Smart Table to Improve Your Table Tennis

I am sure that many of you have a favorite sport. In the states, many would answer football, soccer, baseball or basketball. Whatever sport you favor, athletes not only undergo tough training but research and analyze their and opponent’s performance in order to identify their strengths and more importantly their weaknesses. It is starting to become far less uncommon for athletes to incorporate technology into this process, making it much more accurate and efficient. Such technology has been around and used in popular sports such as football, where a microchip in the ball helps identify when it is a goal, and in badminton where the players can challenge judge’s decision by using technology that identifies when the shuttle is in our out. As long as sports remains to be a popular form of entertainment in our society, technology will join this field for the better. 

My favorite sport table tennis has finally got its turn to get some of the benefits that technology could bring to the sport. Being played in such a small court, it required precision much more than any other sport, and just a few centimeters or a few milliseconds of error could mean a big difference. Therefore, this was something that most if not all table tennis fans were looking for. As of now, the international table tennis federation uses its numerous cameras in order to get data on the spin and speed of the balls so that the viewers can get a numerical sense of the intensity of the player’s performance. Although more advanced and practical technology is demanded by the table tennis community which I hope to see regularly be imputed and used by athletes. 

Zhong Lin Wang has been playing table tennis for 4 years and is a material scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His passion for table tennis sport leads to him succeeding in inventing a table that detects where the ball landed, where it is heading, and its velocity. Stephen Orens writes an article showcasing this new technology. The table does not require a battery of any sort and is designed so that the ball hitting the table creates a wave of reactions sending an electric signal to the computer analyzing the data. Wang states how this technology can be used to analyze the behavior and habits of a player. This technology will be useful for players of any level. When used by a developing player, the player can analyze his or her play to remove any dangerous habits from the start to develop a flawless form straight from the beginning. Advanced players can use this to perfect their strokes and to find ways to get their balls a head or two above the rest whether through spin, speed or placement. The point is that we could rely on technology to collect and analyze data that athletes could interpret to understand what it is that they need to improve on and change. At this level, it is still up to us to determine the further use of the data collected by this new technology. In the future, more and more data collection and analysis are said to be automated and all fields including sports.

Ornes, Stephen. “Self-Powered Surface May Evaluate Table-Tennis Play.” Science News for Students, 14 Jan. 2020, 6:45 AM, www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/self-powered-surface-may-evaluate-table-tennis-play.

Google to update crawler on March 1

It seems that Google plans on updating their Crawl system soon. It seems the major change is that they will now be using ‘nofollow’ links differently; they will now be used as a ‘hint’ while crawling and indexing.

I think nofollows might have been covered in class briefly, but I had to look it up to remind myself exactly what they were. They are used to prevent certain links on a website from influencing a page’s ranking.

Previously, Google did what I think they are supposed to do and did not crawl or index nofollow links. The article I’m basing this off describes how they will be treated as ‘hints’ for ‘crawling or indexing.’ To be honest I’m not exactly sure what this means.

The article finishes by saying that nofollows should not be used to prevent the indexing of a page, and recommends using something like what they call a “meta robots noindex directive.”

Source:

Montti, Roger. “Google Crawl and Indexing Update March 1, 2020.” Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Journal, 21 Feb. 2020, www.searchenginejournal.com/nofollow-crawl-indexing-update/349994/#close.

 

Microsoft Creates an AI to Beat Ms. Pac-Man

Pac-Man is one of the most popular and best-selling arcade games of all time and is simple to follow. The player is placed in a maze filled with food (depicted as pellets or dots) and needs to eat all of it to advance to the next level. This task is made difficult by four ghosts that pursue Pac-Man through the maze. If Pac-Man contacts any of the ghosts, the player loses a life. After all three lives are lost, the game’s over. In the making of Ms. Pac-Man, in order to increase the difficulty, the creators added in a few new mazes and decided to make the fruit, a high point item, and more of a challenge to collect by making it move across the field. Also, instead of having a set time when the ghosts switch between scatter and chase mode, they completely randomized it.

