October 30, 2011

Satisfy or Suffice

How many of you feel satisfied or are you left still somehow yearning and hungry?
Living in a time and place where materialism is a competitive and daily fact of life for--high paying jobs, big houses, fast cars, Ivy league educations, exotic vacations, fashion and jewelry "statements", elegant restaurants, and lavish parties--it is philiosophically and practical to ask satisfy or suffice.
If we live our lives to satisfy ourselves--then we tend to a society driven by one word, and one word only--"more!"
Our appetites for material things that satisfy our senses are like a bottomless pit--to see beauty, to feel comfortable, to taste delight, to hear endless praise and envy over what we have achieved and accomplished in life--can these cravings ever really be satisfied?
With satisfaction, one of the key issues is that no matter how much we have accumulated or attained, it irks us to no end, if someone else has just a fraction more. This is called relative deprivation--we have everything we need, but we still feel short-changed because someone else has more. It's infinitely hard to be satisfied knowing that, because somehow we have failed...someone else is better off materially, and our interpretation often is that they are better innately than us and thus have gone further than we can or maybe deserve more on a spiritual level--either way another's abundance, regardless of your own successes, can still mean you are a loser!
It's funny, coming off the Metro and watching the mobs disembark from the train and race up the escalators, even when there are not a lot of people there...first one to the top is the winner; everyone else shlumps off somehow defeated afterward. G-d, this has become a sick society--what difference does the 2.347 seconds make?
Educationally, collecting degrees and certifications has become another hobby for many, so that if you don't have alphabet soup before and after your name, your frowned upon as just another ignoramus out there--as if the degree makes the person.
Another example, yesterday I heard that when getting engaged/married, the chic is that it is no longer enough to give a diamond ring to the young lady, now a matching bracelet is also part of the grand bargain or else you are not "keeping up with the Jones."
The examples go on and we can all tell them from our specific lives of the endless rat races that we endure to try and not only make ends meet, but also to compete and avoid "the shame."
So what's the alternative?
Instead of trying to be satisfied, we can learn to suffice--to be happy with what we are blessed with. That doesn't mean that you don't try to do your best in life, you do! But rather, you work hard and invest a reasonable amount of time, effort, money to achieve a goal and then you go on without beating yourself up over what you haven't achieved.
In short, happiness is in saying enough (or like on Passover, Dayenu!).
To suffice, part of it is learning to differentiate between what is really important and what is, in the end, trivial. How important is it that you get the NEXT whatever in your life versus can you be more innately happy spending time doing things you enjoy with the people you really love.
Suffice--learn to balance the demands and needs of your life--grow beyond the mundane; the true test of life is with you yourself--achieving your potential--not how you do relative to others.
An article in Wired (November 2011) talks to this when it asks about going out and finding a soulmate, "Do you keep searching and hope something better will come along, or do you stop searching when you find something looks pretty good?"
This article, whether addressing the many commitment phoebes out there, or those just having a hard time finding Mr./Mrs. Right--whether in terms of accepting and living with others' flaws or just learning to stop looking for someone prettier, smarter, more successful etc.
Wired suggests developing a baseline by dating "roughly" 12 people so that you can make an informed decision of the head and heart, but this can apply to education, career, home and all areas of your life--seek what is best for you, but also realize that we are all imperfect mortals and that only the heaven is for angels.
Suffice--do your very best in life and accept yourself for who you are and meet your destiny head-on--you can achieve happiness beyond the mere materialism and superficiality that cloud our societal judgements--this to me is enlightenment.

(Source Photo: here)

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October 29, 2011

Visiting The Sins of The Fathers

Everyone was waiting for the big news this week out of the EU on how they were going to bail out their troubled economies--way too many: Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland...and more.

Their debt is through the roof--Greece is at 164% of it GDP and Italy is saddled with 1.9 trillion euros with more than 200 billion of it coming due next year.

Unemployment is soaring...with Greek unemployment of 16.7%, topped by Spain's at 21.5%.

Economies are grinding to a halt: "Euro-zone economic data point to gloomy year-end...0.2% latest quarterly growth" (Wall Street Journal, 29-30 October 2011)

So news this week of a yet bigger (much bigger 4x or 5x) bailout fund of $1.4 trillion to backstop the losses, while sending the stock market soaring, left the pundits a little more than skeptical.

