Autonomous Vehicles / Cars

google autonomous car

Google Autonomous Vehicle

This past year, I have seen a dramatic increase in the development of autonomous cars.

A number of companies (from Toyota to Mercedes Benz to GM to Google and more) are developing cars that can drive by themselves (to some degree).

From our perspective ( Maybe this is the way we can save teens from killing themselves in car accidents. The car drives the teens from one place to another, and does so safely. I talked about the need for advancing technology on this web site 5 years ago.

I see a bright future where autonomous vehicles can save lives.  As such, I am, as of this moment, firing up a NEW “autonomous vehicle / car section” here on  Stay tuned here for a lot more information on this technology.

Brief History of Autonomous Vehicles / Cars

My memory only goes back as far as the DARPA “Grand Challenge” contest where an autonomous vehicle could traverse a course in the California desert without crashing. The first year (2004) was an interesting start as no participant finished the course.  But it got better after that, and look where we are now just 11 years later: Autonomous vehicles driving on the freeways and highways.

Here is a video from the 2004 DARPA Grand Challenge archives:

Going beyond my short memory, there is a really good article on Wikipedia detailing autonomous vehicles all the way back to the 1920’s. Click here to read that article.  


Autonomous vehicles of the future may be how we finally are able to save teen lives! will be there as this technology unfolds.

Here is the trailer for a recent 60 Minutes segment on AV (autonomous vehicles).

Drive Safe! Never Forget.

About & Donate


sept 23 2013 2

On Saturday Sept 18, 2010, four wonderful Tracy kids lost their lives in a senseless automobile accident. One was our lovely, intelligent friend, Carol Phan.


In her honor, was founded to help Tracy, CA residents by:

1. Providing a $1,000 college scholarship to a Tracy High IB / Ag Sci scholar with a 3.5 GPA or above and who has been accepted to a 4 year college or university.

2. Providing money for  supplies, books, in-class assistance, and / or tools (whiteboards, computers, etc) to Tracy, CA classrooms / teachers.

3. Helping to raise awareness of unsafe teen driving.

4. Helping to raise awareness of the need for parents to enforce curfews.

More…..visit our About page.

DONATE to to help us help LOCAL (Tracy, CA) students & teachers with college scholarships & classroom supplies.



All donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE as we are a 501c3 nonprofit.

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.

Learning Photoshop

I have been playing around with the online version of Photoshop CC 2015.

Here are a few of my attempts. I am an engineer, not an artist, so be kind.  :-)

I like black….haha

Coming out on Sept 18, 2015


Tracy Non-Profit Facebook Page


Scholarship Winners


David Goad trying to Trump Trump


Galen from Barnes & Noble


This pages banner…


Fill the Bag 2016


Scholarships Click to Donate Button


Classroom Supplies


4th of July



A friend is running for President:


Kelli Stanley is an author and friend, this is for her Facebook page (she actually used it!):


For my TechyMike Facebook page:


The insert for my TechyMike Facebook page:


I also did this floating head goofing around (Head Geek….get it?):


An ad for MileIQ helping ForCarol:


For my TracyReaderDad Book Reviews Facebook page:


The insert for that page:


Fill-the-Bag with Classroom Supplies for ForCarol:


The original Menchies FUNdraiser on July 18, 2015 for ForCarol for Instagram:


I added Blaze to it:


For a “Fill-the-Bag” sponsor’s Facebook page:


Drive Safe!  Never Forget!

I did these for ForCarol (I like black backgrounds….and floating heads, books, etc.).  :-)

Square-black-background-250-x-250 Movie-Reviews-portfolio

Toyota Drive Safe Animated GIFs

Saw these on the Get Real Behind the Wheel web site and thought you would find these educational. You can find all of the Toyota GIFs here.

Don’t Text and Drive: Words Can Kill You

Buckle Up! You can be squashed by your own car if you crash.

Eating and Driving is Distracted Driving

Pay Attention to Your Driving….the Birds Can Take Care of Themselves

Don’t Drive Stooopid.

