Sunday, November 24, 2013

This Awesome Ad, Set to the Beastie Boys, Is How to Get Girls to Become Engineers

New York Times     and Slate   - watch the video

Who said girls want to dress in pink and play with dolls, especially when they could be building Rube Goldberg machines instead?

That is the message of a video that has gone viral, viewed more than 6.4 million times since it was posted Monday on YouTube — an ad for GoldieBlox, a start-up toy company that sells games and books to encourage girls to become engineers.


The Hidden Technology That Makes Twitter Huge

Business Week

Consider the tweet. It’s short—140 characters and done—but hardly simple. If you open one up and look inside, you’ll see a remarkable clockwork, with 31 publicly documented data fields. Why do these tweets, typically born of a stray impulse, need to carry all this data with them?


While a tweet thrives in its timeline, among the other tweets, it’s also designed to stand on its own, forever. Any tweet might show up embedded inside a million different websites. It may be called up and re-displayed years after posting. For all their supposed ephemerality, tweets have real staying power.


8 Apps that turn Citizens into Scientists

Scientific American

Mobile applications for devices such as smartphones and tablets are helping ordinary citizens contribute to scientific endeavors by serving as remote data sensors. Smartphones can automate data collection and capture images, audio, and text, marking the data with the date, time, and geographic coordinates, says Michigan Technological University (MTU) professor Alex Mayer. Mayer and MTU professor Robert Pastel are leading the Cyber Citizens project, which is creating mobile and Web-based tools that enable people to collect environmental information. Cyber Citizens currently has four beta apps, including Beach Health Monitor, Lichen AQ (Air Quality), Mushroom Mapper, and Ethnographer. "All our mobile apps are for the Android platform, since it's open, so developers have more freedom," Pastel says. Scientists around the world are creating mobile apps for citizen science projects due to the ease and popularity of collecting useful information with mobile devices. The Citizen Science Alliance, for example, develops citizen scientist initiatives such as the Zooniverse Web portal launched in 2009, which spawned more than a dozen other projects. "[Scientists] are overwhelmed with data, and need people--citizen scientists--to help sort through it," says Zooniverse founder Chris Lintott. "It's undoubtedly true that using mobile apps can be effective with this; the small experiments we've done show that already."


Creativity, Johnny Cash And The Songwriter's Art


The best biographies don't just entertain us; they also provide valuable pointers about how to achieve more in our own lives. I'm in the midst of reading Robert Hilburn's new look at Johnny Cash -- and there's a section early in the book that delivers some provocative, powerful insights about the way creativity really happens.


What I drew from this musical case study was the importance of spotting overlooked potential in the everyday fare that we take for granted. Look twice at the song that built Johnny Cash's career. The opportunity was hidden in plain sight. And only one man saw it.


A lot of creativity workshops encourage people to adopt a giddy, almost babbling demeanor, on the hopes that if we create a big enough basket of free-association weirdness, we may have a few winners in the bunch. That approach can be a laugh riot. It sometimes pays off. Yet it has always felt like an eccentric way of getting to a good place.


Vehicle-To-Vehicle Tech Hits Speed Bumps

Information Week

Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) technologies have the potential to provide significant safety benefits if widely deployed. However, several challenges could create problems for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the automobile industry, which are jointly developing V2V applications, according to a recent government report. The DOT also is developing a national communication security system that would enable data to be transmitted among vehicles. If broadly deployed, V2V technologies could warn drivers in up to 76 percent of potential multi-vehicle collisions involving a passenger car, DOT says. Examples of V2V safety applications include emergency electronic brake lights warning, blind spot warning, forward collision warning, do not pass warning, intersection movement assist, and left turn assist. Such V2V technologies already are being tested in the field, but several challenges could hinder their deployment. DOT officials say the challenges include finalizing the technical framework of a V2V communication security system, ensuring that the radio-frequency spectrum used by V2V communications will not adversely affect V2V technology performance, and getting drivers to respond appropriately to warnings.


LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch Deck to Greylock

At Greylock, my partners and I are driven by one guiding mission: always help entrepreneurs. It doesn’t matter whether an entrepreneur is in our portfolio, whether we’re considering an investment, or whether we’re casually meeting for the first time.


Entrepreneurs often ask me for help with their pitch decks. Because we value integrity and confidentiality at Greylock, we never share an entrepreneur’s pitch deck with others. What I’ve honorably been able to do, however, is share the deck I used to pitch LinkedIn to Greylock for a Series B investment back in 2004.


This past May was the 10th anniversary of LinkedIn, and while reflecting on my entrepreneurial journey, I realized that no one gets to see the presentation decks for successful companies. This gave me an idea: I could help many more entrepreneurs by making the deck available not just to the Greylock network of entrepreneurs, but to everyone.


