Sharks with freaking Laser Beams

July 11, 2011

Check out this video from 1969 about laser beams posted to twitter today by AT&T tech labs. It introduces tattoo removal, holograms and talks about what will become using lasers for CD players and more.

Towards the end of this video, there’s a segment about how lasers will allow for video phone calls and using home phones to dial for stock quotes.


It’s worth watching if not for the 1960s futuristic sound track.

Click this link to watch the video about Lasers!

But here are the AT&T “You Will” ads that I loved as a kid.



LA Mayor: Striking when the iron is cold

July 8, 2009

From LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s twitter page, the Mayor linked to an announcement that the city took in $17,000 from “hundreds of donors” who helped defray the cost of the Michael Jackson memorial service.

While the Mayor was encouraging people to continue to donate to help make up the estimated $4 million service (now estimated to be $1.4 million), it was noted that the reason the city only took in approximately 0.00425 percent  (now estimated to be 0.0121) of the total cost was because:

[T]he City’s Information Technology Agency could not handle the high volume of traffic or adequately respond to frequent and prolonged server crashes. Consequently, the City was unable to receive contributions for several hours Tuesday afternoon. The server also failed for at least 12 consecutive hours Tuesday evening, from 8:00 PM (PST) through 8:00 AM (PST) the next day, and periodically throughout Wednesday morning.

Let me say, that it was a valiant effort on the Mayor’s part to ask the world for micro-payments. I think it was very forward thinking of the Mayor and his staff. And while the plan was mocked on national media (one news anchor likened it to the donation plate at a church), I’m glad that Los Angeles City Government wasn’t afraid to ask the public.

That being said, IT DIDN’T WORK. You had one, maybe two, days of free coverage for the Kiva-like project. But your technology couldn’t handle the thousands-maybe millions- of people going to a website to click a link so they could donate via Pay-pal?  So now after the memorial, when people are starting to finally go on to new business, @Villaraigosa is asking people for donations. Talk about striking when the iron is cold.

What’s going to happen during a city-wide emergency? What happens after the big-one? What’s going to happen to the computer system that shares vital information with the millions and millions of residents of the greater Los Angeles area? How will you lead online? Via twitter?

Is this in the future: “E-quake. Stay calm. If house fell dwn, seek shltr” ?

My proposal is, once you recoup the money for the countless number of overtime hours for LAPD, city workers and more (haha!), take the $4 million spent making Staples Center as secure as it was during the 2000 Democratic National Convention and invest that money in new servers that can handle emergency situations. Had the system worked as it should have, steady servers could have saved the city millions of dollars in unexpected ways.

The old adage strikes again, “Technology is great when it works.”

Sirius XM falls short again

June 18, 2009

In the continuing saga of Sirius XM trying to keep up with what its consumers want verses what Sirius delivers, Sirius announced today the launch of their iPhone/iTouch player. If you’re like me, you know that the Sirius player available at SUCKS. It’s clunky, it’s slow to load, crashes frequently, constantly asks if you are listening and the player asks users for username, password and then a captua code. Why are you asking for a captua code? The only way I can listen is if I have a username and password and on top of that, only one person is permitted to listen per username/password.

So with all those downsides and Sirius calling an end to the Starplayr, Sirius XM finally launched the iPhone app. From the looks for things, on the website, the sirius app is beautiful and easy to use. However in keeping with really stupid policies or legal maneuvering or whatever, you cannot access Howard Stern and certain sports.

No Howard Stern?

With Howard Stern’s contract expiring in 18 months, maybe Sirius XM is trying to find out if users will go for Sirius’ services without its marquee player.

Here is the sans Stern disclaimer:

Some select programming, including MLB® Play-by-Play, NFL Play-by-Play, SIRIUS NASCAR® Radio, and Howard Stern, will not be available on the iPhone and iPod touch. Listeners will continue to be able to access that programming through the platforms they are currently offered on.

