You can now pre-order your flying car ↗️

Terrafugia, the company that’s been touting their Transition and TF-2 flying cars, is finally taking orders for the Transition:

Terrafugia is accepting Letters of Intent to Purchase the Transition Flying Car. If you are interested in becoming an owner, please contact us by clicking the button below and we will contact you directly. Become one of the early adopters of the Mobility Revolution!

The Transition and TF-2 aren’t very Jetson’s-like. The Transition is just a road-capable airplane with folding wings, while the TF-2 looks like a minivan that attaches to a wings and motors. But if you’re a pilot and want bragging rights, you can shell out your money…

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How a small genealogical DNA site is helping police to solve cold cases ↗️

From The New York Times:

Last month — two decades after the crime — the Sacramento district attorney’s office tried something new to finally crack the case of this serial rapist, who had attacked at least 10 women in their homes. Investigators converted the assailant’s DNA to the kind of profile that family history websites such as 23andMe are built on, and uploaded it to GEDmatch.com, a free site open to all and beloved by genealogical researchers seeking to find biological relatives or to construct elaborate family trees.

Within five minutes of reviewing the results, the investigators had located a close relative among the million or so profiles in the database. Within two hours, they had a suspect, who was soon arrested: Roy Charles Waller, a safety specialist at the University of California, Berkeley.

The arrest marked the 15th time that GEDmatch had provided essential clues leading to a suspect in a murder or sexual assault case,starting with the arrest in April of Joseph James DeAngelo, a former police officer, for the rapes and murders committed across California in the 1970s and 1980s by the notorious Golden State Killer.

It sounds like something from a TV police procedural, but the tiny GEDMatch website is giving law enforcement a powerful tool for finding criminals through their blood relatives.

Google Maps adds EV charging stations ↗️

From Android and Me:

The United States is starting to develop a grid of EV chargers for electric vehicles, thanks to the automobiles starting to become more prevalent on the streets. So of course Google is going to try and help with finding charging stations as people drive from one location to another.

That assistance comes in the form of Google Maps which, beginning today, will show EV charging stations within the app. All you have to do is search for something like “EV charging stations” and the locations in your area will pop up.

Nice to see. In my neighborhood Teslas are as common as fire hydrants, so it will be useful for those thousands who just picked up their Model 3s at the Littleton (CO) Tesla dealership.

Tangible Tech Podcast Episode 7: Drones 101, or “How do those things stay in the air?”

Tangible Tech podcaster Steve Sande is not only a science and tech guy, but he’s a licensed drone pilot. When he’s out flying, one of the common questions he gets from bystanders is “How the (#&$ do those things fly without having wings, a rudder, and that other stuff you see on airplanes?”

In this episode of the Tangible Tech podcast, Steve explains how quadcopters (those drones you see just about everywhere) are able not only to take off and land, but do some pretty amazing maneuvers as well.

Don’t worry; you won’t need a degree in aerospace engineering to understand what Steve’s saying, just an imagination and your hand… You’ll understand what I’m saying once you listen to the podcast. 😀

If you like the Tangible Tech podcast, won’t you consider supporting it by becoming a subscriber? Listen on Anchor.fm and you’ll see a little purple “Support This Podcast” button which you can use to send a few bucks our way.

Pardon our absence

Hey, you probably noticed that there were few updates for the last week. That’s because yours truly and the missus were on a road trip. The highlight of the trip was the twice-annual open house at the Trinity Site — the site of the first atomic bomb explosion — so you could say that the trip had a definite sci-tech flavor to it.

We’re back, and there’s a podcast on the way…soon. I promise!

First steps toward space elevators thanks to STARS-Me ↗️

Via Space.com:

Space-elevator tech, a longtime sci-fi staple, is about to get a test here in the real world.

The Japanese STARS-Me (Space Tethered Autonomous Robotic Satellite-Mini Elevator) payload arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Sept. 27, aboard Japan’s robotic HTV-7 cargo spacecraft. The experiment was produced by researchers at Shizuoka University in Japan, in collaboration with Obayashi, a Japanese construction firm.

One of the best fictional accounts of how a space elevator could be constructed is by the late Arthur C. Clarke — The Fountains of Paradise.

The “Chinese spy chips in Apple servers” story? Looks like BS from Bloomberg ↗️

Via 9to5Mac:

Over the past day or so, Bloomberg reported that some of Apple’s servers were compromised by way of a third-party implementing micro chips, and sending data back to China. Apple came back with a strong response noting that it was never made aware of such accusations nor did it have any ongoing investigations with the FBI or law enforcement.

Apple’s recently retired general counsel, Bruce Sewell, has today chimed in (via Reuters) on the debacle and says that he was also not aware of any sort of investigations. Sewell recently had a conversation with the FBI’s then-general counsel James Baker reconfirming such.

Considering that neither Apple nor the FBI had any knowledge of the alleged chips showing up in servers in Apple’s data centers, this is beginning to look like a totally bogus story from Bloomberg. Too bad Apple had to lose about $300 million in market cap as a result… Anyone know if Bloomberg’s writers are selling short?

The drunk Bohemian Waxwings of Gilbert, Minnesota ↗️

From Popular Science:

Any Minnesotan birds who managed to get off the ground and are lurching their way south right now would likely agree. But for the sake of those who didn’t, we can use our 9,000 years of experience in dealing with our poor decisions to help the waxwings and their winged friends straighten out. There’s a precedent: The town of Whitehorse in the Yukon territory in Canada, which regularly gets birds flying under the influence, has an avian drunk tank made of hamster cages and equipped with flannel blankets.

Drunk birds. Turns out it’s a great way to store up calories before a migration.

Robo-sperm could enable targeted drug delivery in humans ↗️

Via LiveScience:

Scientists in the United Kingdom have turned to the humble human sperm in their quest to design the ultimate swimming robot.

Made of a tiny magnetic head and squiggly elastic tail, the flea-size drones look and swim much like their spermy counterparts, with a few big differences: These swimmers are guided by shifting electromagnetic currents, controlled externally by scientists. Oh, and also: They won’t get you pregnant.

I love the last line: “Oh, and they won’t get you pregnant”

“Hey, Siri – order me an iPhone Xr” ↗️

Via iDownloadblog:

iPhone Upgrade Program members can now use Siri Shortcuts for an even faster way to complete their iPhone XR pre-order on 10.19. Look for the ‘Add to Siri’ button while getting pre-approved, and record your own voice command, like “pre-order my iPhone.” Say your phrase when pre-order begins, and let Siri pull up your pre-approval in the Apple Store app so you can quickly complete your order.

So cool. The new Siri shortcuts are adding a tremendous amount of customization and flexibility to Apple’s AI.