Relief From Old Building Syndrome: USB Gloves

If your office building is old (like mine), and you are nowhere near those old-school radiator heaters that line the walls (like me), and the windows are not exactly “double-paned” to keep the heat in (you know it), there’s a good chance you will be f-f-f-freezing come Winter. So what can you do, other than huddle by the heat of your desktop? Get some USB Heated Gloves, that’s what.

The good part about these USB gloves is the open fingers that will still allow you to type up that TPS report in no time, since there’s no fabric hindering your keystrokes.

Plus, you can heat each one individually (you know, in case your right hand is colder than your left) and connect them to your PS2 and Xbox 360 for toasty, warm gaming. And for only $25 bucks, they may even make a funny stocking stuffer for the zombie-handed female in your life! You know who I mean.

Oh, and for using your iPhone in the cold weather? Well, that’s when you pick up a pair of these classy gloves.


Gore: Electrifying redemption, thanks to the Web

Former Vice President Al Gore onstage at the Web 2.0 Summit.

(Credit: Dan Farber/CNET News)

SAN FRANCISCO–The central theme of former Vice President Al Gore’s speech, concluding the Web 2.0 Summit on Friday afternoon, was electricity.

He spoke of “the electrifying redemption of America’s revolutionary declaration that all human beings are created equal,” as emphasized through Barack Obama’s election victory on Tuesday, and how it “would not have been possible without the additional empowerment of individuals to use knowledge as a source of power that has come with the Internet.”

Gore reiterated what so many people have said before–that the Obama campaign was a vindication for how the new tools of the Internet can be used toward legitimate change.

“What happened in the election opens up a full new range of possibilities, and now is the time to really move swiftly to use these new possibilities,” he said. “I made a talk earlier today about how the early uses of electricity 100 years ago were aimed at sort of specialized applications and gimmicks and do-dads and whiz-bangs that demonstrated the special qualities of this new conveyor of power.”

He meant, essentially, throwing an electric sheep. (Apologies to Philip K. Dick.)

“Now we just take electricity for granted as everywhere, and it has empowered a whole civilization,” he said. Gore said the analogy stands for Web 2.0 as well. “When people are displaying interactivity or user-generated content or social networking, that’s kind of the gee-whiz stuff…We need to move past that.”

Electricity, too, is key to Gore’s urgent call to action, which he detailed with an immediacy that was needed at a conference where some panels drifted a little too far into the speculative future. America needs a “unified national smart grid” distributing renewable solar energy across the country, something he estimates would cost $400 billion in a decade. But it would create thousands of jobs, Gore said, and it would pay for itself within three years.

When Obama takes office in January, Gore said the new president ought to set “a national goal of getting 100 percent of America’s electricity from renewable and noncarbon sources within 10 years. We can do that.”

He continued: “The declaration from President Kennedy that we would land a man on the moon and bring him back safely was thought by many to be impossible.”

Gore had come onstage at the conference to a standing ovation and so much applause that he had to tell the audience to quiet down. His story is familiar: he famously won the popular vote for the presidency in 2000 but lost the electoral vote to George W. Bush, and he went on to win both an Academy Award for his environmental-awareness documentary An Inconvenient Truth and the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

In 2005, Gore founded Current TV, a cable news network that he created with Joel Hyatt in response to his dissatisfaction with the television industry. “One of the main reasons why our political system has not been operating very well until this election is the deadening influence of the television medium as it has been operated,” he said.

Gore encouraged the digerati in the audience to keep pushing forward as they face what he says is the most pressing struggle of our time, climate change–the subject matter of An Inconvenient Truth. The fact that the Web’s candidate of choice won this time is no reason to rest easy, he said. Media democratization needs to continue evolving.

“Just as Barack Obama’s election would’ve been impossible without the new dialogue and new ways of interacting–the Web–the only way (climate change) is going to be solved is by addressing the democracy crisis, and the country hit a great blow for victory this week, but we have to take this issue and raise it in the awareness of everyone,” Gore said. “I think that it is very much in its infancy, barely beginning, and I think that we are not many years away from television sort of sinking into the digital world and becoming a part of it.”

Cynics might say Gore, who calls himself a “recovering politician,” is still bitter at a sterilized news media that didn’t sufficiently back his calling in the 2000 presidential election. Needless to say, his views remain controversial. But onstage, Gore seemed plenty comfortable in his new role as a thought leader rather than an elected official.

