Showing posts with label Gaming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gaming. Show all posts

June 28, 2019

Rubik's Cube On Speed

A regular, traditional Rubik's Cube is 3x3 by 6 sides. 

That's a total of 54 moving squares to order by color on each side. 

This Rubik's Cube On Speed is 7x7 by 6 sides.

 So this cube has 294 squares to figure out. 

(I did find another cube on eBay that was even larger, 15x15, called "Professional Level" selling for $384.40)

I'm sure there are some real whiz kids out there that can do these puzzles. 

And probably in under 3 minutes...

For me, I admire the dexterity and spatial skills. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 30, 2019

Hungry Pac-Man

Saw this in a window from the street. 

Pac-Man eating the dots/pellets and going for the ghost. 

The classic arcade video game from 1980s still speaks volumes. 

Pac-Man is goal-oriented and hungrily eat the pellet pieces, but if the ghosts touch him first then he's toast (or at least one of his 3 lives are).

Not so different from real life...

We try to reach our goals, by taking one bite at a time until we "eat the elephant."

But if those people who are naysayers, haters, Debbie Downers, and obstructionists, get to us first, then we can not only lose momentum, and but also eventually be forced to divert or miss out on achieving our goals. 

Ghosts aren't hollow friendly creatures, but those who want to stop progress, stop you, and maybe even end your pellet-eating life. 

You need to eat the super "power pellets" to overcome and eat the ghosts.

Eating all the pellets can be a herculean task requirement strength, resourcefulness, and determination, but that's what takes you to the next level in the game of life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 14, 2018

Who You Calling Ugly Baby?

So in multiple organizations, I have heard systems referred to as ugly babies!

Whether or not it's true, it certainly doesn't make the IT folks that develop, run, and support that system feel very good. 

Are some of these (legacy) systems ugly?

Well, of course, they are. 

Many of them work despite themselves. 

What I mean by that is they are awkward to navigate and use. 

The functionality is flawed or outdated.

The workflows are unnecessarily complex.

The user interface is inconsistent and sloppy. 

The user experience is punishing. 

I told someone recently in using a particular system that was so convoluted:
"Is this system what they give to prisoners and make them use over and over again to punish them for hideous violent crimes?"

Seriously, that's how it felt, even as I knew it was still lightyears ahead of what a paper process still used in other organizations looks like.

Generally better than the waterfall methodology for the systems development life cycle, I understand that one dilemma with agile development is that requirements can be spotty from sprint to sprint and instead of doing the hard work and thinking it out upfront, users are made to expect a nearly endless series of enhancements and tinkering, which isn't practical functionally or financially either.

Even an ugly baby is still ours, and we love it and nurture it, and even help it change for the better--that's part of our responsibility. 

Whether we parented a real baby or an IT system, we have pride of ownership and a sense of accountability to the person, system, and future. 

My father always taught me never to throw out dirty water until you have clean water. 

Similarly, we shouldn't throw out the (ugly) baby with the bathwater. 

We need to work together--technologists and system users--to make truly functional systems and a user experience more like gaming where the players are so happy, attached (and even addicted) to it that they sometimes don't even get up to eat or go to the bathroom. 

We should love what we have and use, and we should, therefore, work hard to make these things great.

And an ugly baby can be made gorgeous again. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 1, 2017

The Games People Play

The title sounds ominous, but I mean it differently.

People like to play games--the type you have fun at.  

We learn to play when we are kids. 

We get the attention of our parents and friends--and we have fun just being together, acting silly or even competing with each other. 

Whether it's over a game of Life, Monopoly, Risk, or Connect Four, or even these days going online with a game of Minecraft or Crush.

Sports is another type of game--great to play and others like to watch and cheer for their favorite teams or athletes. 

This week at work, someone said to come to his meeting because:
"...everyone would have fun."

Have you ever heard that at work--a fun meeting or for that matter anything being fun in an office setting?

