Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hello Again!

Well it has been a long hiatus and I am not too happy with myself for taking the time off but I have really needed it. Over the next few weeks I will try to catch you up to speed on my life. I look to do this in part by saving you my long winded explanations and posting lots of photos!

Also, WELCOME TO MY NEW DESIGN, I was tired of the boring layout so I'm trying something different, let me know how you feel in the comments!

A few things to look forward to...

California Pictures
"The Skydive"
Senior Design Begins (Another Blog to follow!)
and of course


And on that final note I want to include an ad that left me impressed with the company that made it for the first time in my life.
So take a look at the Windows Phone 7 Phone Series Phone 7 'Windows in Your Pocket' Phone OS 7.....

Friday, July 30, 2010


If you are reading this blog I am going to assume that you know what the Large Hadron Collider (read really f-ing big particle accelerator) is. If you don't, well then let me give you the 5 sentence explanation:
The LHC is basically a tube bent into a gigantic ring, 17 miles in circumference to be exact. Lining the walls of this tube are super-cooled, super powerful magnets that use liquid helium to generate very intense magnetic fields. To run the machine you insert protons, which have a positive charge and are thus affected (pushed or pulled) by the magnetic field. The magnets are then turned on in succession, pulsed, speeding the protons to 99.999991% the speed of light (read Wicked Fast!). Two beams of protons are them smashed into each other, breaking them into their subatomic components which are then detected by house sized machines!

Okay, so now that you've got a really great picture in your head lets talk about the reason that we are doing this.
The table above is a breakdown of the most basic particles that make up our universe. The green, called quarks, can gather in multiple formations but most commonly form either neutrons or protons. Below are leptons, the most common name there is the electron, though some might have heard of neutrinos (fascinating little creatures which I will save for another post). Both quarks and leptons share a common title of fermions, i.e. they are particles of matter that have mass and are affected by forces. The column on the right is where things start to get a little spooky. Bosons, as the bar to the right of them implies, are responsible for the forces. They generate 'fields' that fermions interact with. As it stands we are missing one force, the funny thing is, its probably the most obvious force for all humans, gravity.

Now if you are still asking, well what the hell does a Higgs Boson and the LHC have to do with gravity, the answer is everything. Scientists theorize and generally agree that the Higgs Boson is the 'particle' that is responsible for giving mass to all other fermions. Here is a nice little cartoon that illustrates the point decently. Or you can watch the video below for a full blown version (I suggest doing this, awesome vid).

So what does it mean if we discover it? Gizmodo wrote an article a few days ago about this exact subject and while I like Gizmodo I have to say they missed the mark on what it could really mean. Yes if we discover the Higgs particle then we will understand gravity and scientists will be happy, but what people need to understand is what that leads to. Once we understand gravity, we will understand all the forces and particles that form and control atoms. We will know how to manipulate these forces and the particles that are affected by them. I'm sure you realize what I'm getting to...

When we find the Higgs Boson, we are putting ourselves on the path to start building atoms. Piece by piece assembling complex structures that behave in ways we can't even imagine. Think about building a chair that has it's own gravity well, you can sit on it in any orientation and it will hold you. Imagine space stations with articifial gravity on one side of the room, and zero-g on the other. Imagine creating a being by building it, atom by atom. It sounds like we are playing God...

This worries some, and I won't lie, it scares me too. This could be the beginning of the end but it could also be the end of the darkness. With great power comes great responsibility and we need to use knowledge and understanding to guide ourselves. We can illuminate the universe, light up the darkness and begin to harmonize with our surroundings, but it all starts with choice. So lets choose to cooperate, choose to seek knowledge and peace rather than hatred and war. Lets pull ourselves out of the darkness and into the dawn of a new age, where man is at one with his universe and I think we will find that the people, the planet and the universe will respond.

Light shines in the darkness...

Language, What is its purpose?

Is it a defining aspect of culture, or simply a form of communication between beings?

The obvious answer to the question is that language is a little of both. Over the past few years however I have begun to question what the future of language will be and I can't help but feel that over time, different languages will cease to exist.

Lets think about this logically: If I didn't know anything about human culture or the development of language, I would probably assume that every person on the planet would use the same sounds to communicate, we are the same species after all. Furthermore, if I was raised in an area where I spoke a language that was different than the common language, I would probably want to adopt the common form of sounds so that I could actually interact with others. This has already started happening all over the planet. In Indonesia upper class and upper middle class families have begun teaching their children only English, so they have a leg up on the rest of the students. The government is worried that their language will be lost in only a few generations and with it their culture (at least of some level). For some this is horrible, but for others like me, I welcome the day when I can travel anywhere in the world and know that I will be able to communicate with the people.

