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When you think NASA, you think of space, rockets, and maybe budget overruns. But NASA stands for more than just Space. That first A in the acronym is often ignored, but NASA devotes a considerable amount of time and money into the Aeronautics of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. They do plenty of work within the Earth’s atmosphere, including sending up scientific balloons into the atmosphere. Balloons are easier to launch than satellites, and can gather valuable scientific data in relatively short spans of time.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go well.

Scientists working on the COSI project hope to recover the instrument, and launch again whenever they can. As Nature noted the COSI team hasn’t fared too well with their ballooning endeavors, one crashed in Australia in 2010 and in 2013, the government shutdown shelved launch plans.

But it isn’t all doom-and-gloom for NASA’s scientific balloons. Another mission, ANITA-III (Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna-III) launched successfully on December 17. ANITA-III, all 4,601 pounds of her, was carried aloft by a zero-pressure balloon. COSI, on the other hand, was carried up towards the sky in a super pressure balloon. Unlike other scientific balloons, the super pressure balloon was specially designed to stay afloat for months at a time at a more or less consistent altitude. Standard balloons, like the zero-pressure ballon, tend to rise or sink as the gas in them heats up during the day or cools down at night.

“Super pressure balloons are going to be a real game-changer for conducting scientific investigations in the near-space environment,” Debbie Fairbrother, Chief of NASA’s Balloon Program Office said in a statement after ANITA-III launched earlier this month. The super pressure balloon was supposed to stay aloft with COSI for 100 days, smashing through the record for a scientific balloon flight (55 days for a normal balloon, 54 for a super pressure balloon.)

Even if the latest setback means that the game hasn’t changed quite yet, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t working on it. The Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility is NASA’s balloon-base, and it launches scientific balloons all over the world, including the ones that just launched in Antarctica. Just like it’s spacecraft endeavors, NASA is contracting out balloon work to private companies. Back in November, NASA awarded a contract worth up to $186,293,071 million to Orbital Sciences. In exchange, Orbital Sciences will operate the facilities at CBF, and help design and launch scientific balloons at a bunch of NASA locations.

But NASA’s ballooning ambitions aren’t just limited to high-tech balloons–they’re also exploring the idea of developing airships. Airships are large craft that are like balloons or zeppelins, and would be capable of either hovering over a single spot for long periods of time, or it could be moved to follow weather events like a hurricane from above. Unlike balloons, airships have power, which means they can be steered–a valuable feature for any floating object.

Airships remain a distant dream–in classic bureaucratic form, the submission period for discussing a possible airship-designing challenge ended on December 1. We’ll check back in if they decide to actually have the challenge, but in the meantime, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that the next balloon launch goes off without a hitch.

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A Complete Guide To Doing Geospatial Analytics


Let us consider a situation which has probably happened to all of us. Sometimes when we book a cab, especially during peak times, we are met with a message that says “we cannot find a ride, try again”. This is a classic case of a supply-demand gap. It could be because of the following reasons: 

Wrong Location

: It might be that the riders are not available because they are all busy or are idle in the wrong location.

Cancellation from drivers

: Sometimes, the pickup distance is high which causes the drivers to not accept or they don’t wish to travel to the location of the pickup. It could also be your payment mode that may cause this. 

As you can see, for a company with moving assets, a lot of the insights and decisions have to be derived from the location. Companies like Uber, Amazon, and Airbnb, among others, realized the immense value of this data in their nascent stages and built their business with location as their foundation. Uber revolutionized the usage of maps and started understanding the flow of their cities to become the top ride-sharing player in the world. Similarly, Amazon has built one of the most resilient supply chains by tapping into the power of location data and the list goes on. 

Read on to find out how we can perform geospatial analytics and make the most out of your location data!

Importance of Geospatial Analytics 

In simple words, it is the information about the geographic positions of an entity (this could be a user, POI so on). It is also called geospatial data, geographic data, or geodata. They are often formatted as points (latitude-longitude coordinates), polygons, or polylines.

The differentiating feature of the location is that it incorporates the third dimension on top: values across time and dynamic location — and this aspect requires us to approach the data with a slightly unique approach. Remember, location is not just about individual points, but also about movement. 

Because there are millions of moving assets from the delivery fleet, vehicles, users to drivers on the ground that need to be monitored and optimized at all times. For example, if we consider a city, no two areas behave the same way at a particular time. Some of them have more movement during the day and some during the night. We also have to consider the external factors like weather, accidents, traffic, and rallies which affect the behavior of areas without a forewarning. 

