Great Link: Supersonic Sub



I ran across this article talking about technology being developed to attempt to take subs at a supersonic speed.

Engadget: Supersonic subs look to cross the Pacific in under two hours

This sounds really cool and all, but what happens when you hit a blue whale at supersonic speeds?  Airplanes have enough to worry about with birds.  Thankfully, they probably mostly only have to worry about take off and landing.  When they hit their top speeds up in the air, they are probably flying above the range of birds.  I am sure that pilots are very glad that ostriches don’t fly!

I am guessing that we can’t say the same thing about subs and whales.  Would a whale be able to move out of the way of an object moving that fast?  Would a sub be able to detect a whale in its path soon enough to maneuver around it?

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Great Link: Growable Bike

I ran across this really cool idea of a bike that grows with you.  It starts as a walking bike to teach the kids balance.  Then, you can reassemble it to make a regular toddler bike with peddles.    Check out the article and pictures:

Engadget: As your kid grows, this bike will transform to fit them

So, the bike handle the kids physical changes, but what about their emotional changes?  The bike needs Elmo or Veggietale decorations.  As the kids get older, you need to be able to switch that out for Spiderman or Barbie!

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Thoughts on Robin Williams

The Internet news has been a buzz with the news of Robin Williams death.  My heart goes out to his family and I pray that God gives them comfort in this time of tragedy.

The news is reporting that Williams’ suicide was largely due to depression:

A despondent Robin Williams spent 18 hours a day sleeping inside the darkened bedroom where he committed suicide as he spiraled into a fatal depression.

I saw one article at least that seemed to focus on the depression factor that lead to his suicide.

Instantly, we recalled other artists who followed the same tragic path, a lengthy list that includes painters, poets, writers, musicians and designers: Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Kurt Cobain, Alexander McQueen to name just a few of the famous creatives who suffered from depression and committed suicide.

But is there a proven link between creativity and mental illness (which, strictly speaking, is not the same as being mad)? This is still a matter of hot debate.

I wonder if the article had the wrong focus.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, Robin Williams has struggled with drug addiction:

He struggled with cocaine and alcohol abuse in the early ’80s, after his rise to fame on Mork & Mindy.

Apparently, Williams had gained some victory but relapsed.  Hollywood Reporter:

After 20 years of sobriety, though, Williams relapsed in 2006.

 

This situation has called for a heightened awareness of depression and mental illness.  But, what about a call to beware of the dangers of drug abuse?  I found several articles confirming that depression and dug abuse are linked.

For example, ABC News says:

There is a very close relationship between depression and substance abuse in adults. The two conditions are highly comorbid, which is to say that they occur together in an extremely high percentage of individuals.

The article goes on to say that it is possible that the drug addiction can cause or contribute to the depression:

Cocaine tends to elevate people’s moods, but when they come off it, they often experience a crash into depression. And there is a whole long list of other frequent drugs of abuse that also can lead to depression either during the time when the individual is intoxicated with the drug or during the withdrawal phase.

The Net Doctor says it this way:

There are certain chemicals in the brain (called neurotransmitters) that are key to the way we feel – in other words they control our emotions.
It’s the levels of these chemicals that are altered in depression. Recreational drugs also affect these chemicals. This is why drugs alter the way we feel.

May I suggest that we take this moment to remember that drug abuse is dangerous and can have serious impacts?

 

In another twist, I saw on the US Weekly Magazine that:

Actor Rob Schneider has blamed his good friend Robin Williams’ tragic death on a drug he was taking to combat the early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.

The same article goes on to mention that:

“Robin’s sobriety was intact,” his wife wrote in a statement earlier that day. “And he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety, as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.”

So, maybe we can’t place all the blame for the suicide on the drug abuse.  There were definitely other things at play.

Then, I ran into this other article alleging that Cocaine can lead to Parkinson’s

For years, Williams had openly discussed his battle with depression and also with substance abuse. Board-certified neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock believes that Williams’ substance abuse — specifically his use of cocaine — was at the root of his Parkinson’s disease. In fact, a major study has found that cocaine users are at much higher risk for the brain illness.