On that note I find it naive to think that once language is gone, a culture loses its roots. Language is simply a tool, like tools of the past it leaves its mark on all that it built. Humans will always remember the days of varied language and I'm sure in a few hundred years it will be a point of some laughter that many fought against a standardized form of communication.

So what is The Language? Well to be honest it is probably going to start with English. Now I say start with because in reality there will be varied dialects for tens if not hundreds of years, making some English seem like another language (have you ever heard someone speak with a thick Irish brogue?). Over time things will settle out and with the spread of technology and communication a world language will be established, it has to be.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Department of Energy Seeding the Future with "Hubs"

The United States Department of Energy has just announced a new program that they hope will allow for the development of technology and a framework for future energy infrastructure. I am particularly excited about this because they have set up 3 hubs that will be regulated until developed and then opened to the private sector to be filled out. Its very similar to building a city, come up with design goals, lay down the pipes, roads and simple rules and then let the innovators come in and fill the space. In reality they entire project is derived from the Manhattan project, lets just hope this one doesn't end in the deaths of thousands of humans.

The three hubs are:
How can we derive fuels directly from sunlight in an efficient and economical way?

How can we design, construct and retrofit commercial and residential buildings that are vastly more energy efficient than today's buildings?

How can we use modeling and simulation technologies to make significant leaps forward in nuclear reactor design and engineering?

Currently there is over $175 million in funding that is attainable but of course you have to be a big player to get in on this now (i.e. Bell Labs, a major university, etc). But for all you young entrepreneurs out there, keep an eye out and your ears peeled because this will be a very fertile playground in a few years.

Check out the link for the full press release and more info about the hubs.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Has Inception planted an idea in your mind?

Christopher Nolan's newest movie released last Friday to a combination of terrible and incredible reviews, a sign (in my opinion) that we finally have a great movie on our hands.

I'm not going to bore you with my thoughts or review of the film because that isn't how this movie made me feel. When I walked out of Inception I was excited, not only because the movie was good, but because even though it was 3 AM and I was exhausted, my mind was reeling. I will tell you right now, if you don't like thinking during/ after a movie, you might get lost in the depths of Inception. However, if you are like me and enjoy sitting with friends and discussing and dissecting the layers of a film like a delicate surgeon then you will love diving into the deep waters of the mind as it is portrayed in Inception.

As I stated, I'm not going to launch into a discussion of character depth, cinematography or plot because that isn't the point. The point of this movie is simple, an idea is the most powerful thing in the world, and an idea inside the mind is the most resilient virus. Its this idea about ideas that really got me thinking. Inception is a challenge, it asks that you probe yourself rather than the characters, that you walk outside and begin to question your own reality. Only when we question our world can we improve it.

So please go see the movie; hopefully some of you will emerge ready to challenge the world, to take hold of your life and start to make a change. Yes Inception is only a movie, its not real, but an idea, an idea can move mountains.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

AQUAPONICS, Why I'm Obsessed and Why You Should be Too

This weekend I was introduced to a method of agriculture that has blown my mind! Its called aquaponics (aquaculture + hydroponics) and is probably the most beautiful combination of modern technology and natural harmony I have ever encountered.

The basic idea is illustrated below:

Starting from the bottom, you grow fish in a fish tank, usually gold fish, tilapia or other easy to grow freshwater fish. The waste that is produced by the fish is rich in amonia, nitrates and nitrites. This waste water is pumped from the bottom of a fish tank into another tank that is filled with clay balls. As the mineral rich water flows through the clay balls they absorb the chemicals. Bacteria that grow naturally convert the amonia into nitrates and nitrites. You then plant anything into the clay balls, just like any hydroponic system. The plants absorb the water as well as the chemicals. The end result is healthy plants and clean water. The clean water is then dumped right back into the fish tank to keep the fish happy and healthy!
Here are the bullet points of amazingness:
-closed loop system that naturally sustains itself
-no soil, nutrients or watering required
-grow pretty much any plants you can think of, including fruit
-raise fish like tilapia which can be harvested and consumed after growth
-clay balls allow high density planting, much better than soil
So this weekend I will be building a beautiful aquaponic system. I'll post lots of pictures and setup instructions.

Do Plants Know the Secrets of Quantum Solar Power?

In the past few years a few articles have been written regarding some pretty fascinating discoveries. Plants use sunlight to photosynthesize, a process where they absorb energy from the photons and use it to grow. This process is complex and involves cells that sense light, filter it and other cells that then actually digest the energy. Until recently scientists believed that the filtering occured randomly and that efficiency was a byproduct of the amount of light hitting the plants. The following articles dig more deeply into this new insight, quantum photosynthesis.


