Archive for June, 2011
Here’s a small house that a lot of thinking went into. It’s called The Cube Project.
The Cube Project is an initiative of Dr. Mike Page at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. Interestingly, Page is an engineer and Reader in Cognitive Psychology at the University’s School of Psychology.
Here’s a video tour of Page’s impressive net zero house.
I want one of these in my backyard!
It was 10 years ago today that a mobile product I helped create — Mobile Office — won a CNET/PC Expo award.
To commemorate the day 10 years ago I wrote the blog post Mobile Office, a product I helped create, wins CNET/PC Expo Best Business Solution Award.
I wrote the post as I would likely have written it 10 years ago, so I assigned it a publication date of June 28, 2001. I disclosed that fact in an afterword at the bottom of the post.
I am writing this brief additional post to alert you to the ’10 year old post’ that you probably would never see otherwise.
I just got an email that noted the Cooley LLP 2010 annual review report is ready for downloading.
I worked at Cooley LLP for about five years, so I looked through the report, marveling at the scope of projects that law firm works on.
I’ve written about Cooley before, so you know I like this firm.
I recommend Cooley to my friends running companies.
When I was looking for a job 3 years out of college, I had never heard of Cooley (then Cooley Godward Castro Huddleson & Tatum). I just got supremely lucky to get hired by such a quality firm.
My advice to new college graduates:
Select your employers carefully since you may remain connected to them forever.
Here is a fun video that shows a guy getting on the Internet via his modern laptop from home via a 1964 wooden boxed 300 baud acoustic coupled modem.
Students at my high school were using acoustic coupled modems in 1977. The modems were connected to terminals that I believe were connected to a large computer at University of Chicago.
When I say dumb terminal, I mean pretty dumb, because they didn’t have video displays. They were essentially electric typewriters hooked to a large computer that could support multiple users at once.
You would type a command, which would be printed on the fan-folded computer paper in front of you. The command would be sent ‘quickly’ over a 300 baud modem, and the textual response would be printed on the same green bar computer paper for you to read and act on.
Sadly, I never got to use these terminals, as they were for older students. I was in 9th grade at the time.
Here’s a video of one of these old DEC computer terminals in use with an old DEC minicomputer.
I wonder what advanced technology students at my high school are using today. I have little doubt they have access to supercomputers and exceptionally fast Internet connections. I’ve only used an exceptionally fast Internet connection for a few days, and it was like being on a local network. I downloaded a 500 megabyte file from 6,000 miles away in less than a minute. This connection was at a Dutch military college in The Hague, Netherlands, where I was staying during the ConTeXt conference in 2009. We had to plug our laptops in to jacks as there was no Wi-Fi available due to security precautions.
I understand residents in Hong Kong have similarly fast Internet connections for a low price. We should have these connections in the United States — why don’t we?
Below is a picture of a DECwriter III terminal like I remember from high school.
My mother Martha Warnock used to use at work a DEC PDP/11 minicomputer, but with a video terminal. I used to program on a DEC VT320 video monitor hooked to a DEC VAX minicomputer cluster. My brother Andrew Warnock used to help my mother program her DEC, and I remember to play video games on the DEC he needed a way to press the Enter key rapidly to make the game easier to play and more fun. He took apart the keyboard and soldered wires to the Enter key connections. Then, he made a motorized switch with rotating contacts that would make and break connection with each revolution of the motor. He attached this switch to the wires from the keyboard he had installed and now he could press Enter as fast as required by his game. This might sound rediculous to my readers, but this was in about 1979 or 1980, when the Commodore VIC 20 was considered a hot computer. My brother had one of those, but getting to use a DEC PDP/11 that cost tens of thousands of dollars I suspect was more exciting than using the VIC 20.
Blogger, writer and consultant Keith Rockmael wrote the post Aquaponics Outside PCBC and West Coast Green about my aquaponics system that’s been on display this week at PCBC in front of Moscone Center in San Francisco, California USA.
Here’s a screen capture of just the first part of the post… please be sure to click on this link to send him some traffic.
The house in the background is by New Avenue, Inc.
Moscone North is to the immediate left, as this house is sitting in the driveway in front.
New Avenue personnel staffing the New Avenue eco house told me that representatives from three other trade shows asked about getting an aquaponics display for their shows. If these trade show representatives are reading this post, I am interested in helping out, even though I am not in the aquaponics business.
I’m a software entrepreneur that’s simply fascinated by aquaponics.
This was a fantastic effort on Casey’s part because the show gave him a short deadline to complete the ambitious project. I’m not privey to the exact timeline, but I am pretty sure he had under a month to build, deliver and erect this ~750 square foot house inside the Moscone Center, the largest convention center in Northern California.
