Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Looking on the bright side...

[See Previous]

Toshiba's 'NanoBattery' Recharges In Only One Minute

From the article:Also:Plus it is able to store more energy than a typical battery of the same size. There's a very nice graph on the page showing how big a breakthrough this battery is.

Imagine being able to recharge your cell phone or your laptop in just a minute or two...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Something else to worry about...

[See previous]

Security no match for theater lovers

From the article:The gist of the article is, if you offer a person some sort of simple incentive, like the chance to win a couple of theater tickets, they will give up all the information necessary for someone to steal their identity. You need to be worried anytime anyone starts asking you for a few key pieces of information like name, address, SSN, mother's maiden name, etc.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Something else to worry about...

Bee killer imperils crops

From the article:

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Smell detection

You read all the time about the things that dogs can do with smell. For example, they can track human beings by scent through the woods. They can also detect bombs and drugs inside of luggage, and even sniff out contraband fruit.

What I need right now is that same ability packaged as a consumer product. I do not want a dog. I need an automated (preferably robotic) smell detector like that for the home.

If you are a parent, you know why I need a device like this. Right now I've got one room in the house that is emitting a mysterious, penetrating odor. If I had a smell-detecting robot, I'd put it in the room and let it track down the source of the odor in two minutes.

Why do parents need such a device? I've got four kids, ages 7, 5, 2 and 2. The two-year-olds are in the middle of the toilet-consciousness phase (again if you are a parent you will understand). And none of the kids are particularly fastidious when it comes to neatness. So the smell could be anything. It could be some sort of biotoxin spilled on the rug. It could be a ham sandwich stuffed into a VCR. It could be an old diaper that the twins hid somewhere. It could be something else, like a squirrel that died in a wall... There is no way to know, and the human nose is useless for a job like this.

Why not just get a dog? I don't know... maybe it is just me. I've had a lot of dogs (up to eight at one point) and they have been great. I love dogs. But, at least in my case, I've found that the dogs tend to be pretty smelly themselves. In other words, while they may be great at detecting bombs, when you actually live with one they create a lot of smell problems of their own. There's the occasional "accident", the tendency to roll in dead animals they find in the yard, the desire to rip open and eat the garbage, etc. In general, I think dogs are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

What I want is a nice, clean, smell detecting robot that is itself odor-free. If it could also do the vacuuming, and maybe some light babysitting, that would be great...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Another new idea

[See Previous]

The idea is to offer startup capital to new companies in a more innovative and public way than normal:

Summer Founders Program

From the page:

Monday, March 21, 2005

Geek of the week

It's not every day that you get named "Geek of the week":

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Walking Videos

Here's something that you don't see every day -- videos of a giant six-legged tractor made by John Deere: Walking Videos

Web idea - Manipulate search rank

[See previous]

Search Rank Easy to Manipulate

Three instant ideas

[See previous]

Idea 1 - Instant buildings

Need a Building? Just Add Water - has several nice photos too.

Anyone who has ever watched a plaster cast being put on a patient understands this idea already. The way doctors used to make casts is to take strips of fabric impregnated with plaster of paris. They would dip the strips in water and apply them to the cast like paper mache.

The inventor has taken that idea to a much grander scale and added air as well. Here the fabric is stronger, and it is impregnated with cement rather than plaster, and air pressure is used to hold the building's shape until the cement sets. Will this technology replace Terrafoam in Manna?

Idea 2 - Instant computer

Good-bye, computer; hello, world!

Not necessarily a new idea, but one that is now actually imaginable. The idea is to run all applications like Word, Excel, Quicken, email, etc., etc. as web clients so that, on your computer, all that you need is a browser. This eliminates the need for any user to worry about operating systems, hard disk space, backing up, etc.

Idea 3 - Instant sunlight

Sunlight in a tube

The idea is to pump sunlight deep into the interior of any building using fiber optics. Why? According to the article: "Indoor electric lighting is the largest consumer of electricity in commercial buildings, according to researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee." That's interesting. I would have thought it would be air conditioning.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Web idea - do everything in the browser

[See previous]

Good-bye, computer; hello, world!

Three sites to brighten your day

Number 1 -

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be an air molecule flowing through a jet engine? This very nice animation from Rolls Royce lets you find out:It will make slightly more sense if you read How Jet Engines Work first.

Number 2 -

Want to see the OTHER Start Wars movie coming out this spring? Here's the trailer, plus some nice extras:[There are reports this morning that this site died from the load... maybe it comes back this afternoon]

Number 3 -

A good friend, an artist, sent me this with the comment, "This is one of the most impressive things I've seen on the internet in ages. The visuals and style are brilliant. Click on the interactive link." You decide:Definitely it is a different way to use the web as a catalog. [Another friend points out that this is the "Coolest interface I've ever seen" -- Nike -- click on North America, USA, Basketball, Sole System.]

