Category Archives: Technology

Summit Credit Union Sues Equifax

It’s tough to see how Equifax survives this. But it is also an important message to businesses that they must take data security seriously.

It states that Equifax was negligent in securing its website from the hacker intrusion, in failing to detect the intrusion for weeks and in failing to notify consumers of the breach for nearly six weeks. Equifax also knew or should have known that its data security measures were inadequate, the lawsuit states.

Summit, with $2.6 billion in assets, 34 locations in Wisconsin and more than 162,000 members, is asking for orders temporarily and permanently barring Equifax from negligent business practices that are alleged in the lawsuit, along with unspecified costs, restitution and damages.

“Financial institutions often incur the costs of fraud due to others’ data breaches,” Summit said in a statement issued Friday. “Equifax may be the largest compromise in U.S. history, and we believe Equifax should cover any losses incurred due to their breach.”

On another note, if you want a job right now, get into IT security.

State Legislators Near Budget Deal

Meh.

Leaders of the state Legislature’s budget-writing committee said Tuesday they have a plan to resolve the most contentious area of the state’s overdue budget: how to fund Wisconsin’s roads and bridges.

The plan slightly trims Gov. Scott Walker’s road-borrowing blueprint, imposes a new fee on electric and hybrid vehicles and moves the state closer to collecting highway tolls, according to the committee’s co-chairpersons, Rep. John Nygren and Sen. Alberta Darling.

The great missed opportunity of this budget was to make dramatic reforms in the size and scope of government. The problem with the transportation budget is that Wisconsin still spends way too much – much more per mile than comparable states – and legislators refuse to make serious reforms in the way the state goes about building and maintaining our transportation infrastructure. Instead of tackling the fundamental problems while Republicans control the entire law-making apparatus of state government, they have chosen to nibble around the edges and kick the can a little further down the road.

As for the framework of a deal itself, the biggest item, symbolically if not fiscally, is the imposition of a new tax on electric and hybrid vehicles. While I abhor the notion of a new tax to just prop up bloated spending, this tax is conceptually palpable.

As I said, the big issue is the spending, but a secondary issue is that the funding mechanisms for transportation isn’t as applicable as it once was. Wisconsin funds transportation by the vehicle registration fees and by the tax on gas. The gas tax was intended as a proxy for usage. In general, the more gas one buys, the more they are driving, the more they are using the roads, the more they are paying for the roads. But electric cars (and hybrids to a lesser extent) subvert that proxy.

If we want to stick to the notion that people who use the roads more should pay more for them, and we don’t want toll roads, then we need to find a way to impose more taxes on those who use the roads but don’t buy gas.

I was struck by a quote in a biography of Robert Morris that I’m finishing up. In countering David Howell’s opposition to the Impost Law in his native Rhode Island, Morris said:

“As all taxes are unpleasant, some state will be found to oppose any which can be devised, on quite as good ground as the present opposition. What then is the Consequence?”

The same is true here. The drivers of electric cars and hybrids will protest a new tax on them, but opposition and clams of unfairness can be found in any tax. At some point, if we have decided that we collectively want to spend this money, we have to tax people to get the money somehow. It seems that spreading the burden out on as many users of the system as possible is the fairest way to do it.

North Korea Claims to Have Tested Hydrogen Bomb

Whoa

What’s happened: North Korea claims it’s successfully tested a hydrogen bomb for its intercontinental ballistic missile. This is the country’s sixth test of a nuclear weapon and the first since US President Trump came to office.

What do we know about it: Initial data suggests this is the most powerful weapon the country has ever tested. It caused a 6.3-magnitude tremor in the country’s northeast.

What’s the reaction been: US President Donald Trump said North Korea’s actions were “hostile and dangerous.” South Korea said it will seek to “completely isolate” North Korea, while China urged Pyongyang to “stop taking wrong actions.” Russia said the test “deserves the strongest condemnation.”

If true, this is a significant next step on their progression.

Americans Attacked in Cuba

There are casualties from Cuba’s attacks.

(CNN)The State Department announced Friday that incidents of acoustic attacks on US diplomats in Havana, Cuba, which have led to a variety of serious medical symptoms, continued until as recently as last month.

