How To Easily Save 30,000 Lives Each Year

I’ve been talking about self-driving cars for years, even posted about it on this site. I can’t wait for cars to drive themselves, for personal and selfish reasons, but there are several really good reasons for cars to drive themselves.
Google Lexus Driverless Car

Eliminate 35,900 Deaths Annually

In 2009 according to the US Census 35,900+ individuals died in motor vehicle accidents.[1] Such deaths could almost be eliminated by using self-driving cars with their vastly superior capacity for safety over human driven cars.

Eliminate 10.8 Million Accidents Annually

In addition to all those who die are all those who are maimed in accidents and all those whose vehicles are damaged. According to the same US Census there were 10.8 million motor vehicle accidents in 2009.

Reduce Drunk Driving

There were 1.4 million DUI related arrests in 2010 according to the Department of Transportation.

How about bringing these numbers down? I mean way down.

Freeing Up Police, Fire, EMT

This not only reduces the deaths and injuries outlined above but also reduces the burden on our public safety officers (police, fire, emt) drastically freeing them up to focus on other areas of crime.

Reducing Government Expenditures

This would also reduce in a reduction in prison populations as DUI drivers would no longer be populating cells. The Legislative Analyst’s Office of California calculates the cost of incarcerating an individual for one year at $47,102 in 2008-2009. Or take the lower figure offered by the Federal Register of $26,163 in 2011.

Have More Time For Family, Community, Yourself!

How much time do you spend driving each day? How much time does that add up to each year? Lets go with a fairly conservative estimate of 1 hr. per day.[2] This would equal 365 hrs. per year…that totals up to two weeks of our lives every year.

What would you have energy to do if you weren’t spending all that energy driving? What could you accomplish during your commute if you didn’t have to focus on driving?

Reduce Infrastructure Costs, Improve Roads

Want to see the roads better maintained? The driverless car could be the solution. We create roads to handle more than average traffic so that there won’t be as many traffic jams. Imagine if that four lane road could be two or three lanes instead. Driverless cars would allow this to occur as they would drastically reduce congestion and thus eliminate the need in many cases for expansion projects. This money could be redirected to existing infrastructure maintenance – eliminating those potholes and fixing those collapsing bridges.

Reduce Pollution by 90%

Okay, okay, so that is a bit of a stretch. There are articles talking about this 90% reduction, but the devil is in the details. Still, driverless cars could significantly reduce pollution by reducing stop-and-go traffic, reducing the number of vehicles utilized by a single family, and generally optimizing performance.

Increase Mobility for Elderly, Handicapped

When we held services after dark we lost a good portion of our church congregation. Why? Because many of our elderly couldn’t see well after dark and so would remain home.

How many elderly individuals are isolated due to an inability to drive? How many handicapped individuals are dependent on others for transportation? With driverless cars these individuals could be free to travel again!

And I Haven’t Even Mentioned…

And we’ve barely scratched the surface of the benefits of driverless cars. What about:

  • Reductions in insurance premiums.
  • Increased life of automotive parts due to gentler usage.
  • Decreased parking congestion due to fewer cars.
  • Decreased stress among humans due to driving.

Easily Save?

In my article title I claimed this was a way to easily save many lives…but is it really so easy? The answer is yes. There are already driverless cars out there, it is a matter of moving ahead in a more determined manner to get these vehicles into the hands of consumers and to revamp them into models that everyone can and wants to use.

Final Thoughts

I’m really excited about driverless cars and I hope you will be too. Yes, it is kind of scary to think about computers driving our cars – but, really, the computer will be much more capable than we are of maintaining awareness and responding quickly. Yes, there will be some bugs and bad things may happen – but my guess is that we’ll see at least a 90% decrease in accidents once driverless cars become the norm.

Image Credit: “Google’s Lexus RX 450h Self-Driving Car” by Driving_Google_Self-Driving_Car.jpg: Steve Jurvetson derivative work: Mariordo – This file was derived from  Driving Google Self-Driving Car.jpg: . Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

  1. [1]Check out Wikipedia for a record of deaths across many years and up to 2013.
  2. [2]I’m linking to a page that suggests 101 minutes as an average driving time.

How Some Famous Creatives Worked.

