Monday, December 23, 2013

La persona que todo el año, planea que todo llegue a tiempo en Navidades...

UPS's Holiday Shipping Master: They Call Him Mr. Peak

UPS's Holiday Shipping Master: They Call Him Mr. Peak

Scott Abell is fretting about free-range turkeys. It’s Nov. 20, and United Parcel Service (UPS) will soon pick up 11,000 of them from a ranch in Northern California and ship them overnight to customers of Williams-Sonoma (WSM) in time for Thanksgiving. Abell, a 31-year veteran of UPS, is known inside the organization as Mr. Peak. He plans next-day, two-day, and three-day shipments during the holidays, UPS’s busiest time of the year. He starts drafting his plan in January and spends the rest of the year refining it. The turkeys are his first big test of the 2013 peak season, which starts in five days.
The birds are impressive: A 24-pounder sells for $185—plus shipping. UPS must handle them gently. The turkeys are not frozen but “meticulously chilled” at around 37F to keep them fresh. They are entombed in special frozen gel packs. Some are embalmed in a brine flavored with a savory blend of rosemary, thyme, garlic, and sage. The birds are most likely being slaughtered as he speaks. “I got an e-mail today that they’re already starting to load them up,” Abell says, discussing their fate with three of his lieutenants at the UPS Global Operations Center in Louisville. “They’re getting them ready.”
An athletic 53-year-old with wire-rimmed glasses, a neatly trimmed mustache, and carefully parted graying hair, Abell is unfailingly gracious, if a little high-strung. He has an elaborate delivery process in store for the “Willie Birds.” On Nov. 25, three days before Thanksgiving, UPS drivers will pick them up at the ranch and transport them to two of the company’s large distribution centers. From there, they will be flown to UPS sorting facilities. The ones bound for the Southwest will be divvied up at UPS distribution in Ontario, Calif. The ones headed east of the Rockies will be processed at Worldport, an enormous operation near Abell’s office in Louisville. Then the turkeys will be jetted to local UPS hubs and handed over to drivers who will carry them to their final destinations. Ideally, this will all happen in 24 hours.
The flight of the Willie Birds has become a holiday ritual for UPS. Concerned about getting it right, Abell has even distributed pictures of Willie Bird boxes to the 6,000 workers who sort packages daily at Worldport so they recognize them. The last thing Mr. Peak wants is for the birds to arrive spoiled. If they’re late, UPS has to reimburse the disappointed Thanksgiving diners.
Coordinating the most time-sensitive shipments during the most hectic time of year has always been a challenge for UPS, but the Internet has made Abell’s job more crucial than ever. It’s become so easy for people to shop via computers and smartphones that they frequently delay their purchases until the last minute. Mr. Peak’s job, in effect, is to fulfill the Internet’s promise of instant gratification.
If Abell can’t come up with a viable scheme, UPS is in trouble. The company expects to ship more than 132 million parcels globally during the week before Christmas alone. If it can’t find space for them all, retailers will almost surely turn to FedEx. In addition, Abell must keep a lid on costs. In the past some investors have worried that UPS is too e-commerce focused. David Vernon, an analyst for AllianceBernstein (AB), notes that it’s usually more profitable to carry large shipments to businesses than to transport books to the cozy homes of Internet shoppers. But he says UPS is managing to turn a profit on the latter with careful planning. “I think some of those fears are starting to recede,” he says.
Maintaining profitability is especially difficult during peak season when UPS’s delivery expenses rise. This year, UPS is adding 55,000 part-time holiday workers, leasing 23 extra planes, and effectively building a second trucking fleet to handle the seasonal package flow. None of this is cheap. It’s up to Mr. Peak to plan accordingly.
Perhaps the biggest holiday challenge for UPS is satisfying (AMZN), which doesn’t behave like a traditional retailer. In November, Amazon unveiled a plan to deliver packages on Sundays with the help of the U.S. Postal Service rather than UPS. In December, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive officer, told 60 Minutes the company was experimenting with delivering packages by drone. Many people snickered. UPS did not. Ross McCullough, vice president of corporate strategy, says UPS is studying drone delivery, too. “I believe these things will be part of the system in the future,” he says. “I don’t know when.” He says UPS is also weighing the potential use of driverless vehicles.
Then there are the factors Mr. Peak can’t control. This year there are only 26 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, compared with 32 last year. That means UPS has to shove what it describes as a record number of parcels through a smaller window. Winter storms can also upset Abell’s plans. “The biggest challenge is the weather. When you have a shorter season, you have less time for recovery,” says UPS CEO D. Scott Davis. “You just hope you don’t have ice storms.” It isn’t only that ice can ground UPS jets and halt its trucks. The company has found that when people are snowed in, they do more online shopping. So when UPS digs itself out, it has to deliver even more presents. Abell doesn’t know what to expect this year from the weather, but he is ready to sort boxes by hand himself if an emergency arises. “I hustled boxes before,” he says. “I can do it again.”
Abell has four calendars in his office. There’s the UPS corporate calendar. Another shows the deadlines for circulating his peak plan to UPS district managers. The third displays dates for when he has to submit his plans to the company’s airplane pilots. Then there’s the small calendar on his desk. Mr. Peak keeps it there so he doesn’t have to constantly crane his neck to look at the other calendars when he’s on the phone.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Seis cosas que no sabes que tu tableta puede hacer (TechPage One)

