Shh! SpaceX Just Launched a Secret Rocket (Carrying a Drone)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched from the Kennedy Space Center yesterday, but that isn’t what’s making news.

What’s interesting is the rocket’s top-secret cargo – a X-37B space drone – and the client – the U.S. Air Force.

Though SpaceX has been part of government contracts before, yesterday’s launch was the first time contracting for the Air Force. The X-37B drone is an unmanned Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV). Not much else is known about the top-secret mission. But you can read some speculation here.

Not long after launching, the Falcon 9 successfully landed at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was the rocket’s 41st flight. Rock on!

Stop Slack-ing!

Atlassian, the company that created things we use at RoboSource all the time, like Jira and Trello, launched a new team communications service yesterday to compete with Slack, a widely-used messaging system. The new service is called Stride.

Atlassian currently has a similar product – they bought HipChat back in 2012. But with Slack growing and growing in popularity, the company decided an update was in order, and thus Stride was born.

Stride has a free version, which supports an unlimited number of users. Prices start to escalate when you decide you need file storage space to keep all your old messages. (This is similar to Slack’s cost structure.)

There are a few innovative features (like being able to pin action items), but most reviewers are saying that this is basically a new version of Slack. Those that are currently using HipChat will automatically get a free upgrade to Stride.

New Class of Shark-Watching Beach Protectors – AI-Powered Drones

Researchers in Australia have created a shark-detecting drone that watches for the menacing sea creatures from above. It’s called the SharkSpotter. And it’s kinda awesome.

The SharkSpotter uses artificial intelligence to analyze images captured from the sky. The drone can distinguish sharks from surfers, swimmers, and other fish-type things (including being able to tell a dolphin from a shark – is that impressive, or what?!?). And then it warns people swimming below about the danger lurking nearby with robo-voice announcements.

It’s even possible that the drones could ping sharks with electrical pulses to frustrate them and make them want to leave the area.

The drones will start patrolling as early as this month.

China has a Vendetta against Bitcoin?

Some of you are going crazy, wondering what’s going on with Bitcoin. The rest of you are wondering what on earth it is.

First of all, last weekend, China banned initial coin offerings (ICO).

On to the what-in-tarnation-is-that…

From Gizmodo:

An ICO is a bit like the IPOs that come along when a company wants to offer ownership shares to the public. When a company like Snapchat wants to raise lots of investment capital to fund speedy growth, it offers shares to investors that are priced based on a number of factors, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) imposes regulations that help protect investors who buy in. With an ICO, a company offers a chance to invest in a “new” cryptocurrency that often has a business aspect related to it. Typically, the ICO will accept major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ether, and in some cases traditional currency in exchange for “crypto-tokens” that basically function as shares in the company.

For more info about Bitcoin, check out this out or read this page which explains Bitcoin really well.

There’s a lot more to this, but suffice to say that ICOs had a brief lull this week, but rallied nicely in the last few days. Looks like it’ll take more than China to bring them down.

And a Few More Interesting Things We Found for You:

Hotel-Room Hacker

If you’ve got some time, settle down with this Wired article about one crook who used a how-to article about a security vulnerability found in hotel keycard locks to rob almost a hundred hotels across the nation.

It’s a fascinating read on sharing information online and what led a drug-induced young adult to go on an electronics stealing spree.

Einstein Anytime

Check out these great Einstein USB Flash Drives for the science-lover in your life. It’s not too early to start your Christmas list!