Wired and Reviewed.com have 20 suggestions for personal technology, home entertainment devices, appliances for the home, and gear to use on the job.
As you enjoy pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and pumpkin spice lattes through the cold season, think about its evolution over 10,000 years.
“Fortunately, the fruit found a new mammal to rely on: humans. People had been using wild gourds for containers and possibly even floatation devices for fishnets. But over time, they began eating the fruit, replanting the ones that were most palatable. Eventually, over thousands of years, the fruit evolved to become mild and tasty — and now icons of the fall season.
Scientists have previously known that Cucurbita was domesticated. But to gain more insight, the researchers analyzed the genomes of ancient Cucurbita samples — bits of seeds and rind — found in caves in places such as central Mexico and the Ozark Mountains in the central U.S. The genetic patterns of the samples reveal human agricultural fingerprints all over the plant’s evolutionary history.”
Using an iPad that stood in for a car's infotainment screen, DocuSign head of product Ron Hirson showed how a combination of digital taps and finger signatures is all it takes to select a lease payment plan (based on annual mileage), choose an insurance carrier (three companies' options were offered) and authorize the car to pay tolls and other in-car expenses.
Engineers with Visa Innovation Labs and DocuSign Labs came up with a system that effectively turns the automobile into an extension of its owner's wallet. By combining DocuSign’s Digital Transaction Management platform and eSignature solution with Visa’s secure payment tech, the car’s identity is then registered on the Bitcoin Blockchain, the secure ledger database used by the alternative currency platform to record transactions over broadly-distributed computer networks.
Digital personal assistants are increasingly more sophisticated and we all have our favorites – Apple Siri, Amazon Echo, Microsoft Cortana. Well, Google is not slouching.
“You pick up your phone and say “OK Google”... and then what? Your phone is listening. The microphone icon is pulsing. What do you say to your phone?”- Greenbot has a long list of commands
Google has its own list of suggestions below
The Postal Service expects to deliver a total of approximately 15.5 billion cards, letters, flats, and packages during the 2015 holiday season. In addition, they are projecting approximately 600 million packages will be delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, which is an increase of 10.5 percent over last year’s volume.
The service is making the holidays efficient and fun. You can sign up for notifications within a few minutes of the delivery scan of packages. You can order a batch of Priority mail boxes delivered for free. You can take the kids to a kiosk at a local post office and buy holiday stamps. Actually even more fun for the kids - download the augmented reality app, point it at the eagle logo on any of the blue mailboxes and enjoy the animations (which change twice a week).
The MedCottage, designed by a Blacksburg company with help from Virginia Tech, is essentially a portable hospital room. Virginia state law, which recognized the dwellings a few years ago, classifies them as “temporary family health-care structures.” But many simply know them as “granny pods,” and they have arrived on the market as the nation prepares for a wave of graying baby boomers to retire.
HRL Laboratories, a research institute that does R&D for Boeing, has developed what they're calling "the world's lightest material." And despite it being 100 times lighter than Styrofoam, it's actually made out of metal. The researchers achieved this by creating "a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness of 100 nanometers, 1,000 times thinner than a human hair," resulting in a piece of metal (nickel, at least in the prototypes) that is 99.99% air.
In stepped companies such as year-old Fetch in San Jose and six-year-old Harvest Automation in Billerica, Mass. Both say their robots can keep up with a briskly walking person for about eight hours on a fully charged battery. Fetch says its basic models can carry as much as 150 pounds; Harvest, 50.
Tim Barrett, the chief operating officer of shipping company Barrett Distribution Centers, says that with eight Harvest prototypes moving goods around its Massachusetts warehouse, the company didn’t need to install a pricey conveyor belt.
A mobile game designed as daily therapy for brain disorders such as ADHD.
Pfizer in 2014 began a 100-person trial to determine whether Evo can help detect Alzheimer’s. Akili plans to start a study on autism in the next few months.
Founded in 2013, the URB-E is the world's most compact electric vehicle. It is a Pasadena-based startup that focuses on providing innovative, clean energy transportation for urban commuters. The URB-E electric bike has a 20-mile range on a single charge, a top speed of 15 mph, and is easily collapsible and portable.
The new rules reflect Facebook’s shifting attitude toward third parties using its data, considered one of the world’s richest sources of information on human relationships. In 2007, with great fanfare, Facebook founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg invited outsiders to access to Facebook’s “social graph,” the friend lists, interests and “likes” that knit Facebook users together.
