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Archive for April, 2012

Here’s a look at some random thoughts I had over the last week:
  • Why does the Apple app store continue to show me items that I’ve already purchased?  This is worse than MapQuest giving me directions of how to get out of my own neighborhood.
  • Is it just me or is it a really awkward experience any time a vendor tries to hand you cash and coins at the same time?  Do you take the coins first or the cash first or just grab everything all at once?  What is the proper etiquette in this situation?  As advanced as modern society is I can’t believe we haven’t figured out a better way to do this yet.  
  • The only downside to cancelling cable is the inability to watch live sports.  Why can’t I pay a subscription fee and get ESPN streamed on Apple TV?  Why aren’t all channels also offered online as subscriptions?
  • Why are local market sporting events blacked out?  Hey dumb asses if you let me watch your product I’d be more inclined to become a fan and give you money down the road in some other way.  
  • How come when you go shopping for a new pair of jeans they are arranged by brand?  Shouldn’t they be arranged by size?  If I know I’m 34/30 wouldn’t it be easier if I could just go straight to one section and look at all my options?  Why do I have to keep digging through piles looking for my size? 
  • Speaking of shopping why is it mandatory that we sign credit card receipts?  Does the cashier ever even check your signature against your ID?  There’s not even a federal law mandating that these slips get signed so why do we even bother?
  • Attention match.com:  just because two people both like pizza that doesn’t make them a good match.

    Apple probably doesn’t think that my idea is the greatest idea ever.

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#15 – Graphene

If you try to break a pencil in half you can snap it easily.  Even I can do that.  However, if you try to break a bundle of pencils in half you won’t have as much luck.  That’s because Graphite gets stronger as it’s layered  which may explain why Graphene, which is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in honeycomb lattice, is the strongest material on Earth, 20 times stronger than steel.  Now, I’m not a betting man but if I were I’d be willing to bet my life savings, my mortgage (if I had one), heck even my life on Graphene becoming the first invention since the advent of the steam engine to change the World as we know it.

Whether it’s cargo ships with hulls that can’t be pierced (no more pesky oil spills!), airplanes that are lighter and faster than ever before, or transistors that are even faster and more powerful than they are now there is no shortage of potential World changing uses for this miracle material.  And the best part is that new uses are being discovered on a seemingly daily basis.  Quite frankly, the only limit to the number of possible applications for Graphene are the boundaries of our collective imaginations.

I know in my heart of hearts that this is going to be the next big thing and transform the World as we know it.  The only question is how to capitalize on it.  It’s not like I can just produce the stuff myself and last time I checked raw materials weren’t publicly traded on the stock market.  The key is to find a publicly traded company that works with this material and that would stand to profit from it’s production and use as it becomes main stream.  But that’s easier said than done.  I’d have a better chance breaking a bundle of pencils.

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Some video games look so real that if you didn’t know any better you might think you were watching a movie.  None more so than the action adventure trilogy Uncharted, the video game generation’s answer to Indiana Jones.  So much so that according to rumors it will actually get made into a movie soon potentially starring Mark Wahlberg as the lead character.  But why wait?  That’s the mind set of Reddit user “Morphinapg” who combined the game’s cut scenes along with some game play footage to turn the game into a viewable movie.  You can check out one of the movies that he made below:

Anyone who has seen the Rock in the movie adaptation of Doom can attest to the fact that movie adaptations of video games usually fall flat.  So considering the cost associated with making movies how long do you think it’ll be before movie studios just decide to make video game movies themselves?  Some game franchises such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto seem tailor made for such treatment.  Dance Dance Revolution not so much.

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Last week the ironically named Metta World Peace “accidentally” elbowed James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the head while he was celebrating a dunk that he had just thrown down over two of Harden’s teammates.  Metta World Peace whose own kids now refer to him as Metta World Crazy (http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2012/04/world-peaces-kids-call-him-metta-world-crazy-/1#.T51xf-2sG18)  maintains that the elbow was inadvertent.  Watch the video below to judge for yourself:

 

As a result of the play Harden sustained a concussion while the artist formally known as Ron Artest received a seven game suspension for his actions.  However, I don’t think that a seven game suspension was enough.  How could it be when another man’s livelihood is at stake?

