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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Personal information has become a gateway drug for business

We treat commerce as some sort of separate entity today, but it is quite simply one element of the integrated society we have built. Money is nothing more than a promise, a contract between people. It only works if we all have trust in the system. Money was created as a way of allowing people to trade goods and services in a consistent way.

Money only works if we all accept it as having value, if we lose trust in money they we all need to start carrying around purses with precious metals and shiny objects, that we could use to negotiate for goods and services.

Decades ago we moved away from using coins and notes to using numbers, but initially we had to have a copy of the numbers on our person to share with those we were trading (credit cards, checks etc).

Now all we have to do is give someone our numbers and they can suck money from our bank accounts or credit cards for us to pay later, or implement more complex contracts such as loans or major purchases. Your employer pays you the same way, numbered accounts in numbers locations is all that is needed to move money around.

Numbers are easy. You go into a restaurant and they suck money out of your credit card account. You take a taxi and the same happens. It’s very easy to move money around.

But what happens when the system breaks? What happens when a criminal gets hold of your numbers. They go to CVS and swipe a copy of your credit card, who checks? What happens when the disillusioned minimum wage worker at a fast food restaurant scans your card when they take your order and sells your information. And what happens when the bank doesn’t have enough security around your personal and private numbers, and they are stolen? What happens when one of the largest consumer credit reporting agencies, which has been collecting vast amounts of your personal and private data, loses it?

Quite simply we rely on a small series of numbers as our personal identity. These numbers are published in public documents, as well as being collected by many different organizations. And we have almost no control over how they are published, stored or used.

Theft of these numbers, our identities can take place across political boundaries, meaning it’s next to impossible to bring criminals down.

When someone collects and stores our personal information, they are taking on a responsibility to each person whose information they collect. If by their actions or inactions, that information reaches a criminal who steals from us, they have an absolute responsibility for the loss.

If a person dies because a car manufacturer installed brakes incorrectly, they are responsible. If a drug company creates a treatment with an adverse effect that wasn’t fully understood, they are responsible. And if you suffer a loss because a bank, a financial institution or a vendor failed to protect their copy of your personal data they should be directly responsible for the loss, and for repairing any damage it causes.

The law must reflect the importance we all place on personal data. Today it does not. There are some “soft” laws that describe how data must be protected, but when a business fails to implement these rules effectively the legal response is almost imperceptible. Let people know you screwed up, and maybe offer them a service to monitor their finances for a period of time, and then it’s business as usual.

Most of the world uses a Chip and pin credit card system. Where you have to both have a physical credit card and know a secret pin number to complete an in-store transaction. And nearly every county in the world mandates that that transaction must be entirely performed by the purchaser. In the US, this is not the case, we have a chip in our credit cards, but no pin number. And virtually every restaurant in the US uses a system where the waiter takes your credit card off of you and takes it to a machine out of your sight. These weaknesses lead to thefts that the rest of the world have already solved.

The US also relies on a social security number as the sole piece of personal data needed to prove your identity. Nowhere else in the world is this considered an acceptable practice.

Why is the US so weak in identify protection? Because the banks and vendors are not held responsible for loss, it’s normally left up to the consumer. If the bank makes a loss, they hike up their rates to cover it, the consumer pays.

We need a solid legal framework to protect the whole system, and that probably means much more infrastructure than a piece of paper issued to every citizen and legal immigrant when they are kids or first get the right to work, with a single nine digit number on it.

It’s time for the law to catch up with the requirement. And this means strict regulations and draconian penalties for non-compliance.

Today we have the technology to encrypt data, capture and use biometrics, spot fraudulent access using advanced artificial intelligence, communicate directly to everyone, anywhere, anytime and validate any number of ways.

But do we have the collective will to change a system that’s working quite well for banks, who have become addicted to social security numbers, credit scores, and acceptable losses without penalty?

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Jumping The Chasm Between Creating Empires and Creating Equality.

History has shown that it is incredibly difficult to move from empire creation to creating a society that is fair for everyone. I am at a loss to find an example of any major society that has made the leap in a way that is seen as acceptable from everyone’s perspective.

The Greeks, Romans, Dutch, Scandinavian, French, English, Portuguese and Spanish all had well documented empires that were built using a mixture of genocide, slavery, brutality, and a clearly defined delineation of those in charge and those who were to be dominated. Slavery, servitude, and extreme poverty for those who were dominated and wealth, education and all the luxuries for those in charge.

