Showing posts with label Simple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Simple. Show all posts

March 24, 2019

Three Ladies

Just a beautiful artist plate that I picked up in Israel. 

Loved the colors and simplicity of this. 

I got a "aged brass" (gold) plate stand for this.

Enjoy looking at this now in our living room and also remembering our wonderful trip, thank G-d. 

Also, I wonder if I know these three ladies from somewhere.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 20, 2019

Simple And Beautiful

Thought this was a nice touch on the table. 

Just a simple drinking glass with a little water on the bottom and these three beautiful flowers inside. 

Pink, Yellow, Orange. 

So simple, yet so beautiful.

Maybe that's the point. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 6, 2018

Makes My Heart Sing

Just thought this was really beautiful. 

The yellow butterflies with the background of the blue from the sky and ocean, and the white of the soft clouds. 

Feeling like this makes my heart sing. 

Sort of like love. 

It's simple, but so clear. 

We're free and flying alone, but together.

We're one with the universe and also with each other.

Butterfly, butterfly into the wild blue yonders. 

No worries, just soaring, at peace, happy, and oh so free. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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May 30, 2016

Tiny Beautiful Flowers

Just wanted to share these tiny beautiful flowers for Memorial Day.

I took this when hiking yesterday in Needwood Park. 

Such perfection in what G-d created. 

Even though the flowers were very small, I felt a lot smaller next to these. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 9, 2015

Sit-Stand Computer Desk 1-2-3


This adjustable computer desk stand from Veridesk for sitting and standing is awesome. 

Someone got this in the office, and it is the talk of the town. 

It comes as one piece, no assembly required and you just place it under your computer--simple, easy!

Just push the handles on either side and the desk height adjusts variably up or down. 

I found it on Amazon for just $325-$400 depending on the size and whether you have a double monitor. 

My colleague at work said just try it and you will feel so good--this seems like a good healthy deal. ;-)
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November 7, 2015

Don't Know When I'll See You Again

So in synagogue today, the Rabbi introduced this very old man to the pulpit to say a few words. 

Apparently, he was one of the founders of the shule. 

This grey headed, stooped man walks slowly forward carrying a small oxygen tank with wires dangling in his jacket and to his nose. 

The man stands on the dais and says:

"I am 91-years old, and the doctor says  I have this, that, and the other thing, and I am terminal. 

It was very hard for me to get here today in my condition, but I wanted to speak with you all. 

I have lived a good life, but not an easy life. 

My life was a rollercoaster--at one time I had six cars and another time just one car, for the most part I had enough money, but never a lot of money. 

Now, I ask myself what is really important. 

When I have shortness of breath then nothing seems so important anymore--and it is the simple things that really count. 

My son called the other day to tell me that he is being given more responsibility at work--not just his teaching responsibilities anymore--and he won't have time to call so often anymore. 

So while I've studied and explored all facets of thinking from Shintoism and Buddhism to communism and socialism, in the end, I realized that I have the Torah and am a just simple Jew from Fez. 

I wanted to be here with you today to ask you all for your forgiveness so that I can go on as I am very sick and am terminal.  

I don't know when I will get to see you all again." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 30, 2015

Hey, Lady On The Shirt

This was just a really cool shirt that I saw.

It's has an image of a lady standing out front with what looks like a volcano in the background. 

The volcano is shooting up its hothead steam, and looks like it's blowing the cloud on the left sideways, off-kilter. 

What's nice about the lady on the shirt is that it's not just drawn on, but has materials sewn in to make it 3-D.

The black and pink fabric for the dress, the green and red beads for the shirt, the pink and silver over the black patches for the sunglasses, and the yellow for the hat. 

Also, like the way she's standing all confident wth her hands on her hips and her elbows out--like "Hey, that volcano is nothing (compared to me)!"

The shirt is so simple, yet very smart. 

That's the way most things should be. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 22, 2014

In Case Of Emergency


Washington D.C. Metro Emergency Instructions

Ugh, long and boring.


How 'bout this instead:


- Don't Freak Out

- Don't Get Out 

(unless your in immediate danger)

- Don't Take Your Bulky Stuff Out

- Don't Fry When Your Out 

(stay away from the electrified 3rd rail--zap!)

Easy, smeazy. ;-)


[Note: Follow instructions at your own risk.]


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal - sorry so fuzzy, train was moving)

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January 29, 2014

A Razor to Apple's Throat


I love Razer's Project Christine - a completely modular PC. 

There is a stand and you simply attach the components you want: Central Processing Units (CPU), Graphic Processing Unit (GPU), Power Supply Unit (PSU), Solid-State Drive (SSD) storage, and so on. 

By making the architecture open and plug and play--just jack in a new module-- and change out whatever you want, whenever you want. Obsolescence be gone. 

