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 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.