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majordojo



A blog about Movable Type, technology, geek-dom, science-fiction and yes, sometimes my personal life.



Updated: 2013-06-17T20:39:37Z

 



Ancient Hidden Khmer City Discovered in Cambodia

2013-06-17T20:39:37Z

Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Khmer city that predates Angkor Wat by about 350 years using lasers that were able to map surface features through the canopy of the surrounding trees. The city has either been largely destroyed or buried...

Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Khmer city that predates Angkor Wat by about 350 years using lasers that were able to map surface features through the canopy of the surrounding trees. The city has either been largely destroyed or buried by nature, so do not expect to see the kinds of amazing ruins like Ta Phrom (pictured to the right), but there remain artifacts that have been untouched by looters for centuries.

It is so exciting to know that there are still wondrous and amazing places on this Earth still yet to be discovered.

width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Ypoqdk2yy5U" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>



Wowzers: Kinect 2 Full Video Walkthrough

2013-05-22T00:06:13Z

This demo of the XBox Kinect 2 is amazing if for no other reason than it keeps getting better and better with each passing second. Infrared motion sensor so the device can see even when all the lights are off?...

This demo of the XBox Kinect 2 is amazing if for no other reason than it keeps getting better and better with each passing second.

  • Infrared motion sensor so the device can see even when all the lights are off? Check.
  • Amazing and real time audio and echo cancellation so that sound from the game/device does not interfere with voice commands? Check.
  • The ability to recognize a returning player using facial recognition. Check.
  • The means to measure the force muscles exert or are subjected to by others? How in the... Check.
  • The means to monitor a person's heart rate? Sure, why not.
  • The ability to detect a person's mood? To see if they are engaged or disengaged? Happy or sad? Check and check.

Seriously amazing.

I would embed the video directly, but gizmodo will have none of that. So just click through and watch for yourself.




Why building a viral kids app is so hard

2013-05-13T20:40:04Z

This past Friday entrepreneurs building products for kids and families gathered in Mountain View at the Mamabear Conference to do what people do at conferences. Stemming from that gathering was an article: "Three reasons why building a viral app for... This past Friday entrepreneurs building products for kids and families gathered in Mountain View at the Mamabear Conference to do what people do at conferences. Stemming from that gathering was an article: "Three reasons why building a viral app for kids is harder than it looks." This topic is vitally important for the growing number of companies seeking to tap into this market, especially when products live or die based largely on the efficacy of their own growth engine. The fact that apps aimed at kids face challenges above and beyond what most app developers must deal with is lost on most people, including the author of the article who cites three reasons why building a viral kids app is so hard: Complying with privacy guidelines App-testing with more distracted users Figuring out the content that works The process by which one collects feedback from kids, and how one comes up with a sound content strategy optimized for children are important factors to consider when building an app for kids, but they have absolutely nothing to do with virality. Virality has to do with how these products reach new customers by allowing it's users to bring new people into the fold. And how is that largely done today? Two ways: word of mouth and/or through an asynchronous electronic invite process. Collectively, the technology industry has built and re-built the proverbial wheel of the social graph so many times, that we take it for granted. We have even reduced the discipline of building viral growth engines and invitation frameworks down to a rigorous and monotonous series of A/B tests that create meaningful returns by eeking out marginal improvements in percentage points here and there throughout the growth funnel. These systems however have all been built on assumptions that fall apart when your users are less than twelve years old: Your users have an online identity. Your users have reliable access to a mobile device. Your ability to collect information from your users is not regulated in any way. The need for an addressable online identity Online invitation flows have, since the day they were invented, relied exclusively on one simple fact: that the sender and recipient both have an addressable online identity. It works like this: sender looks up a person in their address book, or on a social network, then sends them an invitation to join, and then at some point in the future the recipient opens and optionally responds to the invite. Young children however rarely have an email address, and without it this flow breaks down before it has even started because the only other way for two children to connect is via their parents. Now the flow looks like this: Harper wants to play Words with Friends with Toby. Harper tells his mom. Harper's mom sends email/invite to Toby's mom. Toby's mom tells Toby, and Toby expresses interest. Toby and Toby's mom sit down when it is mutually convenient to look at the invite and sign up. Invite is accepted. Harper's mom is notified. Harper's mom tells Harper. Harper and Toby can finally play Words with Friends together. The challenge of course in this process is the number of stars that have to align in order for it work, the least of which being that Harper has to retain his interest in the invitation and game long enough for it to run it's course. Reliable access to a mobile device The era of a fixed computing device in the home is coming to an end, whether that fixed device is a shared desktop PC tucked away on a desk somewhere, or even the gaming console attached to a TV in the den. What is increasingly capturing the attention of kids are mobile games - games that they have access to not only when they are at home, but also at a restaurant when their parents want t[...]



