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Archive for May, 2012

A few weeks ago I posted about Graphene, a miracle material, that figures to revolutionize the World as we know it.  And while that still may be true it could soon be trumped on the coolness scale by an even more dynamic material:  liquidmetal.

According to moneymorning.com (http://moneymorning.com/2012/04/30/is-apple-inc-nasdaq-aapl-bet-on-liquidmetal-about-to-pay-off/) this is a material that:

  • Is five times as strong as aluminum and twice as strong as titanium;
  • Is three times as elastic as ordinary metals;
  • Is highly resistant to corrosion;
  • Is highly resistant to scratching and wear;
  • Has a fingerprint-resistant, glossy finish that needs no polishing;
  • And can be blow-molded like glass or injection-molded like plastic.
This sounds to me like the perfect building block for the next generation of cell phones!  Lock it up.

I know that it sounds like something out of the Terminator movies but I assure you that there’s no need to worry about shape shifting cops.

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I’ve always been drawn to the idea of manifest destiny and lately I’ve been thinking about moving out to California to be near the innovation capital of the World, Silicon Valley.  But why stop there?  Maybe I’ll just keep going, straight into the Pacific Ocean to join the more than 100 start up companies that want to participate in Blueseed  (http://www.blueseed.co/).

This a project that is being funded by Paypal co founder Peter Thiel to create an off shore “city’ in international waters that would aim to have it’s residents innovate outside the realm of pesky U.S. regulations.  (http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-05/10/floating-city-attracts-more-than-100-startups)  Eventually, when the company reaches a certain threshold of success it will move off the retrofitted cruise ship and into Silicon Valley to help boost the U.S. economy.  Check out this video clip to find out more:

All in all, this sounds like a great idea but I do have some logistical concerns.  First off, what defenses are in place to fend off Pirates?!?!!?  You didn’t think that those pesky Somali pirates would stay in Somalia did you?  You better believe that they’ll be putting this ship in their sights as soon as it launches!  Secondly, what happens if an earthquake strikes off the shore of San Francisco causing a tsunami to lift up the ship and place it down in Utah where I then find myself part of a Mormon cult with six wives??!!!

I like the idea of an off shore incubator as long as it stays off shore!  Ah, who am I  kidding; Pirates and multiple wives.  Sign me up!!

Save a spot for me!

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During Game 5 of the 2012 Knicks-Heat first round playoff series one of the announcers from TNT commented that Knicks Guard J.R. Smith grew up a Knicks fan since he was from New Jersey.  The other announcer then objected to that commentary and asked why he didn’t think he was a Nets fan which led to some witty banter about Knicks vs. Nets fandom in the region.  But what strikes me about this conversation is that there was only two possible answers to the question.  Growing up in the New Jersey area meant that Smith was either destined to be a Knicks fan or a Nets fan.  There was no other possible outcome for him.  But, why does it have to be that way?  Why are we stuck rooting for the teams that reside in the city that we live in?  Why isn’t it more common to pick a random team to follow?

I can see how in the past it made sense to root for the local team since that was likely the only access that you had to seeing a professional sports game but in today’s day and age that’s no longer the case.  For example, If I wanted to follow a major league baseball team in another city I can easily do so through the MLB package on Roku.  In fact, since the local market games are blacked out it’s actually more convenient for me to do so.  Therefore, if I were to announce that I was no longer a Yankees fan and was instead becoming a fan of the Washington Nationals so that I can follow the exploits of Bryce Harper shouldn’t that be acceptable?  And yet if I were to do so I would be branded a traitor and called a front runner.

This doesn’t seem right to me.  Not only should we be allowed to do this without fear of ridicule and public humiliation but it should be the norm.  It should be accepted that we’re one day going to pick a team to root for.  In fact, it should be considered a right of passage almost.  Perhaps when we turn 18 we should announce to much fanfare which team we’re choosing to root for.  Teams could even try to woo us to root for them by offering deals on tickets and merchandise or other perks.

Our reasoning for picking a team could be based on which team our favorite player is currently playing for.  Or it could be something innocuous like choosing a team based on the color scheme of their uniforms or because we like their announcers.  The reasoning shouldn’t matter.  The only thing that should matter is that we’re making a conscience decision to root for a team and not just blindly accepting that we’re going to root for the local team because it’s convenient to do so or because our parents did.

Your favorite team can change faster than a Tony Parker cross over…..

