Drones are fascinating technology and these days seem to come in all different sizes and prices. People are flying them racing them, using them to film movies and weddings. You name it and there’s probably a plan to use a drone for it.
Apart from the sheer pleasure of flying one of them there’s also the lure of technology behind them. Drones wouldn’t exist without it in fact. The ultra miniaturized GPS and accelerometer sensors that makes smartphones work is also what enables drones to be so small and feature-rich.
Recently my local library held a “Lunch & Learn” event for people to meet some local drone operators and, being the nosy type I am, I went along to learn more about these flying techno-marvels.
The session was hosted by Matt Mackinnon an enthusiast and UAV business operator for several years. Matt has a wide knowledge of his subject and was happy to answer any and all questions. Not only does he fly, race and operate his drones, but he also builds many of them himself!
Rules on drones vary considerably.Here in Canada the regulations are maintained and enforced by Transport Canada and are mostly designed to ensure safe operation. This means that any use of drones near highways, buildings or airports is strictly controlled. Somewhat strangely provincial parks are also included in the list of areas where operating a drone is restricted and requires special permission.
Of course these are the very places where that people would think of first when planning to fly their drone. The fun of taking pictures or videos of your house or a natural beauty spot is a strong attraction and as a result many operators are skeptical of the regulations. To highlight the dangers, Matt gave a vivid demonstration of how even a tiny drone can be dangerous.
To make matters worse there are also two different sets of regulations. One for recreational use, that treats drones as “model aircraft” and the other for commercial use which treats them as unmanned-aerial vehicles (UAVs). If you are flying purely for fun, then you come under the rules for model aircraft, but if you operate that same drone in a manner by which you (or anyone else) receives a monetary gain (or equivalent), then you fall under the commercial UAV regulations.
Where I live we are surrounded by a lot of lakes, and each of these is a potential landing spot for a floatplane (seaplane). As the rules say you can’t operate a drone within nine km of an aerodrome, this really limits where you can legally fly.
Then there are the concerns about possible privacy infringements. As technology produces smaller and higher resolution cameras, these concerns are only likely to grow and this compels owners to operate within the rules to avoid further restrictions.
The informal lunch and learn explained many of the basic rules surrounding drones and was really informative and fun. It was nice to be able to actually see –and hold –all of the drones on display and get a better understanding of what’s involved. The only slight disappointment? We didn’t get to see them in action–but then we wouldn’t have been legal! 🙂
I’ve written before about the opportunities to contribute to citizen science, but did you know that your smartphone can also be put to scientific use?
The good news is that there are a number of science related apps that are entertaining and in many cases absolutely free!
The Astronomy Picture of the Day website has been around for many years, providing a daily feast for the eyes with a never ending stream of beautiful astronomical images accompanied by Continue reading
I recently read a great article by Tristan Harris on how technology hijacks people’s minds. He discusses how companies design their websites and applications to leverage psychological effects that lead us in to bad decisions, either through persuading us to buy from them or simply wasting our time with them. And it got me thinking…
There are some website behaviors I see often that are immediate red flags to me. So bad are these behaviors or “features” that I will close down the website immediately. What’s more, when this happens the sites get placed on a kind of mental blacklist and I will never return to that site again. So if you’re looking to attract me, here’s a list of nine things you probably want to avoid. Continue reading
As I’ve mentioned before. I mostly use Scrivener for my writing. Because I want to work on multiple computers/laptops I have made my Scriv install as portable as possible, by running it from a flash drive.
One other useful feature in Scrivener is the idea of template projects. When you start the software you get the option to open an existing project, or create a new one from a selection of pre-made templates.
These can be customized to Continue reading
No? Okay, me neither…
I’m guilty, I’ll admit it. If I want to buy a book, I usually turn to the “big A.” Especially these days as I’m favoring eBooks over paper. Indie bookstores? I thought most of them were long gone. But a recent piece in my local newspaper about Authors For Indies caught my attention. And after a bit of research, I realized Continue reading
Welcome to stop #7 on the Brain to Books SF blog tour! Yes, it’s the Game of Threes where I ask each featured author to pick their three favorite SF authors. Let the games begin! Continue reading
The 3-day convention includes live video coverage, panel discussions, cover wars, and much much more! And it’s all free! Event organizer, Angela B. Chrysler, has put together a helpful summary on her website.
Starting tomorrow, everyone who visits my booth and comments will be entered to win a copy of my special edition short story collection, Trillium. This includes a brand new unpublished story.
Plus, I’ll be running a fun contest with a special prize. Visit my booth during the convention to find out more.
Hope to see you in the fairgrounds!
I was just updating the stats on my website for my participation in the citizen science projects that I’m part of through BOINC. And noticed I’ve broken the six million cobblestones for the Einstein@home project.
I’ve been part ofEinstein@home since 2005 – over ten years of contributing my spare computing resources to the project. It uses LIGO data to search for evidence of the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity.
This led me to check how I was doing on all the projects that I contribute to (BOINC allows you to use your computer on multiple projects simultaneously). I was amazed to find that I’ve contributed over eight million Cobblestones of computation since starting my involvement. That’s nearly seven quintillion floating-point operations – a number large enough to make your head ache! Here it is in full:
7 000 000 000 000 000
If you’re in the Toronto area, or able to travel, there’s lots happening at Toronto Public Library over the next few months for SF and science/technology fans, and it’s all free!
Hugely successful Canadian SF author Robert J. Sawyer will be making an appearance in May to promote his latest novel, Quantum Night. The plotline sounds like one that would translate very well to the movie world. You can browse all the latest SF additions to the TPL here.
And did you know (which I didn’t until I browsed their web site) that they also have an incredible 72,000 items relating to SF, fantasy and speculative fiction in a special research collection? This includes not just Continue reading
It’s that time of year when we all want to be Irish, or claim some Irish descent. Yes, we all love the Irish and maybe we used to know someone who might have been Irish–possibly. Yep, it’s St. Patrick’s Day! When the Irish become the world’s excuse for tying one on and wearing green.
I can proudly declare myself to have a little more excuse than some as my Dad’s family was Irish. My granddad left Ireland in mysterious circumstances shortly after the turn of the twentieth century and moved to England. No one in the family really knows why, and I’ve heard several explanations from different relatives. The story goes that he was escaping one of the following: Continue reading