Friday, June 19, 2009

Testing's new Google Gadget for local volunteering opportunities

01:00 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Argument Maps 2.0

Why try to decode this:

Argument Map - Can Computers Think? 

When you can make cool widgets like this from a new service called aMap :

And they even sell some pre-designed pocket-sized maps:


More about argument maps on Wikipedia.


06:08 PM | Permalink

Friday, June 27, 2008

Video: The Real WALL-E

This is a video of the uBot-5 robot designed by a team at UMASS Amhearst. Able to do menial "pick-and-place" tasks around the house, this robot is touted by its team as one day becoming a caregiving solution for the elderly. uBot-5 has been adapted by the MIT Media Lab as "Nexi" to include a humanoid head with highly expressive face. I met Nexi at the spring sponsor meeting.

11:14 PM in MIT Media Lab | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Laptop for "When I'm 64."

Running into NN on the way to TED 2006

According to Brainy History, Nicholas Negroponte turned 64 over the weekend. I hope he got a good weekend's rest from his world travels promoting the wildly innovative XO-1 laptop for children in developing countries, and strategizing the Give One Get One program where consumers in the U.S. and Canada can donate a laptop and get one themselves. Even though I have two prototypes, I ordered my production units as soon as the offer went live on the morning of November 12th.

Nicholas is pictured above in a phonecam shot I made at SFO for a moblog entry on my way to the TED 2006 conference. Nicholas was to speak on the first day of the conference and was waiting for the same prop plane as my (then) boss Mark and I were taking for the final hop to Monterey. As is apparently the norm, he was answering emails on his IBM laptop in keeping with his legendary swift responses. I introduced myself as my company's liaison to the Media Lab and he gave a knowing smile saying he had heard that our sponsorship was about to lapse, but asked us to hang on a minute while he finished his email.

Closing his laptop on a folded Wall Street Journal, Nicholas said that he had just come from London by way of New York. He said he was circling the globe every three weeks, travelling over 300 days a year single-handedly promoting the project. I was amazed that he only had a small rollling case and laptop bag in tow, but I remembered reading in a magazine about how he travels really light by FedExing his laundry to and from desintation hotels.

We chatted about how we needed to jump through some hoops with a reluctant division Vice President to get our sponsorship renewed (we're renewed now). Nicholas offered to help, and furthermore said he could pay us a visit while in DC the following Tuesday to talk about the laptop and pitch our bosses. We said we'd pull out the stops to schedule a meeting. He scribbled some notes on one of the standard Media Lab-logoed 3x8" paper scratchpads.

Since that day, aside from countless news articles and videos, I've seen Nicholas in person in a few meetings and also saw him whiz by at Boston's Logan airport coming off the shuttle from DC as I was getting on. I've often thought about the kind of drive it takes to take on an insanely grand vision such as equiping 150 million children across the planet with ultra low cost, yet technologically advanced laptops. Day after day fending off naysayers and would be slayers has got to take a toll. And not to mention electing to travel over 330 days a year.

But on his 64th birthday Saturday, while hopefully getting some rest, Nicholas had a lot of wonderful presents to charge his spirit: he had extended the Give One Get One offer until the end of the year because of vigorous sales and widespread interest (really a gift to us), the first batch of production laptops were deployed in Uruguay and several hundred thousand new orders came in from prospective countries.

I imagine that at 64--maybe humming the famous Beatles tune--all those nights staying up until quarter to three debating implementaion details, going for rides to the airport on Sunday mornings, scrimping and saving to ensure there was enough money for mass production and trying to convince several hundred million consumers give him an answer of "yes" all seemed worth it. He has pallette-fulls of shiny new laptops with which to change the world. 

Xo_smiley_2 Happy birthday Nicholas. You're growing old in grand style!


11:50 PM in MIT Media Lab | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Real and Virtual Chumbys

My Chumby arrived today! So far, it's integrated with my Flickr and Facebook accounts and plays from my iPod quite well.

My unboxing photos are on Flickr.