Apps range from incredibly useful to impressively useless

- Tech Page One November 04 2013 
The Trapster app aggregates info on police speed traps and other tactics that can result in traffic tickets. Credit: Pictofigo
Pity the person who only uses their tablet for mindless games of Candy Crush or checking work emails from outside the office. Sure, there’s something to be said for taking care of the day’s to-do list with the swipe of a finger, but tablets offer so many prime opportunities to get, well, weird. Whether it’s an outside-the-box app that offers up something useful (avoiding a speeding ticket) or just an unapologetically bizarre one (chatting with a ghost), there is something for everyone — and then some.
Here are some apps that range from incredibly useful to impressively useless, with a few fun stops in the middle.

1. Ghost Radar ClassicScared of things that go bump in the night? Just in time for Halloween, this app scans the energy fields around you, picking up the words being blurted out by your neighbors in the afterlife and speaking them to you to in a creepy effect. The Ghost Radar guys may “offer no guarantees of accuracy,” but, unlike your paranormal targets, the app’s 13,000 five-star ratings in the Android store speak for themselves.

2. Action Movie Creator FXReal life is just so boring. Thankfully, visionary J.J. Abrams’ production company, Bad Robot, has unleashed this app that lets any user superimpose studio-style special effects on your run-of-the-mill videos. And with FX names like Photon Torpedoes, Car Smash, Robo Attack, Avalanche, Fire Fight, Chopper Down and Alien Burst, you’re about to be dropped into the middle of a Hollywood blockbuster. Hopefully it’s not “John Carter.”