Commercials: Apple vs Google vs Facebook Home

2013-05-09T18:18:25Z

Speaking of commercials, I have been generally impressed with the attempts made by Google and Facebook to create ad campaigns that live up to the standard set by Apple. I applaud them in fact for telling stories that I often...

Speaking of commercials, I have been generally impressed with the attempts made by Google and Facebook to create ad campaigns that live up to the standard set by Apple. I applaud them in fact for telling stories that I often stop fast-forwarding my DVR to actually watch. Take for example this Google Nexus 7 ad that never fails to tug at my heart strings:

width="530" height="298" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/RBvrjfbOHy0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

Facebook's attempt is not nearly as strong, but it has seriously good bones -- and might even be great if it would ditch the voiceover and just let the product speak for itself:

width="530" height="298" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/2JFAh_OeC2g" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

But what I appreciate about Apple is how they are constantly raising the bar for everyone else. Apple's latest commercial is no exception in that it captures so wonderfully and stakes a claim to the modern human experience of a mobile life:

width="530" height="298" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/NoVW62mwSQQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

Plus, every time I watch it, I find myself wiping a tear from the corner of my eye.




The Red Bull Paradox

2013-05-09T17:44:02Z

I will be honest, I do not see myself ever drinking Red Bull. Never, ever, ever. Like Ever. Nevertheless, I love the Red Bull brand and what it has come to represent. And I am fascinated by this dichotomy -...

I will be honest, I do not see myself ever drinking Red Bull. Never, ever, ever. Like Ever. Nevertheless, I love the Red Bull brand and what it has come to represent. And I am fascinated by this dichotomy - how on one hand I cannot stand their product, and on the other have huge affinity for the company that makes it.

Or maybe I am just a huge sucker, because when I watch their commercials and ad campaigns, I can't help but get swept away:

width="530" height="298" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Ti2Lm4hb2ZY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>



Walled Cities

2013-05-04T05:13:28Z

Checkout Kowloon Walled City, Kowloon, Hong Kong, a city featured in both a wonderful 99% Invisible episode, and in this photo essay of walled cities all around the world....

Checkout Kowloon Walled City, Kowloon, Hong Kong, a city featured in both a wonderful 99% Invisible episode, and in this photo essay of walled cities all around the world.




Fully loaded 747 crash caught by dashboard cam

2013-04-30T19:50:57Z

Warning: This is a horrific video of a tragic event. All seven American crew members perished in the crash. Considering for a moment though how gruesome this is, is still amazes me how calm and quiet the driver is. I...

Warning: This is a horrific video of a tragic event. All seven American crew members perished in the crash.

Considering for a moment though how gruesome this is, is still amazes me how calm and quiet the driver is. I don't know about you, but if I saw this I would be cursing up a hell-storm.

width="520" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/uIjO0sKBDDw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

Also, note to self: get a dashboard cam.

(via kottke)




Exxpolis: a luminarium

2013-04-16T17:11:06Z

Constructed by The Architects of Air, "each luminarium is a dazzling maze of winding paths and soaring domes where Islamic architecture, Archimedean solids and Gothic cathedrals meld into an inspiring monument to the beauty of light and colour." Wow: Plus,...

Constructed by The Architects of Air, "each luminarium is a dazzling maze of winding paths and soaring domes where Islamic architecture, Archimedean solids and Gothic cathedrals meld into an inspiring monument to the beauty of light and colour." Wow:

Plus, each luminarium is different. This structure is currently on display at CSU Long Beach. Double wow:

The completed structure occupies half a football field and rises to the height of a 3-storey house. EXXOPOLIS took 6 months to build with 55 people contributing to the making. It used 3,000m2 of plastic in its construction in 9,000 individual pieces joined with 6 kilometres of seams.

A more comprehensive set of photos of the space can be found at one of my favorite blogs: notcot.




Mantis Shrimp? Houdoken!!

2013-04-09T22:54:02Z

I couldn't help but jump on the bandwagon and share this great little infographic about the Mantis Shrimp, a truly awesome animal! It has 16 color receptors, arms that can deliver a blow as powerful as a .22 caliber bullet,...

I couldn't help but jump on the bandwagon and share this great little infographic about the Mantis Shrimp, a truly awesome animal! It has 16 color receptors, arms that can deliver a blow as powerful as a .22 caliber bullet, feet that move so fast they can boil water, and the ability to deliver an underwater shockwave! Houdoken!

Aaaaand, they look as awesome as they sound.




The long and ultimately disappointing wait for Inbox

2013-04-08T19:24:24Z

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When Inbox was first announced I got excited and jumped at the chance to try it out. So did 500,000 other people apparently, because that is how many people were lined up in front of me waiting to use the product when I first downloaded it and fired it up.

After several weeks of patiently waiting, and by "patiently waiting" I mean I opened up Mailbox at least 2 or 3 times a day to inspect my place in line, I finally got the green light and gained access.