The article states that the cocaine could have led to the Parkinson’s even though he wasn’t currently battling the cocaine addition:

Still, alcohol and depression were constant battles, although his wife said he was sober at the time of his death.

However, the heavy cocaine use of his past may have already done its damage, setting up Williams to develop Parkinson’s in the future, said Dr. Blaylock.

The point is that drug abuse, whether or not it directly led to Robin Williams’ death, can have serious affects, not only on your current health and life but also on your future health as you age.

 

Not matter the cause, this suicide is deeply person for Robin Williams’ family and friends.  It’s not right to callously use his situation as a case study or propaganda.  I don’t want to loose sight of the pain that they are going through  At the same time, I did notice that the tragedy of another friend is one of the things that caused Williams to fight the addiction.  Hollywood Reporter:

“The Belushi tragedy was frightening,” Williams told People. “His death scared a whole group of show-business people. It caused a big exodus from drugs. And for me, there was the baby coming. I knew I couldn’t be a father and live that sort of life.”

I can’t claim to know Robin Williams’ personally or even to be much of a fan, but with that said, could I guess that he might want the same thing said of his life?  Would he want it said of him that he helped to trigger an “exodus” from drugs?

Is it possible that Williams’ death will spur someone help and fight the addiction?  While respecting their grieving, is that the story we should be telling?

Sources

Response/Bible Study: Digital Tattoo

I ran across this article describing a digital tattoo:

Engadget: You can now unlock your Motorola phone with a ‘digital tattoo’

For those of you who know your Bible, does this scare you?  Does it sound like something from Revelation?

Revelation 13:16  — And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

So, we should just make sure that we don’t put the “digital tattoo” on our right hand or forehead, right?  Could this really be the mark of the beast?  Well, first of all, the mark is not a swirly mark.  It is the name of the antichrist or his number:

Revelation 13:17-18 — And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

I think that the most important part about the mark is that it is an act of worship of the beast or the antichrist.  It seems that every time the mark is mentioned, it is mentioned in conjunction with worshiping the beast.

Revelation 13:15-16 — And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.  And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

Revelation 14:9 — And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,

Revelation 14:11 — And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

Revelation 16:2 — And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

Revelation 19:20 — And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

Revelation 20:4 — And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

So, is the digital tattoo wrong?  I would argue no.  It has nothing to do with worship.  Instead it is a convenience and security feature.  It makes it easier to unlock your phone.  In fact, it helps you make it so that you are the only one who can unlock your phone and access your sensitive information.

I’ve met some people to refuse to get credit cards and fear this technology that has any hint of the “mark”.  I think this is the point they are missing: the mark of the beast is an act of worship.  It’s not just a technology of convenience.

The “mark” probably will be given in the guise of convenience though.  The Bible does say that the people will receive a delusion and will get tricked into taking the antichrist’s side.  If you don’t choose God now, don’t think that you will choose him when the end comes.

II Thessalonians 2:11 — And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

Revelation 13:14 — And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

Still, I think that God will make it clear that those taking the mark are making a choice.  It will be a choice between God and the antichrist.

With the progression of technology, we can see how these marks might work though.  It makes sense that the “mark” will include some sort of RFID technology.  The Bible says that you will need the mark to buy and sell.  The NFC chip in the Google phone is a perfect example.  You can simply swipe your phone across the credit card scanner to make a purchase tied to your credit card.  So, it makes sense that the mark might have similar technology.

Revelation 13:17 — And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

The chips embedded in pets are an example of how such technology might be embedded into a living thing for tracking purposes.  So, all of the technology is available.  What remains is the component of worship.  Thankfully, there is no cause to use this technology as an act of defiance against God yet.

So, use your technology, and enjoy it.  Let’s just make sure we use it for God and to further His kingdom.