Therefore, it is important for us to contextualize our decisions for different areas and times and practice location-based decisions. It is only through the lens of location intelligence we can unearth the patterns, relationships, and trends between the moving assets and answer questions like:

Where are my users?

Where and when can we send in promotions and discounts?

How can we run incentive programs?

What is the order density on a weekday?

Churn analysis console: Identify where the user churn is the highest

Churn analysis console: Identify where the user churn is the highest 

Vocal for Hyperlocal insights

Robust location analytics platforms give you relevant real-time hyperlocal insights that can transform your day-to-day operations. You can:

Take data-driven strategic decisions as well as react to things in real time and take tactical decisions to address bottlenecks on the go. 

Create a central knowledge base of operational metrics and understand what strategies are working well. For instance, a discount of x% always drives upconversion in the eastern part of the city

Run multiple experiments and strategies for different locations, users, and times of the day and iterate them by measuring their impact. A culture of rapid experimentation is essential to know what works best in different locations.

Altogether, this will promote better asset utilization, reduce churn, and improve overall performance of businesses involving moving assets. Console: Impact analysis

Now that the importance of location analytics has been established, let us understand how one can go about making decisions about your on-ground assets.

We can break this down into five essential steps.

Recipe for geospatial analytics done right 1. Orchestration


Getting insights involves gathering data from different places. After that, the data has to be cleaned and checked for any outliers. Once that data is ready to be used, we can move on to creating relevant metrics. 

Today the way it is done involves writing complex queries and performing data transformations on R and Python. Other commonly known software for powerful data processing and geospatial operations are PostgreSQL and PostGIS. While these tools offer the capabilities to process your data, creating complex metrics like idle time, unfulfilled demand, or deviations can be time-consuming and requires you to have an innate understanding of the problem. 

2. Debugging:

This important step helps us unearth patterns and relationships between the moving assets. Essentially, it is about identifying the problematic areas and arriving at actionable insights. For example, an actionable insight could be that there is a high demand near colleges at 4 PM during the weekdays. 

Today, this process is done by BI tools like Tableau, Looker, Power BI, and open source softwares like chúng tôi Though the BI tools are equipped with basic geospatial functionalities, it is no doubt that they are best suited only for statistical analysis. Features like analysis on routes, grids, layering, and so on are incompatible and you can only plot points and zip code via these tools. Consider Tableau, it has great heat maps, but we cannot equate visualization to analysis.

Coming to chúng tôi provides a great platform to explore everything related to maps. But it is useful only for one-time use cases, and as we process the data outside the tool, it cannot act as a catalog in the future. Thus making this process unsuitable for multiple iterations and situations that are specific to your industry. 


3. Decisioning:

As mentioned earlier, there needs to be a provision to make decisions either in real-time when you need to react or more strategically when you need to analyze patterns and trends. 

For example, a promotion would have to be sent via Mixpanel. While a pricing problem would be solved via tweaks to a formula, a ground operations person would fix a driver issue. Finally, passing the data to implement the strategy requires multiple teams to come together to decide and act upon it. This process is painstaking and involves top-notch coordination. It can be particularly problematic if a decision has to be taken in real-time.

4. Collaboration:

Analytics cannot be done in a silo. It needs to ensure that people across teams can come together to debug and implement decisions. Today, we can use Slack, Jira, and others to collaborate but note that they do not come with a knowledge base, and clearing the ticket on Jira can take longer than expected. When decisions need to be taken across different stakeholders, the context is often unclear and results may be delayed.

5. Measuring Impact


Once you take your decisions, you can measure the impact of your actions and iterate. It is the only way to know if your solution is working. This step is actually missing in today’s analytics process due to the lack of the right infrastructure. This not only hinders experimentation but also doesn’t provide a means to assess the strategy for different areas and times. For example, we can run an experiment by provisioning extra members of the delivery fleet in the western part of the city and see if delays are reducing or not on Mondays.

A robust analytics platform should be able to perform all these actions seamlessly. When done right, the teams will be able to drill down and have access to insights at their fingertips.

How do we achieve this with Locale? is working towards empowering Ops and city teams, in the same spirit of Mixpanel and Clevertap. It is designed to act as a central operations platform by ingesting location data across users, fleet and orders. 