The guy is a genius--people actually showed up in droves at the meeting. 

They had to choose between various meetings going on at that time--and low and behold, people chose this one that was going to be fun!

In the meeting, there was a big bowl of candy and chocolate in the center of the conference table.

And the mood was relaxed as we got down to some business. 

While we did the business, people felt free to be a little silly and laugh with each other too.

The tone had been set for some fun.

The person who hosted the meeting explained that he wanted people to have a good time coming to the meeting (and to work).

He called it "gamification."

The idea is why not make things into a type of game and have some fun with it instead of everything being so stuck up and nasty all the time. 

Listen, it was still a meeting and work had to get done, but it was nice to see a different lighter perspective put on it. 

People want to enjoy what they do--whether it's time with their family, friends, or why not even their work.

If we can make more things in life into a game of sorts and put "fun" into the equation of what we do--people smile, laugh, and let down their guards a little. 

Why shouldn't adult play games and have fun too? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 26, 2017

Entering The Oculus Rift Matrix

So this was my first time actually experiencing virtual reality. 

Using Oculus Rift and climbing this mountain...

I've got to say how incredibly fabulioso this was!

It is absolutely an immersive and real experience. 

When I looked over the side of the mountain and down at the water and "realized" how far up I was, I was freakin out. 

My feet were grabbing the floor like I was about to fall off the mountain and then I eventually did. 

This is the next big thing!

You can literally be anywhere and doing anything with this technology.  

The real world is not there. 

And now I believe more than ever, that just like we enter the virtual reality body and start to move around and interact in that make-believe world, so too our soul enters our human bodies and we are present in this material existence to experience the worldly wonders all around us. 

But like the virtual world, this earthly world is the playground for our earthly bodies are just a temporary vessel for us to face challenges, learn, and grow.

When the time is up, our souls depart our bodies and return to its maker, just like when the virtual reality game is over and we are back here. 

G-d is the greatest game-maker of them all, and we are copycats in every sense of the word. 

The body is the vessel, and the soul is the essence. ;-)

(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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August 11, 2016

Transitioning To Virtual Ease and Triviality

I took this photo a few weeks ago on the streets in Washington, D.C.

This was a huge box from eBay coming to someone.

In my building, they recently built an extra storeroom for all the deliveries that are coming everyday--there is no where to put all of them.


While today in the Wall Street Journal, even the revered retailer of Herald Square, Macy's, had their stock price shed half it's value in the last year, and other big box retailers are hurting just as bad. 

eCommerce is threatening the very survival of brick and mortal retailers, as they are seriously eating their lunch--and breakfast and dinner too!

But this is part of a much larger transition occurring from our physical to virtual worlds...

As we abandon department stores and the Mall for online shopping, 
movie theaters and playhouses for home theaters and video streaming, 
physical activities for gaming and virtual reality, 
and even factories and office work for telework and robots,  
soon we will have no real place to go and nothing to physically do. 

From the bed and couch to the computer and gym, like hamsters on the wheel of triviality, we might as well package ourselves up in the big eBay box and send ourselves to outer space--but only as long as we can get Internet access there. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

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August 7, 2016

Playing The Work Game Can End In More Ways Than One


This game takes working to a whole new level of absurdity. 

It's called "Don't Get Fired!

And it's by a 29-year old South Korean programmer who found a way to vent his own frustration with the crazy working world by making it into a mobile game. 

The goal is to "rise through the ranks of a nameless corporation by performing an endless string of mind-numbing tasks, while avoiding  a long list of fireable offenses."

I did a screenshot here after I passed the interview and did the tasks that the various levels of management told me to by yelling at me with exclamation marks. 

The more exclamation marks means the more yelling and critical the tasks are from the seniors in the organization. 

Here the added stressor is everyone is in "fever mode," because the president is in town, so now you are getting work from everyone and have to manage all the competing priorities. 

See me, the intern in the lower right corner with the work piled up on my desk.

