Sep 18, 2011

Google thinks I look like Meryl Streep...and a Japanese schoolgirl

Google took another brave step to seal its position as info-overlord when it launched its "Google Image Search".  It took me a second to register, but yeah, they're talking about using images, not text, to perform searches on their engine!

I needed a picture, and of course it wasn't but 2 seconds later that a picture of my own grill was streaking across the screen in a show of subconscious vanity, to be shoved into this new visual hive-mind:

What?  I needed a pic...

I don't know what I expected, but the results were impressive...

All was well with the world, I had a new tool to find my own face with, and Google....well Google decided to do what apparently my friends, family, hell even my own girlfriend were too afraid to tell me all these years....that I look like almost 50% female, about 10% baby'esque, and the balance a hybrid between Simon Cowell, Meryl Streep, some totally random dudes and chicks, oh, and a seductive Japanese schoolgirl:

Now having had some time to digest this all, I think what really hurts the most isn't so much looking like a totally awesome baby, but that I find myselves so much more attractive in how Google sees me than I do in the mirror...

Now might be the right time (only you can know when you're ready) to learn the honest truth about what you really look like...if you're ready, check it out through this shortcut:

And if you're up for some honest sharing, let me see a pic of what your friends and family have been hiding from you all these years...

Case Mate "accidentally" revealed iPhone case by mistake!

So iPhone case vendor Case Mate "accidentally" throttled its own website traffic by leaking pictures which revealed the shape and form of the wildly anticipated Apple iPhone 5.  They pulled down the page, and replaced it with what I have to admit may be the best published list of rumors on the phone I have yet read.

Among Case Mate's list of "rumored new features", they assert that the new iphone 5 will take on a completely different form than its predecessors (um, I'm gonna guess less of a speculation seeing as they were given the physical specs by Apple?), believing it to be even thinner than the 4, and wide enough to accommodate a large 4 inch screen.

Outfitted with an 8 megapixel camera, and an A5 dual processor (like what's in the iPad2), it should also be capable of storing movies, pictures, and sound files in Apples' iCloud.

Perhaps the coolest speculated attribute will be its ability to charge using a wireless system (similar to this).  Consensus is we're very likely a week or less away from its announced ship date, which most believe will be mid-October.

Christian Hunter
Austin, Texas

CaseMate accidentally throttles pre-orders for its cases

Sep 16, 2011

Washington pukes up another embarrassment...

The optimist in me was, for a moment, excited to hear that President Obama was signing into law today a bill that won bipartisan support in the legislature; the "America Invents Act".

Hard to "f" that one up I figured: I'm all for America, I think invention is generally awesome, and since the United States as a nation patents roughly twice its next closest competitor, I thought what could be wrong with further strengthening our proclivity for invention as a nation?  There were smiles all around as Obama put pen to paper; while MSNBC heralded the act as the first significant overhaul of Patent and Trademark law since the 50's.


But I'm getting ahead of myself.  

It didn't take me much longer than five or so minutes of investigation before the evidence of another Washington ball-dropping contest became evident; among my favorites were the remarks made by the Deputy Director of Intellectual Property Division of Beijing's High People's Court after analyzing a first generation draft of the bill.  He put it best when he said:

"[the new legislation] is friendlier to the infringers than to the [inventors] in general, as it will make the [US] patent less reliable, easier to be challenged, and cheaper to be infringed." 

He went on to say:

"It is not bad news for developing countries which have fewer patents. Many Chinese companies are excluded from the market because of patent infringement accusations. This bill will give the companies from developing countries more freedom and flexibility to challenge the relative US patent for doing business in US and make it less costly to infringe."
Well, way to go Washington!  Thanks again for puking in the collective faces of one of the few remaining holdouts that support America's "innovative exceptionalism": the individual American inventor.

But maybe we needed sweeping change?  Maybe we should be alarmed that China is applying for and receiving more patents than the US, eh?  Well let's have a look at the net National Intellectual Property deficits or surplus' for some of the largest economies in the world (2009 Statistics from the World Bank):

• Canada: -$4.5 billion (we love those guys, but besides the word "hoser", which is awesome, when was the last time you looked forward to getting that sweet new thingamabob from Canada, eh?

• China: -$10.6 billion (NEGATIVE $10 billion!  oh, burn!  although they are outpacing us in getting patents for things, what was the name of that last Chinese invented pill that cured us of....oh, yeah, sore spot)

• France: +$4.1 billion (viva la France!  who knew they were slinging that many Peugot's over there!)

• India: -$1.6 billion (not bad, makin progress)          

• Japan: +$4.85 billion (sweet...anyone surprised?) 

• Russia: -$3.61 billion (I suppose the patents on Vodka and 90 Megaton nuclear warheads expired some time ago)

• UK: +$2.8 billion (respect...and from that little ol' island!)  

• US: +$64.5 billion (what the sh*t!!?  yeah, that's a net +$64.5 BILLION)

Actually, our gross IP export surplus as a nation is a whopping +$90 BILLION/year!

Okay, so now I'm unclear why we're overhauling our patent system?  Let's have a look at what this legislation will really are the most salient highlights:

Now, thanks to this sweet new legislation, if you the hardworking software engineer, nutritionist, chemical engineer, entrepreneur, actually succeed in inventing something that works after all your months or years of toiling away, well Uncle Sam now rewards you with a switch from the "FTI" ("First to Invent") to a much totally ridiculously insanely unfair "FTF" (First to File), as in "you can have your invention LITERALLY stolen from you by another individual or corporate competitor who happens to run down to the Patent and Trademark office and files for a patent on it faster than you"!  Holy #@$%!  Is anyone paying attention!?

