Cortana, Not Your Desktop AI After All

Microsoft's Cortana

When we first met Cortana, she was a sidekick to everyone’s favorite video game hero, Masterchief, in the Xbox game series Halo. The game series had a phenomenal following, so it seemed a masterful move for Microsoft to bring her to Windows Desktops everywhere as our friendly, and famous, smart assistant.

But things have not progressed well for our digital heroine since her introduction in 2015, and what should have been a slam dunk failed to take hold. Microsoft has published an End of Support Release for Cortana, so we can expect her time to be fleeting at best.

But all is not lost with a desktop AI on the Windows platform. Microsoft recently introduced Copilot at their Build event, so expect to see that continue to expand its presence in the desktop world. But for Cortana, well, she will probably stick with her video gaming roots and hopefully continue to help save the world yet one more time. Which is where I think she works best, so this is actually a happy ending.

Hydraulic Powered Drone Provides for 6 Hour, 500 Mile Flights

Drones are all the rage now, and I feel certain that this technology will lead to a new breed of personal aircraft that will lead us to where past developments have failed (I’m looking at you, non-existent personal jetpack.) But Flowcopter’s drone technology is a little different. The driving force is not independent motors, but rather hydraulic in nature.

Source: Flowcopter

The Hydraulic System

The hydraulic system to drive the individual lifting motors will be somewhat bulky, certainly. But when you consider the weight of the typical lithium battery pack, suddenly the numbers make sense. And the hydraulic motors themselves are actually well suited to the task. Each 12 pound motor being is able to generate up to 129 horsepower of potential lift. Flowcopter’s unique design gets around the typical lack of control finesse in a hydraulic design. It uses a “Digital Displacement Pump” to minutely regulate the power feed. As a result, they claim that it rivals the precision offered by direct electrical motor control while simultaneously providing a lot of power for the lift.

Source: Flowcopter on Youtube

Gas Powered for Range

The flying vehicle uses a gas engine to provide the hydraulic pressure to make everything work. That fact is the key to its long range. Properly configured, flights of 6 hours and crossing 900 kilometers are possible with the new vehicle type. And for shorter distances, the device can readily haul up to 330 pounds. This capability makes it an idea platform for deliveries. And, I might say, perfect as a personal vehicle of sorts. I mean, who wouldn’t want a hydraulic powered flying drone that you just need to fuel up and take off on for a jaunt?

Hydraulic Power
Joseph Bramah, an inventor and locksmith living in London, registered a patent for a hydraulic system, at the London Patent Office on 29 April 1812. He claimed it could be applied “to a variety of other useful purposes, to which the same has never before been so applied.”

A Picard Primer

Well, Picard is now officially out (With Season 2 around the corner, on CBS Access, and other online locations worldwide), and in our humble opinion here at NerdBeach we think it is great to see the man back in action. Sure, we could do with a lot less lens flare, but a Picard series, or any new Star Trek, is always welcome at the beach.

Photo Credit: CBS All Access

While we have been along with Star Trek since the start, I know there may be some fine folks that are new to Picard’s universe. And there may others that would just like to refresh their Picard back story as they take in the new show.

For that reason, we have scoured both the web and our memory to present a viewing guide of the previous Trek for your Picard priming pleasure. (And please note that this is not a reflection of favorite episodes, just episodes that are closely related to the back story of the Picard series and its characters.)

Star Trek The Next Generation

  • S1:E1-2 Encounter at Far Point
  • S1:E3 Naked Now
  • S1:E8 The Battle
  • S1:E12 Data Lore
  • S1:E23 Skin Of Evil
  • S2:E6 The Schizoid Man
  • S2:E9 The Measure of a Man
  • S2:E16 Q Who
  • S3:E16 The offspring
  • S3:E26 /4:1 The Best of Both Worlds
  • S4:E2 Family 
  • S4:E3 Brothers
  • S5:E23 iBorg
  • S5:E25 The Inner Light 
  • S6:E9 The Quality of Life
  • S6:E15 Tapestry
  • S6:E26 S7:E1 Descent 
  • S7:E10 Inheritance 
  • S7:E25 26 All Good things

Star Trek Enterprise 

  • S4:E4 Borderland
  • 4S:E5 Cold Station 12
  • S4:E6 The Augments

Star Trek Voyager 

  • S1:E1-2 Caretaker
  • S3:E17 Unity
  • S3:E26-S4:E1 Scorpion
  • S4:E6 The Raven
  • S5:E2 Drone
  • S5:E16 Dark Frontier
  • S6:E2 Survival Instinct 
  • S6:E16 Collective
  • S6:E19 Childs Play
  • S6:E26-S7:E1 Unimatrix Zero
  • S7:E2 Imperfection 
  • S7:E25-26 End Game

Star Trek Films

  • Generations
  • First Contact
  • Enterprise 
  • Insurrection 
  • Nemesis

Star Trek Shorts

  • Children of Mars

Is It Safe to Play Outside During Harsh Weather?

When spring showers and summer storms hit, sometimes not even the threat of thunder can chase children inside. Some even enjoy playing in the wild weather, while for schools it can be tempting to continue sports events during rough weather conditions rather than calling the game. But mother nature can be unpredictable – and storms can often mean unsafe conditions.

Interesting Facts About Lightning Strikes

The biggest risk for outdoor play during storms and inclement weather is a lightning strike. Lightning data gathered over decades from multiple sources indicates that:

  • 17 percent of lightning deaths each year happen during outdoor recreational and sporting activities
  • Over 400 people in the United States alone are struck by lightning annually
  • On average, 49 people per year die during lightning strikes
  • Even non-fatal lightning strikes can lead to brain damage or other disabilities

The majority of those affected by lightning strikes during outdoor play range from late teens to early adults. Many strikes take place at school events and other organized sports outings. For responsible risk prevention, it’s important to have a plan in place for early prediction and rapid mobilization on the occasion of a weather event.

Listen for the Thunder

Your first warning that something may be amiss is thunder. Thunder is actually the sound lightning makes as it moves across the sky. If you hear thunder, you’re potentially in danger. Even dry skies can create the risk for a lightning strike. Don’t wait for the first sign of rain. The moment thunderclouds begin to loom, recognize the risk and head inside.

Forewarned Is Forearmed

Mother nature can be unpredictable, but you can take some of the uncertainty out of weather forecasting and preparation by relying on Earth networks. With one of the best weather stations in the country and state-of-the-art data analytics, Earth Networks provides the technology and information needed for weather safety and effective response planning. Find out more about real-time weather tracking, automated decision tools, and 24/7 meteorological support.

Lightning by Plasma
Lightning is light in the form of blackbody radiation coming from the very hot plasma created by the electron flow. The difference between a lightning flash and a lightning strike is that a strike hits the ground or another object while a flash stays in the air.