RSS

Author Archives: Angelo Fernando

About Angelo Fernando

Author, business journalist, elementary school teacher, podcaster. I have been blogging since 2004, and a business and technology columnist for magazines, since 1994. Passionate about education, and media literacy.

What the Mars Rover Opportunity taught us

15 years, covering 28 miles on Mars, the Mars Rover Opportunity came to the end of its mission this week. Basically it lost contact with Earth last June; NASA had to finally call it Mission Accomplished. The gutsy little Rover was part of a tag team (Opportunity landed on Jan. 24, 2004, Spirit had arrived a few weeks earlier.)

Gutsy doesn’t even start to describe the robot that refused to quit. Here’s how Jet propulsion Lab described it in a few bullet points.

  • Set a one-day Mars driving record March 20, 2005, when it traveled 721 feet (220 meters).
  • Returned more than 217,000 images, including 15 360-degree color panoramas.
  • Exposed the surfaces of 52 rocks to reveal fresh mineral surfaces for analysis and cleared 72 additional targets with a brush to prepare them for inspection with spectrometers and a microscopic imager.
  • Found hematite, a mineral that forms in water, at its landing site.
  • Discovered strong indications at Endeavour Crater of the action of ancient water similar to the drinkable water of a pond or lake on Earth.

Opportunity and it’s cohorts explored the theory that Mars could be (or support) a “habitable environment” Its longevity, and ability to literally dust off its problems showed future explorers that this is possible. It’s very landing inspired future landing innovations to distant planets, while its photographing of blueberry-like rocks gave researchers back on Earth an idea of what hematite means to us.

This spunky robot also has a delightful design. For a few years I would borrow a wheel of (a replica of) its sister bot, Spirit, from the Mars lab at ASU, and display it in my class. It definitely inspired me to take robotics more seriously.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 13, 2019 in Education, Robotics, STEM, Technology

 

Tags: , , ,

Automation’s great – When you’re the manager, not the person turning the widget

This article, with a Phoenix, Arizona dateline sums up much of the issue we have with technology, robotics and automation.

As I teach students about the pioneers of tech, from Edison to Jobs, from Babbage to Berners-Lee, I have to temper it with discussion on what computers in general (and algorithms / automation in particular) are doing for us. Or will do for them when they enter the workforce.

The article states that Some economists have concluded that “the use of robots explains the decline in the share of national income going into workers’ paychecks over the last three decades.”

In a state where autonomous cars are quite common –at least the Waymo variety being test-driven in the Chandler & Mesa area, algorithms and jobs are on top of our minds!

 

 

 

Tags: , , ,

“Weather isn’t climate.” They teach this in 5th grade science, don’t they?

“Weather isn’t climate. They teach this in 5th grade science.”

That’s one of the comebacks to Trump’s ridiculous tweet last week about the polar vortex that froze a large swath of the US. The problem isn’t only the president’s puerile, ill-informed ideas and responses. It is the method of his communicating his thoughts, with itchy fingers that want to ‘say’ something about, well, anything.

As noted many times earlier, social media has made a mockery of our modern-day communication. I wish they teach communication as a compulsory subject –Reading, Communication, Arithmetic?– in elementary school.

Or as an after-work class at the Oval Office…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 5, 2019 in Communications, Social Media

 

Tags: ,

Making a podcast is easier than you think

I often teach podcasting, but from a different angle now – nearly ten years after I began one at ASU. Now it is all about the planning, the content, and the delivery –rather than the technology and distribution.

In my Public Speaking (COM225) class at junior college, I ask my students to work on a group podcast when we cover ‘Speaking to a global audience‘ and ‘Virtual audiences.’ This semester too I threw out the challenge to create a podcast on topics they randomly picked.

Here is one, created with some planning plus a great interview that makes it sound quite authentic, rather than a class project. The surprise: It was basically recorded on a phone! She used the app from Anchor FM, which provides unlimited hosting.

https://anchor.fm/samantha-rubianes/embed/episodes/Fixing-Education-Is-Easier-Said-Than-Done-e2n7bk/a-a7bcbm

Gone are the days of needing to buy a special device such as the Zoom H2N I once used. Or downloading software such as Audacity, which I still find valuable. Take a listen and see what I mean.

 

Tags: , ,

You never know where your students end up

If only we could turn back the clock to thank a teacher who put us in place, or taught us a theorem that changed our life. Here’s one of those moments.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 1, 2018 in Education

 

Tags:

Fascinating titles as students publish eBooks

As a final project to wrap up their mastery of layout and editing tools in Microsoft, my students created a 22-page book. Each book was published as an eBook.

To kick it off, they brainstormed themes for their book. Followed by a unit on creative book titles, I was fascinated to see them come up with titles such as these:

  • Is Amelia Earhart Dead?
  • Oh, the Creatures You’ll Find!  – Mythical creatures
  • A Helping Paw   – On dogs that risked their lives for humans
  • The Ultimate European Bucket List – no explanation needed
  • A Pigeon’s Eye View of Europe
  • Johnny B. Goode Tonight   – Classic rock songs
  • Tragic Waters   – The most disastrous storms
  • Geek out with Dragons – For readers with a serious Harry Potter obsession

More than a 100 books are being uploaded today and tomorrow! Here are two. Click on images to launch the books!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 28, 2018 in Book, Ed-Tech, Education, Technology

 

Tags: , , ,

Robots that could run farms? Should bots do that?

Have you seen this concept video? Robots that perform farming. It’s disturbing to say the least, to think that the field of robotics is being applied to areas we never used to anticipate. No longer ‘programmed’ robots, these are machines that learn and apply what we now call machine learning, to the environment they are placed in. For instance could a robot learn about —and work in consort with — other devices on the so-called farm. (It’s actually a greenhouse.).

To put it in context, if robots could shuttle between products on a shelves in an Amazon warehouse, this is just an extension of that – an industrial application. We are at the starting blocks of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, so these upheavals – technological, economic, environmental, social etc— are just beginning to show up. I’ve been critical of the rush to apply AI into everything, holding out some optimism that these players and industries might still need some humans, while replacing others.

It has been featured in Wired, and CNBC.

Also there’s another video worth watching.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 23, 2018 in Disruptive, Robotics, STEM, Technology

 

Tags: , , , ,