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The story of another missing AirPod recently surfaced and as it turns out, this Massachusetts man isn’t the first to have experienced “losing” it this way. Here’s the story of how Bradford Gauthier realized he swallowed an AirPod in his sleep and how a doctor got it out.

Over the weekend, Bradford shared with the Guardian about his experience swallowing an AirPod back in February. Like the similar case we saw back in 2023, he also fell asleep with his AirPods in…

I was exhausted, but it’s my habit to watch movies on my phone as I go to sleep. I put on a favourite – the 1980s version of The Thing, starring Kurt Russell. It’s the story of researchers in Antarctica being gradually taken over by a malevolent alien. 

Within 10 minutes of the opening credits, I could barely keep my eyes open. The next thing I knew, four hours had passed, my wife, Heather, was asleep beside me and the movie had long finished. Groggily, I moved my phone off the pillow and removed the wireless AirPod headphone from one ear – the other had fallen out and I couldn’t find it.

The first sign of trouble showed up when he tried to take a drink in the middle of the night.

Still barely awake, I padded to the bathroom for a sip of water, but couldn’t swallow properly. My throat filled with water, but it wouldn’t go down – I had to lean over the sink and let the water drain out. It was bizarre and alarming, but I was so tired that I just went back to bed.

In the morning he looked again for his missing AirPod but couldn’t find it and the battery was dead so Find My AirPod couldn’t work.

Lots more snow had fallen overnight, and I went out before breakfast to resume shovelling, breaking off after an hour or so for a drink of water. Again, I couldn’t swallow but I wasn’t concerned – I just thought my throat was unusually dry and the difficulty would pass. “By the way,” I said, as I headed back out, “I’ve lost one of my earphones. Has anyone seen it?”

It ended up being Bradford’s son who had the idea that he swallowed it.

While I cleared the snow, Heather and my son, Owen, searched the bedroom thoroughly, even lifting the mattress. “Hey,” Owen said, “perhaps you swallowed it in your sleep?” We all laughed, but a couple of minutes later, after another mouthful of water came straight back up, we started to wonder if he might be on to something. I had also become aware of a faint pressure in the middle of my chest – just a mild discomfort, nothing that would usually have caused concern. But the evidence was starting to add up.

“You need to get it checked out,” Heather said.

The doctor at the walk-in clinic doubted that Bradford actually swallowed it but did an X-ray to see what was going on.

Bradford notes that while it all seemed comical, it was also serious with several potential complications.

The AirPod seemed to be wedged firmly into the side of my oesophagus, but there was still a possibility it could block an airway. If ingested, it could either pass harmlessly through my system, or lodge in my intestines, which would mean surgery. There was also a slight possibility that the device might rupture, and I didn’t want to try digesting a lithium-ion battery.

In the 2023 case we saw, the person passed the AirPod “naturally.” But in this instance, to get it removed, a procedure was done with a “lasso attachment.”

Heather drove me to the endoscopy centre, where the AirPod was got back out via my mouth using a tube with a lasso attachment. It was extremely uncomfortable, but I was sedated and so only half awake. A few minutes later, I was given the AirPod in a neat little bag.

Like we saw with the last case of a swallowed AirPod, Bradford’s worked after being retrieved from his esophagus 😅.

I tried it as soon as I got home. It works fine, although the microphone is less reliable than it was. I’ll never know for certain how I managed to swallow it; my theory is that it dropped on to the pillow, ended up next to my mouth and got sucked in when I yawned. In retrospect, I’m glad the “find my AirPod” attempt didn’t work – I would have freaked out if my throat had beeped.

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An Inside Look At How One Person Can Control A Swarm Of 130 Robots

Last November, at Fort Campbell, Tennessee, half a mile from the Kentucky border, a single human directed a swarm of 130 robots. The swarm, including uncrewed planes, quadcopters, and ground vehicles, scouted the mock buildings of the Cassidy Range Complex, creating and sharing information visible not just to the human operator but to other people on the same network. The exercise was part of DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program.

“The operator of our swarm really was interacting with things as a collective, not as individuals,” says Shane Clark, of Raytheon BBN, who was the company’s main lead for OFFSET. “We had done the work to establish the sort of baseline levels of autonomy to really support those many-to-one interactions in a natural way.”

