Monday, December 17, 2012

I Think Therefore

Cogito ergo sum

Whenever abstract thinking leads a person to question their own existence, the reference to Descartes' famous statement comes to mind.  I think, therefore I am.  As a kid I was introduced to this statement as a child by some cartoon.  Possibly Bugs Bunny but I digress. "I think therefore I yam!"

I would daydream about many abstract possibilities.  Sometimes during bouts of self reflection but admittedly mostly out of boredom.  What if it is not I that is actually doing the thinking?

I would also daydream about the possibility of advanced alien civilizations.  What if they weren't "out there" in the sense that we hope and understand now.  Not out there in the cosmos but beyond it?

When I first learned that the universe itself had an end to it, like anyone else I couldn't help but contemplate what lies beyond that border.  Some THING MUST be there.  It wouldn't even necessarily have to be an object or material of mass as we understand it given the laws of matter in our universe.  But SOME-THING must be there or else how would a big bang...well, bang?

As the years went by I studied many different things.  Studied = feeble attempt to grasp the incomprehensible mysteries of the universe.  Purely out of entertainment and wonder.  Curiosity led me to many subjects that I felt were connected in some way.  Things from hard science and philosophy to the not so hard.  There are even lessons to be learned from the more mystical teachings of human society.  I've always made a conscious effort not to dismiss those lessons of even the most abstract branches of study simply because I don't devote my life or faith to them.

So I contemplated these many things and like many other people I came to a hypothetical possibility.  Emphasis on possibility without ANY inference of probability mind you.

I saw this photo of the Helix Nebula for the first time and thought "What if we are an experiment?"
As we live and breathe it is the goal of many human scientists to recreate the environment which first created the big bang.  Who says some others haven't also tried the same experiment and done so, successfully countless billions of years before us?  Is it not pompous of us to think that we are the only beings intelligent enough to consider it?

That led to some other avenues of recreational amateur research and I read a few books about the virtualization of life.  These books focused mainly on humanity and where technology would eventually lead us.  Keep in mind this was long before things like World of Warcraft or even Second Life where you can essentially aim to do these very things.

My imagination took me to fun concepts.  Perhaps we aren't who we think we are and this whole world we know as Earth is just a recreational escape.  Imagine our true existence as those very "aliens" we seek and the human culture we know is a purely evolved live social experiment.  The imagined connectivity between individuals being a real, physical connection in whatever realm we actually exist.

Many years later I saw a movie called The Matrix.  It kinda sorta touched on this but it was close enough that I was intrigued by the idea.

A virtual world would explain some the inexplicable mysteries and coincidences we encounter.  Mind over matter for example would play a very important role.  As time goes on and the mass intelligence grows rules are set.  Magic and miracles are "proven" (established as) impossible and a structure of society is built in the midst of chaos.

What better way to study life then to experience it first hand?

Sound like madness?  Sound abstract and impossible?  Well believe it or not, some scientists would like to test it.  If you read the article, please try to give the concept a chance and dismiss the ribbing the original poster immediately starts jabbing at the project.

Read it like a story concept.  Visualize it like a fantastic story and not an actual, or probable scenario.  I think the idea is just epic and amazing to contemplate.

If anything, it makes for a fun thing to discuss.  Story.

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Apple Product!

Does this attract women?  Does it show how tough you are?  Why is this a thing?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Please Wash Your Hands

(I have dozens of incomplete blog drafts.  This was one of them.  It was a concept I had and I know I will never have the time to flesh out so I just touched it up and posted it.  I hope you find it as informative and as I did.)

At home I probably wash my hands at least a dozen times a day.  At work, that just isn't possible.  So like many others I use hand sanitizer.  I don't know if you all feel the same as I do after using it, but it just doesn't compare to a good, clean and refreshing water and soap hand wash.

Even with the chemicals burning at your skin I just didn't feel as clean.  It almost seemed as if I applied a fresh coat of paint over a dirty wall.  The gross stuff was still there but just slightly sterilized.  So, I decided to do a little research and found some information.

