Weekend Digest: Mind-controlled Video Games, Ditching Diesel & The Ole Gray Flannel Suit

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 102 views 

Editor’s Note: Talk Business begins a new feature on our blogs called “The Weekend Digest,” a compilation of interesting feature stories, analyses and recommended reading from a variety of outside Arkansas news sources for our business and political readers. The intent is to provide readers with a wide-ranging look at events happening in other states, developing trends and some leisurely reading on the weekends when the news tends to be a little slower.

The Wall Street Journal dives into the science behind San Jose-based NeuroSky, Inc., a company utilizing brain wave technology in a variety of ways.

NeuroSky enjoyed quick success a few years ago with a headset it made for a Star Wars toy that allowed youngsters to actually play the Jedi mind game seen in the movie. Now, NeuroSky is developing new applications and the repercussions could be extraordinary.

The gadgets translate brain waves into digital information and beam it wirelessly to computers or other devices.

So far the headsets are confined to mostly digital interfaces—videogames and movies whose plots can be altered with the mind—although in some cases real-world objects have been used, like a pair of catlike ears that move depending on a person's mood.

The technology, still in its infancy, has the potential to not only entertain but to possibly improve education and strengthen mental health, some doctors say.

Read more here about this cutting-edge tech firm; it may be a household name by the end of the decade.

That's the question asked in this Wall Street Journal article.

With a wide spread between the cost of diesel fuel and natural gas as fuel, big fleet operators are weighing their options to go with nat gas. Major companies can make the initial investments to get the long-term returns when they purchase new truck vehicles, which happens regularly due to wear-and-tear.

Says one industry analyst on nearing the tipping point for more wide-scale conversion: “I think we're at a turning point, even if it's a slow, wide turn.”

The potential market is enormous. The 3.2 million big rigs on U.S. roads today burn some 25 billion gallons of diesel annually. Almost 7 million single-unit trucks, such as UPS or FedEx Corp. trucks, consume another 10 billion gallons of diesel.

Converting even a modest number of these trucks, which often get 5 to 8 miles a gallon, to natural gas could save significant amounts of money. Tailpipe emissions also would drop, since natural gas burns cleaner than diesel or gasoline.

If large numbers of fleet operators decided to embrace natural gas, it could rev up truck manufacturing, which slowed dramatically during the recession. North American heavy duty truck sales peaked in 2006 with 360,000 units, just ahead of tighter emission standards, and plunged to 110,000 units in 2009.

There's activity here in Arkansas on this front and you'll be reading more about it in the coming months.

A new report from consulting firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, showed an unhealthy one-month statistic that many will hope doesn't become a trend.

Employers announced plans to cut 61,887 staff from their payrolls in May, 67% more than in the same month of last year. The figure represents the most job cuts since last September.

CNBC has more on the subject, which warns of headwinds on the jobs front. Of course in Arkansas, the news of Windstream layoffs and the pending Whirlpool closure bodes for a rough ride this summer.

Read more at this link.

The web site, ReadWriteStart, notes a study of new college graduates and their preferences as they enter the job market.

Surprisingly, grads seem more interested in wearing gray flannel suits versus flip-flops and gym shorts.

A recent study of graduating job-seekers by job-search engine SimplyHired.com, suggests that this year’s college graduates are not particularly interested in going to work at a startup. In the survey, a measly 4% listed a startup as their ideal place of employment.

Apparently, what college graduates want most is job security. Some 33% listed that as their top priority, above salary (23%) and benefits (23%).

“When you see the hiring taking place in Silicon Valley, there really is a boom going on here,” says SimplyHired CEO Gautam Godhwani. “So to see a lack of enthusiasm for startups from new grads is not something we expected.”

What's driving these undercurrents? Read more in this report.

UX magazine offers a good review course for what makes your web site worthy of a return.

It's all about providing good content to your audience. Although the premise is pretty elementary, we think the pointers in the post are a good reminder for anyone wanting to boost his or her web presence.

A series of thought-provoking questions could be just what you need to reinvigorate your company's web site or your interest in others.

You can access the full article at this link.