tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Bill Warner's Blog 2017-02-26T19:27:25Z tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1133217 2017-02-22T19:59:00Z 2017-02-26T19:27:25Z When the South Boston Waterfront Had a Fleet of 20 Aircraft Carriers, And No Lattes - An Exploration in Historic Aerial Photos and Maps - Part 1
I love how historic maps and aerial photos can lead you to stories that surprise and delight you. This post will link the carrier above to the South Boston Waterfront and introduce you to Mapjunction - A historic mapping tool I've been working on for years, in partnership with the Boston Planning and Development Agency. It provides a fast, easy way to understand history by comparing maps and aerial photos throughout Boston and Massachusetts. It runs in any browser, or can even be embedded, as I've done further on in this blog post.

It was by looking at a 1952 aerial photo in Mapjunction that I discovered Boston's fleet of mothballed aircraft carriers. The escort carrier USS Bougue, shown above as a 3D model in The World of Warships, will serve as a visual reminder as we explore the history of the South Boston Waterfront. 
This post begins with a man walking in a man-made limestone cavern in Lenexa, Kansas. 
He retrieves a metal can containing a roll of original 9" square aerial photo negatives taken by the US Government over Boston in 1952. 
The man works for the National Archives (Headquarters in Washington shown above) and he's now sending these negatives to the giant facility in College Park, Maryland, where our agent, Joe McCary of Photo Response will don white gloves and scan these negatives for our historic mapping system called www.mapjunction.com
Here's an original scan of the 9" x 9" negative. You can see the exact date 8-24-52 on the upper left, and flight and frame number, DPU-8K-124 on the upper right. You can view/download the original 122 MB TIFF here.
We bring each map into a system called Mapwarper to align it to the ground. Here we've only just started placing the individual images in their correct locations. (Actually, this is an example from a 1978 aerial)
With a combination of Photoshop and Mapwarper, we've seamed together all of Joe's scans into a single, huge image that is aligned to the ground. We combined 15 scans into one. Now with a click of a few buttons, we can link directly from Mapwarper into our viewer called Mapjunction. Now the discovery process can begin.

Mapjunction is embeded below...give it a try. Or Click here to open in a new window.
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Mapjunction is embeded above. Give it a try. Or Click here to open in a new window.

Here's the 1952 Boston Metro Aerial in Mapjunction. You can clearly see the fleet of aircraft carriers that originally caught my eye and got me to do this research. Most of them are small carriers made by modifying cargo ships. They are called escort carriers because they were invented originally to escort commercial shipping and attack German U-Boats. Now 19 of these carriers are in mothballs at the Naval Annex in South Boston, awaiting their fate.

1. Grab the green control on the right and slide it to left. You'll see the current Google map appear.

2. Slide the green control back to the right, and then up and down. You can compare 1952 and today.

Bring up a new aerial: 

3. Now click the map name on the lower right to bring up maps and aerial photos. There's 96 for this location.

4. Click the Aerials tab at the top to reduce the selection to just aerials,

5. Now scroll to the bottom and choose our oldest aerial, 1938 to see this area before WWII started.

Have fun trying out Mapjunction at www.mapjunction.com. You'll see almost 400 maps and aerial photos that are the result of combining about 3000 individual maps and aerial scans. 
Based on the 1958 Navy photo above, we'll explore the story and the fate of Boston's carrier fleet in more detail in Part 2.


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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/663962 2014-03-14T20:46:36Z 2014-03-14T20:46:38Z A Horror Story With Bulldozers - It Happened in Boston and Almost Happened in Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline: Urban Renewal, The West End and The Inner Belt Highway (I-695) As an engineer, I'm fascinated with our ability to create inventions of great power and scope. The Saturn 5 rocket and the moon landings. Giant airplanes like the Boeing 747 or the Airbus A380. In a more down-to-earth realm, things like highways and bridges. I'm also endlessly fascinated by the design of cities - which I believe to be mankind's most complex and enduring invention.

In this post, I'll look at three bad uses of engineering -- two that did happen - the demolition of Boston's West End, and Boston’s Central Artery and one that did not - the Inner Belt Highway that would have gone through Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline.

This rendering shows the Inner Belt (I-695) as it would have passed down Elm Street at Broadway in Cambridge. After a huge community organizing effort, the Inner Belt was cancelled. Click here to view this video, which was taken at the Inner Belt Symposia in April 2012, sponsored by The Cambridge Historical Society and MIT.


