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Archive for October, 2009

A long time coming… read the full essay here.

Their theft had shown that under each other’s influence they could be impulsive and unscrupulous. Could they also—no matter how unbelievable it seemed—be violent?

contingencies…

And yes, he’d written a school paper about a man in a black trenchcoat who brutally murders nine students. But we’d never seen that paper. (Although it had alarmed his English teacher enough to bring it to our attention, when we asked to see the paper at a parent-teacher conference, she didn’t have it with her. Nor did she describe the contents beyond calling them “disturbing.” At the conference—where we discussed many things, including books in the curriculum, Gen X versus Gen Y learners, and the ’60s folk song “Four Strong Winds”—we agreed that she would show the paper to Dylan’s guidance counselor; if he thought it was a problem, one of them would contact me. I never heard from them.)

Easy to wonder why no one thought to bring up details of the paper but remember until Columbine, there wasn’t some obvious trenchcoated kids killing peers stereotype….  the essay might have been “run of the mill” disturbing…

I think I believed that if I loved someone as deeply as I loved him, I would know if he were in trouble. My maternal instincts would keep him safe. But I didn’t know. And my instincts weren’t enough. And the fact that I never saw tragedy coming is still almost inconceivable to me.

And that’s just it… it’s extremely complicated and no one is to blame.

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You Make the Call – does the amazon recommendation engine have me figured out?  here’s what I saw when I logged in 10 minutes ago:

Amazon Recommends Mimi to Me Me!

Amazon Recommends Mimi to Me Me!

Quiz: Which of these products do I actually own?

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Wolfram|Alpha iPhone App

Wolfram|Alpha iPhone App

[full disclosure: I’ve been working with the Wolfram|Alpha team… so I’ll leave out a review or discussion on price justification]

The Wolfram|Alpha iPhone App is live in the App Store.  The blogosphere has its own impressions.  Argue price, features, business models, and whatever else that seems relevant in those lively communities.  On this blog and post I’ll give you my impressions and use cases.

Features that are unique and handy to the iPhone App:

  • History – it keeps a running history of your queries.  As a utility for doing many queries within the same domain, this is extremely helpful and time saving
  • Favorites – As with the history, it’s nice to set up your own list of queries you’ll do over and over again.  This becomes a sort of “homepage” for me.
  • better GeoLocation – because the Apps can get at lat/long the overall geolocating is stronger than via the geoIP on the website.
  • Refined Keyboard input – when doing a lot of math or long calculations it’s much easier to input queries with a fine-tuned keyboard.  Though not a limitation on the full website, the constraints of the default mobile keyboards made using the website challenging on a smart phone.  Not so in the app.
  • Direct Links to Source Information – this will go unnoticed by many… but having a hyper linked bibliography with this depth is extremely useful if you need to research deeply or go beyond the calculation.

Features that make this a killer mobile app for me:

  • Instant access to real time information about the most important daily data points in my life all in one app: weather, stocks, earthquakes (i live in la!) …
  • An easy to use calculator that saves me tons of keystrokes via unit conversions and cleaning up my sloppy input
  • deep data in many of my own hobbies, pursuits and professional domains.  Getting an individual app for each hobby is quite expensive, time consuming and frustrating to learn how apps work

Things that can be improved:

  • I wish I could set the Favorites tab to be my default opening screen with a search box on top.  This would speed up activation of the service
  • Offline use for very basic calculations when no compute data is accessed.
  • Ability to Add Notes – I’d like to be able to keep private comments and ideas right inside the app (and export later with links to the inputs/outputs)
  • Mashing with Wikipedia and/or other essay style knowledge sources – would be convenient to have backgrounders on some topics and be able to use the Wolfram|Alpha assumption/categorization to do some of the knowledge mining for me.

Post your impressions/use cases once you get the app.

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It wasn’t real news the other day, but it is now.  Balloon Boy – a series of hoaxes.  First the original hoax, now the authorities “misleading” the media to “keep the trust” of the Heenes.  So now how do you go on to nail someone for lying and then use lies to trap them in their lies?

As I said the other day there are some serious issues with TV news and the real time web.  It’s clear that few folks stepped away from the situation to really consider what was going on.   It’s pretty easy to blame the Heenes.  BUT…. Media (broadcasters and consumers) created the Heenes.   So… how will we all approach these situations in the future?   Instead of news and real time web being a stiff wind to fan the flames, how can it turn into machinery to get at the facts/truth faster? Is it even possible to be REAL TIME and get to the facts?  (I don’t think so)

If new media doesn’t figure this out, which only happens when consumers demand it, we’ll see oddities like this becoming far less odd and it will get harder to decipher what’s a serious situation and what isn’t.

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Good news.  The boy was just hiding in the attic.

The bad news… the real time web (twitter) and news outlets went haywire.  These outlets are fighting for credibility and this ain’t going to help.

Oh, and this story is hardly over

There’s no point in judging the media, the parents, etc. etc.   Everyone is a product of their environment and learning… start putting these pieces together and its straightforward how such a “strange” set of events can unfold and will continue to unfold.

This going to generate big ratings for post event interviews, conspiracy stories, internet videos… I bet someone even invents a Balloon Boy toy or tshirt or something.  And what’s balloon boy going to learn from all of this?

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BOMBS AWAY!

LCROSS Centaur Separation occurred at 9:50 p.m. EDT (6:50 p.m. PDT), Oct. 8. After separation, the spacecraft performed a 180 degree pitch maneuver (turning around) to reorient the LCROSS science payload towards the receding Centaur.

Read more from NASA

This is going to be so great!

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… I would stop making movies altogether and just focus on making video games.

HALO franchise has sold more than 27 million units worldwide.  $1.6 billion or so in cash money.  This from a game that probably only cost $40 million to make.  and far less than that to market.

Beyond just unit sales the number of impressions generated by Halo and its online machinima, books, boardgames and other offshoots is pretty staggering.  Factor in additional sales of XBox hardware and peripherals.   Movies would be very hard pressed to beat this.  And, no, this isn’t the only game franchise with these kinds of numbers.

If you want a really neat look into games, gamer numbers and recent gaming behavior, this is a great preso.

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