The ghosts in Pac-Man are always in one of three possible modes: Chase, Scatter, or Frightened. This is when the ghosts pursue Pac-Man, avoid Pac-Man, or turn blue and can be eaten by Pac-Man. In order to be successful in Pac-man, you must understand ghost behavior. The key to understanding ghost behavior is the concept of a target tile. Most of the time, each ghost has a specific tile that it is trying to reach, and its behavior revolves around trying to get to that tile from its current one. When approaching “intersection” tiles, which is indicated in green in the picture, the choice of which direction to turn is made based on which tile adjoining the intersection will put the ghost nearest to its target tile, measured in a straight line. The ghost will choose the path with the shorter straight line. However, this can result in the ghosts selecting the “wrong” turn when the initial choice places them closer, but the overall path is longer. Note that target tiles are only used in chase and scatter mode. In frightened mode, the ghosts pseudorandomly decide which turns to make at every intersection.

The ghosts’ AI is very simple, which makes the complex behavior of the ghosts even more impressive. Ghosts only ever plan one step into the future as they move about the maze. Whenever a ghost enters a new tile, it looks ahead to the next tile that it will reach and decides which direction it will turn when it gets there.

With the ghost’s behavior being more random in Ms. Pac-Man, Microsoft’s AI, the player, had to rely on assigning every object on the maze a priority which then influenced the player’s behavior as it moved throughout the maze. For example, the player knew how to avoid the ghost because of the huge priority it had the closer it got to it. When the ghost turned to frighten mode and could be eaten, the priority then flipped and the player knew to follow after it. With the use of priorities and a heat map of the game.

The AI was able to navigate through every level of the game while avoiding all of the ghosts and eating all of the food on each maze. This led to the AI being the first player to ever beat Ms. Pac-Man with a perfect score of 999990. However, because this wasn’t an actual person, the actual world record is held by a player who obtained a score of 933580 themselves.

https://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2015/11/03/inside-the-development-of-ms-pac_2d00_man.aspx

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpB1B9Tr_ck

Bendable Smartphones: The Next Big Thing?

Technology companies are constantly striving to create the next ‘big thing’ in the tech market- especially when it comes to our everyday devices like our smartphones. In the New York Times article by Brian X. Chen entitled “Foldable Phones Are Here. Do We Really Want Them?”, Chen discusses how some of these technology companies are experimenting with foldable smartphones. 

Some of these companies include Samsung, Motorola, and Huawei. While the idea of a foldable smartphone is innovative and interesting, Chen points out that the reality of it is not as appealing.  

For instance, Samsung’s first foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold, broke within days of use by tech reviewers when it was released last year. Though, just earlier this month, two new foldable phones have been announced: The Samsung Galaxy Z flip and Lenovo’s Motorola Razr.Both of these devices work by opening up to reveal a standard-size touch screen and then folding to a miniature screen that shows notifications.

When looking at the advantages and disadvantages of these foldable devices, Chen points out that the only advantage is that “you can enjoy a big screen that takes up less space in your pocket”. On the other hand, there’s a lot of disadvantages with these new products.

For starters, to achieve the bendableness of the screen, thinner plastic is used to layer on the screen which is much less durable than the usual glass on phone screens. According to the article, “There’s no protecting the foldable display in a real-world environment the way that consumers treat their smartphones,” said Raymond Soneira, the founder of DisplayMate

Also, when you unfold the phone there is generally a design flaw- there is a visible crease, which is pretty unappealing to the eye compared to our current sleek smartphone screens. On top of everything, these foldable gadgets are pricey. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is $1,380 and Lenovo’s Motorola Razr is $1,500.

After reading my post, what is your opinion on these foldable phones. Do you think it is a good and useful idea, and more importantly, would you think about purchasing one? 

Source:

AI Is Used To Discover New Antibiotics.

In today’s society, many people have differing opinions on AI and how much we should be using it. It is a touchy subject because it has the ability to take jobs away from people, but it could also benefit our society in many ways. One example that I found was about an AI that did thousands of test and found antibiotics that can be used to cure certain illnesses and some strains that are deemed incurable. There has been other AI that has found possible antibiotics but this is the first time that AI has found a possible antibiotic strictly on its own means. The AI identified the antibiotic from over 100 million different bacteria. The team that worked on this project developed a brain that was able to identify different qualities and aspect of certain molecules and produced results based on that. The researches then trained the neural brain of the AI to look for a certain specimen called “escherichia coli” in order to discover the antibiotic. The brain then looked through all of the bacteria to find the correct part. It found a potential antibiotic that could help with people that struggle with diabetes. They used the bacteria that the AI found and tested it on a mouse and the results came back positive. The team who worked on this project is hoping that other people and organizations will apply the tech enology and methods they used in order to find more cures for cancer and diseases.

