Archive for February, 2014

The other day I was watching SportsCenter while they were discussing the heroic antics of Team USA hockey player T.J. Oshie who nearly single-handedly defeated host country Russia by scoring four shootout goals against them.  Like most people I had never heard of Oshie before last Saturday but all that changed after his star turning performance.  So much so that by Sunday nearly 500,000 people had sent out tweets with the word Oshie in them according to the folks in Bristol, CT.  That really surprised me because I wasn’t aware that there were 500,000 hockey fans in the World.

In any event the excitement and hoopla surrounding Oshie’s performance made me realize that Olympic hockey would be a whole lot better if it was an individual pursuit and not a team sport.  I mean just look at Oshie.  He isn’t known as being a prolific scorer.  He’s never even scored more than 20 goals in any NHL season.   And yet he’s a prolific performer in shootouts.  So much so that he was chosen for Team USA for that very reason.  So here we have someone who is a skilled scorer in a 1 on 1 format.  A guy who could win the Gold Medal if hockey was an individual sport but who was in reality one of the last guys selected for the actual Olympic team.  That to me doesn’t add up.  How many guys like Oshie are there out there toiling away in relative obscurity?  How many guys weren’t even considered for the Olympic team that actually have the ability to medal when it comes to individual hockey skills?  A dozen?  Two dozen?

So here’s what I’m proposing.  Let’s keep hockey as a team sport but let’s also create a new event.  Featuring one offensive player and one goalie these two man teams will compete in shootout style head to head battles.  The team that scores the most goals in 5 rounds will advance in a single loss elimination tournament.  It’s simple, can be held in a relative short period of time, and since it features the best and most exciting part of a hockey game figures to be wildly entertaining.  Which is an adjective that has never been used before to describe a hockey game.

I like this format so much that I think it would also translate well to other team sports such as basketball where individual players can compete against each other in a 1 on 1 tournament.  Just imagine how great it would be to watch LeBron James and Kevin Durant go head to head with a Gold Medal on the line.  A 3 on 3 tournament could work just as well.

Now this isn’t the only new Winter Olympic event that I’ve dreamed up.  You see, for the most part I find the Winter Olympics to be rather boring.  Other than snowboarding, a few skiing events, and speed skating there isn’t much else to work with.  Curling?  Come on, that’s not even a real sport.  That’s just a bunch of people sweeping really fast.  I do that every Sunday.  Ice dancing?  Don’t even get me started on that.

Instead what we need are new events that actually embody the true meaning of winter.  Events that capture our imagination and bring us back to our childhood.  Events like snowball dodgeball, ice sculpting, and snow man building.  Yea, that’s right.  I would actually watch people build a snow man in a timed event for national pride.  It’s got to be at least as entertaining as watching cross country skiing.  If anything there should be a Decathlon style event like they have at the Summer Olympics.  Something that combines skiing, skating, snowboarding, shooting, bobsledding, and whatever else you can do on snow or ice to determine the ultimate winter athlete.  Now that’s something I could get into.  Curling?  Not so much.

Wouldn’t it be great if this man could have won an individual medal for his 4 goal performance in the Olympics?

After all, shouldn’t Oshie be rewarded for his incredible skills?  That may not happen if Team USA fails to qualify for a medal.

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With the exception of four years of college and a one year stint as a substitute teacher in Florida I’ve spent my entire life living in and around New York City aka Manhattan aka the City That Never Sleeps aka the Big Apple aka the Greatest City on Earth aka the City So Nice They Named It Twice.

Home to millions this melting pot is a concrete jungle where dreams are made of if Jay Z is to be believed.  It’s the fashion capital of the World.  It’s where Broadway is located.  It’s where the World’s Most Famous Arena is.  It’s the place that the most successful sports franchise in any sport calls home.  It’s where the Super Bowl just was.  It’s where Lady Liberty stands tall welcoming all with the promise of a better future just ahead.

But above all else it’s a place that demands excellence.  A place that brings out the best in you. A place that will swallow you whole and spit you out if you aren’t careful.  As they say, “if you can make it here. You can make it anywhere.”  There’s just one problem though… it’s unlivable for half the year due to extreme weather!  Such a waste.  All that culture.  All those things to do.  All that great food to eat.  And it’s uninhabitable half the time.  What a shame.

I’ve always felt that we should do something about this.  That we should come up with an exit strategy of sorts.  So much so that  I actually started to brainstorm exactly what this plan would entail.  But before I could unleash this plan to great acclaim Hamilton Nolan of Gawker went out and stole my thunder with a scathing editorial entitled “We Must Build a New New York City Somewhere Warm“.