“As we’ve said previously, an investigation into the incidents is ongoing, and we revise our assessments as we receive new information,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. “We can confirm another incident which occurred last month and is now part of the investigation.”
“Based on continued assessments of personnel, there are now 19 confirmed U.S. government personnel who have been affected,” she added, updating her previous count of “at least 16 US government employees.”
Last week, Nauert said the incidents, which began in late 2016, appeared to have ceased.

Google Flexes Muscle to Squash Speech

Good thing we don’t do Google ads around here.

On Tuesday evening, Google sent a conservative website an ultimatum: remove one of your articles, or lose the ability to make ad revenue on your website. The website was strong-armed into removing the content, and then warned that the page was “just an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of this website.”

“Yesterday morning, we received a very bizarre letter from Google issuing us an ultimatum,” Shane Trejo, media relations director of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Michigan, wrote on The Liberty Conservative. “Either we were to remove a particular article or see all of our ad revenues choked off in an instant. This is the newest method that Big Brother is using to enforce thought control.”

The ultimatum came in the form of an email from Google’s ad placement service AdSense. The email specifically listed an article on The Liberty Conservative’s site, stating that the article violated AdSense’s policies.

This is a shift because it isn’t the advertisers objecting to the content and pulling their advertising. That has happened forever and is fine. This is an advertising distribution service threatening to pull other people’s ads from websites they disapprove of.

Botched Espionage May Be to Blame for Injured American Diplomats

Hmmmm… it is possible that the Cubans may be 1950’s technology.

An outbreak of hearing loss and other health problems affecting at least 16 employees at the US embassy in Havana could have been caused by an electronic surveillance operation that went wrong, former intelligence officials said on Friday.

The state department said it was investigating the outbreak, and that some of the worst affected diplomats had been evacuated to Miami for examination and treatment.

“This is something that we have not experienced in the past,” Heather Nauert, the department’s spokeswoman, said. “We are working very hard to try to take care of our folks who are there on official duty – and trying to provide them all the care and the treatment and the support that they would need.”

Earlier this months, US officials had said the symptoms appeared to have resulted from a covert sonic device. But Nauert said on Thursday no device nor any perpetrator had yet been found and that Cuba was cooperating with the US investigation.

The US asked two Cuban diplomats to leave in May, after American embassy officials were forced to leave Cuba because of serious symptoms. But the Cuban diplomats were not banned from returning, as normally happens in expulsions linked to espionage, and the US has so far not explicitly blamed the Castro government.

Warships Hacked?

This appears to be speculation, but it is curious that this has happened twice in such a short time. Could someone be probing?

A top admiral has said that the US Navy will ‘consider’ whether two fatal collisions this summer could have been the result of a cyber attack.

Admiral John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said on Monday that there were ‘no indications right now’ that the two ships were hacked, but added investigators ‘will consider all possibilities’.

The shocking possibility emerged as the Navy ordered a broad investigation into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet.

Early Monday, the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 American sailors missing and several others injured.

It was the second major collision in the last two months involving the Navy’s 7th Fleet, after seven sailors died when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan on June 17.

Emails Increase Doctor Visits

Interesting.

Emails between patients and doctors lead to more office visits and don’t improve health, contrary to the intent of the increasingly popular exchanges, according to a UW-Madison study.

A likely reason for the additional office visits: Patient conditions are too complex to explain by email and doctors want to avoid liability, so they often bring in patients who email — even for minor problems for which patients would not have sought an office visit.

“These emails basically work as a trigger because they’re not as comprehensive as a face-to-face interaction,” said Hessam Bavafa, an assistant professor of operations and information management at UW-Madison’s Wisconsin School of Business.

The findings, published in the journal Management Science, could lead health care organizations to rethink or improve “e-visits,” which have become widely available in recent years, including in Madison.

I suspect that the humanitarian fear of getting a diagnosis and treatment wrong, coupled with the fear of legal liability, is primarily driving this behavior. In the age of FaceTime and similar technologies, it seems that a quick, live video conversation would reduce the inconvenience and cost for everyone.

Voyaging

Amazing.

Over the past 40 years, the two Voyager spacecraft have explored Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. They have sent back detailed views of these strange worlds, revealing moons encased in ice, covered in volcanoes and bathed in gasoline smog. The missions have changed our perspective on the Earth and, with golden gramophone records attached to their sides, are now taking human culture to the stars.