And then at some point, in every case there was a recognition of the unfairness of these systems and efforts were undertaken to create every increasing (if slowly implemented) levels of equality, and with this equality came an end to many aspects of their empires. These are still amazingly advanced societies, but with the rules changing, their goals changed, and the lives of everyone involved changed.

Empires at their founding take blood and gold to turn what existed before into something new. But in every case there is a point reached where the advancement of society demands that the underclasses become more educated (to take on more advanced work) and with this comes the knowledge and power of how to negotiate greater levels of equality. But it is very hard for the rich to continue to become richer at the same rate when the previously free labor now requires a lot more of the wealth themselves. For some period of time there is always another even lower level of worker to bring into the endeavor, but at some point you run out of poor groups, and the wealth of society has to start to be spread out further.

Are we seeing the same thing today in the USA?

Are we at that same inflection point, where to provide increasing equality, we need to recognize that the power delivered to a few by inequity needs to be replaced with a desire for a better future for all?

There is still a very real level of inequity between those who come from families that have garnered the benefits of many generations of material wealth, cultural wealth and the interactive effect of many generations of education versus those whose parents and grandparents could barely read, write, did not have a consistent cultural background and had no material assets to pass down the generations.

If you listen to the two main political parties in the US, you would think that the choice is simple and clear, but I don’t think it is in any way obvious which pathway will lead to a better place. Obviously I (like most people) dream of a post sexist, post racial world, where it truly doesn’t matter what someone’s biology, skin tone or life choices are, it just matters what they do. But humanity is probably generations away from that ideal.

Today we have institutions that capitalize on the segregation implicitly created generations ago, and in doing so we continue them. Culturally nurtured mannerisms, fashions, accents and beliefs systems separate groups of people often into neighborhoods and this leads to the furthering of any negative stereotype. Racism is a ridiculous (but very human) way of treating anyone, and often the efforts to deal with negative racism create a “one step forward, two steps back” level of change, where those who benefit from negative racism have the power to use the short term detrimental impact (on them) of positive racism to double down on any negative stereotype. Examples such as Jim Crow after the repeal of slavery, and targeted drug laws after the implementation of the civil rights act had just these types of effect.

Making a fundamental change across society to resolve racism (or any other “ism”) takes an immense intellectual leap supported by immense and rapid investment. And this has to happen at exactly the same point when costs rise (due to everyone wanting and getting a fairer share). This is an almost impossible leap for any society to make and history has shown it to be incredibly hard to do.

But there has never been a United States of America before, and it is very possible that the USA can be the first empire (yes a federation of states with THIS must natural resource and THIS much power is an empire) to achieve this.

So much of the USA’s power and wealth is actually wrapped up in so few people, that it wouldn’t take that many of them to agree on putting society above themselves for real change to be possible.

What other country can name billionaires who actively want to help this change? Capitalism may well be the very best method of creating the very best society that is possible.

There are (of course) some who would look at the past and think that a class system derived from race and sex should be continued, but I believe the majority want a capitalist based system where race and sex are irrelevant, and where every citizen can learn to live a comfortable, long and healthy life in exchange for their work and support of society.  When I read the US constitution (actually I keep a copy in the bathroom), I see these ideas promoted quite aggressively.

I believe the choice the USA will make on November 8th 2016 will be very instructive in seeing if the USA will be the one empire ever to aim for a post-racist/sexist future or (like many before us) will give up the dream and go backwards.

Whatever decision is made in this election won’t set our course irrevocably, but it will be very instructive as to our democratic desire.

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Dealing with Terrorism

 

There is a well-known (and over used) UK saying that was (I believe) first used in the Second World War. A time when Great Britain stood alone against the might of a conquering army consuming the continent of Europe. It was quite uncertain what the future would hold, and yet the saying was:

kcaco

Today the world continues to be threatened by angry psychopaths, some of which use terror to try and warp the world. A free world is much easier to attack, than it is to identify and capture or kill those who attack. Quite simply the best answer to terrorism is to carry on living our lives as if they didn’t exist, and use the darker side of special forces and covert techniques to destroy the terrorist factions.