Piloting even one drone can be so taxing that it’s not rare to see videos of first-time flights leading immediately to crashes. Getting to the point where a single human can control more than a hundred drones takes some skill—and a lot of artificial intelligence.

In total, the swarm operator directed 130 vehicles in the physical world, as well as 30 simulated drones operating in the virtual environment. These 30 virtual drones were integrated into the swarm’s planning and appeared as indistinguishable from the others in the program to the human operator, and to the rest of the swarm. As apparitions of pure code, tracked by the swarm AI, these virtual drones flew in formation with the physical drones, and maneuvered around as though they really existed in physical space.

Part of the swarm. US Army / Jerry Woller

How a human commanded the swarm

For the person directing the swarm, the entire array of robots appeared as a virtual reality strategy game, mapped onto the real world. 

How the swarm operated

The physical drone models included custom drone planes made by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. In the swarm, their role was primarily passing over the entire training area and initial mapping, though the swarm also directed them to provide camera coverage as needed. On the ground were small wheeled robots made by Aion Robotics. In between were four different types of quadcopters, including 75 3DR Solo drones, light-show drone models from UVify, and two sizes of quadcopter by ModalAI.

[Related: These augmented-reality goggles let soldiers see through vehicle walls]

All of the robots involved were either commercial models or custom models built from commercial, off-the-shelf parts. This was not a swarm built to military specifications—these were commercial, hobbyist, and custom-built machines working together through dedicated software. That keeps the cost of the swarm down to about $2,000 for each robot in it.

These six types of robots reported telemetry information to each other, letting the swarm know where each part of the whole was in space. That shared information let the swarm collaborate on flight paths in real time, moving pieces into place as needed while avoiding collision. 

“We work hard to do some processing [of sensor readings] on platforms, so we don’t need to send a lot back on the network,” says Clark. “So we never send back a raw picture. We send back, ‘ah this picture is a door’ or ‘this picture is a hazard’ or ‘a source of intel.’ That processing happens on board. We just send back a notification.”

[Related: Why the Air Force wants to put lidar on robot dogs]

Automated processing makes swarm interactions possible. It can also, depending on the nature of what is processed, come with a significant risk of error.

Each of the robots was equipped with a little LTE modem, and to ensure the robots were communicating with each other and the human operator, the team set up an LTE cell tower, like the kind that regularly processes cell phone signals. This let the swarm share location to Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK), a program that runs on phones and lets soldiers in the field receive and send battle-relevant information.

“During the field exercise, as a matter of convenience, we had safety spotters out on the range looking for unsafe conditions or flyaways, and all of their phones were receiving all of the swarm traffic and their phone would vibrate and warn them if something got too close to them, because it’s too hard to track all of them in the air at the same time,” says Clark.

By only filtering the proximate drone location to people in the field, the swarm shared only what the observers needed to immediately know. In a real-life scenario, with swarms moving in support of battle, soldiers will at most need to know if a nearby drone is friendly, and won’t want to spend a lot of time sorting out where exactly the rest of the swarm is.

As the Pentagon expects future battles to take place in massive urban environments, getting more situational awareness could mean the difference between squad survival and ambush.

Watch a video from the human swarm operator’s perspective below:

Apple’s Airpod Pro Earbuds Add Active Noise

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This story was originally published on Oct. 28th, 2023.

Apple’s AirPods Pro earbuds are the most popular Bluetooth headphones on the planet at the moment. This morning, however, the company announced its new AirPod Pro headphones, which add active noise-canceling, improved sound, and a redesigned form factor with interchangeable tips. The Pro model costs $250, which is a significant jump up from the $179 price point on the original AirPods wireless earbuds. Here’s a look at what you’ll get if you plop down the cash when they start shipping on Wednesday.

Noise-canceling technology of the AirPods Pro

Apple has clearly been spending considerable time working on its active noise-canceling tech lately. Just a few weeks ago, Beats (which Apple owns), introduced its new Solo Pro on-ear wireless headphones. The $300 phones are shaped much differently than the minuscule AirPod Pro, but the tech inside appears to be very familiar.

