DJI Phantom 3 Professional on ground outside

The consumer drone industry has come so far in such a short amount of time.

As governments try to grapple with the fast growing number of non-military UAVs, the competition between consumer drone manufacturers is intensifying.  Venture capital is pouring into new drone startups by the billions.

As different brands and models try their best to outdo each other, one particular model has emerged as an industry leader: the DJI Phantom 3 Professional.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional and controller

The Phantom 3 Professional (more detailed review + photos here) is in many ways a statement on where the future of drones is going.

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paternity court tv

The Rise of Direct-to-Consumer DNA Tests

While new scientific discoveries are made all the time, not many of them manage to find their way into the consumer market as quickly as DNA testing has.

Since scientists finished mapping the human genome and identifying specific genetic markers for heritable traits, a whole industry has exploded onto the scene to sell the technology directly to consumers.

In this article, I explain some of the reasons why this has been possible and some of the consumer applications of DNA testing.

Traditionally, one had to go to a medical professional in a hospital or clinic to get a DNA test done. In direct to consumer (DTC) DNA testing however, a person can completely bypass a medical professional and access DNA testing directly.

The biggest factor behind the rise of this phenomenon has been the rapid advancement of analytics technology in genetics. Today, a DNA test can reveal far more than it did a few years ago.

For example, DNA testing can show the genetic predisposition of an individual towards certain health conditions such as cancer. By taking a genetic test, I can also tell if I am at a higher risk of getting a heart attack because of my genes.

genetic disorders

A map of genetic disorders (CMAP courtesy IHMC.org)

Genetic testing can also reveal someone’s genealogy in surprising accuracy. The results of a genealogy DNA test can uncover ancestry going back several generations and even reveal the geographic location of those ancestors. In the process of sequencing the human genome, scientists discovered that different continental groups differ in genetic markers by as much as 4 to 9 percent. This discovery has made possible genealogy testing.

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cinco de mayonnaise

“Sink in De Mayo” (With Margaritas)

I’ve been at this government job for less than 2 years now, and last year I learned that my employer holds a Cinco De Mayo party every year they call, “Sink in De Mayo”.  Mayo – as in, mayonnaise.

The party has a truly gross theme, but it was a lot more fun than it sounds.

Basically, every dish at the party must contain or use mayonnaise in some way. And all the drinks are served in old (clean) mayonnaise jars. Stay with me here…

For some reason, I didn’t get the email until the day of the party, and it was being held in our office right after work! So I wasn’t exactly prepared.

But let me tell you, it was a lot of fun.

I moved to Colorado from rural Alabama, a place not exactly steeped in Mexican and Hispanic culture. So I learned a lot about Mexican food and drinks at this gathering. Cultural immersion by mayonnaise, if you will.

The Food (More Than 5 Types of Mayo)

I was surprised at the culinary prowess of my co-workers. My two favorite picks from the spread were Mexican street corn and Mexican coleslaw. Street corn is basically charred corn with a mayonnaise concoction drizzled over it. The mayo is mixed with enough spices and chili powder to put you on the streets of Mexico City.

mexican coleslaw and margaritas

Coleslaw is one of my favorite sides, so I couldn’t deny myself the opportunity to try this Mexican adaptation. It was everything I imagined it would be. I found myself sitting down with a heap of Mexican coleslaw and some carnitas (mexican pulled pork) on the side. The combination was enough to keep me locked in my seat until my plate was clean.

The Drinks Were Awesome

I was hesitant about drinking from old mayonnaise jars. They were clean, of course, but the first few sips I swear I could catch a whiff of lingering mayo (or maybe it was the mayonnaise inspired foods around me). But once I got the first drink in me, I forgot all about the smell of mayonnaise.

My employer had long ago sprung for a margarita machine to make his ‘Sinkin in De Mayo’ party complete. It was one of those big, silvery beauties that I had dreamed of owning when I lived in my bachelor pad in Alabama.

