This autonomous robot draws sand art and looks like a turtle

Josh Lownsohn in www.theverge.com  10 Jan 2015

(credit: Beachbot)
(credit: Beachbot)

We’ve built robots to wash our dishes, vacuum our floors, and even to replace members of our family, so it should come as no surprise there’s now a robot that draws a perfect recreation of Disney’s Nemo — or anything else — on sand. This is the Beachbot, the result of a collaboration between Disney Research and Swiss Engineering school ETH Zurich. It’s been specifically designed to drag a tiny rake in the sand while maneuvering around beaches like a canvas, drawing computer-aided designs of Disney characters, or whatever else is loaded into its telemetry. You can also take it over by remote control and draw with reckless abandon.

The robot keeps itself from veering into a watery death by tracking its distance by laser to four poles that are stuck into the sand. And in order to keep from leaving footsteps like a clumsy human, the Beachbot uses what Disney refers to as balloon wheels, which look a lot like giant polyurethane skateboard wheels. Tucked just behind those is the rake system, which can be adjusted to create lines as thin as 5cm.

Before getting too excited about purchasing a Beachbot to impress dates or entertain your children, there’s no mention of this getting a commercial release anytime soon.

Obstacle avoidance is the next big step for drones

Signe Brewster in www.gigaom.com  9 Jan 2015

Consumer drones have come a long way in just a few years, evolving from complex hobbyist models to consumer-ready quadcopters with increasingly smart cameras and controls. But they are still unable to autonomously avoid obstacles — an ability that would completely change the flying experience and make drone-based services much, much safer.

That is slowly changing through startups likeDroneDeployAirware and Panoptes, and now Ascending Technologies, which made a big splash at this year’s CES.

AscTec, which makes professional-level drones, will begin shipping its “Firefly” drone with obstacle-detecting sensors later this year. It incorporate’s Intel’s RealSense 3D cameras, which Wired reported are smaller and lighter than other options.

Five years ago, it would have been impossible to build a setup like AscTec’s. Moderately sized drones are limited in their lifting power, and as much weight as possible needs to go to a drone’s battery and camera (or small parcel). There is also some serious artificial intelligence involved in drawing actionable intelligence from a sensing system. A drone not only needs to sense a wall, but also immediately respond to avoid it.

The FAA is still mulling what exactly drone regulations will look like in the U.S. But eventually collision-avoiding drones will play a strong role. No one wants the tacocopter delivery drone to spill its precious cargo, let alone crash into a person’s head.

How To Make Sure Your Gmail Is As Secure As Possible

Jillian D’Onfro in www.businessinsider.com  10 Jan 2015

No one wants to deal with the stress and potential damages of having an email account hacked.

To decrease the likelihood of hacks, as well as the time it takes account holders to find suspicious activity that could be a precursor, Gmail has created a handy check list that all users should take the time to walk through.

To find the check list, first go to your email’s “Account” page, by navigating through the drop-down menu in the top right corner of your email:
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-make-sure-your-gmail-is-as-secure-as-possible-2015-1#ixzz3OwJr0YvH

How to set up Google Analytics widgets and heatmaps to track email conversions

by Sean Kim in the www.thenextweb.com

Many of you have probably heard of Google Analytics already. It tracks the basic website activities of your blog/website, such as unique traffic, traffic channels, visitor demographics, and more.

Sure, this is great information to get an overall understanding of our users. But the action that we want our visitors to take is to sign up for our email list, right?

So how do we know how many emails we are collecting on a daily basis, which traffic channels are giving us the most emails, and what the conversion rates for each of these are?

What I’m about to show you has saved me more hours of testing and guessing that you can imagine.Many of you have probably heard of Google Analytics already. It tracks the basic website activities of your blog/website, such as unique traffic, traffic channels, visitor demographics, and more.

Sure, this is great information to get an overall understanding of our users.

But the action that we want our visitors to take is to sign up for our email list, right?

So how do we know how many emails we are collecting on a daily basis, which traffic channels are giving us the most emails, and what the conversion rates for each of these are?

What I’m about to show you has saved me more hours of testing and guessing that you can imagine.
Once you’ve set up your email conversion, the two major things you’ll have the ability to measure are:

  1. Which exact traffic channels are giving you the best email conversions and the most emails.
  2. The conversion rate and emails collected on each of the pages on your website.

Knowing this key piece of information is critical because we can immediately understand what’s working, what’s not, and which of our efforts are driving the best results.

So how do you grow your blog by tracking your email conversions?

1. Create a Thank you page

The first thing you must do is create a thank you page for your blog. This is the page that you will direct your users to once they have signed up for your email list.

For example, this is what you’ll see when you join AccelBlog.  Click here to read more.