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Ready or Not, Self-Driving Cars are Here to Stay

Posted by on 9:30 am in Homepage, Technology News | 0 comments

Ready or Not, Self-Driving Cars are Here to Stay

I feel like the past two years (2014-15) have been an ode to the blockbuster hit “Back to the Future.” Blogs, websites, and people alike are constantly bringing up what crazy inventions we should have based on Hollywood’s expectations. If we were living in the Back to the Future I & II universe, we would have things like self-tying shoes, self-walking dogs, and 19 “Jaws” movies. Even though we’re lacking Pepsi Perfect and the Lexus’ version of a hoverboard seems to be a bust, there is one thing that is actually happening that is even better than a flying vehicle: a self-driving car, brought to you by Google. “A self-driving car? Yeah, right. That’s crazy,” may be some of the things that are flowing through your mind. It is crazy, and it’s awesome. Although it has been in the works since 2009, Google first introduced the concept to the outside world in December of 2014. The world and the Internet blew up discussing this idea, but no one really took it seriously. Well, it’s about time to because Google has released these bad boys onto the roads in Mountain View, California. Yes, real roads! Although the self-driving cars are fresh out of the garage and onto the roadways, the “training wheels” are still on. The vehicles are still equipped with a steering wheel, accelerator pedal and brake pedal, and a qualified driver will be there to take over if things go awry. The cars drive conservatively, with a speed that taps out at 25 miles per hour. However, higher speeds are being tested back at Google’s headquarters. To remain cautious, they pause 1.5 seconds after a stoplight turns green since, statistically, several accidents happen during that crucial time. However, there have been some hiccups in the process of getting these guys onto the street. The Google cars have been in a couple accidents, luckily they were either idle or moving at less than 5 miles per hour. We must remember that they’re still prototypes after all! Yet, the biggest obstacle the Google car creators have faced are us, humans. People refuse to get behind the idea of a car that they aren’t in control of. Maybe we hate the idea because the human race likes to be in control, or maybe it’s the innate fear that is instilled in us of putting our lives into the hands of computers. Whatever the reason may be, we are going to have to accept that this is the most ground-breaking invention since the Internet. Self-driving cars, as stated, are run by computers. Computers don’t make mistakes. But, humans do. Whether it’s because of a drunk driver or someone who is texting, nearly 1.3 million people die per year in car accidents. It’s human error, something that Google is aiming to get rid of entirely. The future is scary, I get it. But, think about what can be done with a self-driving car: handicapped people can get from A to B much easier, the blind can sit in the driver’s seat, and parents can spend more time with their children. Whether you like it or not, these self-driving cars are much more apart of our future than self-tying shoe laces will ever be, and it’s time to get excited about it!  ...

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Three Ways to Use Good.Co

Posted by on 9:25 am in Homepage, Technology News | 0 comments

Three Ways to Use Good.Co

Being a recent college grad, I did my fair share of job searching. It went something like this: I would log onto LinkedIn, or a another job listing site, then, after a few clicks and filling out a couple of application questions, I was finished. By the time I finished the application, I could easily tell if I was qualified for the position or not. However, was I a right fit for with the company? I wouldn’t know until a couple of weeks after starting my job. But, what if it were possible to know beforehand? Once dubbed as the love child between eHarmony and LinkedIn, Good.Co provides users who are employed, unemployed, or soon to be employed a chance to establish their strengths, what type of employee they are, as well as where they will fit best in certain companies and more. Eventually, Good.Co helps answer my question, “Am I a right fit for this company?” Good.Co was founded in 2012 but has only been around in the mobile app realm for almost a year now. Overall, Good.Co has an awesome user experience. It is very easy to move through the app. After signing up with LinkedIn, Google+, or Facebook, it knows all of your basic information and the rest is just a swipe of the screen. Here are three ways you can use Good.Co for: Deeper insights into your work personality There are a total of 16 archetypes which are designed by professional psychologists, including Kerry Schofield. After finishing an 18-question personality quiz, you are assigned with three of those archetypes that best suit you. You quickly discover other things that are incredibly accurate about yourself, insinuating that this is pretty legit. Once you figure out your archetype, Good.Co offers career tips and ways to communicate based on your style. Below are the type of insights Good.Co offers:                   Which companies fit you best See how well you match up with various companies! As of right now Good.Co is still in its early stages and only have mid-size to larger companies in their database. However, it is still interesting to see how your results matchup with company cultures. For example, it would not be a bad idea to try my luck with a company like Starbucks.     How well you fit with coworkers A unique feature on this app is being able to see how well you would fit in with a future or current co-worker. Match two people and see whether or not you would mesh well together. As long as you are Google+ or Facebook friends you are able to quiz anyone.   Ultimately, Good.Co’s mission is to create happier employees, thus producing a much more enjoyable work environment and experience. Workplace happiness is a key factor why a huge percentage of Americans are disengaged, lose productivity or even quit a job. Good.Co wants to be able to say they have revamped this area and curated...

