Tuesday, February 27, 2007

hacked nike+

Someone finally hacked the Nike+. It would be really cool to hook this up to a phone :) I'm trying to do all-phone running this year. With the S9 coming out, I'll be one step closer - and cordless. Then I just need some nike+ integration and my world is complete!


Monday, February 26, 2007

communications technology and me....

Mor had a fun post about when he started using different communications technologies and I thought I'd do the same. So here's the list and when they became a part of my life...

Color TV - My family always had a color TV as long as I've been alive. But I had a small little B+W with rabbit ears in my bedroom from the time I was about 6 until I was maybe 17 or so.

Cell Phone - My mom had one of those Motorola bag phones in the mid 90s, but I didn't get my own cell phone until I was a full time employee of Motorola in 2003. That one was an i60.

Personal Computer - My first PC was a Commodore 64 in 1984. I got it for my 5th b-day and was writing code in BASIC the next day. Yes, I was a little computer nerd from the start. In a month or two I was writing programs for my mom to manage her recipes and address book :)

Laptop - When my desktop died at MIT, I borrowed Ethel's laptop for a semester. That was probably in 2000. I got my own laptop soon after in 2001.

Internet - I remember the first time I used the internet quite well. I was a freshman in high school in 1994 and my spanish teacher told me to come with her to the teachers' office and play with this thing called the Web. I remember using Netscape 0.8 and looking at pages in Spanish from Spain and some stuff from France and thinking how amazing it was to see the world for "free" with no long-distance charges! The next semester I was learning HTML on my own and put our school newspaper up on the web.

Mobile Internet - I had no idea a mobile internet even existed when I had my i60. I don't remember exactly when it entered my consciousness, but it couldn't have been too long after joining motorola. Now I can't imagine life without it (as I write this from a laptop using HSDPA) :)

WiFi - I first used WiFi at MIT in around 2001. We had a network covering a good deal of campus then and we put up our own access points in the co-op that I was living in. It's really hard to imagine that it was only 6 years ago!

E-Mail - I first used email very soon after my first web experience in 1994. They created an account for me so I could email some people in spain and practice my spanish.

Streaming Media - I can't remember the first time, but it had to be right around the start of RealAudio's existence in 1995. I remember streaming music and cubs games back in the early days.

Instant Messaging - In 1995, we got AOL after much pleading on my part after having experiencing the web at school. Thus I had IM and have been a total addict ever since.

VoIP - I used VoIP in college to talk to my parents without having to pay long distance (wow...long distance, that's a concept that's gone away). Anyway, it was pretty poor quality, but I could hear them and they could hear me and that's what mattered. Probably around 2000. Starting in 2001 we started using webcams and talked over netmeeting.

Social Networks - As far as social network web sites go, my first go at it was with Six Degrees back in 1998. I've since ridden the wave with Friendster, Orkut, Facebook, and MySpace.

Webmail - My first webmail experience was with yahoo mail, probably around 1999 or so. It was always a secondary address for me to use for signing up for things or for email over the summer when telnetting into MIT would be difficult. MIT launched its webmail in 2000 or so and then there was really no need for Yahoo's anymore. I still used an email client to check my mail until GMail launched in 2004 and since then, there's been no turning back!

So there we go...that was fun :) What I think is most interesting is how things that we totally take for granted today like wifi, webmail, and cell phones were not a solid part of my life even 6 years ago. And today I can't even imagine life without them :)


Sunday, February 25, 2007

a new book...

Reading this month's Wired pointed out to me the fact that Hofstadter is coming out with a new book next week! For those not familiar, Hofstadter wrote Godel, Escher, Bach, one of the most amazing books ever. The new one is called I Am a Strange Loop and it about self-awareness. I can't wait!


Friday, February 23, 2007


Those who have heard my CHI talk from last year or have talked to me lately know that I've become obsessed with the idea of reminiscing. In our music study we saw that music often reminds people of events or others in their lives and obviously photos do the same. Lately I've been interested in how places in the real world allow us to reminisce. Yesterday's trip to Evanston and Wrigley prompted a lot of thinking about other people throughout my journey. Here's a sampling of the people that came to mind as I walked around the city...