Great Link: Adding Google Reminders

As I was reading through the blog posts, I found this great tip:

Google Operating System: Create Reminders in Google Search

You can read the official instructions on Google’s site:

Reminders in Google Now

If you just want to learn more about Google Now, here’s the official site:

Google Now

Great Link: Exploring Underwater

I across this link today:

Engadget: The Big Picture: Filming 360-degree video of the Aquarius underwater Reef Base

The cool part is that Time has a video that you interact with.  It’s a 360-degree video and you can scroll around and control the viewing angle as the video plays.  It’s a unique way to present and engage viewers.  You can view the video here:

Time Website

You can also read more about the content:

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Great Link: Downloading Auto Awesome Tip

This is more of a bookmark than anything else.  Here’s a great tip on downloading and backing up all of your Auto Awesome photos.

Google Operating System: How to Download Auto Awesome Photos

Great Link: Lightning Detector

We were just talking about lightning the other day, and I ran into this article on Engadget:

Engadget: Watch lightning strike around the world in real time

The article is talking about the Blitzortung.org website.

Lightning Map

A better implementation of the map is located at:

Lightning Maps.org

Some apps for your phone do exist, too.

Apps for Smartphones and Tablets

This is cool because I was just wishing that I had a way to determine how close the lightning was.  We were swimming and watching the storms brew trying to figure out when we needed to get out of the pool.  I wished that I had an alarm that would alert me when the lightning was too close for safety.  I think the first Android app on their list might take care of that wish!

Fun Fact: Technology Can Even Change How You Learn to Ride a Bike!

I ran across this article on Engadget and realized that even training wheels are becoming Old School!

Engadget: Forget training wheels: This bike balances itself

Now, I had heard the the argument that training wheels don’t exactly help with balance.  They can be a crutch that you have to break away from.  We ran across balance bikes that are supposed to help kids learn their balance quicker.  Here’s a video of what those look like.

One thought: my son is having trouble learning the pedal motion much less balance.  This wouldn’t help with that at all.

The Engadget article takes a new direction all together.  Add a gyroscope to the wheel to steady balance.  They put settings in there so you can control the strength of the upright force and slowly take away the help until the kids can do it on their own.

This video shows one Jyro Wheel in action.  The wheel looks different than the one in the Engadget article, but the name is the same.  I wonder if it is the first version.

Another thought: the gyroscope can correct balance, but it can’t correct steering.  Nothing takes the place of a parent teaching a kid no matter what tools are used!

Resources

Thoughts: Are Cool and Useful Mutually Exclusive?

The other day, I saw a great article on Sten Vesterli’s Blog:

Sten Vesterli’s Blog: Cool or useful?

Sten makes an excellent point.  You have to see the pictures on his blog to fully understand, but the crux of the matter is this:

If you are going to be handling controls while driving (whether at 55 MPH or 200 MPH), you need tactile feedback from the control you are operating. Tesla opted for cool, Formula One opted for useful.

I can definitely agree.  How many times have I reached for the radio volume button by touch while I am driving rather than take my eyes off the road to find it?  Or, the cruise control button on the steering wheel?  At times, less bling bling can be important.

On the other hand, can you imagine what would happen if you put that Formula One steering wheel in front of your average driver?  So, let’s pick an elderly person who is struggling with the possibility of surrendering their independence and giving up their driver’s license.  Which interface is more useful for that person?  I would venture to guess that the F1 interface would send them cutting their license to shreds and vowing never to drive again, while there might be a glimmer of hope at getting by with the Telsa interface!  Okay, let’s choose a new driver just mastering the different signs, lines, and rules of the road.  Which interface is more useful?  My guess would be that the F1 would send the person packing to city to live with buses and subways the rest of his life, while the Tesla would feel at home striking a similarity with the cell phone they have been carrying around for a few years now.

We live in an age when even the least technologically savvy of our society are walking around with advanced smart phones.  In my opinion, the Tesla interface probably appeals to that audience and the sense of familiarity to that “coolness” makes it more usable.

 

Useful is definitely important, but I don’t think they are always mutually exclusive.  A cool interface can guide a user’s eyes to where they need to go to get the job done.  This can cut down on mistakes and training if done correctly.

As the Internet gets more useful and slick at the same time, I think users are going to demand the same experience from everyday life.  Cars, TVs, phones, houses, thermostats, and kitchens are all going to demand both cool and useful interfaces.

That’s my opinion at least.