Archive for December, 2007

¡Conoce al diablo que se llama Diego!

Posted in miscellaneous, video with tags , , , on 2007 December 28 by KLP

Here’s a movie of my cousin Dave and I playing with my family’s new dog, Diego, on Christmas. To be clear, he’s been with us for about a month now; Diego didn’t pop out of a box under the tree or anything. His original owners realized that they didn’t have the time to keep a dog and they were probably pretty stunned by Diego’s apparent bad luck. In his first year of life he’s had two surgeries. One to remove a bunch of industrial paper towels that were blocking his intestines, and another to bolt his hip back together after an unfortunate meeting with a moving vehicle. So my dad decided to adopt him. As you can see in the video, this puppy is a lot of fun. He’s mischievous too. Diego likes to eat things like shoe laces, gloves, socks, and imitation Uggs. I’m sure he’ll come around in that regard. Hopefully Diego’s luck has changed because he fits in really well with the Padillas.

The YouTube Debates Aren’t that Awesome

Posted in opinion with tags , , , , on 2007 December 26 by KLP

This post on the Official Google Blog makes me pretty upset with Google. All this talk about breaking down barriers and not one mention of including third party candidates in future YouTube debates. Let’s get something straight: Google isn’t improving the political process. They’re just reinforcing the status quo, and claiming otherwise. So much for “don’t be evil”You can make money without doing evil“. If Google really wants to improve the political process, then they need to turn the election into a real competition and actually make it interesting. Imagine a debate where the debaters are judged on what they say and not on how they answer (or not answer) questions or how they behave or other minutia. Such a debate would actually be useful to voters. A sure way to bring this about is to invite third party candidates to debate. Doing so will call into question the legitimacy and earnest of the candidates who currently aren’t working hard enough or making enough of a case to deserve the position they seek. I agree that YouTube is powerful, but Google needs to use it to affect the sort of change that the USA needs. Something is wrong when elections are won by very slim margins. Blaming the problem on the red-state/blue-state division of the country is incorrect. Rather, the presidential candidates we’ve seen in the last few elections have been too similar. Modifying the debate format to help voters discern the difference between candidates isn’t the way to go about solving that problem. Rather, YouTube should use it’s muscle to force candidates to adopt diverse positions and give voters a real choice.

One might argue that YouTube couldn’t hope to hold a debate with third party candidates because Democrat and Republican candidates would refuse to participate for fear of the sea change that I’ve described. I argue that YouTube is too powerful for any candidate to ignore simply because they want the exposure. Google has no excuse.

Google, don’t be evil. Make things right.

Bug: another item on the list of things I wish I invented.

Posted in opinion with tags , , , on 2007 December 6 by KLP

Once in a while, a really good idea comes along that I have trouble not thinking about. Such is currently the case with the pictured device, called the Bug, soon to be available from Bug Labs. What is it? The answer is that it is almost anything you want it to be, and it can do almost anything you want it to do. To be specific, the Bug is a hand-held computer base with which modules can be easily snapped on and off. The modules that will be available upon release of the product, which will be sometime in 2008, include a camera, GPS, motion sensor/accelerometer, and LCD touchscreen. The entire device is open source, from the hardware to the software. This means that the Bug can be configured to precisely the user’s intention.

So, I could, for example, use the accelerometer module with a program that would take data points as my car coasts from, say, 60mph. From this data I could determine my vehicle’s drag coefficient. Or I could connect the Bug to the headphone output of my radar detector. With the GPS module I could keep a record of the locations where radar signals are detected. Then, I could make the sound turn off whenever I am driving through an area where there are always false alarms.

Apple wouldn’t build and sell such a device. Neither would Dell or Sony. That’s precisely why the people at Bug Labs are so smart. A device that helps you determine how aerodynamic your car is will not sell. But, a device that can adapt to any specific function is a major shift from the realm of conventional consumer electronics, whereby the creators of the device attempt to tell you what you can and can’t do. There are enough geeks that can appreciate this design philosophy to constitute a large demographic. I can’t get over how Bug Labs achieves this versatility by having the Bug consist of simple building blocks, which dictate the functions of the device as a whole depending on selection and arrangement. The Bug is awesome for many of the same reasons that LEGOs are awesome.

The Bug could serve the purpose of an iPhone, should the user so desire. However, I do not imagine the two competing with each other. They are different products. The iPhone is a closed platform that does exactly what Apple designed it to do. Many consumers desire and are satisfied with Apple’s innovation. The Bug is an open platform that allows the user to innovate. It will conform to the user. The community of users will find more uses for the Bug than a team of engineers could hope to incorporate into a closed platform device. Many consumers will find the utility of the Bug very attractive. I sure do.

Anyway, enough of me trying to sell this thing. The folks at Bug Labs do it better. Here’s a link with videos.


Venture Communist. Miscommunications Technologist. Telekommunisten Polemicist. ThoughtWorks Analyst.