Hello French Fries!
I want to start off by thanking everyone of you. I have received enough views in the one week I’ve been running this blog to start getting requests from advertising agencies to place ads on my blog. Since this is my first site that I’ve built for myself that includes a conscious effort to maintain better SEO practices, I am testing out their service to experiment in how it interacts with my published content and how it affects my site’s speed for the sake of curiosity. As a result, I have redesigned my thematic template in order to keep whatever ads they decide to place in a minimally invasive location and environment.
Now for my rant of the day: Many of the technological innovations that we take for granted in our daily lives were once cutting edge stuff that was invented for the military. While the first mechanical computer was invented by Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace in 1822 (yes, the founder of a disproportionately male dominated industry was a woman), the first digital and programmable computer was invented by Alan Turing for the Allied codebreaking efforts during the Second World War. Similarly, the precursor technology that has evolved into both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi today was invented by golden-age Hollywood film star Hedy Lamarr (known for her roles in Algiers, Comrade X, and Samson & Delilah amongst others). Her patent for frequency-hopping spread spectrum utilizing a piano-roll was geared towards preventing jamming and detection of radio-guided torpedo’s and submarines, but would later be repurposed in the private sector as the foundational basis of Bluetooth. Even something as ubiquitous today as GPS got it’s start in the military. However, the military-turned-civilian technology I want to focus on in this blog post is drones.
Drones, or in more proper terms, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), make perfect sense in a military application. If you can fly something over an enemy position and gain intelligence or lob a bomb to eliminate hostiles without risking life and limb of any of your personnel, you would be foolish not to resort to such a weapon. UAVs have been around a lot longer than you may think. In 1848, Venetian separatists revolted against the Austrian-Hungarian empire in order to reconstitute the defunct Republic of Venice. During the resulting siege to regain Venice in the following year, Austria-Hungary became the first military to use rudimentary UAVs. During World War 1, Orville Wright and Charles Kettering adapted the Wright’s Brother’s earlier work into what would be called the Kettering Flying Torpedo. During World War 2, Nazi Germany developed the V1 Rocket to attack Great Britain from mainland Europe. Modern military UAVs as we imagine them today, with the technologically advanced sensors and remote controls, were borne out of the Israeli Air Force’s doctrine of air superiority. The Predator drone, which is the most recognizable and revolutionary military drone of the past 2 decades, was invented by Abraham Kerem subsequent to the Yom Kippur War. Frustrated with Israeli bureaucracy, he found a willing partner in the US Military where the Modern UAV industry exploded.
The US Military shared UAV technology with the CIA, who in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, began a highly controversial assassination campaign utilizing UAVs. This campaign has opened a ton of ethical and moral questions that have tarnished the reputation of UAV technology. While UAV technology has progressed a long way, it still lacks a human component who is able to make a morally based judgment call and feel the results of his or her decision. The CIA’s UAV program has been notorious for a high casualty rate amongst innocent passerby’s. There are also legal concerns with whether justice is really carried out with the CIA’s targeted killing doctrine. Personally, I believe that regardless of the presumed crimes, if possible, any accused individual should be given their day in court in order for true justice to be served.
Regardless of the controversy surrounding the military aspect of UAV’s, they have now crept into the civilian sector. Hobbyists have been enthused and entertained by drones (particularly the quadcopter) for over a decade, and with good reason. It’s a thrill to be able to fly a camera mounted drone and see the landscape in a unique perspective from above, and there are many applications for personal use drones. I myself have a small drone I bought at Ross for about $20 that I fly around the house for my cat to chase. Trust me, drones are fun to use as a personal toy. However, they are also starting to demonstrate a broad commercial application and usage.
In the world of tomorrow that today is quickly becoming, Amazon’s Prime Air service is delivering your package via drone, Dominoes is replacing pizza delivery boys with drones, and fire fighters are being complimented with drone technology. In this futuristic present, natural disasters are being mitigated and managed with drone technologies. When Hurricanes Harvey and Irma slammed Texas and Florida earlier this year, search and rescue crews used drones to identify needs and plan routes, news agencies used drones to get aerial footage when it was too dangerous for helicopters to take flight, the national guard used drones to survey destruction, Jacksonville’s Electrical Authority used drones to safely restore power, and insurance adjusters used drones to quickly assess multiple damaged properties where in-person adjustments would have been a lengthier affair. As drone technology becomes more affordable, the number of applications and users of drones will multiply.
The increased quantity of drones in the sky at any one time does come with some headaches. The risk of accidents increases, and a competition for space has developed with traditional aircraft. With a larger and often less skilled user population of drones, risks of collisions with airliners, which is a new phenomenon, has become a problem. The FAA is pushing for regulation on drones in aerospace. Furthermore, the increase usage of drones has stoked privacy concerns. Some jurisdictions have tried eliminating unwanted drone usage through legislative actions, some more extreme than others, while alternative approaches have tried to protect property of the drone owners. Clearly, as with many new technological advances, the law has yet to catch up and modernize with technical innovations. This is where forward-looking policy planning becomes important.
Naturally, the FAA has been taking the lead on drafting policy to regulate drone usage. Nobody wants to see an incident where a recreational drone causes damage to manned aircraft midair. Similarly, nobody likes the confrontations that arise from misunderstanding around property and privacy. Furthermore, drones do make a relatively annoying humming noise. There are some areas where the noise pollution would be unwelcome. I live in Colorado, and like many of my fellow Denverites, I enjoy hiking in the mountains to disconnect from technology and relax amongst nature. I can’t begin to explain how obnoxious it is to have that peaceful tranquility disturbed by the hum of a drone. It’s happened to me at least 6 times. Eventually, a system of regulated air paths will probably have to emerge. This is a necessity to both keep the peace and to prevent foreseeable accidents or conflicts from occurring, and I am a big proponent of regulating their usage and encouraging responsible drone piloting. However, seeing as it is the holiday season, I would highly encourage you to get your technologically inclined loved one or friend a drone for Christmas.
Now for my tech tip of the day: It surprises me how many people do not know that their mouse is not made exclusively for right handed people. I have a father and a fiancée who are both left handed, and they had both trained their hands to operate mice in an unnatural way for lefties. So, if you are a lefty, and would like to switch up the right and left click options so your mouse can be properly operated in a natural manner, follow the following instructions appropriate to your OS:
Windows 10: open the start menu and type ‘Settings’, Open the Settings app, and then select the option for ‘Devices’. On the left side menu of the Devices window, select ‘Mouse’. The top setting option will be for the primary button. The primary button should be opposite of your dominate hand, so it will default to ‘Left’ since most users are righty. Switch that to ‘Right’, and your mouse will be properly configured for left hand usage.
Windows 7+8: Go to the control panel, then select to ‘All Control Panel Items’, from there select ‘Mouse’. Under the buttons tab, you can alter the button configuration by checking the box that says ‘Switch Primary and Secondary buttons’.
Mac: Your mouse only has one button, so this is not an issue for you.
Well, that’s a wrap for today’s post. Following up on an earlier post, where I addressed net neutrality and the FCC’s impending vote on it’s status, the FCC voted this morning to end net neutrality. So, if you feel as passionately against ending net neutrality as I do, contact your congressperson and put pressure on him or her to draft legislation to protect net neutrality. Otherwise, I will catch you next time.
The ketchup is in the sauce.