Don’t Drink and Drive. DUH.

Put Your Makeup on BEFORE You Drive or the Funeral Director can put it on for you.  

Turn Your Phone OFF When Driving

Don’t TEXT and DRIVE…..Got it? Get it!

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.

inyoung logo dark

Ride UBER and Donate to ForCarol: Drive Safe! Never Forget

Need a Ride?  Try Uber! and UBER are collaborating to help promote safe driving!  When you go out (like when you go partying!)  leave the driving to UBER and stay safe.  If you are using UBER for the first time….save $20 on your ride!

The basics of the promo:
-Promo only valid for new users
-Good for $20 off their first ride
-For every new user who takes a ride with that code…Uber will donate $5 to ForCarol

Click on the picture below to get started.

uber ride and donate

Pizza Party

Here is the first picture…more to follow.  Our AMAZING group of booth volunteers had a GREAT time relaxing, eating, and drinking!

pizza party

The Fireworks Booth in Pictures

We had a tremendous team of people helping in the fireworks booth.  With temperatures over 100 degrees the whole 7 days, we fought thru the pain, worked hard, and had tons of fun.  Thank you all!  :-)

Click on the pic to see it BIGGER.

booth 1 booth is up 2 inside 1

Brittany and Lori Setting Up shelves pat and earl waiting for customers

brittany and tapioca booth crew conrad 1 conrad and us

conrad and tapioca waving tiki man waving customers

booth members booth crew dcd 2 needed more room

caitlin brittany pat and stephanie lucille helping customers caitlin having fun

me dcd 1 final inventory money-graph-2013

Drive Safe!  Never Forget Drive Safe

Visit the Fireworks Booth


Visit our booth for your fireworks this year!  All proceeds go to college scholarships for Tracy High IB / Ag Science scholars.  Tracy, CA

We are at the old Save Mart on N. Tracy Blvd near Carl’s Jr.  

The booth is UP!

booth is up 2

Don’t Text While Driving: Death Text

death text


Texting while driving can be deadly.  This is terrifying.  Look at the CSI tech’s blue gloves.

Here is the full article from Yahoo.  They won’t mind if I copy it, if they do….tough boogies.

DENVER (AP) — Alexander Heit’s final text cut off in mid-sentence. Before he could send it, police say the 22-year-old University of Northern Colorado student drifted into oncoming traffic, jerked the steering wheel and went off the road, rolling his car.

Heit died shortly after the April 3 crash, but his parents and police are hoping the photo of the mundane text on his iPhone will serve as a stark reminder to drivers.

The photo, published Wednesday in The Greeley Tribune, shows Heit was responding to a friend by typing “Sounds good my man, seeya soon, ill tw” before he crashed.

Witnesses told police that Heit appeared to have his head down when he began drifting into the oncoming lane in the outskirts of Greeley, where the University of Northern Colorado is located. According to police, an oncoming driver slowed and moved over just before Heit looked up and jerked the steering wheel.

Police say Heit, a Colorado native who loved hiking and snowboarding, had a spotless driving record and wasn’t speeding.

In a statement released through police, Heit’s mother said she doesn’t want anyone else to lose someone to texting while driving.

“In a split second you could ruin your future, injure or kill others, and tear a hole in the heart of everyone who loves you,” Sharon Heit said.

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.



Article: Device Disables Car to Prevent Driver From Texting

origo drive safe

I was flipping thru Flipboard tonight and spotted this article. The car won’t start unless your phone is plugged in. No more texting while driving.

The number of phones appears to be very limited.  I see two models of iPhone and only one Android phone (one Galaxy version).  How they will expand to support other phones remains to be seen.

Visit the companies web site for more information.

Below is the link to the original article, but, I put the video above.

Drive Safe! Never Forget.

ForCarol Fireworks Booth 2013

Give a Mug for Christmas

A PERFECT  CHRISTMAS gift for someone you love.  Drive Safe!  Never Forget.   All money will go toward college scholarships for Tracy, CA scholars and for Classroom Supplies for Tracy, CA teachers.  MUGS arrive Dec 7, so I will deliver the next week!  I only have 9 8 left!