Harden wound up recovering from the elbow and played well in game one of the Thunder’s playoff series with the Dallas Mavericks but what if he hadn’t recovered or what if down the road he sustains additional concussions?  How many games would a player get suspended for causing permanent brain damage to someone?  Where do we draw the line between violence within the context of a sport and a criminal act?  At what point should Ron Artest change his name again to Ron Arrested?  I for one think it should be sooner rather than later.

The worst part is that this isn’t an isolated incident.  Similar cheap shots occur in every sport none more so than in hockey where the Chicago Blackhawks Marian Hossa had to be taken off on a stretcher after this hit which resulted in a twenty five game suspension:

 

That’s the kind of hit that can end someone’s career and there will be no end in sight to those kinds of hits unless if we attach significant penalties to them.  I mean look at the Bounty Gate scandal that’s currently rocking the NFL as members of the again ironically named New Orleans Saints have received suspensions for paying players to injure players on the other teams.  How is that not pre-mediated assault with intent to cause bodily harm?  If you did that on the street to someone that annoyed you you’d go to jail for a very long time.  In the sports world you just miss a few games.  If I was a violent psychopath I wouldn’t join a gang I’d just join Gang Green.

Enough is enough and it’s time for a change.  It’s time that we enacted stiffer penalties when an attack occurs on our sports fields or there will come a time when we’re carrying a player out in a body bag instead of just on a stretcher.

First there was the Malice in the Palace. Now it's the Elbow to a Foe. What will be next for this ticking time bomb?

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I just started watching HBO’s Game of Thrones, the hit show based on George R.R. Martin’s books.    During season 1 there is a scene where the King and Queen are lamenting how their Kingdom is barely hanging together as nine years of peace have made them complacent.  Without anything to fight for they instead spend their time drinking, whoring around, and fighting amongst each other.  This got me thinking about how our current society has also become complacent albeit in spite of the fact that there are still many regional conflicts as well as an over arching global war on terror to keep us on our toes.

This complacency that I speak of may not extend itself to our military industrial complex but it sure does seem to be prevalent in other areas.  Just look at our space program for example.  It’s been over forty years since we put a man on the moon.  Why is it that in that time we’ve made no significant progress in trying to venture further out into space?  We never even went back to the moon.  Seemingly we’re just content to look at pictures from the Hubble telescope while we waste our time debating the merits of string theory as we wait for the inevitable low earth orbit hotel industry to blossom.  That may tickle the fancy of Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk but it doesn’t do much for me.  NASA is going to shit and SETI is struggling to stay afloat but hey it’s okay because maybe one day we’ll be able to take the family to Disney Space.

Meanwhile complacency is starting to make it’s way West to Silicon Valley, the so called Tech Capital of the World.  This is a place that gave rise to the World Wide Web and the personal computer, truly transformative technologies that have altered our way of life.  And while it may be true that Moore’s law has held up as computers have become faster and faster it still seems as though progress has slowed.  It’s ironic really.  To be technologically advanced and yet old fashioned in our way of thinking at the same time.  No one thinks outside the box anymore.  Rather tunnel vision runs rampant as everyone tries to make a quick buck off whatever the latest trend is.  Right now on the eve of the Facebook IPO the only thing that anyone seemingly cares about anymore is social media.  In a few years it’ll be something else.   It’s a sad state of affairs when the best and brightest that our country has to offer are spending their time working on a way to make sense of all of the daily minutia that our lives create when they could be working on clean oil or other environmental issues.  I can’t think of anything that defines complacency more than trying to analyze one’s own complacency.

The only chance we have to get out of this rut is through education and yet our educational system is the standard bearer for complacency as we chose to stick with the same broken model that’s been employed since the turn of the 20th Century despite the fact that we have new technologies at our disposal.  Why we continue to follow an Industrial Age model of standardized testing is beyond me.  We should be flipping the classroom and utilizing online videos such as Khan Academy so that students can learn at their own pace.  As Duke University professor Cathy Davidson said last year, “We continue to prepare students as if their career path were linear, definite, specialised and predictable. We are making them experts in obsolescence. We are doing a good job of training them for the 20th century.”