This is a fascinating infographic from Info We Trust regarding the daily habits of some famous creative individuals. I’ve included my own observations based on the data below the image. You can click on the image to see it full-size.

The routines of some famous creative individuals.
The routines of some famous creative individuals.
  • Length of Work: Gustave Flaubert (5.5), Ludwig Beethoven (8), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (12), Thomas Mann (8), Sigmund Freud (12.5), Immanuel Kant (11), Maya Angelou (9), John Milton (8), Honore de Balzac (13.5), Victor Hugo (2), Charles Dickens (5), W.H. Auden (11.5), Charles Darwin (10), Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (6), Le Corbusier (8.5), Benjamin Franklin (8).
    • Note that several individuals (4) worked relatively short days – Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Dickens, and Tchaikovsky.
    • Others (6) worked exceptionally long days – Mozart, Freud, Kant, Balzac, Auden, Darwin.
      • Note that Mozart and Kant both spent four hours working at their ‘real work’ – the rest was their ‘desired work.’
      • Freud may have utilized an addiction to cigars to power through the days.[1] Similarly, Balzac used up to fifty cups of coffee a day to power through his lengthy work hours. Auden meanwhile utilize a stimulant (benzedrine, similar to amphetamines) to work long hours, crashed hard afterwards with vodka, and slept only with the use of a barbiturate (seconal). Finally, Darwin utilized snuff during the work day, reading makes up two hours of his work day, and solving problems while awake at night in bed consumes another two.
      • Overall, this indicates to me that the individuals in general either required addictive substances to retain focus and allow for the longer creative hours or that they worked in the sense we would consider work less hours, but then were productive in other areas for numerous other hours.
    • Some (6) worked average days – Beethoven, Mann, Angelou, Milton, Le Corbusier, Franklin.
  • Sleep: Flaubert (7), Beethoven (8), Mozart (5), Mann (9), Freud (6), Kant (7), Angelou (7.5), Milton (7), Balzac (8.5), Hugo (8), Dickens (7), Auden (7), Darwin (8), Tchaikovsky (8), Le Corbusier (7), Franklin (7).
    • None of these individuals slept less than 5 hours nightly. Only Mozart and Freud sleep significantly less than 8 hrs.
    • Seven hours per night appears to have been the average (8), though a decent number slept 8 (5).
    • Only two slept more than 8 hrs.
    • Only three napped during the day – none for longer than an 1.5 hours.
  • Exercise: Flaubert (1), Beethoven (2), Mozart (0), Mann (.5), Freud (1), Kant (1), Angelou (0), Milton (4), Balzac (.5), Hugo (2), Dickens (3), Auden (0), Darwin (1.5), Tchaikovsky (2), Le Corbusier (.75), Franklin (0).
    • A significant number did not exercise at all (4).
    • Most seemed to prefer walks (9).
    • A few emphasized strenuous exercise (4).

I hope someone will work on further expanding this data set. This infographic is fascinating – but far too limited to derive significant conclusions about the type of schedule that creatives have utilized historically. For example, I feel that Winston Churchill and JFK would need to be included (both of whom took lengthy afternoon naps), it would be interesting to see more religious individuals (e.g. Calvin, Luther, Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa), and also an analysis of the existence (or non-existence) of social relationships (this shows that they ate meals, but not necessarily how much time was spent interacting with family/friends). 

  1. [1]Also, 2.5 hrs. were spent reading – most likely a leisurely activity for Freud in some senses.

Prayer Keeper Android App – First Release.

The Short Of It

As I share somewhat frequently, prayer is difficult for me. I think this has a lot to do with my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but that is really neither here nor there for the current topic. All you really need to know is that I am always looking for ways to facilitate my prayer life and one of those ways was through a mobile prayer list application that would allow me to keep track of prayer requests, note when and if they were answered, and allow me to record “less important” requests alongside requests I wanted to pray for on a daily basis and not have the latter get lost in vast sea of needs.

Prayer Keeper Detail Page Screenshot
Prayer Keeper Detail Page Screenshot

I couldn’t find one fitting my needs currently available, so I created specifications for the application and contracted Karan Rawat, a programmer from India, to develop the application. Prayer Keeper is the end result. The application was primarily designed for my specific use case and needs, but I’m making it freely available in hopes that others may find it a blessing as well.