If you don't wish to spend your time reading, here is a brief synopsis.
In quantum mechanics there is one simple principle about light, wave-particle duality. This principle supposes that light acts as both a particle and a wave, and that wave has a probablility associated with it, in other words, they particle has a certain probability of being observed in a certain location. When I say observed, I actually mean observed, for a certain scientist, Heisenberg came up with a theory that backs Richard Feynman's theories about light. When we observe a particle its probability function condenses to 1 path, thus we see light moving in a fixed trajectory, as if it is a particle.

So if you have lost things a bit here let me try to bring it all back. Plants do something amazing, when a photon hits the receptor cells, instead of condensing into a single particle, it is able to pass through as a wave, the plant then picks the optimal path of the particle to achieve the best energy absorption. Once the path is picked, the other possible paths decay and the photon is absorbed by the cell that can retain the most energy.

If you are still confused here is the super simple, plants are extremely efficient at collecting light. So efficient in fact that quantum physicists aren't really sure how they do it. Unlocking this mystery might allow us to create ultra efficient solar panels, and possibly new ways of transferring information using light.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Did BP Predict its own downfall?

In the 1970s, BP decided to endorse a board game which was focused on offshore drilling. It was a strategic game which was made difficult by including various hazards, like rigs blowing up and massive clean up operations. As Gizmodo puts it, this would be funny if it wasn't real.


The game was discontinued years ago, maybe that's why this spill is such a problem, perhaps some engineers from the 70s hid the solution in the game! So if you have this game sitting around your attic send it in and maybe you can help stop the current engineers find the solution.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fuel for Thoughts: Engineered Food

Not many years ago the idea of engineering the genes of food to produce plants that were resistant to pesticides and that didn't go bad as quickly was work of science fiction. Today companies spend millions to develop "super seeds". Monsanto is the largest seller of soy seeds on the planet. They were able to achieve this level of success because they designed, engineered and patented a soy plant that is resistant to pesticides. This was a huge accomplishment and something for our entire species to be proud of, the problem is that it's not about the seed anymore, it's about wealth and power. Monsanto controls the growers by forcing them to use their seeds and preventing them from trying to reuse seeds. It's a total monopoly that's basically overlooked by both the citizens and the FDA. The industries of corn, chicken and beef are all in similar situations. They are artificially inflated with subsidies and they produce food that is terrible nutritionally. The problem is, these industries provide our country with the food that we need to live. So the question is, how do we improve this. How can we make better food at reasonable prices?
Well I think we will find that we are on that track already (sort of), what we need is regulation and competition. And by competition I mean real competition from legitimate business that has the ability to instigate change
In the future I imagine that most foods will come from plants and animals that have been genetically engineered. It will be sustainable food that can be grown and raised in a variety of climates with a variety of diets. Some fear the idea that their food was conceived in a test tube, I say I love the idea. It means clean food that we can tailor to our bodies. The has been a lot of talk recently because a company named AquaBounty Technologies is close to getting FDA approval on their genetically engineered salmon ("AquaBounty is developing advanced-hybrid salmon, trout, and tilapia designed to grow faster than traditional fish"). If the FDA approves this, it will mark the first time that a genetically engineered animal is being sold for food. Some day I think we might even move away from raising animals and just grow the meat only. That's when things really become easy, instead of needing all the energy to grow a full cow or fish (bones, organs, skin, limbs (fins), and meat) we can just grow a steak or fillet (meat). I don't know who wouldn't want that, it's efficiency is immediately apparent. Not to mention the meat would be of incredible quality.

So the real question is, who is going to step up and start competing with Monsanto, Tyson, National Beef and the corn industry? Who is going to challenge the status quo? Who is going to help make McDonalds change their ways and influence a global shift in awareness about what we use to fuel our thoughts?
We all are! The only way to change things is with support of lots of people. I challenge you to go out and educate that way, when the time comes for a group of people to make a change in the industry we will have the backing that is needed.
So share the wealth and spread the knowledge. Remember that light shines in the darkness. We are all in this together after all... :)

Friday, June 25, 2010


We all know the acronym and we've all seen the movies; some crazy scientist invents a machine that is aware of itself and then something happens and the scientist loses control of the machine. Many people fear the rise of artificially intelligent machines, proclaiming that they will make humans obsolete and the we will rely so heavily on their systems that we will no longer be able to accomplish tasks without their aide, we will be slaves.
I usually smile when people seem scared about these things (especially the slavery), not because there is no danger but because Hollywood has only shown us the bad side of AI (in the movie iRobot, Will Smith battles AI robots that feel that in order to protect humanity they must destroy it). In reality the positive side of AI far outweighs any potential downsides (unless they destroy the planet). The New York Times had a good article today about the use of AI in medicine and other fields where quicker diagnoses will lead to better care and a more simplified transaction and even personal computing.