3. SleepCyclesMost people blindly set an alarm only to go trudging through the rest of the day like an extra on The Walking Dead. It doesn’t have to be this way. Just leave your tablet at your bedside and this smart alarm clock will analyze your subtlest sleep movements, waking you up during the lightest sleep phase that falls within a 30-minute window of your wake-up time to leave you as refreshed as possible. The dorkiest can even analyze their sleep statistics. In 2013, counting sheep is for amateurs.
4. RunPeeYou’re halfway through the 134-minute runtime of “Captain Phillips” and three quarters of the way through a 64-ounce Cherry Coke when nature begins to call. But when’s a good time to duck out? The dedicated RunPee team has watched nearly every movie imaginable to pick out those 3-5 minute spans without crucial plot twists or action scenes, ensuring you only miss the dullest moments. Cross-referenced with scores from Rotten Tomatoes and details from IMDB, this tongue-in-cheek movie app may be the most useful on the market.
5. Trapster“The easiest way to fight a speeding ticket is…not to get one in the first place.” The folks at Trapster couldn’t be more right, and now nearly 20.5 million drivers have turned to this app to be warned of red-light cameras and known enforcement points. And all the info is coming straight from the source: ticked off, ticketed drivers who’ve been foiled by speed traps and other police tactics. They now want to save you the same hassle. Apparently, revenge is a dish best served on a tablet.
6. Easy Metal DetectorIf loose nickels and dimes hiding beneath the cushions of your couch is your idea of hidden treasure, Easy Metal Detector is your ticket to a payday. It uses the admittedly not-so-strong magnetometer already built into your tablet to find ferrous metals. Priced at just 99 cents, this app will pay for itself in a matter of months. Hopefully.
These apps and others, including games like Candy Crush, are available for download through the Windows Store and Google Play — two places that can truly enhance Dell’s new line of Venue tablets, available in Windows 8.1 and Android. Visit for details.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Google Just Bought a Mechinized Cheetah and Other Military Robots...(BusinessWeek)


Monday, December 16, 2013

Tech Billionaires Spend Millions on 'Science Oscars'...(BusinessWeek)



Friday, December 13, 2013

El Médico por tu teléfono móvil: Empieza hoy ... (BusinessWeek)

Dr. Phil-Backed Startup Launches Online Medical Exams



When Apple and Samsung Fight, the Lawyers Win...(BusinessWeek)


Pity the lawyers—except for those who practice intellectual property law. In IP, these are boom times. Fights between major players such as Apple (AAPL) and Samsung Electronics (005930:KS) drag on for years, get stuck on complex technical details, and can dwell on the patents in products no longer on the market, with legal fees mounting all the way.
Consider the legal fees commanded in Apple and Samsung’s latest dispute. A 2012 case between the two tech giants was decided in Apple’s favor, as was a portion of that case that was recently retried to determine the damages Samsung must pay Apple for infringing several iPhone and iPad patents. The total now owed to the Cupertino (Calif.) computer and tech giant stands at $929 million, not including legal fees.
Throw in the legal fees, and the number could jump another $15.7 million. On Thursday, Apple filed a motion seeking that amount in attorneys’ fees from Samsung, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apple shared some other interesting details along with the fee request.
Apple will pay about $60 million in legal fees for work done on the dispute between August 2011 and August 2013. Most of that goes to the lead firm handling the case, Morrison & Foerster, with roughly $2 million in fees paid to Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr, which has defended Apple against Samsung’s counterclaims. The filing notes that the fees are “reasonable” and that efforts were taken, when possible, to reduce fees and apply discounts.
These are big numbers, representing fees for just a portion of the work on only one lawsuit (Apple also has filed suits against HTC (2498:TT) and Motorola Mobility). What they also represent are the partners, counsel, associates, and contract lawyers who put in many hours on the cases, largely in the extensive discovery engaged in by both sides—Samsung served 583 requests for production, 89 interrogatories, and 2,518 requests for admission; Apple served 694 requests for production, 86 interrogatories, and 1,529 requests for admission.
There were lots of depositions, too, more than 200 on both sides, resulting, the court filing says, in more than 2,500 deposition exhibits (more documents). And there were many, many motions. The partners, current and former, working the case for Morrison & Foerster numbered more than 20. On discovery alone, the firm engaged about 30 contract attorneys, working alongside roughly 25 associates, according to the court filings.
Stanford University IP law professor Mark Lemley estimates that more than $1 billion has been spent in recent years on all the smartphone patent litigation. “While smartphone companies can certainly afford even a billion-dollar legal bill, it’s not clear what good it does society to have them spend a billion dollars suing each other,” he says. ($1 billion is roughly equivalent to two weeks’ worth of iPhone sales, according to Bloomberg data.)
The lawsuits do help the lawyers, though, especially the big law firms that have acquired or expanded their IP practices in recent years based on the promise of patent litigation. There’s no sluggish demand there. As the number of patent lawsuits continues to rise—twice as many were filed this year as there were three years ago, according to data from LexMachina—no doubt this practice will continue to flourish as other practice areas take a hit.
Kessenides is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Amar a tu compañía de Cable? ...(BusinessWeek)