In his rant Nolan says things like:

“This nation has a very fundamental problem. Its best city—New York City—exists in a northern latitude so extreme that it is a frigid sub-Arctic wasteland for half the year. Why don’t we rebuild somewhere down south?”


“The fact that nearly ten million good-looking people tolerate today’s sidewalks coated in an ice-encrusted layer of snow covering near-frozen slush lakes is de facto proof that New York is America’s best city. If it weren’t, we would get the fuck out of here, pronto.”

He later goes on to insult the resident of pretty much every city in America other than New York but that’s beside the point.  The gist of his argument was that New York needs to be moved and he’s right about that.  But I don’t want to pick up the entire city and move to somewhere like San Diego or Hawaii as the author suggests.  Rather the plan that I was working on calls for the best parts of New York to be shipped out to various places around the country.  Here’s a look at what I’d do to make this happen:

  • The lines between marketing and entertainment were blurred long ago so let’s not fight it any longer.  Let’s move Madison Avenue and the fashion industry to Los Angeles.
  • When people are in Vegas they want to be entertained.  They want to go to shows.  Top of the line shows.  Broadway shows.  Instead they have to settle for second rate magic acts.  Not anymore.  Let’s move Broadway to the Las Vegas strip.
  • Orlando is a tourist attraction.  People go there from all over the World in search of a good time.  Which is exactly why we should we move the New York Yankees there.  The most well known sports team in all the World would sell out every game albeit with a different batch of tourists each time.
  • Silicon Valley has become not just the tech capital of the World but also the place where all the big money flows through.  Wouldn’t it make sense then to move Wall Street and the Stock Exchange to San Francisco where all the big players are?  And considering the income gap between the rich and the poor in the Bay Area such a move could be a boon for the local economy there as it would create thousands of jobs.
  • When I think of New Year’s Eve I think of people drinking, partying, and having a grand old time.  Which just so happens to be exactly what I think of when I think of New Orleans thanks to Mardi Gras.  Which is exactly why we should move Times Square and all New Year’s Eve festivities to New Orleans.
  • If we can’t get LeBron James to come to New York and play for the Knicks then let’s move Madison Square Garden to Miami so that the World’s Most Famous Arena gets the star power it deserves.
  • San Diego already has a rather large navy presence located there.  Which makes it the perfect landing spot for the Intrepid.
  • I hear good things about Houston but I feel that it may need a slight cultural boost to put it over the top.  The Museum of Natural History would do just that.
  • Speaking of Texas let’s ship Times Square attraction the Naked Cowboy to Dallas.
  • I love Phoenix but they could use some more art down there.  Let’s move all art museums there.
  • The Statue of Liberty has been welcoming immigrants into the country for dozens of years.  Putting it in the Gulf of Mexico would be apropos considering current events.
  • And last but not least we need a new home for Central Park.  Washington, D.C. you can thank me later.

Well there you have it.  My plan to move the best parts of New York City to new homes.  Of course this plan is controversial and won’t go over well.  But if you think about it, really think about it, it makes a lot of sense.  We’d be enhancing nearly a dozen locations around the United States while bringing out the best in various industries.  It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.  Except of course for the residents of New York City.  But then again they’re already losing for half the year!

Doesn’t it make sense to move Broadway to Las Vegas?

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With so much going on daily it’s hard to keep up with it all. I know how you feel so I figured I would try and help you out by providing some commentary on a few recent developments of things I’ve covered here previously. Enjoy:

Tesla:  My next car is going to be a Tesla that much is certain.  What’s not certain is how long I’m going to have to wait before the infrastructure is in place to make that happen.  Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later though and if the latest news about a successful cross country road trip are any indication that would appear to be the case.  The Wall Street Journal summed it up best when they said: “The trip itself is a feat worth noting, and a victory that helps to justify the investment Tesla has made in its network of fast-charging stations throughout the country. But perversely, it also highlights the drawbacks of the technology that remain: long recharging times, high battery costs and limited charging infrastructure.”

Net Neutrality:  The internet as we know it may soon be a coming to an end thanks to the failing doctrine of Net Neutrality.  Thankfully, President Obama is on our side and if he has anything to say about it he won’t let that happen.  According to the Verge, “a While House spokesperson said that “President Obama remains committed to an open internet, where consumers are free to choose the websites they want to visit and the online services they want to use, and where online innovators are allowed to compete on a level playing field based on the quality of their products.”

But that’s not the only Net Neutrality news making headlines.  A recent petition garnered over 1 million signatures!!!  That’s what I’m talking about!

