Category Archives: Notes

Apple CarPlay demo videos

Here are some videos of Apple’s CarPlay in action.

When you see it in action, it’s not just that you can see cars getting smarter, but you also realize how this kind of technology will help spur driverless cars. You could essentially use a future version of this technology as your command center, while the car drives itself. I imagine driverless cars to be like autopilot in planes where a driver still needs to know how to drive in an emergency situation.


This video is the most impressive demonstration of the technology we’ve seen so far.




The touchscreen in this car is huge, which seems ideal for this kind of system (bigger screen can mean bigger buttons to tap), but it’s a little laggy (especially when compared to current iPhone speed). That will need to be fixed before launch. The experience should be similar to using an iPhone.  All of these systems, however, are demos right now, and should improve quite a bit before they ship to consumers.  They are still quite impressive.

Mercedes Benz

This is a weird video of b-roll outtakes. I don’t know if it really has any value, but we saw no reason not to include. The two videos above are much, much more interesting.

Read our initial coverage of Apple’s Carplay.

Get The Incredibles in HD for free


We’re big fans of streaming video and getting away from physical media, so we couldn’t let you pass this up.

If you connect a Disney Movies Anywhere account to an iTunes account, Disney will give you The Incredibles for free. Download the app on your iPhone or iPad, sign up for an account and then hit the connect to iTunes button. That’s it.

You’ll have access to The Incredibles forever to stream or download onto a variety of devices. Speaking of which, who wants a DVD copy of The Incredibles?

A look back at 10 years of using Facebook

Facebook is celebrating its 10th anniversary today, and perhaps the coolest thing for users is the Look back tool that creates a short video of your history on Facebook. I joined in 2004, so I have a lot of stuff to go through. Some of my earlier photos aren’t showing up for whatever reason (permissions maybe?), but it’s fascinating. I got a bit choked up.

In these photos you can see my life unfold. There are photos from senior prom (posted to FB a bit later), my wedding day, the day I announced my baby and more. It’s really quite magical. Facebook should make more of these tools available all the time. Why wait for a corporate anniversary to do something truly amazing like this?

If I were Facebook, I’d make this tool available all the time and work on creating other tools like it. This is something that no other, especially newer, social network can compete with.

Maybe Facebook should worry less about being Twitter or this or that and worry about being Facebook. No other social network can match this kind of experience.

Pew: 70% of American adults have a high-speed broadband connection at home

Just three percent of American adults are still going online via dialup connections, according to Pew. We’re making progress.

A year ago 66 percent of American adults had high-speed broadband connections at home, and every year we’re making gains into getting more people connected. But why don’t more people have broadband at home?

“We’ve consistently found that age, education, and household income are among the strongest factors associated with home broadband adoption,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, Research Associate for the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and lead author of the report. “Many dial-up users cite cost and access as the main reasons they don’t have broadband, but for adults who don’t use the internet at all, a lack of interest is often the main issue.”

I’m always intrigued by people who cite that they don’t have Internet at home, not because of money, but because of a lack of interest. I have to imagine that these are older citizens who didn’t grow up with the Internet and computing devices. I can’t imagine many younger people saying they don’t have interest in using the Internet. The data backs this up with 80 percent of adults between the ages of 18-29 having broadband, and that drops over every age bracket until it hits a low of 43 percent for adults 65 and older (despite older age brackets have more money in general than younger ones).

College education also drives broadband adoption. 89 percent of American adults with at least a college degree have home broadband, compared with 57 percent of high school graduates.

It won’t be long until the only real reason people don’t have broadband at home is a lack of access. This is something that the U.S. will need to work on, because access to broadband for more citizens helps keep U.S. citizens globally competitive with other advanced countries that have better broadband penetration.


Open Government e-book free in honor of Aaron Swartz

Tim O’Reilly and the authors of Open Government, of which Aaron Swartz is one, have made the book free for all to read in a variety of formats, including PDF and E-pub:

Open Government was published in 2010 by O’Reilly Media. The United States had just elected a president in 2008, who, on his first day in office, issued an executive order committing his administration to “an unprecedented level of openness in government.” The contributors of Open Government had long fought for transparency and openness in government, as well as access to public information. Aaron Swartz was one of these contributors (Chapter 24: When is Transparency Useful?). Aaron was a hacker, an activist, a builder, and a respected member of the technology community. O’Reilly Media is making Open Government free to all to access in honor of Aaron. #PDFtribute

I strongly encourage you to take this opportunity to read this book and understand what activists like Aaron Swartz are fighting for.

Is hiding research behind a paywall immoral?

If you are a scientist, your job is to bring new knowledge into the world. And if you bring new knowledge into the world, it’s immoral to hide it. I heartily wish I’d never done it, and I won’t do it again.

That’s Mike Taylor’s thoughts on publishing research, and I tend to agree. To me, hiding research behind a paywall — particularly publicly funded research — goes against the main purpose of research, which is expanding the knowledge and understanding of mankind. That’s not possible if very few people read it.

I currently have access to a lot of academic articles and research as a graduate student, but I won’t in a few years when I’m done. Most of this research will be ghettoized to academic circles. The knowledge and ideas contained within these academic articles would be relevant to me long after I leave school.

Most of the most eager and curious minds are students, particularly younger ones. And yet k-12 students don’t have access to this information. Is it realistic to expect a sophomore in high school to spend $20 to read an academic article?

But these young minds are exactly the kinds of people who should be influenced by this research and looking to push it forward.

The biggest reason cited for publishing in this closed academic journals is the need for tenure. Well, it’s time tenure commities stopped being part of the problem. Knowledge should be open, and the quality of the research, not the name on the journal should be what ultimately matters.

Personally, I think blogging research might be the best approach and then having this collected into open-access Web journals. This would make finding academic research easy, and would also make it easy to comment on and share. Imagine if academic research went viral on social media?

Timothy Burke on Academia’s role in Aaron Swartz’s death

Why does this still happen::

I’ve been frustrated for years, like other scholars and faculty members who take an interest in these issues, at the remarkable lassitude of academia as a whole toward publication, intellectual property and digitization. Faculty who tell me passionately about their commitment to social justice either are indifferent to these concerns or are sometimes supportive of the old order. They defend the ghastly proposition that universities (and governments) should continue to subsidize the production of scholarship that is then donated to for-profit publishers who then charge high prices to loan that work back to the institutions that subsidized its creation, and the corollary, demanded by those publishers, that the circulation of such work should be limited to those who pay those prices.

I cannot understand why academics and universities are OK with this. If the work academics do is for the betterment of mankind, why is it holed away, to be read by almost no one?

Drexel students can check out Macbooks from vending machines

A lot of students struggle with carrying around expensive laptops and electronics on and off campus late at night, especially coming from the library during prime study seasons. This new initiative allows students to check out MacBooks and leave their computers at home:

Providing a solution to students who don’t want to carry a laptop while walking late at night from their dorm or off-campus housing to the library, Drexel introduced a 24-hour, self-service kiosk located in its Hagerty Library that will dispense MacBooks to students, faculty and staff. Drexel is the third university on the East Coast to introduce the vending machine, which holds up to 12 MacBooks that could be checked out free by anyone with a Drexel ID for five hours of use.

Some students may not be able to afford a decent laptop either, and this allows students to get work done on a top-flight machine. Some students still have desktops for whatever reason (tower computers are still the best route for someone who needs a lot of power and expandability). But make no mistake about it, some schools, particularly in more built-up areas, are not always the most fun to be lugging around expensive electronics in the wee hours of the morning.