Four Wheel Fly

posted by on 2010.09.07, under Entrepreneurship, News, Technology

Next year you might have a chance to buy the first commercial flying car.  Developed by MIT grads, the Transition by Terrafugia is planning on launching a vehicle that can fit in your garage, is street legal, yet can fold out wings in 30 seconds and take off for flight for up to 500 miles.  Take-off and landings must take place at airports, and pilots must have 20 hours flying experience from earning a Sports Pilot license.  2 people can ride in one, and they boast that their is storage room ideal for golf clubs.  It runs on premium unleaded fuel, and will likely start at around $200k.

There are several other projects designed to help us become more like the Jetsons.  Will police to monitor this new form of traffic, and if so where do you go if they pull you over?  What will insurance premiums be?  Will Nascar evolve? Will there be smog tests? How much more will mechanics charge? Will the big auto companies get into this? So many questions, So many questions…

Facebook Refugee

posted by on 2010.08.27, under Shameless Plug, Technology

In August, I deactivated my facebook account, and temporarily cut myself off from almost 1400 people, becoming a facebook refugee.  I chose ” I do not understand how to use facebook” as my reason for deactivating from the choices shown above and did not explain further.  One month later, here is the explanation.

I had become fed up with the dependence on the website to keep in touch with people.  I had traveled across the country the week before, reconnected with several old friends who I haven’t seen in years, and developed a theory that facebook had cheapened conversations with my normal correspondences.  In addition, while watching the previews for INCEPTION, in Omaha, I was disturbed to see that there is a movie coming out about this thing very soon.

I think that social networking might be getting out of hand, and wanted to see what life was like without it, at least for a month, and thus deactivated my account.  The short term absence from it gave me some ideas for new academic research that I might collaborate with my mentor at U of L.   The alienation from the community is definitely impactful, especially to someone who has moved to a new place with limited contacts in the area.  I realized in my first month, facebook-less in the city of Louisville, that the people I started meeting were forming an impression of me because I wasn’t eligible to be their online friend.  Mostly, these impressions were not favorable.  And it’s this behavior that is fascinating to me.  Too often journalists warn about negative impressions employers, co-workers, friends and lovers form of us based on what we do on the book, but I have yet to see anything talking about the consequences that the offline community faces.  I estimate that less than 2% of my friends are not on facebook.  They’ve missed out on seeing thousands of pictures, getting early notices on earthquakes, invitations to exclusive parties, status updates about their friends dog, and other information that fascinates us in our online lives.

In the process of deactivating my account, I backed up my pictures, obtained email address from 25% of my friends who responded to my going away status message, and did some research on other facebook refugees.  What i found was quite interesting….

Apparently, 1 million people a year try to delete their facebook accounts, but stop when they get to the page shown in the screenshot picture in the beginning of this post.  I found that page to be quite manipulative, showing pictures of me with close friends, and telling me that we will not be able to keep in touch.  Some nerve!  The people shown in this picture include some of my best friends from California, former bandmates, family members, and a business partner.  I tested this out a few times, and somehow they managed to keep the same formula, but replaced the people with my mother, brother, former boss, and best friend from kindergarten.  The notion that I would no longer be able to keep in touch with them is outrageous, and an indication of how this website has outgrown itself.  Mark Z once made a statement about how facebook can do more social good than non profits and individual people

There was a time when if you typed the word “Delete” into Google, the automated text following would be “facebook account.”  To counter this, facebook made it very difficult to deactivate, or even delete.  Accounts are not actually deleted for 14 days, and deactivating an account is just temporary.  Deactivated users still get emails about events and activity on facebook, and in my experience, more of it.  It is nearly impossible to export your contacts (they claim there is a way to do it through Yahoo, but it did not work for me.)  Backing up my pictures took an hour or 2, because I had to save each one individually because none of the applications actually worked.  Deactivating my account also removed pictures I tagged of other people, leading to an angry phone call from my little brother who lost his profile picture of surfing a wave in the pacific.
I maintained contact with many friends during my time off, but I did notice several people missing from my life.  I missed having people share silly youtube links, new music, pictures from a houseboating trip, or others things that I admit enjoying on the facebook.  Although these things were trivial in nature, it was a gloomy stage that I will not forget from my mid twenties.   Is society allowing facebook to have a monopoly over our friendships?

Here are experiences of others turning their backs on facebook….

Web industry leaders making high profiled exits from facebook in May…..(people from Google, Engadget and Gizmodo, and other well known podcasters/bloggers)

ABC Report of deactivating

Video on facebook possible valuation of $35 billion if they go public

Yesterday, I logged back in to my account, after realizing that my family was offended that I had done this.  My grandmother’s brother had reached out to me through facebook from a remote village in the jungles of India the day I had deactivated, and I had snubbed him by not accepting.  The moment I accepted his friendship, he posted a very kind message on my wall saying: “

“Hi Jason, I hope u r keeping, where r u ? and what are you doing ?, keep me in ur prayers as I often rememember u. God bless u always love Richie [ponkey]”

Suddenly I was bombarded with chats from people in Bombay, Hyderabad, Australia, Europe, California, New York, and even Canada.  I got sucked back into the newsfeed, and realized that it was not the time for facebook and me to part.  However, I have a new perspective on this thing, and suspect that someday I will have a better opportunity to move away from this culture without being alienated from the people I care about.  When that day comes, I hope you will be with us.