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Adderall pills

Due to what appears to be an alarming loss of concentration in our society, a sharply rising number of people are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

ADHD brainThe prescription drug Adderall, also known as “addies” or “smarties”, was designed specifically to help ADHD sufferers regain their focus and stay alert. It does this very well, with few side effects for people who really need the drug.

Due to its ability to improve concentration and increase energy levels, Adderall is also widely abused by high school and university students as a “study drug” for all-night cram sessions. Adderall is also popular among athletes as a way to keep them concentrated and energetic when training & during games.

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apple watch

Is The New Apple Watch A Lemon?

Many probably wonder what Steve Jobs is thinking right now about the future of Apple (RIP).

Late last year, Tim Cook announced what he and Apple investors thought would be an innovative huge hit in today’s market for tech wearables, the Apple Watch.

The fact is, though, the media is not impressed. Lukewarm would best describe the reception from most. Here are a few of the most prominent media takes on the new watch.

PC Mag: Why I Won’t Be Buying an Apple Watch

This article explains that a watch just needs to be a watch. We have phones, tablets and laptops to carry us into the world of the web. We do not need a watch doing the same thing. We need a watch to tell us what time it is.

It also points out that the watch is not waterproof, yet it costs $350 which is more expensive than the iPhone 6. You need the iPhone 6 to use the Apple Watch, so the accessory is more expensive than the more functional, base device.

Marketwatch: 3 Good Reasons Not to Buy the Apple Watch

The author makes a few great points. She notes there will be many kinks which will all need to be worked out, so a person would be wise in waiting. Second, as PC Mag noted, $350 is just too high, when you can buy the iPhone 6 cheaper. Lastly, it is an accessory. You don’t have to have the Apple Watch. There are necessities and accessories, and the Apple Watch is the latter.

Mashable: Why I Won’t Buy an Apple Watch

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antivirus

Antivirus programs don’t work like you think they do.

antivirus programs

Do you understand what you’re buying?

The software companies won’t always tell you this, but there are three big gaps in antivirus (AV) protection that you probably don’t want to know about – but you really should. The reality is, antivirus software is just the icing on the cake when it comes to protecting yourself from nefarious types who want to steal your identity, your credit cards and the right to access your hard drive.

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web hosting

Have you ever had a light bulb moment, where an excellent idea for a website pops into your head – and all you needed was a place to host it, cheap?

You probably went to Google as a next step and typed in “free web hosting” or something along those lines. I know I have.

The path from getting your idea on paper to launching your own web site is riddled with potential pitfalls. To save you time and frustration, here’s what I learned in most recent my quest to find the best possible web hosting service for this blog.

The first few results in any online search for a web host are usually some sort of a free web hosting service. Free web hosting services operate on the principle of giving you something until you commit. In exchange, they impose a lot of restrictions. Usually, those restrictions come in the form of limiting your bandwidth, adding advertisements all over your pages and in general, treating you like a low priority customer.

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hair drug testing

Beat The Unbeatable Hair Drug Test

OK, so this post is a little off-topic, but I find it interesting.

At my job, employee drug testing is a very serious matter. We build apps for the US government, after all.

My primary employer does random drug tests all the time, especially for contractors like me.

Last Wednesday, my team lost a really good programmer over a failed hair drug test.

I was talking to my friend Tom when he told me that several other contractors he knows for a fact are smoking pot outside of work, but they didn’t get caught on the same test. For the next 15 minutes, he introduced me to the “black art” of methods that pot smokers use to cheat the newest infallible drug test, the hair follicle test.

Now, I do not do drugs of any kind (honestly, really), but I did find it fascinating that people have figured out how to cheat what should be a foolproof, onsite test like a hair sample.

Here are the 4 ways my fellow contractors are apparently using to beat the hair drug test (or so they say):

  1. shave your body free of hair (ref: http://hairfollicledrugtest.info)
  2. get around the test  (ref: http://www.wikihow.com/Pass-a-Hair-Follicle-Drug-Test)
  3. using special detox shampoos
  4. vinegar home rinse

People Are Crafty

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smart appliances

Robotic Home Appliances Are Quietly Taking Over (In a Good Way)

A famous Silicon Valley VC once said, “software is eating the world”. Indeed!