Why? Because where did the losses go...did they just disappear or is this a thoroughly massive shell game where the losses are spinning faster and faster under the shells of economic protectionism until they disappear altogether under the slight of hand of ministry of finance magicians?

I thought to myself this week--am I missing something? I wrote a friend--this guy is a genius--top of the class type, CPA, MBA and asked what he thought of the bailout? He too was baffled and said somebody just took a "50% haircut" referring to massive number of Greek bondholders who just took a huge loss--how is that a good thing?

And I thought what about the rest of the losses yet to be realized in the $1.4 trillion European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF)...by naming it "stability," does it actually make people feel more secure, better?

Then came the reports later this week--"Doubts rise about EU deal"--that the financial rescue plan is short on details, and as we all know "the devil is in the details." Moreover, it's just a plan--that's the easy part--words are cheap! The real test lies in whether the financial rescuers can actually execute this time or will we be back at the drawing board in 6 months time again?

Then I thought of the saying from the Torah (Bible)--Exodus 34:7 that G-d "visits the sins of the fathers on the children." Not in a malevolent way, but in an almost natural way--our actions have consequences.

While not limited to any individual, country, or continent, when we live beyond our means--when greed and gluttony surpass our ability to control our appetites for more, then a bubble builds and down the road, it eventually bursts--whether real estate, the dot com boom, stocks, commodities, or even tulips in the 17th century!

As we all know deep down, no shell game can go on forever--the hands tire, the players become more astute, and most importantly, the excesses of the past must be paid up--so that the next generation can eventually go on to a more stable and brighter future.

Both sides of the spectrum, the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street protesters know the same economic reckoning is coming--and even though not everyone can articulate the rising doubt and fear, we go toward resolution, hand-in-hand together.

(Source Picture: here and here)

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PwC Leading Like Idol

What does it take to spark creativity and innovation in the workforce, Hollywood style?

An article in Fortune Magazine this month (October 2011) presents how a top global Assurance, Tax, and Consultancy firm like Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) is reaching out to its people to harness creativity through a new program called PowerPitch.

PwC wants to cultivate a particular atmosphere. "We have an average age of 27, but we have roots in tax and assurance," says U.S. chairman Bob Moritz, using the industry jargon for auditing and related functions. "So how do you make this place feel like a Google or a Facebook? A place that feels leading-edge?"

PwC is spurring innovation using an firm-wide contest format and social media to drive innovation for their $29 billion organization.

An admitted fan of American Idol and The Apprentice, [Mitra] Best was drawn to the idea that contests and games could yield serious business results. Employees love the opportunity.”

The PwC program galvanizes a workforce into idea-generating teams, with proposals that are voted on and selected through an internal social media platform by all employees and others picked by a senior panel of leaders. Then the best ideas get leadership "advisors" who work with the teams to present to a top leadership committee. The best idea(s) win some nominal cash for the individuals on the winning team(s), and the proposals move forward with a "champion" to work with the team to actual launch.

PowerPitch is as PwC U.S. Chairman, Bob Mortiz, puts it "a [worthwhile] investment in time and money, but we needed to balance short-term costs against long-term sustainability."

Nearly 800 ideas were submitted from round 1 and these were narrowed down to the top 25 for round 2 and then ultimately to 5 teams of semifinalists and a winning best proposal--however all five ended up deemed "worthy of investing in."

And if even one of the proposals becomes the next $100 million line of business for the company, it will be more than worth the investment.

PowerPitch may not have Simon Cowell from American Idol to keep the competitors on their toes or Donald Trump from The Apprentice to say "You're fired!", but it has enough of excitement, morale-boosting, idea generation and widespread collaboration to keep an organization out front and advance their mission and workforce.

(Source Photo: here)

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October 23, 2011

Architecting Crowd Control

Last week (19 October 2011) T3 Motion Inc. in CA launched their all electric Non-Lethal Response Vehicle (NLRV) for "crowd control."