A majority of alcohol sanitizers in the US use either ethanol or isopropanol or a combination of them.  Most brands also include a moisturizer because those chemicals tend to dry up and sometimes irritate the skin.  The alcohol in these sanitizers works by changing the proteins in the microorganisms which effectively kills bacteria and most viruses.  What isn't usually made clear is that proteins and fats on dirty hands will REDUCE the effectiveness of the alcohol as a sanitizer.

So what does that mean?  Well, if you have dirty hands this doesn't work well.  So it is important to know that these sanitizers don't CLEAN your hands, the only disinfect.  This seems obvious but in my personal experience is not the way people in general use these products.

So what are we supposed to do?  BOTH.  Hand sanitizers work best AFTER you have washed your hands.  So it should become an additional step when washing your hands, not an alternative.  The way it works is by stripping away a layer of oil on your skin and killing any present microorganisms.  It takes bacteria long time to repopulate.

For best results you are supposed to rub your hands with the sanitizer for 30 seconds.  If your hands are dry before that point, then you aren't using enough.  Hand sanitizers are NOT an alternative, they should be an accessory to, hand washing.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by your local resident OCD hand washer.

Source: EDIS

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Doing What I Do

I have a job.  I have a dream job.  They are not one in the same.

Unlike all those people trying to "make it big" on one reality TV contest or another I'm not looking for a cushy job.  I work hard and enjoy it.  I'm one of those guys that would probably keep working if I won the lottery.

The fact remains though that what I do for a living, is not fulfilling.  Not in the least bit.  I come home exhausted.  Not physically worn out mind you though there is quite a bit of cardio involved.  I just feel drained.  I have the kind of job that requires you to insert a proverbial square peg into a round hole.  Then when you miraculously make that work, you're given a isosceles triangle.  But I digress!

This is not a venting blog since no one in their right mind would want to hear that crap.  This is an excited blog post. :D

Many years ago, I applied for my dream job.  That experience was honestly one of the most exciting things I have ever done in my life.  Unfortunately things didn't work out.  I was the wrong person for the job that didn't know the right person that could get me the job.

At the time, I knew to the core of my being that I was PERFECT for that position.  I nailed the interview like I never have nailed an interview before.  I believe I am a humble person.  Making those statements doesn't come easy for a person like me.  But I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt that I would have done that job fantastically.  I had the right skill set, experience and drive.  Since I didn't get the job, I was severely disappointed.  I didn't let it affect my demeanor much but inside, it hurt a lot.  I was devastated and gave up on my dream.  The ONE time I tried.  Ignoring the fact that the ONE time I tried I scored an interview almost immediately for a highly sought after position in a VERY high visibility business.

Time moved on and 6 years later I feel motivated to try again.  I don't fear rejection.  I didn't fear it then but it still affected me.  This job isn't exactly the same but it is similar enough that I believe I would find a LOT more joy performing my daily duties than I do now beating my head against the proverbial wall of despair.

So why am I posting this?  I am excited.  I am feeling positive.  I am feeling hopeful and nervous.  Will I be overlooked again?  Will I land the job and not know what to do with it?

I have no idea.

The point is that I am taking a chance.  I feel a little alive again that I have an opportunity to do what I like and still provide for my family.  If I get this job it will mean making some EXTREMELY drastic changes.  It will really be a new chapter in my life.  One that hopefully will prove beneficial for everyone involved.

If there was anyone I could beg to for the opportunity, I would do it.  I'm hopeful and enthusiastic but most of all, incredibly nervous, hence the desire to post an irrelevant story on an unrelated blog.

So followers, if any of you are still there, I beg of you to please wish me luck, think positively or even PRAY that I get this job as well as for my families future.

COINCIDENTALLY This is my 333 post on the Silent Podium.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Two Many Updates

Over two years ago I posted a very lengthy blog titled, Too Many Updates.  It covered many things but was inspired by the conveniently designed, but terribly implemented consolidated update infrastructure.  This allowed all applications to be updated through one central source, Apple.

It seems convenient but it unfortunately seemed to exist almost completely unsupervised.  Updates would often remove critical features or crash the application completely.  This seems to have resurfaced but on a grander scale.  In the spirit of the new short-form blog instead of my typical commentary/banter I will instead post a link to the article which I believe you may find enlightening.

The Verge

Massive Failure!

