Solar plane lands in Dayton, Ohio on latest leg of round-the-world flight

An experimental airplane powered solely by energy from the sun landed in Ohio on Saturday night on the latest leg of its historic bid by pilots and developers to fly around the globe without a drop of fuel. The single-seat Solar Impulse 2 aircraft arrived in Dayton shortly before 10 p.m. local time, some 17 hours after leaving Phoenix Goodyear Airport, the project team said on its official Twitter page."People told the Wright Brothers & us what we wanted to achieve was impossible," said Bertrand Piccard after landing. "They were wrong!" The locale was of special significance to the pilots, as the home base to aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright. Amanda Wright Lane, a descendant of the brothers, neither of whom ever married, was on hand to welcome the flight. With a wingspan exceeding that of a Boeing 747 but an ultra-light carbon-fiber skin and overall weight of a car, the Solar Impulse cruises at speeds ranging from only 34 to 62 miles per hour (55 to 100 kph). The four engines of the propeller-driven aircraft are powered exclusively by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells built into its wings. Excess energy is stored in four batteries during daylight hours to keep the plane flying after dark.The plane can climb to 28,000 feet (8,500 meters), but generally flies at lower altitudes at night to conserve energy. Piccard and Andre Borschberg have been taking turns piloting the plane on each leg of the journey. Both have trained to stay alert for long stretches of time by practicing meditation and hypnosis.Borschberg set a new endurance record for the longest non-stop solo flight last July during a 118-hour trans-Pacific crossing, over five days and five nights, from Japan to Hawaii. He also set new duration and distance records for solar-powered flight. Battery damage sustained during the crossing kept the aircraft grounded for nine months. The Swiss team's ultimate goal is to achieve the first round-the-world solar-powered flight, part of its campaign to bolster support for clean-energy technologies.The team hopes eventually to complete its circumnavigation in Abu Dhabi, the starting point for the journey in March 2015.The two men completed an earlier multi-flight crossing of the United States in a prototype of the solar plane in 2013 as a precursor to their globe-circling quest. (Reporting by Chris Michaud and Steve Gorman) Read more

Can virtual reality translate into real profits?

NEW YORK A growing number of U.S. companies are counting on virtual reality for real profits. With growth hard to come by amid the lethargic economy, companies ranging from snowmobile manufacturers to furniture sellers are incorporating virtual reality that so far has mostly been found in video games. Their bet: that the trendy headset-based technology can help them build sales and cut costs.Theme park operator Six Flags Entertainment Corp (SIX.N) is outfitting riders on some of its aging roller coasters with Samsung VR headsets, allowing the company to brand the rides as brand-new without having to build costly new attractions. Snowmobile manufacturer Arctic Cat Inc (ACAT.O) has developed virtual reality rides that customers can use to try out new models at dealerships, while eBay Inc's (EBAY.O) StubHub is testing technology that allows fans to check out the view from different seats before buying tickets.In the most recent round of corporate earnings reports, some 38 companies - including the New York Times Co (NYT.N), GoPro Inc (GPRO.O), and furniture-seller Wayfair Inc (W.N) - highlighted virtual reality as a part of their business plans. That was a 375 percent jump from the 8 that did so at this time last year, according to a Reuters analysis of earnings calls transcripts. Nearly all were either consumer or technology companies, suggesting that virtual reality technology has a ways to go before becoming mainstream.The increasing focus on virtual reality comes at a time when first-quarter earnings for the S&P 500 are expected to fall 5.4 percent from the same time last year, while second-quarter earnings are expected to fall 3.4 percent from the year before, according to Thomson Reuters estimates. Yet for all of the enthusiasm, there is little evidence that virtual reality can deliver substantial growth. "It is complementary to places like Six Flags, I would suspect, but not a game changer," said Brain Smoluch, a principal at Hood River Capital Management who owns shares in Himax Technologies Inc (HIMX.O), which makes semiconductors used in virtual reality displays. FEW PURE PLAYSThere are few pure plays for investors who want to buy into virtual reality. Facebook Inc (FB.O), which paid $2 billion for its Oculus virtual reality division in 2014 and began shipping its first $599 Oculus Rift headsets in March, has the best-known virtual reality head gear, though other well-known companies including Google's parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O) are rumored to be working on high-powered headsets of their own. Neither company returned requests to comment. Virtual reality is such a small part of Facebook's business that most analysts do not break out Oculus in their revenue or earnings estimates. Nor did Facebook give any numbers on how many Oculus headsets it expects to sell on its most recent earnings call."This is very early and we don't expect VR to take off as a mainstream success right away ... but eventually we believe that VR is going to be the next big computing platform and we're making the investments necessary to lead the way there," Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said.Some analysts, however, already are seeing a boost to the companies they cover. "I don't think it's possible to break out (the benefit of VR technology) with any sort of precision," said Tyler Batory, an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott who covers Six Flags. "But I can tell you that I think they are going to report record results this year because their growth rate is accelerating, and the growth rate wouldn't be accelerating if they didn't have it."Outfitting riders with VR headsets is much cheaper than building an entirely new roller coaster, he added, while only requiring three additional employees - two to disinfect the headsets after each ride and one to make sure riders have them on correctly. Companies that incorporate virtual reality technology now could spur consumer interest, which should lead to further adoption rates by their competitors, said Michael Cuggiono, a portfolio manager at San Francisco-based Permanent Portfolio funds. As a result, he's been buying shares of Facebook, whose Oculus technology could become the industry standard."It's cost-effective, it's efficient, and it helps you avoid some of the problems that come with adding new employees," he said. (Reporting by David Randall; editing by Linda Stern and Phil Berlowitz) Read more