The vehicle is a souped-up three-wheeled Segway equipped two compressed air powered rifles able to shoot 700 non-lethal rounds per minute of pepper, water, dye, or rubber projectiles, and each vehicles can carry 10,000 rounds.

According to Trendhunter, the NLRV also has a "40,000-lumen LED strobe light, a riot shield, a P.A. system, and puncture-proof tires" as well as a video camera.

The notion of a law enforcement officer shooting an automatic (non-lethal, as it may be) to quell a riot does not quite fit in with general first amendment rights for peaceful assembly and typical demonstrations that as far as I know are generally NOT an all heck break loose scenario.

I wonder whether instead of a NLRV for handling riot control, a better idea would be a Lethal Response Vehicle (LRV)--with proper training and precautions--to handle homeland security patrols at major points of entry and around critical infrastructure.

From an architecture perspective, this seems to me to be a clear case of where a "desirement" by somebody out there (gaming, fantasy, or what not) should be channeled into fulfilling a more genuine requirement for people actually protecting our homeland.

The benefits of speed and maneuverability can benefit field officers in the right situations--where real adversaries need to be confronted quickly with the right equipment.

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October 22, 2011

What's A Life Worth


This is a video of a 2-year old girl run over several times–first by a van and then by a truck–and left lying in the street for 7 minutes, as 18 people pass by without stopping or calling for help.
Are people too busy? Are they afraid to get involved? Are they somehow blinded to what is happening?
Watching the video again and again–the little girl seems to be treated as basically worthless, and it just doesn't seem to make any sense:
–Why didn't the van or truck stop when they saw the little girl?
–Why did they just drive off after hitting her?
–Why didn't anyone else try and stop them–verbally, physically?
–Why didn't anyone step in front of the child and try to stop traffic?
–Why didn't anyone seemingly call for help?
–Where were the toddler's parents or guardians?
I don't know and can't imagine the answer to any of these questions, but I do know that society must answer for this dead child, because this child could be anyone's child, and this unfortunate scene could happen anywhere in the world.
In stark contrast, this same week, Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Shalit held captive for 5 years and 4 months was released by Hamas in a prisoner swap by Israel of more than a 1000 for 1–bringing him home to a hero's welcome and cries of "Welcome home Gilad!"
While I am not judging the security calculus of releasing so many potential recidivist terrorists for Gilad, I do believe that no one's child can be left behind–whether for 7 minutes in an accident or 5 years in captivity–we all have a duty to help those in need.
Life is precious and how we treat it is a test of our spirit, mettle, and underlying social norms.

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Keeping All Our Balls In The Air

This is the throwable panoramic ball camera.

It has 36 cameras and when thrown in the air, takes 360-degree pictures of it's surroundings as it reaches it's apex (i.e. the highest point in the air).

You can see behind you, above you, all around you even things that you didn't even know where there.

And you can pan, zoom, and scroll to get the precise view you want.

The pictures are amazing--instantly, you have a birds eye view, but only better, because even a bird can't see behind it's head, but you can.

The implications for artists, photo hobbyists, and outdoor enthusiasts is one thing, but then there are the possibilities for improved surveillance and reconnaissance for homeland and national security.

Watch for camera balls to be used not only for throwing in beautiful and/or dangerous environments, but also for posting at security checkpoints, critical infrastructure, transportation hubs and more.

One question I have is, whether the camera ball become a one-time use device, if you don't catch it and it ends up smashing into the ground.

Situational awareness is about to get a real bounce out of this one.

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October 21, 2011

Display It Everywhere

We are getting closer to the day when mobile computing will truly be just a computer interaction anywhere--on any surface or even on no surface.

In this video we see the OmniTouch, developed by Microsoft in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University, display your computer interface on everyday objects--yourself, a table, wall, and so on.

This takes the Kinect gaming technology to a whole new level in that the OmniTouch doesn't just detect and sense your motions and gestures, but it meshes it with the way people typically interact with computers.

Using a wearable pico projector and a depth camera, the OmniTouch creates a human-computer interface with full QWERTY keyboard and touch pan, zoom, scroll capabilities.

