Monthly Archive for August, 2011

Panera Bread’s 30 minute wi-fi limit

Today, I ate a late breakfast at Panera Bread with some friends. I was happy to use Panera’s “free” wi-fi, but then I was very disappointed that the wi-fi is only available for 30 minutes. What if I bought four cups of coffee and wanted to drink them over the course of 2 hours?

Upon further research, apparently the time limit only applies to hours between 12:00 and 14:00 (and some other hours at other locations). Some people claim it is possible ‘sign back in’, but I wasn’t able to, although I didn’t try very hard because I took it a great excuse to give my company my full attention.

New mobile version now available

Today I decided to make my blog friendly for mobile browsers, so I started exploring options. After all, today was a day off from work for me. Being that my theme, K2, is a relatively generic theme, I thought it would have come with a generic mobile theme too, but it did does not.

I didn’t know if the answers was a plug-in or a new theme that supported multiple style sheets. Fortunately, there is a plug-in—dozens of plug-ins actually. Two big ones that surfaced in my searches were WordPress Mobile Pack and WordPress Mobile Edition. I wish I had the time, desire, and a test blog to compare the two against one another along with a complement of mobile OS testing environments, but I decided to just Google someone else’s work. I landed on WP Fangirl’s entry WPtouch, WordPress MobilePack, and WordPress Mobile Edition. It’s not a full test, but it was enough for me to go with WordPress Mobile Pack.

A Conversation about the Future with Ray Kurzweil

Last night I attended a live event at my local movie theater, Transcendent Man a Conversation about the Future, which I saw telecasted from New York to about 500 theaters nationwide. Overall, I was very happy to attend and thought it was a great two hour show. It was an in depth discussion with Ray Kurzweil and many of his contemporaries: founder of the Chopra Foundation Deepak Chopra, Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak, theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku, Transcendent Man director Barry Ptolemy, and renowned inventor Dean Kamen. Also there were special clips for this presentation by Bill Maher, Quincy Jones, and Suzanne Somers.

The show started with Ray presenting his point for about 5 minutes on exponential growth in information technology. Each time I see him do it, his presentation gets more concise and easier for people to understand. His slides were amazing too, especially for anyone who ever wanted to make an impressive slide show.

Actually, the show began with technical difficulties, which appeared to be due to problems on our side in the theater, but who really knows. There were significant bloopers that made me question the technical expertise of the production studio putting on the entire show. For example, a female panelist had a nice necklace on, and her lapel microphone was attached to the middle of her shirt between the necklace segments. So every time she moved to talk, one could hear the necklace hitting the microphone and making horrible noise. Micing strategies could have been better. One huge blunder was that, somehow, the voice of someone from the production’s crew intercom microphone system fed into the live mix, and we could hear someone on the crew say, “Hey, I need to ask you a question.” A final complaint was that the names of each panelist weren’t shown, so I didn’t really know who these people were.

Because I’ve studied these topics quite deeply for many years now, nothing really blew my hair back, but there were a few snippets that made me grow. First of all, although I’ve seen images of Deepak Chopra, I’ve never known what he was about and how interesting he is. He knows much about eastern philosophies and open-mindedly merges them with social issues of future technologies. Also, I’ve seen a few times Dr. Michio Kaku, and I’ve become a bigger fan of his too after this. I’ve never really seen Steve Wozniak speak, and I was quite surprised how animated he is. He seems like a very creative person. I may have once seen an image of inventor Dean Kamen, and hats off to him for inventing the clean-energy and clean-water boxes that can turn anything or any water into electricity or clean water, respectively.

One statement that was really profound was by Deepak Chopra who basically said that although our technologies have growing smarter, humans are not grower wiser as quickly. Humans still have a tribal brain and have a tribal mentality (basically referring to nationalism) when we should be thinking globally as one humankind. The Internet has finally created one meeting room for all the villages to talk amongst each other. Another profound realization was that no two democracies have ever warred with one another at any point in history. Only dictators have warred. Technology is democratizing, so this is optimistic.

Being that Steve Wozniak is so rich, whatever he has to say about the economy perks my interest, and he said that any business that can do things easier wins. I take it that it means either or both, the company that can easily make and sell something wins against the slower company, or the manufactured good that makes us feel happier, feel we have more free time, etc. wins. He stated that we all are ultimately working towards a day to when we don’t have to work anymore because we worked to create machines to do the work for us. The idea of society on and after that day was discussed several times and is usually the most interesting to me because the question is what will artificial intelligence behave like once it is smarter than humans. We shouldn’t call it “artificial intelligence” because it is real intelligence created by humans, so it’s “intelligence.”

Dr. Michio Kaku explained that in Japan, robots are becoming part of Japan’s culture. Robots are built to be around humans and play with and assist humans, while in the U.S. the word “robots” conjures up mental images of the Terminator. While the DOD makes robots that kill people, Japan makes robots to live with people. The Shinto religion believes that inanimate objects have a soul, so that makes perfect sense that Japanese people, especially children, embrace robots.

The concept of religion was a main topic for the last third of the show describing as we approach immortality and beyond—mythology with timeless and perfect bodies, genesis by imagination—we are becoming god-like, and that will bring us to a closer understanding of god. In the meantime, we have to take care of our bodies and try to live as healthy as possible. The take away of the film was that these topics must become mainstream so that we all can talk about them.