This is a challenge to pure standardization, and a way to make customization cost-effective.

The cooling is done with mineral oil that is pumped throughout from the bottom reservoir. 

At the top, you see a module for a command center for adding operating systems, adjusting configurations and settings, or monitoring performance. 

A subscription model is planned where for a annual fee, you can get the latest and greatest upgrades.


Project Christine PC is the epitome of simple, useful, scalable and beautiful.

Watch out Apple, you have a Razor at your throat--it's time to seriously up the innovation game. ;-)
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August 28, 2013

Wheelchair Complexity

So my approach to enterprise architecture, product design, and customer service, as many of you know, is plan and simple, User-centric!

Innovating, building things, servicing customers, and communicating needs to be done in a way that is useful and usable--not overly complex and ridiculous. 

The other day, I saw a good example of a product that was not very user-centric. 

It was a type of wheelchair, pictured here in blue. 

And as you can see it is taking 2 men and a lady quite a bit of effort to manipulate this chair. 

This little girl standing off to the side is sort of watching amusingly and in amazement.

What is ironic is that the wheelchair is supposed to be made for helping disabled people. 

Yet, here the wheelchair can't even be simply opened/closed without a handful of healthy people pulling and pushing on the various bars, levers, and other pieces. 

If only Apple could build a wheelchair--it would be simple and intuitive and only take one finger to do everything, including play iTunes in the background. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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May 6, 2013

Learning IT Security By Consequences


This is a brilliant little video on IT Security. 

What I like about it is that it doesn't just tell you what not to do to stay safe, but rather it shows you the consequences of not doing the right things. 

Whether you are letting someone into your office, allowing them borrow your badge, leaving your computer unsecured, posting your passwords, and more--this short animated video shows you how these vulnerabilities will be exploited.

It is also effective how they show "Larry" doing these security no-no's with signs everywhere saying don't do this. 

Finally, the video does a nice job summing up key points at the end to reinforce what you learned. 

I think that while this is simpler than many longer and more detailed security videos that I have seen, in a way it is more successful delivering the message in a practical, down-to-earth approach that anyone can quickly learn core basic practices from. 

Moreover, this video could be expanded to teach additional useful IT security tips, such as password strengthening, social engineering, and much more. 

I believe that even Larry, the unsuspecting office guy, can learn his lesson here. ;-)

(Note: This is not an endorsement of any product or service.)
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April 12, 2013

Tiptoeing Or Delivering A Knockout Punch

Russia (and many others countries) develop some really kick-a*s weapons--especially, when they are so simple, yet so devastatingly effective. 

Like this TOS-1A heavy flamethrower system--it is a multi-rocket launcher mounted on a T-72 main battle tank chassis. 

The TOS-1A carries 30 (newer version 24) 220-mm incendiary or thermobaric unguided rockets that it can shoot up to 3 km (newer version 6 km), and it destroys everything within 300 square meters using high-pressure and temperature.

What is cool is that the technology seems boiled down to the basics--shoot and eliminate. And when multiple TOS-1As roll unto the battlefield--they unleash what looks like a ruthless barrage of destructive fire. 

Of course, precision targeting weapons have the added benefit of mitigating civilian casualties--but from the looks of things, that is not what this weapon is all about.

The question is do you go half way or finish the job--do you hit below the belt or keep it a clean fight?

In war, if you leave the enemy intact or with fighting capabilities, then you may just have to fight them another day. 

While the rules of war protect people from the cruelties of all out hostilities, we need to make sure that in the end, it keeps them safe over the long-term, and does not just prolong the inevitable cat-fight.

Good, kind, and just people often don't feel comfortable delivering a knockout punch, but sometimes (not all the time) that is just what is needed to restore the peace.  ;-)


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November 3, 2012

Sign Language That Really Talks


There are over 40 million deaf or hearing disabled people in the world.

Many of these people suffer from not being understood by others and feel isolated. 

Four Ukranian graduate students have created the answer for them called Enable Talk--these gloves translate sign langauge into sound. 

The gloves have sensors including compass, gyroscope, and accelerometer that captures the wearer's sign language. This is then transmitted via Bluetooth to an smartphone app that matches the sign pattens to those stored (and which can also be programmed/customized) and translates it into words and sounds. 

Enable Talk gloves won the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012 student technology competition, and was named as one of Time Magazine's Top 25 Best Innovations of 2012. 

For $175 these gloves are an amazing value for the hearing impaired who just wants to be communicate and be understood by others. 

