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Roborace’s endeavor to change how cars are raced (hint: beep boop)

(TECH NEWS) No car is safe from the autonomy craze slowly taking over the nation – even the ones that go really quickly, thanks to Roborace.

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Science, you’ve gone too far

Autonomous vehicles are designed to transport humans from place to place in the safest, most efficient way possible. In other words, they’re supposed to make our lives easier.

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But when an autonomous vehicle is deliberately designed without space for a person, be they driver or passenger, what’s the point?

Robot racing

Roborace is on their way to building a fully electric and driverless car – for racing. And according to them, the endeavor offers extreme value.

For the gear heads

On one hand, there’s entertainment value for the gear-heads.

Their Robocar prototype is unbelievably low, sleek, and has no need for a cockpit, a steering wheel, or pedals.

“For more than a hundred years, we’ve seen a person controlling the car,” says Daniel Simon, Chief Design Officer. “That’s why it’s so important that the Robocar has an emotion, a feeling. You don’t normally approach motorsport like that. You don’t go to a racing team and say, ‘This has to look emotional.’ But that’s why this [project] was so cool.”

GO LEFT

The carbon-fiber chassis holds four 300kW motors, which can take the car up to and over 199 mph.

The engines are fueled by a 540 kW battery, and the Robocar features an incredible number of sensors to act as its eyes and ears.

These include radars, AI-driven cameras, optical speed sensors, and ultrasonic sensors.

If you ain’t first, yer last

On the other hand, there’s entertainment value for the motorsports fans. But if no one’s driving the car – i.e. the dramatic risking of human life is no longer an element, and there are no humans making catastrophic mistakes or death defying saves from the driver’s seat – why would anyone care about a Robocar race?

Because this race is all about the programmers, say the company’s founders.

They envision races in which all the machines are identical; the variation stems from the competing AI algorithms, coded and implemented by ambitious, talented programmers from around the world.

Coding is not just for the professionals

On one level, the motorsports playing field could be leveled dramatically.

A student or a university could enter an algorithm against Ferrari or Renault.

In the future, the Roborace team plans to open up a “virtual test environment” so that anyone can develop and test their own algorithm.

More than cars

This an intellectual race, and the hope is that it will speed up the perfection self-driving technology by introducing public competition.
“We really believe that this environment will help companies to create best algorithms for road cars,” says Denis Sverdlov, CEO of Roborace.

Progress for all automation

Most progress should focus on collision-avoidance systems. In the Roborace, Robocars can’t just go quickly and pass each other.

They need to be able to respond to their environment, avoid other cars and barriers, and react quickly and intelligently to unexpected impediments.Click To Tweet
And all of these roboskills are nothing but applicable on the streets.

For now, the company will continue to demo its DevBot (a totally different, less beast-like vehicle with an engineer riding in a cabin) throughout the Formula E season, and will work on in-house testing of the Robocar.
But in a year or two, we might be able to tune in to a cutthroat coder competition, in car-race form.

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Tech News

Daily Coding Problem keeps you sharp for coding interviews

(CAREER) Coding interviews can be pretty intimidating, no matter your skill level, so stay sharp with daily practice leading up to your big day.

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Whether you’re in the market for a new coding job or just want to stay sharp in the one you have, it’s always important to do a skills check-up on the proficiencies you need for your job. Enter Daily Coding Problem, a mailing list service that sends you one coding problem per day (hence the name) to keep your analytical skills in top form.

One of the founders of the service, Lawrence Wu, stated that the email list service started “as a simple mailing list between me and my friends while we were prepping for coding interviews [because] just doing a couple problems every day was the best way to practice.”

Now the service offers this help for others who are practicing for interviews or for individuals needing to just stay fresh in what they do. The problems are written by individuals who are not just experts, but also who aced their interviews with giants like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

So how much would a service like this cost you? Free, but with further tiers of features for additional money. Like with all tech startups, the first level offers the basic features such as a single problem every day with some tricks and hints, as well as a public blog with additional support for interviewees. However, if you want the actual answer to the problem, and not just the announcement that you incorrectly answered it, you’ll need to pony up $15 per month.

The $15 level also comes with some neat features such as mock interview opportunities, no ads, and a 30 day money back guarantee. For those who may be on the job market longer, or who just want the practice for their current job, the $250 level offers unlimited mock interviews, as well as personal guidance by the founders of the company themselves.