When I think about AI I always get caught up in the exciting idea that in the future, my computer and other devices will learn about me and the way I do things and align itself to aide me as best it can. For instance, if someone emails me and wants to schedule a meeting, my computer should first, check to see if I have appointments, then look into the past to figure out what time I usually schedule meetins and finally, perhaps it even analyzes my relationship with the person based on mutual correspondance. After the analysis is performed, my machine makes the event in my calendar and responds to the email. I am alerted of the event and have the ability to accept or reject what the computer has done. Its little things like this, combined with large systems like customer service phone lines that will make AI an integral part of our society in the future.

Yet there is always a downside with new technology and AI can't escape that fact. The main problem is that when we use computers to answer phones, and make diagnoses and possibly perform other functions that usually require humans, we eliminate jobs. As I see it, this isn't entirely bad, its just different. What AI will probably do to society is redefine what a low level job is, and push people into a higher levels of comprehension and application. No longer will workers sit and answer phones all day, instead they will be analyzing the computer data and working on efficiency of the system. So yes there is a possiblity that we are putting ourselves in a bad situation but I think that with the correct forsight we can use AI to our absolute advantage and use it as a booster, not the structure of our society itself.

As we progress more and more technologically we must be aware of the apparent 'singularities' that will be encountered. We must use these ideas in conjunction with the technology so we are always expanding from a singularity, rather than being consumed by it. AI might mark the first big technological singularity for our society, but that doesn't mean its the end, in fact, its just the beginning...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Well that was AWESOME!

The line for a new Apple product never fails to be memorable. The combination of new friends and giddy excitement wraps everyone into a surreal world. You can forget your job, your kids, your wife and just enjoy the free floating nature and good will of all the people in line. I was outside the Apple store for more than 14 hours and I loved every minute of it!
There are pictures on facebook and I am going to upload new videos taken with the phone later today.

Without going into too much detail I will say this. The phone is incredible. The first thing that stands out is the quality of the display, I have never seen anything so crisp in my life. I also tried video chat with my friend Adam who also waited with me in line and I was impressed by the quality of the video and sound on the call. I was even more impressed however with the ease of FaceTime, simply make a phone call and press a button.
I have no doubt that this phone will change things for people, the new OS (iOS4) is fast and powerful, bringing multitasking and folders. The new hardware is beastly, integrated antennas, glass enclosure and the retina display. This really is going to be a run away success for Apple and I look forward to have FaceTime chats with many more people :)

So close I can taste it

Yes, we are within a half hour. My guess is that the curtain goes up in 15. I probably won't be writing until after I have one in my possession. This should be fun!!

Quantum Crystals made from rare earth elements

This is really cool, cool enough in fact to interrupt my seamless live blog of the iPhone4 line :)


This could very well be the future of data transmission, especially heavily encrypted data. The main function is that crystals store information in light pulses, after the pulse is read once it can't be read again, ever! So basically you have a data stream that cant be intercepted very easily.

It's 4 AM

Yup, I got about 45 minutes of sleep and thats probably all I'm gonna get.
Now I must wait...
If you happen to be up around 5am and are reading this in the philly area turn on the news as I was interviewed by both channel 3 and 6

The news trucks just started pulling in, ill have a person count in about an hour. Hopefully the sun will be up soon so I don't feel so ridiculous. Gotta love the line!!

Under 7 hours

So it's a little past midnight and obviously I am still up, outside the store, and blogging :)
There around 130 people in line, most of them without preorders, I have been wondering how many will actually get phones. A lot of people keep asking me questions, probably because I'm wearing an Apple shirt!
I'll post anything interesting that happens between now and 6 when things start up.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Only 9 Hours Left

So it's 1010 and I am sitting on the curb outside the Apple store listening to Jack Johnson and enjoying the beautiful weather. There are about 60 people in line at this point and it just keeps growing. There is a helicopter hovering above the store which i'm guessing is taking video. A few of my buddies are coming to hang out for the rest of the night

This has already been great, I have made many new friends and I always enjoy talking and arguing about new products, especially those with a white apple on the back. :)

Like I said, check out my facebook page for pictures as they come in!


