An overview of observations and theories regarding planet formation

Cafe Scientifique SV @ SRI: ‘Got Planets? We See Them and We Can “Make” Them!’

In this Cafe Scientifique Silicon Valley talk, Olenka Hubickyj, Ph.D., lecturer of physics and astronomy at San Jose State University, will give an overview of observations and theories regarding planet formation. [Tuesday] July 14, 6-7:30 p.m. Free.

Where: SRI International, 333 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park

Marty Ritchey at 650-859-2198


TWC Must Pay Nearly $230,000 For Robocalls To Wrong Person

“After receiving several calls to her cell phone, the woman explained to a representative for the company that she was not the intended recipient and would like to be added to the company’s Do Not Call list, Reuters reports.

Still, the calls – made through an interactive voice response (IVR) system for customers who were late paying bills – persisted. In March 2014, the woman took the step to sue the company, but the calls continued.

TWC [Time Warner Cable] contended that it wasn’t liable under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act because it believed it was contacting someone else who had previously consented to the calls.

“Defendant [TWC] harassed plaintiff with robo-calls until she had to resort to a lawsuit to make the calls stop, and even then TWC could not be bothered to update the information in its IVR system,” the decision continued.”

Full article is at

Why the Great Glitch of July 8th Should Scare You

“LAYERS AND LEGACIES: A lot of software is now old enough to be multi-layered. Airline reservation systems are particularly glitchy since they’ve been around a while. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some mainframe code from the 1960s still running part of that beast. In the nineties, I paid for parts of my college education by making such old software work on newer machines. Sometimes, I was handed a database, and some executable (compiled) code that nobody had the source code for. The mystery code did some things to the database. Now more things needed to be done. The sane solution would have been to port the whole system to newer machines, fully, with new source code. But the company neither had the money nor the time to fix it like that, once and for all. So I wrote more code that intervened between the old programs and the old database, and added some options that the management wanted. It was a lousy fix. It wouldn’t work for the next thing that needed to be done, either, but they would probably hire one more person to write another layer of connecting code. But it was cheap (for them). And it worked (for the moment).”

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BBC is giving tiny computers to a million kids

“Earlier this year [2015] the BBC announced that it planned to give one million students across the UK a programmable microcomputer, called the BBC Micro Bit, to help them learn the basics of coding. Now four months later, the design of the device has been finalized, ahead of its scheduled rollout date in October. The Micro Bit features two buttons, an array of programmable LED lights, and an in-built motion sensor. Users can connect their microcomputer to bigger devices by Bluetooth or USB, or to the similarly tiny Raspberry Pi through it’s input-output rings.

The BBC Micro moniker is already familiar to many in the UK, having been used for a series of machines designed by Acorn Computers and released in the country during the 1980s. The comparatively cheap computers helped thousands learn programming skills, and played a part in kickstarting the British video games industry, as coders designed increasingly elaborate console games in their bedrooms.”

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Google-search [bbc computers kids]: News, Web, Videos

Wearable Robots

Welcome to Ekso Bionics, a robotics company whose products include an external wearable body frame that soldiers can put on under their uniforms to help them carry heavy loads, as well as a device people with spinal cord injuries can wear to help them during their rehabilitation.

The Ekso GT exoskeleton, which resembles a brace with crutches and a backpack, was designed for people who have lost some or all use of their legs. It works when sensors in the device respond to weight being put on them, initiating the assisted steps. That ensures the wearer is aligned into a proper walking pattern, which could help the patient rehabilitate faster, the company says.

For people with full paralysis, the suit may help reduce pain, improve bladder and bowel function, and reduce health complications by getting patients with full spinal injuries out of their chairs.”

Read the full article at