Sunday, August 23, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: Car Can Run On Apple Juice

"Apple said to show interest in automotive testing facility" by Brandon Bailey Associated Press  August 15, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — Adding fuel to rumors that Apple is working on designs for a car, local officials say engineers for the giant tech company recently made inquiries about a former navy base that’s been converted into a testing ground for self-driving cars and other cutting-edge vehicles.

Apple hasn’t said what kind of testing it hoped to conduct at the GoMentum Station automotive testing facility, which used to be a naval station in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Concord.

‘‘We don’t know. They haven’t said what they want to test. It could be an iPhone,’’ joked Jack Hall, program manager for connected vehicles and autonomous vehicles at GoMentum Station, which is operated by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. The agency is promoting a portion of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station as an ideal testing facility for carmakers and tech companies working on automotive technology.

Do I look like I'm laughing on this pell-mell approach of a Terminator-like society? Is that what the movies were meant to prepare the mind for?

‘‘It’s got all the infrastructure of a city,’’ Hall said of the facility. ‘‘There are buildings, streets, and intersections, but no people.’’

I think that is the plan, yeah.

The 5,000-acre site has 20 miles of paved roads, including overpasses, tunnels, and railroad crossings, according to the agency’s website, which calls it ‘‘the largest secure test facility in the world.’’ Another 7,600 acres of the former navy base is now used as a shipping terminal by the Army.


The tech giant’s interest in the facility was first reported by the Guardian newspaper, which cited e-mail correspondence obtained under a public records request.

Many automakers and tech companies, including Google, are working on new designs for autonomous and electric-powered vehicles. In February, The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources who said Apple is working on designs for an electric vehicle to be sold under the Apple brand. Analysts say Apple has the financial wherewithal and ambition to pursue such a project, although some believe it’s more likely interested in developing software for use in cars made by other companies.

Even as they are $winging down in the stock market?


Nice looking vehicle though, huh?

Not only that, the car runs on batteries; however, they do tend to run down quickly, although there have not been any recalls yet. 

So strap yourselves in and turn on the lights as we move forward fa$t:

"High-tech cars bring Detroit, Silicon Valley together" by Dee-Ann Durbin Associated Press  August 19, 2015

Car, complete with spyware trapdoor for the NSA, including cameras and microphones. 

And you thought the car was the last refuge of privacy?

PALO ALTO, Calif. — The office has all the trappings of a high-tech startup. There’s a giant beanbag in the foyer and erasable whiteboard walls for brainstorming. Someone’s dog lounges happily on the sunny balcony.

Welcome to the Palo Alto home of the Ford Motor Co., 6 miles from the headquarters of Google.

That's where some of the surging profits are going.

Meanwhile, in a squat industrial building in suburban Detroit, a short drive from Ford’s headquarters, workers are busy building a small fleet of driverless cars.

The company behind them? Google.

Btw, speaking of Detroit....

The convergence of cars and computers is blurring the traditional geographical boundaries of both industries. Silicon Valley is dotted with research labs opened by automakers and suppliers, which are racing to develop high-tech infotainment systems and autonomous cars. Tech companies — looking to grow and sensing an industry that’s ripe for disruption — are heading to Detroit to better understand the auto industry and get their software embedded into cars.

The result is both heated competition and unprecedented cooperation between industries that rarely spoke to each other five years ago.

‘‘It’s a cross-pollination. We’re educating both sides,’’ says Niall Berkery, who runs the Detroit office of Telenav, a Sunnyvale, Calif., firm that makes navigation software.

There’s also plenty of employee poaching. Apple recently hired Fiat Chrysler’s former quality chief. Ride-sharing service Uber snagged 40 researchers and scientists from Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburgh robotics lab. Tesla’s head of vehicle development used to work at Apple.

For years the fast-paced tech industry showed little respect for the plodding car industry. Google and Palo Alto-based Tesla, with its high-tech electric sedans, helped change that.

It's making us all equal, even if the CIA is slow to adapt.

‘‘People think it’s shiny Silicon Valley versus grungy Detroit, but that’s garbage,’’ says Chris Urmson, who leads Google’s self-driving car program. ‘‘If you look at the complexity of a vehicle, it’s an engineering marvel.’’

Dragos Maciuca, a former Apple engineer who’s now the technical director of Ford’s Palo Alto research lab, says he’s seeing a new excitement about the auto industry in Silicon Valley. For one thing, cars provide a palpable sense of accomplishment for software engineers.

You know, given the unemployment and health failures, the glitches in all the business and government software, I dunno about software driving cars. 

All it takes is one wrong turn, 'er, bad line of code, right? 

That, and the fact that they can get hacked rather easily

Kinda makes you wonder about certain car crashes, huh?

‘‘If you work at Google or Yahoo, it’s hard to point out, ‘Well, I wrote that piece of code.’ It’s really hard to be excited about it or show your kids,’’ Maciuca says. ‘‘In the auto industry, you can go, ‘See that button? The stuff that’s behind it, I worked on that.’ ’’

Yeah, as long as they are happy in their bubble.

But cocky tech companies have had to adapt to the tough standards of the auto industry, which requires technology to work perfectly, for years, in all kinds of conditions. Maciuca spends much of his time educating software and app developers about the industry’s needs.

‘‘Silicon Valley goes toward this model of a minimum viable product. It’s easy to throw things out there and try them and see if they work,’’ Maciuca says. ‘‘We can’t do that.’’

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Nvidia was best known for making chips for computer games before it got into the car business. Now, it makes the computer processors that power Tesla’s 17-inch touchscreen dashboard and Audi’s experimental self-driving cars, among other products. It had to develop new manufacturing techniques and higher levels of certification for the auto business, such as tests to make sure its computer chips would still work in subzero temperatures, says Danny Shapiro, Nvidia’s senior director of automotive.

