How do I drive? – I dunno, Google it!

You know that it is nearing submission time when I suddenly post boatloads, in the same way that you know something special has hit the stream of consciousness when many publications suddenly all talk about the one thing.

Two pieces of news that had flooded my RSS feeds more frequently than any other in the last two days are: Watch_Dog reviews, and this new driverless Google car that has been put properly on the table as a working prototype. Since all I seem to talk about are video games, let’s go with the latter.

So, what is it? And what does it look like?

You look like a dweeb, but you will look like one while doing nothing at all. Image courtesy of The Guardian and Google.

This piece of engineering and computing genius has enough space for two people, and reaches a top speed of 25mph, or ~40km/hr.

Basically, it’s aimed towards people who didn’t want to get anywhere in the first place.

Alright, enough skepticism. The fact is, this car really drives itself. How does it do that?

Driverless car

The Google car contains “no steering wheel, no pedals and no brakes”, and relies on a sensor mounted on top (yeah, that thing that looks like a blender) to “see” where it’s going.

It also has newer and better sensors that give it the ability to see what’s going on up to a distance of two football fields. For example, on the most current version of the retrofitted self-driving Lexus, a mounted laser has about a 12-degree field of view that it uses to essentially zoom in on details of points of interest. On the prototype car, the lasers have full 360-degree views. “It’s going from looking just in front, like a flashlight, to a lantern all around the car,” said self-driving car project director Chris Urmson.

Re/code

Of course, that explains why its top speed is so slow. Having said that, 25mph is the average safe speed for driving in most American cities, and while it’s unfeasible here on bigger and busier Australian roads, 40 km/h is probably a good speed to drive around in the suburbs. The car is also made with lots of foam and safety materials to ensure that a crash, should it ever occur, would hurt a lot less.

What’s it like in there?

I think this video sums it up perfectly.

The testers all seem very happy with their experience, although it must be noted most of them seem to treat it as a rollercoaster ride. I wonder what would happen if in real practise, the driver suddenly decides to stop at a Maccas drive-thru? Or they get a message to go pick someone else up suddenly? I suppose on-board GPS would be so good by this time that they just need to speak “let’s go to McDonalds” and the car will pick the nearest one and drive to it, but I still feel like it takes away from the spontaneity of manually driving around.

Safety

The most important issue is obviously safety. The fact that there is close to no way for a human to interrupt the machine and take over, save for an emergency stop button, can be a problem.

The controls are needed to comply with the law in California which along with Nevada and Florida allows autonomous vehicles but only if a driver can take charge.

The Guardian

And with technology such as these making their way into the mainstream use, sooner or later laws will have to reflect the changes. Perhaps jumpy technophobes will push for laws to stop complete automation. I think, maybe, the problem lies in the way we think about safety, being that we always regard it as something that we need to prevent from not happening instead of something that we act to let happen. But, that’s an issue for another debate.

The main thing is, as the project director pointed out, having a human suddenly wrench themselves into control can be even more dangerous: have you ever had someone grab your steering wheel suddenly while driving? Doesn’t end well, does it?

The cool factor

I don’t think that having a little golf cart cupcake car is going to make you look cool, but if this is the direction that vehicular travel will head, then obviously a prototype from one manufacturer won’t dictate the eventual norm. Still, imagine trying to do burn-outs in one of those babies!

The really cool part is you really can drive and not-drive, text and not-drive, etc etc. That can change the landscape of traffic laws almost entirely, since things like rear-ending and side-swiping would end up being the issue with manufacturers, not the individual driver.

“Hey, this guy was on his phone when he crashed into me!”

“Well, what do you want me to do? I did call 911 as we were crashing to get a head-start!”

Alex

Advertisements

Your Touch Is What I’m Missing

[Comatose – Skillet]

I will have to make the quota somehow, so I guess this is more a boring post than anything.

Anyway, I notice that on TV shows, when someone is doing something sneaky on their computer and they hear someone walking in, they suddenly change the screen to the desktop, and then says waits for them to walk in and say hi like nothing’s going on. The person who walks in then doesn’t suspect a single thing, and the perpetrator gets away with it clean.

I’m not going to call myself a buff in film techniques or direction or whatever, but if the director/writer wants to show someone snooping and getting away with it, maybe a blank desktop and a more nonchalant composure is more believable. I mean, if you walked into a room to have someone sitting in front of a clearly computer switched to the desktop, and them nervously greeting you as you entered, you’d think something suss is going on too.

You know what’s not suss? If you had Google open – and not the blank homepage, but maybe with the search result of a movie or something – and when they entered, you’re just casually clicking on a link, and you wait for them to start conversation, then it’s more natural.

And I’m saying this not only for TV shows, but for real life too. If you don’t want people to get all suspicious at you, don’t draw attention towards what you’re doing on the computer.

So today I got all my Semester 2 results back, and in short I averaged at 69 for the whole year, which isn’t great but isn’t too shabby, and it’s only a point below what I was aiming for. I checked all my subjects that I chose for next year, and I have not a single exam, so I think I’ll be good – I got low marks for my subjects with exams, and so I think I’ve found my problem.

Alex.

A Footnote In Someone Else’s Happiness

[Does Your Husband Know – Fall Out Boy]

Happy Chinese New Year, and happy Valentines for 2010!

This is YEEEEEEEEEEAR…of the TIIIIGER! (Sing that to Eye Of The Tiger).

I didn’t write about Thursday, so this will be fast, since it’s quite late.

On Thursday I went to Monash Uni to play badminton with Jenny, Lois and He-. It was a very hot day, and so I sweated a LOT. But it was a good feeling to finally do something active again – even though I knew at the time, and surely enough it did happen, my body would pay for it afterwards.