You have to tap furiously on each task to turn them green and eventually make them disappear as completed.

In the game, you basically "get fired again and again in a cycle of humiliation and false hope." 

There are no less than "29 ways to get fired, including opening a box of donuts that doesn't belong to you,...addressing colleagues with the wrong level of formality, or failing to laugh hard enough at the jokes of a company vice president."

One game player said, "sometimes you just have to laugh at the futility of life" or in this case I think he is referring to meaningless work tasks. 

Mind-numbing tasks and yelling in the office are not what decent work life is about.  

It's no wonder that doing meaningful work, being treated with dignity and respect, and having the opportunity to learn and grow are some of the most important aspects of a satisfying job.

Then why get fired, when instead you can get promoted. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 16, 2016

Look Who I Found In Synagogue

Well, this was quite a surprise in the hip Magen David Synagogue today.

I captured this amazing Pokemon. 

I can't say that I actually saw him davening (praying) in shule. 

But he was on the way down to the kiddush (blessing and meal) after services. 

No virtual apps needed for this Pokemon.  

He was right there over the chulent (bean and meat stew)--Oh, that must've been another week. 

Anyway, this Pokemon is ready to defend in the next battle of good and evil. 

Thanks to Nintendo, Pokemon goes these days where the rest of our leaders are afraid to endeavor. 

Hence the search for Pokemon far and wide...it's a true craze. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 12, 2016

Oculus Rift Has My Attention

This picture is an older version of Oculus Rift--larger, heavier, more clunky than the streamlined version coming out this April for $599.

Zuckerberg's Facebook announced the purchase of Oculus virtual reality (VR) in March 2014.

I can't think of another piece of consumer technology that I want to try out more than this. 

Initially for immersive 3-D experiences in all sorts of entertainment, including gaming, movies, television, and more. 

But soon to follow are use cases for virtual meetings, classrooms, doctor's appointments, and anything requiring our interaction and communication. 

Hush-hush is the more intimate use for things like virtual sex. 

Also, there are opportunities for augmented reality where physical reality is supplemented with computer sensory input making your real-experience that much richer and informed.

With the Oculus Rift, I imagine myself immersed on a safari in Africa, flying into the reaches of space, relaxing at the most beautiful beaches, praying at the Western Wall, fighting my way through first person shooter and action adventures, and reliving biblical and other major historical events.

I don't see VR for myself as an escape from reality, so much as being able to experience many more of life's realities and possibilities out there. 

My only fear is that as VR gets better and better, it becomes easier and easier to fall away from our challenges in the real world, and just live inside a mask with a controlled environment where our virtual choices and experiences seem all too convenient and real. ;-) 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Weston High School Library)
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January 24, 2014

Addictions R Us

I was having an really interesting conversation with a friend--okay, and it got a little deep. 

He said something fascinating to me--which is that everyone is addicted to something. 

Think about it--some are addicted to the hard stuff...drugs, alcohol, smoking.

Others are addicted to sex, work, shopping, exercise, even religion. 

In modern times, there are new addictions to technology, gaming, and social media.

My friend is smart and we discussed or alluded to a number of reasons for the addictive nature of all people. 

1) Meaning - Many people have a tough time dealing with the seemingly meaningless, mortal nature of their lives. Without a strong purpose and meaning, we can sort of float through every day looking for some anchor, stability, or rhythm. Addictions, for better or worse, can provide that habit or repetition compulsion. While not very meaningful itself, these addictions help people forget--temporarily, during their high or while they are being kept busy--that they are perhaps lost amidst it all. 

2) Pain - Everyone has pain--emotional, physical, mental--these cause stress on people and their ability to deal or cope can be stretched thin, and they turn to some sort of addiction as a "crutch" to help them get through the day. It reminds me of a very crude song that I overheard years ago, called "F*ck the pain away" (excuse the language here, please). Anyway, simply replace the first word, with "work, shop, drink, and so on and poof, you have opiates (i.e. pain relief) for the masses. 