Today I shot a walk through video during the public hours of the show. Today is the final day of the show, so there are fewer attendees than there were the first two days. This makes for a cleaner video.
As you watch this video, remember this house was designed, built, delivered and assembled in about a month! If you work for a trade show and need a demonstration structure built quickly, I suggest you consider working with New Avenue. I have no connection with that company, but Casey has allowed me to show off my aquaponics system at one of his other houses, which I appreciate.
In my blog post from yesterday, June 17, 2011, entitled New Avenue brings two of its homes to Moscone Center for the Pacific Coast Builders Conference June 22-24, 2011 I wrote about the spectacular delivery of two houses to the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California USA.
I used my Canon 5D Mark II camera to shoot high definition video of the delivery process. HD video takes time to process and upload, so the clip wasn’t ready by the time I published yesterday’s story.
As promised, here is the clip I assembled of the houses arriving from San Jose, California.
The first part of the video shows 3 large semi trucks driving up 3rd Street and descending down the loading dock adjacent to Moscone South. Moscone Center is composed of 3 large halls – South, North and West, built in that order over years. I follow these trucks into Moscone South, which was the incorrect hall, as workers told me the South hall is undergoing renovations and thus shows aren’t currently being held in it. Even though this was a mistake on the truck driver’s part, I include the video because most readers of this article will have never seen the South hall totally empty, like it is in this clip. The South hall is the most impressive of the three halls because there are no support columns in the middle of the room. It’s nearly a square block of unobstructed space, and it’s stunning to behold devoid of all the commotion present when it’s occupied.
Off video the trucks then snaked through the tunnel underneath Howard Street into Moscone North, which is where the PCBC conference will take place June 22-24, 2011.
Before we see the houses inside the North hall, the video switches to the driveway for the North hall, on Howard Street. A 4th semi truck brings a second house, complete with deck and my aquaponics system, and parks it parallel to Howard Street and the entrance to the hall.
The video concludes with a clip showing one of the semi trucks inside the North hall driving out from under one of the parts of the first house after that house was temporarily set on blocks. Although it’s not shown in this video, the house pieces were later lowered from their blocks onto their ‘foundations’ and the house pieces were put together to form one elegant ~750 square foot home that will be a featured attraction at PCBC next week.
New Avenue brings two of its homes to Moscone Center for the Pacific Coast Builders Conference June 22-24, 2011
My friend Kevin Casey is on a roll with his New Avenue, Inc. startup.
New Avenue designs, finances, builds and installs quality ADUs, which stands for Accessory Dwelling Units. ADUs are commonly known in the US as inlaw units or granny units. An ADU is a smaller house destined to be a second home on a single family residential lot. It’s public policy and official law in California that cities allow ADUs.
The two New Avenue products rolling up 101 are houses ready for decades of full time living. These are not cheap mobile homes destined for the scrap heap in 15 or 20 years. These are quality homes built with high quality materials and appliances. New Avenue homes are luxurious enough that they make sense in even the backyards of wealthy Californians.
I’ve a big fan of what Casey is doing, and I’ve written here about New Avenue four times before. I have even toyed with the idea of ‘competing’ with Casey by making ADUs from recycled ocean shipping containers. I’ve shelved those plans to focus my efforts on gOffice and its companion blog. But the concept of living in a smartly designed smaller home that consumes fewer resources is profoundly appealing to me, which is why I follow Casey’s progress with such fascination.
As I wrote about here last month, Kevin Casey invited me to build an aquaponics system for one of his homes. That home has been on public display in front of the new City Hall in San Jose, CA for the last six weeks or so. San Jose was gracious enough to allow Casey to reposition the house for a week so it could be shown publically at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC), happening at the Moscone [Convention] Center in San Francisco June 22-24, 2011, next week.
San Jose paid Casey to build the house as part of a green technology exhibit called the San Jose Green Vision Clean Energy Showcase funded by the United States Department of Energy with Recovery Act money. It was via the San Jose exhbit that New Avenue came to the attention of the PCBC conference, which paid Casey to design and build the larger ~750 square foot house you see disassembled on the three semi trucks in the picture at the top of this article. This green home which is also green in color, will be a centerpiece of the PCBC convention, and it is literally in the center of Moscone North. The houses were delivered at 5:50 this morning, just as the sun was rising, so that’s why the picture is dark… note the reflection of the headlights on the pavement. I was extremely lucky that the Moscone parking garage opened 15 minutes early at 5:45am. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been six stories up with a windowless view of 3rd street to take the picture above. Thank you to the garage staff!
The San Jose exhibit house, painted brown, is now in the driveway in front of Moscone North, at street level. This means thousands of cars will pass this house for the next week or so, and thousands of people will walk past it. As far as I know, no admission will be charged for members of the public to tour this house, so you don’t need to be a paid attendee of the PCBC conference to pay a visit.