Remarkably, both Voyager spacecraft are still working. Whenever Voyager 1 sends back a signal, it is from the furthest distance any human-made object has travelled from Earth.

Voyager 1 left the solar system in 2013 and is (at the time of writing) 20 billion kilometres (12 billion miles) away. Voyager 2, on a different trajectory, is 17 billion kilometres (10.5 billion miles) away. Maybe it’s easier to imagine it like this: it takes a radio signal, travelling at the speed of light, 38 hours to travel from the Earth to Voyager 1 and back. And it’s some 30 hours for Voyager 2. (For their latest position, visit the Voyager home page.)

Protecting the right to Pokemon Go

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

The summer of 2016 will be remembered for many things. It was the summer when America came to grips with the fact that Donald Trump was the Republican candidate. It was the summer when terrorism swept across the world from Nice to Dhaka to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. It was the summer of Brexit when Britain voted to leave the European Union.

It is also the summer of watching hordes of people stumble through public places staring at their smartphones as they tried to capture animated creatures in the augmented reality of Pokemon Go. While the Pokemon Go craze has come and gone, it has left some interesting legal ramifications in its wake.

During the Pokemon Go phenomenon, the leaders of Milwaukee County became frustrated that so many people were wandering through public parks playing the game. The huge influx of people enjoying the public parks damaged landscaping, left trash, and sometimes disrupted other visitors. Rather than just enforce the existing rules against such damaging and disruptive behavior, Milwaukee officials decided to go after the businesses that make games like Pokemon Go. In January, the Milwaukee County Board passed an ordinance that required the companies who created virtual and location-based augmented reality games to get a permit and post a $1 million certificate of insurance in order for people to play their games in the park.

On its face, the ordinance was ridiculous and unenforceable. The fact that the users of a game might damage flowers in a county park hardly makes the producers of that game responsible, nor should a county be able to arbitrarily restrict access to public property for people engaging in legal activities. But the Milwaukee Common Council is not known for its logical dexterity. In response to the ordinance, a company called Candy Lab Inc., which makes a different augmented reality game, sued the county.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge J.P. Stadtmueller issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting Milwaukee County from enforcing its ordinance saying that it likely violates the First Amendment. This might be the first time in the nation’s jurisprudence that First Amendment protections have been expressly extended to augmented reality games.

In his ruling, Stadtmueller systematically dismantles Milwaukee County’s ordinance and all of its flaws. He says in part, “the Ordinance thus dooms itself in its failure to provide ‘narrowly drawn, reasonable, and definite standards’ to guide the County officials who must apply it,” and that the game in question, “contains the least minimum quantum of expression needed to constitute protectable speech.” In a final slap at Milwaukee County officials, the judge states, “the Ordinance is revealed for its strangeness and lack of sophistication.”

This ruling is a good reminder that while technologies change, constitutionally protected rights do not. In his ruling, Stadtmueller correctly cites and earlier case, Brown v. Entm’t Merchs. Ass’n, in which the Supreme Court clearly stated that, “whatever the challenges of applying the Constitution to everadvancing technology, ‘the basic principles of freedom of speech and the press, like the First Amendment’s command, do not vary’ when a new and different medium for communication appears.”

That statement is a recognition of the fact that rights are endowed upon individuals. Our right to free speech is inherently individual and deserving of protection irrespective of the medium of transmission. The men who wrote our Constitution likely never envisioned telephones, the internet, or Pokemon Go, but they did not need to in order for the protections they wrote to apply. The right is to be protected. The technology is irrelevant.

This same principle applies to other rights as well. We also have a right to keep and bear arms (which is actually a more specific declaration of our broader right to property). And while our founders never envisioned the complexity or sophistication of modern firearms, they did not need to. The right is to be protected. The technology is irrelevant.

Our Constitution is not, nor was it ever intended to be, a living document. It does not need to be. Its brilliance rests in the understanding that human rights live in the bosom of each and every person. We must protect those rights whether they are being exercised with a quill, pen, keyboard, smartphone, musket or AR-15.