It doesn’t get any better when you think about the work place.  In today’s inter-connected, always on World of smart phones, laptops, cloud storage and video conferencing we shouldn’t even have to come into the office at all let alone all at the same time.  Can someone please explain to me how it makes sense logistically to have the majority of residents in a given area all go to the same place at the same time?  You would think that after commuting for all these years we would have figured out that it would be better to implement a system of commuting shifts so that there wouldn’t be overcrowding during rush hour.  But I guess that it’s kind of hard to fix something when you’ve become complacent and have resigned yourself to just accepting that that’s the way things are.

But I don’t care about the way things are, or the way things were, or the way things are supposed to be.  I only care about one thing and one thing only and that’s making things better.  And the only way to do that is by ending our old fashioned way of thinking.  We need to rethink every industry and figure out a way to better align our technological progress with our way of doing things to optimize the results.  If we fail to do that and continue down this path then we’re going to get caught with our pants down when “war” finally does come to our doorstep again.

I understand the way this game is played.

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It’s the bottom of the 7th inning in the championship game of your slow pitch softball league.  Your team is trailing by three runs.  The bases are loaded with two outs.  Your team’s hopes rest in your hands.  You take the first pitch.  It’s a called strike.  You foul off the next pitch.  You’re now down to your last strike.  You take a step out of the batter’s box and take a deep breath to collect your thoughts.  You then step back into the batter’s box, survey the field, and get ready to swing.  The pitch is in the air.  It’s a little bit low on the outside corner.  Right where you like it.  You swing and hit a ball down the right field line over the right fielder’s head.  Your team rejoices as you round the bases a hero.  Take that Al Bundy.

After the victory celebration subsides you scan the sidelines for your girlfriend.  She’s no where to be found.  Turns out she was on the phone with her mother making plans to get a manicure and pedicure later that day.  Your moment of glory was all for naught as the love of your life didn’t even see it.  Epic fail.  You’re now resigned to spending the rest of your life boring her to death with a play by play recap of that game, each time embellishing the details more and more until she finally can’t take it anymore and divorces you.  The memory of your game winning hit, which was once a great source of pride for you, has now officially been tarnished.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way?  What if there was a better way?  What if instead of having to resort to story telling you could just show your loved ones highlights of what they missed?  Wouldn’t that solve all your problems?

Well, there is a better way and it’s called lifelogging, the next big thing in social media.  Whether you’re on a ball field or in the mall,  at a bar or in the office, cameras, both mounted at physical locations, and embedded into your clothing (http://www.ucorder.com/), will record every moment of your life.  Whenever something cool happens that you want to remember you just press a button on your smart phone and a video clip of that moment in time is sent to your account enabling you to share the highlights of your day with your friends for their viewing pleasure.

Big Brother is not watching.  He’s too busy doing something else but with Recorded Life he’ll never have to miss out on your favorite moments ever again.  Game winning hits, funny quotes, and drunken dance moves can now get the proper treatment that they’ve always deserved.

With wearable cameras now you'll always be able to relive those awkward moments from your first date!!

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I have no discernible skills or talents and I’m not just saying that to be self deprecating.  I literally don’t have any skills.  I can’t even whistle or snap my fingers.  When I was in college I entered a talent show and my talent was having no talent.  I just stood there on stage.  I came in last place.   Then a few years ago when I was living in Florida I attempted to hang up a hook behind the bathroom door to hang my towel.  For six months there was a hole in the wall and a towel on the floor.

My lack of talent may not effect my day to day life but it does have it’s drawbacks as I am unable to perform even simple tasks such as holding my breath under water for longer than ten seconds.  When Michael Phelps needs a good laugh he thinks of me.  So imagine how happy I was to come across a story in the latest issue of  Popular Mechanics that discussed the future of man as machine and spotlighted artificial red blood cells.  According to the article artificial cells, “could carry hundreds of times more oxygen than natural red blood cells, allowing people to hold their breath for hours or sprint at Olympics-level speeds for 15 minutes at a time.”

I can’t imagine much use for being able to run at Olympics-level speeds for that long unless if you’re getting chased by a Tiger but boy I sure would love to be able to hold my breath for a long period of time!  I could easily spend countless hours under water exploring ship wrecks and searching for mermaids!!!

There’s only one problem.  This technology probably won’t be available until 2032 at the earliest.  That’s not ideal but at least I can take comfort in knowing that there is hope for me in the not too distant future.  Now all I have to do is learn how to whistle…

Phelps, I'm coming for you!

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