Monthly Archives: June 2017

Sports Lead the Way on Developing Technology

drone

June 26, 2017

New technology is often advanced in unusual ways. Let’s look at two new techs that are currently the cutting edge of Sports – electric powered cars and drones. For some new technology it takes real world development to advance the technology to make it more consumer friendly i.e. more affordable. Look at what the space program did for the computer chip and the personal computing revolution in the 60s and the 70s. Similar advancements are occurring today as witnessed in the electric car industry with its adoption in the highly competitive sport of auto racing. Drone technology is being advanced in a new sporting event that has recently been promoted by ESPN in a new series called the Drone Racing League.

The electric and hybrid cars are a fairly recent addition to our personal choice of traveling, but to say they have taken off is an understatement. Advancing technology is sometimes driven in odd places and presently it’s the car industry that is the leader. From energy to robotics, the car industry is hot. Car companies have used the racing world as the test grounds for developing and modifying new technologies for years. Companies like Porsche, Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes, and Audi have all made massive commitments of research dollars to develop hybrid and electric technology for the track. The old adage in the car industry has always been “win on the track on Sunday and sell in the show rooms on Monday”. The recent 24 hours of Le Mans was won by a hybrid powered Porsche. Another hybrid powered Toyota set the fastest lap ever driven at the historic Le Mans race. There has even been developed a “formula one” like racing series for 100% electric powered cars called Formula E. This is all occurring at what may be an inflection point in the US car industry. Currently about 17 million cars and trucks are sold annually in America with electric powered cars accounting for only a small component. It is currently estimated that by 2025 (a mere 8 years) that electric car sales will hit 1.2 million units, that is double the forecast from just last year and a staggering 10 fold increase from 2014. The transformation is global in nature as China is predicting that by 2025 they will see demand from their consumers for 3 million electric cars!

The Drone Racing League shown on ESPN spotlights the advancement of drones and the skill of the pilots that fly them. The DRL program created an amazing TV show that features highly modified drones capable of traveling speeds up to 80 mph that compete with one another,  racing in and around incredibly tight confines. The show appears to be almost Star Wars-like in the ability and technical capacities that both the drone and pilot have in these races. It opened my mind to a new drone world and I can now see many more applications for drone technology after seeing this show. Electric cars and their effect on the demand for oil along with drones becoming more commonplace are two large transformational events stemming in the tech world. Watch a Drone Race League race – you will be amazed.

Carl Gambrell

626

Hackers Can Steal These?

creditcardtheft

June 19, 2017

I am a big credit card user. Initially this was for convenience as I did not want to carry around a bulky checkbook. I soon discovered, however, the benefits of credit card reward programs. Like many others, I now care deeply about accumulating points.

We have all probably had to deal with a call from the fraud department of our credit card company which notifies us of some unusual activity on our account. I seem to have had more than my fair share and I am glad that the credit card companies do a good job of protecting me. But recently something happened that had never occurred to me before. I had just received yet another replacement card and I checked online to make sure my stash of reward points had been transferred to the new card. Bear in mind this was no small issue. This was my main credit card, and it has a pretty good points program. Truth be known, I cannot remember the last time I actually spent any real money on an airline ticket. Reward points are my currency when I book travel for me and my family. I was expecting to see a nice balance in my account, but to my surprise the points total had fallen to almost zero.

For some reason the possible theft of my reward points seemed worse than someone using my credit card. I called the credit card company hoping to be told the low balance was caused by a simple delay in the points getting posted to the new card. The friendly rewards person told me that the credit card company had already dutifully transferred my balance, all 302 points. I knew that meant 100,000 points had gone missing. After more investigation at the credit card company end, I was told that a lot of points had been used on two dates. Given I did not recognize those dates I asked for more information. Thirty minutes later I was informed that my points had been redeemed for hotel stays in London, Paris and Vancouver, and all on those same two dates. My dogged customer service person went on to ask if that sounded familiar to me; a question which obviously overlooked the difficulty I would have in staying at multiple locations simultaneously. When I clarified that I had in fact been in Atlanta all that week, it became clear to us both that someone must have stolen the points at the time of the suspected credit card fraud. This event was apparently fairly uncommon, and the rewards team was not even sure how to track it down. Nevertheless they promised to credit back my points.

Google estimates there is $16 billion in value of unused points sitting unclaimed in customers’ accounts. If you have a lot of unused points on your various cards, I encourage you that take notice of their use. Credit card reward points are yet another consumer asset at risk.

Carl Gambrell

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