It's amazing to see the person demonstrating the interaction with the computer practically in thin air--oh boy, Minority Report here we come. ;-)

Of course, to become a viable consumer solution, the shoulder-mounted contraption has got to go really small--no bigger than a quarter maybe, and able to be mounted, with processors and connectivity, unobtrusively in clothing, furniture, or right into building construction in your home or office.

At that point, and it hurts to say it given how much I love my iPhone, computers will no longer be device-driven, but rather the application takes center stage.

And the ability to project and click anywhere, anytime helps us reach a new level of mobility and convenience that almost boggles the senses.

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October 20, 2011

Be Careful What You Point That At

By now many of you may or may not have pointed your smartphones at a QR ("Quick Response") code to get more information on products, places, events, and so forth.

A QR code is a barcode that that generally contains alphanumeric information and takes you to a website when you read the QR code with your smartphone (i.e. by taking a picture of it with a QR reader app).

QR codes remind me of the barcodes in the store at the checkout line, but QR codes look more like a squared-off roschach test compared to the barcodes on items you purchase which are rectangular straight lines from top to bottom.

By reading the QR code, you don't have to remember or type any information into your smartphone--your just zipped right off to wherever the QR points you (usually after you confirm on the screen that you are okay with going to the URL).

But QR codes like with any information technology, can be used for good or evil -- for some reason though people seemed to have been unsuspecting of the sort of innocuous looking QRs.

Kaspersky Lab has issued a warning on QR codes after finding consumers in Russia scammed when they thought they were downloading an Android app and where instead infected with malware that caused them to send SMS messages to a premium number that charged for each message sent.

So while QR codes can take a reader to a harmless website for information, like other computer code, they can contain instructions that cause you to send email, SMS messages, download applications, etc.

So unless you know what you are QR reading (i.e. you have a high-degree of confidence in whoever placed the advertisement with the QR code)--think twice before scanning that barcode, because you may get a surprise package in your smartphone that you weren't expecting causing infection of your device, loss of privacy to the information stored on it, or costing you money for things you never wanted or intended to spend on.

Scanning a QR code while as simple taking a picture of a sunset--may not have as beautiful consequences.

(Source Photo: here)

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October 16, 2011

Human Evolution, Right Before Our Eyes

Watching how this toddler interacts with an iPad and is then frustrated by plain-old magazines is comical, but also a poignant commentary on our times.

Media that doesn't move, drill down, pop up, connect us, and otherwise interact with the end-user is seen here as frustrating and dated.

This speaks volumes about where our children and grandchildren are headed with technology adoption and then hopefully "taking it to the next level" and the next!

At the same time, this obviously does not bode well for the legacy paper and magazine publishing industry.

It can be difficult to see things changing so dramatically before our very eyes, but with every doors that closes, there us another one that opens.

And so with technology and with life itself, "to everything there is a time and a purpose under the heaven."

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This is One Super-Charged Bikini

This bikini, by designer Andrew Schneider is solar-powered.

It can charge all your iDevices and why not your MacBook Air.

The material is flexible photovoltaic film strips sewn together ending in a volt regulator and USB connection for a steady flow to all your devices.

So whatever happened to a simple get-a-way day at the beach?

The male solar version of the swimsuit is the iDrink--so called because it can chill your beer or soft drinks.

Plan for swimsuits to be only the beginning of a long line of solar-clothing to charge up your life.

Maybe that's why everyone wants to sit near the window at the office. ;-)

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October 15, 2011

Your iPhone Deserves To Stand

This is the nicest iPhone stand I have seen--by Rokform.

Industrial aluminum and overbuilt -- a work of art.

I like the black and red one the best.

$169 is pricey, but wow your iPhone deserves it.

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October 14, 2011

EMP Cybergeddon

Electromagnetic Pulses (EMPs) are the weapons of choice against electronics of all sorts, including cyber.

The Economist (15 October 2011) in an article called Frying Tonight describes how "warfare is changing as weapons that destroy electronics, not people, are deployed on the field of battle."

Here a brief summary:

During the Cold War, the notion was to explode an atom bomb high in the atmosphere (i.e. a High-Altitude EMP or HEMP) "to burn out an enemies electrical grid, telephone network, and possibly even the wiring of his motor vehicles."