The Apple AirPods Pro uses a pair of built-in microphones to listen to the ambient sound around you and create enough active noise canceling (ANC) to block out what it considers an appropriate amount. So, when you’re on a plane, it’s cranked. When you’re walking around on the street, it may back off so you don’t get hit by a bus.

The ANC level adjusts 200 times every second, according to Apple. Though, if the company follows the same tactics as the Beats Solo Pro, the actual transition should be smooth and almost imperceptible to the listener.

Also, like the Solo Pro, the high-end Apple AirPods have a transparency mode that listens to your surroundings and actually pumps outside sounds in so you can talk to people or perform other hearing-intensive activities without taking the pricy little nuggets of technology out of your ears and risk losing them.

The charging case holds enough extra juice for roughly 20 more hours of listening. Apple

Swappable silicon tips

Personally, regular AirPods barely fit my ears—they just refuse to stay in. The AirPods Pro, however, use swappable silicone tips that come in three sizes out of the box. In addition to helping with the fit, these also create a tighter seal around the ear to provide some old-fashioned sound isolation to go with the active noise canceling.

While the fitness-specific Powerbeats Pro still likely provide a better workout experience, the Apple AirPod Pro is rated to endure sweat and moisture from other sources, like rain. You can’t swim in them or accidentally dunk them in the bath (or worse, the toilet), but they should stand up to typical workout activities.

When you’re wearing them, each AirPod Pro listens to the sound in and around your ear to determine if the tip is providing a tight seal and it will recommend you swap them if it thinks you need to swap for a better fit.

Apple AirPods Pro battery

If you’re hoping for lots more AirPods Pro battery life, you might be disappointed to find out that you can still expect the same five hours of listening in standard mode. Kicking on the active noise canceling drops that time down to 4.5 hours, and talking into them for calls or video chats will further drop that down to 3.5 hours.

The battery case holds several full charges, and you can get up to 24 total hours of listening if you stop to recharge it regularly. The case charges wirelessly via induction or by the standard Lightning cable, just like the latest non-pro AirPods.

The AirPod Pro has touch-sensitive controls that let you perform actions with taps. Apple

What else is new in these Apple headphones?

As with the Solo Pro headphones, you can use a series of taps to tell the Apple AirPods Pro what to do. Siri will also always listen when you summon it, as you’d expect from headphones using Apple’s H1 chip inside.

At $250, these are a big price jump from the $179 standard models, but if the noise-canceling in the Beats Solo Pro is any indicator, it will perform really well. It could make a big difference for frequent travelers or people who work in noisy environments and need more isolation than typical AirPods offer. If you decide to buy these earbuds, they price tag makes them worth taking good care of. Make sure you know how to clean AirPods to ensure prolonged use.

Amd Ceo Accidentally Reveals Windows 10’S Launch Timing

Microsoft already said it intends to launch Windows 10 this summer, but now we have a better idea of exactly when that might happen, courtesy of AMD. During the company’s quarterly earnings call late last Thursday, AMD CEO Lisa Su let slip that Windows 10 would launch in July.

“With the Windows 10 launch at the end of July, we’re watching, sort of the impact of that on the back-to-school season, and expect that it might have a bit of a delay to the normal back-to-school season inventory build-up,” Su said in response to a question from an industry analyst. Oops.

Su may be mistaken and Microsoft’s plans are always subject to change. Nevertheless, as a large CPU and GPU maker, AMD is likely well-informed about Microsoft’s plans.

In fact, AMD may be counting on Windows 10’s release date to co-ordinate the release of its new flagship graphics card, the Radeon R9-300 series. AMD plans on discussing its new graphics cards before the end of June, Su said during the call, suggesting a release would come soon after.

Microsoft is famous for keeping its launch plans secret to the last possible moment even when the product is already public knowledge—as is the case with Windows 10.

The impact on you at home: If you’re wondering when you will get your hands on Microsoft’s upcoming operating system refresh then late July looks like a good bet. Windows 10 promises to be a great OS—one that, in many ways, will be what Windows 8 should have been.

