I'm going to TEDxRochester!

The speakers have yet to be announced, but if you know anything, anything at all about TEDx, you would already be excited, too. I just got an email notifying me that I have been accepted to attend TEDxRochester, Monday, November 1st, 2010.

TED is the “Technology Entertainment Design” conference. It’s free to attend, but not necessarily easy to get in to.

Anything can happen at TEDx, from the stone-face-serious, to the stone-faced-serious-looking hilarity, featuring someone such as standup comedian and part time NPR contributor, John Hodgman. In the piece below, he discusses what he believes were his three alien encounters.

In the past, even Melinda Gates has shown up to tell us what non-profits can learn from Coca-Cola.

And Stefana Broadbent has explained to us How the Internet Enables Intimacy, a presentation which actually deals with some of things I discussed in my blog post, Why do Teens Text?.

I am extremely excited and honored just to be attending TEDxRochester.

Is Windows Phone 7 Doing too Much?

Microsoft is touting Windows Phone 7 as the device that will get you “in, and out, and back to life.” They intend to do this using “tiles” from the main screen of the phone.

Microsoft admits that they are not going to do this instead of downloadable apps like the iPhone or Android phones. However, I find it fascinating at a time when Android is trying to dis-integrate programs from the core operating system. Google has found that having things like “Google Maps” as part of the phone from the get-go, makes it harder to update it independently later. The plan for Google seems to be taking things like Google Maps easier to download and update from the Android Market.

This seems like another case of Microsoft, potentially, being “late to the party.” This is everyone’s biggest fear for what, on many other levels, sounds like an excellent platform. Microsoft is always just a few steps behind, and now that Google has seen troubles with deep integration, and is backing away from it with Gingerbread, Microsoft is walking right down the path that Google just abandoned. While it seems as though everyone who has had hands-on time with Windows Phone 7 devices has been impressed with it, if it does not get the updates people are hoping for, it might just fail. And what could stop it from getting the updates? If Microsoft is making it harder to update by integrating too many things into the main part of the Operating System. Could these handy “tiles” come back to bite them?

While I don’t know if this level of integration is good or bad from a technical stand point, I am excited for Windows Phone 7 and can’t wait to see if it people take to it.

The grand idea of these tiles is so that you can quickly glance at your phone and do what you need to do, without waiting for apps to load and waiting for slow programs, or having to spend so much time flipping between apps. Microsoft demonstrates this in a recent marketing video for Windows Phone 7.

5 Word Reviews: Music

Sometimes I like to listen to a lot of music all at once. I often burn several albums to a CD as mp3 files, then listen to them in my car (which I also wish was scrobbling to my Last.FM). Having listened to many, many albums lately, and many more in the hopper, I decided I would start writing my versions of music reviews.

But to keep it interesting – I’m limiting my reviews to give words or fewer. This allows me to cover several albums at one time, and I hope it will inspire at least a couple people to seek out the music and listen to it. I’m also assigning a broad letter grade to each album I review, just so there’s no real question how I feel. Each will be LETTER ONLY, no plus or minus degrees of grading. And if you really want me to expand on one of these 5 word reviews, let me know in the comments and I’ll respond back with a little more detail, when I have the time.

BandAlbumYearCommentsLetter Grade
WeezerRaditude2009Rivers’ in love. Sappy love.C
WeezerHurley2010Better, but still lovey dovey.C
Linkin ParkA Thousand Suns2010Please, end soon.F
DiscoveryLP2009Lo-Fi fantasitcalism!A
AnamanaguchiPower Supply2006My childhood, reimagined.B
Vampire WeekendContra2010Don’t change a thing!A

2.2 Billion Minutes of your time… wasted?

While listening to This Week in Google 58, the table talked about how many billions of minutes have been “wasted” on things like Farmville and other casual games.

The Panel of guests talking on Episode 58 all wished that people would spend less time managing their virtual farms and contributing to something like Wikipedia. My question is, why haven’t we combined the two?

Maybe not wikipedia, but Decentralized Computing programs have simply missed the boat when it comes to getting extra CPU cycles thrown their way. Why should I go out and install, for example, the Folding@home client, when they could have their code inserted into Facebook games and take every few cycles here and there. Then, while I save a baby dolphin on my Happy Island, I could be doing micro-sized work units for things like Folding, Grid.org, SETI@home, BOINC, or whatever is deemed worthy of my computing cycles.

At first, these could be determined by the game designers – later this could be decided by we, the casual gamers – give us the option to choose which program we’re donating our cycles to!

My biggest fear when it comes to this? That the distributed computing folks try to design their own games and get people interested. Don’t! You simply don’t have the magic. I wouldn’t even propose contracting a company to try and design new games that utilize your code in the back-end. What needs to be done is that these “social game” developers need to think of it as their “social responsibility” to work with these distributed computing firms to allow us to give our computing cycles to worthy projects. Meanwhile, all you are doing is what you’re already doing: playing Mafia Wars, Farmville, Happy Island – all the while virtually compounding drugs to combat Cancer, AIDS, or perhaps searching radio frequencies to find intelligent life in other galaxies. Whatever your desired project, you should be able to voluntarily help it out, while not having to think about it. Then your 2.2 Billion Minutes of Virtual Farming could be 2.2 Billion minutes of being socially responsible, green, not wasting CPU cycles, all of that good stuff.