So I'm having trouble uploading photos, check out my Facebook page for updated photos!

Oh and there are about 50 people here right now

NUMBER 1!!!!

As you have probably guessed by the title I am first in line at the Apple Store Suburan Square in Ardmore!

Hopefully I will get a news spot and I will be posting that :)

Currently there are 18 people in line, we are gonna fire up the grill soon and start the party!!
If you are in the area come join. I will be posting pictures later.

T- 24.5 Hours

We are a little over 24 hours away bur interestingly enough, some people already have their phones?!
It seems that christmas has come early for some, so now I must not only be frustrated with my Nokia paperweight (though its actually to light to accomplish even that task) I must also avoid the blog websites with their reviews!!
After work I will begin the queue, I will be blogging all night...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Engineering Life

Synthetic Biology can mean many different things, educate yourself by understanding the differences because some day this stuff might save your life, or create it ;)


The link below was embedded in the article but is a quick overview with an awesome video, but you should read both...


iOS4 is out...and my abstinence begins!

The new Apple iOS4 (read "new iPhone") software is out! and with it my iPhone is being shut off for 3 days...

This is something that has only happened once in the past 3 years, I will not be using an iPhone for several days. Instead I will be taking a crappy, Nokia, candybar phone to work, play and anywhere else I decide to transport my body.
The reasons? Simple, elevated joy will be mine come Thursday...

I will be diligently waiting in line come Wednesday night in anticipation of the new iPhone4, but I want it to be better than that. Yesterday I realized that I would be able to download and use the new 4.o software before iPhone4 even comes out, and given that I have a 3GS I would be able to use almost all the new features. It made me feel weird; I would be using the new software with my old phone so when I actually get the new phone the software will feel "old". So my solution was to not only deprive myself of the new software, but to deprive myself of the very thing that I am anticipating most this week, the iPhone.

So make sure to follow my liveblog during the launch because I'm sure it will be filled with rants about how much I miss my phone and how happy I am to be getting a truly new Phone, from nuts to software.

A mathematical solution to gridlock

There are some crazy people out there for sure, but I think that Charles Komanoff takes the cake this week. Charles has been collecting the recording data about New York City traffic for over 3 years. Its a long article but just browsing through it you will be inundated with information about traffic.

One of the most interesting things is the idea of hidden costs of commuting with your own vehicle. Komanoff has a plan that he thinks can save the city billions, the question is, can it be implemented. The key here will be adoption of technology, not just by the government but by the people. As I see it, and I've said it before, you have to convice the people and they have to be incentivized to be convinced.

Lets hope that Komanoff and others can help push the large urban communities of the world to get educated and let technology and clever mathematics save them money, hassle and most of all save lives and the environment.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why AT&T Sucks

For all who don't know, the iPhone 4 went on presale today, and in a brilliant show of poor planning AT&T servers promptly crashed. As of right now about 1 preorder is going through every 20 minutes! I can't help but ask, why??
Lets look at the details here:
This is the 4th generation iPhone, a device that has already sold over 50 million units!
AT&T has experienced server problems relating to iPhone debuts in the past, so this will mark the 3rd time they have failed.
The cellular giant definitely has the server capabilities to handle an onslaught of this magnitude so why are they fucking this up for all of the loyal customers who want to give them more money. Well I think money is excatly the reason.

A friend of mine pointed out very wisely that for AT&T its an issue of return on investment, it would have taken a decent amount of man power to set up a good database. I'm sure someone crunched some numbers and realized that even if their servers went down people would still buy the phones (I am in that camp currently).
I accept this as the reason but I am still pissed, I mean seriously, do they really not give a shit about their customers.

Oh and there is one more thing...
In case you didn't know AT&T has a new data plan structure. There is no more unlimited data. Instead you can pay $15 for 250Mb of data or $25 for 2Gb of data per month. Now don't get too upset yet, because for most people, 2Gb is much more than you will ever need. The problem in my opinion is the future, let me explain

The iPhone 4 brings some great features, HD video, video chat and a better screen so you can read books and watch movies at higher resolution! YAY!
Well this is great, except that if you want to stream Netflix and maybe upload a few HD movies you can kiss 2Gb of data goodbye pretty damn quickly!
So welcome to the world of pay-as-you-go data. If you already have an AT&T unlimited plan, don't worry, you can keep it, and you should! Hold on to that baby as long as you can.