Today, I share the Series B deck with you, too. It has many stylistic errors — and a few substantive ones, too — that I would now change having learned more, but I realized that it still provides useful insights for entrepreneurs and startup participants outside of the Greylock network, particularly across three areas of interest:

•how entrepreneurs should approach the pitch process

•the evolution of LinkedIn as a company

•the consumer internet landscape in 2004 vs. today


Brian Eno on the Best Use of a Television, Why Art Students Make Good Pop Stars and the Meaning of ‘Visual Music’

NY Times

Most know Brian Eno as the multifarious musician who was a founding member of the glam band Roxy Music; produced seminal albums by U2 and Talking Heads; and is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of ambient music. But Eno was an art student before he became a musician, and he never lost his yen for visual innovation. The recently released book “Brian Eno: Visual Music” (Chronicle, $50) chronicles more than four decades of his experiments with video, light and new media. Here, Eno looks back on the intersection between his visual art and his music making.


Skype Travel Challenge

Skype Re-Routed

Mike Corey, one of Skype’s Moment Makers, is a breakdancer, divemaster, photographer and travel blogger who’s heading out on his biggest adventure yet.

Mike challenged Skype to put his travel skills to the test. And we plan to.

First stop is Istanbul, and from there he has no idea what’s next. He’ll need your help to solve clues that will eventually lead him to his ticket home.  The game starts Nov. 12, 2013.

Follow Mike on Twitter to get the first clue.


Google Reunion Video


Forget for a moment that the video you’re about to watch is an advertisement. Think of it instead as a short film, and just watch. The video runs only 3 minutes, 32 seconds. If you’re not in tears, or at least misty, when it ends, then you have no soul.


The gist is this: a man in Delhi tells his granddaughter about his childhood friend, Yusuf. He hasn’t seen Yusuf since the Partition of India in 1947, when India and Pakistan became separate countries and the two friends were forced to separate. The man’s granddaughter arranges for the two to meet again.


Every Step You Take

The Economist

As small cameras with the ability to identify individuals proliferate in public places and data storage prices drop, privacy issues are growing increasingly complicated. About 10,000 people already are using a Google Glass prototype, and in Russia at least 1 million cars are equipped with dashboard cameras aimed at tackling insurance fraud problems. U.S. police officers are beginning to wear video cameras on their uniforms to record interactions, and drones are being used to spy on individuals in their yards and other locations. Advances in camera technology have many positive uses, such as helping people with brain injuries to recover their memories and reading street signs and labels to those with vision impairments. However, complex privacy issues also are emerging, especially with the advent of facial-recognition technologies, which businesses and governments are beginning to use to find data about individuals by combing through billions of online images. With ubiquitous cameras and new algorithms, a person's movements in the near future could be constantly monitored and strangers could immediately identify a person on the street. New laws must carefully reflect a balance between public good and personal liberty.



UC Research Brings a Future of Mind-Reading Robots Ever Closer

UC Magazine

University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers are studying how brain-computer interfaces can be applied to robotics. The researchers' brain-computer interface (BCI) technology uses electroencephalography to help distinguish which brain signal corresponds with the body's performance of a particular intended action. In their experiments, the researchers specifically targeted brain impulses generated when a person thought about going from a sitting position to standing and vice versa. The goal is to enable a person to use thought alone to communicate with a computer about the intent to move. "We are experimenting with processing the signal and selecting useful features from it, and designing a classifier capable of distinguishing between the these two transitions--sitting to standing and standing to sitting," says UC professor Anca Ralescu. She notes the research eventually could be used in conjunction with a spring-assisted leg exoskeleton that can help people with impaired mobility, which also is being developed at the university. By integrating the BCI into the exoskeleton, users could think about standing and then receive a robotic boost as they rose to their feet.


Congress Is Told That Driverless Cars Are Coming—Sometime

Washington Post

Witnesses offering testimony before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit on Tuesday agreed that autonomous vehicles will hit the mainstream, but suggested varying timelines for when that might take place. Automakers are already developing autonomous vehicles and have conducted road tests with model vehicles, and the requisite technology is being installed in production-line cars. "These vehicles could potentially be on the road by the end of the decade,” says Eno Center for Transportation president Joshua L. Schank. "The benefits from autonomous vehicles are substantial, but the barriers also are substantial." Autonomous vehicles could significantly reduce crashes and fatalities. "It's not a question of if, but when" autonomous vehicles reach the roadways, says Carnegie Mellon professor Raj Rajkumar. "This technology will basically prevent human beings from hurting themselves." The technology also would ease congestion, because computer controllers and linked vehicles could maintain speed most of the time and minimize delays. In addition, autonomous cars would provide increased mobility for people with disabilities as well as elderly and young people. Current barriers to widespread rollouts include a vehicle cost that could initially be as much as $100,000, privacy and hacking concerns, and liability protections for automakers in the event of a collision.