Back to biking or walking I guess. I'd like to have my hands on there wheel anyway.

For their part, the automakers are learning that rolling out cars that remain static for years until the next model comes out is no longer practical.

Because we are not buying (even as the corporate pre$$ tells us we are)?

At the insistence of tech companies such as Telenav and Nvidia, they’re learning to make cars with navigation, infotainment, and other features that can be constantly updated. Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, BMW, and others can now update vehicle software wirelessly to fix problems or add more capability.

I'm kind of tired of that game, too, bit it problems or an upgrade. 

Shapiro says the cost-conscious auto industry has had to learn to spend a little more — maybe $10 to $20 per car — on computer hardware. Automakers would often go with the cheapest option but then spend even more fixing bugs, or be forced to replace processors that didn’t have enough power to add updates. 

Yeah, hundreds of people have been killed because of that kind of attitude at car companies  and they are still producing a sh** product.

Nvidia now has eight permanent engineers at various automakers in Michigan.

‘‘We’ve helped them adopt more of a computer industry mindset, which is not to reinvent what they’re doing every five to seven years,’’ Shapiro says.

Even with that new spirit of collaboration, automakers and tech companies also use their local labs to do a little spying.


Frankie James, a former NASA researcher who now runs General Motors’ Palo Alto office, says spotting trends and potential threats is one of the most important parts of her job. Her team alerted GM to the car-sharing trend, for example, and the automaker invested $3 million in Relay Rides in 2011.

Now, she’s watching companies that could potentially disrupt the auto business, such as Google and Apple. Google has promised a self-driving car within five years, and Apple has hired people from Tesla, Ford, and other car companies for its own top-secret project. 

What's next, them building alien spaceships?


Maybe you would like to take a look at the map and choose our next route:

"Large tech firms wary of the unicorns; Hot startups raid establishes companies for top engineers" by Mike Isaac New York Times  August 18, 2015

For the last year, Google’s workforce has increasingly been under attack from a herd of unicorns.

The unicorns, a class of hot startups valued at $1 billion or more, are all aggressively pursuing the best and brightest minds in Silicon Valley with promises of talked-about workplaces and eye-popping payouts. Amid a general scramble for talent, Google, the Internet search company, has undergone specific raids from unicorns for engineers who specialize in crucial technologies like mapping.

In particular, Uber — the largest unicorn, with a valuation of more than $50 billion — has plundered Google’s mapping unit over the last 12 months, aiming to bolster its own map research. Airbnb, the popular short-term rental startup, has gone on a more general hiring spree, poaching more than 100 workers.

“It’s an employee’s market right now,” said Rodrigo Ipince, 28, a software engineer who recently left Google and was pursued by unicorns, but chose to join a mobile gaming video startup, Kamcord. Ipince, who worked at Google for five years, said he received at least one to two e-mails from recruiters daily, asking if he was eager for a new job.

“It was fairly easy to get my foot in the door of whatever company I want,” he added.

It's where all the .01% loot and venture capital is going as it further serves they agenda, and it is such at odds with what is happening with most people.

Recruiting battles are a perennial tale in Silicon Valley, where technology companies wage war on one another for top prospects by doling out six-figure salaries and generous stock packages as if they were Halloween candy. The difference now is the scale of the talent clashes, with a growing number of young companies jumping into the fight, boasting fat war chests and claiming $1 billion-plus valuations.

It TRULY IS a WAR PRE$$, in all its GLORY! 

Not only that, this is DISGUSTINGLY CONTRIBUTING to the EVER-YAWNING WEALTH INEQUALITY which shows signs of accelerating with the stock market crash or the bigger one coming this fall. It's 1929 all over again, but worse.

There are now more than 124 unicorn companies, according to CB Insights, a research firm that tracks startups.

While the unicorns typically pick off small groups of engineers at a time, making little impression on a large company’s total employee numbers, the poaching attacks are often aimed at siphoning off the best talent in strategic technologies. That can sting the likes of a Google, where executives have said one skilled engineer can be worth many times the average.

To snag employees from large rivals, unicorns have a simple recruiting pitch: They are on a path to success, as illustrated by their rising valuations. Many offer generous equity packages of restricted stock units that can later translate to big paydays for employees if the unicorn goes public or is sold — a lure that neither Google nor any other public tech company can dangle.

“The things that excite young tech workers are high growth and fast execution,” said Dave Carvajal, founder of Dave Partners, a tech recruiting company. “It’s not that tough for the new unicorns to swing by these big, older tech companies and pick up busloads of talent.”

Apart from Google, the onetime Internet darlings Yelp and Twitter have become prime poaching targets as their share prices have plummeted, reducing their employees’ potential for big gains from equity compensation.

Among the most aggressive unicorn recruiters is Uber, the ride-hailing company based in San Francisco, which has expanded operations to 59 countries. Uber promises a fast-paced work environment and “world-changing” ambitions, according to multiple people who have been approached by the company or work for it.

One of Uber’s prime picking grounds is Google. Uber has systematically hired Google’s experts in mapping technology, a crucial component of Uber’s plans to reduce its reliance on outside companies for mapping. In June, Uber hired Brian McClendon, a Google vice president for engineering who now leads Uber’s driverless car and robotics research center. Uber has also raided Google’s Geo unit, according to people close to the company, hiring at least a dozen mapping specialists over the last year.


Related: All Done With Uber 

As well as with this post.

I'd call a cab, but.... whatever happened to those guys anyway?

SeeAmid fight with Uber, Lyft, Boston taxi ridership plummets

Yeah, nothing a paint job won't fix.