The West End of Boston was demolished in 1958 to 1960 as part of Urban Renewal. The new land made way for suburban-style apartments (“If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now) and for Government Center.

The West End before demolition. Lowery Aerial Photos/West End Museum 
The West End after demolition began. Amazingly, this photo doesn’t show the full extent of the removal, since the many of the buildings taken for Government Center are still standing.  Lowery Aerial Photos/West End Museum

This 1953 photo shows the initial construction of the Central Artery highway in Boston, Over 1000 buildings were cleared to make way for the highway. Later, in a feat of engineering prowess, the elevated highway was removed by the Big Dig and placed underground. Photo - Boston Public Library
This 1955 USGS aerial photo shows Boston after the Central Artery was built but not opened. Note the construction on the lower right near South Station. Click here to explore this aerial photo online, and compare it to other years.(Requires Flash)
This USGS aerial photo from 1969 shows City Hall and Government Center under construction, and also shows the new apartments in the West End. Note that the area that was reconstructed is easily larger than the entire North End. Click here to explore this aerial photo online, and compare it to other years.(Requires Flash)

As Spider-man was told: "With great power comes great responsibility." I think this is very true of engineering, and it leads me to celebrate when things are done well, and to want to understand the opposite -- when engineering goes awry. I love to understand engineering disasters and what led to them. Usually, the problem isn't with direct engineering errors -- although the Hubble Space Telescope did need eyeglasses delivered to it simply because of a calculation error. Usually the problem relates to the overall environment in which the engineering work being done. It might even be unfair to use the term "engineering disaster" in some of these cases - For example, the Shuttle Challenger crashed when it was launched at a temperature way below its true design parameters. 

In the 1950's, cities were in trouble. People were moving to the suburbs. The car was taking over as the main means of transportation. The idea of Urban Renewal began to take hold after World War II, and the concept was to completely demolish parts of inner cities and start over. Federal money was allocated for this purpose, and in Boston, the West End --  a neighborhood of brick buildings just across Cambridge Street from Beacon Hill -- was torn down.

Also, highways were seen as one antidote to urban problems. Get more cars into the urban core, even if the people lived in the suburbs, and the city would recover its activity. Boston was performing this experiment on itself with at the same time with the construction of the Central Artery (see photo below from 1953). The highway opened in 1959, just as the bulldozers were in full swing at the West End.

Meanwhile, across the river, more demolition and highway construction was planned. It was all part of a vast and detailed plan for Boston's new highway system. I find that you get the best sense of the times when you can see original documents. An online archive called www.archive.org has some beautiful scans of the documents involved in this drama. 

Four proposed routes through Cambridge and two through Brookline are outlined in this illustration from the Inner Belt and Expressway System: Boston Metropolitan Area (1962). The routes through Cambridge caused the most controversy and generated the most vocal opposition. This eventually led to the cancellation of the Inner Belt.

Importantly - look at the pink shaded areas. These were all areas in the planning stages for Urban Renewal. Given that the thinking was to tear down whole portions of a city, it wasn't so hard to think of inserting an elevated highway through the same area.
Note that the West End area is shown in the darkest pink. "The Execution Stage". Truly.

This Google Map shows the proposed path of the Inner Belt (and other unbuilt highways, including Route 3 and the Southwest Expressway) Click here to view on Google Maps. Source: User "BigRock" on Google Maps.

Ever since I learned about the Inner Belt, I wondered exactly what was the planned route? What buildings would have been taken? Where would it have crossed Mass Ave? How would it have gotten through Brookline? With the advent of the original documents on archive.org, and from other newer sources,  I was able to find that out in great detail.

In a horror movie, the bad guy hides in the shadows, waiting to strike. In the this case, the horror story of bulldozers demolishing key parts of Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline didn't happen. But it almost did. And I plan to show you some of the "crime scenes" that never happened. 

The highway story begins with the 1948 Master Highway Plan that details a whole range of highways, some that were built, and many that were later cancelled. This 206 page document contains a wealth of drawings and illustrations, as well as traffic studies that of course make the case for the new highways.
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Archive.org provides a nice thumbnail view of these large documents, so you can quickly find what you're looking for. Click here to see the 1948 Plan online. It’s worth looking at to get a detailed sense of how highway planners were thinking in 1948.

This map from the 1948 Master Highway Plan shows an early routing of the Inner Belt. It was changed in many ways later, but the basic idea remained the same. Notice how the city itself seems to be a willing canvas for innocent red lines. Notice Cambridge -- which seems to have only a few buildings, as if the highways would pass through farm land rather than an intensely built urban area.