Facebook releases employee guidelines amid accusations of political bias

Facebook on Thursday emphasized that it does not permit its employees to block news stories from its "Trending Topics" list based on political bias, amid a controversy over how the social media superpower selects what news it displays.Technology news website Gizmodo on Monday reported that a former Facebook employee said workers "routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers" while "artificially" adding other stories to the trending list.The Gizmodo story triggered a reaction on social media, with several journalists and commentators raising concerns about alleged bias, and prompted a U.S. senate inquiry.The social media company, whose reach is global, had over a billion daily active users on average in March, according to statistics the company posted to its newsroom. In a post published to Facebook's media relations section on Thursday, a senior company official outlined its "Trending Topics" guidelines at length."Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to discriminate against sources of any political origin, period," wrote Justin Osofsky, vice president for global operations. "We have a series of checks and balances in place to help surface the most important popular stories, regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum."The post went on to explain how certain topics emerge in Facebook users' trending feeds. Potential trending topics are identified by an algorithm, or formula, Facebook said, then reviewed by a "Trending Topics" team. Gizmodo Editor-in-Chief Katie Drummond responded to the post with an email saying, "I don't see anything that contradicts our reporting--do you?"Gizmodo's story sparked a Senate committee inquiry. Republican U.S. Senator John Thune, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said in a statement on Tuesday that Facebook needed to respond to "these serious allegations.""Any attempt by a neutral and inclusive social media platform to censor or manipulate political discussion is an abuse of trust and inconsistent with the values of an open Internet," said Thune. (Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Jonathan Oatis) Read more