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From time to time I like to discuss ideas that are making news and there’s nothing that’s making news right now more than President Obama’s decision to endorse gay marriage.  Even though the timing of his announcement cheapens it since it’s obviously just  an attempt to politicize the issue to help his re-election chances I still have to commend him for taking a stance on the issue at all.  However, I am left wondering what took so long while pondering why this is even a big deal.  In fact,  why was gay marriage ever an issue in the first place?

Telling a gay person that they can’t get married because of your religious beliefs is like telling someone that they can’t eat a donut because you’re on a diet.  I heard that line the other day and even though I don’t know who to attribute it to it’s worth mentioning here because it perfectly sums up how I feel.

It blows my mind that the crazy religious types in this country have enough political pull to make an issue out of this.  What ever happened to separation of church and state anyway?  These religious zealots are found of asking WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?).  But they should be asking themselves WWAT (What Would Aliens Think?).

What I mean by that is that whenever we’re faced with a tough moral decision to make we should take a step back and look at the big picture and there’s no bigger picture to look at than to assume the point of view of an outsider to our World.  In such a scenario the aliens would be given a tour of our planet and find out about our culture and customs.  I can picture them discovering things that they hadn’t thought of.  Perhaps they would marvel at our use of escalators or elevators.  Or maybe they would be impressed by the relationship we have with our pets.  It’s possible that one of our sports could capture their fancy.  The tour would be going great until they find out that we don’t allow certain members of our society to get married.  I can see them instantly losing respect for us.  Just imagine how primitive we would appear to them when they also find out that we practiced slavery not too long ago.

Eventually, we came to our senses about that and soon we will about gay marriage too.  At this rate it’s a matter of when not if.  The sad thing is that the when still might not come for a while.  And that’s not acceptable.  President Obama took a necessary first step when he came out in support of gay marriage but he still fell short of saying that it should be put into law.  He is trying to get re-elected after all. But if we ever want to fix this issue we need to stop thinking about what the voters think and start asking ourselves what would the aliens think!

It’s a sad state of affairs when the fictional world of a cartoon has more sense than real life.

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The first in a series of posts about potential apps:

Despite walking underneath the obnoxious banner announcing the event every day for a week, despite walking right past the loudmouthed annoying staffers handing out flyers the day of the event, despite having everyone within earshot talking about the event moments before it started, a guy in my office was still beside himself at 2 pm last Wednesday when he realized that he had missed out on Noodlepolooza, an annual sampling of area restaurants that takes place in the building adjacent to our office.  Rather than lamenting his fate wouldn’t it have been great if there was an app that would have alerted him about the event just as it was starting so that he wouldn’t forget about it?  Something to the effect of, “hey Dumbass Noodlepalooza is about to start!  Get your ass down there!”

But I’m not just talking about a simple reminder app that responds to pre-programmed events.  Rather I’m talking about an app that would know what you wanted to do and then alert you to relevant events.  Case in point, I was walking home from work on a Friday night a few weeks ago and came across a screening of Goonies as part of the Tribeca Film Festival just one block away from my office.  I had always wanted to go to the Tribeca Film Festival and to have it take place so close to my office while playing one of my favorite movies was almost too good to be true.  Unfortunately, I already had plans and so I had no choice but to keep walking.  Wouldn’t it have been great if there was an app that said, “hey Dumbass one of your favorite movies is playing on Friday night right near your office as part of a festival that you always wanted to go to.  You should go check it out!”

Hey you guys, let’s build an app that reminds people of things to do!

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Justin Bieber has it.  President Obama wants it.  No, I’m not talking about Taylor Swift’s phone number.  I’m talking about Klout, the measure of how much online influence you have.   Using a proprietary algorithm this startup aims to tabulate your influence by tracking how many Twitter followers and Facebook friends you have, how many times you post, how many times your posts are retweeted or liked, etc.  It even goes so far as to take into account who you are friends with assuming that your associations with people who have high Klout scores gives you even further influence.

Sounds good in theory but there’s only one problem.  I don’t have a Twitter account.  And if I did I wouldn’t be posting ad nauseum, day in and day out,  just to try and get my Klout score up as high as possible as many people do.  That’s not Klout, that’s clutter.  But sadly that’s what we’re all going to have to do if we want to be gainfully employed in the 21st Century as having a low Klout score has actually prevented job applicants from landing positions that they are otherwise qualified for.  (http://www.wired.com/epicenter/tag/klout/)

I get what this service is trying to do and it’s an admirable goal but there’s just no way to objectively measure influence.  If the Pope tweets once a year does he really have less influence than your co-worker who tweets every 25 seconds about what he’s eating?  But this service isn’t all for naught.  I actually think that it’s on to something as there really should be a way to measure online activity.  However, measuring online influence isn’t what I’m after.  In my opinion what’s going to be more important going forward is our online reputations.  Which is why we should create a program that gives us an online credit rating.