3) Fear - People are afraid--afraid of living, afraid of dying--and addictions take us away from having the time to stop, think, and have to deal with our fears. If every minute, I am running around doing a million things--then I don't have the time to shut it all down and out, and deal with what's really going on inside. In fact, some people credit the Holy Sabbath day, as being beneficial to us to just stopping all that daily stuff at least for one day a week!

We are all human, and there is no one who is immune to looking for meaning, avoiding pain, and dealing with their fears. 

The question is do we just throw ourselves into something to keep going or do we take more of a Buddhist approach, accept that life is suffering and try to raise ourselves above it through healthy balance, contemplative meditation, compassion and thinking about others, doing good deeds, and so on. 

Keeping busy is good too--but going through life in a drug or otherwise induced fugue is not--then we've lost ourselves, which is maybe the point for our crazy world where addictions abound and we are all too happy to dive right in. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Miles Cave)
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October 5, 2013

The Tron Cycle

This was one of the coolest motorcycles I've seen.

Decked out to look like the cycle in Tron.

Green neon lights under the wheels and engine made this a true sight to see. 

When it zoomed down the street, it was really like a science fiction vehicle.

Awesome sight tonight. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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September 6, 2013

They Aren't Smartwatches...they Are Dumbwatches

The Wall Street Journal asks "Is it Time for Smartwatches?"

With the arrival of the first generation of smartwatches--Samsung Galaxy Gear, Pebble, and Sony Smartwatch--we have hit the rock bottom in innovate and design thinking. 

These watches look cheap--flimsy plastic or ultra-thin aluminum or even stainless doesn't cut it as a fashion statement when larger and substantial is in. 

The screens are too small to be user-centric--let along there being any room for a physical or soft keyboard. 

You can't really read on it and you can't type on it (any significant form of email, texting)--except by voice command.  Ah, let me talk into my wrist, no!

Also, for videos or gaming, the small rectangular screens aren't of any useful function--how much of Madonna's new wild getup can you see or how far can you fling that angry bird on your wrist? 

Downloading music on the Gear, uh, also no.

Taking photos with a 1.9 megapixel camera on the Galaxy Gear at a time when the 8 megapixels on the iPhone is running way short is good for maybe a James Bond, but not anyone else. 

Plus for smartwatches like the Gear, you still need to pair it with a companion smartphone for it to work, so you now have added expense (between about $150 for the Pebble and $299 for the Gear smartwatch) with no significant added benefit.

For the Gear, you also have a separate charger because the watch only has a battery life of about a day, while for the Pebble and Sony Smartwatch 2, you have between half a week to a week. 

And believe it or not, the Galaxy Gear is not compatible with their own Galaxy S4 smartphone--oh, so very smart.

My 16-year old daughter said, "If they had this 10 years ago maybe, but now, who needs it!"

No, Google Glass has it right--concept yes, fashion still to be worked out--and the smartwatches for now, have it wrong, wrong, wrong. 

If you buy it, you've bought yourself a very dumb watch.

Maybe the iWatch can save the day? ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Nathan Chantrell)
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July 3, 2013

Magic Computer Displays


This is some awesome technology from Tactus Technology.

It is called a dynamic tactile touchscreen

Here's how it works:

When you want to type with a tablet or other touchscreen display, not only do you see a QWERTY keyboard, but also the buttons actually rise out of of the flatscreen display--for a tactile typing experience. 

Using microfluidics, the fluids in the screen actually change shape--and form buttons.

When your done typing, the keyboard buttons melt away back down into the screen. 

It all happens in a split second and has negligible impact on power consumption (i.e. less than 1%). 

This type of tactile experience with computer displays can be used for tablets, smartphones, gaming devices, and I would imagine even SCADA devices (e.g. for turning a dial, pulling a level, etc. all virtually on a monitor).