So here's the deal, if you are as frustrated with AT&T as I am, but feel that you can't leave because you love your iPhone then you are obviously not alone. The only thing we can do is continue to complain but unfortunately I don't think anyone will listen. Hopefully some day the major cellular companies will fall to an organisation that values customers and works to provide the best service that is technologically feasible, not what drives their margins up. Leave your thoughts so I don't feel like I'm losing my mind :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gates et al try to focus government attention on energy

I can't tell you how many times I have looked at the budget for the US and wanted to throw up and send it in a bag to Congress. Currently the US spends under $5 billion on energy research yet we dump over $80 billion into the defense department. Now I'm not saying that we should stop defense spending, however there is an obvious problem here. Bill Gates and friends have created a group that is lobbying to triple the governments spending on energy technology but I think we can do better.

The US is responsible for the proliferation of nuclear technology and we fuel the hatred and warring nature of other countries by constantly boosting and flaunting our defense and weapons systems. Its like a god damn dick showing contest with these generals, whoever has the most destructive weapons, the fastest jets, the largest troop size is obviously doing a great thing for the US and society at large.

Seriously what the fuck is that?! Stop developings things to kill people, lets just protect ourselves then we will project a positive attitude and take the higher road. I believe that we don't have to fight fire with fire, instead we should do what the firefighters do and battle the flames of terrorism with the cooling waters of peace and progress. I envision a world where energy and food is free and diseminated across the globe; a world where instead of splitting atoms to conquer lands we split atoms to fuel the energy grid; a world where the air is fresh no matter where you are and nature flourishes with our advances.

Technology is a powerful tool and in the wrong hands it can do horrible things. I beleive that as a whole our species is good and that if we band together and fight the evil doers by making good technology that some day things wont be about weapons and soldiers. Some day we will look back at these times as dark ages where man fell prey to greed; then there was a turning point and human kind lifted itself up and proved to themselves that when we decide to do something we can accomplish any task.

I hope that if you are reading this that you share my thoughts and on a certain level agree with my scope for the future. This world will be a better place, but it won't just happen. So if you read this and you care, start helping NOW! Its really simple, just talk to your friends and family, get people thinking about what it means to be human and how we fit into our delicate planet. When the time comes you must be ready to act without fear and without hesitation because opposition will come but always remember: The light shines in the darkness...

Cognitive BCI...a solution to forgetfulness

I have talked for some time now about the possiblity of using your brain to control a computer that is plugged into a network of information such that all you have to do to look something up is to remember it.


The real story behind the leaked iPhone 4

We all know that Gray Powell committed the ultimate no-no in Apple world which is accidentally leaving the new version of one of the best selling products of all time in a bar, only to have it stolen and sold to a major blog.

At first glance this situation seemed ridiculous to me, why the hell would Apple, a company known for secrecy, let a 27 year old software engineering out into the wild with a prototype!?
When the story first broke I was convinced that the phone Gray lost was a very early stage prototype, not anything like what the new phone would be.

I was wrong on that note but that is not the point of this article, I watched the keynote last night and I heard something that I hadn't thought of before. Steve Jobs was talking about the new camera and how great it is; to prove his point he showed a bunch of photos that were taken with the phone. Up until this point nothing seemed strange, some Apple employees were tasked with taking tons of photos in the days leading up to the keynote. But then he said this "all these photos were taken by our employees, I just picked the best ones." The first time I watched the keynote this didn't seem strange but now that I think about it, the Gray Powell situation makes perfect sense.

Let me explain what I believe happened at Apple about 3 months ago...
There was an email sent out alerting employees that there was an exciting offer that anyone could apply for: "Want to try the next generation iPhone?!"
Bascially they had a beta test with their employees, allowing a select few to have the new phone so they could test the network, use the camera and scour the device for bugs. It's actually very smart from a development standpoint.
Now with all that being said things make more sense: Why wasn't Gray Powell fired for a such a major mistake when a story surfaced about a genius that got fired for showing Steve Wozniak an iPad the night before it released. Gray wasn't a big deal because Apple probably knew something like this would happen. With probably 10-20 iPhone 4s floating around someone was bound to lose one. The thing I find amazing is that only 1 person lost the phone and no one seemed to realize what was going on.

So there you have it, my idea of what happend with the leaked iPhone, it was one of many and on multiple levels from marketing to testing it was a brilliant move by Apple.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Simply reading the links to the articles leaves me happy and hopeful that this wonderful plant will become acceptable by society at large...


iPhone 4 and the future of devices

So I've basically been staring at my computer screen all day hitting the refresh button on 3 different liveblogs covering todays WWDC Keynote speech. After all the build up and hype and leaks I have to say I'm actually feeling pretty good. I'm definitely not as underwhelmed as I was when the iPad was announced and we all are seeing how that is playing out.
So here are some quick thoughts...

