Augmenting Reality – For Real!

In the 70’s kids carried their steroes on their shoulder.

In the 80’s we used walkman’s (I guess it’s not walkmen)

In the 90’s we wore earphones with a splitter cable so we could share the music with our buddies.

In the 00’s we had to turn on the speakers in our phones to share music, and it sucked. And it still sucks today! I still don’t want to hear your music through a Bluetooth speaker.

I dream of being able to share music with Bluetooth headsets with my partner, while walking around the city or sitting on a plane. But Bluetooth technology is not designed for multiple people to listen at the same time. A couple of companies have tried to make Bluetooth headsets that can connect together to allow music to be shared. And it nearly works.

What I really want is to be able to share music with one or maybe two other people, but still have it be private, and this tech is just out of reach today, until now!

It’s not easy buy we have made it work, and at the same time taken it to an entirely new (and better) level.

There were several problems that needed to be solve.

  1. How can you share the sound from a single device (phone or pad) to multiple Bluetooth headsets.
  2. Is it possible to have the sound without the need to wear on ear or in ear headphones, so that it’s immersive and yet you can still be present, enjoying the world around you and be part of conversations, and not annoy everyone else with your music.

And here’s how we did it.

Firstly, after quite some hunting, I found this device on amazon.

This plugs into an iphone and allows 2 bluetooth headsets to be connected at the same time. It’s a little fiddley to configure, as you have to turn-off the Bluetooth in your phone to ensure that the connection is made through the device and not the phones own Bluetooth. But once the two headsets are synchronized it works.

It’s not the longest range of Bluetooth transmitter I’ve ever seen, so you have to stay reasonable close together (a few feet), but it works, where nothing else I’ve found does.

The next thing we did is invest in Bose’s new Bluetooth connected glasses. These use focused speakers built into the arms of the glasses to project the sound directly into the ear canal. And they work better than I would have ever expected. When two pair were synced to the Bluetooth splitter, we were able to walk around the city listening to excellent music, while still being able to talk together and hear the world around.

I require prescription lenses, which Bose do not offer, But are offered for sales on glassesusa.com, which took 2 weeks to arrive, but work perfectly.

It is incredible!

In summary :

Adaptor to allow multiple bluetooth headsets to be connected to a single iphone – a little techie, but work’s!

Bose Bluetooth glasses – incredible sound, without sweaty ears on a hot day, and when combined with the above mentioned adaptor, totally incredible.

Prescription Lenses for bose glasses – While not officially supported by Bose, it was easy to pop-out the lenses and replace them with new prescription ones. I went for transitions, but basic tinted ones would make awesome sunglasses.

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Why are so many billionaires investing in space travel?

Here’s a thought experiment:

Money is not power, debt is power.

In days of olde, you acquired metal of value (gold or silver for example) and you’d store this in a bank and allow people to see it, and when you wanted something from them, you would write them a note that said if they did this thing for you, you’d pay them in gold. 

These notes become promissory notes and that become money. And so long as you had gold and silver in the bank you could write notes to the value of the metal you had.

Then banks wanted to start to offer more money than they had gold, so the rules were changed to say that if you had gold, you could offer money to the value of several times the gold you had. Because no one actually wanted the gold, they wanted the power of the money.

And then people started borrowing money from the banks, and the banks started to literally create money at a rate of several times the amount they were lending. Most money is not paper and coins, it’s a reference in a ledger that someone was loaned a specific value, and based on this entry in a ledger they can buy other stuff.

And then the rules changed again, and the banks were allowed to create money at many many times the amount that they lent. 

And so, for banks to create more money, all they have to do was lend out even more money.

And somewhere along the way the actual relationship with metal was pushed aside.

Today the more you lend, then the more money you can create. And so long as people can pay back the monthly payments everything’s good.

But when you lend more and more, people have to borrow more and more, and so to make the monthly payments achievable the term lengths for loans are getting longer.

You can now borrow more, over longer periods, and in exchange the banks can print even more money, which they must be able to loan out to be able to grow. Lending and borrowing is the source of the money. Debt is therefore the ultimate power.

If things stop growing, that would be a huge issue, because then the whole house of cards would collapse.

WE MUST CONTINUALLY LEND AND BORROW MORE AND MORE!!!

But the resources of the earth are quickly being consumed, oil and coal are being burnt at unpresented rates, causing global warming that is effectively shrinking the useable land mass. We need people to continually borrow more and more.

We must find new ways to get people to spend, loan and borrow. 

So space!

If we can build cities on the moon and mars, mine asteroids, and built starships the gravy train of civilization can roll along. There is a whole universe of stuff out there to create reasons to create money.

If people’s ability to borrow money was to stop, then literally the basis of western civilization collapses.

It’s funny to think that the future of humanity as a space faring species is being driven by the desires of scared, egotistical, savants to keep their wealth, but hey whatever works!

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How to automate the process of building an entire city

It makes little sense to send people to Mars to build a city, as people need a level of infrastructure that makes living there impractical until you build the infrastructure needed to survive.