Today, that principle is being applied in smaller weapons using microwaves---from powerful batteries or reactive chemicals that generate high-energy radio frequencies.

By zapping electronics, EMPs can take down enemy missiles, destroy command, control, and communications capability, and stop in their tracks everything from enemy tanks to planes and speed boats.

EMP weapons are already being deployed:

- Fighter planes are being developed with EMP capabilities using the active electronically scanned array (AESA) as defensive weapons against air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, while other planes (like the "Growler") are being outfitted with offensive EMP capabilities.

- Ships too are being armed with EMP guns to defend against high-speed boat "swarms" or to defend against pirates.

- Land vehicles will be armed with EMP cannons such as the Radio-Frequency Vehicle Stopper that can stall enemy vehicles' engines or the Active Denial System used as a heat-ray to disperse crowds.

At the same time, defenses against EMPs are being deployed, such as Faradays cages--which are enclosures of conducting material often in a mesh pattern that protects electrical equipment from getting fried.

What is important to note though is that EMPs are not just battlefield weapons--they can take out our everyday electrical and cyber systems.

A Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report to Congress (21 July 2008) called High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments states "Several nations, including sponsors of terrorism, may currently have a capability to use EMP as a weapon for cyber warfare or cyber terrorism to disrupt communications and other parts of the U.S. critical infrastructure."

The EMP Commission reported that EMP "creates the possibility of long-term, catastrophic consequences for national security."

One of the major concerns is the "cascading effects" that a loss of electrical infrastructure would cause in terms of people being unable to obtain basic life necessities and thereby resulting in that "many people may ultimately die."

The report finds EMP weapons to be an "attractive asymmetric option" for our adversaries, and that analysts find that "it could possibly take years for the United States to recover fully from the resulting widespread damage."

Therefore, it is critical that we increase our cyber security capabilities not only in terms of fighting conventional malware attacks from within the cyber realm, but we must be thinking in ernest about energy weapons directed at us from without.

We must continue to harden our defenses, invest in new technologies and countermeasures to thwart the enemy, develop punishing offensive capabilities, as well as prepare for the possibility of a strike against our homeland.

Although called "human-safe" (and aside from the traditional weapons of mass destruction), EMPs may be actually one of the most devastating weapons of all to a society dependent of technology.

(Source Photo: here)

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October 13, 2011

Increase Security On Your Google Account

After reading the article Hacked! in The Atlantic (November 2011), I looked into Google's new security feature called 2-Step Verification (a.k.a. Two Factor Authentication).

This new extra layer of security--adding "something you have" to "something you know"--to your sign in credentials helps to better protect you and your information in Google (i.e. in the Google cloud), including your emails, documents, and applications.

While a little extra work to login to Google--you have to type in a verification code that Google sends or calls to your phone (this is the something you have), it provides an extra layer of defense against hackers, criminals, and identity thieves.

To protect your Smartphone, Google provides "Application-specific passwords" that you generate from the 2-Step Verification screen and then you enter those into the specific iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry device.

You can sign up for 2-Step Verification from your Google Account Settings page and help protect yourself, your information, and your privacy.

In the future, I hope that Google (and other cloud vendors) will improve on this and use biometrics, to add "something you are," to the authentication process and make this even sleeker and more secure yet.

Stay safe out there! ;-)

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October 12, 2011

High-Tech Pooper Scoopers

A few weeks ago (17 September 2011), I blogged about the Peepoo for human waste disposal, and now we have the AshPoopie for handling doggie waste.

Made by Pauli Clean Tech, this device turns dog poop into odorless, clean, 100% sterile ash.

With push-button ease, the AshPoopie picks up the poop and mixes it with a capsule at high speed to render it into simple ash for easy disposal.

AshPoopie is scheduled for release in first quarter 2012.

A welcome site and refreshing smell to our doggy doo streets.

While I personally am not obsessed with this fecal subject matter, I am a fan of cleanliness...

So cheers to these high-tech pooper scoopers. ;-)

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October 10, 2011

Growing America's Jobs

Robot

ABC News reported tonight of a home builder in Montana making a house entirely from American made products--as difficult as they are to find.

