DMA TECH WATCH: Sound Barrier Fun, Internet Nutrition Labels & More

By Phill Powell

Welcome to DMA Tech Watch, where we review the biggest news events and tech trends now on the radar. Here’s what we’re watching as of April 11, 2016:


On Friday, April 8, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket performed a spectacular feat. Watch and marvel!

It looks like the fifth time is the charm. SpaceX has finally pulled off a rocket science and engineering feat of pretty amazing proportions – landing a Falcon 9 rocket onto a drone ship pitching and bobbing wildly in the Atlantic.

SpaceX had run a number of similar Falcon 9 attempts, but this was the first time the rocket landed just as it was supposed to, almost scoring a perfect bullseye as it touched down in fire and smoke on the barge, but remaining perfectly upright as it completed that leg of its journey.


First came nutrition labels about food. Now…Broadband Facts about internet usage!

Guess it was just a matter of time before somebody had the inspiration to create the same type of nutrition labels posted on food packages, but make them be about the internet service a consumer is potentially purchasing.

Well, now they’re here, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is lobbying hard for their use, just like the nutrition labels now mandated for the food industry.

The program is voluntary now, but internet providers who do start using the labels will not be subject to extra regulatory action, so it’s really in their interest to go ahead and begin using the labels now.


The Defense Digital Service wants you to help America by exposing security vulnerabilities.

We’ve talked a lot about encryption lately and the key role it played in the recent standoff between Apple and the U.S. Department of Justice. Now the federal government is showing how seriously it takes cyber-security by actually encouraging average hackers to try to hack Department of Defense websites.

The DoD program, believe it or not, is officially called “Hack the Pentagon” and it goes into effect Monday, April 18th. It’s the brainchild of the Defense Digital Service, which is staffed by techies who have formerly worked for Google, Shopify and other net entities.

Called a “Bug Bounty” program, Hack the Pentagon will last for a little less than a month, until Thursday, May 12th. The DoD calls bugs “vulnerabilities” and cryptically implies that good finds will net the hackers some type of financial reward. “If you submit a qualifying, validated vulnerability, you may be eligible to receive an award, pending a security check.”

(See how in-demand people who learn programming are?)


Pop artist Andy Warhol swore by Polaroid instant pictures, as captured in a cool book of Warhol Polaroid prints.

Way back when, people didn’t have digital photography. (I know!) Instead, they used Polaroid-type cameras that would instantly spit out a paper copy of the photo you just snapped. Then the entertainment really began, as you slowly saw your picture come into definition and color.

Now an outfit called The Impossible Project has successfully reverse-engineered Polaroid’s methods for producing instant film, and has also come up with a camera that replicates the unique basic shape and functionality owned by millions of photography enthusiasts.

Given that the I-1 will run $300 when it releases on May 10, plus you’ll be buying instant film for it (that really adds up, too!), you may be asking yourself why you would bother with this hopelessly outdated technology.

But it’s like buyers of vinyl record albums have been realizing during recent years; sometimes a more primitive form of tech can have undeniable charms. Polaroid instant pictures have their place – even Andy Warhol was a fan, shooting thousands of them during his career.

(If you’re into photography, come learn how to shoot better pictures this summer at DMA’s photography tech camps!)


When jets travel faster than 670 mph, something loud and wonderful happens…

And now, to finish this Tech Watch with a bang, courtesy of some wicked aircraft – almost all of it supersonic – as it shatters the sound barrier and drives watching spectators wild at an air show.

We don’t know what’s cooler, that circular ring of vapor that trails the jets just before they overtake the sound barrier (located at 670 mph), or that incredibly powerful noise – either a big WHOOOSH! or a sky-shaking shotgun blast – the jets make as they leap over that hurdle.

It’s been nearly 70 years since the first human broke the sound barrier. That test pilot, Chuck Yeager, flew his Bell X-1 flew faster than the speed of sound in October 1947, despite having just broken two ribs by falling off a horse he was riding during his free time.

The unstoppable Yeager – the original inspiration for the phrase “the right stuff” – taped up his ribcage and made the dangerous experimental flight anyway. In order to close the canopy on his jet, he had to specially rig up a broom handle. Hey, old-school tech in action!

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