Diving into Visual Studio 2015 (Day #1) : Code Assistance

In this series, I’ll cover how development with Visual Studio 2015 can increase your productivity and enable you to write cleaner and more optimized code.Download - 1.2 MBIntroductionI have always been a great admirer of Visual Studio IDE (Interactive Development Environment). Visual Studio has proved to be the best IDE for me and I use it for almost all my coding as well as debugging work. My love for the IDE has forced me to start a series of articles to explain what Visual Studio 2015 now offers to a developer in terms of cross-platform development, cloud-based development, code assistance, refactoring, debugging, and more. The power of Visual Studio is not only limited to development and coding but it offers a one-stop solution to all the requirements needed during coding, development, code analysis, or deployment. I’ll use Visual Studio Enterprise 2015 throughout the series and explain how one can leverage Visual Studio to be more productive. In this section of the series, I’ll cover how development with Visual Studio 2015 can increase your productivity and enable you to write cleaner and more optimized code.Code AssistanceIn earlier versions of Visual Studio, you must have seen that whenever you write a buggy code, the code editor provides suggestion with the help of a tool tip. This feature has improved a lot and is shown as a light bulb icon in the Visual Studio code editor. This option provides you with the real-time suggestions while coding in Visual Studio code editor to improve code quality or fix the coding issues. It helps you in identifying syntax errors, provides useful code hints and assists you with static code analysis. I am using a sample code to explain the enhancements, for that I have created a console application in my Visual Studio and named it VisualStudio2015ConsoleApplication.Syntax Error SuggestionsSuppose there is syntax error in your code like I purposely did in the below image:The light bulb icon immediately shows up when you click your mouse over the erroneous variable having a red line and displays an issue summary, an error code with a link to documentation. It also displays a possible list of code fixes and refactorings. In the above example, I am writing an add method, taking two parameters a and b, but I am trying to return a result as a+bh. Now since "bh" is not declared anywhere in the method or passed as a parameter, the light bulb icon shows up and provides certain possible options or suggestions about how this variable can be taken care of. It suggests generating a variable named "bh", create a field or property as well.If you hover on the error line you’ll be shown a light bulb icon showing error and potential fixes.Note that you can also use Ctrl+. to see the error using your keyboard. If you click on Show potential fixes, you’ll get the same options as shown in the first image. Alternatively, if by any chance you doubt the light bulb icon and build your console application, you’ll again be shown the same error as follows:The syntax error assistance displays a light bulb icon, a description of the error, and a link to show possible fixes as well. When you click on the error code i.e. CS0103 you’ll be redirected to the documentation of the error code. It also offers to preview changes once you go for any of the suggestions provided by the light bulb icon. So if I click on Preview changes it shows me the preview of the option that I have chosen as shown below.Now we don’t have to go to the code and explicitly define that variable. Just click on Apply button and Visual Studio takes care of everything. Therefore, the first option that I chose is now reflected in my code.I remember that I used to do these on the fly modifications to improve productivity using ReSharper. We saw that we got the same error on compiling the application which proves that light bulb icon’s code suggestion can help us write error free code before even compiling the application and getting to know about the actual error after a compile. Therefore, we don’t have to wait to compile the application to know about compile time error. You can test different scenarios to explore the syntax error suggestions given by the light bulb icon in our day to day programming.Code SuggestionsLet’s take another scenario. Suppose I define an interface named ICalculator and add a class named Calculator and inherit the calculator.cs class from that interface.Interface1: interface ICalculator 2: { 3: int Add(int a, int b); 4: int Subtract(int a, int b); 5: int Multiply(int a, int b); 6: float Divide(float a, float b); 7: } Class1: public class Calculator : ICalculator 2: { 3: } You’ll see that there will be a red error line under the ICalculator interface named in calculator class. You can get to see the light bulb icon in the same way as shown in previous example i.e. hover or click on error. Here you’ll see that light buld icon is assisting us with some additional conceptual information, like that the interface that we are using contains several methods that needs to be implemented in the Calculator class.Therefore, we see that light bulb not only assists us in finding syntax errors but also suggests a conceptual or logical resolution of mistakes we make in our programming. When you show on "Show potential fixes link" it will show all the possible fixes for this error in a detailed user-friendly manner with an option to resolve and fix it with preview as well.In the above image, you can see that the code assistance is providing an option to either implicitly and explicitly implement an interface ICalculator, and if we analyse we can clearly say that these are the only possible options that a developer may opt for in this scenario. Moreover, it shows the error does link referring to its description. If you choose the first option and choose preview changes link, you’ll see the following preview and you can choose to apply that if it is what you need.So click apply and we get the following class with all the interface methods having default implementations. 1: public class Calculator : ICalculator 2: { 3: public int Add(int a, int b) 4: { 5: throw new NotImplementedException(); 6: } 7: 8: public float Divide(float a, float b) 9: { 10: throw new NotImplementedException(); 11: } 12: 13: public int Multiply(int a, int b) 14: { 15: throw new NotImplementedException(); 16: } 17: 18: public int Subtract(int a, int b) 19: { 20: throw new NotImplementedException(); 21: } 22: } Likewise, the light bulb icon provides numerous code suggestion options while development and coding following which we can increase the productivity of writing code without unnecessarily compiling the application and writing the code manually.Refactoring SuggestionsThe light bulb icon is not only limited to code suggestions and syntax error suggestions but also comes with a great capability of refactoring techniques. When I added the calculator class, the class was added with few default namespaces as shown below.In the above scenario as we can see there are a few namespaces added by default in the class that are currently not used. When you hover the mouse over those namespaces, the light bulb icon shows up with some refactoring suggestions as shown below.The above image shows the suggestion of Lightbulb icon asking to remove "unnecessary usings." We see here that Visual Studio is smart enough to know what refactoring is required in the code and accordingly can suggest the developer to optimize the code. If you apply the suggestion it will remove the unnecessary "usings" from your code. You can also select to fix all occurrences of this issue in the current document, the project, or the solution. If we just want to make this local change, we can select Remove Unnecessary Usings here, and the unused usings are removed.Quick Suggestions and RefactoringNow when I go to my Calculator.cs class and define the Add method as follows.1: public int Add(int a, int b) 2: { 3: int c = a + b; 4: return c; 5: } It is the correct way of defining an add method, but on second thought, what if I want to refactor or optimize this method? Visual Studio 2015 provides us with the facility to do quick refactoring of code with suggestions using an option enabled in the context menu of the editor. Just right-click on "c" and you’ll get to see an option at the top of the context menu saying "Quick Actions and Refactorings…".Note that in above code block, Visual Studio didn’t suggest anything implicitly and due to some syntax error but we have the option to choose and ask for Visual Studio’s help explicitly to know if a particular written code could be enhanced, optimized, refactored more or not. There could be cases that choosing this option too does not show any suggestion to improve code, which means your code is already refactored and optimized. But in the above-mentioned scenario, if we select the "Quick Actions and Refactorings…" option, VS gives us two options to further optimize the code.or,If we have a glance over both the options, the first says to skip using temporary variable and just return (a+b) (which is a good suggestion by the way) and the second option says to extract a method out of the code and put (a+b) in any other method and return from there. Now in these situations, it is the choice of the developer on what option he chooses. I choose the first option and apply the changes that it showed me in preview and I got following code which looks better that the earlier one.1: public int Add(int a, int b) 2: { 3: return a + b; 4: } Note that these are the small examples that I am taking to just explain the power of Visual Studio 2015. There could be complex and tricky scenarios where you may actually need a lot of help through these features.ConclusionI took few representative examples from a large set of possible scenarios where Code assistant of Visual Studio 2015 can help you. You can explore the IDE and play around to see more such situations where you feel the change from earlier versions of Visual Studio to this one. In the next section, I’ll talk about Live Static Code Analysis. For more technical articles you can reach out to my personal blog, CodeTeddy.References Read more