It makes a lot more sense to send machines to build the environment and send people later.

What if robots could mine raw materials, build the factories to process the raw material, build the infrastructure to build more robots that could then build everything needed to sustain life.

There is no reason why this cannot be done!

Phase 1 – Robots investigate available raw materials (survey)

Phase 2 – Robots mine raw materials (mine)

Phase 3 – Robots use the initial raw material to build refineries to produce building materials and factories (Build)

Phase 4 – Robots build more robots out of refined material (replicate)

Phase 5 – Robots now build everything needed to sustain life (buildings, machines, infrastructure) (Implement)

Phase 6 – People arrive (Immigrate)

How long would it take? 50 years, 500 years? Probably somewhere in between.

I believe phases 1 and 2 are almost practical today. While phase 3 is partially possible today.

It could be started on Earth right now. Build the technology to build cities from nothing, anywhere on the planet, and potentially beyond.

A few square miles of barren land, a lot of smart minds, enough investment to make it happen.

This is the project that is needed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s becoming very hard to spot phishing attacks

Every year the quality of phishing attacks seems to get better. It wasn’t too long ago that you could spot a fake message from a bank, because of the terrible use of english and awful formatting of the images, but it is not a lot harder. The syntax, grammar, formatting, images and event the URL’s they point you too look identical to those of the real institutions that they are purporting to be.

In fact, some of the emails you receive from scammers, now actually look better than the ones from your bank.

The simple answer (of course) is to NEVER trust an unsolicited communication from anyone, it doesn’t matter of the bank calls you, emails you, writes to you, or knocks on your door directly. If you didn’t expect the communication there is a very high probability it’s fake.

The best answer is to always either visit the institution in person, or call the number on the back of your card (and I can even think of a few ways this can be faked, but it’s much harder)

Here are a few of the attempts to scam me, that I’ve received just this month:

“Hi I’m calling from Microsoft, and we have detected a virus on your computer, and you need to give me access to remove it”

“Hello dear friend, I’m the daughter of the late finance minister of an African nation, and am in trouble and need your help to get funds out of the country, I’ll pay you well for your service in this matter”

“There is an issue with your iCloud login, please click below to resolve the issue”

“This is a IRS calling to tell you that you will be arrested unless you call this number immediately”

“I have been contracted to kill you, but will not kill you it you pay me the same amount of money as the contract”

“This is a fraud alert from the bank, please login below to confirm the transactions”

Some of these were via email, and some phone calls. All were ignored, and most entered spam folders.

For the phone calls I use an amazing service called norobo, which checks every incoming call for know garbage (including charities and political parties) and diverts the call as soon as the caller id is identified. A brilliant free service for the home line (and they charge for cellphones)

For email, the built-in spam filters seem to work quite well, and I needed to actually look in the spam-folder to see what I received.

The simplest answer is to just not believe anyone who calls or emails, assume they all lie, and you are right virtually every time.

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What the

Some shops now have use the phrase “following guest” or “I can serve the next person” to indicate that they are able to serve the next person.

Other shops have tried to mimic this process, but clearly do not have the same quality of store management, and this can immediately be seen when the cashier says “following” .

Not “I can serve the next customer now” or “can the next customer please come to the register”, just “following”

I am tempted every time to either not move and wait until they use a complete sentence of just say “you” which I believe is the equivalent contraction for the sentence “fuck you”

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Finding Out You Are Wrong, Should Be the Best Feeling.

The human mind is a complex device, but it is not perfect. Everything we learn, we learn through a combination of comparison to previous experiences and then using learned logic techniques to extrapolate new information, which we then can use to compare to already learned information. This is not a simple process, and much of the information we learn is interpreted by filters before being made available to the comparative engines of the brain.

I’m simplifying everything of course, because this is a short blog and I’m an opinion that is based on my own experiences, comparisons and logic.

But simply this process is fraught with potential errors. It’s very easy to learn things which make no sense outside the framework you have already learned.

When you were a child you were taught many subtle things that were only designed to make your parents lives easier. They may well have not been true. Some of these you will encounter as a child and will cause you to question your earliest beliefs, but some will pass through your experience untested and will become true to you as an adult. If these are then proved to be wrong later in your life, you will have a very hard time deciding what is true.

If you believed Santa Claus was real through to your late teens, it’s very likely you would have a very hard time ever considering that he was not real. Imagine if you had received presents under the tree every year until you were 20, and had absolutely no reason to question where they came from, because no one had ever had that conversation with you. What would it take to then persuade you that it was just a story made up my marketing companies to sell more coke.

We all have our versions of Santa Claus; some believe people of a different skin color are a difference species; some believe that socialism in the form of social security or government run healthcare are inherently evil; some believe that their particular variant of religion is the only one that is “true” and everyone else is going to hell; some believe that their family and friends are superior because they all came from the same country in Europe and all became rich due to their grandparents work. And some beliefs are very subtle, but no less damaging to our ability to learn new ideas.

The basic issue is one of trying to change a “core belief”, something that was learned at a young age and has never been tested by your personal experience.