Windows 10 will include a reborn Start menu featuring live modern UI tiles for traditional mouse-and-keyboard PCs. Windows 10 also has some nice features like Cortana integration and a new default browser currently dubbed Project Spartan. Assuming Su’s slip-up is correct, all of that Windows 10 goodness is about three months away from an official launch.

When will we know for sure?

Using Microsoft’s Windows 7 and 8 announcement schedules as a guide, Su may not have let the release date slip that early. In 2012, Microsoft announced the Windows 8 release date about three months ahead of time in mid-July of that year. The Windows 7 release date announcement came a month earlier, in June. Both launched in October. This suggests the company may make an official Windows 10 announcement in the near future if late July is the actual release window.

After the official release date is public knowledge, Microsoft will announce that its “release to manufacture” (RTM) build is ready. This is the build that ships to PC makers for pre-installation on new PCs. For both Windows 7 and Windows 8, the RTM announcement happened in August, about a month and a half before the actual release date. That means we could expect Windows 10 to hit RTM around early June.

Once that’s done, Microsoft will plan several promotional events leading up to the official release of Windows 10.

If Microsoft is close to announcing the Windows 10 release date, a good time to do it would be the company’s Build developer conference, which kicks off on April 29. PCWorld will be there. Stay tuned!

[via The Verge]

So A Key It Person Quit, Now What?

If you are small firm, your employees must bear multiple responsibilities. But you have had the wisdom to hire good IT personnel to keep the business running smoothly.

You believe you have a good working relationship with the company “geeks” and that they would always be willing to come to you with any problems or frustrations. Then, one day, your lead tech in whatever IT role is most critical to the functioning of your business, submits his two weeks’ notice.

While we’re focusing on IT personnel, there are a couple of things that should be addressed anytime someone leaves your employ. What went wrong or what didn’t go wrong? What should be done, right now? What about the aftermath?

Addressing these will go a long way to limit losses to corporate knowledge and assets while helping to ensure that remaining employees don’t feel threatened by the loss or encouraged to look elsewhere.

There’s the history of the situation. Do you know your employees as well as you think? If this is a larger organization, do you know your direct reports as well as you would like? Have you taken the time to really listen to what they have to tell you about the work they’re doing, the organizational environment and their outside needs? Not everyone’s life revolves around the workplace. Overestimating loyalty to the firm can cause an employer to believe that regardless of the conditions, an employee will stay to try and work things out.

This is particularly true in the IT environment. Many IT professionals want to belong to something larger than themselves. They come into the industry with the desire to be involved in something dynamic and challenging. Some want to write code that is tight, efficient and effective at solving some problem, not code that reinvents the “Hello, World” wheel. Some want to be involved in building infrastructure that provides the highest quality connectivity available, not chained to some third rate piece of equipment that was “politically viable”. Others simply want an environment that appreciates the use of their full technical potential in a meaningful way.

You as the supervisor aren’t always in a position to give them what they want. If you’re a small shop and the same redundant tasks are required for operations, there may be no room for growth. If this is the case, you should be aware of the needs and desires, and be prepared to lose them to a more technically challenging environment. You can’t do anything about this, but it shouldn’t sneak up on you either.

Talk, Talk, Talk

I realize we’re talking about a perfect world here. That most of the time the truth lies somewhere in between. So they’ve resigned, now what? What you know about them becomes critical at this juncture. Are they upset with the organization? Are they just trying to move up in their world? Or are they just looking to move somewhere like Lebanon, Oklahoma, for the change in lifestyle? Knowing what’s going on, will help you determine how to handle the situation.

If they are leaving under less than cordial circumstances, you may choose to escort them to the front door, confiscate their keys and badges, and promptly remove all network access. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to conduct forensics on their system, and check your logs for activity that falls outside the bounds of their responsibilities.

Identify a possible legal issue as soon as possible (while the person is on administrative leave) gives you more options. You can always ship them their belongings in a box, and hold anything that might questionably be theirs in case they request it.

If you know your employee is leaving on good terms, let them take their two weeks to clean up loose ends, provide information to whoever will be replacing them or serving in the interim, and to say their goodbyes. At the same time, consider putting in place the necessary steps to remove their access at the end of the resignation period. This is simply good practice.