Facebook said it reversed course after users raised concerns about their data being shared with outsiders without their knowledge.
The new rules don’t “make it harder for developers to build social experiences,” said a Facebook spokeswoman. The rules “simply require them to do so in a more privacy-protective way.”
My wife is a very charitable donor. Twice a year she donates books, videos, clothes, Christmas ornaments to Hospice, Salvation Army etc. I cannot keep up with her, but I set aside a percent of my books to donate to US libraries. I would like to donate them internationally, but the logistics of shipping packages overseas – the documentation the US postal services need, the customs fees on the other side – are usually quite a hassle.
I heard Tallinn airport runs a honor library for fliers. I have written about Estonia in several of my books, so I called the country’s Embassy in Washington, DC. I asked them if I could ship them a boxful of my books, and they could use their diplomatic pouch to get the books to the airport. Laime Noreikiene on the diplomatic staff there enthusiastically took charge. She recently sent me a photo of one of the books which is now a citizen of one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world.
Happy to do so with other countries if readers want to carry copies over!
The Economy Ministry on Thursday announced plans to issue “innovation visas” for foreign entrepreneurs to come work in Israel. Entrepreneurs who obtain the two-year visas “will be able to develop new technological enterprises in Israel and their visas will be extended if they decide to establish start-up companies in Israel,” according to the ministry.
“Israel is known in the world as a center of innovation and development and we must retain this position. The innovation visa will enable foreign entrepreneurs from all over the world to develop new ideas in Israel and this will help the local market grow and improve our standing in the world,” said Economy Minister Arye Deri.
Jerusalem Post – saw it courtesy of Roman Rytov
Known as FPV (first-person view) drone racing, or sometimes FPV quadcopter racing, the sport involves building and modifying quadcopters for speed and manoeuvrability, adding a virtual reality-style headset with a live video feed from the drone, and then finding safe and legal places to fly. Racers compete in heats or time trials, speeding around courses at anything up to 60mph (100km/h)—and having a load of fun in the process. This sport, which seems to appeal to aspiring pilots, makers, and computer game fans alike, has all the adrenaline of flight, while also providing enough crashes, smashes, and collisions to keep even the most ardent sports fans happy.
I signed up for Google’s Project Fi on a $379 (+ tax) Nexus 5X for this feature:
“if you're traveling to one of the 120+ countries where we have coverage you can call and text to anywhere in the world. Unlimited international texts are included in your plan. If you're using cell coverage, calls cost 20¢ per minute. If you're calling over Wi-Fi, per-minute costs vary based on which country you're calling and you're charged only for outbound calls.”
Sprint wanted $ 3 a minute during a recent trip to Asia. On a summer trip to Canada, their roaming partner Rogers had us on a 2G data network, so the Fi phone will definitely be glued to my passport on every international trip.
I can also use it as a hotspot in the US – the tests I have run so far show downloads of at least 5 mbps – and as high as 25 – on the Fi Sprint and T Mobile networks. It’s the poor man’s version of the Verizon 4G LTE MiFi Jetpack – which by itself is listed at $ 199 (+ tax). And its plans start at $ 20 a GB (down to $ 10 if you buy 10GB). Fi is $ 10 per gb, prorated for the data, and $ 20 a month for the base service.
But wait - it gets better.
The 5X is extremely light. It has a great camera. Introduces me to Android Marshmallow (with tight integration with many Google apps I regularly use) and the next-gen rapid charging USB-C cable. Google ported my Voice number over so I continue to enjoy its call forwarding, voice mail and other features (some advanced features are not supported with Fi)
Finally, it should make a nice loaner phone when we have visitors from overseas.
The dealership in Quincy, Mass., employs high school students as young as 14 to teach customers how to use the increasingly complex technology in their vehicles. Members of the Technology Team work with customers at delivery or during service visits -- giving tutorials, answering questions and pairing phones with Bluetooth.
Quirk Ford started the Technology Team four years ago. The program has been so successful that Quirk Auto Dealers, owned by Mike Quirk's brother Dan, has expanded it to most of its 14 other locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
About 70 students have been hired since it began, with most staying a year or two before going on to college. Demand for the jobs has far exceeded the number of available positions, Mike Quirk said.