Goodbye physical controls and hello magic touchscreen--presto chango.  ;-)
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June 9, 2013

Turnkey Cyberwar

Interesting article by Noah Shachtman in Wired about how the Pentagon is gearing up for cyberwar.

It's called Plan X and it's being pursued by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The idea is for cyber warfare to be conducted like traditional kinetic warfare--where "munitions made of 1s and 0s [are] to be as a simple to launch as ones made of metal and explosives."

Cyberspace is considered a domain of warfare similar to land, sea, air, and space, and it is necessary to be able to craft offensive capabilities where "a military operator can design and deploy a cyber effect, know what it's going to accomplish...and take the appropriate level of action."

We can't fly by the seat of our pants in cyberspace any longer; we've got to have turnkey solutions ready to launch in order to defend our people and interests. 

To accomplish this, we need:

1) Surveillance: A good map of cyberspace detailing enemy cyber outposts and threats akin to the geographical maps we have identifying physical targets and dangerous movements.

2) Weapons: Reliable cyber weapons ready to take on and take out enemy networks similar to kinetic weapons ready to destroy their military hardware and infrastructure.

3) Launch protocols: The rules of engagement for attack and counterattack and the ability to intuitively and securely unleash those even faster then the turnkey capabilities with which we can respond with traditional military might. 

Whether, the cyber weapon looks like Angry Birds or some other point (at the target) and swipe (to launch at them) interface is almost beside the point--what is key is that we are ready to fight like hell in cyberspace, win uncontested, and keep the peace again. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Great Beyond)
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May 8, 2013

Fun, The Good 'ol Fashion Way

This was a funny picture today on the street in downtown D.C. 

This guy was getting a cheap ride down the thoroughfare in a bin. 

She was pushing and he had his arm raised as the winner of the big race. 

It reminded me of when we were kids and used to ride go-karts down the hill--and only after we picked up some speed did we realize that the breaks didn't work that good.

Oh well, a little flip and some chuckles and no worse for the wear. 

Those were the days, young and carefree--nothing to worry about except whose house we were going over to, next, to wreck some havoc. 

I remember, one day we were having a huge wet paper towel fight and one kid ran into the garage to escape the barrage, I gave chase and unwittingly pushed against the glass in the door to follow and oops my hand went right through.

Not a pretty sight, but I thank G-d lived to tell my kids about it, and now they got one up on me when they do something a little out of bounds and fun--actually they are a lot better than I was at that age. 

And it wasn't that I was a bad kid, I was actually one the good ones--or so I was told--but before we all had computers, the Internet, social media, and smartphones, we had each other. 

It wasn't the technology that drove us, but rather the evolving web of interactions (today my new best friend is...), the challenges we made up (let's bike up to Tarrytown in 100+ degree heat), the fun we found ourselves in (from the board game Risk to early gaming on the Atari, or just cleaning out a friends garage for a few bucks)--times were simpler, more innocent, and in a way better.

When we went home at night from work or for the weekend, our time was our own--were weren't glued to email and always on call. 

When we attended an event, we didn't check our Facebook and Twitter, but paid attention to the company we were in. 

When we ate dinner together, maybe the one rabbit-ear TV was going in the background with one of the 3 networks stations, but everyone wasn't being pulled away for gaming, blogging, or some Internet shopping. 

Don't get me wrong, I love my technology as much or maybe more than the next guy, but I also miss just being me in the physical world with my family and gang of friends, and not just so much TheTotalCIO in the office and in cyberspace. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 2, 2013

Sony, From Hipster to Nerd

Gone are the days when Sony made innovative products like the Walkman and great products like televisions that you willingly paid top dollar for. 

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (18-24 February 2013) reports on Sony that "after eight years of losses in the TV business, it projects a $215 million profit this year--only after selling its New York headquarter for $1.1 billion."

LA Times reported last May that Sony announced its largest ever loss for year-end March 31, 2012 of $5.6 billion, nearly double its prior-year loss of $3.2 billion. They also announced layoffs for 10,000 employees. 