Feel free to comment on this post with feedback on the application, feature requests, etc. I’d like to keep the apps development going, though this will be constrained by available resources (namely time and money).

Download

You can get Prayer Keeper through the Google Play Store (for free) here.

Current Features

  • Create a list of individual prayer items.
  • Mark prayers as answered and they are added to an answered list so you can look back and see how God has answered prayers in the past.
  • Mark  prayers as archived if they haven’t been answered but you aren’t still praying for the request and they’ll be moved off your current prayer list to the archives list.
  • Have a prayer item move back to the top of the list every x number of days (no matter how many other items are on the list).
  • Marking a prayer as “Prayed” will move it to the bottom of the list – ensuring you are always praying through the items you haven’t prayed for in a while…or the items you consider really important and want to move back to the top of the list.
  • The ability to export one’s current prayer list and answered prayer list to a CSV file, which can be edited on almost any smart device (e.g. tablet, smartphone, computer, etc.) using a text editor or spreadsheet application.

Future Features

  • Design:
    • New main program icon which will also appear when the application launches.
    • An aesthetically pleasing UI design.
    • A startup splash screen.
    • Move the about information out of settings.
    • Attempt to make UI responsive so auto-fits on various screen sizes.
  • Keep a timestamp of when an item was last prayed for and how many times it has been prayed for.
  • Keep track of how many times items have been prayed for cumulatively.
  • Maintain statistics over time of answered vs. non-answered prayers.
  • Allow for selection of multiple prayer list items and management at one time (e.g. mark as prayed, delete, mark as answered, mark as archived).
  • Allow for long-hold on prayer items to open an options menu to manipulate an individual prayer item rather than needing to go into the detail view.
  • Rename the detail view.
  • Write a web user interface which syncs with mobile app, to allow prayer lists to be utilized and maintain from mobile or web interfaces.

Alternatives

There are a few other prayer list applications out there. Here are a few I’ve stumbled on, in case this one doesn’t meet your needs:

Goodreads – A Great Resource for Managing Books.

I’ve been using Goodreads for a few years now and love it. It lets me keep track of the books I want to read, those I am reading (including the page I’m on), and to categorize the books according to topic (or anything else my heart desires). It provides an active community for discussing what I’m reading, integrates seamlessly with Facebook, makes recommendations based upon my recorded reading, and quickly demonstrates a community consensus on the quality of almost any book (allowing me to determine if it is worth my time).

Novels in a Polish bookstore
Novels in a Polish bookstore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you don’t already use Goodreads to manage your reading list – I’d highly recommend it. That said, I also have a few features/refinements I’d really like to see Goodreads add. Now that they have been acquired by Amazon, I don’t see any reason they shouldn’t be able to throw some extra manpower at these tasks and make them a reality. 🙂

What Do I Own?

Right now I have a category called “owned” but it isn’t entirely convenient. I’d really like a way apart from categories to mark a book as owned, wanted, loaned, or etc.

For example, there are some books I want to read but don’t care to own. I don’t want others purchasing these books for me – that would be sad.

On the other hand, there are books that I own that I don’t want folks purchasing for me either – b/c then I’d have duplicates – again, sad.

I’d also like Goodreads to provide a way for me to sell my books. If I own a book but don’t care to continue owning it (but won’t just throw/give it away), it’d be great to be able to mark a book as “available” and then when someone else goes searching for that book they could easily purchase it.

Finally, I love to loan out my books, but books are notorious for not returning to their owners and so I’d love to be able to mark it as loaned out to a specific person (which could be public/private based upon the desires of both parties) and perhaps receive reminders when the book had been lent out and not returned after x (customizable) period.

Help Me Curate!

I oftentimes find books I don’t want to read and right now I can create a category and they show up in that category – but what if I want them hidden from me on Goodreads in general? Say I’m paging through a list of science fiction or theology books. Every time I page through it I have to page through some popular books that I have no intention of reading. I’d like to hide them, so I can more easily find the “long-tail” of books – the books that aren’t as popular but that I want to read.

