chad lindstrom’s blog

random thoughts, expression, ideas and activism


Seth just posted something that has always resonated with me: Herbs

In a nutshell, my perception of this is that a Product or Service is not what makes it physical, but rather, what makes it sing, smell great and taste phenomenal.

If I may, I will draw a comparison between the Apple iPad and the Motorola Xoom.

I had heard friends and colleagues of mine claiming they wanted a Xoom. I don’t know much about the Xoom, and only know it’s a tablet that runs Android. Naturally, I went looking to discover what a Xoom would do for me.

First stop, Google. Found: http://www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/Consumer-Product-and-Services/Tablets/ci.MOTOROLA-XOOM-US-EN.overview

What am I told here… boring tech specs. Thankfully, they have provided a nice small call to action… “get excited”. Aha! This is why I came here!!

Loading experience…. (a flash loader)…

.. still waiting….

I am now lost and I see exactly why I don’t want this. I mean, I’ve been on the Xoom site for over a minute now, and have not seen ONCE what I WILL USE this for. Show me why this will make me sing from the treetops. I don’t get excited about processors, and screens. I mean, these don’t distinguish one product from the next… at least not anymore.

Stepping over to the iPad. Within moments, I see how I can use this. Facetime, a nice cover that doubles as a stand, light form factor and best of all, a great set of apps to demonstrate how you can use the iPad. If that’s not enough, there are a set of videos that demonstrate how you can use it, and how you will use it. This is marketing showing me how it sings.

Xoom… you’re missing your herbs. Really, I want to know how I can use the Xoom but your not helping!!

A lot has been going on lately, and we all have less and less time to think about ourselves. Less time to listen to our bodies and less time to do anything about it.

I’ll tell you a story.

Not long ago, I woke up with a strange feeling in my back. It wasn’t necessarily a new feeling, but one that prompted me to reach behind and notice something I hadn’t noticed before. A slight bump, right on my spine, right where I wouldn’t expect such a bump. At first, I just ignored this, as I didn’t have time to deal with it…. off to work.

Days went by, and days turned into weeks. The bump was still there.

After some standard research online, it was decided I either had some extremely rare case of _______ (fill in the blank with any related disease the internet can imagine) or I was simply the new owner of a bump on my spine. A trip to the local clinic was the next place I went.

After almost 2 hours waiting in the clinic to see a doctor; I am chatting with a Doctor, who does a standard 5 second examination. Asks a few standard questions like: does it hurt, can you do this, can you to that, etc. After this very brief assessment, she tells me it’s probably just a muscle problem and that she will prescribe me muscle relaxants.

Excuse me? I should take drugs for this?

I suppose drugs have their time and place, like when my arm is falling off, and I need morphine; but what happened to referring a therapist? Perhaps some physio, a massage therapist or a chiropractor? Each of those suggestions would have been much more beneficial to me and my body.

Fast forward a month.

I’ve since gone to the Chiropractor and Massage therapist, a few times each. The muscles are feeling much better, my range of motion is also much better. The Chiropractor identified several physical issues which I already knew about, but had not mentioned them. He gave me stretches and exercises to improve my range of motion, my muscles mobility and overall health. The massage therapist also had advice for me to improve my body and stay healthy.

This is the kind of care that most North Americans need. Most of us don’t need drugs prescribed from a family Doctor. We need healthcare professionals that take a holistic approach to treating and healing, not Doctors who get kickbacks for prescribing more drugs to mask the pains.

I just finished watching a television program, where the core focus was this group of intellectuals, engineers, lawyers and environmentalists coming together in California, to discuss how the planet (read: us humans) can combat global warming.

Hold on for a second, did someone forget to invite the economists? We’ll ignore this for a moment.

In a nutshell, I really hope the media was incredibly biased towards the absolutely crazy and insane solutions these apparent experts boiled up together.