Sometimes I can be mean but I swear it's not that I WANT to be.  I've been told I have a strange sense of humor and I can see that.  When I first saw this video I couldn't stop laughing and I didn't know why.

It wasn't because I didn't have any pity for those involved.  It wasn't for any lack of sympathy I felt for the those thousands of people expecting a longer show.  It wasn't because I didn't feel for the city that paid all that money burning up in the sky.  I even felt a little bad for the employees who wired this thing all up.

I can't help but picture the look of confusion on the folks bordering on seizure as if to say, "WTF are we looking at here in this tremendous display of fire?"  Just absolute chaos.  A show that is meant to be enjoyed by people living at ten times the speed of human life.  Sometimes humans can be pretty entertaining in their own special way.  Please enjoy the first 120fps fireworks display provided by the city of San Diego California.

Magnetic Wallpaper

I don't usually post things like this but I thought it was so awesome that I should share.  If you all like it and I get a significant amount of views, perhaps I will post more.

Magnetic wallpaper!  I could DEFINITELY see this as convenient for people who like to change their rooms around.  Children's rooms could also benefit.  No more posting paperwork on the fridge!  Keep it in the kids room!  I would find it personally convenient for the home office as well.  At work we have the cubicles we can pin things too.  Having this sort of solution at home is nicer to look at.

Unfortunately its currently priced at $133 for a 16 foot roll but if this becomes popular and available by multiple manufacturers it would be great.  Perhaps a small strip of it would be magnetic to reduce price.

Here is a link to the wallpaper.

Gaikai Cloud Gaming

Not the tech industries first foray into cloud gaming but in my personal opinion, the best with a chance successful if and only because of the huge installed user base.

All you need is a networked Samsung television.  Relatively speaking, that is quite a few televisions and given their recent history, just a sample of the future success they will have.  On their website though I found a curious image they chose to use.  It is a render mimicking the design of an HP MediaSmart server.  Which as a local, consumer focused media server is great.  Nowhere near what is necessary for global internet connectivity and hosting.  I just thought it was funny.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Giant Chickens

More and more researchers are siding with the belief that our favorite childhood monsters were instead...fluffy soft and birdlike. I'm sad to admit that I have always thought they looked like plucked chickens myself.
Check out this link for more detailed information.

To which my response is a half serious, half mocking...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another One

:(  They say burgers are safe.  But moo really knows anymore.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Apple Event (3-7-12)

Right now Apple is holding an event announcing new tech.  The new iteration of the iPad should be announced.  iPad 3, 2s or HD, whatever they call it should be completely disclosed within the next few minutes.

Sit tight.  I will be posting as much information as I can cram in.  Side Note: In my previous blog I posted that Apple may be working on some sort of tactile feedback with their new iPad and it appears some folks agree.

I will be updating this blog post as the info comes in.

10:03 - Tim Cook is on stage making investor statements.  How much they sold.  How great their stores are etc.  Nothing I'll bore you with.  I will keep these updates specifically to the hardware information.
10:09 - Well, iOS 5.1 isn't exactly hardware but its significant.  Available today.  Lackluster way of announcing it.  May only include minor changes.  Tim emphasized Siri in new languages.  Useless to anyone but 4S owners at this moment.
10:11 - iCloud now supports movies in 1080p.  (Apple TV supports only 720 so perhaps there is a "one more thing" announcement coming at the end of this event?)
10:17 Guess they couldn't wait. $99 available March 16th and for pre-order today.

10:21 Low blow attacks to Samsung.  Looking at a shot of Twitter on the Galaxy Tab.  "It kind of looks like a​ blown-up smartphone app running on a tablet -- and that's exactly what it is!"  Ouch.

10:22 New iPad.  I don't see a home button!  (But it is there.)
10:25 2048 X 1536.  3.1 Million Pixels.
10:27 A5X processor confirmed.  Quad Core.  Ok faster processor, check.  Higher resolution, check.  Increased saturation, surprise.  Hints of more "new features."
10:29 Same camera as the 4s.  Pretty good.
10:30 1080p video recording.  Face detection.  Strange that there isn't any flash.
10:31 Voice dictation.  Interesting.  (That button will get in the way of the language toggle.)