In a 2007 purchase of medicines from Merck KGaA, drugmaker Mylan picked up a decades-old product, the EpiPen auto injector for food allergy and bee-sting emergencies. Management first thought to divest the aging device, which logged only $200 million in revenue. Then Heather Bresch, now Mylan’s chief executive officer, hit on the idea of using old-fashioned marketing in part to boost sales among concerned parents of children with allergies. That started EpiPen, which delivers about $1 worth of the hormone epinephrine, on a run that’s resulted in its becoming a $1 billion-a-year product that clobbers its rivals and provides about 40 percent of Mylan’s operating profits, says researcher ABR|Healthco. EpiPen margins were 55 percent in 2014, up from 9 percent in 2008, ABR|Healthco estimates.
Denis Pombriant shared a copy of his new book. The words “Solve” and “Customer Science” on the cover grabbed my analytical attention. In the introduction he says:
“Customer Science is now a necessity because so many customers are so dissatisfied — and they are not timid about telling the world why. This is a business problem and much can be done to solve it. “
The book, however, turned out to be full of empathy for the customer with terms like “bonding” and “moments of truth”
In his foreword, Paul Greenberg expresses it well:
On the one hand, businesses value profitability, revenue, shareholder value, and customer satisfaction — things that you easily can measure. On the other hand, customers value being valued. It’s a feeling, not a mathematical construct.
Not that Denis avoids mathematical areas – he simplifies complex concepts like subscription pricing and quantification of customer sentiment. My books tend to be case study heavy so I liked Denis’ similar exploration of concepts using HubSpot, HP Vertica, New England BioLabs and United Airlines among other examples.
It’s an easy (and humorous)180 page read - and shockingly under-priced at $ 2.99 for the Kindle version.
Well worth the time investment.
BizBash rates various events – many of tech vendors.
Saw it courtesy of Scott Schenker.
1. C2 Montreal
2. Social Good Summit
4. Microsoft Ignite (photo below)
6. Future of Storytelling
8. Adobe Max
9. Summer Brand Camp
10. Greenbuild International Conference
Not wind power in Texas
In Texas, wind farms are generating so much energy that some utilities are giving power away (on left is a TXU sign)
Briana Lamb, an elementary school teacher, waits until her watch strikes 9 p.m. to run her washing machine and dishwasher. It costs her nothing until 6 a.m. Kayleen Willard, a cosmetologist, unplugs appliances when she goes to work in the morning. By 9 p.m., she has them plugged back in.
And Sherri Burks, business manager of a local law firm, keeps a yellow sticker on her townhouse’s thermostat, a note to guests that says: “After 9 p.m. I don’t care what you do. You can party after 9.”
Not solar power in Florida
Tampa Electric Co. is currently installing 7,000 solar panels atop a parking garage at Tampa International Airport, which will create enough energy to power 250 homes on an average day, or operate the 1.4-mile automated “people mover” train coming with the airport’s $1 billion master plan expansion.
Shortly after that project began, TECO announced plans for a much larger solar array on land near its Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach. That project will produce 25 megawatts of electricity, compared to the 2 megawatts the airport project will produce, making it the largest solar array in Hillsborough County. That is enough to electricity to power 3,500 homes.
“So we’ve built an entirely new machine learning system, which we call “TensorFlow.” TensorFlow is faster, smarter, and more flexible than our old system, so it can be adapted much more easily to new products and research. It’s a highly scalable machine learning system—it can run on a single smartphone or across thousands of computers in datacenters. We use TensorFlow for everything from speech recognition in the Google app, to Smart Reply in Inbox, to search in Google Photos. It allows us to build and train neural nets up to five times faster than our first-generation system, so we can use it to improve our products much more quickly.
We've seen firsthand what TensorFlow can do, and we think it could make an even bigger impact outside Google. So today we’re also open-sourcing TensorFlow. We hope this will let the machine learning community—everyone from academic researchers, to engineers, to hobbyists—exchange ideas much more quickly, through working code rather than just research papers. And that, in turn, will accelerate research on machine learning, in the end making technology work better for everyone. Bonus: TensorFlow is for more than just machine learning. It may be useful wherever researchers are trying to make sense of very complex data—everything from protein folding to crunching astronomy data.”
Happy Diwali to my Hindu friends around the world
Diwali is the festival of light and is celebrated with lots of gifts, but what could be better than the gift of sight?
From Nepal, where 80% of the population is Hindu, comes this story of Dr. Sanduk Ruit who according to the NYT has restored eyesight to over 100,000 patients.