Amazon Associates

I’d also love to see Goodreads integrate with Amazon Associates so that I receive a commission off of any books I recommend that are sold. Not only would this be good for the end user, but it would be great for Goodreads/Amazon b/c user engagement would increase significantly and quality of user content would also increase as individuals saw the ability to earn money from their Goodreads data.

Why The Red Cross and WellnessFX Should Develop A Partnership.

A few years ago I started donating blood via the Red Cross, now I get regular phone calls asking me if I’ll donate blood – and I’m happy to do so. Yesterday I traveled to the local Sheraton and made one of those donations and as I was having my blood drawn a thought occurred to me – the partnering of the Red Cross and WellnessFX could be hugely beneficial to both parties (and to those who donate).

WellnessFX

Now, I don’t represent either of these organizations, but I figured perhaps if I post my thoughts here someone from those organizations would chance upon them and pursue the idea further…or perhaps someone will point out why this idea would never work…

In any case, this is what I’m thinking:

  1. When someone gives blood via the Red Cross they would have the option to allow their blood to be processed by WellnessFX (e.g. the annual checkup level). This would be ‘free’ and would provide folks with an additional reason to donate blood while also vastly expanding WellnessFX’s name recognition and customer base.[1]/li>
  2. I know that the Red Cross performs communicable disease checks on the blood, but I’m guessing they may also perform many of the standard tests WellnessFX offers also – this means that with a signed disclaimer this info. could be shared and uploaded into WellnessFX for the donor to view without WellnessFX having to perform all of the tests themselves (thus reducing cost).
  3. From the reverse perspective, when having blood drawn at a lab one could have an option to have a donation taken that would be given to the Red Cross. This would increase the number of donors for the Red Cross and reduce lines at blood drives – as folks could give whenever they wanted rather than everyone trying to cram in on a single day.
  4. This could additionally reduce expenses for the Red Cross, as eventually there might not even be a need for blood drives, or at least a greatly reduced need, if folks began using labs to draw the blood (and meanwhile, the labs could get a tax write-off for a few extra minutes work).
  5. Finally, this could be a significant step towards improving the general population’s health in the United States. A significant portion of the US population doesn’t get annual physical checkups and I imagine a significant portion of these individuals do give blood. In this manner they could get information about their health at no-cost up to several times per year (e.g. each time they donated blood). This would allow for earlier detection of numerous health conditions (e.g. low iron, high cholesterol, etc.) and potentially save lives and reduce emergency financial costs.

What do you think? Could this work? Why or why not?

  1. [1]Some percentage of those who would take a free checkup would go on to become premium paying customers.

Singularity: The New Religion.

Introduction

The Singularity may be defined in different ways depending upon whom you are talking to. In this article, I’m particularly interested in discussing the utopian vision posited by Ray Kurzweil and supported by Singularity University. In this sense, ‘the singularity’ is a point of technological innovation to be pursued that will result in a fundamental disconnect from reality as we now experience it. This culmination of technological process will continue to escalate and result in beyond-humans or perfected-humans.

I Am An IT Geek

Ray Kurzweil at Stanford Singularity Summit.
Ray Kurzweil at Stanford Singularity Summit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m an IT Geek. I spent the last six years working full-time in the IT world and spent most of my self-aware life before that immersing myself in technology. So, I’m interested in the singularity and I am especially interested in the ways in which technology can be utilized to improve the world we live in, for example:

  • Reducing healthcare costs while improving outcomes.
  • Advanced warning systems for earthquakes and tsunamis.
  • Automated Cars that can drive themselves and eliminate the tens of thousands of deaths each year in accidents.
  • Improved political processes through public awareness made possible via the internet and mobile device networking.
  • Innovations in “green” technologies that allow for a healthier environment.
  • Innovations in food production and distribution which could eliminate starvation.

I get really passionate about the ways that technology can change our lives. My smartphone has changed my life – just ask my wife. I am now a more responsible version of me b/c I have a “brain enhancement” in my smartphone that alerts me to upcoming meetings and ensures I don’t miss them.

I am an early adopter when it comes to using technology to improve health – I bought a Zeo, want a Withings, use Noom, and so on.