The aquaponics system I built for Casey is on the front deck, just as it is when the house in in San Jose. The plants in the grow bed survived the windy truck ride North without cover, to my amazement. I didn’t want to risk the fish splashing out of the aquarium onto the roadway, so I removed them yesterday and brought them home with me in my car. I cleaned up the tank, filled it with declorinated fresh water and reintroduced the fish to their home this afternoon, once the New Avenue house was safely parked in San Francisco.
I will be on hand during the PCBC conference to explain aquaponics to visitors. I already told a dozen people about aquaponics today — mostly Moscone Center staff, including Lorenzo, a journeyman painter who engaged me in 20 minutes of conversation about small home living and gardening. He was extremely enthusiastic about aquaponics and the New Avenue house… he really wanted the house for his vacation property where he goes hunting and fishing.
I shot video of the house moves, and it’s being encoded for upload as I write this post. I will add a companion post tomorrow to show that video. These houses are so large they needed multiple escort vehicles to get to San Francisco safely. It was quite a spectacle watching the 750 square foot home be delivered by three trucks into the convention center. Be sure to have a look at that video on June 18, 2011.
Today I start blogging in two places:
Why it took me more than 8 years after I started gOffice to start blogging on that site I don’t know.
Since Apple iPad tablet computers have forward and rear facing video cameras, and are set up for slick and easy video conferencing, I have a proposal:
Make iPads available for check out in hospitals and nursing homes, so that patients can receive ‘hospital visits’ from their friends and family more frequently.
I bet that if a scientific study were conducted that patients would get well sooner and be happier if they could video chat with their friends and family for free, even if they didn’t own or know how to operated a computer. I suspect the video chatting on the iPad is so easy to use that nurses and doctors could be trained to be trainers in mere minutes.
I suspect there are already robust WiFi networks in care facilities, so the networking is already in place.
While we’re at it, install permanent video cameras at all funeral homes so people can attend even if too far away to travel.
For that matter, install video cameras at churches and other places where weddings take place, so more people can attend weddings.
For an extra dose of ‘being there’ somebody could create a holder for an iPad that would look sort of like a person from the sholders up. Where the face would be, place the iPad. This iPad holder could be clipped to the back of a chair or bench.
This way a church, wedding venue or funeral home might have 10 ‘remote seats’ available, where one iPad equals one seat. When someone is occupying a seat at home, their face is shown full screen on the remote iPad. In this way, the physically present attendees can see the faces of the remote guests, and the relatives will be comforted that more friends and family could attend.
Since all these iPads cost money, I suppose it would be OK for wedding and funeral venues to charge extra for these virtual seats. But I would say just give them away at first, to get people hooked on the concept. It’s such a far out idea I am doubtful people would pay until they had seen it done at another event.
I read once that when the grocery shopping cart was invented and placed in stores that nobody touched them. The proprietor had to hire pretend shoppers to push them around as if they were really shopping. That educated actual shoppers, who began to use the carts themselves for real. I think something similar might be required to get this idea off the ground. It might even be necessary to hire fake guests who do not know the wedding party or the deceased, to virtually attend the wedding or funeral, cry and be present.
I’ve read that in Japan there are businesses that rent actors to attend weddings in person to give the impression the bride and groom have more friends than they really do. So there is a precedent for fakery like this.
I think the idea of virtually attending important life events is a good one. Especially going forward with jet fuel being so expensive and security standards getting stricter. It just isn’t a great idea to fly all over the planet for all these events, and such travel I predict will one day become politically incorrect.
There are so many ways to make my idea more like being there. The iPads could be mounted on motorized tripod mounts the remote user could adjust, so people could look to their sides and say hello to real people. The iPad has a camera on the back already, so people could see who was sitting behind them. Maybe two iPads could be mounted back to back so that people sitting in the back could see who was sitting up front in the virtual seats.
Lots of people miss lots of important events. My idea is much more social than simply installing some anonymous cameras that might be security cameras as far as the attendees are aware. With my idea, people present physically can interact with people present virtually.
I dub my idea FaceSeat.
Of course, this concept is applicable to zillions of events beyond weddings and funerals, but at first I would focus on these big markets — a lot of people marry and die in the world.
With the provocative name FaceSeat I could get sued by Apple and FaceBook at once. Think of the stunning PR that would result – instant mind share. If Oprah [Winfrey] still had a popular daytime television show, I’d be on it within days of the lawsuits being filed.
PS — This is just a wacky idea I’m writing on my blog! I am not jumping into to the videoconferencing industry. If someone has already thought of and published my idea, I’d like to know about it so I can update this post.