It’s amazing to see how many computers and software applications are getting embedded into so many products and industries to automate and simplify tasks like never before. And most of this is being done under our noses, with little to no fanfare or media attention.

Software intelligence is increasingly impacting our economy at every level, from information processing to electronics and production. The use of on-board software capable of scheduling and doing tasks without human involvement has been introduced to a wide range of home appliances in the past 5-10 years, from automatic vacuum cleaners to robotic pool cleaners, automatic coffee makers, intelligent refrigerators and even bread makers.

Software Enters The Home

On-board software refers to applications capable of taking and automating task instructions for a single device or appliance – such as when to initiate a given process or function. Here are some common home appliances that have been incorporating on-board software recently, and the advantages we get from doing that.

Washers and Dryers

bosch wkd28350gb washer dryer combo

Unlike traditional washers and dryers that require people to keep an ear out for, modern washer-dryer combos are self-directed and fully automated. Intelligent washers have systems that can perform loading, washing and drying without being monitored. They also have delay features that can be used to schedule tasks so that the tasks are completed just in time, when you arrive home from work for example.

The advantage of these appliances is that tasks are performed in your absence without your oversight. There are several intelligent dryers produced by different manufacturers. A good example is the Bosch WKD28350GB automatic washer/dryer. It features washer foam detection, safeguard monitoring, aquatronic washing and begin-wash delay among other properties. The dryer claims to be more energy efficient than non-intelligent versions.

Smart Refrigerators

Also known as internet refrigerators, this appliance uses a barcode recognition system (or RFID scanners) that scan and keep records of items being stored in it. Intelligent fridges also keep track of restocking patterns and notifies users whenever there is an item that needs replenishing. Some examples include Samsung’s RH2777AT HomePAD and Zipel e-Diary, LG’s Digital DIOS, GR-D267DTU and ThinQ LFX31995ST.

Outdoor Grills

There are several automated grills and smart concept grills on the market today. These new designs feature software that can access internet databases to identify correct recipes including cooking methods and timing. The grills also have preprogrammed systems that eliminate guesswork and use fine recipes to produce the best meal. For example, the Lynx concept grill allows activation via voice instruction and has many other incredible capabilities.

Robotic Pool Cleaners

aquabot pool rover jr

Swimming pool owners no longer need to pay pool cleaners or leave their vacuum/filtration systems on all day. Robotic pool cleaners like the Dolphin Nautilus and the Aquabot Pool Rover are designed to effectively clean swimming pool floor, walls and cloves. The chief advantage of having onboard software to run these devices is that cleaning is fully automated, the routes are intelligently controlled so less time is required to clean, and cleaning can be scheduled to happen during specified periods of time to ensure your pool is always clean but not interrupting your fun.

Robotic Vacuum Cleaners (robo-vacs)

These are programmed in-home vacuum cleaners that use a combination of cleaning procedures (UV sterilization, mopping, etc.) plus features such as spinning brushes to clean your floors and carpeted surfaces automatically. They can be set to perform cleaning at given time intervals in the absence of anyone. Robovacs may also incorporate systems like security cameras and intercoms, to serve as watchdog.

iRobot Roomba

iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner is a good example.

The incorporation of smart applications and on-board software into ordinary home appliances has resulted in more convenience, higher energy efficiency and improved productivity/performance for a wide range of tasks – and we’re just getting started!

code javascript

Learning how to code used to be boring. But not any more.

CodeAcademy.org sort of broke the mold with their wildly popular 10 hour course for learning how to code in Javascript.Over 24 million people have taken this course! Today, they offer courses on Python, CSS and lots more.

Following their lead, more fun and educational programs have come online to help budding/aspiring developers to take the plunge.

All of the courses below are clever in the way they motivate you through constant positive feedback. I think they’re fun. I wish I’d had them when I got started. Or maybe not, because there would be a lot more coders to compete with!

Here are the three best FREE self-guided programming courses available today. Enjoy!

Codecademy

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