The home uses more than 120 products from 33 states and costs only 1 to 2% more than a foreign-sourced one.

The builder who is also an economist says that if builders around the country would just increase their use of made in the USA products by 5%, we could increase jobs by over 220,000 right now.

Multiple it by ten, if we actually produced these homes 50% or more here in the USA--that's 2+ million jobs.

It makes you wonder if all the outsourcing is just another addiction where we feel good now--by saving a little today at the checkout line--but we pay the piper down the road, through the gutting of our own labor force and the future capacity for us to produce.

While, I don't believe in circle-the-wagon protectionism out of fear of competing in the global marketplace, I do think we need to assess the deals we make to ensure that we are getting the best for our people and our future--and not just for the next quarter or two, but for the long-term!

Having started my career in business, I am well aware that this is "one big balance sheet" and things have to add up or else short-term profits today are made at the expense of long-term capabilities tomorrow.

If the strategy was that we would somehow give the blue collar work to others and keep the white collar work for ourselves, it seems like we have deluded ourselves into thinking that a one-size fits all economy will keep America running.

We need broad based opportunities for our diverse workforce in all areas of work, and we need to remain strategically self-sufficient, so that we do not outsource ourselves to economic death, where we lose the know-how or capability to help ourselves.

Buy, build, and work America into an economic powerhouse that the world relies on, rather than one that is fed by others with economic loans and cheap goods made in wherever-land.

In my opinion, there is no real alternative to balancing the national budget as well our current account deficit--if we consistently spend more than we earn, and the ships keep unloading more stuff here and then going back overseas half empty, eventually the system has got to go kaput!

As the world's superpower, our coffers can once again be full and our ships can brim proud with made in America wares--but this can happen only if we focus on products that outlast, outlook, and outperform.

Competition has never been more fierce and the stakes never higher for us individually and as a nation--we will need technology to keep us steadily improving and releasing the pressure from this enormous economic cooker.

(Source Photo: here)

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October 9, 2011

End Of The World, Almost

Recently, I have become addicted to a number of shows on the Discovery channel.
I know it sounds sort of boring, right?--but they actually have some fairly macho and educational shows.
From survivalist shows like Dual Survival, Man Vs. Wild, Man Woman Wild, to shows about special forces training like Surviving the Cut and even One Man Army.
I also enjoy this new show called Curiosity that "asks and answers the most fundamental questions facing the world today" such as Is There a Parallel Universe? or How Will the World End?
In "How Will The World End", Discovery explores 5-almost end of the world scenarios, as follows:
1) Arc Storm -- Similar to the flood from the bible, where it rains incessantly for a month or so, but unlike the flood that destroys the world, this one hits a specific area like California. Anticipated dead is 380,000 and injured 1,140,000. (10% chance in the next 50 years)
2) Asteroid Strike - Like a number of movies such as Deep Impact that forewarn of the dire consequences of a direct hit to our planet, a moderate collision would kill 60,000 and injure 200,000. (5% chance of occurrence over the lives of our children)
3) Mega-Earthquake - Hitting approximately 5 states in the midwest and killing 600,000 and injuring 2,000,000. (10% chance in 50 years)
4) Mile-High Tsunami - Traveling at 500 mph, wiping out the eastern seaboard and killing 4,000,000. (Probability is one in a 1000)
5) Super Volcano - Major series of volcanic eruptions in Yellowstone National Park that spews ash virtually covering the entire planet and would kill 100,000,000 people. (Scientists estimate this happens every 600,000 years)
While the last 2 end of life scenarios are quite remote, the first three taken together yield an almost 25% chance of a doomsday-like scenario over the next 50 years and this is just those scenarios--it doesn't account for a maniac detonating a nuclear packed suitcase bomb or spreading an infectious biological disease across the globe.
These foreboding predictions about what could happen can easily depress and make us feel that even trying is hopeless.
But this morning, I listened on TV to Joel Osteen, who gives a pretty darn good sermon, and he said regarding faith, "Do every day what you can and then let it go!"
While we have to do everything we can to protect our world and make it safe and sustainable, some things truly are beyond human control.
And once we've done our part and our best, we've got to step back and just have some faith, as Joel Osteen says: "Don't put a question mark where G-d puts a period"--that really resonates.
We can ask why this or that happens, but at the end of the day, what G-d decides for us is often beyond our mere human comprehension.
Easier said than done for sure, especially, when facing down situations scarier than any shown or imagined in the survival shows mentioned.
So Dave and Cody--And Seal Team Six--even you guys are outgunned when the hand of G-d says it's time for history to take a major turn of events.
But as Joel Osteen would say, I'll just put that in the "I don't understand it" file.
(Source Photo: here)