I Am A Christian Pastor

At the same time, I am also a Christian. I went to Cairn University for Pastoral Studies, have spent nine years as a youth minister, the last two to three years pastoring, and now am full-time as a pastor. I am passionate about Jesus in an evangelical way. I believe that Jesus has changed my life and continues to do so – and I believe He can change yours as well. Yeah, I know, I know – you may not like that – but I’m just being honest.

I believe that God has intervened in history (through Jesus) and will bring history to its ultimate consummation at some junction in the future. I believe I will become a beyond-human or perfected-human and that I have that life in seed already within me.

In other words, I believe in a Christian singularity, but I also am fascinated by a technological singularity…and I think the greatest challenge to Christian belief in the future will not be from another traditional religion (e.g. Buddhism or Islam) but from The Singularity.

Singularity vs. Christianity?

“But the Singularity isn’t a religion.” In one sense it is not, but in another sense it is. It is the “higher power” to which men call out in hope of a better future. It is the way many are looking for ‘salvation’ to be realized.

“Singularity is more of a philosophy.” The fields of philosophy and religion overlap. Both are inherently a worldview which represents how one lives and acts in the world. But I digress, I don’t need to convince anyone it is a religion to suggest that it could replace religion.

I don’t want to spread FUD[1] and encourage Christians to be afraid of the singularity or to think those spearheading it are evil. I believe people who are pursuing the singularity are well-intentioned – desiring to see a better world. I do want to encourage Christians to interact more intentionally with the concept of the singularity and to talk more deeply about how it interacts with Christian theology.

Theoretically – what would keep us from “saving ourselves” via technology? The traditional answer is that we will keep ourselves from saving ourselves. But is this a legitimate answer? And if it is not, then what role should the Christian take in pursuing the singularity? Should the Christian be opposed to the singularity?

I pursue technological innovation, I pursue medical innovation, I advocate for better lives lived now – yet I also believe in Christ and His sole ability to reconcile us to Himself and one another. How do I (we) balance our belief in technological/natural progress with the belief in the necessity of divine progress?

I know this will skirt on the fringes of heresy [2] – but I think it is an important question for us to interact with: “Could God use the singularity as the means of bringing about His intended reconciliation?”

In the Singularity we are facing a variant of humanism, but perhaps it should have a different name – technologyism. We recognize our inherent flaws, but believe we can rectify them through technology (see for example, Peter Kramer’s[3] excellent book Against Depression which discusses the disease processes behind depression and how we may soon be able to “cure” these problems).

Obviously, for premillennial[4] Christians there are significant issues with a divinely guided singularity redemption, but for postmillennials or amillennials perhaps there is not such a dilemma?

Conclusion

At this juncture, I am positing that while it is theoretically possible that a technological singularity could “redeem” mankind, that it is practically impossible. That is, that humankind’s interactions with nature[5] and each other will ultimately sabotage such an effort. That while life exists on earth there is always the “hope” that man could “save himself” through technology, but that in reality this cannot occur. That is, in all possible universes that God could have created while retaining humanity with the freedom and design He has given us, there is no universe in which humanity would embrace technological salvation, thus the necessity of Christ’s sacrifice.

This is a variation on the Law. That is, just as the Law could theoretically result in a beyond-human/perfect-human yet it never will,[6] so a singularity could result in the same, but it never will. If it was possible, Christ would not have needed to die and rise again.

On the other hand, I am willing to contemplate the possibility that God would divinely utilize a singularity to bring about the perfection of His people. This tastes bitter to my tongue and rough to the touch of my hands – I cannot (barely) imagine it as such – but if we as Christians believe that humans[7] could be so wrong about the Messianic prophecies – is it possible we could be wrong about the end-of-the-world prophecies? Could the conquering hero come as suffering servant? Inconceivable! I cannot imagine it! But could He? I will not limit Him, I lay the matter in His hands, while embracing what seems the clearer teaching of Scripture.

Questions

  • Do you believe in a coming technological singularity? If so, what are your thoughts on religion, Christianity, etc.?
  • Is anyone aware of materials written by Christians interacting other than from a FUD perspective with the concept of the singularity?
  • What about more generally the role of technological progress and supernatural salvation and our relative dependence/investment in either?