The way the brain works creates fixed pathways for specific situations that become impossible for you to think outside of.

As a species, we must continuously test core beliefs, and where we see evidence that contradicts what we inherently know to be true, we must be willing to look deeply at the evidence and question our own reticence.  It’s hard, but it’s how we become better people.

Here are some statements that cause this form of cognitive dissonance for some people:

  • The earth is round.
  • The earth revolves around the sun.
  • The moon is not a source of light, and revolves around the earth.
  • Evolution is the name of the process of random mutations providing variety that make some variants more likely to survive changing environmental conditions than others, and over very large timescales explains the variety of all life on earth.
  • Skin color is just a simple environmentally preferential variance in a subcutaneous dye found at a lower level in the skin and is not an indicator or any other attribute.
  • The universe was not created for the pleasure of one single species on one single planet out of billions, but is most probably one universe of billions in a much larger system than we can perceive.
  • Guns are dangerous, and their use should be carefully controlled.
  • Trickle-down economics doesn’t work.

At this point a lot of people’s brains may have exploded (of course since those people are unlikely to read my rant or care about my views, It’s not so much of an issue, but maybe some exploding brains (metaphorically speaking) would do the world some good)

When you challenge a core-belief and break its hold on you, you open a world of personal possibilities.

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Why Is A Politician Doing Exactly What They Promised So Terrible?

Democracy is not a perfect political system; it is just the best political system of all those that are known.

America is not a pure democracy, but a fragile psedo-democracy model that relies of the goodness of people to adhere to the spirit of a constitution written hundreds of years ago by a group of amazing people whose shared experiences lead them to a stunning series of ideals around freedom, equality and happiness (happiness, was never a political consideration before 1776, Anywhere in the world, what a truly amazing ideal!).

The process in the US is one of sharing aspirations aimed at like-minded voters during the primary cycle, which is then attenuated during the election cycle to try and draw more votes and then the winner again attenuates their ideas with those of all sides during their time in a role. The result is that everyone is mildly dissatisfied with government, but most people are not furious. It’s not a perfect system, just one that balances experience and power with need and desire.

What happens when a candidate points out that it’s a stupid system, sticks a finger in the air and decides to go all in to win and then do exactly what they said they would do?

What happens is the balance changes, the fragility of the conventions that allow for happiness, equality and freedom are put to the test.

It’s quite amazing that no one thought of it before. It’s a very high risk strategy, “all or nothing”. And we are living it today.

Global history indicates that it’s a bad idea, that the balance shifting in such dramatic ways will lead to hyper-changes to security, economics, the environment and society; not just in the USA but globally.

The security of the world is finely balanced. With borders maintained by a mix of weapons, physical barriers and most importantly economic interests.

The global economy is not based on natural resources, but promises. Currencies are no longer underwritten by gold and silver, but by a mesh of interconnected promises, treaties and subtle winks between national banks. If the largest economy decides to change these rules, every single nation will be looking to garner an advantage from the change, and it’s not clear who would win that battle.

Saying “fuck you” to the world may feel good (really good), but when you play a strategic game, it’s important to know how players will respond to your moves, and it’s not clear that’s the way it’s currently working.

The good thing is, that since no one thought the presidential election would go the way it went, it’s likely that no one built the brain trust to plan a response. So, it’s not just the USA running with scissors, the world is now doing it.

Donald Trump is either the smartest president that every existed in the history of history itself, or he is starting something he will quickly lose control of.

I’m rooting for the Donald to be everything he says he is, but as a scientist I like to see evidence, peer reviewed before agreeing with such a situation. I have seen the evidence of the last two weeks, I’ve listened to the peer reviews, and I’m beyond worried.

As a very smart comic character once said “with great power comes great responsibility”

Lower regulation doesn’t naturally translate to “better”, it can, but why would a business freed from a regulation do the right thing. It takes something else.

Lowering federal taxes, just increases state, local and hidden taxes.

Things that are likely to happen (not guaranteed, but more likely every day)

  • Hyper debt
  • Hyper inflation
  • Hyper unemployment
  • Less human rights
  • War
  • Shorter life span, and a lowering of the quality of life overall
  • A worse environment (air quality, water quality, farm land quality)
  • Less equality
  • Less government oversight
  • Less investment in happiness (the arts)
  • A greater gap between rich and poor
  • Higher overall taxes for the average person (fed, state, local, privatization and deregulation costs*)
  • Less global trade
  • Higher fuel prices and dirtier fuel processes
  • Lower wages
  • A less educated population

*Privatization and deregulation costs

  • Higher Healthcare costs
  • Higher drug costs
  • Higher food costs
  • Higher Road tolls
  • Higher safe water costs
  • Higher heating and cooling energy costs
  • Higher internet costs
  • Import taxes
  • Higher school costs
  • Higher local policing and fire safety costs
  • Uplifts of travel to pay for private security
  • Higher fuel prices
  • Higher train travel costs
  • Higher banking costs

We have become used to all politicians lying, and we know it is wrong.

But maybe a politician telling the truth may be a hell of a lot worse.

 

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