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October 8, 2011

Thank You Steve Jobs


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Under "The Thicker Skin"

Thicker_skin

Yesterday, I heard Pastor Robert Jeffress of a mega church in Dallas get on national television and tell Christians not to vote for a presidential candidate--Mitt Romney--because he's a Mormon and went on to describe Mormonism as a cult.

What was so shocking was that there was no basis for the decision to vote or not to vote for someone based on political issues driving the discussion, it was purely one of religious intolerance.

I imagined how candidate Mitt Romney (and the Mormon establishment) must feel like to be subjected to a form of discrimination and stereotypical name calling just because of their religious faith.

Unfortunately, religious and other forms of bigotry and hatred are not new, but they are invective and undermining.

I personally remember a situation at a organization, where I was treated religiously unfairly.

There was a planned offsite meeting at the agency, and the meeting was going to run through lunch, so lunch was being ordered.

Being Jewish, I asked if a salad or tuna sandwich or anything Kosher or vegetarian could be made available so that I could participate.

I was told by email that if I wanted anything special, I could bring it from home.

Not a problem--I didn't want to be a "Jewish problem"--I can certainly bring my own food and I did.

However, when I got to the meeting and saw the lunch spread, the agency had ordered a special meal for someone else who was vegan--not a religious preference, just a dietary one.

Try imagining just for a second how it felt to be told that you could not be accommodated for anything kosher, but someone else would be "just because."

I brought this to the attention of the "powers that be," but was told that I should go "develop a thicker skin."

Well if the thicker skin means to become part of a group that practices intolerance and bigotry, it's time to peel away that callous!

How people vote and how we treat our fellow man should not depend on their religion, where they come from, or the color of the skin.

In a year, when the memorial for Martin Luther King, Jr. was unveiled on the National Mall, the dream for tolerance and freedom still has considerable room to blossom.

Hopefully, society wil continue to develop not a thicker skin, but a gentler kinder heart that embraces each, for what they can bring to the table.

(Source Photo: here)

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October 7, 2011

Think Different, Change The World

This video is a true tribute to Steve Jobs, where he narrates the first "Think Different" commercial (1997).

"Here's to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They're not fond of rules.
Andy they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can't do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

- Steve Jobs, Apple Inc.

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October 2, 2011

Robots Are Not Just For Fighting

"The AlphaDog Proto is a lab prototype for the Legged Squad Support System [LS3], a robot being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA and the US Marine Corps. When fully developed the system will carry 400 lbs of payload on 20-mile missions in rough terrain. The first version of the complete robot will be completed in 2012."

According to Boston Dynamics, AlphaDog will follow a leader with computer vision or travel via GPS to designated locations.

The video shows a truly amazing display of the robot galloping, traversing obstacles, recovering from being pushed, and even rolling over and getting up from a supine position.

AlphaDog is designed as a true workhorse and resembles something more out of a Mad Max movie than what you would think of as supporting our next generation war fighters. Note: I'll take a flying hovercraft with pinpoint fire laser ray beams over a 4-legged robot workhorse any day! :-)

But with the array of sensors and weapons supported by drones flying overhead and robotics sentries on the ground, and 4-legged robots ferrying supplies to the front lines, the battlefield is quickly changing to man and machine fighting side by side, and maybe one day machines fighting in lieu of people.

While MIT Technology Review states "This is just what soldiers need," I'm interested in seeing future applications of these robots not just for the military, but also in terms of how they will change areas such as law enforcement, fire and rescue, construction, assembly-line production, transportation, medicine, service industries, and more.