This is a great advance for the disabled, and I'd like to see the next iteration where the gloves have the translation and voice mechanism and speakers built in, so the smartphone and app isn't even needed any longer--then the communication is all in the gloves--simple, clean, and convenient! ;-)

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August 25, 2012

Amazing 60's VW Van

Driving toward Rockville, I saw this incredible 60's VW van with all the flaming rainbow designs for peace, love, and rock & roll. 

It was parked on top of this bright orange and blue garage--not sure how it got up there. 

I asked my wife to quickly snap a photo as we went by, and she was successful. 

While I wasn't even born yet, when this van would've been all the rage, I can still feel reminiscent for the times--when things seemed so much simpler and in a way, purer. 

In my mind, it was a time when people rallied around democracy, freedom, human rights, peace and diversity.

While they didn't know from personal computers, smartphones, and the Internet, people were full of hopes and dreams--perhaps that what ushered in all the great technology that soon followed. 

(Source photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

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February 1, 2012

App Provides Push-Button Emergency Help

Crimepush
An important new free iPhone/Android App called CrimePush hit the market today.

It allows you or a loved one at the push of a button to report a crime.  

Once you download the app, you can store your name, phone number, and address (so it's there in case something G-d forbid happens).

Further, you can set the App to report crimes with your information or anonymously and with or without your GPS location. 

Then you have a screen that provides you with 9 options for the various types of crime or emergency:

- Theft
- Threat
- Altercation
- Sexual Abuse
- Medical
- Accident
- Vandalism
- Drugs
- Harassment


Click on theft, as an example, the date and time are pre-populated for you, and you have a free text area to describe the incident, and the options to add a photo, video, or audio.

Then simply hit the "push" button to submit to the authorities. 

My understanding is that more enhancements to the CrimePush App are in the works such as the ability to shake your phone to activate CrimePush, so the police can find you quickly through GPS. 

CrimePush has the potential to help a lot of people and ultimately actually help to reduce crime by having people report instead of ignore, and provide information to the authorities faster, more accurately, and more comprehensively using the various multimedia options to capture the crime and the criminals.

(Source Photo: here)

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January 20, 2012

Clean Water From A Bicycle

Love this product called The Aquaduct for helping people in developing countries get clean water.

Using the power of pedaling, water that is loaded into the back of the bike is "cycled" through a filter and run into the clean container in the front.

This can be done by actually riding the bike home with the water or refilling the clean container in stationary mode.

The Aquaduct reminds me of some similar products that I saw and blogged about in July at a Peace Corps exhibit that used bicycles for shelling corn and charging cell phones.

What's great about The Aquaduct is that is a simple, all-in-one solution that transports, filters, and stores water--it was the winning entry (out of 102) in the Google Innovate or Die competition.

For 1.1 billion people without clean water in the world, The Aquaduct solves the problem for transporting and sanitizing water.

In Judaism, we say "Mayim Chaim"--that water is life, and this innovative pedal-powered transit and filtration machine can help bring life-saving water to the masses.


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December 10, 2011

Nuclear Weapons--A Scary Infographic

As you already know, I appreciate a good infographic.
Unfortunately, I think many of the ones coming out recently are too jumbled, long and complex and read more like a "Megilla" (no disrespect intended).
I was a little surprised to find a infographic on Nuclear Weapons online, but then again it's not a "cookbook" and hopefully those are not being posted.
This one was interesting to me, not only because of the topic of weapons of mass destruction, but also because in 11 factoids, the graphics takes you through a pretty clear and simple overview of the subject matter.
No, its not getting into the physics and nuclear engineering depths of the whole thing, but at the same time, you have starting with the Manhattan Projects in the 30's, some nice history on the following:
  • Invention
  • Cost
  • Types, both fission and fusion
  • Testing
  • Use
  • Inventories, although based on recent articles on the 3,000 miles of Chines tunnels in the Wall Street Journal (25 October 2011) and Washington Post (30 November 2011), the Chinese number may be way too low--the WSJ based on Chinese media reports has it as high as 3,500!
  • Even numbers "lost and not recovered"--11!--not comforting, who would've thought?

In the graphic, it would be interesting to see a breakdown by land-, bomber-, and submarine-based, (some nice graphics available for that) but perhaps a number 12 item on the infographic would've been getting too much in the weeds.

Also, a similar graphic for chemical and biological weapons while interesting, would be scary indeed.
(Source Graphic: here)

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September 21, 2011

Shalom Rotundus

Rotundus, the rolling robot, was designed by the European Space Agency for exploration of distant planets like Mars and Mercury, but now it has found its way into many earthly avocations.

This Groundbot has "eyes" on either side of its roly-poly robotic body and has a unique internal pendulum for maneuvering around.

Currently, Rotundus is deployed for sentry duty at SAAB auto manufacturing plants.

However, as you can see in the video, it can also function comfortably in a home environment as a quasi baby-sitter for the kids.