But doing this requires organizations to invest in strong data pipelining and management architectures for their geospatial data. Unfortunately, handling geospatial data is still a hard problem. Add scale, contextual visualization, and near real time latencies to the mix, and such analysis remains out of reach for most organizations. With Locale, we want to bridge this gap and envision a world where every company is able to tap into the power of location data with great ease. 


What next?

If the world of geospatial analytics excites you and you want to delve deeper into location data, here are a few resources you can check out:

If you want to know more about how a product for location analytics was built by Locale: 

The media shown in this article are not owned by Analytics Vidhya and are used at the Author’s discretion.


7 Android Shortcuts For Doing Things Faster

Let’s say you’re casually scrolling through Gmail on your Android phone when a can’t-miss Kodak moment suddenly presents itself. If you didn’t know better, you’d frantically tap the Home button and start swiping home screens until you found the camera app—that is, unless you use Android’s new camera shortcut.

Indeed, Android boasts a series of handy shortcuts for everything from taking a screenshot to silencing notifications. Some of the best Android shortcuts have been around for years, while others will only work for those lucky enough to have Marshmallow—the latest version of Android—installed on their devices.

Read on for seven super Android shortcuts you need to know, starting with…

As you probably knew already, the lock screen on your Android phone or tablet has a tiny camera shortcut in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Just tap, hold and swipe the shortcut to take a quick snapshot from your locked Android device.

Ben Patterson

Not bad, but there’s an equivalent camera shortcut for when your Android handset is unlocked—or at least, there is now.

2. Press and hold the Volume Down button to turn on Do Not Disturb mode [Marshmallow only]

The latest Marshmallow-enabled Android devices have an elaborate new feature that lets you silence incoming calls, chats, notifications, and other alerts on any daily schedule you choose. Once you’ve set your quiet times, “Do Not Disturb” mode will go on auto-pilot, muzzling all but the most important buzzes and beeps.

Ben Patterson

If you need a break from all the buzzes and beeps, press and hold the volume-down button to activate “Do Not Disturb” mode.

There will be occasions, though, when you’ll want to silence your Android on the fly, without having to dig into the Settings menu or deal with the pull-down Quick Settings window shade.

The trick: Press and hold the volume-down button. When you do, your Android phone or tablet will switch into an “alarms only” variation of Do Not Disturb mode.

To deactivate Do Not Disturb, simply press and hold the volume-up button.

3. Pull down to refresh a webpage in Chrome

If you want to reload the current page you’re viewing in Chrome for Android, you have a couple of tricky-to-tap options: Either tap the tiny refresh button to the left of the address bar, or tap the three-dot menu button and tap the refresh icon in the top corner of the screen.

Ben Patterson

Here’s the easiest way to refresh a webpage in Chrome: tug down on the page with your thumb.

There’s also a third, much easier alternative: Just tug down on the page. Once you’ve tugged hard enough, a spinning Refresh icon will appear below the Chrome toolbar—and within a few seconds, the page will reload.

4. Say “OK Google” anytime, anywhere

Once you tweak the right settings and say the right “hotwords,” you can chat up your personal Android assistant whenever you want, no tapping required—and, if you wish, even when your device is locked.

Ben Patterson

Once you’ve tweaked the right settings, you can simply say “OK Google” to start giving voice commands, even when your device is locked.

Next, you’ve got some choices to make. If you’d like, you can set your handset to respond to the words “OK Google” only from the Google app or a home screen in the Google Now launcher. With this option enabled, all you have to do is say “OK Google” and your phone or tablet will listen carefully for a command—anything from “What’s the score of the Eagles game?” to “Wake me up at seven tomorrow morning.”

To make your device respond to “OK Google” from any screen, enable the aptly named “From any screen” option. If you’re really intent on saying “OK Google” anytime, anywhere, you can switch on the “Personal results” setting, which makes the “OK Google” trick work even when your device is locked. (I’d recommend leaving the “Personal results” option off unless, say, you’re using it on a tablet that never leaves your house.)

Press and hold the Home key for “Now on Tap” suggestions [Marshmallow only]

Say you’re trading email messages with a broker about a new apartment, and you’re trying to coordinate dates, times, and addresses. Pretty soon, your message thread is jammed with so many details that your eyes are starting to cross.

Ben Patterson

Here’s an easy way to cut through the clutter. Press and hold the Home key. When you do, a new “Now on Tap” display will appear—specifically, a series of Google Now-style “cards” that provide context, shortcuts, and suggestions based on whatever’s on the screen.