10:33 Looks like there IS a home button after all.  Unless they are waiting....4GLTE!  Wow.  21Mbps HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA at 42 Mbps.  LTE @ 73 Mbps.
10:35 AT&T, Verizon, Telus, Rogers, Bell it looks like.
10:39 Battery life still at 10 hours.  9.4mm 1.4 lbs. .07 lbs. heavier.
10:40 $499 16GB - 32 $599 - 64GB $699
10:41 4G $629 - $729 - $829  Available March 16th.  Preorders start today.  (Queue crash.)
10:42 Pre-orders in US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and Japan on the same day.
10:43 Interesting stuff but nothing extraordinary just yet.
10:45 Now showing demos.  Namco showed off a game called Sky Gamblers and they found it important to note it was "exclusive."  (That got a groan from me.  Nothing says we would rather sign contracts than innovate like exclusivity deals.)
10:49 Still waiting for that shock and awe as we trudge through the software demos.  Epic Games is up and they announce Infinity Blade: Dungeons.  This is significant because Epic has been the company to push arguably the best graphics out of previous Apple devices.
10:54 Rambling about software continues.  No mention of the new name but "New iPad" has been used.  iWork and Garage Band have been updated.  Nothing major.  iCloud support, smart strings...yada yada.
11:03 Updated iMovie and now iPhoto is available.  Minor photo editing it looks like.  Wireless sharing between devices which is great.  I used a bluetooth transfer app which worked...but it was slow.  We shall see how this works out.  iPhoto supports up to 19 megapixel images.
11:06 Welcome whomever you guys are.  Apparently I'm getting a lot of hits on this page today.  So thanks and I hope you're enjoying my simple format and short summary of the event.  :)
11:07 iPhoto is being shown off with autoenhancing and cropping... things that the built-in tools of iOS 5 already do.  Small differences like brightening dark areas, white balance etc.  Decent.  I hope its free though it doesn't look any better than what is available for free in the app store.

11:11 I hope they modify the camera kit interface to allow you to zoom in with the preview and to avoid importing the raw images if they won't let you edit them.  No mention of either.  You can view in Calendar format using metadata and geotags if available.  They include weather which is a nice if superfluous touch.

11:17 iPhoto $4.99.  Yikes.  I don't think I will be buying that when 99 cents will buy you arguably better tools.  No new dock connector.  (I was hoping for a mag lock.)  No SD reader.  (We can dream can't we.)
11:21 iPad 2 16GB wi-fi $399.  $100 drop across the board I'm assuming.
11:22 They keep calling it the "new iPad."  That is pretty bad considering the old one is called the iPad 2.  When people go to the Apple Store...I can see inevitable confusion from the masses.
11:24 ...and that's it.  They ended with a hint of things to come.  "2012 There's a lot to look forward to."  "We are just getting started."

Thanks for following along and I hope you had fun, whoever you are!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Applecasting - iPad

Its that time of year again.  Like clockwork and the seasons the day quickly approaches when a new, fun, Apple product is announced.  This time the cycle happens to land at the end of the iPad’s life cycle.  So it’s a pretty safe bet that there will be a new announcement regarding this year’s version of the iPad.

Just like the year before there are theories, hopes and dreams abound.  Some may be shattered and some may see the light of day.  Let’s take a look at some of the more popular theories from last year.
  • Higher resolution screen.
  • Embedded SD card reader.  <--This one in particular is more of a dream.
  • Front facing camera.
  • Faster processor.
  • Thinner size.
  • Smaller size SKU (8”)…and so on and so forth.  Those were the ones I remember being the most popular.
The technology was there and capable for many of those things but only a few made it through.  The most disappointing for me was the lack of a higher resolution screen.  A lot of different websites and analysts (including myself as a hobbyist) were convinced that the higher resolution screen was a done deal.  Apple usually spreads the wealth of their technology across their entire family of devices.  This time it appeared they held back.  Perhaps they purchased too much of the older tech and they wanted to run out of their complete stock?  We may never know the truth but that brings us to today.

Here is my uneducated guess as to what we will see in the iPad 3 and how I came to these conclusions.
I believe Tim Cook was afraid to take the helm since Steve's passing, understandably.  I believe the decision was his to push the 4s with the minor iterations we saw instead of the more dramatic overhaul many expected for the 5.