Let’s iterate over a few potential solutions identified in the program:

  1. Massive Plankton Farms – Sprinkling iron particles on the ocean, creating massive farms of plankton to consume carbon dioxide – great idea. You know what else was a great idea? The English bringing Rabbits to Australia, which had no natural predators. Brilliant idea if you want an uncontrollable species triggering a catastrophic series of events
  2. Giant ‘hoover’ machines to suck carbon dioxide from the air, disposing of excess C02 underground, potentially pumping the C02 in pipes, hundreds of miles. How do we power these wonderful marvels of engineering? How do we produce these mega projects? Where is the holistic analysis here?
  3. Giant geo-engineered forests, to consume high amounts of C02. Since when was it considered a success for us to manage mega crops of single species? When has this been sustainable in the past? Imagine what kind of pests would thrive in such a mega crop. How would we manage such pests?
  4. High-reflectivity clouds – Hundreds or thousands of boats (or jet airplanes) spreading increased reflectivity clouds to reflect more sunlight – effectively altering the amount of sunlight or heat entering the atmosphere. Since when was global warming just about temperature? What about the pollutants in the atmosphere, how are we dealing with these? What is the effect of constantly powering (by petroleum I suspect) these aircraft or watercraft around our atmosphere 24×7. Am I wrong in recognizing these fuel-burning machines are just producing ever more pollutants and C02?

Now, am I the only one calling nonsense on these so-called experts? I really hope this is just the media deciding to edit out the truly good and realistic ideas. It would make for much better TV if we decided we could convince the publice of our amazing inventions, and ingenuety to solve more problems with incredible technology advancements. Because, well, since when did technology fail to solve our problems, right?

I mean, here are some other great innovations we’ve managed to introduce over the years:

  • Gunpowder – great for solving world problems isn’t it? Actually, it’s best use might just be for fireworks. Unfortunately, many millions of people have died at the hands of gunpowder
  • Automobiles – nobody likes to have to walk anywhere now do they? Taking a train is sometimes downright inconvenient, or not an option. Wait a second, isn’t it automobiles that are part of our global warming problem? We’ll ignore this for the moment
  • Pesticides – we can’t have our one-dimensional super-crops become vulnerable can we, so we spray them with wonderful chemicals. Nevermind the cause and effect on soil erosion and pests that become resilient. Ever thought about a balanced crop of insects, plants, flowers and other organisms to keep pests controlled? Ever planted a marigold next to your zucchini plant? It works wonderfully well to prevent aphids.
  • …the list goes on

I agree, gunpowder, automobiles and pesticides are great innovations. However, they are also contributing factors to global warming and climate problems.

Once again, what about the economists? What ever happened to the thought of prevention, rather than reaction? What ever happened to the thought that we could use less of a few things in our daily lives.

What if everyone in the planet decided to use one less of something, for instance… take one day a month to not drive your car to work. Imagine if you took all the working people in North America, and asked them to abandon their automobile for one day a month. Do you have any idea how much fuel is burned in one day, in north american automobiles? That is a staggering number, but it’s not nearly as exciting or glamourous as designing a mega-hoover or producing a network of super boats and aircraft to produce man-made reflective clouds.

Wait a minute…

What if we were to just tax gasoline (did I just suggest another tax?) even more? What if that tax pushed the general public to use their vehicle one day less per month. What an amazing thought, isn’t it?

Outrage! Don’t even think about asking the typical American or Canadian to change their lifestyle of consumption, this is ridiculous! Instead, let’s build giant hoover vacuum machines and the massive nuclear, coal and oil burning power plants to power these marvels of engineering.

I hope we’re not all this crazy, because if we are, I will have lost hope.

I mean, I get hundreds of email in my normal day at my current gig. And it’s ridiculous, as most can easily be replaced if we just used an issue tracker and wiki (which we have plenty of). Not only would using an issue tracker maintain order (tracking, monitoring, context, etc) it would let us get on with work.

I’ve worked in a number of offices now, and I can definitely second the following claim/quote.

The number one competitor we have in our business is not Microsoft, Google, or some other startup somewhere. The number one competitor we have is simple things, like email…

People are organizing through email. They’re keeping track of their notes through email. They’re doing all this stuff through email. And email is incredibly simple, basically just a text box that you can send to other people or receive.