Cable TV Just Wants to Be Loved



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Microsoft: We goofed on that Windows 7 end-of-sales date...(ZDNet)


The Redmondians are now saying that date was posted in error. The new official word is that Microsoft still has yet to determine when the Windows 7 preload cut-off date will be. (Neowin reported the change from October 30, 2014 to "TBD" over the weekend.)
A spokesperson supplied the following statement explaining the mix-up:
"We have yet to determine the end of sales date for PCs with Windows 7 preinstalled. The October 30, 2014 date that posted to the Windows Lifecycle page globally last week was done so in error. We have since updated the website to note the correct information; however, some non-English language pages may take longer to revert to correctly reflect that the end of sales date is 'to be determined.' We apologize for any confusion this may have caused our customers. We’ll have more details to share about the Windows 7 lifecycle once they become available."
Microsoft also confirmed that the other cut-off date -- the end of availability of boxed copies of Windows 7 sold at retail -- was, indeed, October 30, 2013.
It will be interesting to see if Microsoft ends up sticking with the October 30, 2014 OEM cutoff date or not. That timing would make sense if the Softies think they can get more Windows 7 users on a path toward upgrading (or at least considering upgrading) to Windows 8 within a year's time. If things aren't going so well, perhaps Microsoft will push the PC-preload date out further.
The end-of-support date for Windows 7, as of now, has not been extended. Mainstream (free, Microsoft-provided) support for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 installed isn't expiring until January 13, 2015. Microsoft will continue to provide security fixes for Windows 7 for free until the end of extended support, which is January 14, 2020.

Walkiria: Un robot de 6 pies de la NASA...muy pronto cerca de usted?

NASA unveils 6-foot 'superhero robot' Valkyrie

Designed to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, this "female" robot could be the precursor to robo-astronauts that will help colonize Mars.

by                                                                     December 10, 2013 4:50 PM PST


 What if NASA's Robonaut grew legs and indulged in steroids? The result might be close to what NASA has unveiled: Valkyrie is a humanoid machine billed as a "superhero robot."

Developed at the Johnson Space Center, Valkyrie is a 6.2-foot, 275-pound hulk designed to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC).

It will go toe to toe with the Terminator-like Atlas robot from Boston Dynamics in what's shaping up to be an amazing modern-day duel.

 In an interesting twist, Valkyrie seems to be a girl. While officially genderless, "Valkyrie" (a nickname, since the official designation is R5) evokes the goddess-like females of Norse myth.

Its Iron Man-style glowing chest ring nestles in a pronounced bosom that contains linear actuators for waist rotation.

"We really wanted to design the appearance of this robot to be one that when you saw it (you'd say) 'Wow. That's awesome,'" Nicolaus Radford of the NASA JSC Dextrous Robotics Lab says in the video below by IEEE Spectrum.

"When we were designing the robot, we were thinking about the competition from day one, and we wanted a very modular system. Specifically with the arm, we can yank one bolt and one connector, and we can take the arm off. It happens in a matter of minutes."

Valkyrie has 44 degrees of freedom, or axes of rotation in its joints, meaning it's a relatively flexible machine in terms of movement. Its power source is a battery stored in a backpack that can provide it with about an hour of juice.

Its sensors include sonar and LIDAR, as well as head, arm, abdomen, and leg cameras so operators can see whatever the robot is doing from multiple viewpoints.

Developed with the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, Valkyrie can walk around untethered, and pick up and manipulate objects, which are essential skills for the DARPA challenge.