Sony is reorganizing and shedding businesses (displays, chemicals, etc.) and according to Bloomberg looking to generate 70% of sales and 85% of profit from just 3 remaining businesses--cameras, smartphones/tablets, and gaming. 

However, Sony has lost its way...

Maybe it started in the 80's when Sony lost out in VCR (videocassette recorder) format wars with its Betamax to VHS, and it continues today with a lack of innovation in the mobile technology marketplace. Anybody want to buy a Sony Ericsson phone?  Ah, no! 

Additionally, if you have ever been to a Sony retail store--probably not--they are a truly sad imitation of Apple and virtually nobody is in there. Hello--echo.

Sony is not only losing the technology war, the retail war, and the market share (it has only 4.5% of the phone market according to the Wall Street Journal) and earnings war, but also the branding war and they have just become plain uncool.

Sony's products have names that are unrecognizable, unpronounceable, or just plain alphabet soup. 

Do you want to buy a MacBook or a Vaio, iPhone or Xperia, Kindle Fire or PRST, a Sharp Elite or XBR, an Xbox 360 or a PS4?

The answer is obvious to everyone but Sony. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 31, 2013

Alienware Rocks

So this is the nicest looking laptop I have ever seen by far--and it's made by Alienware, a subsidiary of Dell (acquired in 2006).

Apple, I never thought I'd be saying it. 

But Alienware rocks!

The sci-fi style with beautifully lit keyboard and advanced features for gaming make this one awesomely powerful piece of hardware. 

I can't believe that kids are actually carrying these into school now a days. 

See video review of premier M18X Alienware gaming laptop here.

If you want unbelievable graphics display, memory, sound, processing power, storage, and style--this is it in laptop computers. 

Plus it comes with the cute alien figure etched on the cover. 

I want one! ;-)

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August 31, 2012

Can a Computer Run the Economy?

I am not talking about socialism or totalitarianism, but about computers and artificial intelligence.

For a long time, we have seen political infighting and finger-pointing stall progress on creating jobs, balancing trade, taming the deficits, and sparking innovation. 

But what if we somehow took out the quest for power and influence from navigating our prosperity?

In politics, unfortunately no one seems to want to give the other side the upper hand--a political win with voters or a leg-up on with their platform.

But through the disciplines of economics, finance, organizational behavior, industrial psychology, sociology, geopolitics, and more--can we program a computer to steer the economy using facts rather than fighting and fear?

Every day, we need to make decisions, big and small, on everything from interests rates, tax rates, borrowing, defense spending, entitlements, pricing strategies, regulating critical industries, trade pacts, and more.

Left in the hands of politicians, we inject personal biases and even hatreds, powerplays, band-standing, bickering, and "pork-barrel" decision making, rather than rational acting based on analysis of alternatives, cost-benefits, risk management, and underlying ethics. 

We thumb our noises (rightfully) at global actors on the political stages, saying who is rational and who is perhaps just plain crazy enough to hit "the button."

But back here at home, we can argue about whether or not the button of economic destructionism has already been hit with the clock ticking down as the national deficit spirals upward, education scores plummet, and jobs are lost overseas?

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (30 August 2012) suggests using gaming as a way to get past the political infighting and instead focus on small (diverse) groups to make unambiguous trade-off decisions to guide the economy rather than "get reelected"--the results pleasantly were cooperation and collaboration.

Yes, a game is just a game, but there is lesson that we can learn from this--economic decision-making can be made (more) rationally by rewarding teamwork and compromise, rather than by an all or nothing, fall on your sword, party against party, winner takes no prisoner-politics. 

I would suggest that gaming is a good example for how we can improve our economy, but I can see a time coming where "bid data," analytics, artificial intelligence, modeling and simulation, and high-performance computing, takes this a whole lot further--where computers, guided and inspired by people, help us make rational economic choices, thereby trumping decisions by gut, intuition, politics, and subjective whims .

