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July 15, 2018 - Episode 501 (F5 Live: Refreshing Technology)

This week, PC shipments are on the rise, Nintendo is patching its exploits and the internet is obsessed with censorship.

Avram's Lenovo Woes - Episode 169 (Piltch Point)

This week, Avram Piltch discusses his less than stellar experience trying to purchase a laptop for himself. Earlier this year, while at LAPTOP Mag, he gave the Lenovo X1 Carbon a perfect score. A few months later, he publicly purchased one himself. A big part of his decision was the laptop's keyboard, a feature which is always important for him. Unfortunately, the experience of purchasing this laptop has not been great. In fact, 3 tries later, he has not found a single device that comes close to the experience he had on the review unit.

PC Shipments Increase for the First Time in More Than 5 Years

It is no secret that PC sales have been on the decline for a while. In fact, it has been nearly 6 years since the industry saw its last increase in sales. That changed this quarter, according to a Gartner report, which shows that the industry saw an uptake in sales. This upward trend was spurred by enterprise spending worldwide, replacing older computers with newer Windows 10 machines. According to Mikako Kitagawa of Gartner,

PC shipment growth in the second quarter of 2018 was driven by demand in the business market, which was offset by declining shipments in the consumer segment. Consumers are using their smartphones for even more daily tasks, such as checking social media, calendaring, banking and shopping, which is reducing the need for a consumer PC.

Overall, the global trend for replacing computers is because of the end of the support cycle for older versions of Windows. This is usually the cause for enterprises, who notoriously avoid modernization because of the overall cost. In a business with thousands of employees, that could mean millions of dollars worth of expense to modernize computers, so the expense is often avoided until the computers are no longer supported by the vendor (traditionally Windows, as Mac has no discernable presence in business due to its low price-to-value proposition).

With support for older versions of Windows coming to an end, this mass purchase was inevitable. After these enterprises finish updating their computer fleets, it is likely that sales will continue to trend down. The overall sales decrease is because of the change in how consumers use electronics. A decade ago, the only way to consume digital content was via a PC. Today, most people do their data consumption via less capable, but more convenient devices. For example, news and social media are mostly consumed via phones and tablets. Netflix and Hulu can be used mobile, but are also incredibly popular on Xbox, PlayStation, Roku and the like.

The drop in PC sales is not an indication of an industry in decline, however. This is because companies like Lenovo, who are best known for their laptops, also produce phones, tablets, and other more specialty devices. Samsung, which is best known for their phones, also produce incredibly specialized devices, including the Harmon Kardon Invoke smart speaker, which is an increasingly popular way to consume streaming music.Kitagawa

Electrathon of Tampa Bay Joins Competitive Racing and Energy Conservation (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

With the increase in educational focus on technology, it was only a matter of time before extracurricular activities began to follow the lead. Our [FIRSTLooks" class="UpStreamLink"> series focuses on one of the long-running programs, but [FIRST" class="UpStreamLink"> is not the only game in town. We have seen a rise in interest for the VEX robotics program over the past few years. We have also seen new ideas come about that are gaining some serious traction.

One of those newer ideas is the Electrathon. This organization produces an electric car race program, which encourages participants to build a certain size vehicle to compete against other teams. The difference between this race and others is it is not about speed, but instead about the number of laps completed within the time limit. While this might sound like semantics, it is not; in the former, you complete a certain number of laps in a little time as possible, while in the latter you complete as many laps as possible within a given time.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to completing fewer laps, with the primary challenge, of course, being battery performance. The age of the battery can contribute to the amount of power it can produce, as can the type of battery, with Lithium Ion providing more power per pound than the more traditional Lead Acid.

Outside factors, though, cause the biggest challenge. The weight of the vehicle, including the weight of the driver, can create different requirements on the mechanics. A heavier vehicle will require more power to move the same distance, and will likely do it in a longer timeframe. The distance between the wheels can also change the performance because it will change the way the driver interacts with the vehicle. These are just some of the considerations that must go into the design of the car.

