The Future of Ping Pong

Futuristic Ping Pong Table

Who knew Ping Pong could be so technologically advanced? The above table has an advanced computer system baked into the table, along with a touch surface that responds to voice and real object interactions. So that means you can see where every shot landed incase there is an earth shaking dispute over that double break point serve that just nicked the corner of the table.

The table is part of a broader list of Unbelievable Futuristic Design Concepts That Inspire Creativity.

I Pity The User

Oh, if I had only found this script a week ago.

An absolutely awesome script titled FOOL.JS, full with Mr. T visual, that you too can easily enable on your website.

And when you are done, you can prank unsuspecting visitors to your site with things like an endless loop of Rick Astley, making your site unclickable, and my favorite, the wonky prank that places your site a little off kilter.

Look out on 4/1/13! :)

Ready, AIM, Miss

Granted, the whole “instant communications” sector is going through a major upheaval as there are so so many options for people to use these days – Pinger, FaceTime, Facebook IM, Text Messaging, Skype, ooVoo, and on and on – but wow, AOL Instant Messenger’s usage has fallen 64% over the past year.

Whoever is to blame, the truth is that there has been no bigger missed opportunity in the technology business than AOL Instant Messenger. There’s an investor we (ed: SAI) know in New York who swears AOL blew it when it didn’t turn AIM into a full-on Skype competitor.

When I briefly worked at AOL and on the IM product, it was sometimes referred to as AOL’s “800 pound gorilla” because it had so so many registered users that AOL had no idea what to do with. I guess they never figured out what to do with them and now their once dominant market position has eroded in a major way.

Via SAI

NFL Overtime

Garrett Hartley of the NO Saints kicking winning FG in 2010 NFC Championship

I don’t understand why the NFL can’t get their act together when it comes to Overtime rules during the regular season. I mean, the way the have it now just doesn’t pass the VP of Common Sense or “grandmother” rule (i.e. If you explained this to your grandmother, would she get it?).

Today, the NFL leaders voted to adopt the current Playoff OT rules for all regular season games which are:

An overtime in the regular season now will end on a team’s first possession only if it scores a touchdown or the defense forces a safety. If the team kicks a field goal on its first possession, the opposing team also will get a possession. If it also kicks a field goal, the extra period continues.

As it stands, the Playoff OT rules are just insanely silly – its kinda sorta sudden death – if you score a TD you win right then and there, but it is not sudden death if you score a field goal. These rule changes were made 2 years ago after the New Orleans Saints did what several other teams have done and won the coin toss, marched down the field, and kicked a field goal. Only difference was that their drive won them the NFC Championship instead of giving a random 5-6 team a .500 record.

To me, the way the NBA handles Overtime is the way to go, and in many ways the NFL is a similar ebb-and-flow type of sport with multiple ways to score points. The way the NBA does it is it has a 5 minute extra period – whoever has more points at the end wins. If it is still tied, they play another 5 minutes and so on until a team wins.

I’ve never played football, so I fully admit I don’t know the subtle nuances of these elements of the game. However, from watching the sport for years, it seems to me that teams would still demonstrate a sense of urgency and high levels of game strategy in approaching a full 5 minute extra session compared to the “if/than” option that they just voted to go with. The amount of elapsed “real” time that a full 5 minute session would take wouldn’t be that much different than what we see in today’s format. Having a full 5 minute extra period would give much more of an even balance of responsibilitiy to the offenses and defenses of both teams. And probably most importantly, it won’t force fans to go to the rule book when an overtime game happens to understand the nuances of the “your team didn’t win because the other team scored a TD in ‘Sudden Death Overtime’ after you scored first” scenario. At least by playing out a short, 5 minute extra period, the scenario is crystal clear. Keep on playing until whoever has the most points when the clock hits 0:00 wins.

Things are complex enough today. Do we really need this complexity in the already complex game of football?