I believe that this is a great way to use AI and if we could use more technology this this it could help us significantly in the long run. In class, we talked about the benefits and consequences of AI and I believe this is definitely a benefit. In today’s society we are constantly trying to think of new and innovative ways to cure cancer and diseases and I think using AI to help us with this is important.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00018-3

TikTok introduces new, innovative parental controls

With Vine by now having long since been retired, the need for a platform for Generation Z to post short videos of themselves dancing to a popular song or just simply making an effort to be funny has finally been filled over the past year or so by a new app, TikTok. I for one, am so thankful for the arrival of TikTok and can not think to imagine a world where I wouldn’t have access to these absolutely hilarious and well-made videos.

Clearly, it seems that anyone outside the ages of 13-22 just isn’t up with the times. As it turns out, TikTok is absorbing so much of the time of our future world leaders that they have announced new parental controls that allow parents to determine a time limit of how long their child can spend on the app each day. Some of the interval options include 40 minutes, 60 minutes, and 90 minutes, which doesn’t seem like enough time for me to properly lie in bed watching TikTok’s instead of going to sleep like I should be. The rollout also includes options to turn off direct messaging and only allow children to see “age appropriate” content, and is currently only available in some European countries as TikTok tests the technology.

I want to focus on what I think is the most innovative part of these new parental controls, the time limit. Please, in the comments, correct me if I am wrong, but a technology that limits the amount of time children can spend on an app is new to me. If we apply this idea to other fields, I think this type of technology could be a huge breakthrough in the fight to keep kids active and engaged with the world and off their screens as much as possible. When my mom realizes that my younger sisters and their friends have been making TikToks for 3 hours and maybe they should be doing something else, the solution is to take the phone away. But having your phone at all times is vastly important in today’s world for communication and informational purposes. What if my mom could just press a button that puts the phone in “communication mode,” disabling games and distractors to encourage kids to focus? To me, this seems like a practical technolgy that becomes even more useful when we think past TikTok.

 

SOURCE:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/19/tech/tiktok-parental-controls/index.html

Google Removes Several Malicious Chrome Extensions

Google Chrome extensions. They’re a cool feature chrome provides, where you can add almost anything to enhance your experience while browsing the internet. For example, one of the most common extensions people use is AdBlocker. Although, if you thought these extensions were harmless, you were wrong. For the past two years, hundreds of Chrome extensions were participating in extension fraud. After months of research, Google pulled over 500 extensions that utilized such malicious behavior. The developers had designed their extensions in a way that when the user opened up the internet/opened a new page after successfully installing the extension, the user would be waiting for the page to load, the unknowingly would be routed through thirty other websites. These websites would be advertisements, where each time someone clicked on the website, the developer of the extension would receive a profit. All of this occurred within the few seconds you were waiting for a website to open – and you had no idea. Thousands clicks would go to ad marketing just by you opening up a new page after downloading an extension. On the other hand, the companies who were getting views were also unaware that a huge percentage of views on their websites weren’t actually people viewing it – companies could only see their view count. By downloading these extensions, you allowed information about your device to be accessed. The websites a user unknowingly was sent to could infect your computer, as it could check if different security aspects of your device were patched and up-to-date and furthermore could install malware. Despite all the legal factors with fraud and theft, one of the most alarming components of this cyber security scandal is that the user had no idea this was occurring and was hidden within in extra two minutes of loading time.

sources:

Google pulls 500 malicious Chrome extensions after researcher tip-off

Google Removes Hundreds Of Malicious Chrome Extensions

https://www.wired.com/story/over-500-chrome-extensions-secretly-uploaded-private-data/

500 Malicious Chrome Extensions Impact Millions of Users

Ring Doorbells: Invasion of Privacy or Worthwhile?

