Hackdance & Second Government

Dru and I participated in Hackdance this past weekend. It was a 48 hour hackathon at the Deer Valley Lodges in Park City as a part of Collective's Disruptfilm event at Sundance Film Festival. From the site:

Hackdance: the first celebrity-driven social impact hackathon kicks off on January 16th, & you're invited to take part in this historical event! Your mission: partner your tech skills w a celebrity passionate about changing the world to design apps/hacks that use technology to create social impact.

We took school and work off on Thursday and Friday, not quite sure what we'd gotten ourselves into. Dru brought her product management and design skills to the game and I came in with my iOS and Android background. The event started with the celebrities sharing their ideas for social impact. There were a lot of good ideas, including the use of Plexi APIs for reporting and preventing cyber-bullying, an ambitious but thoughtful idea for virtual second government, and a movement for improving the Plant-a-Fish donation collection, among other ideas. Dru and I liked a few of the projects, and ended up joining our first choice with Alex Ebert for the idea of Second Government.

Dru and I teamed up with two "serial hackathoners" who were invited out from Silicon Valley. I think they've done something like 15+ hackathons in the past year, placing top 3 in over half of them. It was pretty cool getting teamed up together...until I realized how serious about hacking they were. With no hackathons under my belt, my most similar experiences were the BYU Mobile App Competition and Startup Weekend. Joining with a team of hackers was quite an adjustment.

The main difference was that both the mobile app competition and SW had an end goal to build a complete product or business, not just put something together for demo purposes. We had significantly different theories on how to tackle the weekend, but overall ended up with a pretty good balance. We ended up creating a semi-functional Reddit- and Stack Overflow-inspired website and iOS app, featuring proposals for governmental change and a system of comments and upvotes.

The goal of the platform is to provide an open system for proposing governmental change without all the bureaucracy and pessimism. Ideas are then voted, vetted, and refined, with the most popular suggestions rising to the top. While most people don't bother voicing their opinions on government because of little hope it will ever be heard, SecondGov provides the platform to test out ideas in a virtual world without the worry of what can or can't be accomplished. Ultimately, proven, popular ideas from SecondGov can be taken (with their tens or hundreds of thousands of upvotes) to the real government to make real change happen.

The team

The team

Alex, who won a golden globe for best original score just last week, was awesome to work with. He was definitely the most hands-on and supportive of the celebrities from my perspective. He spent a lot of time working with us on the direction of the app, design, and prepping for our pitch. Plus, he's an artist, a writer, and a performer... he knows how to make a point with some conviction.

Dru making an awesome face

Dru making an awesome face

Our pitch to the judges went well. We definitely bit off more than we could chew by working on a web app, iOS app, exploring a virtual reality platform, and trying out a pre-release iOS motion-tracking SDK by Plantronics in the two days. Our demo included a piece from all four, but my personal favorite was the Plantronics concept headset. We used it in conjunction with the iOS app to view proposals hands-free and upvote or downvote them with a nod or shake of the head. It wasn't necessarily a cornerstone piece to the premise of SecondGov, but it was fun to work with one of the hackathon sponsors and brought a little wow factor into the pitch. I'll post a video later if I get my hands on it.

Pitching to the judges

Pitching to the judges

The result was awesome. We won first place for social innovation, including a 5k cash prize and a 10k investment from the Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center.

Alex sharing the vision

Alex sharing the vision

Awesome projects from every single team. Other final products included a Google Chrome extension for reporting cyber-bullying, YoungStarter, improvements to the Plant-a-Fish donation system, Rah Rah's tech truck, a SHFT mobile app, and a Lead and Pledge movement to end domestic violence.

Related links

Maybe Microsoft is doing it right. Or maybe they're not.