Click to order on-line. Mug for Christmas

College Scholarships, Tracy, CA

Click here to download the $1,000, 2013 Carol Phan College Scholarship Application for a Tracy High IB/Ag Science scholar.

Carol Phan, Chris Hoovler, Kassy Bittick, Bobby Bittick

2 years ago today, Tracy, CA lost four wonderful teens….their loss has left deep, irrepairable, scars in our hearts, but, we continue through the pain.

Those of us who were friends of Carol, Chris, Kassy or Bobby….we could have missed the pain….but, we would have missed the dance…

If you are a teen who thinks you will never die….you will, and you can.  It is not you who suffers, but, those you leave behind.  Think twice before driving like an idiot….

Here is Scotty McCreery covering Garth’s “The Dance”.

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.

We love you Carol. :-( Awards $250 to Myesha Ryan, 4th grade teacher at Kelly Elementary, Inc. held an email based contest last week.

The first “Adopt A Class” registered teacher to respond to the email wins $250 for classroom supplies.

Myesha Ryan, 4th Grade Teacher at Kelly Elementary in Tracy, CA responded to the email within 1 minute!  :-)

Yesterday we gave Myesha the $250 check.  Great fun!

Help us continue to help our local TRACY, CA  teachers, students, and scholars!

DONATE to  See the button to the right?  Yeah….right there.  :-))


Tim McGraw and Kenney Chesney ROCK Oakland July 15, 2012

We went last night!  Imagine, Tim McGraw as an opening act!  AWESOME.

Kenny Chesney moves around soooo much he is hard to take a picture of….out of hundreds…I got maybe three.  :-)  Tim McGraw conserves his energy….

“My Freshman Year of College is Over” by Caitlin Dong

A quick note from Caitlin Dong, our first Carol Phan College Scholarship recipient!

D-O-N-E. I’m donedonedone. My freshman year of college is over and it definitely feels
surreal. I remember thinking at the beginning of the school year that time could not pass by any slower. In retrospect, the year seemed to fly by. However, I don’t think I could be more ready for summer. Now it’s time to find a job and help fund some of my college expenses!
High school graduations are quickly approaching and I’m sure that all of the seniors are ready to finish off their high school careers. I remember how excited I was to graduate, enjoy the summer of freedom, and start college. Don’t forget to enjoy yourselves, freshman year will pass you by faster than you realize.
Thank you again to Mike Pihlman & all of his efforts and dedication toward the Carol Phan College Scholarship program, as well everyone else who help make it happen – the scholarship money undoubtedly helped out this past school year. Congratulations and best of luck to the new scholarship recipients.

Link to all of the Scholarship Recipients.

Thank you Caitlin….you ROCK!   :-))))

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.

Amy Ly, West High

For more about Amy and the other scholarship here.

Here is the picture Amy submitted for the scholarship:

Amy’s $1,000 scholarship was sponsored by Action Jumpers.

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.

Seokho Hong, Tracy High

For more about Seokho and the other scholarship winners…click here.

Seokho Hong, Tracy High, 2012 Carol Phan College Scholarship Essay

My passion in life is computer programming. It’s not simply what I want to do for a living in my future; it’s something I’ve done for many years. I have worked on dozens of major projects not to mention countless smaller ones. I’m quite proud of my programs, some of which I have spent hundreds of hours on. I made a video to showcase a few of the more recent ones (see above).

My first inspiration to program was in fourth grade. I was playing a video game on a Nintendo 64 when it first occurred to me that someone had to make these games. I wanted to try. Unfortunately, fourth graders barely have the ability to program, let alone code entire games. I was mostly reduced to poking at programs, unable to do much until sixth grade. During middle school I wrote in the DarkBasic language, which was simplified to the point where I could create reasonably sophisticated games. I started with 2-D games which included simple puzzle or arcade style games, then expanded later into 3-D ones including a Real-Time Strategy and a First Person Shooter. Of course, the graphics weren’t stellar, but it was good for the work of a lone middle school student. I would perhaps have included pictures here, but the programs were wiped with the loss of the computer holding them. At least I learned to keep copies of them.