Getting Chipped

While I look at this and think, “no way!” I strongly think that it will be very popular. It is only a small step from having the same sort of ever-present authentication and access in one’s phone. Americans have shown a great willingness to give a tremendous amount of personal access in exchange for convenience.

A Wisconsin company is to become the first in the US to microchip employees.

Three Square Market is offering to implant the tiny radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip into workers’ hands for free – and says everyone will soon be doing it.

The rice grain-sized $300 (£230) chip will allow them to open doors, log in to computers and even purchase food.

And so far, 50 employees have signed up for the chance to become half-human, half-walking credit card.

Ethanol Research Grants Coming to an End

This is a revealing story.

A UW-Madison research center that has used the university’s largest-ever federal grant to develop ethanol technology over the past decade will shift its focus to other alternative fuels after winning another major award from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center will use the five-year grant to learn more about how to sustainably produce energy from switchgrass, poplar trees, sorghum and other dedicated bioenergy crops — those that, unlike ethanol, are not also used for food, director Tim Donohue said Monday.

The center received $267 million over 10 years from the Department of Energy for its ethanol research, which Donohue said will wind down over the next six to 18 months.

[…]

Ethanol has been embraced by the energy industry over the years, Donohue said, and putting greater emphasis on research to develop other biofuels fulfills the center’s mission “to generate next-generation technologies.”

Donohue said the Department of Energy encouraged the shift, pushing researchers to focus on potential fuels that would not be grown on land that is now used for agriculture, or compete with other uses for crops such as corn — what he described as a “food-vs.-fuel” issue.

The other biofuels could also have greater potential than ethanol when it comes to replacing fossil fuels across different transportation industries, said Donohue, a professor of bacteriology.

It is a maxim of employee compensation models that people will do what they are paid to do. It is a nod to human nature that people will usually act within their own self interests. That is not a bad thing, but it is something that one must acknowledge and understand when crafting policies. It is something that our Founders understood when creating our Constitution based on competing self interests instead of appealing to people’s idealistic nature.

Many of us have long argued that a significant amount of the “science” that supports some political initiatives like global warming policies or ethanol subsidies are the result of the fact that the scientists are being paid to have those opinions. Look at this story as an example of that. For a decade, the researchers at  Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center received hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to conduct research on the use of ethanol as a fuel. Accordingly, they have spent the last decade telling us that ethanol is great and a wonderful fuel alternative.

Now they will receive a ton of money to study other biofuels. And right on cue, here is the director telling us that “other biofuels could also have a greater potential than ethanol…” Of course they could, because that is what he is being paid to study. The money would dry up pretty quickly if he said, “nah, ethanol is still the best.”

People do what they are paid to do.

Cyberattack Sweeps Globe

Ouch. We need an answer.

Companies across the globe are reporting that they have been struck by a major ransomware cyber-attack.

British advertising agency WPP is among those to say its IT systems have been disrupted as a consequence.

The virus, the source of which is not yet known, freezes the user’s computer until a ransom in untraceable Bitcoin is paid.

Ukrainian firms, including the state power company and Kiev’s main airport, were among the first to report issues.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant has also had to monitor radiation levels manually after its Windows-based sensors were shut down.

Uber Implements In-App Tipping

I don’t like this at all (from the email).

In-app tipping is here. From 5-star ratings to compliments, and now with tipping, our app gives you many ways to say thanks. To ensure a smooth, uninterrupted ride, you can tip drivers after your trip at a time when it’s convenient for you. Tips go directly to drivers; Uber takes zero service fees.

I am a frequent Uber user. One of the selling points for it is the ease of use and the fact that I can grab a ride without the need to carry cash or tip. I did occasionally tip, but only if the driver did something out of the ordinary (like stop at a shop or run through a drive through for me). There was never, however, any expectation of a tip.

The problem is that while Uber has a rating system where I can rate the driver, it also has a rating system where the driver can rate the passenger. The intent of that is that if a passenger is abusive, messy, drunk, or just gross, a bad rating will discourage other Uber drivers from having to put up with a bad passenger. Eventually, bad passengers will never be able to get an Uber ride.