Fourteen years later, in 1962, The Massachusetts Department of Public Works released a detailed plan for the new Inner Belt and Expressway System. This document has all the detailed routing plans that lets us find out exactly where the highway would have gone. While many battles would ensue about the routing, it seems that the DPW stuck pretty much to the 1962 routing, all the way up to the cancellation of the Inner Belt in 1971.
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The 1962 Plan contains very detailed drawings of the entire Expressway System.

This reference map from the 1962 Plan is particularly useful. It shows the detailed plans for each part of new highway system. For example, Maps B-11 and B-10 cover most of Somerville and Cambridge, while B-9 covers Brookline and B-8 covers Boston and Roxbury. Note that of the areas shown with red boxes -- those designed in this plan -- almost all were cancelled. Route 3 from 128 never connected to Route 2 as shown. Route 2 did not continue to the Inner Belt, as Map B-24 had planned.  The Mass Turnpike Extension was later built. So was the extension of the Mass Pike to Logan Airport as part of the Big Dig. The Southwest Expressway was cancelled as well, and part of its routing is now the Orange Line.
Map B-10 Shows the 1962 planned route through Cambridge. Look at the massive interchange that would have occurred where the full length of Route 2 connected to the Inner Belt.
By 1966, a new route for the highway was being proposed by a group called the Cambridge Comission. It avoided the path through Cambridgeport, and instead went closer to MIT, following the train tracks near Albany Street. In this 1967 Location Restudy by the Mass DPW, a detailed analysis of the proposed route and road designs are offered. Mass DPW finds the Portland-Albany alignment consistently unacceptable and makes it case that the Brookline-Elm alignment is best. It claimed that some sections would require a 12' thick concrete slab to avoid the floatation of the roadway due to high water table. And the route would have gone right through Tech Square, which had just started construction.
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This 1967 Location Restudy  sought to move the highway out of route through Brookline St in Cambridgeport. The suggestions here were later roundly rejected by Mass DPW.
The 1967 Relocation Study offered to put the highway in a depression (not a tunnel) that would pass along MIT.
Here's the routing of the Inner Belt from the 1962 plan. A giant elevated highway crosses at Mass Ave, and continues down Brookline Street. From the Cambridge Historical Society website.
The highway would have taken down a number of buildings in Central Square, including the building housing Hi-FI Pizza, as shown on this Google Map

Governor Francis Sargent began to take up the cause of those who wished to stop the highway. He created the Boston Transportation Planning Review (BTPR) in 1970. Their report became the model for what we now know as the Environmental Impact Report. On December 29, 1971, Governor Sargent gave a speech from prepared remarks about the State's approach to highways and mass transit, and in that speech, he made it clear that the Inner Belt was dead. He even used those words. The text below can found in the BTPR's final report from 1973

The Governor's comments on the Inner Belt were straightforward and direct. "The much discussed Brookline-Elm and Portland-Albany Street alignments are now officially dead." Without the path through Cambridge, there could be no Inner Belt.

This mural in Cambridge commemorates the citizen action taken to stop the Inner Belt.

As bad as the West End demolition was, I believe that actually building the Inner Belt would have been much worse. It would have dramatically changed the fabric of our inner city. It would have divided neighborhoods and it would have routed high speed traffic right through city areas. The original Central Artery did much the same damage, and I believe it is a testimony to our region that we were able to fix that mistake via the Big Dig and do it in a way that improved the city.

A future post will cover the path of the Inner Belt in detail, and will look at many more sources of maps and other visuals to illustrate where the Inner Belt would have been built, and what it would have looked like. Was the Inner Belt a monster that lurked just outside your door? Find out next time.
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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/663942 2014-03-14T19:17:30Z 2014-03-14T19:17:31Z Photos of Boston's John Hancock Tower
One night I was out roaming around boston with my new Sony RX-100 digital camera. It’s a 20 megapixel digital camera that fits easily in a coat pocket, yet has an unusually big sensor, and a big F1.8 lens. These photos are shot at about 1 second exposure, handheld! The image stabilizer works that well that it almost becomes a tripod.

I’ve always loved the Hancock tower. These nighttime pictures capture some of the mystery of the building.

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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155594 2013-03-12T01:41:19Z 2013-10-08T15:54:17Z The HP D7360 Photosmart Printer from 2006 - A Photo Printing Classic
In high tech, you're used to the latest being the best. But these days, I'm collecting printers that came on the market in 2006! But beware, it needs special paper that HP has stopped making. See below.

