Teaching robots to learn about the world through touch

 Slowly, but surely, the Baxter robot is learning. It starts as a series random grasps — the big, red robot pokes and prods clumsily at objects on the table in front of it. The process is pretty excruciating to us humans, with around 50,000 grasps unfolding over the course of a month of eight hour days. The robot is learning through tactile feedback and trial and error — or, as… Read More

Badger CEO refutes charges that firm’s books need outside look

CALGARY – Badger Daylighting Ltd.’s top executive has dismissed accusations by a short seller that his company has been capitalizing operating expenses to inflate margins.

Badger, the largest hydrovac company in North America with a market capitalization of $960 million, has been targeted by short sellers for more than a year and recently saw its stock price plunge by 25 per cent from the $30 range to the $23 range in the week after releasing first-quarter results in May that missed estimates.

Hydro-excavation is the process of removing soil and rocks using high-pressure water, rather than digging.

Despite the bets of short sellers, Badger shares have since climbed slightly, back up to $26.09 Wednesday. Data from Bloomberg show the company’s largest shareholder, Turtle Creek Asset Management, has increased its holdings by 600,600 shares. 

Meeting with shareholders

Badger president and CEO Paul Vanderberg told The Financial Post he has been meeting with shareholders in an attempt to soothe concerns over criticisms raised by short sellers.

Vanderberg said he hasn’t publicly engaged in a “social media war” with the company’s critics and opted instead for private meetings with shareholders and employees.

“To get into a process where you inadvertently have selective disclosure or disclose some new material fact would be in violation of our disclosure policy and leave the company open to criticism and liability,” he said.

Still, after issuing a release Tuesday that said the company would improve investor communications, the company addressed the criticisms of short sellers publicly for the first time.

“I can tell you emphatically that Badger expenses every dollar of maintenance on our fleet. Our accounting policy is very conservative,” Vanderberg said.

Short seller Marc Cohodes publicly accused the company of putting operating expenses into capital expenses last month, when he revealed a short position in the company.

Accounting

Vanderberg said the criticism originates from an accounting technique held over from its days as an income trust, when it reported maintenance capital and growth capital spending.

“That’s what Badger did for years, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t clean,” he said, adding that chief financial officer Gerald Shiefelbein eliminated the practice.

“If you go out and look at others in the industry, you will see that they capitalize certain maintenance expenses, major items. Badger doesn’t even do that,” he said.

Cohodes rejected the explanation Wednesday. He said Badger hadn’t been an income trust since 2010; its new CFO came into the job in 2014, but the change didn’t appear until 2016.

“They haven’t been an income trust for the test of time,” Cohodes said, adding that the time to end the practice of reporting maintenance and growth capital spending and distributable cash flow would have been 2011.

“The accounting at Badger needs to be scrubbed clean,” he said, adding the company needs an outside firm to perform a forensic audit because “the numbers at this company don’t add up.”

Specifically, he said, the company’s recorded cash flow from operating activities for the year 2015 changed between the 2015 and 2016 annual statements. “You have accounting irregularities when the numbers change without a restatement,” Cohodes said.

Vanderberg said he couldn’t comment on that specific change but added, “We actually expanded the disclosure especially over the ’15 and ’16 time period to give everyone the line items that allows everyone to make their own calculations.” He flatly denied accounting problems.

gmorgan@nationalpost.com

Twitter.com/geoffreymorgan

This Is What A University Of The Future Looks Like

Online education has long been heralded as the next major higher education disruption, but after a series of false dawns, the long-awaited day may finally be upon us.

Apple Reminds Developers About 64-Bit Requirement for iOS and Mac Apps, Releases WWDC 2017 Transcripts

Apple today updated its developer news site to remind developers about 64-bit requirements for both Mac and iOS apps.

Apple has required all new iOS apps and app updates submitted to the iOS App Store to support 64-bit since June of 2015. Since then, Apple has begun phasing out support for 32-bit apps, and plans to stop supporting them all together with iOS 11.



While Apple has enforced 64-bit support for several years, there are still a number of older iOS apps that have not been updated since 2015 but remain in use. When attempting to open a 32-bit app on iOS 11, it will not run and users will see a popup that says “The developer of this app needs to update it to work with iOS 11.”

As a reminder, new iOS apps and updates submitted to the App Store must support 64-bit. Support for 32-bit apps is not available in iOS 11 and all 32-bit apps previously installed on a user’s device will not launch. If you haven’t updated your app on the App Store to support 64-bit, we recommend submitting an update so your users can continue to run your apps on iOS 11, which will be in the hands of hundreds of millions of customers this fall.

At WWDC, Apple announced plans to start phasing out 32-bit Mac App Store apps as well. Starting in January of 2018, Apple will require all new Mac apps submitted to the Mac App Store to support 64-bit, and all existing apps must implement support by June of 2018. According to Apple, macOS High Sierra will be the last version of macOS that will support 32-bit apps “without compromise.”

At WWDC 2017, we announced new apps submitted to the Mac App Store must support 64-bit starting January 2018, and Mac app updates and existing apps must support 64-bit starting June 2018. If you distribute your apps outside the Mac App Store, we highly recommend distributing 64-bit binaries to make sure your users can continue to run your apps on future versions of macOS. macOS High Sierra will be the last macOS release to support 32-bit apps without compromise.

When phasing out 32-bit apps on iOS devices, Apple gave both end users and developers ample notice and several warnings, and the company plans to follow the same path as it phases out 32-bit Mac apps.

Along with reminding developers about its app requirements, Apple today also announced the availability of transcripts for all of its WWDC 2017 videos, making it easier for users to find and share specific information that was covered at the event. Transcripts can be searched by keyword, with those keywords linked to the specific times when they were mentioned.



Apple’s session videos cover a wide range of topics, including Core ML, ARKit, Metal 2, Drag and Drop, Swift, Touch Bar, CareKit, tvOS, and much, much more.

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Uber says never told self-driving car executive to take Waymo files

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Uber Technologies [UBER.UL] said it never told a self-driving car executive to download files from his former employer, Alphabet Inc’s Waymo unit, according to a court filing in a contentious trade secret lawsuit.

Brother of Ohio pastor shot dead during service gets 31 years to life

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – An Ohio man convicted of fatally shooting his brother, a pastor, during a Sunday morning church service in 2016 was sentenced on Wednesday to 31 years to life in prison, prosecutors said.