South of the Border

Folks who live along the border (I mean, literally ON the border) of North Carolina and South Carolina are running into some issues because the states are re-calibrating the exact location of their shared border. One morning, these folks are paying South Carolina taxes and the next, they are citizens of North Carolina. At first, this may seem trivial, however for one guy who owns a gas station on land that he thought was in South Carolina, this border war is a major issue:

For example, one man owns land where he built a gas station in what he thought was South Carolina, but is now revealed to be North Carolina. He says his station will be worthless due to higher gas taxes in North Carolina, and that the business-boosting sales of fireworks is now illegal.

The governments of each of the states are assuring all people impacted (roughly 90) by the shift of the border will “be taken care of”, whatever that means. At least those folks who are unexpectedly becoming citizens of North Carolina can now support a basketball program (UNC – Chapel Hill) that has had decidedly more success than the program at the University of South Carolina.

Via Consumerist

Goaaaaaal

Lionel Messi, the brilliant striker for Barcelona, broke the club’s all time record for goals scored last night in spectacular fashion, netting a hat trick (his 10th of the season).

To put this in perspective, Messi has scored 235 goals for Barcelona and he is all of 24 years old. The previous record for Barcelona, held by Cesar Rodriguez, took 11 years to accomplish while Messi took barely 6.

Via Bleacher Report.

JP Morgan

Just Missed It

J.P.Morgan around 1912

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (along with several other important 100th anniversaries including the opening of Fenway Park, the introduction of the Oreo Cookie, and the opening of L.L. Bean in Maine to name a few).

As the years pass, the story of the doomed ship continues to fascinate. Here is a list of famous people who just missed boarding the Titanic for its maiden and last voyage.

The list includes J.P Morgan (above), Milton Hershey, and Henry Clay Frick.

Back From The Brink

My site was hacked about a week ago and I’ve finally gotten things back in somewhat working order – with some chewing gum and paperclips holding things together.

It appears that my WordPress install was hacked through a vulnerability in the TimThumb plug ins I had installed into WordPress.

Now that my site is back from the brink, I guess the only reasonable thing to do is take this opportunity to re-set my site and re-design it. So in the coming weeks, things may be a bit funky here while I work through how to clean up the site and make some very much needed upgrades to how the site works in normal browsers as well as all other forms of devices out there.

Syracuse U To Digitize Marcel Breuer Archives

Breuer’s Starkey House, Duluth, MN

In late March, my alma mater Syracuse University will be releasing the digitized archives of Marcel Breuer’s 30,000 drawings, photographs, and other materials from the early stages of his illustrious architecture and design career (at breuer.syr.edu…but the site is not up yet).

Breuer achieved remarkable success as a student in the furniture workshop of the Bauhaus, leading Walter Gropius to offer him a faculty position in 1925. That same year, he earned widespread critical acclaim for his tubular steel “Wassily” chair, which incorporated the radical simplicity of form and interest in industrial materials often espoused by the Bauhaus. Breuer helped to redefine post-war American domestic architecture through projects like the “bi-nuclear” house and the demonstration house in the garden of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (1949). He designed some 60 private residences by the mid-1950s, all of which are represented in the Marcel Breuer Digital Archive.

I am not a huge fan of Bauhaus style, but Breuer’s impact on the world of design and architecture can not be denied. Similar to how Frank Lloyd Wright extended his designs into the interior of the building, Breuer did the same with his furniture designs. Some of the most distinctive and lasting furniture and chair designs were developed by Breuer. When you go to a Doctor’s offic, more times than not you will sit in one of his Ceska chairs. When I was younger, a friend and neighbor of mine had one of his Wassily Chairs in their house.

Also, next to Rem Koolaas, Walter Gropius (Breuer’s mentor) is one of the coolest architect’s name out there. :P

via Inside SU

Predictive Modeling

Target’s customer targeting is so spot on that it was able to determine that a girl in high school was pregnant before her dad did:

An angry man went into a Target outside of Minneapolis, demanding to talk to a manager: My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”

The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.

On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.

via Forbes