We have to be just one step above that. Most software developers in our space think they need to be far, far beyond that. The more complex they can be, the more features they list on the back of the box, the better it’s going to be — without realizing that’s not how most people operate. Most people operate just with email. So if we can just be one step above that, then we’re doing pretty well.

Audio of DHH speaking to A Better Way Of Work on the theme of simplicity

While the simplicity is fantastic, from a product point of view. The pragmatist in me says the problem with email is actually that email is too simple. It should be more expensive (not as in $$$) for one to send an email. It’s far too easy for a single person to disrupt an entire team or organization. Seriously!

Thanks to 37signals for the link.

Quite some time ago, I purchased an Airport Express. I have been impressed with the simplicity and powerful airport express ever since. Whether you are traveling, and want WiFi in your room, or you are at home and need to integrate your home theatre with your MP3 music collection, the Airport Express is a wonderful product at a terrific price point.

Before yesterday, you needed to use your computer with iTunes to play music through to the Airport Express. You could, of course, control your iTunes using the Remote application on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. However, you needed to be running your computer, with iTunes.

As of yesterday, when Apple released Airplay, this has now changed. You no longer need to keep your computer running with iTunes. All you need is your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch with Airplay and you can walk in the house, press ‘play’ on your phone, and you have your favorite music playing over the home theatre.

This is the future. Or at least, this was what I had been waiting for ever since i purchased my Airport Express years ago.

Now I can also do the same thing with Videos, TV Shows and Photos, using the new Apple TV. I can now *fully* justify the purchase of my iPad, as it’s one heck of a TV remote, stereo remote, game system, photo system, and much more.

Next on my prediction is, we’re going to be playing our favorite applications from our phones and iPods, on our TV’s. Just wait, the future is not that far away!

A while back, I posted about the problems I was having with my DTT2500 Digital Speakers, more specifically, the receiver.

Explicitly, the issue I was having was the master volume knob was dieing, shorting out when used. After much research for repair and replacement, I lucked upon a conversation with the electrical expert at my brothers Fuel Cell Research firm. Great discussion about many things, including backyard decking, woodworking, star wars among other things. I had asked him about my problem with the DTT2500 volume knob shorting out on me. His response, a quick ‘your conduction is just corroding, a simple electrical clean is all you need’.

Well of course, that’s just common sense isn’t it? Why didn’t I think of that?

So, here we are, as I type this, I have an opened DTT2500 stereo receiver, freshly cleaned, and working like new!

What you need to do:

  1. Open the DTT2500 Digital receiver: screws are hidden behind the rubber feet on the bottom. Pop the feet off and open the box
  2. There are two circuit boards inside, you will need to detach the top board from the bottom board to access the master volume knob
  3. Using ‘Conductor Cleaner’, spray the master volume knob electrical conduction piece, careful not to use too much spray as it may damage other parts of the board (I am told). What I did was spray a little, then use the master volume knob, turning all the way clockwise, then counter-clockwise. It’s probably normal to hear the knob make some slight squeak noise as it becomes clean
  4. Wait several minutes for the cleaner to dry/disolve and then re-assemble

You should now have a functional DTT2500 unit, like I do!

Enjoy!

Just what I didn’t realize I needed…. until today. Google releases the Google Command Line, GoogleCL. Download it here

Currently support the following Google services:

    * Blogger

          $ google blogger post --title "foo" "command line posting" 

    * Calendar

          $ google calendar add "Lunch with Jim at noon tomorrow" 

    * Contacts

          $ google contacts list name,email > contacts.csv 

    * Docs

          $ google docs edit --title "Shopping list" 

    * Picasa

          $ google picasa create --album "Cat Photos" ~/photos/cats/*.jpg 

    * Youtube

          $ google youtube post --category Education killer_robots.avi

Here I have been writing a pile of bash scripts in the past few weeks and now I have another command at my disposal!

Wow, this is pretty cool. Takes API to a whole new level doesn’t it?