After badminton (in which He- soundly beat me) we went to Maccas (yes the irony isn’t lost on me) for lunch. Just managed to catch the 12 – 2 lunch specials, so got a six-dollar Quarter Pounder meal.

Said bye to Lois and He- after lunch, and went with Jenny to Cold Rock. It started raining by then (just started. Little did we know how bad it would get) so we went into the Glen and hid out in the food court. I left with Mom came to pick me up, and when we were about 2 minutes away from the front door it really broke loose. The 10 second dash from car to door actually soaked me.

And my area had it easy. South Melbourne and Flinders, as reported on the news, were at times knee deep in water.

Jenny told me afterwards that after I left the power went out at the Glen and she was left stranded there in the dark.

I laughed.

Friday was uneventful; took Mom to the doctors for her routine checkup, and bought pizza home because Dad wasn’t going to be home for dinner and obviously she doesn’t trust my cooking.

Today I woke up after having slept 10 hours without realizing it again – seriously, I thought I’d broken the habit! – and went out to finally buy the coleslaw I’ve been craving the entire day prior. I ate coleslaw while watching the Vancouver opening ceremony, but went downstairs to watch Conan movies halfway through.

Got my computer back – as you can see – and now I’m running on Windows 7. The interface is still something I should get used to.

That’s a quick catch up for now. Originally was going to go to St Kilda fest and/or movies with Jenny tomorrow/today (technically today, by now) but she has to stay home to take care of her brother. So postponage!

Alex.

It Makes Me Burn To Learn

[If I Never See Your Face Again – Maroon 5]

At the moment I’m working out of this ASUS Gateway thing which gives me access to internet however limiting me to no access to my Hard Drive.

So I’m using this thing called “Splashtop Browser” which looks like IE and works like IE…slowly.

Still better than nothing.

I’ll keep you guys posted on how my computer fares from now on.

It seems I have managed (with about 99.99999% help from Mani and Tarquin) to kill the virus, however when I am working in normal mode my computer screen still restarts me back to the blue screen of death, and when I work in safe mode with networking I can’t get an internet connecting (clearly I have one…).

So I am waiting on my family IT friend who is in Sydney right now to come back.

Tomorrow is the AAD for Melb Uni and also I got a spot to be an audience member of Talkin’ About Your Generation! Very excited.

Alex.

Can’t Return To Who I Was Before

[Breathe – Anberlin]

I’m writing this from my iTouch because this stupid virus called IS2010 managed to completely fuck up my computer. I can’t even log on anymore.

If you want to comment with a suggestion that would be really appreciated but overall I’ve had heaps of help from Mani and Whitty and we’re calling a family friend over on Friday.

Friday!! I’m barely managing.

Haha well, while true I’m also grateful that I have another computer on which I can watch the movies on my portable HD. I’m grateful that my iTouch and phone both have Internet connections to keep me sane. Now fingers crossed that I don’t lose all my pictures, music and files again.

Speaking of crossed fingers, uni offers came out yesterday! Ling story short, I got my media and communication at Melbourne uni after all. Quite relieved! Now waiting to get my computer back (computer with Internet) so I can do all my online enrolling stuff, or else expect me knocking on a few friends’ doors for their computer.

So now I’m watching a whole bunch of tv. Did you know that Full House (not the Korean one) is on either GO! or channel Seven Two at six thirty? It’s such a cute cliche show.

So to the people on my Tumblr; sorry I will be MIA for a while. Thank God Tumblarity is gone!

Take care, and I hope everyone is happy with their offers.

Alex

A Wee Bit Of Help

I got a new computer today, hurrah!

That of course meant I had to re-install all the programs, not a problem really I didn’t have too many tricky ones, but then came this:

I installed Windows Live Messenger, no worries.

I tried to install Messenger Plus! Live…

Nothing.

I got Nug to send over the .exe file…

Nothing.

AVG Antivirus is so nicely not letting me install Plus!.

So, if anyone out there reading this knows how to help me, please by all means comment!

Thanks.

Alex.

P.S. I don’t know what other information to include so basically ask away.

Gone

So, I got my computer back on Sunday.

Remember how I’d said I may have lost some files, but hopefully they’ve been backed up?

Apparently not. I’ve lost every single one of my files, yet my parents have kept all of their’s. The injustice is that they barely look at their’s, and my files…my files made up a large part of who I am, and what I’ve done to reach this.

I’ve lost all the stories and work I’ve done over the years. (Including Guardian Angel, which I wonder who still has copies of) I’ve lost all my drawings and photos, including a huge Smallville picture database (which means I have to go stalk Tom Welling and Kristen Kreuk on Google Images again), everything that I’ve collected from Carmaine as well as most of the really hard to retrieve pictures from 2006 and 2007.

But.

Most of all.

I’ve lost all my music.

Actually, my music is probably the one thing that I can get back most easily. But that’s not actually my point.

Well, so I suppose the next few  months would consist of me slowly building up my files again. We should be getting a new computer, a new…BETTER computer so I can start again there. I’ll try to find everything again, maybe I still have some of my best short stories on my USB. I’ll stretch my resources thin tryng to get back photos. I’ll have to start recollecting all of my lyrics as well as my guitar tabs and so forth (God that’ll be painful. But at least it means I get an opportunity to start a proper categorized folder for it).

I suppose I can catch everyone up on how my progress in recollecting my past 6 years is. And it’s a good thing I’d posted those 2 chapters up (I hadn’t really written any more than that).

So, whinge over, time to get on with it.

Other than that, things are going well in life. Well, as in, I suppose there are things I want to say, problems I want to have solved, but my saying them wouldn’t necessarily solve the problems, and solving the problems won’t necessarily stop my urge from saying those things, still. I am happy, mostly, so that’s what’s important.

Alex.