One step forward, two steps back. I’m sure the player will work very well, but you’re listening to Sirius XM on your ipod. Most users have a library of music at their fingertips. Why would users then use the radio function to listen to music that they already have or music that they don’t care enough about to have on their ipod already?

Iran and new media rules

June 17, 2009

The story about new media being the only source of news from Iran is unfolding for everyone to see, but what is interesting is these new media outlets and those who use new media to report news in the traditional sense are creating and breaking rules at the same time.

CNN which regularly reports news from its viewers in the form of tweets and their iReport changed two rules. The first is they are blocking out names of the contributors in Iran so they don’t face repercussions from the Iranian government. Second, they are airing “unverified” accounts from the ground. this means they aren’t doing their journalistic due diligence, but they are getting the stories out. In this case verifying sources can be difficult, but does verification matter that someone is suffering a gunshot wound? In other words, we know the protest is violent and people are being shot. As long as the news outlet doesn’t assign blame for who shot the victim, CNN can say their iReporter shots were fired in Tehran.

Twitter was supposed to undergo a regularly scheduled maintenance to accommodate the companies growth. However, pleas from the online community caused twitter to keep operations going so the protesters voices wouldn’t be stopped for the hour long upgrade. Twitter, of course was willing to comply and being the lifeline of information, Twitter acted in the name of openness and kept the communication going.

Here’s the rub, not only was the outcry to keep Twitter up from inside Iran and the reformists around the globe, it was also a request of the US State Department. Now Twitter is defending itself from accusations that its a shill for the US Government. What would happen if the State Department or the Department of Defense asks Twitter to go down in Iraq or if the FBI asks Twitter to go down in a town so they can make a raid? Conspiracy theorists will go nuts but Twitter’s blog is saying they are their own boss.

It’s humbling to think that our two-year old company could be playing such a globally meaningful role that state officials find their way toward highlighting our significance. However, it’s important to note that the State Department does not have access to our decision making process. Nevertheless, we can both agree that the open exchange of information is a positive force in the world.

YouTube is defending and explaining its TOS. Twitter is simple text and paths to links. But video is a different animal. The video camera doesn’t blink and video has changed the world. Obviously images captured on video from the streets of Tehran and posted online are violent. But YouTube bans videos that are violent, right? YouTube has taken to its blog to explain that this violence is ok. Was it? Are their videos of Rodney King on YouTube? Yes. And here is YouTube’s explanation which specifically mention events occurring in Iran:

Unless a video clearly violates our Community Guidelines, we will not take it down. In general, we do not allow graphic or gratuitous violence on YouTube. However, we make exceptions for videos that have educational, documentary, or scientific value. The limitations being placed on mainstream media reporting from within Iran make it even more important that citizens in Iran be able to use YouTube to capture their experiences for the world to see. Given the critical role these videos are playing in reporting this story to the world, we are doing our best to leave as many of them up as we can. YouTube is, at its core, a global forum for free expression.

Modern protests, coups, riots, civil disobedience and social gatherings have been using new technologies as soon as they’ve come out. Protests which toppled a government in the Philippines used text messaging so did flashmobs to encourage scores of people to go to a New York Best Busy wearing blue polo shirts at a specific time.

The difference between past social gatherings and the recent Iranian uprising is the information is coming from more centralized locations. The benefits of centralization are people know where to find the information and take action about it. And there are rules for reporting and responding.

The downside is the information is now becoming centralized and the authorities know where to find the information and they know how to break the rules that are being established.

I can only imagine that China is watching.

Government agencies can now use social media

March 29, 2009

This seems something small, but is a very big deal. I remember when it was against House and Senate rules for members to use YouTube. I think that has been lifted since the Dems took back Congress.

GSA Press release.

Landmark Agreements Clear Path for Government New Media

GSA  #10572

March 25, 2009
Contact: Tobi Edler, (202) 501-1231

WASHINGTON — Answering President Obama’s call to increase citizen participation in government, the U.S. General Services Administration is making it easier for federal agencies to use new media while meeting their legal requirements.