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Lexus Hoverboard is Awesome, Still Disappoints

Posted by on 8:40 am in Homepage, Just For Fun, Technology News | 0 comments

Lexus Hoverboard is Awesome, Still Disappoints

We are now well into the year 2015, the year to which Marty McFly travelled in the science fiction blockbuster Back to the Future Part II. Companies have been increasingly cashing in on the Back to the Future franchise as October 21 (the exact day Marty McFly came to 2015) approaches. The latest company to join in the fun is the luxury automobile brand Lexus. As part of the company’s “Amazing in Motion” campaign, they have announced the development of their own Lexus hoverboard. http://alwayscurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/lexus_hoverboard_slide_film_high_mov_20bdf6e18bca2a839ab64d1e4d409ec32fe74e60_low.mp4   Looks pretty sweet, right? There’s a catch. It only works in a controlled environment. The concrete that Lexus Hoverboard levitates over in the  video has magnets beneath it. I find this revelation disappointing in a few ways. The first is that Lexus is making a huge deal of what is essentially a middle school science project on steroids. The actor never even puts all his weight on the Lexus hoverboard! They’ve even trying to make #LexusHover a thing. I think the people excited about this thing clearly skipped the part of the press release that says it doesn’t work and it’s not for sale. The second disappointment is not on the part of Lexus, but on civilization’s development of technology as a whole. We’ve figured out smartphones and iPads, so how have we not created a functioning hoverboard yet? Based on our willingness to believe Tony Hawk’s hoverboard prank of 2014, there is clearly a demand for the invention. Don’t get me wrong, I still think the Lexus Hoverboard looks awesome. I want to ride a hoverboard just as badly as anyone. The hoverboard in the movie is made by Mattel and looks to be made for small children – Sidenote: you can get your very own non-functioning Mattel hoverboard just like in the movie for around $450. The Lexus’ hoverboard is certainly an upgrade from that. So even though I’m let down that I can’t get my own, I suppose a working hoverboard can now be lightly penciled onto the list of correct 2015 predictions made by the Back to the Future II writers. For more Back to the Future fun, check out this list of hilariously wrong and shockingly spot-on predictions made by the writers of the movie....

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Meet Shuddle, the Third Parent

Posted by on 12:48 pm in Homepage, Technology News | Comments Off on Meet Shuddle, the Third Parent

Meet Shuddle, the Third Parent

Shuddle is a new startup company who is breaking into the transportation industry, but for kids. Yes, you heard it right. Kids! It is crazy to think a couple years ago parents would hire their local nanny or babysitter to give their own kids rides to soccer games, school, a friends house, etc. Nowadays, with parents being so busy there is a growing niche that startups can cater to. A niche that lets their kids be driven by total strangers but it allows for kids to order up a ride whenever they want. However, parents must approve the request and are able to get notifications whenever a child reaches the destination and see where exactly the car is while on its route to the desired destination all on the app. Shuddle gives kids freedom like never before while parents still feel responsible as well since they have to accept their kids request. You might be wondering, who is Shuddle targeting? Well, they haven’t publicly said but I would imagine kids who know how to use a smartphone, which nowadays is any kid who can talk and walk. Considering Shuddle’s Instagram it looks like we might have a clue who exactly their target market might be. Take a look at the Shuddle app it has glowing features and appears to run very smoothly for all parties. The following is a basic 5 step process on how Shuddle works: Shuddle charges a monthly fee of $9 to subscribe. Parents pay by having a card on the app and the price of a ride is based on mileage and time. An estimation is given when a ride is requested, which is neat for the parents that way they aren’t paying an unexpected fee. In an article by Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch, Ingrid describes how Shuddle recently acquired newly backed investments from a combination of venture capitalists and angel investors earlier this year, it will be interesting to see what Shuddle does in the foreseeable future. For now, all we can do is wait to see how far Shuddle goes with this project. Shuddle has been operating in Silicon Valley in the Bay Area since October but has yet to expand and venture to other locations.  I think it has loads of potential to succeed; hopefully it can make its way to Omaha by the time I am in my 40’s with kids. People have kids that age...