Dell Venue Pro, running Windows Phone 7.5

Since I first began seeing concepts of Windows 8 I kept thinking, huh, maybe Microsoft is onto something here. Despite being both an Android and an iOS fanatic, I have been impressed with the Windows Phone OS since trying out Windows Phone 7.5 from Dec 2011 - March 2012 on an extra Dell Venue Pro my dad had available. The hardware was...a brick... to put it nicely, but the OS itself was excellent. 

Over the last 18 months I've found myself continuously (and to my friends' amusement) defending Windows Phone as a viable mobile operating system, and, as an extension, defending Windows 8. I've gushed over the Lumia 920, HTC 8X, and now the Lumia 1020. I almost bought all three of these devices on numerous occasions (just ask Dru). While I maintain that Windows Phone is a great OS, I'm coming to terms with the idea that maybe Microsoft isn't doing it right and that they did in fact jump the gun on the idea of the convergence of the desktop and the mobile experience. Since MS's release of Windows 8 there's been talks of how revolutionary and visionary it is. Ahead of its time. Some referred to it as showing that Microsoft had not only caught up to Apple and Google, but far surpassed their ability to deliver innovative products that end users didn't even know they wanted until they tried it (take the iPad for example).

Well, after a year of saying to myself, yeah, maybe they did get it right, maybe Windows 8 isn't as radical as all the critics say, maybe we will all be using touchscreen desktop computers in a couple years, I'm now saying maybe not

The truth is that the people don't want the same experience on a tablet as they have on their desktop or laptop. Sure, they like familiarity, but at the core a user's interaction with a tablet and user's interaction with a desktop computer is just different. And people are fine with that. The design of an application on the desktop environment is (and should be) vastly different than the tablet and the phone representations of that same application. Probably one of the best examples of this is the Day One app for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Ask any active Day One user if they'd like to combine either the iPhone and iPad experience or the iPad and Mac and they'd look at you like you were crazy.

Day One for iPhone, iPad, and Mac

Further evidence that people just don't want to merge desktop computing and mobile computing... look at this Acer commercial comparing their 8" Windows tablet to the iPad mini. This is my opinion, and I bet some Windows 8 fans view this commercial as a win for Acer and Windows 8 Pro, but firstly, who wants to play Halo on a tablet (not that they even look like they're actually playing...)? Don't get me wrong, I love iPad games... Plants vs. Zombies vasebreaker endless mode... that'll keep me busy for HOURS. But I don't really care for the idea of getting a dumbed down PC gaming experience on my iPad. Maybe if the entire game was reimagined for iPad, and it really was just a distant relative of Halo, but the ability to run full-fledged PC games on a tablet just doesn't do much for me. Okay, next flaw in the video, of all the things you can do on a tablet, why show someone accepting changes to a Word doc? I mean, seriously, of all the things I've used a tablet for (thinking my Kindle Fire, Nexus 7, and iPad), I have never once wanted to accept changes to a reviewed Word doc. And if I did, I wouldn't want to be using the traditional Word app to do it (see all those tiny touchpoints?!).

UPDATE: I hadn't done my research on Halo Spartan Assault, and it looks like it very much is  the Halo experience reimagined for touch. That's cool. What I was trying to get at is the idea of playing traditional PC games on a tablet running Windows 8 Pro.

What I'm getting at (and have probably repeated 20 times by now) is that I no longer believe that we are heading in the direction of an integrated desktop and mobile computing environment. Those who never got on the Windows 8 bandwagon are probably thinking, yeah, knew that all along. But for those who have seriously entertained the idea of everything converging into a single, universal experience, either the timing is wrong or the implementation is wrong. Either way, maybe Microsoft isn't doing it right after all.

Google Fiber coming to Provo

Our pre-registrations paid off!