“Who knew that you were the guru of Web 2.0, as well as global warming?” conference organizer Tim O’Reilly asked Gore jokingly after the former vice president had illustrated an analogy involving “crowdsourced” information and cloud computing, two of the decade’s most buzzworthy digital talking points.

If the audience was any indication, Gore has gained resounding acceptance as an information-age guru, a bit of an irony, considering that 10 years ago, erroneous reports circulated that he had once claimed to have invented the Internet.

“When we have really had these great leaps forward has been when new information ecoystems have made it possible for individuals who are thinking and processing information, and who have aspirations and hopes…to connect easily with lots of voters around core ideas,” Gore explained. His preferred analogy was the invention of the printing press five centuries ago, in which he connected general historical events to the rise of literacy and eventually the creation of democratic governments.

“The installation of a new sovereign, the rule of reason, and the emergence of a marketplace of ideas that was accessible to individuals–that really empowered this kind of collective intelligence,” Gore said. “And the American constitution could be, by analogy, a brilliant piece of software that regularly harvested the results of that.”

An audience member asked Gore how much he thought governments should regulate Internet use, and Gore fired back, “As little as possible.” There was more applause, and as he left the stage, there was yet another standing ovation.

Gore might not have invented the Internet (or even claimed to do so). But if the Web 2.0 Summit was any indication, plenty of Silicon Valley’s most loyal are more than happy to have him help reinvent it.

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The sad lie of mediocrity

Shared by Alex

I’ve always thought this way about rush. 4% less means not closing the deal with the pledges, or not postering quite enough, or not having the brothers awake to make every single event go smoothly. Every house has so much competition during rush that being mediocre just doesn’t cut it.

Knowing that they went the extra 4% every single time makes what the brothers, Peter, and Tom accomplished even more impressive. Congrats, guys.

Doing 4% less does not get you 4% less.

Doing 4% less may very well get you 95% less.

That’s because almost good enough gets you nowhere. No sales, no votes, no customers. The sad lie of mediocrity is the mistaken belief that partial effort yields partial results. In fact, the results are usually totally out of proportion to the incremental effort.

Big organizations have the most trouble with this, because they don’t notice the correlation. It’s hidden by their momentum and layers of bureaucracy. So a mediocre phone rep or a mediocre chef may not appear to be doing as much damage as they actually are.

The flip side of this is that when you are at the top, the best in the world, the industry leader, a tiny increase in effort and quality can translate into huge gains. For a while, anyway.


Election maps

Shared by Moah

I saw these sets of maps after 04 election. They did it again for 2008. 04 and 08 side by side comparison would be interesting to see as well.

Thanks, Jim Storer for the tweet with the link.

Here are the 2008 presidential election results on a population cartogramof this type:


Sprint Dashboard to the Universe – Plug Into Now

Shared by Moah

one crazy dashboard. This is what I call information overload. Still, is it really the future?

Sprint, in a promotion to their mobile Internet service, created this amusing futuristic dashboard. “All aboard the now machine,” the computer says. “How about a big bowl of now?… Please keep your hands inside the moment…your hair has grown 5 millionths of centimeter in the last second.” It’s got tickers for eggs being produced, emails being sent, spam emails being received, recent news from The New York Times, CNN, newsvine, top Google searches of the day, and most importantly, seconds until doughnut day. That’d be a nice little screensaver – or something I’d have running 24/7 on a giant plasma.

Oh, and yes, that is my face in the middle.


Last Night's CNN Hologram Technology: Freaky and Amazing

Shared by Moah

Matrix-ish? I don’t know my sci fi movies that well. Off to look for the youtube clip of this.

During last night’s election coverage, I found myself bouncing around from high-def channel to high-def channel, seeing what ABC, CNN, Fox, and MSNBC had to offer. I already knew that CNN correspondent John King would be showcasing election news from the high-tech Multi-Touch Collaboration Wall, but I had no idea CNN would take their techiness to the next level.

Were you as shocked as I was when they showed correspondent Jessica Yellin in “hollographic 3D form?” Turns out this impressive technology was made possible by Vizrt and SportVu with the help of 44 HD cameras and 20 computers. The A+ geekiness award definitely went to CNN last night!