I'm a photographer. Cameras are magic to me. But printers are beyond magic. In a few minutes you can go from a photo on your screen to one that you can hold in your hand. Over the years, I've been buying only HP printers, and making better and better photos.  In 2006,  HP announced the HP Photosmart D7360 printer. I was in love.

I couldn't believe how good the prints were (and still are). Using a specially-formulated paper called HP Premium Plus Photo Paper, HP was able to get 108 years of permanence using notoriously unstable dye-based inks. Somehow, the paper, made in Switzerland (by Ilford, I hear) absorbs the ink and protects it from UV exposure. The photos are better than what you get from a photo lab.
The 7360 uses five color ink cartridges and one black cartridge.

Unlike newer printers, HP's H02 Ink system has cartridges that can be easily refilled, and the on-cartridge chip behaves well. Put in the refilled cartridge, and the printer recognizes it as genuine and accurately tells you the level of ink in the cartridge. $16 for the whole set of ink cartridges! How good is that? Newer HP printers work hard to defeat these ink refiners. For example on new printers, a remanufactured cartridge will show as empty.

http://www.amazon.com/Sophia-Global-Remanufactured-Replacement-HP/dp/B0041OV5WI

http://photo.net/digital-darkroom-forum/00FV2F

The HP 02 ink system used on the Photosmart D7360 uses dye inks. Dye inks are thin, like what you use in a fountain pen. They absorb into the paper. But the inks are easily hurt by UV light, as the photo above shows. The photo on the right uses pigment inks, which clearly have higher permanence. But that's not the entire story.
Up until 2011, HP was selling the Original HP Premium Plus Photo Paper, which had amazing properties. First, it absorbed the dye ink and protected it from UV light. The photos are glossy and beautiful, and they last and last. None of mine have faded at all. So they got the best of both worlds. The beauty of dye inks with the permanence of pigments (when using special papers)

Then HP changed their printers to use pigment inks. They no longer had to protect the ink with an expensive system to absorb and the ink and protect it from UV. Instead, they used their "Advanced Photo Paper" which had been on the market for years. This paper grabs the ink and dries quickly. It's fast, its cheap, and it doesn't last. (Note the "Instant Dry" on the right hand photo). I believe they simply switched the formula under the same brand, so they could have a much cheaper paper under the premium brand they established. Instead of coming out with a new name for a totally different product, they just switched it.

This is no small matter. Photos printed on old printers using the new paper will fade almost immediately! 

This is the one you DON'T WANT: http://www.shopping.hp.com/en_US/home-office/-/products/HP-Paper/Premium-Plus-photo-paper/CR664A It's really just re-packaged HP Advanced Photo Paper . Maybe it's thicker.

This is an example of what you DO WANT: http://www.ebay.com/itm/250386369891 - Make sure you see the back where it says "Switzerland" 
http://www.hp.com/products1/printpermanence/pdfs/Prem_Draft_Fade_Resistance_of_HP_Photo_Papers_NAM_v6_061311.pdf

Using the older HP 02 dye inks, HP claims that their reformulated Premium Plus paper will last 35 years "under glass." Well, I can report that photos last about a week with no glass. People who print on a paper they trusted will not realize that what they are using is just not the same. I know this is melodramatic, but it's like a glass vendor changing out bulletproof glass for something that is merely "transparent". When those bullets come your way, it makes one hell of a difference.

So I've bought a ton of the wonderful old paper, and lots of cheap ink, and I merrily make beautiful 8 1/2 x 11 glossy prints for about $0.50 each. If I can keep finding a source for that paper from Switzerland, I'll be good to go. If not, my use of the great HP 9360 printer will have to fade like the supply of the magic paper.
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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155607 2012-10-22T05:10:01Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z She-Devils and Upside-Down Hackers in Photos from Vampire Hackathon 2012
Hosts Nick Tommarello and Mike Norman survey the crowd at Vampire Hackathon 2012
Anna Callahan came dressed as an elegant vampire. See the full photo set - she draws blood (well, almost.)
Coding devil Sherry Zhao sneaks up on an unsuspecting hacker.
Julia Winn poses for a classic Halloween/British Phone Booth combination.
Angel investor and Wefunder backer James Alvarez enjoyed the action. Word on the street is that he did not do any coding.
Wefunder co-founder Mike Norman wields his video camera looking for postable moments.
And finally, this. Can you figure out what's going here? Thanks to some willing models - Fredrik Kaupang and Elise Moussa.