The DRC is designed to help evolve machines that can cope with disasters and hazardous environments like nuclear power plant accidents. Participants will be presented with tasks such as driving a utility vehicle, walking over uneven terrain, clearing debris, breaking through a wall, closing a valve, and connecting a fire hose.
NASA, however, sees the DRC as part of its mission to explore space.

"NASA saw a considerable overlap between what the DRC was trying to accomplish and NASA's goals as an agency," says Radford. "We want to get to Mars. Likely, NASA will send robots ahead of the astronauts to the planet. These robots will start preparing the way for the human explorers, and when the humans arrive, the robots and the humans will work together."

The DARPA challenge gets going this month with a preliminary competition. Check out more details on Valkyrie in the vid below.

(Via IEEE Spectrum)
  Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade


Tecnología...o Política? Silicon Valley contra el espionaje gubernamental...(BusinessWeek)

Silicon Valley is continuing its campaign to distance itself from the National Security Agency’s snooping operations. On Monday, eight well-known Internet companies—Google (GOOG), AOL (AOL), Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), LinkedIn (LNKD), Microsoft (MSFT), Twitter (TWTR), and Yahoo! (YHOO)—published an open letter, took out ads in newspapers, and set up a website calling for new principles for what they’re deeming as global government surveillance reform. Here are three ways to think about it:

Silicon Valley is against spying at home. This is hardly the first time major tech companies have argued that they protect consumers against an overly curious government. Silicon Valley has been pushing for the right to release more details about the data that companies share with law enforcement, and working to build technical systems less vulnerable to snooping. There’s little new in Monday’s announcement. While the principles the group lays out don’t mention any government by name, the first three echo common suggestions to reel in the NSA by saying governments shouldn’t just suck up data, intelligence agencies should be overseen by the courts, and governments should be more open about what they’re doing.

It’s also worried about its business abroad. The other principles seem targeted to customers in other countries. Foreign governments, particularly in Europe, are furious about the NSA spying program. Silicon Valley is concerned that harsh privacy laws could seriously hamper its growth worldwide at a time when every major Internet company’s U.S. growth is slowing. Laws that would require information about local users to be kept on local servers, for instance, would cause serious issues for American Internet companies. In making these suggestions, of course, the companies are in the awkward position of arguing against legislation intended to protect privacy.

Not the phone companies, though. Internet companies have loudly protested what they see as government invasion of their users’ privacy. But wireless carriers—who have been repeatedly implicated in connection with such efforts—have largely kept quiet. The two branches of the consumer tech industry are in different situations. While it’s rare to see Facebook described as a utility, consumers have a much greater connection with that company than they do their phone carriers. And while the domination of the leading tech companies seems absolute, the telecom industry is arguably the gold standard for draining competition from a market. Silicon Valley has been very sensitive to accusations of misuse of personal data because most tech companies rely on that same data to make their living.

“People won’t use technology they don’t trust,” Brad Smith, general counsel of Microsoft, said in a statement. Apparently Internet companies are more concerned about that than phone companies are.
Brustein is a writer for in New York.

El llamado Cybercrime afecta al mundo de los negocios: Cómo enfrentarlo (TechRepublic)

National Computer Forensics Institute: Demystifying cybercrime
By in IT Security,                                                       October 7, 2013, 10:56 AM PST

Knowing how to handle digital evidence and discovery correctly prevents costly mistakes. A federal facility in Birmingham, Alabama is working hard to improve that situation.                      NCFI 1.png
Birmingham, Alabama has a certain appeal for those of us living in the northern part of the country, especially this time of year when one day we could be looking at tornadoes, and the next thirty plus inches of snow.
I learned something else during my trip to Birmingham. The city has a propensity for digital crime fighting. Facebook learned this firsthand when staff and students in the university’s computer-forensic program played a significant role in determining the key players behind Koobface, a computer worm that stole millions of dollars from Facebook members.
Digital crime-fighting efforts in Birmingham do not stop there; drive south from downtown Birmingham on Highway 65 to the sprawling suburb of Hoover. Exit on Valleydale Road, and before long, a well-kept modern-looking building appears on the right.