Did you happen to see it in action? What would you think if they used “virtual” correspondents regularly?


HCI Remixed

Shared by Moah

This book is going into my reading list. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of ‘The Mother of All Demos’. It also makes me feel like I am not crazy when I cook up seemingly impossible product features and interfaces. 40 years later, people will be using them. 🙂


HCI Remixed covers all the major milestones in the field of human computer interaction. And when I say major, I mean it: things like Douglas Engelbart’s famous demonstration, now referred to as The Mother of All Demos:

On December 9, 1968, Douglas C. Engelbart and the group of 17 researchers working with him in the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, presented a 90-minute live public demonstration of the online system, NLS, they had been working on since 1962. The public presentation was a session in the Fall Joint Computer Conference held at the Convention Center in San Francisco, and it was attended by about 1,000 computer professionals. This was the public debut of the computer mouse. But the mouse was only one of many innovations demonstrated that day, including hypertext, object addressing and dynamic file linking, as well as shared-screen collaboration involving two persons at different sites communicating over a network with audio and video interface.

So, all those trappings of modern computing that we take for granted today? Engelbart demonstrated them all two years before I was born. It just took a while for the rest of the world to catch up to his vision.

That’s the lesson of many of the groundbreaking HCI discoveries presented in this book. Some people see further. Engelbart was so far ahead of his time in 1968 that his demonstration wasn’t taken seriously — it seemed absurd and impractical. It really makes you wonder which of today’s HCI researchers we’re ignoring but shouldn’t be.


content from google reader shared items

I just pulled in content from my google reader shared items RSS feed to this blog using xFruits. I am not sure if I should keep that set up as it is. It makes the shared items look like I stole content and just reposted their entire posts.

Please note that if you see published by xFruits for a post, I did not write the original post. I am just sharing the blog post via Google Reader/xFruits.  The part that says ‘Shared by Moah’ is the only part of content written by me.

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Amazon.com: Help > Shipping & Delivery > Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging FAQs

Shared by Moah

Amazon is Finally getting rid of excessive and frustrating packaging style. Not sure when it came out but this is awesome. Good for earth, good for my hands.

The Frustration-Free Package (on the left) is recyclable and comes without excess packaging materials such as hard plastic clamshell casings, plastic bindings, and wire ties. It’s designed to be opened without the use of a box cutter or knife and will protect your product just as well as traditional packaging (on the right). Products with Frustration-Free Packaging can frequently be shipped in their own boxes, without an additional shipping box


Patent Court: You Can No Longer Patent Thin Air

In what could be seen as a victory for doers, and a bit of a setback for thinkers, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has made a rather significant ruling on what is and isn’t patentable. The court ruled against a man who was attempting to patent “a method for hedging against weather-related effects on businesses.” As a result, infamous patents like Amazon’s “one-click” shopping concept may no longer be valid, because they don’t either “involve a particular machine” or “physically transform anything.”

In essence, the ruling means that business ideas in and of themselves aren’t patentable. In addition to Amazon’s “one-click” patent, which is the concept of purchasing something via credit card by just clicking a single website link, Friendster’s patents on social networking also come to mind as being unpatentable based on this judgement. That patent covers a “system, method and apparatus for connecting users in an online computer system based on their relationships within social networks” and a “method of inducing content uploads in a social network,” amongst other claims.

To me, this all sounds like a pretty reasonable ruling, although two judges offered dissenting opinions. While Friendster so far hasn’t tried to enforce their patent by going after competing social networks – all of which would seemingly be in violation based on their patent claims – you can imagine the type of drama and disruption of innovation it would cause in our space if they did. For some more in-depth analysis of the ruling and its legal ramifications, check out Mike Masnick’s coverage at Techdirt.

Imagery provided by iStockPhoto/ ftwitty

Related Articles at Mashable | All That’s New on the Web:

In a Boring Turn of Events, Google Gets Sued for Patent Infringement Again
Amazon’s One-Click Patent Finally Rejected
Friendster Patents Social Networking
Another Weird Patent for Amazon: Error Pages
Google Sued for Patent Infringement
“Groundbreaking” Social Networking Patent at Auction
eBay Wins Round in Court over ‘Buy It Now’ Patent