Let's go utah... pre-register now. All of you. 1000Mb/sec #googlefiberfiber.google.com/about/

— Kyle Clegg (@kyle_clegg) July 26, 2012

 

gfiber2.png-fileId=19601385.png

The #EpicProvoAnnoucement hashtag on twitter has truly turned out to be epic. Provo is getting Google Fiber and it makes sense for so many reasons:

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 2.02.43 PM

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 2.02.43 PM

  • Entrepreneurship - Provo is one of the best places for tech startups outside of Silicon Valley -- on the same level as Austin.
  • Infrastructure - There's an existing infrastructure in place, put there by the city of Provo nearly 10 years ago. It failed (IMO) due to the greed of who decided to limit the speeds to near cable-levels and charge only marginally lower than other providers. Stifling innovation in the pursuit of some extra $$s.
  • Data - Genealogy research is huge in Utah, with several large organizations likely to get on board ASAP.
  • Students - Provo is home to a major university in BYU, with another 25,000+ university ten minutes away in UVU.
  • Innovation - Utah IS Silicon Slopes!

Ditching mySQL

As a java/OO developer first (web later), I got my start with databases by setting up a couple wordpress blogs, mostly simple UI stuff, but configuration and a few other cases got me into phpMyAdmin and MySQL. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case for hundreds, or thousands of others. I don't -- or didn't -- mind MySQL so much because honestly it got the job done for those simple blogs and it was easy to get going. However I will say that now that I am surrounded by "production-level" projects, i.e. projects at work that affect millions of users and backends for my own mobile apps, I am extremely concerned about the performance, consistency, (over)complexity, and maintenance of my databases. I've gotten familiar with postgres, and while not fully understanding all its benefits over MySQL, it works great, feels sexy, and posts like this have pushed me to make the move.

Also, using frameworks like Ruby on Rails I feel abstracted far enough from the database level that the change really wasn't too difficult. It makes me wish I hadn't used MySQL in the first place, and started with SQLite because of its support on mobile devices, or Postgres.

Mobile App Competition Results

timeline.png

This post is long in the coming... actually should have been written at the end of November.  Brief recap about Growing Pains and how it took home some awesome awards in the BYU Mobile App Competition.  We had big plans for Growing Pains, but at the time of the submission deadline we were probably only 40-50% done with our first iteration feature set. I honestly was not expecting to take home much from the competition.  The one award I was fairly confident about was the best Ruby on Rails backend, mostly because I was guessing that we were one of the only RoR backends.

My sister Kandace and I were there and were pumped when they announced Growing Pains as a top-16 semifinalist out of 25, with a guaranteed $250 cash prize.  Dru couldn't make it because it was during the day and she would have to miss work.  All 16 semi-finalists gave a 2 minute demo and presentation on their app, which was exciting for me.  I've never made a pitch to 500 people before.

Then the awards... Kandace and I were super stoked when the first award they gave out -- BizVector award for business potential from MokiNetworks -- was given to Growing Pains!  $100 gift card.  Sweet!  Next up the finalists.  Again, the very first app they announced (which just added to the excitement and surprise) was Growing Pains, 5th place with a $1000 cash prize.  Other top apps included a couple games and 2 business productivity apps, with a top cash prize of $3000.  We also won the Ruby on Rails API award, which was a iPad for each team member.  In total we came away with $2100 in awards and prize money, plus a heavy dose of validation and encouragement about our idea and the direction Growing Pains was heading.

finalists.png

We've continued working on Growing Pains and recently started beta testing with couple family members.  If you're interested in giving us some pre-release feedback - let me know!

Duplicate an SQL Record

When working with SQL databases there are times you want to clone database rows and for whatever reason don't want to write out a ton of INSERT statements.  This would be easily handled by

insert into users select * from user where username="webuser1";

except that this will not handle unique key contraints, i.e. when your ssn or user_id fields must remain unique.  One convenient way to get around the restrictions on unique keys it to create a temporary table, clone the record, change necessary fields, then copy is back to the original table.
CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE users2 ENGINE=MEMORY SELECT * FROM users 
WHERE username="webuser1";
UPDATE users2 SET username=webuser2; ## Change the username to be unique
## Update any other fields that must be unique
INSERT INTO users SELECT * FROM users2;
DROP TABLE users2;

Tablet or Laptop

A past professor recently asked island (the information systems forum/community I participate in) whether he should get a tablet or a laptop for his teenage daughter.  She's been asking for a tablet, and he wants a solution that will work for her for both play and for school and homework.  It's an interesting question and very interesting topic since laptops and tablets are accepted for use in many high schools across the US.  When I was in high school (2001-2005) using a laptop at school wasn't even a consideration.  I wonder what kids will have in 30 years...