1) iOS 4 (The heart of the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad)
Apple is finally showing that their new OS will be the backbone of future portable devices. This name change, though small and kind of ugly signifies a bright future for fan boys and simple consumers alike. The operating system finally pulls in some key features that have been obviously absent, mainly multitasking. The implementation looks great and I can only imagine what this will do to the iPad when iOS 4 hits in late fall. Check out the link for a quick synopsis of some of the new features. If you have a lot of email accounts you are gonna love combined inboxes.

2) iMovie (Hmm, I thought that was only for computers :)
Wow, this came out of left field but I love it! The ability to take video, pictures and combine them into a quick video that can be shot off to friends is going to make all the vacations and random things I attend so much more memorable. The application is like nothing else on the market and seems the pack a lot of power. It is releasing for iPhones later this summe for $4.99. I will be the first to say that I am excited for iPhone but I'm floored for the iPad version. Its just moving closer and closer to being a laptop replacement. I can only imagine how much easier video editing will be with touch. Multitouch movements and gestures combined with brilliant UI is going to make iMovie for iPhone and iPad an incredible productivity and creativity tool!

3) FaceTime (Lets start begging AT&T to open 3G!!)
We all knew this was coming and as I still haven't seen the videos I will have to hold back major comments to another post but here's my skinny as of yet. It pretty simple, this is going to change things.
Everyone mumbles and grumbles that iPhone just does things that other phones have been doing for years, like MMS and multitasking. I would agree and video chat is no different, they key though isn't just the idea, its the implementation. With the iPhone people were suddenly more willing to use the mobile internet (something most cell phones had been doing for years). It is a similar trend that will emerge with FaceTime, and the best part is its an open standard. So all you people who hate closed loop Apple products you can shove my FaceTime up your ass. But seriously, once other major companies start using this standard (cross fingers for Android support as well as Natal!) video will become ubiquitous.

So those are my 3 cents for right now. Lets talk quickly about the future...

In my opinion people think there are two camps (hauntingly similar to government), open sourced and closed system. In the former world everyone loves everyone and anyone can use anything and anyone can do anything to anyone at any time for any reason and anything is possible and anythign and any any any any...wow sorry got caught in an open loop! So here is my thought on open "stuff": I love open standards like h.264, html5, and FaceTime. I don't like open systems like Android, why? Well because when you have an open operating system you have no filter. Without a filter you are allowing people will less qualification and probably less skill to disseminate their work to others. From a consumer standpoint that means that I get hit in the face with a lot of crap. Let me give you an example, I bought a $250 android tablet from China to prototype an interface. Not only was I dissapointed with the quality of device, but the software was old Android and it ran like crap! I think that that is unacceptable, I mean doesn't Google want everyone to love their stuff, I'm not saying they have to pull an Apple but at least have some sort of vetting for who gets to use your stuff. This is a good segway into the closed world...
Apple is a closed company says most, and on 90% of things they do I would agree. However its that last 10% that in my opinion is one of the big reasons they now find themselves as the most valuable technology company in the world. Apple is patient and calculating. I don't mean that they dont work hard or push boundaries but they know when something is ready and they don't do it unless it is. Thats why we all wait for features because we know that even though they exist elsewhere they won't be as good. Their 90% closed eco system allows them to deliver a consistent product and provide incredible support when things to go wrong. That is something that very few companies can do, especially the biggest one in the world!!

In the end companies need a balance of both sides to survive and to provide value. Apple loves open standards for processing and encoding they just don't like open source software and open app stores that get flooded with garbage (just like the internet has become). I share the dream that Steve has, a world where all the content you find is good content and all the software you download is safe and works well. At the end of the day people dont really want to choose, but as a maker is it our duty to provide them with the absolute best thing we can make.

In summation, welcome iPhone 4 to the new world with a smile because even if you don't buy it, its going to change things.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The future of UI...or at least where most of the money is going

When most people think of the future of UI they think about touch screens. At this point they are the pinnacle of intuitive and powerful interfaces. Examples include Microsoft Surface, BOA ATM machines and of course Apple's suite of devices, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.
These devices have proven themselves as a staple UI for cutting edge technology; they allow custom interfaces to change dynamically and even have the added benefit of accepting finger input with various multitouch inputs.
There is another technology however that is starting to creep into the light, hand gestures. For years this has been a UI technology that was only seen in movies like Minority Report and Iron Man. Amazingly the people responsible for the 100,000 ft ideas are actually quite capable and have been developing technology that works almost just like the movies!
Most recently Microsoft announced a new interface add-on for Xbox called Natal. If you take nothing out of this post you should at least watch the video at this link because you are looking at the future.