Holographic Telepresence:  The sci-fi future we’ve been promised came closer to becoming a reality after the Turkish Prime Minister gave a speech recently as a ten foot tall Hologram!!! According to the Verge, “The Turkish Prime Minister used his ethereal form to talk about upcoming municipal elections, and an ongoing corruption scandal in the country that has led to a purge of high-level officials across his government. While holograms have been used for entertainment purposes — perhaps most notably to project images of Nate Dogg and Tupac at Coachella festival in 2012 — politicians across the world have also tried to harness the technology.”

The potential for this technology to be used as a way to make speeches is particularly intriguing to me as it could allow someone to be in multiple places at one.  Take for example a college football coach who wants to recruit a bunch of high school kids but who doesn’t have the time to travel all over the country to see them all at the same time.  With this technology he can give them his best recruiting pitch all from the comfort of his living room.

Maker Faire – Last year I attended my first Maker Faire where I saw first hand what 3-D printing is all about and caught a glimpse of what the future has in store for us.  Now the rest of the U.S. may have a chance to get in on the fun thanks to a recent announcement from the U.S. government which indicated that the Maker Faire is coming to the White House!  According to Engadget, “The upcoming Faire is part of a broader initiative that will encourage support for maker spaces and startups. We wouldn’t expect the event to create the next Elon Musk, but it might just give indie gadget designers the exposure (and potentially, funding) they crave.”

LinkedIn – A few months ago I wrote about LinkedIn’s new feature called “University Pages” that allowed prospective students to search for colleges the way employees use the site to search for jobs.  Now LinkedIn is rolling out another new feature to make people’s lives easier.  According to Fast Company, “A tool called How You’re Connected begins rolling out Wednesday, highlighting the people in one’s network who can serve as the best path to reach a potential contact. “When looking for an introduction to someone you may not know yet, you will now not only see ‘who’ in your network knows them on their Profile, but also ‘how’ they know each other to help you decide the best contact to request an introduction from,” product manager Udi Milo wrote in a blog post.”

Graphene:  No update post would be complete without mentioning my favorite world changing super material Graphene.  This time I want to mention the material’s potential to create a new type of electronic device that takes advantage of a concept called Ballistic Transport.  According to Phys.org, “De Heer argues that researchers should stop trying to use graphene like silicon, and instead use its unique electron transport properties to design new types of electronic devices that could allow ultra-fast computing – based on a new approach to switching. Electrons in the graphene nanoribbons can move tens or hundreds of microns without scattering.”

There is also speculation that Graphene could be used to make the Internet 100 times faster than it is now!!! What the what!!!

Oculus Rift – I’m not gamer but I can’t wait for the Oculus Rift to come out and see if it finally lives up to the hype of a virtual reality system actually worth using.  I had always assumed that’s all there was to it but now it turns out that the real benefits to the technology may be in terms of using it to watch movies not play games!

According to Wired, “All kinds of filmed entertainment, from documentary films to CGI masterpieces, are going to change. When the first Oculus prototype popped up in summer of 2102, everyone raved about how it would revolutionize the way we play videogames. But it’s got all the components to change the way we watch films, or create an entirely new kind of visual experience.”

Aereo: I’ve written a lot about Aereo, the new service that lets users take advantage of over-the-air TV signals for a handful of TV channels.  For just $8 a month it sure beats having cable and has become a staple in the entertainment diet of cord cutters in several major markets.  Unfortunately, for some residents of the Big Apple you are now offiically on the outside looking in if you haven’t signed up for the service yet as they have now reached capacity!  So much for keeping tabs on the latest curling news from Sochi.

Ancient Aliens: I would be remiss if I didn’t also offer up an update on my favorite topic at this moment: Ancient Aliens. And this latest theory is really going to be blow your mind. Basically it goes a little something like this….there is an explorer making his way through the Grand Canyon. He notices what appears to be a man made cave. He explores. He finds a statue of the Buddha, Egyptian mummies, and all kinds of other things that shouldn’t be there. He tells a local newspaper about his find and they run a series of stories about it. The Smithsonian gets involved and sends a team to collect the artifacts. It’s a big story at the time. Next thing we know that explorer goes missing and is never heard from again, the cave is sealed up, and the Smithsonian disavows all knowledge of the expedition. What is going on here??!?! Why was that stuff there? What was it? Why is it being covered up?!?! The answer as always: ancient aliens. But to what end? Was this some kind of ancient staging area? A storage facility? Remnants of an ancient city that predates everything we thought we knew about recorded history? Only the Smithsonian knows and they ain’t talking!!

The Maker Faire is coming to the White House!!!!