Mixin Class Composition in Scala

As opposed to languages that only support single inheritance, Scala has a more general notion of class reuse. Scala makes it possible to reuse the new member definitions of a class (i.e. the delta in relationship to the superclass) in the definition of a new class.Abstract Class abstract class AbsInfo { def isSpecialTrain: Boolean } Trait Object trait MyTrain { def printTrainInfo = { println("Train Number : 12675") println("Train Name : KOVAI EXPRESS") } } Normal Class class GeneralQuota { def printQuotaDetail = println("General Quota") }Abstract Class With Interface Method Implementation class TatkalQuota extends AbsInfo { def printQuotaDetail = println("Tatkal Quota") def isSpecialTrain:Boolean = false } Mixin Class Composition class LadiesQuota extends AbsInfo with MyTrain { def printQuotaDetail = println("Ladies Quota") def isSpecialTrain:Boolean = false }The LadiesQuota class is constructed from a mixin composition of the parents AbsInfo and MyTrain with the keyword with. The first parent is called the abstract class of LadiesQuotaclass, whereas the second (and every other, if present) parent is called a mixin.Overall Codeobject Mixin { def main(a: Array[String]) = { val gQuota = new GeneralQuota gQuota.printQuotaDetail val tQuota = new TatkalQuota tQuota.printQuotaDetail println("Is it Special train : "+tQuota.isSpecialTrain) val lQuota = new LadiesQuota lQuota.printQuotaDetail println("Is it Special train : "+lQuota.isSpecialTrain) lQuota.printTrainInfo } // Abstract Class abstract class AbsInfo { def isSpecialTrain: Boolean } // Trait Object trait MyTrain { def printTrainInfo = { println("Train Number : 12675") println("Train Name : KOVAI EXPRESS") } } // Normal Class class GeneralQuota { def printQuotaDetail = println("General Quota") } // Abstract class with interface method implementation class TatkalQuota extends AbsInfo { def printQuotaDetail = println("Tatkal Quota") def isSpecialTrain:Boolean = false } // Mixin Class composition class LadiesQuota extends AbsInfo with MyTrain { def printQuotaDetail = println("Ladies Quota") def isSpecialTrain:Boolean = false } }Result: Read more

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