Healthcare Bill? Nope, just a post about the EyeWriter

posted by on 2010.03.22, under Entrepreneurship, News, Technology

FutureEverything awarded the 2010 prize to the EyeWriter

“The EyeWriter is a pair of low-cost eye-tracking glasses that allow artists and graffiti writers with paralysis to draw using only their eyes. Inspired by Tony Quan, a graffiti writer, social activist and publisher who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (AML) in 2003, The EyeWriter is the result of a collaboration with five other artists and a production company. It is an ongoing project to empower people suffering from degenerative neuromuscular diseases with creative technologies.”

This is one of the coolest inventions I have seen all year, and I can’t wait till we can get one for my uncle.  Check out the video below to see how it works, and watch the artist project graffiti art in real-time onto LA buildings from his bed.

The Eyewriter from Evan Roth on Vimeo.

More pictures

Oh, and I guess there is some news about Healthcare today….I’ll let you check your facebook feeds for that though, I openly admit that I can offer no intelligent commentary on the matter.



posted by on 2009.12.09, under Humor, Technology

I knew this was coming….I saw it coming last year when my land lady brought a homeless person into our house, and he spent 12 of the 24 hours of the day facebooking.  I admit, it was a bit embarrassing that he had more facebook friends than I did.  Shortly after finding an exit to Thailand, he released a series of hilarious facebook videos of him singing justin timberlake songs…no joke. 

Sites such as: Begslist, CyberBeg and all aim to give panhandlers a forum to beg for money.  Some of the sites, ironically charge up to $45 a month to be a member, but according to NPR, some of the appeals are very “heart wrenching.”

The problem I have with this is that there are enough of internet scams going on, and these forums just provide a new venue for these crooks.  Living in Venice, I deal with homeless people daily, and fortunately they all realized my modest wealth, and no longer as me for money.  But the truth is, I have a personal bias against giving homeless people money.  One particular homeless man in SF swindled my roommate into helping him out, only to steal my 2 week old laptop.  Either him, or the dozens of people that have bought or sold the laptop since, could be using it for begging on these sites.

However, for the hardworking families that have been hit the hardest by the economic crisis, perhaps some good can come out of this.  It is a bit more private, and less degrading than panhandling on the street.  Personally, I would prefer to donate money (if I had any) to a site more like Kiva, that gives microloans for people trying to start a business, however most of these sites help people in foreign countries. Helping American people keep their houses and buy their childrens books are very noble ideas too.

Just as long as its a scam.  At least they already have computers, and won’t try to steal mine again.


Dolphin Wars

posted by on 2009.12.08, under News, Technology, Travel

Russia is still trying to “one up”  America, recently acknowledging that they need to catch up to our Navy when it comes to militarized sea mammals.  The US Navy apparently employs both sea lions and our beloved “Flipper” for two main reasons:
1) look for underwater mines
2) keep a look out for an underwater swimmer terrorist attack.

Dolphins are trained to use strobe lights to point out the bad guys, however sea lions, those smart little buggers, are armed with cuffs to restrain intruders.  As an advocate of swimming in the Pacific Ocean at any opportunity, I was saved from an attack from the SF bay “rogue sea lion” thanks to San Francisco traffic a few years ago.  My respect for this animal has since been restored.  One question, what regulation will oversee these new soldiers for interrogation and torture methods if they actually catch an enemy, we don’t need another Guantanamo Bay PR disaster.

So, in the past month, all I have heard about the Russian military is that they are planning on blowing up clouds with their air force, and using their navy to train more dolphins and sea lions.  Very interesting….

Bombs over Moscow

posted by on 2009.11.03, under News, Technology, Travel

$6 million will be spent on a Russian air strike…..striking the air to fend off snow clouds. Yes, our friends across the pond estimate that they will save $4 million by blowing up these frozen crystals in the sky before they pile up on the ground and need to be shoveled. The madness is set to start November 15th, the Russian Air Force will spray dry ice, cement, or silver iodine to create immediate precipitation.

Cloud seeding has been tested historically internationally since 1947, and was even used in the 2008 Olympics, as well as on Moscow’s two main holidays. It is done at a few ski resorts in the US and Canada, and there seems to be a worry for threats of “cloud stealing” between rival nations desperate for rainfall. India and other Asian countries have used cloud seeding to improve air quality by forcing more rainfall.

Yury Luzkhov, Moscow’s mayor, is being met with an obvious protest against this. Could this plan be the future for creating a pre-irrigation strategy to manipulate rainfall, or does this Russian just have his head stuck in the clouds promising a “winter without snow?”


Recharge your cellphones by going for a walk

posted by on 2007.11.17, under Entrepreneurship, Humor, Technology

I have seen bikes used for charging cellphones while attending a music festival in the desert at Coachella, and I have seen knifes being sharpened in India with energy generated from the same pedaling action, but today I have heard about technology being developed that would recharge mobile phones simply by the motion of walking. For a man who is notorious for running out of batteries on my cell phone in the worst times, such as downtown Chicago an hour before having to meet my ride back home to Kalamazoo, this is the technology I have been dreaming about.