Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why don't all technical explanations make this much sense

Go to see a great video dusted off from the archives at Boingboing and it got me thinking. IN todays world why are we not getting such good brass tacks explanations anymore.

The writers and producers of this video did something that we are getting less and less today. They broke the problem into reasonable chunks of content and presented it in a logical manner. Without condescension or over simplification. Started with the basic observations, and added the appropriate amount of information with each step.

I todays world of 140 characters, and short attention spans it seems like people assume they are too busy to do that extra homework in advance. But it is now with these abbreviated communications that we need to make sure that the bursts of information we give to people hit the mark effectively.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Have you read Seth's Blog: The triumph of coal marketing

As I read the RSS feed for Seth's Blog: The triumph of coal marketing I was struck by the fact that with all the disaster that we see coming from the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami and the nuclear plants there, that many opportunists are heading straight to the anti-nuclear (pro-coal) message.

Read Seth's blog since he makes a different point than i do here.

Fear mongering and pandering to special interests are heading straight into overdrive at certain news outlets. Now this is not to make a point as if the death toll from the nuclear incidents in Japan, or those we remember from Chernobyl are insignificant. NO FAR FROM IT. But merely that we tend to "amplify sudden and horrible outcomes than it is to talk about the slow, grinding reality of day to day strife".

Right now people all over the world are reacting to the issue, by stopping plans for future nuclear reactors, questioning and challenging the elected officials who previously backed them, and politicians are backpedaling away from prior positions supporting nuclear energy.

The INCONVENIENT TRUTH here is that we cannot sustain the world populace's energy demand with our current power sources. Emerging countries and developed nations if they turn their back on nuclear will have to resort to Gas, oil, and what little we can get from Solar and Wind. But unfortunately, that will not fill the gap left by nuclear.

to Paraphrase Winston Churchill: Nuclear power is the worst form of energy, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Zagg Sparq2.0 initial thoughts

Last month I mentioned that I was going to order the Zagg Sparq2.0 emergency battery charger for my own personal use. I unpacked my own this past weekend and charged it Saturday night. The instructions ask for a 7-9 hour initial charge and i followed those instructions.

After the over-night charge I left the Sparq unused for three days to see if the battery leached power the way some negative reviewers had said it would. Today (Tuesday) was the first shot at using. My own Droid2 had run its battery down to just over 15% (the point where i get reminders to charge). I plugged the unit in to the MicroUSB cord and my phone. 55 minutes later my phone was upto 70% and the Sparq showed all 4 LEDs (effectively fully charged).

Later, my colleague plugged in his Android Phone. He charged his up from about 20% to 85% in just over and hour leaving my Sparq with 2 LEDs lit. Supposedly at a 50% reserve. So far, so good. I will use only the Sparq2.0 over the next day or so to provide my phone charge to see if I can get the 4 charges from it the the manufacturer promises. But I am impressed so far.

At this point a must have for all business travelers who use smart phones.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Global communication: Smart phones, data plans, etc

This post today is coming to you from the Air France lounge in Dusseldorf, where normally there is NO WiFi access for free (Pay as you go from Vodafone) or some pitifully unstable walk up terminals (usually crash every time you get 3/4 of the thing you try to accomplish on the terminal complete.

Nope, no more. Today I am posting this using my Motorola DROID 2 Global Android Phone, from Verizon Wireless with my Global Data plan.

How? you may ask. Tethering which is usually blocked by Verizon. Since they want to sell you the Novatel MiFi 2200 Mobile Wi-Fi Modem (Verizon Wireless). But it is possible instead to use your own Android Phone with data plan to accomplish the same thing.

First get yourself a phone that is Global Data ready. I chose the Verizon Droid2. Android OS and Fully Rooted (which means I ran a simple app on it that gives me super user capability--jail breaking).

Second make sure you have the Verizon Global Data plan. Verizon is one of the few cell carriers that sells a All-you-can-eat data plan that is truly All-you-can-eat. No limits (at least so far).

Next install the Android App. "Wireless Tether" this app lets you connect to your phone wia secure WPA or WEP connection to use the data that your phone down loads.

Simple as that.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Birth of a Word: TED Talk 2011

TED talks are amazing places to watch, hear, learn, and discover some of the most amazing things. From Deb Roy's presentation on the Birth of a word it is tricky to force oneself to get over the technological tricks they had to invent to perform this research (video correcting 10+ fisheye video feeds into a near 3D representation of Deb  Roys home that can allow us to follow him, his wife, their son and the nanny through their house for a few years) to discover the patterns in that lead to the successful emergence of word use.

Had to watch this a couple of times before I could let the point of it, sink past my utter amazement as to HOW they parsed it, to what they found. The 120 Terabytes of data, the linking of the various feeds into a single cohesive (and virtually 3D) time space environment. And get where it was going.

The space time tracking of movement in the video to find the feeds where they could locate his sons specific word use. the ability to get audio transcripts from disparate video sources into a coherent "stream" of communication. This turns into different methods of tracing the communication threads throughout our society and our social structures.

Not sure what it all means yet, but to quote Deb Roy and son.   "wow"

Friday, March 4, 2011

Careful the legacy you leave

Here's a funny story with only a small moral:

The engineering director of a medium to large tool shop paid a call on his former employers, now customers. He stopped by the desk of the administrative assistant to ask if she would note his arrival for his appointment which was set to start in 15 minutes, and if possible announce his presence to the Mr. Big the chief of this operation.

The conversation went a little like this [slightly altered to protect the ignorant]:

"Hi, I'm Bob Namechanged. I'm here for an appointment with your boss, Mr. Big."
"Oh? And where should I say you are from Mr. Namechanged?"
"Tool and Dieshop Inc."
"Oh, good. Be sure to mention that you are from Tool and Dieshop Inc. Because we used to have a guy here named Bob Namechanged too. But nobody liked him. Apparently he was a bit of an A-Hole."

What on earth did Mr. Namechanged do while at his former employer to earn this reputation?
How surprised he and his new colleagues must have been to find that his relationship with the old shop was not rosy; no doubt expectations of a healthy relationship may have even been part of his hiring at "Tool and Die Inc."

We must all be careful of the legacy we leave behind. The world is getting flatter and as Kevin Bacon will attest we are all only 6 degrees of separation from anybody else.