Where’s my Personal Air Vehicle?

Flying car implies it will replace anybodys car, said Carl Dietrich, chief executive officer of Terrafugia, which is developing the Transition, a personal aircraft designed to travel on skyways and highways. Flying car brings out a lot of connotations and The Jetsons.

A quick look at what it takes to control normal automobile traffic in our cities and states gives it away. We won’t be getting flying cars anytime soon, but I still just enjoy the fact that Paul Moller does what he does. I was a bit surprised to hear he’s 70 years old and I assume that means at some time in the next few decades we’ll lose updates on this story.

Fortunately for all of us, the X-prize and Google’s recent move to back the endeavor promise to bring us loads of fun for years.

  • Google offers $30 million for the first commercial lunar rover
  • Rover must safely land on the moon and beam back images and video to Earth
  • Google partnered with the X Prize Foundation for the moon challenge
  • Ansari X Prize contest led to the first manned private spaceflight in 2004
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How Bill Gates Works

I recently read an article describing ten leaders of business and non-profit organizations and how they use technology (look for link on same page as this article). I was amazed at the number of leaders still not using even email or relying purely on a team of admins (read as “very smart human based filtering systems”) to organize their time and information. A few were using technology on a daily basis, but like many of us they understood the 20% of a tools functionality that allowed them to accomplish 80% of what they wanted to get done. I recall one company executive that never quite figured out how to initiate an email from her Blackberry, but could respond to ones that came in.

CNNMoney recently published a good article on Bill Gates and how he deals with these issues.

Things Bill does:

  • Minimizes paper
  • Uses a multi-monitor rig on the desktop to spread work out (see photo)
  • Uses filtering and only receives email from parties he already knows or communicates with (has administrative support to filter others)
  • Mostly ignores “the toaster”, i.e. the Outlook notification that messages have just arrived
  • Uses desktop search to find data on his local machines
  • Uses project focused collaboration sites/tools like SharePoint
  • Synchronizes mobile devices with his office PC

Staying focused is one issue; that’s the problem of information overload. The other problem is information underload. Being flooded with information doesn’t mean we have the right information or that we’re in touch with the right people.

While I do have a multi-display approach, I haven’t managed to get the adminstrative staff to filter my requests. Regardless, it’s great to see how a modern executive of a technology company manages the same issues we all face.

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Portable DVD from Polaroid

I’m just a little bit amazed when a company with a very recognizable brand does something I don’t expect. Polaroid did that today. I recall the b-school cases on Polaroid and the auto-developing film technologies. Honestly, they were locked in my memory as ‘that’ company. However, I’ve been in the market for a portable DVD for some time now and my wife found what seemed to be a decent deal at Sam’s Club, the Polaroid PDM-0743 for $120 USD. I know Sam’s isn’t where you go to get the ‘best’ technology, but they do find deals and put them in front of cost conscious consumers.

So after roaming the primary players like CC and BB, I found myself at Sams looking at these little gems. For the money, you get a portable DVD player, case, and all the power adapters you’ll need to run at home and in a car. I’m planning a long driving vacation so I picked up a couple for the kids.

With a 7″ screen it’s not the largest viewing area available, but when I think of what it costs to put DVD permanently into a vehicle, this is a cheap way out. More experimenting to come, but so far it seems to handle commercial DVDs, home video put on DVD, JPG photo collections, as well as MPEG files just dumped onto a DVD from my PC (read anything I capture on my ATI All-In-Wonder card). I think having MP3 support would be nice, but I have a few spare Zen Nano’s around for that if the kids really need to listen to Kidz Bop #523.

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Ok, B-Week says “Here’s your flying car”

In my excitement over streaming video to my mobile phone from my home PC, I recently asked Where’s my flying car? While I’d like to think someone was listening, chalk one up for coincidence as Business Week recently published survey of flying car developments. There’s nothing terribly practical or available soon, but I guess I got my answer.

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Star Trek Consoles and the Multi-Touch Display

This is an amazing piece of work and reminds me of the mult-function terminals in Star Trek NG and a bit like the Minority Report user interface (except no gloves). Information week describes the device.

At the O’Reilly Emerging Technology (ETech) conference in San Diego Tuesday, Jeff Han, a consulting research scientist at New York University’s Department of Computer Science, demonstrated a multi-touch system that he insists “will change the way people interact with computers.”

(update 2015 – replace video)

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Inevitable Hello World

PPC Hello WorldIt’s required. Really, I had to do it.

With a few minutes of idle time, a PPC-6700, and a copy of Visual Studio .NET, here’s what you get.

Anyone that has taken even a passing interest in programming will recognize it for what it is and what it isn’t (useful, interesting, exciting).

But as I said, it’s required and at least it was a quick way to get used to the build and install process for PocketPC applications. I’d like to think it’s the start of a grand development project, but grand development projects take ideas and a little more familiarity with the platform. I have a few ideas, but will need to take a few weeks to learn what I can and can’t do with a PocketPC and VS.

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Console Price Drops

dollar sign In recent years the big three console makers are pretty consistent in their pricing strategies with Playstation 2 taking an early lead and launching at $299, Xbox (original) following at the same price a year later, and Nintendo GC coming in as the value player. Price drops seem to occur during the first half of the year around the time of E3.


Console Prices at Launch and Drop Points







2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
PlayStation 2 $299 $299 $199 $179 $149
Xbox n/a $299 $199 $179 $149
GameCube n/a $199 $199 $99 $99

In the last generation of consoles, the PS2 launched at a higher price point than the SEGA Dreamcast the year before but brought superiour technology to the table and got away with it. SEGA found themselves shown the door quickly and exited the business. At the time everyone was fighting the 900 lb gorilla known as Nintendo.
Since then, Microsoft followed Sony’s PS2 price with [slightly] better technology in 2001. Each price drop for either MS or Sony has been matched by the other while Nintendo stays below them both in the value category (possibly due to the GC being ONLY a game platform and not playing DVDs).

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