Now that he has some time to warm up to the thrown he has been sitting in for a few months, I believe he is more willing to take risks.  First we have to consider exactly what merits a new version number.  Is it just the form factor?  Or perhaps dramatic changes with the operating system that merit the new title?  Would software or minor changes alone be enough to satisfy the masses?

One of the first things I noticed about the iPad 1 was how ugly the icons looked.  They were the same resolution as the ones on the iPhone and were just expanded to fit the iPad screen proportionally.  They were very ugly.  If the resolution of the new iPad 3 is increased, they would be facing that same problem unless they took precautions before the fact.  For example including higher resolution icons in the OS and snippets of code to permit their use.  (They have.)

So the higher resolution screen is a very distinct possibility.

One of the things I was most excited about with the iPad 2 was the rumor that it would include a built-in SD card reader.  Obviously locked for specific uses since the major bucks are made with simple expanded memory versions of the same product.  I was hoping that Apple would permit us to use our memory cards to display photos.  As an amateur photographer I would find it VERY convenient to remove the memory card and show people the photos I have taken using the iPad instead of my relatively tiny 3” screen on my camera.  Well that was not to be.  You had to buy a dongle and it was limited to import.  You could only preview tiny thumbnail images before importing.

I don’t believe this will change for the 3rd iteration.

Aside from the lack of an SD Reader the next biggest complaint about the iPad 2 was the horrible cameras.  Yes, we all know that no one is out there taking pictures with their iPad.  Unless you’re director Spike Lee.  Still, it is pretty terrible experience when you use it and the device is thick enough to hold the same high quality lens the iPhone 4 and 4s have.  The bigger question is why not?

I believe a higher resolution screen will finally merit a higher quality lens.

The processor increment is inevitable.  Why update the iPad if you aren’t updating the processor.  This seems kind of a moot point and the ONLY way I could them releasing a new iPad without updating the processor is if it was in a dramatically new form factor.  (Like an 8” size.) If the device stays the same size, we will see a faster processor.  If only by a little.

As for thinner, I doubt it.  It has one of the best battery lives in the industry and I don’t think they would sacrifice that success.  As for proportions…this one is tricky.  Apple has often denied interest in mid-range tablets.  Different media outlets can’t seem to come to an agreement.  Some say it is coming and others say it is impossible.  There are two things to consider here.  First of all there is no denying that the low budget nook and Kindle tablets are experiencing a moderate level of success.  Whether Apple is threatened by this is anyone’s guess.  They have never really cared to compete in entry level products.  Second, the full fledged Android iPad competitors priced themselves out of the game by attempting to match or even surpass the Apple price range while failing to deliver on the polished experience and infrastructure that people have come to expect with premium priced products.

I can’t really call this one but if Apple does create an entry level low budget tablet, I would be genuinely surprised.

Earlier today, Farhan proposed the question to me regarding whether I think this year’s iPad will be more of an iPad 2s than a full blown iPad 3 update.  I had to take a moment to seriously consider everything I’ve heard in the past year and important events that have occurred since then.

The catastrophes in Japan, the Foxconn problems, the death of Steve Jobs and even the successes (and failures) of competition all play a part.

I believe the 2012 iPad won’t be much of a change.  Whether that merits the “3” namesake will be completely up to the beholder.  I believe the iPad (2012) will have a higher resolution screen for the reasons mentioned above.  The built-in SD card reader will not see the light of day until people outright refuse to buy the large capacity versions.  Higher resolution/quality lenses are a must.  If they use the same they did last year it would be a serious mistake.  I tend to believe the incremental processor rumors though I hope they are false.  The graphics the iPad 2 can handle are pretty great and I don’t see a reason to go processor crazy like the PC’s did.  (Which has ultimately led to their dramatic decline in popularity IMHO.) The form factor will not change though we may see some alternative color or rear texture options.  Because of the issues overseas I think the changes to capacity, if any, will be minor.

So will it be a MAJOR difference?  No.  Will it be noticeable?  Yes.  I’m not too concerned with the minor processor upgrade if that is the case.  I believe the iPad 2’s current processor was designed to handle the higher resolution the iPad 3 will get so the minor increment of the rumored 5x will be more than enough.