Look Ma, Hands!!

Here is one more link, last one I promise. This video was made by some students at MIT who have been experimenting with hand gestures for computer interfaces.

So you might be asking, well what does this actually mean for me?
Well what you are looking at is the future of human computer interaction. Imagine you walk into your house and turn the TV on with the flick of your hand. You browse through the channels using similar motions and start playing a show. You then pick up your tablet computer that is linked to your entire house and turn on your shower and start the oven for dinner. As you get up you turn the TV off with a swipe and call out to your house that you want to listen to some music during your shower. In the shower there is another screen displaying the news of the day, you lift your hands and start scrolling. You decide to check a few emails and can even dictate back some responses. After getting out of the shower the music follows your through the house back to the kitchen where you prepare the meal while your kids play their new video game that involves jumping, running in place and wild hand gestures (they are getting a great work out). When its time for dinner a quick gesture and the stove and oven turn off and the video game pauses replacing the image with a tranquil beach scene. The table lighting turns on and your wife in the other room receives a message on her portable device that dinner is served.
So there is a little taste of what the future might hold, ubiquitous technology with limitless potential, all accessed through simple intuitive gestures, voice recognition and portable tablets. The thing that excites me is that at a certain point the technology dissolves into natural life and works to help with social interaction rather than isolating people. I will work for the rest of my life so that dreams like this are realized.

Who wants to be the first to have one of these houses, I'll start taking orders now...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


As the final episode of the most ridiculous television show ever approaches I am trying to figure out how to feel.
On one hand I know that I will miss the show and that the final episode won't reveal all the secrets and mysteries that make the show what it is. It is on just that same vein that I am happy to see the show end, finally a definitive stopping point, no more "Oh well we will have to see what they reveal next week" It will be up to our own imaginations to fill the gaps.

To call Lost an incredible show would not necessarily be the correct statement. Lost is an experience unlike anything I have ever gotten from visual media. The combination of great writing, amazing sets and the most intricate plot line I have ever encountered, even in a book, make Lost a timeless masterpiece.
I tell people all the time that the show is a really impressive display of modern cinema and that when watched from the start is so immersive you forget that you are watching television, it morphs into something different. If you are confused by what I just said then let me explain it with an example:
I love the show Entourage, and honestly what guy doesn't. A bunch of friends making tons of money, having sex with beautiful women and being a famous moviestar, who wouldn't want that. The thing about Entourage is its that simple, most shows are. If you watch 1 episode you get it, maybe not every line but you understand the show and you probably have a feel for the characters. The first episode of Entourage I saw was some random middle season episode but it didn't matter, and even today I don't have to remember the previous episodes to enjoy the next. These few principles drive most television shows: simple concepts, simple characters, well written dialogue that you can let flow in one ear and out the other. But Lost broke all the rules...
The first episode of Lost I saw was probably the one I hated the most, mainly because I had no fucking idea what was happening. Who are these characters, where are they, what is their motivation and why are they running around on this beautiful island like they have some idea of what is going on. Haha, to this day I still laugh at this fact. The fact is, Lost is a single show broken into a few dozen episodes. You can't just jump in, it would be like coming in halfway through a really intricate movie like The Matrix and expecting to just figure it out, not gonna happen!
Lost challenges you to remember things, because it rarely repeats. It is not a simple show, the concepts range from time travel to extremely complicated character relationships. Which brings up my third point, Lost has well written dialogue, and so do other shows but Lost differs in a huge way, Easter Eggs...
They are everywhere, if you go to Lostpedia you will quickly realize how in depth the analysis of every line, scene and idea can be. I have spent hours talking, writing and trying to understand the show and there are still parts that I can't figure out. On top of that there are details I haven't thought of or haven't even noticed.

So I leave you with one piece of advice, before you die watch Lost, from the beginning. If you get nothing else out of it, at least you'll know what you missed all those years...

Good night all!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quantum Theory

Its really not as confusing as you might think.

Well I guess it kind of is, but here is a link to the best summary articles I have ever read on the complicated (little) subject that is quantum mechanics.



I guess this is more of a welcome to myself as I suspect most people won't be reading my blog yet but in case you are, WELCOME!

This is usually when I would launch into some self proclamation about who I am and why I am blogging and blah ba blah...

Instead I just want to make this quick, I am blogging to share my thoughts and ideas with the world (and maybe vent my frustration a little).

I'll try to write something new everyday with an interesting link and my take on whats goin on.

I hope you enjoy and please don't hesitate to comment, I know I wouldn't...