By high school, I felt that programming was something I’d continue in the future. I switched to the Java programming language, a professional language that is considered mainstream. I continued to write games, but while coding a strategy game, I was particularly interested in making an intelligent opponent. I found it fun to try to make the computer intelligent enough to defeat me consistently. I didn’t succeed, but I was inspired to switch paths from writing games to creating artificial intelligence, or AI.

Since sophomore year, I have created different sorts of intelligent programs. Games have always been a good arena for intelligence, and a few of my programs are written to play them strategically. I also have worked in the area of computer vision, or teaching a computer to see and identify objects in a picture or a video feed. In particular, I am interested in machine learning, which is essentially writing programs designed to improve and teach themselves.

The programs I have written are obviously not going to change the world. To many people, my programs are perhaps “cool”, but that’s about it to them. In the back of their heads, there’s always the question of: “so what?”. But they are perhaps valuing a program based on what it can accomplish, a standard not always applicable to AIs. At their cores, my AIs perform the same function as any other intelligence, not simply artificial intelligences: to make sense of data. Whether the input is a few numbers, a picture, or a vast database, the task of the AI is the same. The program exists to interpret the information. So I evaluate the success of a program not based on how useful it is, or how complicated the task is, but how well it does its task, how much sense it makes of its data, even if its task is very simple. I’m still in the stages of infancy in terms of creating intelligence, so I’m focusing on creating intelligence, rather than applying them. My hope in the future is to improve my ways of teaching programs, and then put these AI’s to work solving problems in our society.

Artificial intelligence has captivated me from the moment I started working on AI programs. It was one thing to learn, educate, and become intelligent myself, but a whole new challenge to pass this invaluable ability to a computer. As the programmer, I was the teacher of a cold, hard, unthinking machine, to learn to think and make decisions. And while my programs are far from being anything human, there are times when my AIs surprise me, thinking in ways that even I, as its creator, never expected. These moments are the joys of programming intelligence, the moments I live for.

-Seokho Hong

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.

Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm (BRAD)

I saw this video on Facebook.

Sure hope Derek does not mind me reposting it here for all our readers.  :-)

VERY COOL, VERY CREATIVE.  Here is the web site for U.C. Berkeley.

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.

13 Most Useful and Useless College Majors

Kristen (my daughter and Carol’s best friend for those who don’t know) sent me this link last night….very interesting.

The most useful, and useless, college majors.

These are either from Newsweek, or Science Mag, or, The Daily Beast, or whatever…when it comes from Tumblr….the source is confusing.  :-)

The 13 Most Useful* College Majors (As Determined By Science)


1. Nursing

2. Mechanical Engineering

3. Electrical Engineering

4. Civil Engineering

5. Computer Science

6. Finance

7. Marketing and Marketing Research

8. Mathematics

9. Accounting

10. French, German, Latin, and other Common Foreign Languages

11. General Business

12. Elementary Education

13. Economics

*Useful, for our purposes, is defined by majors most likely to lead to less unemployment and higher earnings, and which are in industries projected to grow in the next decade according to research from Georgetown University and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


The 13 Most Useless College Majors (As Determined By Science)

1. Fine Arts

2. Drama and Theatre Arts

3. Film, Video, and Photographic Arts

4. Commercial Art and Graphic Design

5. Architecture

6. Philosophy and Religious Studies

7. English Literature and Language

8. Journalism

9. Anthropology and Archeology

10. Hospitality Management

11. Music

12. History

13. Political Science and Government

(EdYour primary tumblrs majored in two of these and now work in the field of a third.)

UpdateOur arts critic has some words of encouragement for you.

Update 2! Here are the most USEFUL college majors.

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.