Parker co-founded the Somerville, Mass.-based PillPack in February 2014 with Elliot Cohen, the business' chief technology officer. In less than two years, PillPack has grown a customer base that now spans 47 states, and it has estimated revenue of $20 million.
PillPack delivers customers' medications in a long strip that rolls into a disposable dispenser. The user just pulls the next pack off the roll, tears it open and pops the pills. Shipments arrive every two weeks. The service also works with the customer's insurance company and manages refills automatically.
Which is also to say that Amazon Books is trying to be a place of community—a place where people will meet and hang out. A place that celebrates both introspection and extroversion. A place much like Apple’s buzzing, light-flooded, free-wifi-enabled temples—only with the tech gadgets on display being, for the most part, books.
Which makes sense. Amazon has always been, implicitly, about community, with “customers” and “customers who bought this item” and the like omnipresent, if anonymous, in the commercial transactions it hosts. Amazon Books is simply translating that implied community into a more immediate one. “To give you more information as you browse, our books are face-out,” Amazon notes, “and under each one is a review card with the Amazon.com customer rating and a review. You can read the opinions and assessments of Amazon.com’s book-loving customers to help you find great books.”
Ironman, move over
The Emirates A380 and Jetman Dubai team (Yves Rossy & Vince Reffet) recently took to the skies of Dubai for an extraordinary formation flight over the Palm Jumeirah and Dubai skyline with Burj Khalifa in the background.
While the formation flight looked effortless on film, painstaking planning and meticulous collaboration with an intense focus on safety drove all efforts.
The carefully choreographed aerial showcase involved the world’s largest passenger aircraft flying at 4,000 feet in two holding patterns. The A380 aircraft was then joined by the Jetman Dubai duo, experienced pilots and operators of the smallest jet propelled wing, who were deployed from a helicopter that hovered above the aircraft at 5,500 feet. The duo conducted formations on both sides of the aircraft and joined to one side thereafter before breaking.
“Working with Corning, Apple created pliable iPhone cover glass. Swipe it, and the phone works the way it always has. But press it, and 96 sensors embedded in the backlight of the retina display measure microscopic changes in the distance between themselves and the glass. Those measurements then get combined with signals from the touch sensor to make the motion of your finger sync with the image on screen.
Some of this technology was first revealed in the Apple Watch, which has a feature called Force Touch. But 3D Touch is to Force Touch as ocean swimming is to a foot bath. Screen size makes a difference, but the software on the iPhone 6S has a liquid ease. Apply a tiny bit of pressure anywhere you want to explore something—a restaurant link inside a text, an 11 a.m. meeting invite buried in an e-mail—and a peek at the restaurant’s Web page or a window into your calendar hovers expectantly in the middle of the screen while everything else blurs into temporary opacity. Press a little harder, and what you’ve been peeking at pops fully into frame. Release your finger, and you’re right back where you started. Presto chango, no home button required.”
University of Michigan engineers think they may have a next-generation solution to keeping photovoltaics out of the shade. Their idea comes thanks to the ancient Japanese paper-cutting craft of kirigami.
By building photovoltaics onto a flexible surface with strategically placed cuts, their prototype solar cells can transition from flat to three-dimensional surfaces with just a bit of pulling and pushing. They were able to control the array’s tilt to within one degree.
I asked a postman about his truck – said it was 25 years and he could not wait for the new one. Don’t blame him. The USPS is looking at a wide range of choices as replacement.
From the WSJ.
“The list also has lesser-known manufacturers that are gearing up to offer the USPS some innovative ways to moving its mail carriers and the packages they deliver. Ohio-based AMP Holding Inc. builds delivery vehicles that come with optional drones capable of ferrying packages short distances. Several electric vehicle makers also are on the list, including Northern California’s Zap Jonway Inc. and Missouri-based Emerald Automotive LLC.”
Below is an example of a delivery truck with integrated drone that is being evaluated.
A negative of having bird feeders = the sprouting of the seeds the birds spray on the ground. Margaret wanted to cover the space with a set of stones, and found what sounded like a quarry. I dutifully drove her 50 miles on Saturday.
I am glad I went. The owner Brad Tracy is a qualified geologist, spent several years in the oil patch, and showed us around his personal museum with rocks from around the world. Flagstone walkways, staurolite crosses, granite boulders – he has a story about just about any rock you can think of from Israel, Italy, Peru and elsewhere. If you find yourself in Lakeland, seek him out for a tutorial on rocks and the history each embeds over the millennia.
