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So You Want to Stop People From Texting and Driving.

iphone4-1This morning while I was drinking my coffee and watching the news, there was a story on Good Morning America about New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo cracking down on texting and driving. I say you go governor. The thing is, I think there is a much easier and cheaper solution to the problem. One that doesn’t involve law enforcement, and can be easily implemented by hand set manufacturers, and software developers.

Smartphones are rapidly becoming the standard in the United States. Every smartphone on the market has one universal feature. They know where they are and how fast they are moving thanks to motion detection, GPS, and any number of other hardware and software specific features of the handset. So, why don’t we simply require smartphone manufacturers to disable texting if the phone is traveling in any direction faster than 10 miles per hour? Now before you can say what about when I’m riding on a plane, or high-speed train? If the phone is traveling faster than, lets say 120 miles per hour, texting services work.

I think this is a fairly straightforward, easy to implement solution. It could be achieved with a simple software update to iOS, Android, and Windows mobile operating system, and it could be adjusted with updates in the future. It wouldn’t get every phone in use, but it would probably get about 80 percent or more.

So I’m thinking it could work like this:

  • If my phone is moving faster than 10 miles per hour in any direction I can’t text
  • When I get to a stop light texting remains inactive for 30 seconds (the typical length of a stoplight)
  • If I travel faster than X mph my phone lets me text again.

It might piss people off at first, but so did seat belts and other devices that have made driving a hell of a lot safer in the last 100 years.

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Andy Ward’s Animalfabet.

Illustrator Andy Ward has created a series of posters for children to learn about animals of the world and the alphabet. Leo the Lion was originally done for a children’s book but was set aside for almost 10 years. Ward rediscovered Leo and along with fifteen more animals developed a poster series that started with Animals of Africa. The posters that followed were Animals of the Arctic Circle and Animals of Amazonia. The final poster Animalfabet, features every letter of the alphabet.

Alphabet

The playfully illustrated posters feature the animal sitting above their scientific name and their more common name. Ward looked to the real life animals for detailed research, which he then sketched out in this playful and inviting style for a younger audience. The posters are designed so that children and adults can learn about animals of a particular region together.

“The animal characters are stylized but in no way do I intend on mocking the animals I’ve drawn. The series is intended to be a celebration of the variety of life and the myriad of innovative specialties evolved in order for each species to carve a niche for itself in it’s environment.”     Andy Ward

Africa

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Artic

Sketches

The YouTube U.S. Election Hub.

I try to keep politics off of here, but as we roll toward the November elections politics has been creeping in. I’m not going to post some stand about who to vote for or what is right or wrong (I will say Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin is a asshole though). What I do want to talk about is the perception of candidates as they are portrayed by the media here in America.

At the end of the day, it comes down to a few things. Propaganda which is spewed by all candidates in the form of advertising. Yes folks it’s propaganda. Those carefully crafted TV spots are edited specifically to influence you. They say nothing about what the candidates are really for. Things are taken out of context and spun to make someone look good or in most cases very bad. (Todd Akin is still a backwards asshole, and no form of advertising will change this)

The other prominent form of information we receive comes from our trusted news sources, and most of us still get the news from TV. It doesn’t matter if you are getting your information from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, Conservative Talk Radio, or your local TV affiliate, they all have one thing in common. The perspective they give, is usually towing the editorial position for the guy that writes the checks, and in many cases for the companies that sponsor the programs, articles, and media outlets. It’s not supposed to influence the news but it often does.

I think this is why I am pretty excited about the new YouTube U.S. Election Hub. It aggregates news from all over the world about our upcoming elections into one place. Why is this a good thing? Because the rest of the world doesn’t see America the way American’s see America. Because the rest of the world has opinions about America, our politics, our political leaders, and Americans. These world opinions influence us as much as we influence others. It’s good to see how the rest of the world perceives us and the people that might end up running our country. When these news sources are pulled together with our own, the information we receive is better, well rounded, global. And yes folks it’s the 21st century. We live in a global society, so foreign opinions do matter.

Google TV, Sigh…

At the Adobe Max conference last month I, along with every other attendee were told that we will be receiving a Logitech Review, Google TV box. We are supposed to receive them sometime this month, but I have no idea when.

When I first found out I’d be getting one of these I was thrilled. I have held out huge hopes for what Google TV could bring to the table, and how it could be the opening salvo in impending the “Cut the Cable” war. The problem is, all of the major networks see the potential Google TV brings, and it has them running scared. Before I say any more, I want to be clear and say that I am not looking for Google TV to bring the entire PC/browser web experience to my TV set. I am looking forward to the opportunity to engage in light browsing experiences, and use the service to time shift and place shift my content consumption.

Since the launch of Google TV, there has been a steady withdrawal, and blocking of streaming content from all the major networks, and today broadcast giant Viacom joined ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox blocking even more content. Along with the major networks, streaming service Hulu is unavailable as well. Are we beginning to see a pattern forming? I think we are.

The problem all boils down to money. The big networks like the revenue model that is in place with cable. The Cable companies, while hating to pay the big networks for popular TV shows, know that they need the big networks in order to remain viable. Both see Google TV as a revenue threat which might explain why they are working so hard to block streaming TV content o the device. It’s a shame because there is so much potential here.

Last week Walt Mossberg, and David Pogue both gave mediocre reviews of the Google TV service, and frankly you can’t blame them. Google TV is rather limited right now, in both applications that are ready for it, and services that are available for it. Both Pogue and Mossberg feel that it’s not ready, not finished, and not well-integrated. This is true. It is version 1.0 for all the hardware and software that is out. The setup isn’t as easy as Apple TV, and the lack of services hamper the experience.

“Google TV is trying to do a lot, which is admirable, but doesn’t quite pull it off in a way that’s easy or understandable or fluid, and it doesn’t actually fulfill all its promises.” Walt Mossberg.

I am still holding out hope. I am hoping that Google can work out streaming content deals with all the major networks. I’m hoping that in the next few months as Google TV arrives on more sets, and on stand alone boxes that application developers will begin to create applications that truly extend the experience Google TV could offer. I’m ready for convergence. I’m ready to cut the cable. I’m ready for more than Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, Flickr, and Pandora, etc.

In the long run Google TV and services like it are the future of how we engage with our TV sets. At the Adobe MAX conference I heard in a session that by 2020 65% of all media will be consumed via streaming to a device like Google TV, rather than through traditional broadcast channels. That translates to 30 plus hours of media a week, per person, worldwide. That alone should be enough to convince the big four broadcasters to embrace this technology.