The moment we respond to their cowardly and murderous intentions with fear, we give up something critical to freedom, and frankly we get nothing in return. A very small number of crazy loons with a death wish and a belief in some warped version of a fictional world in which killing, raping, slavery, bigotry and overall cruelty are normalized can only move forward if their mad world view is given form by being accepted by the vast majority.

We cannot ignore acts of terror, but the correct response is to band together as civilized countries and using the rule of law and the weight of technologically superior intelligence and surgical might to identify and destroy the perpetrators. This is not the political arena, but the covert world of offence is the best defense.

Politicians who try and scare the population into giving up their freedom and civilized democratic rights are cowards or worse traitors to the rule of law.

Religion is not an identifier of terrorists, because quite simply anyone can choose to adopt or deny any religious beliefs as they see fit.

Buildings will get blown up, people will die and be maimed, it is terrible and must be stopped. But stopping it does not mean tanks on the streets or soldiers in schools, it means using intelligence, technology and stealth to identify and destroy those who would do harm.

 

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

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The Future According To Madavey

Every generation finally sees the line between itself and previous and future generations in ways that seem small to the future generation but feel huge to the previous generation.

Changes in music or body adornments are obvious examples. Rock and Roll shocked the generations that grew up before it while today, classic rock is seen as “old peoples music”. Massive tattoos shock the generation that found pierced ears for men scandalous. Each generation builds on that which was hard to accept for previous generations.

Today’s teenagers are not shocked by people with toe-to-ear body tattoos, but some of them would still be stunned by implanted technology for non-essential reasons. Children being born today will likely get to consider technology enhancements to their bodies that allow them to receive information, control their world and communicate.

The internet of things (IoT) will very directly include humanity. Actually it’s already started, with simple biometric sensors, such as smart watches, fitbits and always-in-hand smart phones. But it will quite obviously go a lot further. Pills that when swallowed take biometric readings from within specific parts of the body will allow for better health options for patients. And the glassholes from the beta testing of google glasses provided a lot of information on the potential uses for integrating computers into sight and hearing.

Nano technology, is in its infancy today, but it seems inevitable that amazing things will be possible with very tiny technology that is powered indefinitely from the human body. Tiny robots performing tiny surgical and pharmaceutical duties inside the body are already being tested in animal and clinical trials. It won’t be that many years in the future when human life will be extended and its quality will be improved by armies of specialized cell sized machines fixing imperfections and maybe even providing enhancements that evolution alone has not been able to select (so far).

How will the next generation think about the human body, will it be seen as this unique and special temple as we see it today, or will they see it as a complex structure that can be made better by the use of technology.

Today we use lenses to correct vision, audio devices to repair hearing, electric wheel chairs to allow for enhanced movement for damaged legs, robot limbs to replaced lost ones. We use replacement organs from donors and complex filters to do the job of defective kidneys. We use a plethora of complex chemicals to alleviate pain, or repair or remediate any number of conditions.  So why not directly connect sensors to the nervous system, or provide micro-bots that can perform surgery at the cellular level?

Once a generation acknowledges technology integrated into the human body as acceptable, it’s likely to also see it as preferential. Technology that can fix broken bodies can also enhance perfectly working bodies. Why not have a direct connection to the internet of the future wired directly into your brain? What if you could learn to ask google v2 a question just by thinking of it, and have the answer loaded directly into your short term memory for consumption. What if you would have a new cornea that provided a zoom function and maybe the ability to have your vision supplemented with information on what you are looking it. Or the ability to record what you sense (see, hear, taste, touch, smell) and share with others, sort of the ultimate go-pro recording, just by thinking and your senses are recorded and can be downloaded.

What if your fat could be converted into muscle, not by working out, but by nanabots, re-programming each cell. What if your reaction times could be improved by technology cleaning up your nerves, and optimizing the path between your senses, and your muscles?

What if cartilage worn down by age or arthritis could be rebuilt by cell sized robots working inside your joints.

Will the next generation be open to using technology to go beyond what the human body has evolved to do?

Will “generation-tech” be okay with more limbs, new additional muscles, better ears and eyes, more ears and eyes, direct brain connections for uploads and downloads, areas of the brain directly connected to the internet? Will gen-t want tails, wings, larger lungs, gills, suctions cups, tentacles, brain controlled remote androids?