And, the selection and prices of the stones Margaret got was excellent. He also stocks a wide range of pine bark, mulch, palms and nursery items. Well worth the drive.
Once those savings came to light, it was only a matter of time before he would sell his Chevy Volt and start looking at Tampa differently. "I never thought about how idle my car was." he said. He figures he used his car less than 4 percent of a day.
Tribridge does not have a transportation fleet, but there are about 650 employees across the country and many of them travel for work. Up until DiBenedetto (in photo) implemented Uber for Business at Tribridge, they were taking taxis, renting cars, and paying to park those rented cars here in Tampa and wherever they traveled.
“Never had we looked at rental cars as a line item until we looked in mid-experiment and we said, ‘Holy cow, we spend a lot on rental cars,’” he said.
Wired has a long piece on the design intricacies that went into the latest Microsoft entry
“So Panay’s team set a different goal: to reinvent the laptop. They spent two years designing, prototyping, and fine-tuning—all to get to the Surface Book that goes on sale today. It’s the product of everything Microsoft has learned from making the first Surface machines, and from watching Apple eat its lunch. It’s a story right out of Cupertino, really: A small group of creatives sits in a room together, passionately slaving over every tiny detail of a product until it’s perfect. To go after Apple, Microsoft learned from Apple—and then found a few places to take right turns toward the future it imagines. It cost Panay much more than one night’s sleep.”
Oracle invited me to moderate a thought leader panel at OpenWorld. Mike Fauscette of IDC, Mark Smith of Ventana and Holger Mueller of Constellation made great conversation about the digital journey of HCM.
So it was apt we used a digital tool to engage with the audience. Crowd Mics gives the audience a microphone, text commenting and a live polling system.
Tim Holladay, co-founder (also in video below) showed the audience how to turn their phones into microphones – no need for someone to sprint across the room with a Shure. Or they could type in their questions.
I could look at their comments and ask the panel, or broadcast oral questions from the audience using an iPad.
Next time, I will also try the polling feature.
Courtesy of Bill Wohl, I saw this story
“With his health failing, Carl’s cousin Dan Bates began to wonder how Carl would harvest his 450 acres of corn.
Dan spoke with some of Carl’s neighbors, and Dan says, “it all just exploded from there.”
On Friday, September 25th, 40 neighbors and friends showed up at Carl’s farm to help him reap his harvest.
They used 10 combines, 12 grain carts, and 16 semi-trucks to harvest all 450 acres of Carl’s farm in 10 hours. According to Jason, the same amount of work normally takes an entire week!”
A quick glance registers the L16 as innocuous. It's really just a black, rounded rectangle topped with a silver button. But when you notice the 16 different circles (17 if you count the IR sensor) on its face, the L16 becomes an almost threatening piece of technology to look at.
Light has taken advantage of what founder Rajiv Laroia calls "a silent revolution" in the photography world. Thanks to the need to put better-quality cameras in smartphones, the process of miniaturizing camera modules and molding high-quality plastic lenses has brought things to a place where — with a little computational photography — you can make something like the L16. Light sees it as a DSLR replacement, something that you can throw in your bag to save yourself from lugging around extra lenses and equipment. But really it's more of an experiment, one that you can preorder now for $1,299, and one that won't ship until late summer 2016.
US space agency NASA is offering startups a license to 15 categories of patented NASA technologies for free.
The move follows Google's offer earlier this year of 'free' patents to select startups - and it could be just as valuable given the 1,200 patented technologies available for license under NASA's new Technology Transfer Program.
NASA hopes the program will make life easier for cash-strapped startups short on intellectual property, which would effectively be repurposing NASA's existing patents for new commercial products or services.
“It’s a bit more direct than a bus that stops thirty stops,” he says. “Beeline stops for a maximum of five stops, sometimes three, and then is straight on the expressway. It’s not as personal as a taxi, but if you get 15 people on a bus, that’s a big win from an environmental sustainability point of view.”
It also tackles another problem: seating. “Sometimes you don’t know if you’re going to get a seat on a public bus, so wouldn’t it be great if you could pre-book a seat using an app? Now you can.”
The team is currently crowdsourcing the routes, finding new demand from housing blocks which previously had to make multiple changes on their morning commute. There are five trial routes, with more planned, and the app encourages people to request new routes. “If enough people want it, we’ll activate it,” he says. So far 7,000 people have made suggestions, with the most popular routes ‘trending’ on the app to encourage bus companies to launch new services.