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I’ve always felt that sound was underrated.  That there was more that we could do with it than we had ever thought possible.  For years I was disappointed by the fact that nobody else realized the vast potential that it has.  Thankfully that has started to change over the last several years.  We’ve seen scientists use sound waves to levitate objects.  We’ve seen the invention of a device that attaches to a window that can keep sound out.  We’ve even seen the creation of an auditory cloaking device.  But this latest breakthrough from researchers at the University of Texas Austin takes the cake.  Referred to as an Acoustic Isolator this device allows you to hear others while preventing others from hearing you.

Why is this important you ask?  Well just imagine for a second that you are a secret agent working for the government or an undercover cop or just some noisy kid who wants to spy on his sister.  Your objective is to infiltrate a nefarious shadow organization such as Al Qaeda, a drug cartel, or a cheer leading squad.  In order to obtain the desired intel all you’d have to do is throw on an invisibility cloak and power up your acoustic isolator and just like that you’d be able to hear everything that goes on while being able to report back to your superiors in real time all without ever being detected.

As great as that is for spooks and creeps and the like this technology could also have some other real world applications as well.  Let’s say you are on airplane for six hours.  Most airlines don’t allow for cell phone use in flight but in the near future they might as the FAA beings to loosen restrictions on electronic devices.  That’s going to be really great for people on business trips who want to conduct a conference call while in the air and no so great for everyone else.  Unless of course that businessman had an Acoustic Isolator with him.  He could still conduct his call and no one else would hear a word he says and in the event of an emergency he could still hear announcements from the crew and know what was going on.

So how does this incredible invention work?  I think Dvice sums it up best: “The device, shaped like a hexagon, contains three fans, just like those found in your computer.  On each end of the device are ports containing microphones. Those three ports act as ‘acoustic waveguides,’ and transmit sound from one port to another. When the fans are off, sound travels normally, through all three ports. Switch the fans on, though, and direct their airflow, and sound only travels in the direction the fans are turned away from.”

The only question I have left at this point is in regards to the coverage area.  Does every person need to have their own Acoustic Isolator or could one device cover an entire room?  And could I put one in my neighbor’s apartment so that I never have to hear them play music ever again?  I’m not sure but one thing is certain.  Our ability to manipulate sound has just taken a giant leap forward and that to me is very exciting.  I can’t wait to see what we come up with next.  Long distance hearing perhaps?!?!!

Is an Acoustic Isolator that lets you hear what’s going on while blocking out noise that you make the Greatest Idea Ever?

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I’m a big fan of Stephen Hawking.  So much so that when I came up with an idea for a children’s book that could educate kids about science I called it “Hawking the Hummingbird Explores His Neighborhood”.  So you can certainly imagine how excited I was the other day to hear that Hawking had come out with a new theory about black holes which suggested that they might not actually be the point of no return, nothing can escape from their grasp, Venus fly traps of the Universe that we had been led to believe.

My immediately reaction upon hearing that was to say I told you so!  You see, I had always assumed that there was more to black holes than we knew.  That something wasn’t adding up.  My goal was to eventually figure out exactly what was going on while also coming up with the elusive Theory of Everything that physicists everywhere claim to be on the verge of completing.  Of course I have no formal training in the subject matter and have no idea what I’m talking about but nonetheless I was confident that I could figure it out if given enough time.

However, time may not be a luxury that I have much longer with Hawking running around stealing my thunder.  So before he goes off and steals any more of my ideas I’m going to share them all here.  In lieu of a Theory of Everything consider these my Theories On Everything:

  • Space itself can be used as a fuel source for space travel.
  • We can actually slow down the expansion of the Universe by creating “anchors” that counteract the effects of dark energy.
  • Time travel is possible.  But only travelling to the future.  You can’t undo what has already been done.
  • The famous equations E=MC^2 needs to be reconfigured since it doesn’t account for dark energy.
  • Gravity shouldn’t be considered one of the four fundamental forces and physicists shouldn’t try to fit it into the Theory of Everything.  It is more likely the result of actions at the quantum level.
  • The laws of physics may not be Universal.  Perhaps different rules apply to different parts of space based on the effects of gravity, the amount of dark matter that is present, or any other number of factors.
  • Why do we assume that the speed of light is constant?  Wouldn’t light get slowed down as it encounters various clusters of dark matter or other obstacles?
  • There may not be as much dark matter as we think there is.  The calculations could be thrown off by the effects of gravity.
  • There are dark galaxies that can’t form stars.

What say you to that Hawking?!!?!?!

What does this guy have that I don’t?!?!