The biggest complaint I’ve heard from Apple and Android users alike is that Apple hasn’t taken any risks.  That they seem to have reached a state of complacency and feared innovation.  I tend to agree.  They rebuilt the failing category of tablet PC’s and have nearly destroyed both laptop and netbooks together with their strides.  They may have grown comfortable in their leadership.

So no.  I don't think it will be a dramatic change at all.  At the same price though, it would be to your detriment if you purchase anything but the latest from them if you buy anything at all.  The combination of higher resolution, better cameras and faster processor will merit the #3 if they choose to stick with that naming standard.  Though I wouldn't be surprised if they choose something that ties together their mobile products like...

iPad Pro
UPDATE:  The invitations to the press have gone out.  March 7th is the day we will find out about the newest bit of hardware from Cupertino.  It may be a bit much to try to pull clues out of a little ad like this...but why the heck not right?  It's all in fun.

From what I can tell, the icons DO look a little higher resolution.  I will attempt to recreate this photo with my iPad 2 this evening for a better comparison.  The edge "appears" to be a bit sharper, but it could be the angle.  It also looks a little darker.  I wonder if there will be a darker steel tinted version?  They also don't show you the full frame so they leave the possibility that it can be a smaller tablet.  The water wallpaper background is a staple of iOS5 so I don't think we will have a full version update to look forward to.  The more interesting tidbit out of all of those was their emphasis on "touch."  Touch has always been integral to iOS functions, so why call attention to it now?  Unless something has changed?  As of today no one has been able to do force feedback well on touch.  There were a few companies that tried and failed.  I wonder...

Thursday, January 26, 2012


It’s no secret that I enjoy a good science fiction movie.  I don’t even mind the occasional TV show.  Many of them stretch the boundaries of believability with their silliness but occasionally you will find one that takes the subject seriously and somehow manages to remain entertaining.

Even in the great ones though like Close Encounters, aliens are always very humanoid.  That irks me.  In the 60’s they had an excuse.  There was only so alien you can make a person standing in a body suit.  It’s a dance with a delicate balance that the entertainment industry refuses to deviate from.  Even now the aliens are little more than obvious humans in makeup.

When we think back to the first sci-fi inspiring aliens, the grays from Area 51 even they were affected by this either lack of imagination or willingness to take a risk.  Sure they were creepy looking but they too had the standard human body shape.  When you think of strange looking aliens, you can’t help but think ALIENS.  Its not too hard to see the man in the bodysuit there too.  Just a more elaborate one.

On occasion we do get a film that covers other types of life.  Artificial intelligence, alien, animals and such.  It is rare though that we see a creature that is dramatically different from us and somewhat intelligent.  Will humanity always make everything we consider intelligent in our own image?

The more vicious or barbaric the less humanlike they get to be if we go by Star Trek standards which seem to hold even today.

Vulcan - Intelligent with suppressed emotions.  Evident in the brow and ears.
Romulan - Violent but still reasonable. More dramatic brow and ears with some forehead creases.
Klingon - Barbaric and unreasonable.  The least human-like face.

So what am I looking for?  Perhaps I’m hoping for something unexpected, something unbelievable or something that stretches the boundaries of the imagination and not just credulity.  Why MUST it have two legs and two arms?  Even when they get “crazy” they give the alien four arms and consider that wild.  Why must it have any limbs at all?  Why must it have a decipherable alphabet or hieroglyphic scripture?  Religion!??

I think we are very limited in our understanding of how life can evolve.  Throughout one individuals short life so many times the scientific understanding of how life can or cannot exist is turned upside down.  I remember as a youth asking questions about the possibility of life on Mars or other planets and the answers were abrupt and absolute.  “Life cannot exist on Mars because there isn’t any Oxygen.”  Or “The atmosphere of Venus is too corrosive for live to exist.”  Oxygen is also corrosive.

Alien?  Or homeless person?
I want to be able to watch a movie or read a novel where aliens are the unknown.  Where what we witness is new, not just remixes of animals we know.  Shoot some of the creatures we find in the deep ocean look more alien than anything we find coming out of Hollywood.