Unlike many programs of this type, including [FIRST" class="UpStreamLink">, Electrathon has teams from high schools, colleges, and the general public all competing together on a single track. No preference is given to a particular group, so all compete equally. Anyone can join a team, and if you are in Florida, a great resource is the Electrathon of Tampa Bay website.

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Super Excited Over Awesome, High-Powered Rockets and More (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

We get to see Chris Willingham at many of the events that we attend, and he's always serving multiple capacities based upon the numerous projects that he is involved with. Today at Synapse Innovation Summit, he is with Prograde Laboratories. And how fun for us that he's showing off rockets!! And he brought one to show off in the interview.

They are known to experiment with all kinds of cool and crazy things when they are creating. So their projects get a lot of second looks and questions from observers. That's why they named this particular rocket, Don't Ask. To make it even better, it's a high powered rocket, so it goes higher than regular model rockets. Oh, and did we mention that the majority of it was 3D printed?

For their purposes at Prograde Laboratories, high powered rocketry is both a hobby and used for education. There is a competition called NASA Student Launch Initiative that has inspired them. Whereas most of the rockets are made out of wood and commonly available materials. For theirs, they wanted to take it a step further see how far they could go using 3D printing. They basically chose the standards and just started designing on that scale. Everything except the body tubes is 3D printed. The payload includes a camera mount for a go pro as well as a phone mount to be used for the avionics. This type of rocket can usually go anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 feet, depending upon the exact specs.

Their goal here at this event is to not only estimate overall interest in their projects but also to figure out where they go from here. So far, they have had a lot of interesting people stop by the booth with all kinds of ideas. There has been some educational interest in it and also questions as to how to possibly use them in competition. The really cool thing is that rocketry is a craft that is perfect for schools and workshops because it actually uses all aspects of STEM. From the obvious applications in science and technology to engineering and math with the design and 3D modeling/printing.

We can't wait to see how they progress and look forward to their next projects.

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Apple and Samsung Finally End Patent Debate

This story has been a long time in the works. In 2011, Apple sued Samsung, claiming that Samsung had violated a number of Apple's patents. While some revolved around interaction and OS design, which was mostly Google's doing, the most memorable aspect of the suit was definitely the design patent. It is one of the most mocked suits in technology history because Apple claimed that Samsung had violated a patent involving rounded corners on a rectangle.

While everyone in the industry thought that this would be a fast loss for Apple, it has been just the opposite. In fact, in 2012, a judge ruled that Apple was owed over $1 billion. Yes, with a B. The case has been disputed and won and lost so many times, that we are now 7 years later, and no one is quite sure who owes what to whom.

That changed this week because Apple and Samsung have filed a motion with the court stating that they have come to terms and the case is being closed. The judge in the case dismissed the case with prejudice, which means that no future cases can be filed on the same terms. That means that the case is officially over. Hooray! Because of the size and scope of this case, we obviously know nothing about the terms of the agreement. All we can say for sure is that neither company will need to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees to continue this battle that seemed to have no technological or legal point.

In reality, this case had nothing to do with a legal victory. Apple was trying to do damage to the company that they rightly saw as their biggest competitor in the Android marketplace. They had hoped to prevent Samsung from producing products that looked like Apple's products, forcing a wider visual divide between Apple's believed premium design and what Samsung, and other companies, could produce. In the end, Samsung became Apple's only real competitor in the smartphone space and their need to differentiate their products from Apple's actually led to some amazing handset innovations. If not for the design patent, we might not have ended up with the Edge screens, which might even lead to Microsoft's foldable Surface tablet.

The end of this lawsuit should not signal the end of a legal battle, but instead the end of Apple's fight to control a marketplace that they have accidentally inspired their competitors to take a bigger percentage share of.

July 1, 2018 - Episode 500 (F5 Live: Refreshing Technology)

This week, Apple and Samsung finally settle their differences, regulations could be strangling the internet and Fox is ghosting Comcast.