Robots are not just for fighting, although it looks like AlphaDog could give anyone a good kick in the teeth and keep on lugging its load.

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October 1, 2011

When a Phone is Not Just a Phone

Vertu = luxury phones, at least on the outside, for now.

The phones are handmade, one at a time, by master craftsmen in England for the luxury division of Finnish phone maker, Nokia.

Made from stainless steel with a sapphire crystal screen making them virtually unscratchable (except by diamonds) and keys that pivot on ruby bearings, the Vertu watches are undeniably eloquent and unique.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (3-9 October 2011) pegs the average cost at for a Vertu at $6,800 with their Signature line costing more than twice than amount!

Started in 1998, they have sold more than 300,000 phones in the last decade, and have seen "high double-digit sales growth."

The main problem with the phones according to IDC researcher is that they are "remaining decidedly low-tech"--running on "Symbian, the old Nokia smartphone operating system being phased out in favor of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7"--another market non-starter!

Currently, they are seen as more jewelry than smartphone, and so "a lot of Vertu owners have another device for everyday use."

However, another area where the Vertu phone has the special something is in terms of service--concierge service that is. Free for the first year and then costing about $3,0000 a year thereafter, you get a 24-hour hotline in nine languages for handling everything from restaurant reservations to travel planning and sending exotic gifts, such as "a box of live butterflies"--well not something I would do everyday, but I may just not be such a great gift giver :-)

Also, many models come with dual-SIM cards so you can have one phone for example for both business and private use with different phone numbers, networks, billing plans, etc.

Certainly this phone makes a big statement in terms of handsome looks and a very special service offering, but to really be luxury inside and out in the mobile computing marketplace, it's got to do a deal with Apple and/or Android, period.

Vertu customers paying big bucks for a great phone, deserve not only the best looks, but the best smartphone technology.

Another big challenge is that with people upgrading their smartphones every 18-24 months, how do you maintain the Vertu's value over time or is this a luxury purchase to be made on the order of Moore's Law?

Oh baby, that's a lot of Vertu!

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Vigilance on a Wrist

I just wanted to share this product with readers of my blog.


At the press of a button, you activate a piercing alarm (up to 30 minutes) and flashing locator lights right from this wrist band.

While I am not endorsing any particular vendor or product, this type of self-defense product can really be important.

This could potentially save the lives of loved ones about to be violently attacked, abducted, or even raped, G-d forbid.

From the Amazon site, I was impressed also to see that a portion of each sale is even donated to missing children's funds.

At a price of only $16.99 per wrist alarm, how much is there really to think about?

Stay safe out there!

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I Want To Be Possible

On Rosh Hashanah, The Jewish New Year, which is a time of personal reflection, the Rabbi told us a story (which I made into the attached cartoon) about the person, who when asked what he wanted to be--when he grew up--said "I want to be possible!" That's the serious part.

And when asked "why possible? The person replies humorously because his mother always told him how impossible he is. :-)

The short parable struck me as pretty profound and worth sharing.

Because everyday, each of us has to wake up and look ourselves in the mirror, and ask--are we happy with ourselves...who we are...what we have become?

And is it really what we want to be, when we, proverbially, grow up?

In the movie Reckless, when they ask the teen growing up in the working class town what he wants out of life--he replies short and to point, "More!"

What more do we want out of our lives? More money, more honor, more things...at the end, that's all sort of besides the point--isn't it?

What is important is making more possibilities in life--for ourselves and for others by creating a better world.

In other words, it's not about the material (although we all need to take basic care for ourselves and our loved ones--that's just being responsible), but fundamentally, it's about the opportunity to make the impossible, possible!

For each of us, the challenges are unique and all too often (G-d protect us!), life's trials and tribulations test us to our very core--so overcoming impossibilities has a distinct meaning for all of us.

But as a strategist, a futurist, and an enterprise architect, I know deep down that the art of the possible is in looking forward and not backwards, and working tirelessly to sacrifice and serve.

I pray for the new year that G-d gives us the strength and the wisdom to overcome our personal and societal weaknesses, limitations, and selfish inclinations to help and "repair the world"--creating new opportunities for peace, health, and prosperity for all!

(Cartoon created in BitStrips)

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