Category Archives: Google

On the way to the Moon with #MoonRIDERS

MoonRiders Moon RIDERS: Research Investigating Dust Expulsion Removal Systems is a unique collaboration that involves NASA, PISCES, Google Lunar XPrize, Dept of Education, Iolani High School and Kealakehe High School. It's rare to have such a diverse public private partnership involving a public and private school, and MoonRIDERS is being touted as a first for Hawaii. Both schools have an opportunity to build and operate an experiment on the surface of the moon. Interestingly, a major problem with extraterrestrial landings is dust. Eons of dust, layer upon layer of this fine as flour, rough as sandpaper particles, get kicked up during a landing and can cause havoc with equipment and flight suits. This became evident to NASA since our first lunar landings.
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Electrodynamic Dust Shield
NASA researchers like Carlos Calle worked to refine a method to remove surface dust called Electrodynamic Dust Shield (EDS). Using a phase shifted alternating current the EDS moved the dust particles off the surface of glass. This dust shield is just one aspect of the mission student teams from Iolani and Kealakehe will test. The EDS unit needs to be mounted to the base of a lunar lander but in order to get an assessment of it's relative position an entire mockup of the lander needs to be fabricated. The Iolani team using their maker facility at Sullivan Center fabricated a quarter size mockup of the Astrobotic Lunar Rover called the Griffin. The Kealakehe team is working on an alternative rover designed by EarthRise Space Foundation. Both teams started at the beginning of this academic year (Sept 2014) and are now at the stage of an engineering field test in March 2015 on Mauna Kea at a PISCES test site. During the March field test the mockups will go through a series of tests to simulate a lunar landing. They teams will also have a chance to test the EDS and make recommendations on how to measure its performance. In addition to fabrication and testing the teams also engage in outreach as STEM ambassadors. Both the Iolani and Kealakehe teams have MoonRIDERS websites and social media sites including Twitter and Instagram. The Iolani team consist primarily of junior and senior level students but part of their mission is to introduce the project to lower school 3rd graders at Iolani and eventual take the show on the road to other schools. This outreach effort is important since MoonRIDERS will outlast some of the students currently involved as they graduate from school. The timeline for the launch date is late 2016. But even after the launch, the hope is there will be future payload projects that will involve Hawaii high school teams, a critical role for PISCES and NASA as the enabler. Rob Kelso, Executive Director of PISCES said, "For students to go into an interview for college or job and be able to say they were part of a flight experiment that today is sitting on the surface of the Moon. What a testimony to their hard work!" Now the goal is to get more Hawaii students into this STEM pipeline, to share in this game changing experience and to create high value 21st century skills. Additional Links:

Google Trekker

On June 27, 2013, Google announced its first Trekker Partnership with the Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau. The 40 lbs. back pack contains 15 cameras shooting 17MBs per frame. Rob Pacheco from Big Island's Hawaii Forest and Trails is the first HVCB vendor to record the trails on Hawaii Island. Once completed, the files will be post-processed by Google and made available in the 4th quarter 2013. The Google Trekker will then get deployed on Maui, Kauai and finally to Oahu. Keep up with the latest developments on the Trekker here.

More Google Street View Maps

C&C Honolulu - Google Street View Last year at this time, I covered the Google Street View trike as it made the rounds at Kapiolani Community College and other campuses around town. Much like the Street View car, it's hard to miss this engineering marvel. It's an adult sized trike with a sizable multi-lens camera mounted on a mono-pod on the trike's frame. The team mapped the community colleges on Oahu and then went to the neighbor islands to map the campuses there. Between then and now, it was pretty quiet when all these maps were going to become available. Until now of course when I got word of Mayor Carlisle's press conference announcing the entire catalog of Street View maps of Hawaii. According to Product Manager, Evan Rapoport, the Street View team has been busy mapping campuses, State and City parks, recreation areas, tourist attractions and scenic spots. The press conference was held at Hanauma Bay on an off day that looked to be threatened by rain. But in the bay itself the weather was very cooperative. The City set up an Internet connected monitor to demonstrate how you would find a typical Street View map. The steps are pretty easy. First you start at maps.google.com. Then you enter in the search: Hanauma Bay. You might get several returned selections. I chose: Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Park, Honolulu, HI. You then drag the Google Street View man (named Pegman) over the area of interest and as you do you will see blue paths appear. Those correspond to the Street View maps. You can also grab the embed code and drop these maps into your own website just like I've done here: View Larger Map The list of Street View locations are quite numerous and this document will get you started. I also posted a bunch of photos of the event here. There was good social media representation there with Dallas Nagata, Kyle Nishioka, Greg Yamane, Russ Sumida, Tara Coomans, Jerome Koehler and Ryan Ozawa. You''ll enjoy reading their followup coverage: I was hoping that Evan would also have the Google Street View backpack on hand to demonstrate but he admitted to me that  it was too new. According to Evan, that will be Google's next phase for Hawaii. I am sure they will capture some stunning hikes.