For the past six months, a coalition of agencies led by GSA has been working with new media providers to develop terms of service that can be agreed to by federal agencies. The new agreements resolve any legal concerns found in many standard terms and conditions that pose problems for federal agencies, such as liability limits, endorsements, freedom of information, and governing law.

Having these agreements in place will allow government to use free tools to dramatically increase access to information, offer education on government services and empower citizens with a voice in their government.

“We need to get official information out to sites where people are already visiting and encourage them to interact with their government,” says GSA Acting Administrator Paul Prouty. “Millions of Americans visit new media sites every day. The new agreements make it easier for the government to provide official information to citizens via their method of choice.”

To date, GSA has signed agreements with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and, and is in discussions with many other providers that offer free new media services. Federal agencies that want to use these services to meet their mission can now choose to sign the same agreements.

GSA’s goal in this effort has been to negotiate terms of service agreements, for each provider, that can work for all federal agencies. The new media providers approached were open to GSA’s efforts but reluctant to expend resources negotiating separate no-cost agreements with dozens or hundreds of different agencies. With the agreements,  new media providers are able to work with GSA as its principal point of contact, making the process more efficient for the government and the providers.

“Several federal agencies helped to negotiate these agreements, so it’s hoped that other agencies will find the language acceptable,” says GSA acting Associate Administrator Martha Dorris.

GSA started with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and because these providers are representative of high volume and innovation on the Web. At the same time, GSA is eager to negotiate agreements with many additional providers. Twitter is also in the arsenal of GSA’s new media as GSA found its standard terms of service already compatible with federal usage.

“The vision of is to improve the public’s experience when engaging with the government, and these new era agreements will further empower agencies to use new media,” says Dorris. “GSA’s Office of Citizen Services is breaking new ground in support of our motto ‘Government Made Easy’ and improving the way the public and federal agencies communicate with each other.”

 # # #

GSA provides a centralized delivery system of products and services to the federal government, leveraging its enormous buying power to get the best value for taxpayers.
• Founded in 1949, GSA manages more than one-fourth of the government’s total procurement dollars and influences the management of $500 billion in federal assets, including 8,600 government-owned or leased buildings and 213,000 vehicles. 
• GSA helps preserve our past and define our future, as a steward of more than 480 historic properties, and as manager of, the official portal to federal government information and services.
• GSA’s mission to provide superior workplaces, expert technology solutions, acquisition services, purchasing and E-Gov travel solutions and management policies, at best value, allows federal agencies to focus on their core missions.

Mumbai and citizen journalism

November 27, 2008

People have been asking me what twitter is and why it matters. In cases like what has been happening in Mumbai in the last few days, twitter is a great source for citizen journalism.

Going to, I found @vinu‘s tweet about his pictures on flickr. While the guns were blaring and hostages were being taken and the situation all around Mumbai was complete chaos, Vinu had images up around the web and they were being broadcast on television.

This realistic view of what happened was provided by an individual, not a news organization and gave the world more insight on the severity of what happened in Mumbai.

Over 100,000 people have viewed Vinu’s images, more than will see professional news images photos in some papers. People like Vinu should be commended for taking risks and getting out the news about such a grave and scary series of murderous incidents.
Check out all #mumbai tweets here.

Ah Tweet, Shake-up at Twitter

October 16, 2008

TechCrunch is reporting that there is a major shake up at Twitter. CEO Jack Dorsey is out and Chairman Ev Williams is in.

Twitter which was once plagued with outages every time anything happened seemed to retire the fail whale recently, survived two national political Conventions, four Presidential/VP debates and a Canadian election. The new election page was very cool. Participation is way up. CNN has at least two of their anchors on twitter (here and here) and day by day, twitter is closer to becoming a household name.

Maybe investors with the economy the way it is, investors want to see their investment make some paper.