If you don’t have good documentation (Standard Operating Procedures) in place, now is too late to decide your departing employee should write down everything they have been responsible for during their tenure. If someone is replacing them either in the interim or permanently, have that person get to know the details of the job they are assuming. They should already have a basic understanding of the work. (This is known as the “x-gets-hit-by-a-truck” disaster planning. If one of your workers, content or not, becomes completely incapacitated, how much corporate knowledge will you lose?)

Maybe you have good documentation and maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re going to rehire for the same position and maybe you’re going to eliminate the position and hire for a different function.

How you handle the departing employee will signal to your remaining workforce what your opinion of them is. If you are escorting your employee to the door, be respectful and let them leave with their dignity intact. If you’re surprised by the departure, take the opportunity to sit down with your subordinates and have a talk about how they feel. It may give you more to think about than just the loss of your IT guy.

Children’s Advocate Victoria Reggie Kennedy Being Honored

Children’s Advocate Victoria Reggie Kennedy Being Honored Widow of Edward M. Kennedy will receive honorary Doctor of Laws

Victoria Reggie Kennedy, who will speak at the School of Social Work convocation, says that social work “is a very special and powerful tool for good,” and that “at the end of the day, it’s what we do for others that helps makes us who we are.” Photo by Denis Reggie Photographers. Below, Kennedy speaks at the SSW Convocation

Cofounder of Common Sense about Kids and Guns, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce gun deaths and injuries to children, Kennedy has championed many of the social causes—including universal health care—her husband fought for during his nearly 50 years in the U.S. Senate.

“I was surprised and deeply honored to learn that I was going to be awarded an honorary degree from BU,” says Kennedy. “BU graduates are making a difference in every corner of the globe. I’m proud that I’ll now be able to say that I have a BU degree.”

Kennedy, an attorney specializing in banking, earned a BA in English from Tulane University, and a Juris Doctor from Tulane University Law School.

Since the senator’s death in August 2009, Kennedy has continued to carry on her husband’s mission, promoting causes that were important to him throughout his career.

“I share my husband’s belief that each of us can make a difference, and I’ve tried to do that in part by being involved and encouraging others to be involved in what Oliver Wendell Holmes called ‘the actions and passions of our time,” says Kennedy, who recently joined forces with Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and its Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology to “celebrate the extraordinary work some truly heroic doctors are undertaking to improve women’s lives in some of the most troubled places in the world—Sierra Leone, Haiti, and Afghanistan, to name just a few.”

Much of Kennedy’s time has been spent recently working to create the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, an educational center that recently broke ground next to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, in Dorchester, Mass. Kennedy envisions the new center as a place that “will bring history alive for students of all ages” and inspire new generations of leaders “to enter the public square and devote their talents and energy to service.”

“My husband, Ted, believed that America’s future would always remain bright as long as men and women of good conscience are prepared to respond to the call to service,” says Kennedy. “We aim to motivate Americans to do what they can to make our country live up to its highest ideals.”

At the School of Social Work convocation, Kennedy says, she hopes to impress upon the school’s 181 graduates “that they can make a real difference in this world.”

“She has tremendous knowledge and understanding of individuals, families, and communities whom social workers service—those who are at great risk and in great need,” says Gail Steketee, dean of SSW.

Noting that a social work degree “is a very special and powerful tool for good,” Kennedy says she hopes that the graduates “each stay true to their passion, and that in times of uncertainty, they’ll never lose faith in their ability to help someone else, because at the end of the day, it’s what we do for others that helps makes us who we are.”

Victoria Reggie Kennedy is one of six honorary degree recipients at this year’s BU Commencement. Jacques Pépin, chef, television personality, author, and BU lecturer, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters. Noted painter and sculptor Frank Stella will be awarded a Doctor of Fine Arts. National Public Radio journalist Nina Totenberg will be presented with a Doctor of Humane Letters. Baccalaureate speaker Ahmed Zewail, a Nobel Prize–winning scientist and a professor at the California Institute of Technology, will receive a Doctor of Science. Commencement speaker Katie Couric, an Emmy-award winning broadcast journalist and the first solo woman anchor of a network news broadcast, will be awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters.

John O’Rourke can be reached at [email protected].

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