The point is that once a generation accepts a new idea, then they are open to taking that new idea to new levels.

The human body is complex and at risk from a million directions, and the range of “what if” choices that technology can help answer will only grow. The questions of “can we” vs “should we” are always present, and as always will be hard to answer. Theologians, philosophers and ethicists will have a harder job in the future than they even have today.

With each generation the possibilities grow. We live today in an age of amazing technology, and with each passing day what the future may bring comes a little closer. What will stay the same and what will change will excite some and disgust others, and we all have a part to play in making the future, who knows what butterfly wings will create a hurricane later.

Who knows what butterfly wings will create a hurricane later

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The Lead Misnomer

Whenever I meet a new company or more importantly a new member of the management or sales team. As the “marketing” guy, I’m always asked about leads.

Of course leads are the most important things that marketing delivers. Branding is important, as are sales enablement, websites, public relations and all the other elements of marketing. But let’s face it the culmination of all your marketing investment is the amount of demand that is consumed by sales, and how much of this turns into cash in the bucket that finance manages.

So leads are absolutely the right discussion to have with marketing, as it summarizes the most important measure.

But I am regularly shocked by the experiences of people I meet and companies I work with. The definition of a lead is far too simplistic. Not all leads are created equally, and if the definition of a lead is weak, then marketing is weak.

When I first started running marketing at the company I am at today, I was amazed at the volume of “leads” that were passed to sales. Quite simply every business card scanned or name on a list was passed directly to sales. And as a consequence, sales just thought marketing’s demand generation work was a complete waste of time.

I put in place a very simple but effective new series of definitions that immediately improved the situation.

A business card was not a lead a business card was a contact that marketing would then market towards.

When a contact engaged with marketing, then this became an inquiry.

And when an inquiry exposed information on a project that could be engaged in, this was a lead. And the more information that was identified the higher the value of the lead.

1) A business card, scanned at a trade show, that was a contact
2) A contact that downloaded a white paper or attended a webcast became an inquiry.
3) An inquiry that shared the timescale, budget, and decision team or defined project became a lead.
4) A lead that sales decided to expend effort, became qualified.

This model ensured several things happened more effectively, most critical were:

1) Sales could quickly spot important leads.
2) Marketing could be measured against sales need.

Nothing was hidden from sales, they could see every contact, inquiry, and lead. When there were enough leads, sales would be happy. If they needed to go and hunt their own, they could choose to dig into the inquiries. Sales have not needed to go below the leads, because marketing know exactly what sales need in terms of mix. This just drives a better team spirit.

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Adverb-gate: A Cold War Rages

schoolhouse-rock1The quiet passing of another “National Grammar Day” this month got me thinking. When did the nation stop using adverbs (not to mention grammar and punctuation), correctly?

I have noticed an alarming trend in the application of adverbs within our language. I am sure you have noticed it too… the dropping of the “-ly” from the descriptive word qualifying an adjective, verb or other adverb. For someone who grew up with “Lolly, Lolly,Lolly get your adverbs here” it’s like a slap in the face.

One of the biggest public offenders is the infamous Subway sandwich establishment with their tag lines “Eat Fresh” and “Baked Fresh.” I cringe every time I see their ads. To the wily marketing execs who green lit that phrase: IT IS GRAMMATICALLY INCORRECT! The journalism and English degrees of your team members signify time not well spent. subway-logo-eat-fresh-2

We can also rightly gripe about traffic signs directing us to “Drive Slow” or to “Please Drive Careful.” I’d actually prefer a sign written by Homer Simpson with something like, “Safen up!” written on it when I see those other highway signs that do exist on the roads today.

think-different-appleNow one must admit that Apple just may be quite clever in putting forth their “Think Different” tag line and ads. They either fail or pass grammar depending on whether “different” is supposed to be qualifying the verb “think” or is supposed to be functioning as a destination (a noun) to which we are supposed to convert our thoughts.

Regardless, these examples (seen by millions each day), just cause confusion and set a precedent of bad grammar for new English speakers and generations to come. You don’t need a degree from Carnegie Mellon to get this right, so please tell your children, any immigrants you meet, and everyone else to put back the “-ly” and write smartly; grammar does not have to be executed so crappily.

punctuation-saves-livesOh, and the next front in this cold war? Punctuation!

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