If, for example, you’re looking at a Gmail message about a new apartment, Now on Tap might serve up a card for the apartment’s address on Google Maps, a suggestion to set up a Calendar appointment, and a link to the broker’s website. Or, if you’re listening to tunes on the Google Play app, pressing and holding the Home key might display shortcuts to the song’s music video on YouTube, the artist’s Instagram account, and headlines about the singer from Google News.

Two ways to take a screenshot

You’ll find the screenshot sitting in your default photos app, or pull down the Notifications screen and tap on the image.

Ben Patterson

The Share button in the “Now on Tap” interface makes for an easy way to take a screenshot.

If your Android device has been updated to Marshmallow, there’s now a second way to take a screenshot. Press and hold the Home button to launch Now on Tap, then tap the Share button to the left of the Google button.

Within a second or so, your device will snap a screenshot, and a slide-up window will give you a menu of options for sharing or saving the image.

Tap and slide for app information and settings

You can get all kinds of useful data about an app from its “App info” screen: How much storage it’s using, how much data it consumes, when and how its notifications pop up, whether it’s a default app for certain device functions (such as for managing photos or playing music), and so on. Ben Patterson

Slide and release an app icon into the App Info button to quickly jump to the app’s settings screen.

Here’s the shortcut: Open the Application tray, tap and hold an app icon, slide it up to the “App info” button at the top of the screen, then release.

Phishing Tactics You Aren’t Aware Of

Phishing Tactics You Aren’t Aware Of The Malicious Microsoft Office File

In this, the malicious Microsoft Office file is sent to the user instructing them to open and edit the document or just go through the document. These Microsoft Office files contain malware, ransomware, spyware, and Trojans and when you open any such file, your system gets infected.

How to stay protected from it?

Do not open attachments you receive from unknown sources. Always use the latest version of Microsoft Office on your system. Install a trusted antivirus and antimalware product on your machine.

The Irate customer

Once the unsuspecting employee opens the message and attachment, the whole system gets infected.

How to stay protected?

Before opening the attachments check if the customer is genuine or not. And if there is any suspicion then ask the customer to explain the issue and send the records. Keep a good antivirus and antimalware program installed on your system.

The Fake Job Listing

There is no job in this type of application; however, the only thing the user will get is their identity gets stolen.

How to stay away from this scam?

Check the credibility of the organization. Check if the job portal website is legitimate or not. Check the company address if it is true. You can also call the company and confirm if requirements are true or not.

Also Read : Systems That Are Vulnerable To Attacks

Update Personal Information Requests or to Resolve a Discrepancy

We have all received emails requesting us to send or change our personal information from our bank or credit card company. There is very little chance that bank or credit card company will send emails requesting the information. Scammers send these emails in order to get information, they make very good fake clone of the websites of bank or credit card company. Once you enter the information it gets transferred to the scammers.

How to stay protected?

Always check the message for grammatical errors and do a spell check, scammers often make these types of mistakes. Also, check the URLs present in the message, they should be wrongly spelled. Also contact the bank or credit card company directly and then update the information.

Messages from Friend’s Social Media Account How to avoid it? Spear Phishing Attack

Must Read : How Safe Is Your Android Phone For A Digital Transaction?

How to avoid it?

Always double check if the message that is sent is being sent by a genuine person or not. Check if the link is fake or not. Check every email and message with caution.

Phishing attacks can be avoided with little knowledge. We should install best antivirus program on our system with a best antimalware program. These programs will help in removing any threats present on the system and will also block the malicious links. Phishing attacks are becoming more common and common; therefore, they must be stopped at any cost.

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Female Orgasms Aren’t All That Mysterious

So listen up. A new study surveyed over 1,000 women about their sexual preferences, and it turns out they’re pretty consistent.

Clitorises (or clitori, if you prefer the faux-Latin) are kind of like tiny penises anyway. When human fetuses develop, there’s a bit called the genital tubercle, which sounds like a particularly virulent STD but is actually the precursor to both the penis and the clitoris. If the fetus produces testosterone, the genital tubercle turns into a penis. If not, it becomes a clitoris, which forms from exactly the same tissue as would have otherwise become the glans and upper shaft.

So: if you encounter a clitoris, treat it as you would the tip of your penis. Direct stimulation is a popular choice, as this recent survey highlights, and consistency is the key to getting most people over the edge. Plenty of folks can climax without clitoral stimulation, but they generally orgasm more frequently—and with higher intensity—if there’s some external touching.