Here are my recommendations at around the $300 price:
  1. Nexus 10
  2. iPad 2
  3. Windows Surface (with condition)

The Nexus 10 is going to be pretty ideal for this situation.  I think a high schooler can very reasonably do their studying and homework on a tablet, with the exception of research papers and essays.  For those he or she may need to use the family computer (or at least a keyboard dock), but I wouldn't consider that case enough reasoning to go with a laptop instead of a tablet, especially if they're already wanting a tablet.  I have a Nexus 7 and I really like it for reading and for taking notes.  I love Evernote because it's on every platform I could dream of using (web, iOS, Android, Amazon, OS X, Windows, and even Windows Phone, but not Linux AFAIK).

As another option I think you can get a 16GB iPad 2 in that price range, which would be a great choice as well.  It also wouldn't be brand new, which may or may not be important to a parent.  I know some would rather their teenagers have a older generation version of a project than something fresh off the shelves.
About the Microsoft Surface... if it were 1 year from now, I would recommend getting a used Surface.  It would definitely have all the windows based functionality that someone could need.  However because it just was released Friday and its price point is $499, I don't think it's a good option today.  But it's worth mentioning.

The new Copyright Alert System

Relating to my Information Security class (and just listening to local news driving home from school), I've recently heard quite a bit about the new Copyright Alert System.  I decided to do a little reading and learn more about it.  A lot of my comments come from reading this hackernews article... http://thehackernews.com/2012/10/isps-will-warn-you-about-pirate-content.html#sthash.hqrC94wn.dpbs. The Copyright Alert System (CAS) will begin showing up in the U.S. in late 2012, according to the U.S. Center for Copyright Information. The new Copyright Alert System has partnered with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon to deter subscribers from infringement over peer-to-peer networks. Providers’ implementation may vary, but their respective flavors of ISPs are expected to roll out within the next two months.

The new system works by monitoring illegal transferring and downloading of copyrighted files using MarkMonitor, a brand protection company, and issues warnings for infractions. Gradually more severe responses are given to each subsequent infringement, beginning with emailed warnings, escalating to throttled data speeds, and for more serious offenders suspension of service and possible legal action, including severe fines. In addition to protecting original content creators and owners, the CAS system also benefits the ISPs. If accused of illegal activity, offenders can request a review of their network activity by paying a $35 fee. If the offender is found not guilty, their money will be refunded. If they are found guilty, the fee will be kept.

The Center for Copyright Information applauds the new system, saying that it is “designed to make consumers aware of activity that has occurred using their Internet accounts, educate them on how they can prevent such activity from happening again, and provide information about the growing number of ways to access digital content legally.”

“Contrary to many erroneous reports, this is not a ‘six-strikes-and-you’re-out’ system that would result in termination,” the group said in a press release. “There's no ‘strikeout’ in this program.” However, apparently there is some controversy here, because there are rumors of a six-strike limit, yet no given policy on what happens if people continue to download or share pirated files, even after six warnings.

Assets to the Copyright Alert System 1. MarkMonitor – System the monitors network activity to copyrighted media and can detected the illegal sharing and downloading of copyrighted files. Goal – prevent end users from abusing ease of online information exchange by monitoring for illegal activity. 2. ISPs – Previously, identifying illegal downloaders was up to the content owner. ISPs will now play a large role in enforcing this. Goal – Since ISPs have access to all network activity, they can more accurately detect infringers and better penalize users for their negligence or purposeful illegal activity.