Here is the full set of photos: (online and downloadable here)

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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155623 2012-10-01T14:02:00Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z Photos from Fashion Week: Luke Aaron's Amazing Gowns - Inspired by Boston's History
My brother-in-law, Steve Welch, studied fashion design. Last Saturday, we were looking to do something new, and rather magically we ended up at Boston Fashion Week's major runway show at a tent at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

It was an eye-opener to say the least. Steve saw three shows, and I saw two - local designers Luke Aaron and Maria Victoria (Victoria Domingues-Bagu) 
The first show I saw was by Luke Aaron, and featured flowing gowns that were just stunning. I had a front row seat, right near the all the press cameras. Shooting with my tiny Canon S100, I got some amazing shots.

Both shows were beautiful. I was really struck by the designs from Luke Aaron. I'm still thinking about them days later. And to think, he is a local designer. Furthermore, he's not just located here, he takes inspiration from Boston's history, and makes it part of his designs. From his bio:

An avid history buff, Luke draws inspiration from Boston’s mythological connections to early America; from the stately elegance of Beacon Hill to the Seaport’s weathered utilitarianism.  His designs reflect an appreciation for past traditions while embracing reinterpretation. Influenced by the romantic allure of the stage & screen, Luke continues to cultivate a storyteller’s approach to design; creating a visual narrative through each collection in which the wearer becomes the muse.

Selected photos from the Luke Aaron show are below.  

Luke Aaron full photo shoot is here. (82 of them. And you can download if you want.)
Maria Victoria full photo shot  is here. (96 photos, also downloadable)

1 - Luke Aaron
2 - Luke Aaron
3 - Luke Aaron
4 - Luke Aaron
4 - Luke Aaron
5 - Luke Aaron
6 - Luke Aaron
7 - Luke Aaron
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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155631 2012-06-14T04:28:20Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z Audio from my MITX speech: Thoughts on building startups that deliver joy instead of pain relief https://vimeo.com/43951163

A speech that starts with the very first social network -- announced in the '70s and delivered in the '80s. It now has over 300M users. I then make connections with the intentions and beliefs of that original social network. I believe that there's a new way to create businesses. While the "normal" way to create a business is to create product/market fit, I believe another way is what I call "founder fit" -- where you design the company to fit the "DNA" of the founders. While market fit companies are good at delivering pain relief, I believe that these founder fit companies are great at delivering joy. And I believe that products that fundamentally deliver joy instead of pain relief can create their own huge markets. Twitter, Facebook and Apple are examples that spring to mind.

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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155636 2012-06-12T20:36:00Z 2016-07-08T08:23:53Z 418 lines of code. 313 Million Users. The First and Most Successful Social Network

I've been thinking about the power of social networks. About how Twitter has become a tool to fight tyranny. About how Facebook has linked people all around the world. And of course, I love American history.

And then it hit me. The Constitution defines a social network! Hmmm. How many lines of code is it? I figured six thousand. It was 418 lines when it was released. (with Bill of Rights) And that's when using a 13 point font!

Now, 225 years later, with 27 ammendments, its up to a whopping six hundred and eleven lines of "code." This code defines the underlying structure of our country - our social network, that has 313,728,401 users as of June 12, 2012. 

Now that's tight coding.

The Declaration of Independence was the original statement of intent. The first press release for the first social network. It was 113 lines long. It took 11 years from that declaration, and one war of independence, to deliver Release 1.0 in 1787. We put Release 1.0.27 into production in 1992 when the 27th amendment was ratified. And that brings us to the full 611 lines of code that we're running today.

PDF of the Constitution of the United States with Bill of Rights:

Constitution of the United States with Bill of Rights is 418 lines long.

The Constitution with Amendments is 611 lines.

PDF of the Constitution with Ammendments:

The Declaration of Independence - 113 lines

PDF of the Declaration of Independence:

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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155645 2012-03-05T05:04:00Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z Seriously, do you really have time watch uncut videos from #AngelHack #Boston? Well, some are really funny.

No time for editing folks!

Here's the raw footage. Oh, and by the way, thanks to Tim Rowe at CIC - did he open the floodgates for AngelHack? I'm UPLOADING at 7.3 Megabytes per second! That's almost 60 mbits per second  UPLOAD. Gotta love it.