Postscript

“Boy, Dave, this rant came out of left-field.” Well, not exactly. It was inspired by Steve Aoki, Angger Dimas, and My Name is Kay’s music video “Singularity.” (HT: Tom Olstead/Mashable) I’ve embedded it below. Note, it is quite disturbing – it doesn’t contain offensive language or sexual content but it does portray a disturbing reality including some disconcerting forms of becoming beyond-human.

  1. [1]Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.
  2. [2]I am not advocating such a position, but I think it must be discussed. We cannot simply close our eyes to the implications of singularity philosophy upon the future of the world.
  3. [3]I do not know if Kramer is even familiar with The Singularity, I am not suggesting he is an advocate of it, only that his work demonstrates how technology could cure significant ‘human problems’ – and if it can be used for this – could it not be used to restrain people from violence, etc.?
  4. [4]Those who, generally speaking, believe in a eschatology in some form similar to the Left Behind series. Though even here, there is significant freedom in fictional work and many who would hold to a premillennial eschatology would not hold to a pretribulational rapture as is represented in the Left Behind series.
  5. [5]I hypothesize, based on chaos theory, that all natural disasters, etc. are the result of humanity’s sins. Not that those who are destroyed by such disasters are the sinners – but the conglomeration of our sins causes the disasters. Even to say that sins in America might result in a natural disaster somewhere on the other side of the world would be a vast oversimplification of the matter. It is more that all humanity’s negative actions past and present have resulted in those disasters.
  6. [6]Perhaps it could have if God had created a different universe, but perhaps such a universe could not have had humans such as us in it.
  7. [7]I say humans rather than Jews b/c I believe that the Jews of Jesus’ time were not more stubborn or wicked or etc. than we, but are representative of us – their stubbornness and wickedness, their rejection of Christ is our rejection. There is no grounds for anti-semitisim within the Christian faith.

A Few Suggestions for Hulu.

Image representing hulu as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Hulu is a pretty nifty service that I use in combination with Netflix and other free services to eliminate television / cable from our home. We use the internet or DVDs for anything we want to watch. That said, there are a number of relatively minor enhancements Hulu could make to improve their service…Here are my suggestions:

Skipping Ads

No one likes ads…but I’m usually willing to sit through them if I haven’t watched them before…but when it is the same ad for the hundredth time? Now I’m just frustrated and bored. So, what about letting folks deposit a small amount (say $5) into a Hulu “bank” and when they don’t want to watch an ad (b/c they’ve seen it before or b/c the show just left off at a cliffhanger they are eager to return to), allow them to choose to skip the ad – in exchange for a few cents. I don’t know how much each ad view is worth to Hulu – but say even $0.05 or $0.10 – there are many times when I’d be willing to pay this to skip over an annoying ad and get back a few seconds of my life.

Using this sort of methodology, they could partner with someone like Swagbucks to offer other ways of earning ad skips – e.g. by filling out surveys, accepting trial offers, and so on.

This might help Hulu better monetize their inventory while reducing their dependence on advertising revenue – which can be a fickle mistress at times.

Search History

Doggone it. I stopped watching x show six months ago and I can’t remember what episode I left off on. How can I find out? Well, I can page through my History on Hulu – but this can be quite extensive. What if Hulu added the ability to search through one’s history? Then you could easily type in the name of the show and see what episodes you’d already watched.

History Organization

Along similar lines as above, it’d be nice to be able to sort one’s history – e.g., do drill downs by show, group movie trailers together, etc.

Undo Delete History

I like to look through my history every once in a while and get rid of excerpts and trailers. I don’t really need to keep track of them. But sometimes I accidentally click on a TV show – which I do want to track, and there is no undelete option! I also remove items if I started watching it but didn’t finish it – that way I don’t think I did watch it if I come back later.

Multi-Delete

Sometimes I might want to delete a bunch of history items in a row, but there is no option for multiple selections. The page also does a full postback – it would be better to use AJAX – this would make the interface slicker and reduce the amount of bandwidth hulu uses.

What About You?

Are there features you’d like to see Hulu add? Fixes that need to be made?

The Information Overload Dilemma.