Threats to Online Media 1. End users downloading illegal media, such as music. Although this attacker is not the average black hat haxor, this person is still an “attacker” in the sense that they are performing illegal activity. 2. Services that promoting sharing of illegal media, then gain revenue through advertisements on their website. E.G. Megaupload

Weaknesses to Copyright Alert System 1. Users can still transfer copyrighted material via USB or firewire, or some connection not monitored by the ISP. 2. Software that cracks copyrights, which would prevent MarkMonitor from detecting the illegal sharing and downloading.

We should all be aware of the issue on online piracy and how to share media within the confines on the law. Piracy laws are in place to protect businesses and individuals, and as an IT generation and information consumer, we should be aware of the latest technologies in information security from protecting enterprises with hardware or software to protecting content creators with the Copyright Alert System.

Web tracking firm, Compete, settles charges for illegally collecting sensitive user data

I recently read an article published by Ars Technica, one of my favorite websites for tech news, education, and product reviews, as a part of a school assignment and wanted to post my thoughts. I’ve found that Ars Technica is one of the more intelligent and educational technology blogs that exist, which is very refreshing in a web full of tech blogs that want your clicks and try to attract you with gimmicky headlines and juicy gossip. The article is titled "Web tracking firm settles charges it collected passwords, financial data" and recounts the recent happenings surrounding Compete Inc. and their abuse of data tracking, lawsuit, and subsequent settlement. The article was published on 10/22/12 and can be found at http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/10/web-tracking-firm-settles- charges-it-collected-passwords-financial-data/.

The Massachusetts-based company had agreed to obtain end users’ consent before collecting future data on their browsing history, and had also agreed to anonymize customer data. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed charges against Compete relating to a toolbar that gave consumers “instant access” to information about the websites they visited, as well as a second software package called the Consumer Input Panel that gave consumers the opportunity to win rewards for expressing opinions about products and services. Both software packages did more than they advertised, said the FTC. "In fact, Compete collected more than browsing behavior or addresses of webpages," FTC lawyers wrote in a civil complaint filed in the case. "It collected extensive information about consumers' online activities and transmitted the information in clear readable text to Compete's servers. The data collected included information about all websites visited, all links followed, and the advertisements displayed with the consumer was on a given webpage."

Compete began collecting credit card numbers, social security numbers, and other sensitive data as early as January 2006, and has now agreed to settle up with the charges made against them. The article does not list an amount that Compete must pay, or any other details on what their penalty will be, or what will be done with the data sitting in Compete’s databases, but it does say that Compete will settle.

This article describes a situation that unfortunately is somewhat common. In some cases, the company is identified and brought to court, in other cases it likely goes undetected. All internet users should be aware of the risks of using technology, and specifically in using third-party tools in addition to their web browser. We should be wary of unneeded plug-ins, toolbars, widgets, and other applications that serve a minute purpose and have little industry credibility. In my opinion, trusting company’s like Google and Facebook is a much safer approach to protecting your data and you identity online, because these industry leaders are extremely transparent in how their manage end-users’ data and are increasingly under the microscope in terms of what they do with that data. This scrutiny helps create strict policies and regulations that help protect our data.

Defending Google

A friend recently posted an article to the Information System forum community that makes the claim that Google Search is only 18.5% Search, citing the following screenshot. See full article.

serp2

To which I respond that I'm going to side with Google here.  For one, that article seems to imply that the remaining 81.5% of the page is filled with irrelevant ad-related content for Google.  Classic example of using favorable "statistics" to prove a point, right?  Quite a bit of the page is taken by white space, menus, and links relating to other google services.  I agree that the author has a point, but to accurately compare the two it seems like search results real estate vs. ad real estate should be compared, not total screen space.  His screen shot also only shows the view from a single monitor.  On my 16:9 screen (I'm guessing his is 4:3) there is much more empty, negative space that makes the page feel balanced and keeps the ads from dominating.  Seems very relative.