Wrigley Bleacher Entrance: ST, KQ
Guinness billboard: SS
Evanston natural grocery store: GH
D&D Dogs: VC
Tech building at NU: LP
Sports Corner: ST
Northwestern Chapel: ES
Murphy's Bleachers: JF
Cereality: AW

So yeah, not sure what to make of it all yet, but it's interesting. Some are places, some are signs or names. Some refer to events in the past while others refer to likes/dislikes/etc. Maybe someday I'll get to do some more work in this area and get a more formalized representation of how and why people reminisce.


Go Cubs Go! :)

Originally uploaded by bentley79.
So today was a wonderful day! But let's start the story where it should start, last night. After I gave a talk at Northwestern, I hopped on the el and headed down to wrigley to pick up a wristband for a chance at tickets today. For those not from the area, to avoid people camping out for tickets in potentially deadly cold, the cubs have a wristband lottery for tickets. You can show up anytime Wednesday or Thursday and get a wristband with a random number on it. Then at 6am Friday morning, they draw a number at random, and that will be the number they start selling tickets to at 8am.

This morning, I woke up early to hear the number drawn, and it was about 2,000 greater than my number. I figured that it would take them most of the day to get to 2,000 so I went back to bed and figured I'd try my luck online once online sales started at 10am. Well, by the time I woke up again and was headed to work, they announced that anyone in the first 2,000 numbers should get to the field right away since they were going faster than expected. It turns out that they only gave away about 1/3 of the wristbands, so they were going through the numbers three times faster.

So instead of heading for work, it was a trip to the ballpark which made for a fun morning! I was in the stadium by 11am and got my tickets shortly thereafter. And scored some great ones! Tickets to the awesome crosstown classic (Cubs vs. White Sox), bleachers to a Cubs/Cardinals in the summer, bleachers to a Cubs/Astros in the summer, and terrace reserved to a Cubs/Brewers night game for me and my dad. All in all, quite the nice takeaway and such a nice surprise since I woke up assuming I'd be lucky to get a game or two today on the web.

If you're interested in coming along to any of these games, I'll be sending out an email as it gets closer.



a successful morning at wrigley led to cubs/sox, stl, hou, and mke! Yay! more details later...


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

cubs wristbands...

I'm heading to wrigley tomorrow night to get a wristband for cubs tickets! Anyone want to join me in line?


Monday, February 19, 2007


If this is true, Jobs is my hero!


who watches rocketboom?

The folks over at Rocketboom just posted the results (huge PDF) of their demographics study. And it's really interesting and surprising. Like, did you know that 92% of viewers are men? Not surprising enough? Then how about that more people watch in Texas than IL? Or that only 8% get their news from TV? Or that 91% watch < 3 hours of TV a day. Also interesting, that 39% have a blog and 36% create multimedia content. Final interesting fact, 59% use RSS.

All of this is pretty interesting to me. Of course it's obvious that the demographic is going to be mostly male and super techie. But the TV news stat was surprising as well as the blogging and RSS numbers. I guess they shouldn't surprise me as PEW studies and other have shown that younger people tend to be content creators and a huge number have blogs and watch less and less tv. Anyway, interesting data to ponder on a monday night :)


Friday, February 16, 2007

Awesome organic/green fast food...

I have a new favorite place to eat at lunch-time in Chicago! A new little fast food place opened up in my building downtown (with another location on washington) that is totally eco-friendly. Everything is recyclable and bio-degradable down to the spoons for the soup :) All the food is also organic! According to their web site they are "Chicago’s first organic carry-out eatery, and one of the most earth-friendly businesses around." They will certainly be getting more of my business! So check it out! Hannah's Bretzel in Illinois Center or on Washington between LaSalle and Wells!

Oh, and speaking of cool things in my building, I read yesterday that Obama's campaign headquarters is also going to be there! He's getting an entire floor which is crazy as that is how much space the entire design group for Motorola has!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I made it!

Originally uploaded by bentley79.
So I beat all the odds with my awesome flight selection this week. It turns out that I was on the only flight from ORD-BOS yesterday that got out yesterday amid all of the snow in Chicago and then today I was the only flight back that got out with all the snow in Boston!