True, computers are programmed by human beings--so won't we just introduce our biases and conflict into the systems we develop and deploy?

The idea here is to filter out those biases using diverse teams of rational decision-makers, working together applying subject matter expertise and best practices and then have the computers learn over time in order to improve performance--this, separate from the desire and process to get votes and get elected.

Running the economy should not be about catering to constituencies, getting and keeping power for power sakes, but rather about rational decision-making for society--where the greatest good is provided to the greatest numbers, where the future takes center stage, where individuals preferences and rights are respected and upheld, and where ethics and morality underpin every decision we make.  

The final question is whether we will be ready to course-correct with collaboration and advances in technology to get out of this economic mess before this economic mess gets even more seriously at us?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Erik Charlton)

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June 1, 2012

We're In It Together


This is a cool vision by Tom Clancy of the "future soldier" from the Ghost Recon game series. 

The mixture of advanced weaponry, high-tech reconnaissance and surveillance, drones and robotics, future combat uniforms, and cloaking technology is just super.

If you have time and interest, there is another longer video here with footage that is particularly good starting at about the 3:40 marker. 

Like Star Trek paving the way for real-life advances in technology and space exploration, Clancy's future soldier will be another example of life imitating art.  

When we marry the vision and creativity of our entertainment industry, with the technical skills of our scientists and engineers, and the risk-taking of our entrepreneurs, we can do truly awesome things. 

"No one can do everything, but everyone can do something"--we're in it together! 

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May 12, 2012

It's Not iStuff, It's Your iFuture

There is an editorial in the Wall Street Journal (11 May 2012) called "Make It a Summer Without iStuff."

It is written by David Gelernter, Professor of Computer Science at the prestigious Yale University and I was much dismayed to read it.

With all due respect, Gelernter makes the case--and a poor one at that--for keeping kids away from technology.

He calls technology devices and the Internet, "the perfect anti-concentration weapon...turning a child's life into a comedy of interruptions."

Gelernter states pejoratively that the "whole point of modern iToys...is not doing anything except turning into a click vegetable."

Moreover, Gelernter goes too far treating technology and the Internet as a waste of time, toys, and even as dangerous vices--"like liquor, fast cars, and sleeping pills"--that must be kept away from children.

Further, Gelernter indiscriminately calls en masse "children with computers...little digital Henry VIIIs," throwing temper tantrums when their problems cannot be solved by technology. 

While I agree with Gelernter that at the extreme, technology can be used to as a escape from real, everyday life--such as for people who make their primary interaction with others through social networking or for those who sit virtually round-the-clock playing video games.

And when technology is treated as a surrogate for real life experiences and problem solving, rather than a robust tool for us to live fuller lives, then it becomes an enabler for a much diminished, faux life and possibly even a pure addiction. 

However, Gelernter misses the best that technology has to offer our children--in terms of working smarter in everything we do. 

No longer is education a matter of memorizing textbooks and spitting back facts on exams in a purely academic fashion, but now being smart is knowing where to find answers quickly--how to search, access, and analyze information and apply it to real world problems. 

Information technology and communications are enablers for us do more with less--and kids growing up as computer natives provide the best chance for all of us to innovate and stay competitive globally. 

Rather then helping our nation bridge the digital divide and increase access to the latest technologies and advance our children's familiarity with all things science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Gelernter wants to throw us back in time to the per-digital age.

With the ever rapid pace with which technology is evolving, Gelernter's abolishing technology for children needlessly sets them back in their technology prowess and acumen, while others around the world are pressing aggressively ahead. 

Gelernter may want his kids to be computer illiterate, but I want mine to be computer proficient.  

iStuff are not toys, they are not inherently dangerous vices, and they are not a waste of our children's time, they are their future--if we only teach and encourage them to use the technology well, balanced, and for the good. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to "Extra Ketchup," Michael Surran)


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