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Google Car


New York State could pave the way for self-driving cars.

Assemblyman David Gantt, chair of the transportation committee, has introduced a bill (read it here) that would allow the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles.

California, Nevada and Florida all have laws allowing self-driving cars. The technology, spearheaded by Google, raises a number of issues, as this TIME magazine article points out:

There are some compelling reasons to support self-driving cars. Regular cars are inefficient: the average commuter spends 250 hours a year behind the wheel. They are dangerous. Car crashes are a leading cause of death for Americans ages 4 to 34 and cost some $300 billion a year. Google and other supporters believe that self-driving cars can make driving more efficient and safer by eliminating distracted driving and other human error. Google’s self-driving cars have cameras on the top to look around them and computers to do the driving. Their safety record is impressive so far.


That is a reasonable concern. If we are going to have self-driving cars, the technical specifications should be quite precise….

How involved — and how careful — are we going to expect the human co-pilot to be? As a Stanford Law School report asks, “Must the ‘drivers’ remain vigilant, their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road? If not, what are they allowed to do inside or outside, the vehicle?” Can the human in the car drink? 

Gantt’s bill calls for a study period in New York. The commissioner of motor vehicles would propose laws and regulations to the governor by February 2015. The bill was introduced a couple weeks ago and is still in committee.


Links of the Day:


– Rochester area residents and police are worried kids will disrupt festivals all summer. 

– President Obama nominated Ann Marie Buerkle to a $155,000-a-year post.

– New York high school students will be paid to develop new high school equivalency degree. Meanwhile, kids subjected to field tests get nothing.

– John McCain wrote an editorial calling for a la carte TV programming.

– Why David Simon, creator of “The Wire,” is against legalizing pot.

– What Jane Saw: An art gallery visited by Jane Austen, put on line for virtual tours.

Computer - featuredThe National Day of Unplugging starts at sundown.

USA Today reports:

Part of the Sabbath Manifesto, the campaign is designed to get people to slow down in an increasingly hectic world, an idea inspired by that most un-Microsoft of documents, the Old Testament.

In short, God rested on the seventh day — and so should you.


All this makes perfect sense to David Sitt, a psychology lecturer at Baruch College in New York, who coined the term “cell-ibacy” to describe what he thinks are vital recesses from today’s world. For example, he advises people to put their phones in brown paper bags during dinners with friends.

There have also been high schools and colleges that challenge students to stay offline for a full day or week.

I don’t like these exercises for several reasons. First, they assume there’s something inherently bad about technology and connectivity. This is the world we live in and I happen to enjoy it. Second, the campaigns equate the avoidance of social media use with a giant mental test of endurance. Good for you for staying off Facebook. You proved…what? Finally, I don’t like someone telling me what’s good for me. If I want to take a break, I’ll take a break.

There’s no question smartphones, social media and constant Internet access have consequences. But it’s better to work out those issues than turn away, even for a day.

Links of the Day:

– State test scores will plunge, as the Common Core standards are rolled out for the first time. Students and schools are totally unprepared.

– Windstream is on track to open its Midtown offices in July.

– New York state is giving $420 million in tax credits to the TV and movie industry this year.

– The Urban Land Institute once told Rochester redeveloping Midtown would take a lot of public money. It told Buffalo the same thing about HSBC Tower.

– Class rings are still important to many high school students.

– The feel good story of the day, about a baby found in a subway.

Links of the Day:

– So you want to cut the cord, do you? You’re looking forward to watching your videos online, streaming movies on Netflix or hooking up your Apple TV. You’re so excited about lower monthly bills and not having to pay the cable monster for excess channels you don’t watch.

If it sounds too good to be true…

A New York Times article makes it clear that you will either pay big bucks for cable or you will pay big bucks for broadband. Tiered pricing that charges you based on data consumption is on the way. The business model could stifle cord-cutting and innovation:

The strategy, called usage-based billing, is advantageous for the companies that control the digital pipelines. But it may be detrimental for customers who are watching more and more video on the Web every month, as well as companies like Netflix that distribute it. Some fear that as customers become more aware of how much broadband they’re using each month, they’ll start to use less of it, and in that way, protect traditional forms of entertainment distribution and discourage new Internet services.

When Time Warner proposed tiered pricing in Rochester, Senator Chuck Schumer came to town and won a reprieve for consumers. But times have rapidly changed in just the past few years and the company is implementing the model elsewhere. How long can Rochester be exempt?

As more people cut the TV cord, cable companies will need to make up that revenue. They’ll tie us to the new cord – broadband.

– Rochester’s deputy mayor will have to rent an apartment in the city. He’s running up against the year deadline to comply with the residency requirement as he tries to unload his $499,000 house in Perinton.

– Buffalo’s interim school superintendent – not chosen for the permanent job – realized she can’t go back to being not-the-superintendent.

– This isn’t very comforting. Common drugs used to treat acid reflux may cause other problems.

These are truly stunning and scary pictures of wildfires in Colorado.

Links of the Day:

– I’ve long been frustrated by the fact I pay two separate Internet bills – one for home and one for mobile. They add up to about $100 a month. I’d love to pay one bill for half the price for all of my broadband needs. There’s one reason I can’t do that: Data caps.

All-you-can-eat mobile data is going the way of the dodo bird. You can easily use an entire month’s allotment by downloading one movie. What’s the point of having fancy mobile devices with fast Internet if you can’t use them anywhere but home?

The new iPad with its 4G speeds has exposed the issue, reports the Wall Street Journal:

“With LTE, the quality and the streaming is fantastic,” Mr. (Brandon) Wells said. “But man, you’re really limited in terms of the amount of content you can consume.”

Mr. Wells’s father, Steve Wells, also hit his data limit on Saturday. While he was at the basketball game with his son, his wife was using his iPad as a video baby monitor for his granddaughter while she napped in another room. By the time the two were back from the game, the app had burned through his two gigabyte plan.

“All the advantages of the iPad device are completely neutralized by the two gigabyte data limit,” said Steve Wells, 56.

Something’s got to give. High speed, low-cost public Wi-Fi networks are one way to solve this issue. Another is for carriers to offer more reasonable pricing structures, but something tells me not to hold my breath.

– State Senator Jim Alesi may not get the backing of the local Republican Party, which insists gay marriage has nothing to do with it. Democrats don’t want him either.

– Read the City of Rochester’s handout on budget choices. It’s quite detailed and includes the suggestion to close the soccer stadium.

– A Syracuse girl was put on the wrong school bus and had to walk home on her own. “What if she crossed the street and got hit by a car?” The only travesty here is that the Post-Standard continues to think this nonsense is news.

So much for Governor Andrew Cuomo and transparency.