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Uber Driver Lawsuit and What It Means for App Users

Posted by on 9:30 am in Homepage, Internet News, Technology News | 0 comments

Uber Driver Lawsuit and What  It Means for App Users

Though a ruling has been made by the California Labor Commission, the Uber Driver Lawsuit and the future of Uber’s business model are far from decided. The latest ruling in the lawsuit stated that the driver who filed the lawsuit is an employee, and not an independent contractor as Uber insists all its drivers are. This is not the first Uber driver lawsuit, and it is certainly not the last. This most recent case could set a precedent for all California Uber drivers. If all California Uber drivers are deemed employees, operating costs for companies like Uber and Lyft could increase up to 30%. So what does this Uber driver lawsuit mean for the people who use the app? These Uber driver lawsuits can mean a couple things for users of the app. If the cost of making drivers employees is too high, the service may become unprofitable in some areas. If the company isn’t making money in a certain area, they will likely shut down services there. This leads to the lose-lose situation of Uber and Lyft drivers losing that income as well as drunk folk having to revert back to the ancient practice of hailing a cab and paying outrageous amounts to get home safely. This is not a one-sided issue. Unsatisfied Uber drivers all over the country are organizing in an effort to improve working conditions. Check out the forum UberPeople.net to better understand their plight. In my opinion, a best case scenario would be for companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar to simply improve relations with their so-called independent contractors. If this does not happen there will undoubtedly be some major shake-up to the business model of the ride sharing industry.  ...

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Apple Music vs. Spotify: In Music War, Can Artist Win?

Posted by on 9:43 am in Homepage, Technology News | 0 comments

Apple Music vs. Spotify: In Music War, Can Artist Win?

Apple Music and Spotify compete to be the best music streaming service, but which is the most ethical? Apple announced that it is entering the already crowded market of music streaming services with its new product Apple Music, and many are predicting it will have the power to shut Spotify down. But will live live up to hype? Music streaming was an idea that was developed in order to combat piracy that was on the rise since the advent of digital downloading. Since the conception of music streaming, many companies have entered the ring to compete for music consumers’ attention. But the question we should be asking is which is the most ethical? Free music has never been easier to legally access, but in this music war, can the artist ever win? Spotify Spotify, a Swedish company originally created to combat piracy (which brings artists no revenue), has a simple 30-70 split between themselves and rights holders, respectively. Rights holders in this case are the label or publisher with whom an artist is signed. From there, the 70% revenue is divided between the label and artist based on their own contract. For some context, Spotify provides this chart for a rough idea of how much money different genres make on Spotify.     These numbers are royalty payments that Spotify made. In other words,  it’s the money the rights holders made before they divided it between the artist. At the end of the day, an artist will usually get anywhere between 10 and 50 percent of whatever revenue the rights holders receive. A common misconception is that Spotify pays per stream. What is true is that your favorite indie band makes more money from Spotify when you subscribe for $10 a month instead of listening for free. The Guardian has more info on their business model here.   Apple Music Apple Music, available June 30, does essentially the same things as the $10/month Spotify Premium, for the same price, with a few extra bells and whistles. Apple Music has already been deemed confusing yet unoriginal by some, citing it does too many things poorly instead of one thing really well. Music industry guru Bob Leftsetz has a grim outlook for the latest music streaming service. But This is all on purpose, claims Apple’s Jimmy Iovine. In an interview with The Guardian, Iovine explains that giving musicians and rightsholders the option to make their content free on Connect (the free component of Apple Music) or  publish it exclusively for subscribers of Apple Music, creating an “ecosystem” where artists can develop their music the way they want. Only time will tell what artists will actually make from Apple’s new streaming service. It has been predicted that payout on Apple Music will be about the same as Spotify, but nothing has been officially reported.   Indie singer-songwriter and guitarist David Lowery says the real problem for artists is YouTube, which pays much less than streaming services do and  does less to regulate and monitor its user-generated content.Higher-ups from both Apple and Spotify will tell you they are the only group standing up for the artist, which is a nice thing to believe but simply isn’t true. At the end of the day, both  streaming services are pushing users to subscribe to their monthly service, which puts more money in the accounts of your favorite artists. And that’s a good...

