Have a headache?

As a consumer there are some shopping experiences that are elegant and well-tailored to how you would like to purchase a product.  For example, the front half of nearly every Apple store I have entered is free of clutter and has logical groupings of related products neatly presented for your evaluation.   Continue reading

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Step UP

Jawbone UP

When Jawbone (by Aliph) hit the mobile device accessories scene in December 2006, the bluetooth headsets took the market by storm and garnered high marks from nearly every reviewer and consumer alike.   Continue reading

7 billion lives

7 Billion ActionsIf there’s one thing that can be said about this highly connected world that we – as members of the “developed countries” – live in it is that technology has afforded us the ability to “shrink” the planet.  As recently as 20 years ago a comparatively small number of people had email addresses or used the Internet and the Web as we know it was non-existent.  If you wanted knowledge you went to a library and if you were in search of news you could pick up a newspaper or watch your local newscast.  Today there are seemingly limitless options for understanding what is going on in far flung places like Tuvalu, Malta, or Palau.  Additionally, we have a higher degree of exposure to the terrible plights that face many people in the “developing countries” such as civil war, drought, famine, and disease. Continue reading

Most popular “ideas worth spreading”

PostRank, the recent Google acquisition in the real-time social-networking data analytics space, recently compiled a list of the most popular TED presentations.  The experiment aims to see which speakers are most popular by topic (i.e., technology, entertainment, business, etc.) and network (i.e., Twitter, Delicious, Facebook, Reddit, etc.).  There are a few surprises but I don’t think it stunned anyone to see that Pranav Mistry’s talk on Sixth Sense was first in the Technology and Design categories (I was pretty impressed when I saw him at Cognizant Community 2011) or that Julian Assange was strongly favored in Global Issues. Continue reading

Crowdsourced research reaches a new high

Crowdsourced research reaches a new high || “U.S. Gamers Crack Puzzle in AIDS Research that Stumped Scientists for Years” http://ow.ly/6yXmz

Looking to solve an age-old problem that had been hampering AIDS drug research for over a decade, scientists at the University of Washington turned to a three-dimensional spatial modeling “game” called Foldit. Continue reading

Fermilabs physicist solves airplane boarding dilemma

After watching the airplane boarding process a few years ago while on the way to a conference, Fermilabs physicist Jason Steffen thought that there had to be a better way.  After considering a variety of methods, he settled on one using an algorithm based on the Monte Carlo optimization method.

By boarding alternate rows with the window seats first, passengers minimize aisle interference and therefore the most common form of delays.  Alternating rows of middle seats follow the windows and then alternating rows of aisle seats.

Despite having published his findings in Journal of Air Transport Management in 2008, airlines have yet to adopt the “Steffen method” which could save the industry over $1 billion annually.

Do you stick with ideas that don’t make sense?

Do you stick with ideas that don’t make sense? || “Three Self-Delusions That Influence Your Decisions And Productivity” http://ow.ly/69vxz

You are not so smartAn entertaining illumination of the stupid beliefs that make us feel wise.

You believe you are a rational, logical being who sees the world as it really is, but journalist David McRaney is here to tell you that you’re as deluded as the rest of us. But that’s OK- delusions keep us sane. You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of self-delusion. It’s like a psychology class, with all the boring parts taken out, and with no homework.

Based on the popular blog of the same name, You Are Not So Smart collects more than 46 of the lies we tell ourselves everyday, including:

  • Dunbar’s Number – Humans evolved to live in bands of roughly 150 individuals, the brain cannot handle more than that number. If you have more than 150 Facebook friends, they are surely not all real friends.
  • Hindsight bias – When we learn something new, we reassure ourselves that we knew it all along.
  • Confirmation bias – Our brains resist new ideas, instead paying attention only to findings that reinforce our preconceived notions.
  • Brand loyalty – We reach for the same brand not because we trust its quality but because we want to reassure ourselves that we made a smart choice the last time we bought it.

Packed with interesting sidebars and quick guides on cognition and common fallacies, You Are Not So Smart is a fascinating synthesis of cutting-edge psychology research to turn our minds inside out.

A new and thought-provoking evolution in genetic science

A new and though-provoking evolution in genetic science || “Animal’s genetic code redesigned” http://ow.ly/61LYB

DNA

Not since the discovery of the double-helix DNA structure by Watson and Crick in 1953 has the field of genetics been so significantly in the social consciousness.  Certainly there have been massive advances in understanding how genetics plays a role in everything from the elimination of disease to the development of drought and pest resistant crops to the creation of new breeds of pets (cockerdoodle anyone?).  However for the first time scientists have created an animal whose genetic code has been enhanced with molecules that are not found in the natural world.  Obviously the scientist and technologist in me races off to a future that is populated by wonderfully useful animals who have been created to eliminate the weaknesses and shortcomings that evolution hadn’t yet had the millions of years to smooth out.  That said there are clear consequences of such breakthroughs that need to be weighed on ethical and moral grounds.

Biology makes you a slave to your mobile devices

Biology makes you a slave to your mobile devices || “Are You A Victim Of Phantom Vibration Syndrome?” http://ow.ly/5Sn1m

A fairly interesting piece about how we’re driven to do certain kinds of activities based on seeing other people doing those activities (i.e., seeing someone smoking makes smokers want to light up).  The most insightful portion of the article focuses in on the notion that when we’re constantly checking our devices we’re really checking out from reality:

“Apart from habit, Phantom Vibration Syndrome is also about not being fully present. As much as we all believe we’re skilled multi-taskers, for the record, we’re not. Quite simply, we’re no longer fully present. By this I mean emotionally as opposed to physically. We think we are, we think we’re participating in the conversation, but in reality, we’re not.”

Automakers have to comply with CAFE standards by 2025 but how?

Automakers have to comply with CAFE standards by 2025 but how? || “Technologies that will get automakers to 54.5 mpg” http://ow.ly/5QJkD