In fairness, there’s a pervasive idea that all women are unique flowers who get off in entirely different ways. Plenty of people with vaginas believe it, too. They get told their whole lives that their bodies are hard to please, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that many of us are intimidated and confused by the prospect of eliciting a clitoral orgasm.

There are a lot of societal factors here that add up to disappointment and frustration in the bedroom (or wherever). But there don’t have to be.

Genitalia is just not that complicated. At the end of the day, participants in the survey mostly wanted the same things. Sixty-six percent of them said they liked direct clitoral stimulation, and 45 percent said they liked touching right around the clitoris (they could select more than one preference). Up-down and circular motions were by far the most popular, with 63.7 and 51.6 percent voting for each respectively.

The question of pressure was slightly more divisive. About a third said they liked medium pressure, and slightly less than a third liked light pressure. And before people go throwing their hands up about how mysterious and unknowable that is, consider this: just 1 in 10 study participants said they wanted firm pressure. Almost everyone else wants light or medium.

The most variation was in the preferred pattern of stimulation. Lots of study subjects liked multiple patterns—repeated and rhythmic, switching it up, edging. The only things that a minority of respondents preferred were multiple orgasms with no break in between, and asymmetry in the motion. This should honestly come as a comfort. Most people are open to many different options.

Oh, and it doesn’t even have to take that long. Less than one in five said that lengthy sex made an orgasm better.

That being said, it’s worth remembering that not everyone is going to have an orgasm, and it’s certainly not always going to happen at the most opportune time. One survey found that some four percent of women considered themselves incapable of climax, while many more had gone through periods of their lives where orgasming was particularly difficult or impossible. And some men have anorgasmia, too. Assuming that hitting the right buttons and turning the right knobs will work for everyone is a problem in its own right, adding undue pressures on the would-be-orgasm-haver. As with most things, it’s about the journey—not the destination.

The important thing is that you not use the supposed mystery of your partner’s body as an excuse not to try to show them a good time. If you’re still intimidated, ask your partner what it is they like to do, and do your best to do it. And if you’re really feeling aimless, please: consider the clit.

Smart Foam And Artificial Intelligence Could Help Robots Know If They’re Injured

If you fall hard and break your arm, your body will let you know with crackling hot speed that something is wrong. Robots, though, don’t have neurons, so need a method to know what’s going on with their artificial bodies.

Consider a future where a robot operates autonomously, but an appendage becomes injured, says Robert Shepherd, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Cornell University. “It’s going to continue moving its limb and thinking its hand or foot is going to be in one position, when it’s actually going to be in a different position,” he says. “We need skins, or internal neural-like sensors, to communicate this information three-dimensionally and continuously, to the robot’s controller.”

Shepherd’s lab has developed a foam, light, and artificial intelligence system that allows it to sense what’s happening to it—whether the foam is bending up or down, or twisting, or both. The results were published today in the journal Science Robotics.

Here’s how it works: the key sensor is a layer of 30 optical fibers in the foam, which is made of silicone. The fibers stick out of one end of the foam, and connect to other equipment. The intensity of the light coming out of the end of those optical fibers lets the system know what’s happening to the foam. When the foam is at rest, the light looks a certain way. If the foam bends or twists, the light changes.

“So you can detect changes in shape by looking at the change in the overall pattern of light intensity,” says Ilse Van Meerbeek, a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering at Cornell, and the first author of the paper describing the foam.

Humans obviously have brains to interpret what’s going on with their bodies, but this foam has no noggin. For that job, the researchers turned to artificial intelligence. To build the AI, the researchers first gathered information about how the light from the fibers changed when the foam was bent or twisted in a known way. That data let them train machine learning models that they could use going forward to interpret what’s happening with the foam.

The whole experimental set-up. Cornell University

This isn’t the only sensing strategy out there that researchers can use to see how a soft robotic creation is stretching: flexible electronic sensors use a change in current to notice how they’re stretching, while previous work in Shepherd’s lab has used stretchable light fibers to measure whether something has become deformed.

Of course, sensors like these are crucial for the robot to know what’s going on with it and around it. “Your robot needs to have a sense of itself in the world,” Shepherd, who is senior author on the new paper, says.

Right now, the foam and AI experimental set-up at Cornell involves gear that’s external to the foam, but Van Meerbeek says that it would be possible to miniaturize everything with the goal of having a self-contained, self-sensing foam setup. One possible application she sees for this kind of sensor system? “Robots learning how to walk for themselves,” she says, referring to soft ‘bots. “It has to be able to sense its shape.”

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