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Mobile Payment, A Beginner’s Blueprint

Posted by on 9:55 am in Homepage, Technology News | Comments Off on Mobile Payment, A Beginner’s Blueprint

Mobile Payment, A Beginner’s Blueprint

Two giants, forced into an infancy stage. If you are the kind of person like myself, you hate carrying around cash and won’t even get started with coins. The future’s looking bright, as technology seems to advance in every aspect, I highly urge you to join the Mobile Payment movement with Google, Apple and me. In this day and age, people want things done in the speed of light. I am no different, I would imagine most people growing up in today’s society would agree with me or are just like me. I remember when having a quarter in my possession was the best thing that could ever happen to me. However, it’s not the 90s anymore. My history with Mobile Payment has been short, but in my opinion it has the potential to be something amazing. Google Wallet My experience with Google Wallet has been glorious over my 1 ½ years of ownership. Although I am restricted to only its app, since I am an iPhone user. It has many strong features that many people could take advantage of regardless of phone type. One of the primary reasons I use Google Wallet is to cap the amount of money I spend. Since it is impossible to overdraft when using Google Wallet, transactions are declined instead. I limit my spending by manually transferring money from my bank account to my wallet. For example, it’s a Friday night, somehow you end up at that bar downtown your friends can’t get enough of, but I know in my head I only want to spend $30. That being said, all one would need is an ID and Google Wallet that night. I have used that method for not only bars, but other services as well. Such as music streaming apps, Wall Street Journal subscription, premium LinkedIn account and yes, even a gym membership. There are probably more that I have yet to encounter which is the wonderful part. Apple Pay At first, Apple Pay was only available to six major banks across the United States. When US Bank announced that they collaborated with Apple Pay I was ecstatic. I had my iPhone 6 plus and I was going to pay with my phone. I’m going to be the coolest guy on the block, but then I realized NFC (Near Field Communication) readers need to be intact in order for this to work. Walgreens was the only place in small, but great town of Hastings, Nebraska that offered this. I had a hard time recovering after that, luckily, I do get out every once in awhile. I was at Panera Bread on the way to Omaha for Christmas break. When I had finally made my very first Mobile Payment, it was like driving for the very first time. Where do I press? Am I pressing hard enough? Is my phone going to be okay? I do have to admit I struggled mightily, I held up the line after I couldn’t figure out the whole process behind the payment. Helpful hint, ask for help before making your first payment. Otherwise, you get weird looks. Even the cashier had a surprising look after what just had happened. Then it hit me, I realized that this Mobile Payment movement was going to be a developing process...

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The Awe-Inspiring Potential of Consumer Drones

Posted by on 12:20 pm in Technology News | Comments Off on The Awe-Inspiring Potential of Consumer Drones

The Awe-Inspiring Potential of Consumer Drones

A few weeks ago, AlwaysCurrent published a story about an open platform drone created by 3D Robotics. The article was full of interest, excitement, and child-like wonder at our rapidly-changing world and new possibilities for humankind. Consumer-level, freely-modifiable drone technology? How vast the sea of opportunity, we thought; our expectations for the creativity and ingenuity of our race were foolishly high. Fortunately, one man stood ready to disappoint such naive positivity and bring us all back to reality. Just in time for finals week, too! On Wednesday, a prolific graffiti “artist”* and vandal, called KATSU, tagged an enormous billboard high over the streets of New York using a DJI Phantom drone he modified for this purpose. While some scant lines of red paint might not seem impressive at first, watching the video kind of changes that. The apparent ease of the action is almost unsettling, but really, this project has been in the works for quite awhile now. KATSU is a well-known vandal, but possesses a range of other skills as well, including hacking and drone-modifying, apparently. He has been working with DJI’s Phantom 2, it seems, figuring out how he can incorporate drone technology into his super-cool acts of vandalism; in fact, he debuted a prototype of his modified Phantom along with a series of drone-painted images a little over a year ago. In an interview with Motherboard in 2014 regarding that exhibition, KATSU expressed much of the same interest we did in drone technology and its potential to change the way humans interact with the world: “…really I think deep down it’s really magical what drones represent and what they can actually accomplish and do for human beings.” Well, so did we, KATSU; so did we…. Regarding his most recent escapade, KATSU said: “It’s exciting to see its [the drone’s] first potential use as a device for vandalism.” Please excuse us while we roll our eyes. — *Side-note: this AC writer has nothing against real artists. Just pretentious jerks who violate public or private property for the sake of...