Daily Coding Problem enters a field with some big players with a firm grasp on the market. Other services, like InterviewCake, LeetCode, and InterviewBit, offer similar opportunities to practice mock interview questions. InterviewCake offers the ability to sort questions by the company who typically asks them for that individual with their sights targeted on a specific company. InterviewBit offers referrals and mentorship opportunities, while LeetCode allows users to submit their own questions to the question pool.

If you’ve really got your eye on the prize of receiving that coveted job opportunity, Daily Coding Problem is a great way to add another tool in your tool box to ace that interview.

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Making Slack actionable makes you productive

(TECHNOLOGY) Slack is an amazing productivity tool, but of course can add more to your plate – this feature puts you back on track.

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You know when you’re using Slack and you’re having a conversation with your teammate about whether or not you should grab lunch or go to Soul Cycle, but before you can answer, your editor Slacks you about deadlines and your design partner messages you proofs and suddenly you snap back to reality and remember that you’ve been working on a blog post for an hour and your concentration is completely shattered? You know, the exact moment when your productivity is officially derailed?

Well, Slack now offers Actions to help make sure that doesn’t happen. Your day may get busy, but at least nothing will slip through the cracks, work-wise.

Integrated with project management tools like Asana, Zendesk, and Jira, Actions allows users to create and comment on tasks, tickets or issues within conversations. That means no clicking through tabs or apps until you can no longer remember why you started clicking in the first place. More importantly, Actions keeps track of the work you need to do and when you need to do it.

So, how do Actions work?

1. Need to create a deadline or set up an appointment? Anything you see in Slack that needs a follow-up can be turned into an action when you click the ••• icon and choose an “action.”

2. When you’ve completed an action, a message appears in your Slack channel and lets your team know you’ve flagged it for follow-up.

3. Whichever app you’ve integrated with will alert Slack at which point you and your team can determine the next steps.

Bottom-line, Actions help keep your workflow moving. While it may not stop the onslaught of Slack messages from breaking your concentration, at least you’ll know what you should to be concentrating on.

If you’re curious to know more about Actions, the company has ample info on their API pages for your perusal.

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Freezetab streamlines how you save tabs in Chrome

(TECH NEWS) Freezetab is the newest chrome extension that allows you to organize saved tabs in a myriad of ways.

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Internet made easier

With the browser becoming more and more of a workspace than merely an application, the built in bookmarks tool may leave you a bit hungry for more.

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Chrome users who need better tools to organize and manage bookmarks may find the power they need in Freezetab.

Bookmark’s cooler, hotter younger brother

Freezetab seeks to answer the questions of “what if I could organize my bookmarks by website” or “I only want to save all but two of these tabs on zen office designs.” It seeks to give you more options beyond the “one or all” choices in chrome. Here is the lowdown:

  • The calendar feature remembers WHEN you saved a tab – so if you can’t remember the title you can just go back to the day.
  • Chrome either lets you save one or all tabs. Freezetab expands those options to include: all, current, everything but current, right of, left of, or pick and choose.
  • If you are sharing a collection of tabs with a workgroup or a partner, it exports as a nice textbox that is easy to share in integrated messaging, IM, or email. Or even social media!
  • Sorting is robust, and there is a solid search feature that searches as you type.
  • That quick save feature saves all the tabs and closes them – and you can adjust that quick save feature to meet your needs.
  • There is a handy little star feature to note important bookmarks (i.e. recipes and excel techniques).
  • Enhances your close tab capability to close everything to the left and specific tabs – this great if you work in chrome and have 75 tabs open that have one letter names.
  • It is easier to sort tabs after you save them – you can search for them and then sort into folders you create rather manually organizing them into folders.
  • As a bonus: for those who don’t want to have to sort bookmarks – unlike Chrome which requires you to pick a folder or risk turning your bookmarks to an unorganized mess, the extension automatically organizes it for you.

Freezetab findings

After spending a few moments with Freezetab, it does fit in nicely with a workflow. Solidly reviewed, the developer did solve an issue with “pinned” tabs in the 1.2 update. – so it doesn’t remove or add them. The features are nice and easy to use, and it doesn’t require more than five minutes of playing around.

One complaint – if you choose to the right or left of the current tab to close, it did close the active tab as well – which was a little funky. But once you get comfortable with the nuances, it’s easy to use.
The interface is function over form, but you won’t have any problem using or customizing this extension. Now Bookmark smart y’all!

#FreezeTab

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