, where they show the wheel folding up. Otherwise it’s all still shots.

    My suspicions are aroused.

    (It is just me, or does that website look like a pure marketing site disguised as a tech news site?)


    • Yup: I assume the actual execution is a huge pain in the ass. If it weren’t, they would be bragging about that. I generally look at these press releases pretending to be tech journalism and look for the bits they aren’t talking about.

      Also, a wheel with six weak points? I have this vision of the wheel hitting a small rock at just the wrong spot and the entire thing collapsing. The contraption seems clever, but I suspect that in the real world it will be a specialty item for limited conditions where the compromises are worthwhile.


      • It all depends on the design and construction. The spokes in your bike wheel of today are all horrible weak points and hitting a rock or curb just wrong can bend your wheel quite permanently (goddess knows I’ve had to toss enough rims in my life because they were bent too far out of true thanks to bent or busted spokes).

        A good interlocking mechanism can be plenty strong enough. Whether or not this guy has better engineering skills than marketing skills is yet to be seen, since I can’t buy one of these to test it out.


    • New Atlas does do tech news, but they also have marketing posts, although it’s pretty obvious when it’s a paid post. They also tend to mine KickStarter and Indiegogo for things to write about. I don’t tend to link to those since such projects are often cool on paper but fail on execution.

      In this instance I made an exception because while I’ve yet to see the execution (i.e. I can’t buy one yet, so clearly there are issues still to be worked out), I found the idea interesting enough that even if this guy fails, I kinda hope someone else picks up the balls and runs with it.


    • I recall a marketing video for a new kind of bike hub motor where all the footage had people riding from right to left of the frame, so the drive side of the bike was obscured.

      There was one shot where they ride the other way – the bike all of a sudden had the drive train on the left, and all the cars were parked on the opposite side of the road from the rest of the footage!


  5. 07 : That doesn’t surprise me at all that they skimped. That seems to fit pretty well into Uber’s standard business model.

    It doesn’t fit well into developing technology. Everyone sane over-designs the sensors and AI, and then once they have a working solution they start looking for cost savings and reducing the over-engineered solution to a deployable one. “Is it as good with 4 LIDAR sensors as 6? What about 3?”

    I’m honestly still surprised they have driving prototypes. last I checked, they’d lost the court case for stealing a crap-ton of Google’s self-driving IP.


    • This is what happens when you start to operate outside your bailiwick. Uber is a software and services company. They might have the expertise to handle a the software of a self driving car, but the likelihood that they have the experience to handle the hardware side of said car is a lot more iffy (and I’m not convinced they got the talent to do the AI right).


  6. Will you change your residence and voting?

    I have a friend in Texas who is in the final stages of negotiating compensation for a job that will have her relocating to the Phoenix area. She points out that while both states are red, Arizona is a ballot initiative state and the voters have passed a number of more progressive things over the last several years that would have been DOA in the state legislature: medical marijuana, independent redistricting, higher minimum wage, guaranteed sick time.


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