Drone Pathfinding algorithm

via The Verge: Autonomous search-and-rescue drones outperform humans at navigating forest trails

This is really cool.

However:

1) Only at the very end do you see the custom built drone that is actually running the algorithm on an onboard computer, it doesn’t look like it does very well. (the previous shots are from a quadcopter controlled by a laptop carried by a person)

2) The Verge title states “autonomous search-and-rescue drones” as if that is a thing that exists. It doesn’t, this algorithm may one day be used effectively in an autonomous drone.

3) Search and Rescue isn’t always following a trail, it takes place in areas that are extremely remote. This sort of drone may possibly be useful, if the algorithm is improved, and batteries are improved, and lost hikers stay near the trail. Perhaps it could run down trails quickly looking for signs of lost hikers. But to do that it needs to actually be autonomous.

On Effective Communication

To give a person an opinion one must first judge well whether that person is of the disposition to receive it or not. One must be come close with him and make sure that he continually trusts one’s word. Approaching subjects that are dear to him, seek the best way to speak and to be well understood. Judge the occasion, and determine wether it is better by letter or at the time of leave-taking. Praise his good points and use every device to encourage him, perhaps by talking about one’s own faults without touching on his, but that they will occur to him. Have him receive this in the way that a man would drink water when his throat is dry, and it will be an opinion that will correct faults.

–Hagakure

Importing arbitrary audio into Overcast.app

Overcast has very nice tools for speeding up podcasts. It increases the playback rate without causing the pitch to rise, compresses the silences to squeeze more audio into a given time, and boosts and normalizes the audio.

I have been wanting to be able to listen to all sorts of spoken word recordings that aren’t available in the form of a podcast. I’d love it if I could just select audio from a playlist in iTunes, but as far as I can tell the only input Overcast takes is a podcast feed url. Please correct me if I’m wrong

Using Dropbox, ifttt.com, and a WordPress installation I rolled my own private podcast.

  1. Create a new WordPress site
  2. Make a privatepodcast directory in Dropbox to store files for the feed.
  3. Create a “If Dropbox then WordPress” rule at ifttt.com which creates new posts from files dropped into the privatepodcast folder.
  4. WordPress provides a feed that is located at your_sites_url/feed/ which you can subscribe to using Overcast.

Notes:

  • I dropped 32 individual chapters of an audiobook into the folder only to find out later I had to go back and manually adjust the post timestamps to get them in order.
  • I had to turn off the link shortening that ifttt uses. Something about that kept the files from appearing in Overcast.
  • WordPress provides feeds for individual tags or categories, so I could separate out (e.g.) an audiobook into its own feed, but I haven’t found that necessary yet.

New Sources

A couple of blogs have recently entered my grist-stream and have been producing content that resonates with my thoughts more often than not.

Glory to God for All Things: No One is Saved Alone
This is from the Orthodox perspective. Actually this post about honoring Mary was one of the first times I connected to that practice as anything beyond at-best-possibly-not-idolatry.

Just Thomism: What’s evidence?
This is a Catholic blog that focuses mostly on straight philosophy.