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.”

Apple Adds Family Page for Its Parental Tools

Making good on a promise it made in January, Apple has launched a portal page to help parents control how their children use their Apple products.  The new Apple Families page has information about all of the parental controls, allowing a parent to quickly see what tools are available to them and how best to manage their child’s product use.

Apple Family Portal Page (Image: Apple)

Handy Tools and Information on the Apple Families Page

On the page, you will find helpful tools such as an app management control that will block in-app purchases. There is also an Ask To Buy interface that allows you to approve purchases requested by your child. You can also limit their internet exposure, letting them access only certain parts of the web or your approved websites.

Find My Friends
Find My Friends, the tool to track family members and friends via GPS, was originally announced during Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” keynote event on October 4, 2011.


Apple also includes the Find My Friends feature, so that you can track your child’s location. This tool allows you to be alerted when they arrive or leave at a designated area.  This feature alone can reassure even the most worried parent.

Discover Tools and Features

By bringing all of the parental tools Apple has to offer on a single page, it makes it easy to see exactly how Apple Families can help with your parental tasks. In fact, you may even discover one or two options that you didn’t know existed before.

For example, the page shows new driving safety features and better sleeping tools. There is also helpful information about sharing purchases and calendars, which may help keep everyone in sync and on time. If you haven’t taken a look yet, you just might discover a new feature or two, even if you aren’t a parent.

Airbags Can Be Scary

It’s hard to argue with the fact that airbags have saved a lot of lives since their introduction. But have you ever considered the mechanics that it takes to deploy an airbag? To have this much inflation in a fraction of a second requires a lot of explosively charged gases allowed to expel into a confined area. What generates a lot of explosively charged gases? Why, an explosion, of course.

Airbags can be scary

Yes, the airbag a few inches from your face as you drive is actually an explosive device set to detonate at the slightest impact detection.  Because of this delicate balance between security and potential disaster, it is highly recommended that people don’t mess with these small bombs designed in the name of safety.  But there is nothing wrong with watching as someone else does explore exactly how much punch an airbag packs. Watch below as Giaco Whatever experiments with these devices.