Google Trike and the Street View Team

Google TrikeIf you keep a sharp lookout you might catch the Google Street View team driving around a campus near you. This past Wednesday I caught up with the Street View car and the specially modified Google Trike on the campus of Kapiolani Community College. A couple of years ago, the team was here mapping the main streets on Oahu with the Street View car. With the use of the Trike, the main focus is the pathways of the University of Hawaii campuses. From what I could see the image capture equipment looked similar to the system on the car. The system is mounted on a fairly large tricycle. The camera system is powered by a gasoline powered generator but the trike is purely people powered. In an email response to a question I posed about availability of maps, Google's public affairs office told me that:
Our Street View trikes have special cameras that take photographs as thee operator pedals along. Once the photographs have been taken, they go through computer processing to make them ready for use on Google Maps. This includes stitching the photographs into 360-degree panoramic images and cutting-edge face blurring technology, which helps make sure that passers-by in the photographs can't be identified and blurs legible license plates. Once we've collected and processed the imagery for an area, we add it to Google Maps. It goes without saying, therefore, that the imagery isn't real-time, and usually takes several months from when the photographs are taken until the panoramics appear on Google Maps.
The Street View team is mapping all the community colleges as well as the University of Hawaii's Manoa campus. The Google car and trike then head off to the neighbor islands to map out the UH campuses there. As I started to leave a crowd began to form around the Google Trike to snap some photos. It is an interesting time for Google. Their popularity is undeniable but places like Germany and Japan are reacting vocally against their lost of privacy resulting from the Street View images. Yesterday a Federal judge said Google could be held liable for 'wiretapping" for collecting wifi data on Street View runs. And on top of all this is the Federal Trade Commissions investigation of Google for antitrust business practices. Someone once told me, "you know you're successful when everyone wants to sue you. Just take a number and stand in line."

Motorola Droid

Motorola DroidFor the past week or so I've had the pleasure of using a Motorola Droid courtesy of Verizon Wireless. It's a loaner so I have to return it shortly. As these are my first impressions, I am going to make the obvious comparisons to the iPhone 3GS which I will admit I am in love with. The first question I have is without an iTunes like interface, how does one sync all the content to the Droid? At first take it is not intuitively obvious. Neither is it on second take. I thought I might be able to drop content into the Droid if I plug it into my laptop but Finder on my MacMini did not see any Droid device or storage. The Droid did recognize the Mac as a power source, though. So loading music and podcasts will have to wait. The next thing I did was search for applications. The Droid menu includes something called a Market launchable from an icon that looks like a little briefcase. Clicking that brings up the Android marketplace. From here you can search and select from thousands of Android apps. The big difference from the iPhone is Google is not restricting any apps from being made available for the Droid. The vetting process that Apple subjects all the apps getting into the iTunes Store is a big sore point for many developers. As will all things there is a plus side and a downside. For Google Android it is open to anyone wanting to develop for their Droid phones.  The downside is that there exists the possibility for some nefarious applications to be downloaded to your phone. In the Apple case, they control access but with the promise that it will be a user friendly environment. Once you find an application you like in Market you just click on it and Install. The app gets downloaded directly to your phone from the Verizon 3G network. I tried a few of the popular titles like Seesmic for Twitter access, Yelp for restaurants and ShopSavvy for barcode reading. All worked fine except Yelp did not have the augmented reality feature as found on the iPhone version. I did like the Google Goggles app just announced last week. With it you can snap a picture of a book, a product, a landmark, even a face. Goggles will then scan the image and return search information based on your image. Very cool. The Motorola Droid phone is solid, even a bit heavier than the iPhone 3GS. I've heard a lot of people complain about the physical keyboard but people complained about the iPhone screen keyboard when it first came out. My only comment is since the Droid has a screen keyboard, it could do away with the physical keyboard and reduce some weigh and complexity. The screen for the Droid is very crisp making for clear images. I also like the Voice activation capabilities with the Droid. I must also mention, last week there was an upgrade to the Android operating system to 2.0.1. The phone automatically prompted me of the update and proceeded to download it. Quite seamless. All in all a very nice phone. One that will be a major player in the smartphone market. Right now though IMHO, the Droid is more suited for the early geek adopter. The true test is the Mom test. Moms are more incline to get immediate benefit from the iPhone before the Droid. I'll update this post as I get more information. Unfortunately I will have to return this phone shortly. Stay tuned to the Dec. 30 edition of Bytemarks Cafe where we will have a couple of gadget geeks on to talk about their impression of the Droid.