Monday, March 14, 2005

Manna and the water heater

This morning our water heater blew out its bottom and dumped several hundred gallons of water into the garage (the 50 gallons in the tank, plus a stream of cold water coming in from the cold water pipe). I cut off the water and the gas to the water heater and drove over to Home Depot at lunch to buy a replacement.

I found the water heater I wanted, and next to it was a pamphlet talking about same-day installation. I read the pamphlet. Then I walked up to the desk at the front of the store labeled "professional installation." There were two people at the desk -- a man and a woman -- both wearing their orange Home Depot aprons. The woman spoke to me:So I take two steps to my left, reach down and pick up the phone. I don't have to dial it or anything -- It auto-connects in less than 5 seconds. A voice comes on the line that says, approximately, "Hello, I am the automated attendant. What would like to do?" I am instructed to speak the word, "installation" if that is what I need, so I say, "Installation." I am asked what I want installed and I say, "Water Heater" without any prompting.

At this point I am transferred to a woman in a call center in Tampa, FL. She has a bad case of laryngitis today but is otherwise quite pleasant. She takes my order, quotes me a price, has me read my credit card number to her, gives me a reference number and we are done. It is supposed to be installed tomorrow.

My point here is simple. What we are witnessing is the Manna-tization of society right before our very eyes. When I approached the "Professional Installation" desk, there were two human beings who could help me. But they did not -- they stood by and watched. They instead had me get on a telephone and speak to a woman who was operating in a Manna-like environment in Tampa. She is being managed completely by computer.

Throughout her working day, this woman's thoughts and actions are dictated by a computer screen. Customers flow into her telephone head set automatically. She does voice recognition and types in their responses to questions that pop up on her screen. Then she takes another call. The woman in Tampa is essentially wet-ware filling in for the software that will eventually do her voice recognition job in five to ten years. Then her job will be gone.

See Manna for details. See also the post entitled Robots and the right brain.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Banner ads on buildings

I'm not sure why this struck me so oddly, but when I walked into Circuit City this weekend this is what I saw:

It seems like this Verizon ad is a big banner ad -- not on a web page but here on a building.

This banner ad is somehow different, and it reminds me of the subliminal ads that got so much publicity in the 1980s. It is not subliminal -- I guess you could say it is completely liminal. It is right out in the open for all to see. But we are so immune to ads now that many of us probably don't even notice it.

So you walk into the store, and you have been branded by Verizon as you enter. If you are buying a cell phone, does that message influence you at all? I would imagine that a hundred focus groups and a million dollars of research indicates that it does.

The other thing I am wondering is this: will we now start to see other forms of web advertising "crossing over" like this? Will CC start selling more and more ad space inside the store, treating the store, essentially, like a big web page? More banner ads? Popup ads? Interstitial ads? Roll-over ads? It will be interesting to watch.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Today's news

I happened to go to CNN today, and here is what was on the home page:

As you can see, Michael Jackson is the lead story.

Why is Michael Jackson is the #1 News story on CNN?

On the planet today there are 6 billion people. Millions of scientists are doing beneficial research. Millions of inventors are working on their inventions. Millions of businesses are coming up with new products, new services, new medicines and so on. Millions of charities are helping people less fortunate. Millions of individuals are doing good, kind things for others. In addition, there are all of the huge geopolitical things going on in our world that affect all of us in some way...

And yet, CNN's #1 lead story is Michael Jackson showing up late for trial. How can it be that, in CNN's opinion, this is the #1 most important thing happening on the planet right now?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A very impressive engine...

The Most Powerful Diesel Engine in the World

It's a bit mind boggling in its dimensions:

And the stats for this engine are also impressive:It would be used in something like an oil tanker or a large container ship. Its advantage is extreme efficiency compared to alternatives (it has about 50% thermal efficiency).

See also:

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Another new idea

[See previous]

This one comes from the music arena:

Would you pay 5 cents for a song?

From the article:The logic:As the article points out, people last year downloaded something like 25 billion songs illegally, so there is LOTS of money to be made if that can convert into paying traffic. Low prices would facilitate that.

An even more radical idea: Could Apple (what about Wal-Mart?) buy the four biggest labels and then have enough control of the industry to force extra-low-prices for songs?

It is interesting to think about...

Monday, March 07, 2005

Web idea - selling sex

[See previous]

England's EBay for Sex

ARCHIVES © Copyright 2003-2005 by Marshall Brain


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