And here's the big finale by Greg, as we circled around him for that moving background shot!
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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155652 2012-03-05T01:36:00Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z Photosynth at CIC: #AngelHack Boston Judging About To Start

View Photosynth Online

Taken by fellow judge, Paul English

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Paul English
Date: Sun, Mar 4, 2012 at 8:29 PM
Subject: AngelHack at CIC
To: Bill Warner

I created this panorama on my iOS device with the Photosynth app, http://www.photosynth.net.


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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155658 2012-03-04T05:59:42Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z Photos: It's 12:45AM at #AngelHack #Boston

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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155670 2012-03-04T05:44:26Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z Real-Time Back Rubbing Improves Hacking Performance by 284% - #Angelhack #Boston

Alfred Kam and his girlfriend Shirley team up to power one of Montreal's entries in AngelHack Boston. He does the coding, she does the neck rubbing, and both are done in real time.
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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155674 2012-03-04T04:06:59Z 2013-10-08T15:54:19Z Who Says MBA's Can't Sing? AngelHack Boston Music Video

We asked entrepreneurs to sing their pitch while serenading the 5th floor at CIC in Cambridge - the location for AngelHack Boston. Dan Sterling rose to the challenge. This is a must watch!
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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155681 2012-03-04T04:01:28Z 2013-10-08T15:54:19Z AngelHack Boston Karaoke Videos: Greg Gopman Kicks it Off

AngelHack Boston is well underway, and we're rockin' it here. This video shows Greg Gopman using our rolling karaoke system to get a quick overview of AngelHack Boston to the tune of "Eye of the Tiger"
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tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155690 2012-01-15T23:43:00Z 2016-07-08T06:11:01Z Detailed Analysis, Maps and Photos: Two Behemoths Fall: The Costa Concordia Cruise Ship and The Air Canada 767 "Gimli Glider"
The Costa Concordia. Photograph: Andrea Sinibaldi/AP

[See updates at end of article, and a new, detailed video showing exact track of the Costa Concordia]
 
As an engineer, I'm fascinated by giant machines. In particular, I love to understand how they work, and at time, why they don't work. This post is a story of two major accidents. One is currently unfolding in the Mediterranean near Corsica - the sinking of the cruise ship Costa Concordia, and the other happened almost 30 years ago when an Air Canada 767 ran out of fuel half way to its destination.
Air Canada Flight 143, July 23, 1983 ran out of fuel at 41,000 feet but the pilots managed to glide with no power to a safe landing at a former Canadian Air Force base that was in use for car racing. No one was killed, and the plane was put back into service. (photo by Wayne Glowacki, Winnipeg Free Press) 
Illustration: Dailymail.co.uk [Editors Note: This path turned out to be in error. The actual path is shown in the Jan 16 update below]
From a Wall Street Journal article about the Costa Concordia: 
 
About two hours into the trip, the ship took a detour from its "usual" route to give passengers an up-close view of Giglio's port town by night, according to officials there. Upon approaching the port, the ship hit a rock that wasn't marked on nautical maps, Mr. Schettino, the captain, would later tell reporters. Instead, the ship struck Le Scole, a well-known rock formation, that skirts the coast of Giglio, according to the coast guard.
 
detailed article in the Daily Mail in the UK provides a map that seems to echo the WSJ article. That article noted from townspeople that ships usually pass to the west of the Isola del Giglio, not the east.
Source: marinetraffic.com link: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?oldmmsi=247158500&zoom=10&olddate=1/13/2012%209:02:00%20PM
 
This Google Map overlay showing the track of the Costa Concordia also clearly shows that the normal shipping routes are to the west of the island. Note the blue track from the Costa Concordia, showing it to the east of the island.
Source; http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19830723-0
 
Air Canada Flight 143

Meanwhile back in 1983, the Air Canada 767 took off from Ottawa for a flight to Edmonton. The 767 aircraft was brand new, and only a few had been delivered. Significantly, it measured fuel in the "modern" way ... in liters, instead of in Imperial Gallons, as earlier Air Candada aircraft had done. On this day, due to what should have been a minor problem, a technician had disabled one channel of a fuel monitoring system, not knowing that there was a problem with the other channel as well. 
 
As a result, the system did not show actual fuel levels during the flight. Next, the technicians on the ground used the wrong conversion factor from liters to Imperial Gallons to figure out how much fuel to load on the aircraft.  It was a huge error. Instead of 20,000 liters, they only added 5,000 liters. (See if you can follow the whole story...here's the full report in Wikipedia)
 
Since the fuel monitoring system had been partially inoperative, the pilot manually loaded the 20,000 liter figure into the system, (after double checking ground crew's math...but still with the wrong conversion factor.)
 