It was a great quick trip out including dinner with some old friends at Brown Sugar (yay sweet and sour veggie ham!). Class went well and hopefully the students now know a bit about J2ME :)

BTW, if you're even looking for flights to boston that never get cancelled, it's the 9:30 from chicago and the 9am from boston. So far so good with those in rain storms, snow storms, fog, etc...


Monday, February 12, 2007

Prairie Rock closing...

Our little local bar/microbrewery by work is closing next week. This is quite sad as I've been going there after work as long as I've been able to drink :) A bunch of us from the lab went there tonight to say goodbye and have a last few pints of that microbrew beer that we love so much. I guess we're going to have to learn to love the other microbrewery another block down the street. Sad.

For those wondering, it's being replaced by a steakhouse and a fish place. Not exactly the sorts of places I'll be frequenting :)


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What is the What, finished!

On my plane ride back to Chicago today I finished off Dave Eggers' latest book, What is the What. I blogged earlier about the book talk I went to last month with Dave and Valentino talking about Valentino's journey out of Sudan and to "safety" in America. I must say that this was by far the greatest book that I've read in a really long time. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in a really amazing story of a young boy trying to escape from the terror and disorder in southern sudan.

Growing up in America, I never learned much about Africa. I'm sad to say that I had to look at a map to find out where Sudan was and that I knew very little about the struggle between the islamic portion of the country and the native southern part which has large deposits of oil. As with most recent conflicts it all really got out of hand when when oil got involved. Before oil, north and south, muslim and christian got along quite well. It's just so sad to read a first hand account of how a fight about oil totally destroyed many lives and uprooted an entire region. So yes, very highly recommended!



You know when you go someplace and everything is familiar, your friends are there, your favorite food is there and everywhere you go you move around without thinking. That's how I feel in Boston and these past three days have been wonderful!

I spent monday night meeting up with some friends at Grasshopper over some lovely vegan food. It was so great to get to see everyone and catch up in a nice familiar place :) Tuesday I picked up my new MIT-affiliate ID card (which gives me access to check out books from any MIT library!) and came up to the north end for dinner at my favorite italian restaurant, La Famiglia Giorgio. They used to know me and my order, but the mom who used to always work there seems to have given in to the younger generation. In any case, I had my usual dish and it was amazing as always!

I'm very excited about the class I'm co-teaching this term. The students are really outstanding...some of them having been in various internet or mobile startups, working for companies like orange or nokia, and having a huge amount of java experience. I'm excited about the proposals and am looking forward to some great work!


Monday, February 05, 2007

fun things heard today...

1) From United airlines pilot: "Welcome to Boston! I have good news and bad news. The bad news - it's 12 degrees outside. The good news - that's 20 degrees warmer than it is in Chicago"

2) Fellow Motorolan telling me where to find lunch at the Tech Fair: "Go straight past Microsoft, hang a right at Google and keep walking straight down. Lunch is just past Bose"

3) Me to an old TA: "Weren't you my TA?"

4) A really old friend I hadn't seen in almost five years: "Frank!!! What are you doing here?"

All of that and it's not even dinner time yet :) Dinner is Grasshopper with awesome old friends so it should be a good time. Just gotta brave the cold a little more.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

a little over-reaction?

It's interesting to me that in today's climate in america technology is increasingly seen as a threat. Oh no, some guy has wires and circuit boards, he must be a terrorist making a bomb. The absurdity of all of this came to it's peak yesterday when a bunch of little LED-lit advertisement boards were determined to be bombs by the city of Boston, leading to roads, subways, and bridges being closed and a full-out attack by the FBI. Mayor Menino isn't happy and has already sent two people to jail and plans to sue Turner, the company that "planted" the devices as mobile advertisements.

This suspicion of technology is something I've noticed as well. If I'm on the train going down to the city and taking apart phones or even just tethering my phone to my computer I get these looks like I'm up to no good. Coding on planes, same thing. It's like the whole country has become suspicious of engineering as a terrorist's pursuit. Bizarre and bad.