Avram's Windependence - Episode 168 (Piltch Point)

This week, Avram Piltch is immersed in a personal experiment of technological discovery: using Linux full-time. While this is not his first time running this experiment, he has taken it to a new level. He is using a newer flavor of Linux, Mint, and has installed it on his everyday laptop. In fact, his broadcast over Skype for the show was done from the Linux installation. There have been some ups and downs to the experience, and Avram has the details on his process.

How Awesome!! This Mind Controlled Drone is Fantastic!! (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

The advancements made in technology are always on our radar here at PLuGHiTz Live. Whether in communications, environmental engineering or entertainment, we love to see the progress that is made. It is particularly interesting when it happens to be fun gadgets that are being improved upon. Now, let's amp that up a bit - the improved gadget for today's discussion is a drone that is controlled by your mind. Short of something the likes of flying cars, it doesn't get any cooler than that!

Dr. Marvin Andujar, with the University of South Florida's Computer Science and Engineering Department, was kind enough to stop by and show off this new technology. He and his team have been working to perfect their Smart Drone in the school's Neuro-Machine Interaction Lab. Flying the drone with your mind is possible, in large part, due to the Brain-Computer Interface device that they created. This is what allows your mind to send commands to the drone. And as cool as this is on its own, one of the real-life applications in which they use this device is to race drones. The goal is to allow people with physical challenges the ability to pilot the drones themselves, using only their brains. This is so exciting because it equals the playing field for those who couldn't normally compete in this type of activity. Thus making it a universal sport where everybody can compete at the same level. The participants are able to imagine the movements and the drone will perform the tasks.

To accomplish this, they start off by creating a personal profiler of the pilot, which in turn trains the device to complete certain movements to correlate with specific thoughts. To begin this process, they have the pilot meditate for a few minutes to get the brain to a neutral state. Then they ask them to think of very specific things, like pushing a chair forward or opening your left hand. This creates patterns that they save to their profile, and these patterns are different for each individual. They then decode the iAnd they also have an eSport version with a simulator drone that allows you to fly your drone anywhere through your computer.nformation and send it to the drone through the profile via a software that was also created for the process.

Not only can this technology be applied to drone racing, but it also has many other practical real-world applications, as well. It's also good practice to train your attention, especially for those who have ADHD. Other health initiatives could relate to communicating with those who are incapacitated. And just imagine the possibilities in the smart home arena, from opening and closing doors to changing the color of the lighting depending upon your mood.

Be sure to watch the full interview to learn more specifics regarding the drones, the races and how Lucas Films was interested in the technology as it relates to "The Force."

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USF Connects Startups With the Help They Need (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

One of the coolest trends in the startup space is incubators: facilities specifically designed to help a startup go from concept to market. Especially for first-time entrepreneurs, there are a lot of pieces of starting a business that are completely unknown and unexpected. These incubators can help with those challenges, as well as help these new companies find customers and partners to enhance their corporate journeys.

One of the great incubators in the Tampa Area is run through the University of South Florida as part of the USF Connect program. The Tampa Bay Technology Incubator is a process which allows students, faculty, and the community to get involved and receive assistance. While the majority of the companies in the program are USF students and faculty, the TBTI has begun accepting non-school related companies to join and receive the benefits of the program.

Unlike many incubators, the companies that participate in TBTI are not always required to be technology in focus. In fact, one of the companies that exhibited at the Synapse Innovation Summit had designed a product to make frosting cakes easier. The product was so easy to use that the owner could speak to an audience about the product while using it. Another non-technology companies involved in the TBTI is a company that produces a consumer skateboard that has built-in storage.

Other companies involved in the incubator, however, are technology-based. For example, several of the companies are working on technologies to prevent, diagnose and treat various types of cancers. Other companies are working to improve cybersecurity problems, including providing 24/7 security services.

The Tampa Bay Technology Incubator through USF Connect is always looking for new companies to assist. If you have an idea you would like to pitch, you can reach out through their website.

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