Half way to Edmonton, the 767 lost one engine, and very shortly, the other. A warning sound that they had never heard sound. They soon came to realize it meant all engines out. The captain, who was also a glider pilot put the plane into its best glide angle. The pilots calculated whether they could make it to Winnepeg, but decided they were too far away. The co-pilot, it turns out, had been stationed at Gimli before it closed, and even though it was not on their charts, he knew it was big enough and close enough to handle the 767. What he didn't know was that it had been converted to a drag strip and it was in use on this day.
Source: Bing Maps http://www.bing.com/maps/default.aspx?v=2&FORM=LMLTCP&setlang=en&cp=50.629722~-97.02&style=a&lvl=16&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&phx=0&phy=0&phscl=1&encType=1
 
So what caused the Air Canada accident? Simple human error. One wrong conversion that never got caught. One circuit breaker removed (and properly tagged) that shouldn't have mattered. The equipment worked as it was supposed to. When both engines failed, a ram air turbine dropped from the belly of the 767 to provide enough power to fly the aircraft. The pilot's great skill allowed them to make a safe (if precarious) landing.
As for the Costa Concordia, it looks like the cause of the disaster was simple as well. (I'm assuming the WSJ article is correct). The captain of the Costa Concordia wanted to give his passengers a lovely view of a small Italian town on a calm night. One bad decision that led to a calamity.
Costa Concordia's Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) being offloaded by Italian Coast Guard Source: Reuters

Will we know what happened on the Costa Concordia? Absolutely. Since 1999, international rules require most ships to have "black box" recorders much like airplanes. So, it's likely that the answers are all in the black box (which is actually orange, and appears to be a VDR 4350 from SAM Electronics
Cover photo from VDR 4350 Voyage Data Recorder from SAM Electronics (an L3 Communications Company)
Here's what the system records:
(Source: Wikipedia article on Voyage Data Recorders)
  • Speed log – Speed through water or speed over ground.
  • Gyro compass – Heading.
  • Radar – As displayed or AIS data if no off-the-shelf converter available for the Radar video.
  • Audio from the bridge, including bridge wings.  (Editor's note: This will be very important)
  • VHF radio communications.
  • Echo sounder – Depth under keel.
  • Main alarms – All IMO mandatory alarms.
  • Hull openings – Status of hull doors as indicated on the bridge.
  • Watertight & fire doors status as indicated on the bridge.
  • Hull stress – Accelerations and hull stresses.
  • Rudder – Order and feedback response.
  • Engine/Propeller – Order and feedback response.
  • Thrusters* – Status, direction, amount of thrust % or RPM.
  • Anemometer and weather vane – Wind speed and direction
  • Conclusion
    It seems to me that technology can be made to work remarkably well if we have the will to design our machines correctly. At the same time, it seems that human error can so easily slip in and overturn (literally) our best designs. Luckily, in both of these cases, large loss of life was prevented. In the case of the Air Canada flight this was due to the combined skill of the pilots, a well designed aircraft, and no small dose of luck. In the case of the Costa Concordia, the relatively small loss of life (compared to what it could have been) might be attributed to the good weather and the location of the incident so close to land.
     
    By the way, this article in the Telegraph pointed out that  the Costa Concordia did not fall over due to taking on water from one side. Rather, it is so tall that it it is not stable in water shallower than 26 feet, and that it is lying on its side because that's what it must do in shallow water. Note that the gash with the rock in it is facing up in all the photos. You would expect a gash to flood its own side and end up under water. The article is worth reading.
     
    Update January 16, 2011, 11:30 PM
     
    The basic elements of the article above are still correct, but there is now more clarity on certain items. For example, it appears that the Costa Concordia set out for the island from the beginning, and that the first time it hit a rock was when it reached the island. In addition, a savvy reader spotted markings on the Voyage Data Recorder to show that it's from another manufacturer.
     
    This animation shows the reports of the Costa Concordia's Automatic Identification System (AIS). This clearly shows that the Concordia set a course to Isola del Giglio soon after leaving its starting port. Note that this video is available in 720 HD. Select that and view in full screen. You can even see the ship turn around at the :36 mark in the video.

    This screen shot from the AIS video seems to show to course changes. The first seems to change the course from passing the island to the west, and instead passing to the east. The second course correction seems to take the Concordia directly towards the Isola del Giglio.