To me, the last few Oracle OpenWorlds have melded with each other. I usually avoid the band evening so typically associate each with a sporting event. So last year, the local Giants were on their way to winning the World Series, in 2013 America’s Cup sailing fever pervaded the event, in 2012 CEO Larry Ellison used his keynote to highlight a pretty impressive command of athletes who had dominated the London Olympics.
This year, something else is dramatically different. The large number of non-IT tracks is striking. HCM, Modern Finance, SCM, CX, Industry specific tracks are being hosted at a nearby hotel away from the main Moscone Center venue. There are a staggering number of sessions – over 2,500. Many of the customer panels have NO CIOs – all are line of business executives. In the HCM panel I am moderating tomorrow, the guidance has been to focus on HRO hot buttons not so much cloud/IT architecture issues.
Oh, it is still an IT-centric conference, but impressive how business conversations are being intermingled with Java, Exadata and encryption discussions.
Pixar is as much a research firm as it is an animation studio, and a new exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City does an expert job at showing us how. For Pixar: The Design of Story, the movie studio supplied Cooper Hewitt with 650 renderings, mockups, illustrations, and storyboards of its characters and landscapes, along with background. Taken together, these artifacts illuminate the painstaking level of research that goes into the creation of every character, right down to the folds in an old man’s jacket sleeve, or the texture of the curls in a heroine’s hair.
He starts simply, asking for the time in Berlin and the population of Japan. Basic search-result stuff—followed by a twist: “What is the distance between them?” The app understands the context and fires back, “About 5,536 miles.”
Then Mohajer gets rolling, smiling as he rattles off a barrage of questions that keep escalating in complexity. He asks Hound to calculate the monthly mortgage payments on a million-dollar home, and the app immediately asks him for the interest rate and the term of the loan before dishing out its answer: $4,270.84.
“What is the population of the capital of the country in which the Space Needle is located?” he asks. Hound figures out that Mohajer is fishing for the population of Washington, DC, faster than I do and spits out the correct answer in its rapid-fire robotic voice.
Most prosthetic manufacturers build their products with a certain amount of blandness so their artificial limbs won’t stand out. So much effort is put into making them appear natural that some artificial limbs are so real realistic that they are indistinguishable from a real limb when viewing them at a distance. While most manufacturers take this realistic approach, UK limb maker Open Bionics is going to the opposite extreme, creating brightly colored, kid-friendly prosthetic hands that are branded after popular superheroes and movie characters.
When I reviewed the Walt Isaacson 2011 book on Steve Jobs I wrote
“Stylistically, I would have loved for him to have the started the book around 2000 and spent 3/4 of the book on the amazing string of Apple and Pixar achievements since then, and SJ’s own just as amazing willpower and strength through all the medical procedures he endured, and woven in as appropriate snippets from SJ’s previous history. But Walt presents a chronology from birth so the first half of the 600+ pages is somewhat plodding and repetitive.”
From that pov, the new Danny Boyle (director)/Aaron Sorkin (screen adaptation of the book) movie does even worse, because it ends in 1998. Jobs matured as he aged, and he surrounded himself with a cadre of superb executives like Jony Ives and Tim Cook who have marched Apple to even greater heights.
But I wondered how a director like Ridley Scott, would have handled this movie which is woven around 3 product launches. After all, Jobs was Mr. “One More Thing” – the man who singlehandedly made product launches an immaculate art form. We would have likely seen much more of the event production details, maybe even the gory details that go into manufacturing and logistics behind millions of units of a new product.
I specifically invoke Ridley, because my only nitpick about “The Martian” was I wished he had added 10-15 minutes of Matt Damon in depressed, gloomy moods as he fought fear, loneliness, feelings of being abandoned – shades of Tom Hanks in ‘Castaway”.
Boyle/Sorkin, in contrast, only seem interested in the human angle – and there focus mostly on the negative aspects of a younger, less mature Jobs. And the movie takes liberties with facts – e.g. Joanna Hoffman, a prominent character in the movie, was long retired when the iMac was launched in 1998 – and I started to wonder how much was Hollywood fiction.
Not sure the movie adds much to our understanding of the Man.
The Washington Post has a nice analysis of the changes in Top 20 sites over the last two decades
“The first year here is 1996, when the web was … young. Several of the top 20 sites were college sites, thanks to colleges having invested early in the internet. AOL and Yahoo were there too, as they have been ever since. Mostly, however, the list is garbage nonsense like “GNN” and “Teleport,” which we don’t even know what they are. Notice the ascent of Excite and CNET. They’ll be interesting in the next part of the graph.”
