Monday, September 22, 2008

Politics and Technology

Sorry for not posting for so long, I am totally consumed with a project at work. This week, I'm taking some vacation and I promised myself I would post.

Today I just wanted to note, at the eve of the "mother of all bailouts" in the financial industry, that somehow, we need to continue to remain focused on the fact that we don't spend enough time or energy or money working at or thinking about science or technology based projects. I amazes me that for us to have "invented" the internet, not as Al Gore has stated, but literally out of DARPA work so long ago... and the funding for major portions of the infrastructure came out of the budget for the NSF...

Today (and for many of the last 8 years) we are ignoring, as a matter of public policy, money invested in topics such as
  • Stem cell research (think about growing your own bone graft for your own spine, the far right has been successful in creating FUD around this topic)
  • Solar electricity generation (I just installed solar PV on my roof, but it could have been so much less expensive, because Moore's Law effects are not being seen in this industry in spite of the fact that the manufacturing technology is the same as in CPUs and Memory)
  • Solar electricity generation #2 (having read about small solar powered steam generators for the home - they generate electricity) is this worthwhile?
  • Algae that make bio-diesel as a byproduct of "eating" the excrement of fish farms. Did you know that this fish poop stuff is terribly bad for the environment? This would clean it up and provide a stepping stone to getting off oil from countries that politically are not aligned with sensible policy

I am truly speaking investment, because the business climate is bad enough, particularly in solar, that you won't find companies in this country making research decisions along these lines. Just as in sales compensation, you need to provide the incentive to the salesman to sell a product by compensating him to do so, in R&D, sometimes a kick in the pants is needed to get things moving, particularly if the R&D is in the private sector...

Surely, if we can modify the tax code to provide a tax credit for a light truck (or SUV's classified as such) and thus provide the incentive for the small business owner to make that investment in his business, something smarter can come from Washington; like say an investment in PV manufactoring technologies, thus assuring growth rather than stagnation.

I know, the current administration is just about done, what with it's "faith based" initiatives and all, but what are the replacements suggesting? You don't know?

Get involved.

here are links (click here and here) to get you started, from a recent post from none other than Phil Plait on the ScienceDebate2008.
It’s hard to say if this is honesty from them, or whether we should chalk it up to pre-election empty promises. Both say some good things about science policy...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Technorama Last Episode

The last episode of Technorama was today, I'm sorry to hear this, having enjoyed the show for so long and participated a bit as well. My own contribution, that I found on Engadget, for the last show was this strange contraption, the Uno Electric Unicycle:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Interesting uses for the Wiimote

I ran across some of the work of Johnny Lee while listening to Phil Windley's Technometria the other day. You can read (and listen to) more at the Conversations Network, a great resource of ideas and material, or you can click the link above to Johnny's website at Carnegie Mellon University.

Because the Wiimote has bluetooth built in and an infrared camera, you can interact with it via your computer, reverse it's normal gaming orientation to the TV and expose a whole new range of potentials.

Here are some direct links to some of the YouTube video's he's posted regarding potential apps for the Wiimote, yes beyond just gaming...

Low-Cost Multi-touch Whiteboard using the Wiimote (my personal favorite)

also, see more...
Tracking fingers with the Wii Remote

Foldable Displays (tracked with the Wiimote)

Head Tracking for Desktop VR

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Energy Efficiency

I have been listening to these Conversations Network podcasts for a series of lectures by Amory Levins while he was a visiting professor at Stanford University.

According to Amory Lovins, the way to design energy efficient buildings involves "thinking outside the box", or simply just giving up old ways of approaching the problem.

I found this lecture series entertaining and quite informative. The link above, and here pertains to Part 1 of design elements for building or renovating energy efficiency in buildings. This is a good "listen" and I recommend it for anyone interested in helping to solve the energy issues present in our society today.