Category: Great Links

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?

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!

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:

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 website.

Lightning Map

A better implementation of the map is located at:


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!


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.