Check out this week's look at tech news
This installment of Tech Five offers a look at some interesting new technology covering trucking, voice command, web use, software costs and STEM testing. So read on to learn more about a diverse range of tech, and don't miss the bonus at the end.
Look ma' no driver
Self-driving semi - Otto - self-driving semi - in California it is legal to test these on the road, and former Google employee involved with that company's self-driving cars is now involved with Otto and its Otto Auto Driving truck. The screen shot from the Otto website here shows what may be the future - a cab with no driver up front - though there was an operator in the video doing some work. We liked the headline on this story from Backchannel - The man who built Google's first self-driving car is now a trucker. Check it out.
Ramping up voice command
During it's big event this week Google unveiled Home it's answer to the Amazon Echo. The speaker, when connected to the Web (and power) in your home or office, listens for you to ask it questions or seek information. It can also be commanded to play your music or read you the news. The tech doesn't come out until Fall, and it's a direct answer to the Amazon Echo, which is getting a lot of attention. While it's called Amazon Echo you activate it by calling out to Alexa and asking questions.
It's an advancement in tech that shows voice-controlled tools are getting more common, and Google Home is apparently the competitor all the geeks wanted. You can learn more from The Verge report on its launch. Pricing is not available yet. The image above is a screen grab from our friends at Google, you can sign up to be notified about the new product at home.google.com.
Checking your web speed
For farmers in far-away places knowing your web connection speed could either be depressing, or informative. Either way it's also easier now that Netflix is offering a new web-speed measuring tool. The tool will show you how fast your connection speed is (that's mine in my company office). And your results will vary, but it's a quick way to know if you're getting the service for which you paid.
Netflix has a vested interest in you knowing your connection speed because downloading video is faster and cleaner the more speedy your connection. It's at least worth checking out.
Making sense of subscribing to software
Microsoft Office is everywhere, and these days with cloud-based One Drive storage (what the editor of Farm Industry News uses and likes) it truly is everywhere. But is the new-fangled Office 365 the right way to go? It's a good question and the folks at PC Magazine have a new column for home office users that offers a comprehensive look at the ways Office is available for PC and Mac users. It's worth a look to get a better handle on which form of Office is right for you.
The idea of not owning software is relatively new, but this process makes sure that you're always up to date, and in many cases the software resides on the Web, so you can access your files from any computer. It's worth a look.
Girls beat boys in new science test
There's a worry that girls get set back early from science, tech, engineering and math (or STEM) education due to a number of reasons, which creates bias for the future. There's good news on that front this week when 8th grade girls outscored boys on a new test measure from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In that test, girls scored better than boys in STEM areas and that's a first. Looks like progress is happening, and you can check out the states in this Vox report.
And your bonus…
Over in Pennsylvania the Pittsburgh Steelers are working with an MVP - in this case it's a Mobile Virtual Player. For lack of a better description this is a drone tackle dummy controlled by an operator that moves with players to block them and mess up pass plays. It's hard to show this machine in action - the screen capture above just shows it at work. But there's a video on the Steelers' website that shows it at work. It's an interesting bit of automation and technology.