My personal opinion is that if you don't like the way a free service supports its business (e.g. ads, soliciting donations, other), then don't use the service.   I feel like free, ad-supported services are a great business model in certain markets and tend to roll my eyes internally when I hear rants about Facebook ads, wikipedia donation requests, and even the less-obtrusive google Adwords.  My brother worked on the bing digital advertising team at Microsoft for a few years, so maybe he rubbed off on me, but I have no problem with a few ads in my search results.  These companies work long and hard to serve up relevant ads that are at best something helpful you could use or are interested in and at worst something you can easily skip over.

The iPhone 5 - What's Missing?

iphone-5-white-black-back-featured-360x360

The iPhone 5 looks awesome.  Some very exciting enhancements. My wife got hers the first day they shipped and loves it.  But for me, I have to admit I feel like it's more of the same.  The new screen size is exciting, and I'm really glad they decided go bigger, but aside from that just about everything was "expected."  Don't get me wrong, I don't think they need to go and reinvent the best-selling product in the world every year, and I really don't mean to disrespect the iPhone, because I am convinced it will be an enormous success, but personally I'm not yet convinced that this is my new phone.  Not that I buy into the Android argument that this and that feature have been on Android for months or years, because I do think Apple does a fantastic job of taking existing technology and integrating it in ways that are much more intuitive and user friendly.  Maybe it's just the buzz surrounding the iPhone is wearing off for me.  In any case I'm looking forward to all the new phones coming out this fall. Particularly hoping to test out the Lumia 920, HTC 8X, and hopefully a new Google branded Nexus device in the next 2 months.

Back Online

success_kid

The good news is I was able to restore 99% of my content thanks to Webhosting Pad's automated backup service.  After getting infected with malware many moons ago I thought all hope was lost for a time.  

Webhosting Pad came to my rescue by delivering to me a very recent database backup from the time of the attack and by wiping everything out so I could start clean again.  Some phpMyAdmin magic and a little TLC later and voila, we're back.  It looks like all my old images are now deadlinked, but hey, it could be worse.

Twitter Share - Android

Been working on a twitter share using the ACTION_SEND intent rather than the more cumbersome Twitter APIs. [css]

// Call find twitter client to get the twitter clients to post to 
Intent shareIntent = findTwitterClient();
shareIntent.putExtra(Intent.EXTRA_TEXT, "test");
startActivity(Intent.createChooser(shareIntent, "Share"));

findTwitterClient will call this method, which will search the phone for various Twitter clients, and launch the tweet through the first client it successfully matches:

public Intent findTwitterClient() {
final String[] twitterApps = {
// package // name - nb installs (thousands)
"com.twitter.android", // official - 10 000
"com.twidroid", // twidroid - 5 000
"com.handmark.tweetcaster", // Tweecaster - 5 000
"com.thedeck.android" }; // TweetDeck - 5 000 };
Intent tweetIntent = new Intent();
tweetIntent.setType("text/plain");
final PackageManager packageManager = getPackageManager();
List<ResolveInfo> list = packageManager.queryIntentActivities(
tweetIntent, PackageManager.MATCH_DEFAULT_ONLY);

for (int i = 0; i < twitterApps.length; i++) {
for (ResolveInfo resolveInfo : list) {
String p = resolveInfo.activityInfo.packageName;
if (p != null && p.startsWith(twitterApps[i])) {
tweetIntent.setPackage(p);
return tweetIntent;
}
}
}
return null;
}

Changing the default page when you open a new tab in Firefox

I've been super frustrated with firefox lately because somehow my default page when you open a new tab got changed from blank to a bing search.  Can't tell you how annoying this is when I'm used to a quick ctrl+t, ctrl+v to get where I want to go.  And the worst part is there's nowhere to change it when you go to the firefox options! It turns out the perpetrator is Microsoft (of COURSE) and that I somehow installed an extension that was doing it.  I'm still mad at firefox.