<begin-idea-rant>

I read like most people sleep. I read books – of which I have far too many and I read web articles – of which there are way too many. I follow 50 RSS feeds, which I’d like to keep up with on a daily basis – but this is simply impossible. Sure, it might be possible if they only published one article each per day, but they don’t – they vomit out tremendous quantities of articles. If you doubt me, subscribe to a few of the more prolific feeds I follow – Ars Technica, BetaNews, GigaOm, Lifehacker, Mashable, PandoDaily, ReadWriteWeb, TechCrunch, and VentureBeat. Depending on the day, my feed reader spins through 250-500 stories. That is crazy!

There is one complete solution to this dilemma, which I am sure someone will urge upon me: stop reading RSS feeds, stops trying to keep up on what is happening in the world…Yes, that is a real option…but, when you want to know about the next hot product or what software you should use to accomplish x process, you need someone who follows the pulse of innovation…and I love content curation. Yes, there are others who can perform the job just as well as me – but then we’d eventually end up with no one doing it if everyone followed this advice…and, again, I like content curation.

I do have a partial solution, something I attempted to implement with my now-defunct Informed Networker (lets not go there). Essentially, we need a way to deduplicate the content. For example, the sites I mentioned above oftentimes cover the same story – it is not unusual for me to see similar stories on the same topic five times in a single day. We need a way to “know” that these are duplicate articles and then subsume them under the most definitive article. This allows an individual to explore the story further if they wish, but also keeps folks like myself from paging through 200 essentially duplicate articles each day, when all I really need to know is that x company has released y product, not everybody and their mother’s opinion on this release.

Now, there is a secondary aspect to this which I haven’t figured out how to implement…and which, since we still have trouble monetizing our content (to make money for the publisher/author), seems far in the distant future, but I’ll throw it out there. We need a way to incentive reading content. Some sort of kickback from the content producer to the content reader – or at least to the content influencer.

Now, the issue is that say one makes $2/CPM from views of one page – how does one return some of this to the end reader or influencer? This is a real dilemma, b/c you need that $2/CPM to keep bread on the table and the doors open for the business. Divide $2 by 1000 readers and you aren’t giving your readers anything tangible nor are you leaving anything for yourself. Perhaps if you gave 10% to influencers it would be enough…for example, say I read 100 articles in a day and I was “compensated” $0.01 per article, I’d make $1. Okay, never mind…that isn’t anything.

But do you see what I’m saying? Essentially we need a better way to float the best content to the top, to eliminate duplicate content (although leaving readily available thorough and diverse analysis of a topic), and finally we need a way to “focus” the attention of curators on the best information available and provide an incentive for them to do so…besides love of curation, which doesn’t put bread on anyone’s table.

</end-idea-rant>

Call Me Excited: Wireless Vent Registers.

Some folks don’t have central air – meaning that they have individual units which are used in individual rooms to heat/cool the area. This makes it hard to maintain uniform temperatures throughout the building – one room may be warm, another freezing cold. Trust me, I’ve lived in this sort of house.

Temperature drop
Temperature drop (Photo credit: Kansir)

Many of us do have central air (I do) – and boy, is it a nice convenience. Air is pushed out from the air handler all throughout the house via ductwork running through the walls, floors, and ceiling. This helps brings the house closer to a uniform temperature – but anyone who lives in a central air home knows this is still not the case. Whatever floor the air handler is closest to will get more air forced through the vents and b/c heat rises the upstairs will oftentimes be warmer than the downstairs during the summer – and I mean significantly warmer.

There is a way around this small difficulty – multizones. This involves multiple thermostats – one in each “zone” of the house. The air handler then sends air to the zones that need it – and turns off air to those areas when the thermostats indicate the desired temperature has been reached.

Pretty cool – but also pretty expensive. I thought there must be a better way – but no one seemed to know of one. It made sense to me that one could have registers (the vents that air comes out through) which were “intelligent”, using a thermostat in that room that they wirelessly communicated with and then opening or closing the grill of the register based on  whether the idea temperature had been met.

I’ve finally found a company that makes these devices. I haven’t had a chance to try one myself (but they are on my wishlist now!). The company is called inova Products and the product itself is known as Activent. The vents cost $50/ea. and according to the website will pay themselves off within a year. Go take a look for yourself, and if I can get my hands on some, I’ll be sure to let you know my thoughts on their actual performance as well.