All that waiting though served only to raise my expectations around "a whole new inbox." So when I finally first tried Inbox, I was disappointed. But not because it failed to meet my expectations, but because it didn't exceed them.

You see, email doesn't need a new or slicker way to categorize and filter incoming messages. That is a relatively solved problem, or at least everyone who uses email has ultimately adopted a systemology for processing email that works for them -- even if their personal system is imperfect and ultimately leaves them perpetually with 1453 unread messages.

What I want is a smarter email client. Not a prettier one. I want an email client that:

  • Makes mailing list management easier.
  • Helps me to unsubscribe to unwanted email.
  • Consolidates and organizes social channel notifications.
  • Finds and recognizes events that should be on my calendar.
  • Processes, saves and makes searchable all of my receipts and order confirmations.

As well as handling all of the other email I get on a daily basis that generally falls to the bottom of my priority list, but takes up my time or attention nonetheless.

What I want to some extent is the email equivalent of tempo.ai, a calendaring app that uses natural language processing to enhance my calendar in delightful and surprising ways... like somehow figuring out where my meeting is going to be when I never told it, or making available to me a complete profile of the person I am meeting with even though all I said in my event was, "Lunch with Jack." In these and other ways my calendar is useful again, beyond simply regurgitating back to me a list of upcoming events I entered into it. It is responsive. It is intelligent.

I keep waiting for a new email client to surprise me, but they don't. Email doesn't have a UI problem, nor does it have a methodology problem per-se. Email clients have failed in that they haven't done anything innovative with the most important part of email: the data. While the rest of the web has embraced things like microformats, feeds, browser extensions like Greasemonkey, and a plethora of other tools that do interesting things with data, all we seem to be able to do with email is hot link phone numbers and URLs.

I think we can do better than that.

keywords




Hyper-Matrix - 3D pixel art

2012-09-18T22:02:05Z

The scale of this interactive art piece, created for Hyundai (yes, the car) by Korean artist JônPaSang, is almost beyond belief. It is 8 meters tall and 45 meters wide, comprising 3848 cubes each measuring 1 square foot. Each square...

The scale of this interactive art piece, created for Hyundai (yes, the car) by Korean artist JônPaSang, is almost beyond belief. It is 8 meters tall and 45 meters wide, comprising 3848 cubes each measuring 1 square foot. Each square can move independently of the rest to form pixelated 3D images, or to create a flat surface onto which images can be projected, or both.

Ah-mazing.

width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/il_uF0jEAlE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>



Werner Herzog's Note To His Cleaning Lady

2012-05-22T15:48:13Z

Now we must turn to the horrors of nature. I am afraid this is inevitable. Nature is not something to be coddled and accepted and held to your bosom like a wounded snake. Tell me, what was there before...

Now we must turn to the horrors of nature. I am afraid this is inevitable. Nature is not something to be coddled and accepted and held to your bosom like a wounded snake. Tell me, what was there before you were born? What do you remember? That is nature. Nature is a void. An emptiness. A vacuum. And speaking of vacuum, I am not sure you're using the retractable nozzle correctly or applying the 'full weft' setting when attending to the lush carpets of the den. I found some dander there.

Brilliant.




Dub Step meets Tap

2012-05-04T19:25:08Z

Dub step has been slowly creeping deeper and deeper into my music collection and listening habits. So naturally this caught my attention: the melding of tap dance and dub step: (via kottke, of course) That video, led me to this...

Dub step has been slowly creeping deeper and deeper into my music collection and listening habits. So naturally this caught my attention: the melding of tap dance and dub step:

width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/_jlJH65KR14" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

(via kottke, of course)

That video, led me to this video, which I will add to the conversation as an example of more "conventional" (if that is properly applied here) dub step dance moves. The way this guys moves in and out of a slow motion dance, with no camera tricks, is awesome.

width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/vq45N29VOto" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>



I'll do it if you do it

2012-04-10T22:46:34Z

A great post from Mike Montiero about fear, going out on a limb and publishing his first book. But now, with my 13 year old boy in front of me, I had to admit that I was afraid. Afraid of...

A great post from Mike Montiero about fear, going out on a limb and publishing his first book.

But now, with my 13 year old boy in front of me, I had to admit that I was afraid. Afraid of failing. Of walking up there with my fly down. Of being discovered as a fraud. But, in that moment, with that 13 year old in front of me, I became more afraid of something else. Of failing him. Of passing my fear along to the person who needed me to be someone better.

By all means people, get his book: Design is a Job.




Blood and Chrome: be the game changer you say you will be.

2012-03-21T08:44:04Z

Because Gods, you look so awesome. To say that I am looking forward to this would be the understatement of the year....

Because Gods, you look so awesome.

width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/A0ixAkA5bng" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

To say that I am looking forward to this would be the understatement of the year.