07:22 PM in Gadgets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A lasting last lecture

[Update: I had linked to a CBS interview here originally, but the file was taken down. So here's an even better clip (10 minutes) of Randy's appearance on Oprah on Monday, October 22, 2007.]

After seeing it linked from several blogs, I loaded Professor Randy Paush's last lecture on my iPhone to watch last night in bed. I had encountered Randy's work in building virtual reality worlds over the years, but never met him or followed the work closely. But what a way to get my attention upon hearing that at age 46 (my age), he has been told terminal pancreatic cancer is leaving him with 3 - 6 months to live. He is married with three children. The embedded video above is Diane Sawyer's interview with him Randy's appearance on Oprah that, in less than nine ten minutes, gives you a taste of his 85-minute farewell lecture to friends, colleagues and family at Carnegie Mellon University's McConomy Auditorium (PDF transcript). Randy talks exuberantly about his decision to maximize his last life sprint in the most positive ways. If you can spare the time from your problem-filled life, I strongly recommend watching the deeply inspiring full lecture on Google Video. His lessons will endure.

I'm keeping his lecture on my iPhone to watch, in part, over and over again.

10:17 PM in Human-Computer Interaction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Real Transformers

NYT Magazine article about robotics at MIT

Since I'm moderating a panel with several MIT Media Lab professors in early September, including roboticist Cynthia Breazeal, I had brought home my copy of her book to read a few chapters on her basic research. Coincidentally, the New York Times Magazine ran a cover story this weekend on robotics at MIT. There's good coverage on one of their newer robot projects, Cory Kidd's weight maintenance coach which I've been following with photos on Flickr. Both Cory's and Dan Stiehl's huggable theraputic teddy bear robots will be on display in the exhibit hall at AARP's National Event in Boston September 6-8, 2007.

The NYT article is already behind advertising pages and a registration wall, but you'll likely find a copy at the MIT Media Lab Personal Robotics site or on the press page in the next few days.

11:50 PM in MIT Media Lab | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Radically rethinking product designs

More as an excuse to test out SlideShare than actually reviving this blog, here's a post on a quick presentation I made during John Maeda's Simplicity Research Consortium retreat last week. Activities like this come out of planned interactions between Media Lab students, lab sponsors (like me) and invited guest speakers. This particular exercise was catalyzed by Amanda Parkes of Hiroshi Ishii's Tangible Media Group. As the sponsor-in-residence at her work table, I volunteered to do a hands-on build and report out this PowerPoint.

Related links:
Leica camera
Article on compressive sensing

Core77 podcast of John Maeda's musings on simplicity, design and Cape Cod


10:45 PM in MIT Media Lab | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Need it now!

Need it now!

My sister-in-law Mary, who works at a large architecture firm, told me a funny story about a recent BlackBerry text entry gaffe. A co-worker was on a job site and needed a certain numbered document sent over in a hurry. So she used her company issued BlackBerry to e-mail a message to someone back at the office saying, "I need 428 now." As is probably common with BlackBerry users in a hurry, she momentarily confused the shift key with the unlabeled ALT key (with funky half moon icon and located where you might expect shift should be), and document number became the letters S-E-X. Without re-reading the contents of the screen, she sent the message "I need SEX now." Yes, the ALT key even capitalized the letters. The e-mail recipient calmly replied asking if she really meant what she said. I'm sure the co-worker blushed the full spectrum of red.

[Note: I originally wrote that my sister-in-law Mary made the BlackBerry error, but it was actually someone else at her office. I've corrected the text above.]

11:38 PM in Usability | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Been nesting

Bird's nest found

Well since my last post here 15 months ago, we moved into a new house, fell into a grey fog at work which lifted suddenly on 6/22/06, and our daughter took on and beat epilepsy. So aside from some travel, I've been nesting at home. Here on this blog, I retreated to the right sidebar where I've still been moblogging, photoblogging, and posting links. I did a little bit of cleanup in the blog template today, but what I need to do next is hire a freelance developer to fix the dry rot in the code, add some new features, and perhaps apply a new design.

11:20 PM in Family | Permalink | Comments (2)