If you do not know, the Amazon Ring Doorbell is one of the new, popular ways that people are expanding security measures on their household. According to the Ring Doorbell official website, they state in their product description that “All Ring Video Doorbells send notifications to your phone, tablet and PC when anyone presses your doorbell or triggers the built-in motion sensors. When you answer the notification, you can see, hear and speak to visitors from anywhere”. As well, the Ring Doorbell has a security camera installed that incorporates a live stream that is recorded and saved to one’s phone and/or tablet. Max Read on the Intelligencer describes the doorbell as so, “as a camera, the Peephole Cam, like other Rings, is boringly straightforward. There’s a doorbell button on it that, when pressed, sends an alert to your phone, and it has a small speaker which can function as an intercom. You’ll also get an alert whenever the camera senses activity, allowing you to see what’s moving outside the door; by default, the camera records 30 seconds of video whenever its motion sensors are tripped. It’s also very easy to install. You unscrew your apartment-door peephole, screw in the Ring hardware, snap in the rechargeable batteries, and download the app.” The purpose of this device is ultimately to reduce petty crime, especially in neighborhood areas. The doorbell would capture any being that was at your door step, and there would be physical, visual evidence to provide to authorities. Although, isn’t there a point where this crosses the line between security to invasion of privacy? There have been several instances where the owner of the doorbell does not set it up so only their property can be seen, but rather, the street and their neighbors houses can be seen too. Lets say you live on a particularly narrow street where the houses are close together and your neighbor has placed their doorbell in the position I stated before and you keep your blinds open on your windows, the ring doorbell will have recorded everything you are doing in that area of your house. And furthermore, your neighbor now has the recorded files and can do whatever they want with them, and so do the manufacturers of the ring doorbell. Although there is more to this. These recordings then can be translated to another application called Neighbors where everyone in the neighborhood who has the app can share something they saw in their video for everyone else to see. You do NOT need a ring doorbell to see your neighborhood’s feed – or even better yet, what ever address’ feed you want to look at. Now lets go back to the scenario I presented earlier – your neighbor posted a video on the neighborhood feed where you can clearly see yourself in your own residence in the background. Someone who lives hours away decided to look into your neighborhoods feeds, and now that person know where you live. In conclusion, is the ring door bell truly a good way to reduce crimes in residential areas, or does it is violate privacy more than serve the intended purpose?

Uber’s New ‘On-Trip Reporting’ Tool Lets You Report Uncomfortable Rides In Real-Time

Uber has recently added a new feature in their app that allows you to report details of your trip in real time. The “On-Trip Reporting” allows passengers to discreetly alert the company about different type of incidents. This is helpful if the rider is put in an uncomfortable situation and wants to tell Uber instantly. If someone uses the “On-Trip Reporting” feature, an Uber representative will reach out to the rider and driver after the ride has ended, and the driver will receive educational materials on to better present themselves to riders. If the driver is continually reported, then Uber will take appropriate and additional actions. Before, customers would have to wait till after their ride to give Uber a response about their trip. A lot of people don’t use this feature as they are constantly in a rush and don’t necessarily have the time to give back feedback. This new feature is more convenient for passengers as they can report in real time.

I think this is a great feature for Uber because I’ve been in a couple different Uber rides where I have felt uncomfortable and didn’t know what to do. This is especially a great feature for when you are the only passenger. In my experience, a lot of my weird or awkward Uber rides have been when I’m the only passenger. When you’re with other people, it’s a little bit safer, as anything can go wrong when engaging with a stranger. Last year, Uber had nine murder cases, out the millions of trips taken every day. As slim of a chance, it is to get hurt during one of these rides, it’s still nerve raking to know that it could potentially happen to me. It’s nice knowing that this feature exists, if anything bad were to happen.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/02/19/ubers-on-trip-reporting-tool-lets-you-report-incidents-real-time/4796368002/

Can the Coronavirus effect Apple?

The spread of the Coronavirus is slowing down no time soon and with that, many industries are being effected specifically the technology industry which is deeply rooted in china for manufacturing needs.

It has been reported that Apple has seen a decline of sales in China due to the virus outbreak by USA Today. This has lead two questioning manufacturing speed and development ahead of drops of new products for apple. This is in part duet to the fact that people do not want to be in areas where it is easy for the virus to spread which would constitute a factory.

However, Apple does believe that they will be able to stay on track for the release date and keep everything moving smoothing.

What makes this so fascinating is that the spread of a disease can effect things outside of just human bodies. It can effect entire industries and companies. Apple one of the largest technology companies in the world was almost pushed behind schedule for a product release because they were effected by the spread of a disease.

Travel, business as well as technology are all being effected which again is crazy to think about because something so different and generally unrelated can have such a large impact on some of the worlds largest industries.

When there are reports like this it makes me think about how tightly the internet and technology connects us. Without it or with a decline of use or maintenance which is what a massive disease could potentially cause we could be faced with a crash of the internet.

This would cause a shockingly different reality because like we have talked about in class technology and the internet needs to be kept up with and maintained and if no one is there to do it because of disease that could be an issue.

What did this report open your eyes to?

source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/02/17/coronavirus-impact-apple-iphone-se-sequel/4786849002/