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In-App Dating? GetReal

Posted by on 9:48 am in Internet News, Just For Fun, Social Media, Software News | Comments Off on In-App Dating? GetReal

In-App Dating? GetReal

Smartphone dating applications have become the new norm when it comes to meeting new people. While you can still walk up to strangers at a coffee shop or bar and get to know them in person, that particular form of spontaneity has gone by the wayside thanks to apps like Tinder and Grindr. I mean, why should you actually talk to someone when you can left- or right-swipe their profiles to see if they’re interested? Being rejected via social media applications is so much less traumatizing than in person, right? I’m not sold either way, but a new app wants you to get real about meeting new people. GetReal is a recently launched iOS app that wants users to spend less time messaging through apps and more time in each others’ company. Similar to Tinder, it’s a location-based networking app that connects you to the people in your vicinity. However, there is no in-app interaction and pre-meeting conversation other than the request to meet. Here’s how it works: When you open the app, it shows you everyone on GetReal in your surrounding area. After checking out the various user profiles consisting of one photo and a short status, you can send a meeting request through a pin-drop map feature to pinpoint the location and have the option of adding a short message. The requested person has half an hour to accept, decline, or defer your invite. Then you meet them in person and start a conversation that way. All communication on the app is limited to the meet up requests; there is no chat or messaging function. If you’re a little iffy about meeting a stranger, GetReal allows users to link their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles to the app so you can see if you have any mutual connections. The app also keeps track of how many people you’ve invited to meet, how many people are available in your location, and any people you have muted, which we’re assuming is a way to block people. GetReal isn’t limited to screening potential dates; the main goal is just to help people meet in person. Whether you’re networking, in a new city, want to meet people in your neighborhood or while traveling, want to expand your circle of friends, etc., GetReal wants to help users meet up in person. A group of 200 beta testers in San Francisco and New York tech industries found the app can be used for anything; they have been using the app for everything from recruiting to tech talks to growing their networks. The app creator, Arnaud Meunier thinks the recent inflation of apps and social media sites like Tinder, Facebook, and Twitter, and our reliance on virtual conversations (messaging, texting, & emails) are destroying our ability to communicate. We don’t talk anymore. GetReal wants to bring a little more serendipity and spontaneity back in our lives instead of prescreening everyone we meet through profiles, statuses, and photos. GetReal isn’t the first app of it’s kind to be making waves in the virtual connection pool. A U.K. dating app, rendeevoo (Ha. Rendezvous. We see what you did there, you clever Brits, you) has a similar platform, except it’s specifically for dating purposes. Neither app attempts to match users based on personalities, interests, or the like;...

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UltraHaptics: The UltraCool Possibilities

Posted by on 4:43 pm in Hardware News, Internet News, Technology News | Comments Off on UltraHaptics: The UltraCool Possibilities

UltraHaptics: The UltraCool Possibilities

You know how in Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr.’s lab is controlled by his hands? There aren’t any physical buttons, its all hologram-like images that he moves with just a flick of his wrist. Super cool right? The first time I saw it, I couldn’t wait for that to be our reality. Thanks to a company called UltraHaptics, that reality is closer than we think. This technology company based in the United Kingdom is working on developing technology that “enables users to receive tactile feedback without needing to wear or touch anything.” They have made this possible through their use of ultrasonic sound waves. UltraHaptics uses a small collection of ultrasonic speakers that emit low frequency sound waves. These waves are similar to those of the bass you feel when you go to a club. The sound waves are all concentrated to meet in one area, providing an invisible layer of ultrasound that you can feel with your hand. Other companies have been working towards the same goal as UltraHaptics using different strategies, but UltraHaptics has added an extra layer of feedback to their technology. When someone touches the area of concentration, they feel a small vibration against their skin. By giving the feel of a force field to the user, it is easier to interact and utilize the technology. The possibilities of this technology are endless. This technology can be used on a car’s dashboard, to make a phone’s screen larger, really anything. And with the rise of popularity in the development of this technology, many industries are eager to get involved. Tom Carter, UltraHaptic CTO, said they are working in a variety of areas including consumer electronics, home appliances, and even virtual reality. Carter recently said of their work, “I’d like to believe that the first product featuring our technology will be on the shelves in a year”. If Carter’s hopes become reality, our world will just be so much cooler than it already...

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