News Updates for Sept. 2, 2009

People have actually stopped me at work asking about the online productivity tools talked about by Susan Jaworowski and Jonathan Wong on this edition of Bytemarks Cafe. They both did a great job of sharing their favorite collaboration and efficiency tools best suited for team activities. It was a full discussion and you can catch the complete conversation on the podcast.  If you think I missed any application discussed please let me know: And now the news: (*All news stories contributed to by Ryan Ozawa, co-host of Bytemarks Cafe)
  • Tesoro Corporation has shipped its first barrels of crude oil from the Atlantic to the Pacific Basin on a reversed Panama pipeline, the company said last week. The 81-mile pipeline, owned by Petroterminal de Panama, or "PTP," formerly flowed from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Reversal of the pipeline establishes a new conduit for crude oil transportation and will help Tesoro to deliver a broader range of crude oils produced in Africa, the Atlantic region of South America and the North Sea, through Panama.
  • Researchers from the University of Hawaii were part of an international team that detonated 80 tons of explosives in an Israeli desert last week to test methods to detect seismic activity across long distances through atmospheric acoustics. The controlled, above-ground explosion in the Negev desert was equal to an earthquake of 3.0 on the Richter scale. The test was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, and coordinated by the University of Hawaii and the Geophysical Institute of Israel.
  • Hawaii Biotech, Inc., one of Hawaii's largest biotechnology companies, announced last week that its one of its dengue vaccines has moved into a Phase 1 clinical study. The study is being conducted at Saint Louis University, and involves double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-escalation tests on healthy subjects.
  • Now that Mauna Kea has been chosen as the site for the Thirty-Meter Telescope, the search is on for the funding and other support needed to build and operate it. And last week, astronomers from China expressed interest in becoming partners. The telescope, which will become the world's largest when completed in 2019, needs total financing of about $1 billion. Canada and Japan already signed up with the University of California and the California Institute of Technology, which conceived and leads the project.
  • Finally, a quick update on a story we first brought to you in July. The Hawaii School Guide, at HawaiiSchoolGuide.com, officially launched yesterday. The website is the brainchild of local entrepreneur and parent Evan Leong. The Hawaii School Guide features a searchable database covering over 800 schools statewide, from over 300 public schools to preschools, private schools, and other education centers.

Vint Cerf @ PTC 2009

Vint Cerf, one of the true architects of the Internet during the DARPA years, spoke at the Pacific Telecommunications Conference (PTC) 2009. It's always inspiring to hear people like Vint speak as they are influential in the development of the Internet. With trusty Xacti in hand, I was able to capture his keynote on Jan. 19, 2009. The entire talk was about an hour long so I clipped a couple of passages that you might find interesting. The first is his thoughts on the state of the Internet and some of the new developments in 2009. In this segment he talks about IPv6, new TLD names, copyrights and cloud computing. The second clip is about a future view on extending the Internet beyond the Earth and into inter-planetary space. Here he talks about the protocol development to enable space vehicles and satellites to communicate with each other. His entire keynote was quite engaging and I hope make more of it available later.

Google vs. IT Depts.

Now that I work in an good size IT department, articles like these from TechRepublic catch my attention. I've been a longtime fan of Google and find myself using them more and more in my personal and small business computing. My Firefox home page is set to iGoogle, I am always on Gmail and get my Tweets get sent directly to Google Talk. I use Google Reader, Google Docs, Google Analytics and the list goes on. If and when Google Health was available I would definitely use that. Google is everywhere and as this article points out sits "on the biggest pile of information that has ever been collected in the world.” Enough so that Gartner has classified Google as a disruptive technology. It's not hard to imagine IT services being outsourced to Google, if not in whole, certainly in parts. It is clear that any IT shop unable to quantify and communicate its value will get outsourced. Hold onto your seats as another paradigm shift is about to occur.