Click on graph to expand
A century, plus or minus, after human beings started putting their minds toward designing cities as a whole, things are getting good. High tech materials, sensor networks, new science, and better data are all letting architects, designers, and planners work smarter and more precisely. Cities are getting more environmentally sound, more fun, and more beautiful. And just in time, because today more human beings live in cities than not.
In this year’s design issue, we’re telling the stories of some of those projects, from the detail of a new streetlight to a sacred city in flux, from masterful museums to infrastructure made for bikes (and the algorithms that run it all). The cities of tomorrow might still self-assemble haltingly, but done right, the process won’t be accidental. A city shouldn’t just happen anymore. Every block, every building, every brick represents innumerable decisions. Decide well, and cities are magic.
Yann LeCun, who now serves as the director of FAIR, comes from a storied tenure of artificial intelligence research. He began his work in Bell Labs (founded by telephone father Alexander Graham Bell, and known for its experiments across myriad fields in telecommunications and technology) as a researcher starting in 1988, then moving to become a department head at AT&T Labs until developing 2003, when he began to teach at New York University. The modern convolutional neural network is a culmination of work throughout LeCun’s career. Ever wonder how an ATM can read your check? That was LeCun, whose early work included a neural network simulator called “SN” and deployed in 1996.
“When someone like Mark (Zuckerberg) comes to you and says ‘Oh, okay, you pretty much have carte blanche. You can put together a world-class research lab and I expect you to build the best research lab in AI in the world.’ I’ll say,’Hmm, interesting challenge.’”
“Invented by Charles Goodyear, chemical cross-linking of rubbers by sulfur vulcanization is the only method by which modern automobile tires are manufactured,” write Amit Das and his colleagues in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. “The formation of these cross-linked network structures leads to highly elastic properties, which substantially reduces the viscous properties of these materials.”
Instead, they added a compound with carbon and nitrogen into rubber normally used for tires. Inside the new rubber, reversible ionic bonding lets the cut or torn material reconnect crosslinks when two pieces are brought back together. Over time, the number of reformed crosslinks grows and the rubber’s durability increases at room temperature. After eight days, the healed rubber could endure a force of 754 pounds per square inch, around 20 times the pressure a normal tire holds.
Mr. Schwartz’s summary of road-building techniques and dissection of city grids explain historical developments that we live with today. Spiderweb grids with radiating spokes, for instance, replace inefficient right angles with nifty diagonals, but their routes become more indirect the further travelers are from the center, adding to traveling time. His account of President Eisenhower’s creation of the interstate highway system is riveting, as is his informed discussion of the rise and fall of streetcars.
From an annual top 10 list of tools by HR Executive
“Some key themes addressed by our winners this year include talent acquisition and management, relocation, performance management, employment screening and workforce analytics. Also, as is becoming increasingly common, many of the products selected below and on the next few pages reside in the cloud and work on mobile platforms. We expect this trend to only strengthen and grow going forward.
Also noticeable this year was what we might call an improving-on-the-past trend. Indeed, some winners have taken well-established processes, such as job-candidate scheduling, relocation management and performance management, and have dramatically improved upon them.”
The ones for 2015 are
“Nebia atomizes water into millions of tiny droplets with 10 times more surface area than your regular shower. With Nebia, more water comes into contact with your body, leaving your skin clean and hydrated all while using less water than a typical household showerhead. In fact, Nebia uses 70% less water than a typical household showerhead. For the average U.S. home, Nebia pays for itself in less than two years.”
This was the year when the movie “Back to the Future Part II” imagined widespread use of hoverboards.
New York, at least, is getting a bit closer as an increasing number of riders hop on new, albeit wheeled, personal transportation gadgets.
They stand on self-balancing scooters, which are often called hoverboards and resemble small Segways without handlebars. The gizmos come with their own safety risks and at least one other drawback:
“You’re going to get fat!” one passerby told Jeremy Epstein, 27 years old, while he rode his in Manhattan.
If two wheels are one too many, riders such as Keith Fridia, who turns 45 on Tuesday, opt for electric unicycles to buzz around. “One wheel—like the Jetsons,” said Mr. Fridia, a barber who lives in Brooklyn. “I do feel like I’m in the future.”