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Here is a look at some of my musings from the last week:

I never know what hair style to get.  The pictures in the barbershop aren’t much help considering that they are from 1988.  I’m not hip or cool so I don’t know what styles are in right now.  My only recourse is to just keep getting the same thing that I’ve always gotten.  Shorter on the side, leave some on the top.  You know the same haircut that Freddie Prince Jr. had ten years ago.  This is why I’d like to invent software that will show you what you will look like in various hairstyles.  They already do the same thing for glasses so I figure that it must be possible to do it for hairstyles too.

I wish someone would invent smart gloves so that you get alerted when you drop one.  There’s nothing worse than going through the Polar Vortex with only one glove!!

A lot of people still maintain that they prefer holding physical books, newspapers or magazines to using an e-reader or iPad.  While I’m fine either way there is one regard in which physical copies hold the advantage over their electronic brethren: highlighting.  I feel like there should be a way to highlight a passage when reading something on your tablet, using just your finger, regardless of what app you are using.  It should just be a standard feature of any tablet/phone.

I know that there is income inequality in San Francisco with the middle and lower classes feeling like they are being forced out of their city by rising housing costs spurred on by the rash of tech companies that now call the Bay Area home.  But to take this out on the employees while they take a bus to work is the wrong way to go about things.  Especially when those workers are commuting to Google.  They could very well be the ones working on Glass or Project Loon or Calico or driver-less cars or any of the other Google moonshots that could change the world as we know it.  We should cut them some slack.  Those staffers at Facebook who invented the Poke on the other hand?  They are fair game.

Time Magazine ran an article about Beats by Dre the other day in which they alluded to Beats’ plan to create music predicting software.  Here’s what the piece had to say: “A listener can, for example, tell the app that he or she is ‘in the car’ with ‘my boo’ and looking to ‘pre-party’ to ‘old skool dance’.  That particular combination of cues results in a playlist that includes Luscious Jackson’s ‘Don’t Look Back, ‘Isaac Hayes’ ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ and Prince’s ‘When You Were Mine’.”  Now, I’m no music buff but that sounds pretty awesome.

Three years ago I broke my right ankle playing softball and it’s still sore to this day and probably always will be.  That’s why I’m very excited about a new robotic ankle that can not only help people who need assistance walking but also serve as a way to rehabilitate broken bones.  According to Dvice, “The robotic ankle device is made with soft materials, unlike existing exoskeletons. What makes it unique is that its artificial muscles are actually a series of pneumatic tubes which are configured like real muscles.  These tubes also act like real muscles, expanding and contracting as sensors above the knee tell them what to do, based on the motion of the person wearing the device.  This creates a natural motion in the ankle, moving it in a way to create normal walking movement.  Not only does the device provide support for walking, it also helps condition the real muscles underneath.”  I only wish they had invented this three years ago!

Is a robotic ankle the greatest idea ever?

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My roommate and I were talking the other day about how great it would be if we could live in a world where you could feel what someone else is feeling.  If a doctor could know exactly how much pain someone was in and what the source of that pain was.  If a coach could know whether a player was truly injured or just hurt.  If your boss could know just how bad your alleged migraine is.  If your significant other could know whether or not you’re telling the truth when you say you’re too tired for sex.  Would this knowledge improve our lives?  Make us more empathetic?  Help us communicate with one another?

While we may never get the chance to find out we could soon have the opportunity to do something similar and that’s know what it’s like to be a character in a book.  Called Sensory Fiction this MIT designed wearable technology lets you strap on a harness and feel what the characters in the book are feeling.  That means that you’ll be along for the ride as the characters in the story go on an emotional roller coaster.

So how does it work?  According to Dvice:

“A harness accompanies the book that you put over your torso. This harness includes LEDs to recreate the lighting from the story, small heating devices to warm the skin, vibrating mechanisms that affect heart rate and a compression system with airbags that tighten and loosen, based on what’s going on in the story.”

The obvious question that comes to mind is why would anyone want to do this?  Why would anyone want to feel heartbreak or loss or despair?  My response?  For the same reasons that people like to watch horror films.  There’s something exciting about being scared.  About sitting on the edge of your seat unsure of what’s going to happen next.  Perhaps that same suspenseful feeling of not knowing what to expect would accompany the experience of reading a book with this harness.  Perhaps it would enhance the act of reading and turn it into a source of entertainment even more so than it already is.  Maybe it will even steer kids away from video games and towards books.

But more importantly than all that is a question that I’m sure is on everyone’s mind.  And that’s what does this mean for the future of romance novels?  Suddenly all those dime a dozen Anne Rice novels don’t seem so bad anymore.

In the future you may feel what the characters in a book are feeling.

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