But it actually gets far more ridiculous in that this bill REMOVES the longstanding requirement that the invention being filed for actually be able to work!  So, he who files faster [read: pays the USPTO more fees] wins...yay.  So what type of entity would you guess is more likely to have the patent filing protocols and requisite battery of IP attorneys needed to get timely patent protection?  If you guessed the individual American inventor, you're an idiot.  If you guessed the big greasy too-big-to-fail corporation, you win a monster shagging session by Washington!  yay?

I know, I know, just one more thing before you go: it'll cost a billion dollars to implement this smoldering rancid cesspool of bureaucratic dog barf.

Way to go Washington!  Thanks so so much for the...

Christian Hunter
Austin, Texas

Sep 11, 2011

I doubt today will ever lose its bite

I remember being out to dinner a handful of years ago with my sisters and brother in law on this same difficult day of the year; a usually jovial and spirited group, not one of us was ourselves, and it didn't take long for the conversation to turn to what we knew was pressing on us all.  One thing I remember of significance in our discussion that evening was our agreement that nothing in the years that had passed between then and that terrible morning on September 11th had done a thing to blunt the violent impact of its anniversaries.  We wondered then how the distance of so many years could be so totally impotent in buffering us from feeling an empty ache in our chests, and the same degree of repulsion, year after year.

Some networks this morning aired the unfolding of it all in New York, it featured simultaneous to-the-minute clips from hundreds of vantage points in the hours that spanned the first tower being struck, and the second's collapse.  I watched it all the way through this morning as I did ten years ago, mesmerized, just the same now as I was then.   

When I was in my teens I would occasionally go on the job with my mom's boyfriend into the city.  We'd leave late in the night, and I remember him wearing a perpetual smile, in part because his normally grueling 3.5-hour commute downtown (each way...I kid you not) from Connecticut where we lived, took a lightening fast 2 hours instead; but I think it was mostly the kid in him that still reveled in his having license as a network engineer to rip into the walls and pull up the floorboards of offices (like the ones Merrill Lynch had in the twin towers), and do so with impunity.  

I remember then, and in every subsequent trip having a unique discomfort with the awesome height of those towers.  Unlike the Empire State Building, where I always felt comfortable on the observation deck, to my mind perhaps, the towers breached an instinctual altitude threshold, defying a limit that I trusted anything man-made to withstand.  

In my own base form of exposure therapy, I once decided to approach the floor-to-ceiling glass of the tower and press my face against it to get perspective; to face my fear.  I remember then, for a split second, I was struck with a genuine paralysis.  I was also struck by an almost "affectionate" appreciation for that seemingly impenetrable glass which, when I finally managed to force myself to look down, revealed that seemingly endless slab of stitched-together steel which seemed to tenuously anchor me in the air.   

That memory drove an even deeper sympathetic horror for those in the towers who, on that morning, facing scorching heat, confusion, and carnage, made the last human decision they would ever make and stepped out into the open air, off the edge, to the ends of their lives.  I myself can't imagine anything that would cause me to willingly move toward that massive window in my memory if it were missing.  Yet there they were, in droves, stealing back their final decision to die as they chose.   I pray I'll never see anything again in my life that will match the heart-wrenching scenes of those men and women who, maybe out of love, maybe out of a basic want for companionship during their last terrifying moments alive, stepped out off the tower ledges in tandem, clutching one another's hands to their ends.

I'm now familiar with those scenes of that mornings nightmare; but that familiarity does nothing in the least to numb its effect on me.  And today, despite all the life I've been so fortunate to live in-between, the tragedy and remembrance cuts with the same violence and forces me to the same confusing heights of both fury and sympathy; a chronobiological nightmarish memory of a day that will continue to have implications on me, and us all, to the very ends of our own lives.

This year however, for a number of reasons, I've been thinking about the shape of those implications – much of which have been molded by our own hands – through a different lens, one that has me wondering whether we as a nation have, in our actions since, properly honored our dead?  

I wish I could know if they'd be satisfied with our vengeance, or our remembrance in their honor?  Would they be surprised by the depth their deaths have touched us all, or the ferocity with which we've shaken the world in their names?  While we could never truly know the answer to that question, I find myself at a loss to even speculate.

A 17th century English poet penned one of my favorite quotes when he wrote that "Living well is the best revenge".  The very thought applied to this national challenge seemed blasphemous.  Still, that quote keeps nagging at me, and it does offer some strange sense of relief-in-clarity when considered against the backdrop of such graphic hate-inspiring loss (of the kind we'll see until we can't anymore this next 24 hours).  

Now I don't mean to suggest for a moment that we ought to ignore, or have ignored any threats of a similar nature to our nation in favor of living in national hedonic bliss; but the idea of running this violent treadmill of increasingly lethal international retribution doesn't sit right either.  Many would have an entirely defensible point in pointing out that the actions taken, which were given energy-to and cascaded from that fateful day, required a far more advanced calculus than divining the collective wishes of its dead.  

But today, in remembrance of all those we lost, that question looms larger on my mind than any other, and I feel a sense of duty to question "what would they want us to do now?".

Christian Hunter
Austin, Texas

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