Figure A

NCFI 2.png
Once inside, the reason we stopped at this particular location became apparent—The National Computer Forensics Institute (NCFI)—another Birmingham organization that’s making life difficult for computer savvy criminals.

Figure B

NCFI 3.png

Barry Page, NCFI Deputy Director, met our group at the institute’s imposing double doors and acted as our tour guide for the facility. “The purpose of NCFI is simple; get state and local officials from across the country up to speed on the proper handling of digital evidence, cybercrime investigations, and judicial procedures related to digital crime.”
In addition to Page's explanation, the official NCFI mandate states: “[T]o provide state and local law enforcement, legal, and judicial professionals a free, comprehensive education on current cybercrime trends, investigative methods, and prosecutorial and judicial challenges.”
Page then pointed out that the United States Secret Service’s Criminal Investigative Division and the Alabama Office of Prosecution Services jointly run NCFI—the only training facility of its kind in the United States, which has been in operation since 2008. 2600 students from more than 500 agencies have taken classes there already.

Digital evidence training for the legal profession and law enforcement

NCFI has three multipurpose classrooms, two network investigation classrooms, a mock courtroom, and an operational forensics lab dedicated to the Birmingham Electronics Crimes Task Force. NCFI offers thirteen classes under the following categories:

  • Deadbox Forensics
  • Network Intrusion
  • Mobile Device and Social Networking Examination

A member of the tour asked about equipment. Page said NCFI considers it important for agencies to standardize on equipment and methodology as a way to enhance cross communications and eliminate mistakes. To that end, each student receives a Forensic Recovery Device and notebook. Software is dependent upon the student’s class—for example, students enrolled in Deadbox Forensics would receive Encase and WriteBlocker.
Next, we moved past three packed classrooms on our way to the mock courtroom. As we entered, Page said besides being Deputy Director of NCFI, he is an Alabama state prosecutor. So, he works closely with the instructors teaching the Computer Forensics in Court classes.
The following points are addressed during the judge’s class:
  • Understand the significance of how data is stored on computers
  • Understand the base differences between popular operating systems
  • Understand the role that the Internet and networks play in computer crimes
  • Understand the entire forensic process performed by investigators
  • Better understand legal obstacles present in computer crimes
  • Understand how to better evaluate computer crime cases in court
Figure C
NCFI 4.png
Page also pointed out the mock courtroom, which is designed to accommodate digital discovery so as not to break the chain of custody, yet still guarantee a fair and impartial hearing. For that reason alone, the courtroom itself receives significant attention from people wanting to incorporate similar features into their courtrooms.
As we left the mock courtroom, I asked what defense attorneys do to stay current. Page explained that defense lawyers most often specialize. And since people accused of a crime get to pick their defense attorney, they will more than likely retain an attorney experienced in litigating cases involving digital evidence.
But, unfortunately, assigning cases involving digital evidence and or digital crime to prosecutors or judges with experience is not always an option. So, the logical approach is to provide a way similar to NCFI for prosecutors and judges to become familiar with court procedures involving digital crime and digital evidence.

Final thoughts

The university’s computer forensics team includes an archeologist and psychologist. The team has an enviable string of successes including eliminating Koobface. The NCFI promotes a similar ideology to normally non-cooperating legal entities. They also are showing positive results from their effort. I see a common thread—that of getting normally disparate groups talking and working together to solve big issues.
If I may, I would like to take a moment to thank all of you who have emailed your kind condolences on the passing of my father. The messages are much appreciated.
[All images courtesy of the NCFI.]


About Michael Kassner

Michael Kassner is currently a systems manager for an international company. Together with his son, he runs MKassner Net, a small IT publication consultancy.