Now that there is tipping, however, there is an incentive for the passenger to give big tips – even when it is undeserved – just to prevent being blackballed by bad ratings from grumpy drivers. Uber should have one or the other. Either have tipping or do away with the passenger rating system. Having both promotes undeserved tipping. It also increases the overall cost of using Uber versus other transportation alternatives.

Massive Data Breach Includes 62% of Americans

Yikes.

Sensitive personal details relating to almost 200 million US citizens have been accidentally exposed by a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee.

The 1.1 terabytes of data includes birthdates, home addresses, telephone numbers and political views of nearly 62% of the entire US population.

The data was available on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server.

Anyone could access the data as long as they had a link to it.

Ask not for whom the politicians toll

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

As one drives around these great United States, one is bound to find oneself on a toll road at some point. Thirty-five states require drivers to pay tolls on some 5,000 miles of roads as a way to raise money to pay for their transportation infrastructure. Is Wisconsin set to become the 36th?

Toll roads are nothing new. In fact, toll roads predate our nation. The first toll roads in the United States were constructed in the years immediately after the signing of the Constitution. The 1790s saw the construction of the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike and the Great Western Turnpike in New York.

For many of us who grew up in the previous century, our memories of toll roads are long lines of cars jostling for position at a row of toll booths while digging for the correct change. Toll roads have come a long way since then. We have David Cook to thank for revolutionizing toll roads in 1989. David Cook is the Dallas entrepreneur who founded Blockbuster. Before 1985, video rental stores existed as small, independent, unremarkable enterprises. Cook’s innovation was to utilize barcode scanning and database-driven inventory management to rent videos on a large scale. He then used a centralized distribution system and leveraged the behavioral and demographic information his databases held to get the movies people wanted into their local stores. Until the next wave of digital transformation obliterated its business model, Blockbuster was a remarkable business.

While still at Blockbuster, Cook invested in Amtech, a company that was tinkering with technology that used radio frequencies to identify moving objects. They hoped to use the technology for railroads. Cook envisioned another use for the technology to make toll roads faster by removing the need to collect cash. Cook installed the technology for free in Dallas in 1989 with tremendous results. Other companies and toll road authorities quickly followed suit.

Most toll roads in the U.S. still use a variation of Cook’s transponder technology, but it has been improved to where vehicles can travel at full speed. Newer technologies are also being developed. For example, in Colorado, a sophisticated camera system eliminates the need for a transponder by taking a picture of each car’s license plates and sending the bill to the owner.

But while the technology of separating drivers from their money has become remarkably convenient and easy, that does not resolve the essential economic and political problems associated with tolling.

One of the core responsibilities with which we have tasked our governments is to construct and maintain an adequate transportation infrastructure. This is necessary primarily for economic reasons since the movement of goods and labor is vital for economic prosperity. But it is also for the pleasure and enjoyment of citizens to be able to move around our great nation with relative ease.

A good transportation infrastructure is not inexpensive and there are a variety of philosophies on how to pay for it. One way is to just use general taxes under the notion that every taxpayer benefits from the transportation system either directly or indirectly. This spreads the cost over the greatest number of taxpayers and our political leaders must balance transportation priorities against all of the other demands on general funds like education, law enforcement, etc.

Another way to fund transportation is to levy taxes and fees from the direct users of the transportation system. This is largely how the state of Wisconsin does it by using the vehicle registration fee and gas tax as proxies for users. In Wisconsin, if you register several or larger vehicles, or buy a lot of gas, you pay more transportation taxes because you are presumably using the transportation infrastructure more. In the age of electric cars, however, the proxy of the gas tax is less valid than it once was.

Toll roads are merely an extension of the latter philosophy for transportation funding. It is a direct tax on the people using a specific road at a specific time. There is nothing inherently wrong with the concept, but it must be put into perspective.

The reason that Wisconsin Republican politicians are talking about toll roads is because they want to spend more money on transportation and they cannot find the money elsewhere. Wisconsin’s gas tax and registration fee are already well above the national average and the public has no appetite to raise our ranking any higher. State lawmakers could tap the state’s general fund for more money or borrow more, but there is also stiff opposition to those ideas. The idea of toll roads are being floated as another possible option to get more money from taxpayers.

