Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Video: Why Being Unreasonable Jumpstarts Social Innovation

Video Description (from Social Innovation Summit on "Daniel Epstein, founder of the Unreasonable Institute, explains why being unreasonable jumpstarts social innovation. "

Friday, December 14, 2012

Video: Woven: E-wearable Gaming Platform

 (For more information read the article)

Andrew McAfee: Are droids taking our jobs?

Video Description: "Robots and algorithms are getting good at jobs like building cars, writing articles, translating -- jobs that once required a human. So what will we humans do for work? Andrew McAfee walks through recent labor data to say: We ain't seen nothing yet. But then he steps back to look at big history, and comes up with a surprising and even thrilling view of what comes next. (Filmed at TEDxBoston.)" (source)

Video: Reinventing Fire: Bold Solutions for the New Energy Era (Fora)

Summary: "Amory B. Lovins and Edward Lucas discuss how bold solutions for the new energy era is akin to reinventing the fire.Dr. Amory B. Lovins, Co-founder, Chairman and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute" (more information)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Transforming Apartment: Living With Less as More (Video)

For the last few years I have seen multiple online videos where designers are exploring customized movable "funiture-walls".  These movable wall have built-in furniture and other spaces such as closets and places for different appliances like TVs, computers, etc. to fully utilize small areas (for example, 400 sq ft and less).  It gets you wondering if this could be the future of apartment design?  I am also wondering if it will create a fads like "less is more hip then big" or "my apartment generates less carbon then yours".

I have to personally admit I am a fan of this trend, and I would live in one of these apartments if they were available.  I like the idea of being able to transform the apartment as needed.  For example, if you have guests that are staying over, you move a wall and pull out of full-size foldable bed.  Or you could hide the master bedroom by moving another wall, and open up a living room area for working, eating, entertaining or relaxing.

I am not big on having a lot of space that I don't use, have to clean and heat.  Personally I believe if I don't use something, then I should get rid of it (although I have to admit I am still working on practicing what I preach when I say this).

Excerpt from video description: "barcode room is a concept studio apartment composed of product furniture-walls which move freely from side to side, permitting the resident to customize the size of space to fit a variety of uses. Placing functional elements such as storage and furniture into these walls, only to be pulled out when in use, also allows for more of the floor area to be used by the inhabitant and guests, thus creating a space where one is able to both comfortably live and entertain a different number of guests easily." (read the rest of the article)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Billion Dollar Idea: Build a Better Battery

Billion Dollar Idea: Build a Better Battery

There is a paraphrased quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson from the late nineteenth century "build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door".  An updated version of that quote should read,  "build a better battery, and the world will beat a path to your door"

I have said if anyone wants to be a quick billionaire, all they have to do is invent a revolutionary battery that has a high power density, that is small, light weight and inexpensive to build.  The problem is like most things, "it's a lot easier said then done".

One of the biggest technological hindrances to current and futures technologies (from smartphones, to cars, to power grids, etc.) is the current state of battery advancements   If you look at the rate of advancements in other technologies, you can see exponential growth that has been happening for years and even decades.  For example, if you look at Moore's Law you will see a logarithmic advance in the density of transistors in CPUs over the decades.

from: Wikipedia

The current state of modern batteries has progressed very slowly over the centuries and even last few decades.  For example:
  • The first electrochemical cell was developed by the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta in 1792, and in 1800 he invented the first battery, a "pile" of many cells in series.  
  • The Daniell cell in 1836, batteries provided more reliable currents and were adopted by industry for use in stationary devices, in particular in telegraph networks where they were the only practical source of electricity.
  • Near the end of the nineteenth century, the invention of dry cell batteries, which replaced the liquid electrolyte with a paste, made portable electrical devices practical.
In the last few decades there have been advances in material, power density and the cost of the batteries as the technology increased in sophistication  for example, there has been technologies like nickel–cadmium (NiCd), nickel–zinc (NiZn), nickel metal hydride (NiMH), and now lithium-ion (Li-ion). Each of these advancements has fixed issues with previous generations (e.g. 'battery memory effect', power density  weight, size, etc.) and performance.

Over the last few years, some manufactures have been working on alternative technologies to replace or supplement conventional batteries such as supercapacitors, and direct methanol fuel cells.  There have been experimental advancements in battery materials like lithum-air, and carbon nanotube electrodes. As of 2012 Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries were the fastest-charging and discharging batteries.

Per a recent article that I saw, it had the title: "DOE wants 5X battery power boost in 5 years". Here is an excerpt from the article "The DOE is creating a new Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, at a cost of $120 million over five years, that's intended to reproduce development environments that were successfully used by Bell Laboratories in the World War II Manhattan Project that produced an atomic bomb. "

As far as grid level storage there are liquid metal batteries from a company called Ambri.  For more information watch the video below from TED, where Donald Sadoway gives a talked called "Liquid Metal Battery - The Missing Link to Renewable Energy"

Article: How to Clean Up Your Online Presence and Make a Great First Impression

Depending on how much of your personal information you share on the Internet, such as postings on Facebook, Twitter, or any of the billion other social networking sites that are out there.  You might have left a "online presence" (e.g. comments, pictures, etc.) that might not best represent who you really are.

If you're current or future employer, significant other to does a quick check of Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  What will they find?

There are somethings (such as, public record, postings, etc.) on the Internet that are not easy to get removed, while there are other things you can (such as, deleted cached web page information).

LifeHacker has a great article on "How to Clean Up Your Online Presence and Make a Great First Impression", here is excerpt from it: "Odds are someone is searching the web for you right now, or at least has looked you up fairly recently. Do you know what they learned? Better yet, do you control the pages and profiles they visited? If not, it's time to take your online reputation into your own hands instead of leaving it to Google. Here's how." (read the rest of the article)

Article: How GE radically transformed their IT deployment (Great Read)

If you're a project manager, I would highly-recommend this article.  TechRepublic wrote a great article about how GE transformed their IT deployment. Here is excerpt: "How GE Appliances overcame that obstacle — or, more accurately, is still in the process of overcoming it — says a lot about where GE is going as a company and how today’s enterprise IT departments are having to make radical changes in order to adapt to the relentless pace of a faster, leaner, and more global business environment. Inside GE, this initiative has been dubbed “ERP ” and TechRepublic interviewed executives, IT leaders, and key employees at GE Appliance Park to get the story on how they are pulling it off."

Article: Netflix Alternatives (Streaming Movie Sites)

Below is a excerpt from an article on a web site called The Jason Chronicles called "Netflix Alternatives (Streaming Movie Sites)": "Like many people, I have ditched my TV several years ago and get most of my video entertainment from sites like Hulu and Netflix. I have been a huge fan of Netflix for years, I thought they provided a great deal for what you got. Although, after their rate hikes in 2011, I have been contemplating alternatives to their service.

It is worth noting that most of these services are not subscription based like Netflix, they're fee based so you pay for every movie you watch. This is great for people who only watch movies once in a while, but if you like to watch a lot of streaming movies or TV shows this can get expensive.

The service offerings of these websites change all the time by adding new features, services and prices so the list of providers below are only pointers." (read the rest of the article)