Managing a Small Library: A Field Survey.

Introduction

Codex
Codex (Photo credit: DivesGallaecia)

This article is a work-in-progress. Essentially, I’m looking for ways to implement a small library inventory, check in/out, overdue reminder policy, and so on. My thought is to use an

Android application to accomplish this…attached to an old Android phone or tablet which can be used to maintain the inventory, etc. It could have a web-based interface as well, but that is not necessary. This solution would be ideal for individuals and churches – though I’m sure others will think of other uses…

bigBook Lite

  • Author: Enrique Lopez Manas.
  • Last Update: Oct. 8, 2011.
  • Summary: Available in free and pro versions. Does not appear to including ISBN scanning or lending features.

BooksApp

  • Author: WigWam Labs
  • Last Update: Nov. 6, 2011.
  • Summary: Is an open source, free application via GitHub. Has ISBN barcode scanning to automatically add books to library, also includes lending features. One limitation is that it only allows you to lend to folks who are in your contact list.

BookShelf

  • Author: Dion Hardy.
  • Last Update: June 24, 2012.
  • Summary: A robust product that offers barcode scanning and book lending.
  • Features:
    • Barcode scanning.
    • Book lending.

Codex*

  • Author: Emilio Simoes
  • Last Update: June 8, 2012.
  • App Store Description: “Codex is a book manager application that helps you manage and catalog your books library. All you have to do is scan the book ISBN and the book information is downloaded from the web.
    You can organize your books, manage your book loans and even create a book wish list to help you find the best prices for the books you wish to buy and remember where you found them.
    Share books with your friend with a simple text message to people in your contacts. Codex will get all the information your friends need about the book.
    All book information can be downloaded from the Internet, including the book cover. If a cover is not available you can pick an image from your phone library to use has the book cover or take a picture of the book.”
  • My Summary: A robust product that offers barcode scanning and book lending.
  • Requirements: Barcode Scanner (Zxing Team)
  • Features:
    • Scan and Add via ISBN.
    • Lend out books.
    • Get reminders when book is due back.
    • Downloads info. about the book from the internet.
    • Allows manual book additions.
    • Create wish list.
    • Supports English, French, and Portuguese.
    • Import/Export records to CSV, XML.

iShareBooks

  • Author: Vimal Bhatt
  • Last Update: Mar 30, 2012
  • My Summary: A pretty impressive application, but probably not useful for the purposes I’m looking to use it for. It does not appear to have barcode scanning.
  • Features:
    • Share your bookshelf with your contacts.
    • View the bookshelf of other contacts.

ListPlus

  • Author: Efrayim Heuman
  • My Summary: A flexible application that can handle lists of almost anything, but doesn’t pull in the same quality and detail of info.
  • Features:
    • Scan ISBN to Add
    • Lend out Items
    • Can handle multiple types of items.
    • Can set a lending period after which the item is due.

MyBookDroid*

  • Author: ZEZI
  • Last Update: June 25, 2012.
  • My Summary: Robust and feature filled application, has a simple and aesthetically pleasing user interface.

Papyrus*

  • Author: Marc Meszaros.
  • Last Updated: February 26, 2012.
  • My Summary: Robust application with ISBN scanning.

Readerware (Books)

  • Author: Readerware Corporation.
  • Last Updated: May 21, 2012.
  • My Summary: Not free. Part of a larger, complete library management solution. License for client/server is $90.

Shelves

  • Author: Garen J. Torikian.
  • Last Update: March 21, 2012.
  • My Summary: A more generic application, manages apparel, board games, books, comics, gadgets, movies, music, software, tools, toys, and video games. Has built-in ads. Can scan ISBN.

Where’s My Book

  • Author: Staffordone.
  • Last Update: March 14, 2011.
  • My Summary: Does allow scanning ISBN, not aesthetically pleasant.

Other Options Looked At:

  • Who’s Got What? (Redfruit)
  • Dude, Where’s My Stuff?
  • IOU (S. Tubin)
  • Lend and Borrow (Frank Burmo)
  • Lend and Borrow Manager (AndMaster)
  • Make Sure It Will Be Back ([email protected])
  • On Point (Sappsoft.com)