The intractable problem with the transportation budget in Wisconsin is not that there is too little money for our needs. The problem is that politicians want to spend far more than Wisconsinites can afford. Toll roads will not fix that problem. Fiscal restraint and leadership will. Are Wisconsin’s Republicans capable of that anymore?

Trump Plans to Privatize Air Traffic Controllers

Excellent!

President Trump is expected to announce Monday that he will move to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system as part of an infrastructure reform push this week.

A White House official confirmed to ABC News that, as first reported by the Washington Post, the administration will hold multiple events next week related to rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.

In related news, Sweden deregulated its air traffic controllers a few years ago and they are innovating up a storm.

THE 67-metre-tall control tower that opened at San Francisco International Airport in October is a stylish structure that cost $120m. It is supposed to resemble a beacon of the sort used in ancient times to guide ships safely to harbour. Those in the know might be forgiven for wondering if the new control tower is less a beacon than a white elephant. Elsewhere, airport managers are starting to abandon the panopticons that have dominated airfields for decades in favour of remote-controlled versions that promise to be cheaper and safer. Instead, they are housed in ordinary low-rise buildings, in some cases hundreds of kilometres away from the facility they are monitoring.

These remote control towers receive a live video feed from cameras positioned around an airfield. The images are stitched together by computer and displayed on screens (as pictured above) to create a virtual view of the runways and taxiways being monitored. In some cases the screens surround the air-traffic controllers, creating a 360° image. Separate screens can be used to display different airfields, because some remote towers will control flights in and out of a number of airports.

The first airport to deploy a virtual control tower was the one that serves Ornskoldsvik, in northern Sweden, which is used by about 80,000 passengers a year. In April 2015 the conventional tower at this airport was closed. The controllers moved to a remote tower at Sundsvall, some 130km to the south, that had been built by LFV, Sweden’s air-navigation agency, and Saab, a Swedish technology firm. Last year, this tower also began monitoring flights at its local airport, Sundsvall-Timra. Next year it will start looking after those at Linkoping City Airport, in southern Sweden, too.

Meanwhile in the U.S.

At any given time, around 7,000 aircraft are flying over the United States. For the past 40 years, the same computer system has controlled all that high-altitude traffic—a relic of the 1970s known as Host. The core system predates the advent of the Global Positioning System, so Host uses point-to-point, ground-based radar. Every day, thousands of travelers switch their GPS-enabled smartphones to airplane mode while their flights are guided by technology that predates the Speak & Spell.

The Exorcist

Well played, Hennessey… well played

Dodge has been anything but coy regarding the fact it has a pretty powerful Challenger coming in the form of the Demon. However, Hennessey Performance Engineering thinks it can beat back Mopar’s devilish muscle car. Meet Hennessey’s The Exorcist.

The Exorcist begins life as a normal 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which is already no angel with 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. But, as they say, the devil is in the details. Hennessey cranks the dial way past 11 to push the supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V-8 out to 1,000 hp and 996 lb-ft of torque thanks in part to a larger, higher flowing supercharger and intercooler system, which is dialed in to produce 14 psi of boost pressure.

Live Facebook Arrest

That’s hilarious.

A Florida man joyfully flashing money live on the internet got a sudden surprise when police officers barged in and arrested him for allegedly selling drugs.

A man identified by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office as 22-year-old Breon Hollings went on Facebook Live to show friends a handful of money, saying, “It don’t stop, man, it don’t stop.”

He then retrieves more money from another room and starts shuffling it when he hears Jacksonville officers warning over a loudspeaker they are about to raid the house. A stunned Hollings runs out of the room. Seconds later, officers barge in. Hollings was arrested off camera.

Hollings faces numerous drug charges and was being held on $425,000 bail Saturday. It could not be determined if he has an attorney.

World’s Largest Plane Unveiled

Very cool.

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Even if you had been allowed to kick the tires as the world’s largest airplane was rolled out for the first time Wednesday, it might have taken you a while

Stratolaunch — which is designed to release rockets that will carry satellites into space — has a 385-foot wingspan, features six engines used by the Boeing 747, stands 50 feet tall and can carry more than 500,000 pounds of payload.

And it has those 28 wheels.

The twin-fuselage aircraft, the baby of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, was pulled out of its Mojave Air and Space Port hangar in California to begin fueling tests — the first of many ground tests.