All amounts this year are in $US unless otherwise stated
My main donations was $750 to Givewell (to allocate to projects as they prioritize). Once again I’m happy that Givewell make efficient use of money donated. I decided this year to give a higher proportion of my giving to them than last year.
Software and Internet Infrastructure Projects
€20 to Syncthing which I’ve started to use instead of Dropbox.
A history of the forces that led to the Atlas program from the end of the War to 1954. Covers a wide range of led-up rocket programs, technical advances and political, cold-war and inter-service rivalries. 3/5
I’ve been using Keda a little bit at work. Good way to scale on random stuff. At work I’m scaling pods against length of AWS SQS Queues and as a cron. Lots of other options. This talk is a 9 minute intro. A bit hard to read the small font on the screen of this talk.
Outlines some new stuff in scaling in 1.18 and 1.19.
They also have a fork of the Cluster Autoscaler (although some of what it seems to duplicate Amazon Fleets).
Have up to 1000 nodes in some of their clusters. Have to play with address space per nodes, also scale their control plan nodes vertically (control plan autoscaler).
Use Virtical Pod autoscaler especially for things like prometheus that varies by the size of the cluster. Have had problems with it scaling down too fast. They have some of their own custom changes in a fork
The author was a senior manager in the booster team who cooperated more fully with the investigation than NASA or his company’s bosses would have preferred. Mostly accounts of meetings, hearings & coverups with plenty of technical details. 3/5
I got this email from Linkedin this morning. It is telling me that they are going to change my location from “Auckland, New Zealand” to “Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand“.
Since “Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand” sounds stupid to New Zealanders (Auckland is pretty much a big city with a single job market and is not a state or similar) I clicked on the link and opened the application to stick with what I currently have
Except the problem is that the pulldown doesn’t offer many any other locations
The only way to change the location is to click “use Current Location” and then allow Linkedin to access my device’s location.
By default, the location on your profile will be suggested based on the postal code you provided in the past, either when you set up your profile or last edited your location. However, you can manually update the location on your LinkedIn profile to display a different location.
but it appears the manual method is disabled. I am guessing they have a fixed list of locations in my postcode and this can’t be changed.
So it appears that my options are to accept Linkedin’s crappy name for my location (Other NZers have posted problems with their location naming) or to allow Linkedin to spy on my location and it’ll probably still assign the same dumb name.
The basically appears to be a way for Linkedin to push user to enable location tracking. While at the same time they get to force their own ideas on how New Zealand locations work on users.
At the start of 2011 Uber was in one city (San Francisco). Just 3 years later it was in hundreds of cities worldwide including Auckland and Wellington. Dockless Electric Scooters took only a year from their first launch to reach New Zealand. In both cases the quick rollout in cities left the public, competitors and regulators scrambling to adapt.
Delivery Robots could be the next major wave to rollout worldwide and disrupt existing industries. Like driverless cars these are being worked on by several companies but unlike driverless cars they are delivering real packages for real users in several cities already.
Note: I plan to cover other aspects of Sidewalk Delivery Robots including their impact of society in a followup article.
What are Delivery Robots?
Delivery Robots are driverless vehicles/drones that cover the last mile. They are loaded with a cargo and then will go to a final destination where they are unloaded by the customer.
Indoor Robots are designed to operate within a building. An example of these is The Keenon Peanut.These deliver items to guests in hotels or restaurants . They allow delivery companies to leave food and other items with the robot at the entrance/lobby of a building rather than going all the way to a customer’s room or apartment.
The next size up are sidewalk delivery robots which I’ll be concentrating on in the article. Best known of these is Starship Technologies but there is also Kiwi and Amazon Scout. These are designed to drive at slow speeds on the footpaths rather than mix with cars and other vehicles on the road. They cross roads at standard crossings.
Finally some companies are rolling out Car sized Delivery Robots designed to drive on roads and mix with normal vehicles. The REV-1 from Reflection AI is at the smaller end with company videos showing it using both car and bike lanes. Larger is the Small-Car sized Nuro.
Sidewalk Delivery Robots
I’ll concentrate most on Sidewalk Delivery Robots in this article because I believe they are the most mature and likeliest to have an effect on society in the short term (next 2-10 years).
In-building bots are a fairly niche product that most people won’t interact with regularly.
Flying Drones are close to working but it it seems to be some time before they can function safely in a built-up environment and autonomously. Cargo capacity is currently limited in most models and larger units will bring new problems.
Car (or motorbike) sized bots have the same problems as driverless cars. They have to drive fast and be fully autonomous in all sorts of road conditions. No time to ask for human help, a vehicle on the road will at best block traffic or at potentially be involved in an accident. These stringent requirements mean widespread deployment is probably at least 10 years away.
Sidewalk bots are much further along in their evolution and they have simpler problems to solve.
A small vehicle that can carry a takeaway or small grocery order is buildable using today’s technology and not too expensive.
Footpaths exist most places they need to go.
Walking pace ( up to 6km/h ) is fast enough to be good enough even for hot food.
Ubiquitous wireless connectivity enables the robots to be controlled remotely if they cannot handle a situation automatically.
Everything unfolds slower on the sidewalk. If a sidewalk bot encounters a problem it can just slow to a stop and wait for remote help. If that process takes 20 seconds then it is usually no problem.
Starship are the best known vendor and most advanced vendor in the sector. They launched in 2015 and have a good publicity team.
The push into college campuses was unluckily timed with many being closed in 2020 due to Covid-19. Starship has increased delivery areas outside of campus in some places to try and compensate. It has also seen a doubling of demand in Milton Keynes. However the company has laid of some workers in March 2020.
Kiwibot is one of the few other companies that has gone beyond the prototype stage to servicing actual customers. It is some way behind Starship with the robots being less autonomous and needing more onsite helpers.
Based in Columbia with a major deployment in Berkley, California around the UCB campus area
Robots cost $US 3,500 each
Smaller than Starship with just 1 cubic foot of capacity. Range and speed reportedly lower
Guided by remote control using way-points by operators in Medellín, Colombia. Each operator can control up to 3 bots.
Starship and Amazon are also targeting the general delivery market. This requires higher capacity and also customers may not be home when the vehicle arrives. However it may be the case that if vehicles are cheap enough they could just wait till the customer gets home.
Still more to cover
This article as just a quick introduction of the Sidewalk Delivery Robots out there. I hope to do a later post covering more including what the technology will mean for the delivery industry and for other sidewalk users as well as society in general.