Already, we see robots in Japan providing service to people from servers in restaurants to caretakers for the elderly.

I appreciated the interview with the CTO at Rotundus who shares his vision for robots that "provide not only security, but also pleasure to people."

Rotundus is a great example of how robots can come in virtually any way, shape or form.

The key is that robots leverage the best of automation and innovation to help ordinary people do things simpler, easier, and more convenient than ever before.

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July 30, 2011

Federal Register On Steroids

"The Federal Register is "the official daily publication of rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents." It is published by the Office of Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration in the Government Printing Office's (GPO) Federal Digital System (FDsys)--"the next generation on online government information."

Attached is a snapshot that shows a very basic chronological order of posts with an issue of the Federal Register subdivided by agency/organization. It's organized and to the point!

Now, here is a new way of looking at the information from GovPulse, a site developed to "make such documents as the Federal Register searchable, more accessible and easier to digest...to encourage every citizen to become more involved in the workings of their government and make their voice heard." The site is built from open source.

You'll see that there is a lot more information readily available, organized in multiple ways, and really quite user-centric; some examples:

1) Number of Entries for the Day: The number of entries for the day are listed right at the top.
2) Calendar for Selecting Day of Interest: Next to the number of entries for the day, you can click on the calendar icon and get an instant 3 months of dates to choose from or enter another date of interest and be instantly take to there.
3) Statistics for the Day: The right sidebar displays the locations mentioned on a map and the types of entries and reporting agencies in pie charts.
4) Department Entries are Prominently Displayed: Both the number of entries for each department are identified as well as identifying their type and length along with an abstract for the entry. Each Department's entries can easily be expanded or collapses by clicking on the arrow next to the department's name.
5) Entries are Enabled for Action: By clicking on an entry, there are options to share it via social media to Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and Reddit to let others know about it and there is also a listing of your senators and representatives and their contact information to speak up on the issues.

Additional helpful features on the homepage--immediate access to areas that are last chance to act or what's new, such as:

1) Comments closing in the next 7 days
2) Comments opened in the last 7 days
3) Rules taking effect in the next 7 days
4) Rules proposed in the last 7 days

Moreover, you have another map with bubbles showing mentioned locations or you can enter your own location and get all the entries subdivided by 10, 15, 20 miles and so on up to 50 miles away.

Another feature called Departmental Pulse, show a trend line of number of entries per department over the last year or 5 years.

At the top of the page, you can quickly navigate to entries in the Federal Register by agency, topic, location, date published, or do a general search.

There are other cool features such as when you look at entries by department, you can see number of entries, places mentioned, and a bubble map that tells you popular topics for this department.

Overall, I think GovPulse deserves a big thumbs up in terms of functionality and usability and helping people get involved in government by being able to access information in easier and simpler ways.

The obvious question is why does it take 3 outsiders "with a passion for building web applications" to do this?

While I can't definitively answer that, certainly there are benefits to coming in with fresh eyes, being true subject matter experts, and not bound by the "bureaucracy" that is endemic in so many large institutions.

This is not say that there are not many talented people in government--because there certainly are--but sometimes it just takes a few guys in a garage to change the world as we know it.

Federal_register Govpulse

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July 24, 2011

SIMON Says Open


Discovery Channel has a series called Future Weapons.
This is part 1 from Israel and Richard (Mack) Mackowicz, a former Navy SEAL show us "The SIMON."
SIMON is a high-tech, advanced rifle grenade for breaching virtually any door in hostile environments.
It is made by Rafael, one of the largest and most innovative Israeli arms manufacturers.
SIMON is in use by both U.S. and Israel armed forces.
Essentially, a bullet-trap slides over the muzzle of a conventional assault rifle like an M-16.
A regular bullet propels a grenade up to 30 yards into a door, and the blast wave from the detonation breaches the door and any locking mechanisms--with minimum collateral damage and keeping troops out of harms way.
Breaching doors in urban warfare is one of the most dangerous tasks in any mission as troops may be walking into anything from the spray of gunfire to booby traps.
Well as Mack says: "SIMON says open door;" It is an "instantaneous key to any door."
What I like about SIMON is the combination of its simplicity and effectiveness.
On one hand, it works with conventional rifles and bullets and is light and compact to carry. It's as simple as slide, aim, and shoot--and the door is breached for troops to enter and either rescue hostages or get the bad guy.
With whatever technology we are building--whether computers or weapons--they need to be user-centric and mission focused.
Israel has a history of innovation--everything from defense to medicine and making the desert bloom--and I think this has to do with that their survival is constantly imperiled.
The lesson is that we ought to recognize the dangers out there and respond to them with immediacy and vigor, as if our lives depended on it--because in many cases, they really do.

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