After all, isn’t the whole point of a credit rating to give financial institutions, landlords, and employers a way to measure your trustworthiness when it comes to handling your finances and by extension all important matters in your life?  If that’s true then wouldn’t they also want to know about your credibility and personal reputation?  How much online influence you have may matter for marketers who want to exploit the popularity of celebrities to move their products but it’s not going to matter much to you or me.  On the other hand a metric that measures our online reputations is far more useful.

For example, let’s say you’re a employer who has a tough decision to make between two qualified applicants.  Who would you rather hire, the hot head who got into a flame war on 4chan or the person who has 100% positive feedback on Ebay?  The person who posts unsubstantiated negative reviews on Yelp to try and ruin a competitor’s business or the person who takes the time to provide thoughtful answers to questions on Quora?

I think the answer to those questions is clear.  It’s time to rethink the way we measure our online activity so that we are held accountable for our actions online the same way that we are held accountable in real life.

Is this really the way we want to spend our free time?

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#18 – Roku

When I decided to cancel my cable my aim was to become more productive but instead all I’ve done since cancelling is spend all my new found free time looking for new ways to watch TV.  Here’s what I’ve discovered:

  • Apple TV is a colossal bust:  It could be saved if Apple becomes motivated to do so but until that happens and until a game changing feature such as utilizing Siri to change the channels with voice commands comes along there’s no reason to use this service.  The only programs that I could use on it were Netflix and the MLB package but that wasn’t enough content to justify the commitment.  The one cool feature that it had was a massive collection of podcasts but that’s not going to cut it when there’s nothing else to work with.
  • Roku > Apple TV:  On Roku I can use Netflix and the MLB package but unlike Apple TV I can also use Hulu, Amazon Prime, and dozens of other services such as Crackle and Epic.  I can also utilize additional channels such as Playon which allows me to watch a wide array of network and cable TV stations on demand for $5/month.  Not only that but I can also access Apple’s content such as the podcasts.  Oh, and I did mention that Roku is about $10 cheaper.  Why would anyone opt for Apple TV when it’s more expensive and offers less content and when you can get the content that it does offer through Roku as well?
In my opinion set top boxes are the wave of the future and they’re constantly getting better as more and more channels are added.  The only thing that’s missing is the ability to watch live sports aka the holy grail of internet TV.  The ability to do so would be a game changer and likely serve to put cable companies out of business for good.

Eat your heart out Time Warner.

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I think I may have found my soul mate and his name is Elwood “Woody’ Norris.  This is a man who is “interested in everything ” and reads over 30 magazines to quell his desire for information.  Just like me!!!  This is a man who is interested in figuring out how Gravity works.  Just like me!!  And this is a man who considers himself to be, “the laziest inventor you ever met.  My inventing is in my head — I don’t have to be in the lab working and sweating.”  Just like me!!!  But unlike me this is a man who has actually invented something.  Back in 2005, he won the Lemelson-MIT award, a prestigious prize for inventors for coming up with a way to control sound waves.

According to the article on MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7536267/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/sound-beam-inventor-takes-prize/#.T6XBo6u0zuw), this technology could, “allow parents to listen to their favorite music in the front seats while kids in back choose their own.  An airport terminal message could be beamed only to travelers in a specific area while not disturbing everyone else.  A supermarket promoting a sale on cereal could project a sales pitch to shoppers in the cereal aisle.”

Sounds like a great idea, pun intended, but I wonder if it could work in reverse so that you can remove sound from a designated area?  My office overlooks Ground Zero and on some days the sounds coming from the construction site are so loud and annoying that I can’t even bear to sit at my desk.  Wouldn’t it be great if I could remove any sound coming from the construction area while maintaining my ability to hear everything else going on around me?

If we could remove sounds from designated areas then we would never again have to be bothered by the barking of our neighbor’s dog at 3 am or annoyed by a car alarm going off.  Not to mention how great it would be to have the ability to literally tune somebody out during an argument!

In the near future you may be the recipient of a message intended just for you.

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