To disable the madness you need to restart firefox in safe mode: Firefox -> Help -> Restart Firefox with Add-ons Disabled.  Wait for it to restart, then select Disable all add-ons and whatever else you want to select.

Hit Make Changes and Restart and you should be all set.  No more pesky bing search stealing the cursor location.

Super Wi-Fi - The Dawn of a New Era

Vocab Lesson to start - SUPER WI-FI - Super Wi-Fi is essentially Wi-Fi as we already know it, but on a new, unused block of unlicensed spectrum (thanks FCC!).  This spectrum ranges from 50 MHz to 700 MHz and is at a much lower frequency than Wi-Fi is now, which will allow for better travel of data signals. I recently read on article on Super Wi-Fi.  The article makes some great points about Super Wi-Fi, which is supposedly the direction we're all heading.  Should it pan out, Americans will have the ability to get Wi-Fi access all across town, or campus, or park, or whatever it may be.  This makes me think of two futuristic possibilities: (1) the possibility of every human being having some kind of ever-connected bracelet, or ring, or even chip in them and (2) the fall of cell phone providers.

The article begins by shedding light on the first "Super Wi-Fi" network in Wilmington, North Carolina. With the first efforts relatively successful, are we ready to move everyone over to "Super Wi-Fi"? Not so fast, the article argues. "New Hanover County IT Director Leslie Chaney says that the network is being used primarily as backhaul technology for the time being and won't be available for residential subscribers in the county for at least a year."

The article goes on to describe some of the problems that Super Wi-Fi will still need to overcome. Some of the problems include establishing network standards that have yet to be worked out and mass-producing chipsets that will work on the spectrum. Overall though, Super Wi-Fi is impressive. Having taken advantage of unused TV frequencies, Super Wi-Fi is at an overall lower frequency, which means less interference from rain and walls. The county estimates that the networks will be ready for Super Wi-Fi in a year, and the country will be ready in 2-3 years.

The first impact mentioned has to do with monitoring human life.  I was telling my wife last week that I thought embedded heart-rate, temperature, and other health/performance measuring sensors in the everyday wedding ring will be an amazing technology in the future (and that we should build it).  With Wi-Fi access anywhere, and data-to-Wi-Fi transmitting chips embedded on small items such as a camera's SD card, I have to wonder when this technology will become an every day part of human life for health monitoring.  Sure, there's still years of technology and scores of legal issues to get through, but we're moving that direction.

The second, and more pressing issue is what to do with cell-phone carriers once Wi-Fi becomes commonplace.  Think of the impact nationwide Wi-Fi (are we really that far away from it?) will have.  I've already thought of ditching my phone's phone plan, data plan, and text messaging plan and using a free service like google voice, skype, heytell, facebook messenger or some combination of those as my replacement for AT&T.  What will happen when we realize that we don't need to pay AT&T for their text messaging data (thank you WiFi), "data" data (thank you WiFi), and even cellular phone data.  With Google being one of the first to venture into providing these services, I see a whole need business model with google creeping in, charging 10 bucks a month for all the above, and the whole U.S. flocking to Google Voice.  Because seriously, why I am pay $100/month for AT&T when I can get the same data using my home/school/work Wi-Fi and soon enough... Super Wi-Fi.

For these, and many other reasons, I think Super Wi-Fi will have an enormous impact on the world.

Protest SOPA on your Website (JavaScript)

Join hundreds of thousands in protesting SOPA and PIPA by writing to your congressmen, telling them how you feel about these bills.  To take it a step further and join in the #blackoutSOPA cause, paste this handy javascript into the <head> tags of your webpage or blog.  It will 'blackout' your website for January 18th only, redirecting users to sopastrike.com

<script type="text/javascript"> var a=new Date,b=a.getUTCHours(); if(0==a.getUTCMonth()&&2012==a.getUTCFullYear()&&((18==a.getUTCDate()&&13<=b)||(19==a.getUTCDate()&&0>=b)))window.location="http://sopastrike.com/strike"; </script>