    Illustration: Guadian UK View Flash Animation
    This illustration seems to be the most accurate that I can find, and the easiest to understand. It looks like the Concordia came colse to Giglio, struck rocks near Le Scole, then continued north, only to turn south towards the port of Giglio, where it eventually became stuck on an an underwater outcropping and tipped over with the previously damaged side of the ship facing upward.
    Lastly, an eagle-eyed reader named Oliver Brandmueller wrote to me and pointed out that the Voyage Data Recorder on the Costa Concordia is actually an Avecs Bergen MER VDR. He also sent me a PDF brochure of the unit. (The website at www.avecs-bergen.de does not seem to work.) 
    The brochure shows how the data that is being replayed is displayed.
    Update Thursday, January 26, 2012
     
     
    This video, from the Costa Concorida News Page of John Konrad's blog, shows very detailed, AIS data recorded from a receiver on the island of Giglio, and narrated by John with tremendous insight from a ship captain. Watch and listen to the replay, and you'll feel like you finally have a clear idea of what happened. Data for the recording was provided by Quality Positioning Services BV (QPS), headquartered in Zeist, The Netherlands.
     
    This video shows, without a doubt, that the Costa Concordia slammed into known rocks because it approached the island too fast, and failed to turn soon enough given the momentum it had already built up. The ship turned, but still had motion (slipping sideways) towards the island and the rear of the ship slammed into well known rocks. For the captain to say he hit unmarked rocks is an unfathomable statement.
     
    It is truly hard to believe that after such a monumental collision, that the Captain of the Concordia would still insist that their only problem was a power blackout, even after getting immediate inquiries from the port of Giglio by radio. This fascinating recording of the radio exchange shows just how clearly Giglio interrogated the Concordia, and also how vigorously the crew insisted that there was no problem. It's only 30 seconds and its worth listening to.
     
    Recording of Captain Schettino Speaks With Gregorio De Falco of Italian Coast Guard

    This recording of Captain Schettino talking to the Coast Guard is one of the central elements of the drama that unfolded after the grounding. The captain had left the ship, along with his 2nd in command, and had landed on a nearby reef and was awaiting rescue. 
     
    Earlier Recording Where Captain Schettino Promises to Stay on the Ship
     
    The Italian Magistrate's Report
    There was a hearing to determine whether Captain Schettino would be jailed or otherwise held. The Magistrate's Report (PDF) is in English and contains some fascinating details, including this one: 
     
    ...it appears evident that, once having abandoned the ship, albeit in untimely fashion, he remained in place on the reef of Isola del Giglio where he had landed aboard a launch, and watched the ship sink at the mercy of the tragic event that was occurring (see the service report of Capt. Roberto Galli, Head of Area Security of the Municipality of Isola del Giglio, declarations made by Dimitros Christidis and by Stefano Iannelli and eyewitnesses, unambiguous on the point). 
     
    Voyage Data Recorder Was Inoperative
     
    Separately, this report from Thomas Gunn Navigation Services says that the Voyage Data Recorder Module removed from the ship was scheduled for repair the day AFTER the accident. But the key data was probably also available on hard drives: 
     
    A FAULT in Costa Concordia’s VDR was due to be repaired on 14 January, the day after it capsized, the company has confirmed. However, the problem only affected the 12-hour recording in the capsule itself, a spokesman assured Fairplay, not the two hard disks on the bridge, which held details of its last 24 hours and the previous 30 days. 
     
    Costa Concordia Links:
     
    1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/9015493/Cruise-disaster-Perfect-storm-of-events-caused-Costa-Concordia-crash.html  Good article about what might have happened.
     
    2. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2087017/Costa-Concordia-2-Americans-trapped-wreckage-capsized-cruise-ship.html  Daily Mail article with map and many photos.
     
    3. http://www.1yachtua.com/nauticalcharts/nautical_charts_west/it03_livorno_civitavecchia.asp  Nautical Chart of the area via Yachtua
     
    4. http://www.es.northropgrumman.com/solutions/voyagemaster2/assets/VDR_S-VDRGuide.pdf  Detailed background about Voyage Data Recorder by Northrop Grumman.
     
    5. http://webstore.iec.ch/preview/info_iec61996-1%7Bed1.0%7Den.pdf  Specification for Voyage Data Recorders
     
    6. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2012/jan/15/costa-concordia-italian-cruise-ship-interactive  Interactive maps showing Guardian's view the Concordia's path. This does not match the illustration provided by the Daily Mail.
     
    7. http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?oldmmsi=247158500&zoom=10&olddate=1/13/2012%209:02:00%20PM This site provides some recorded data of the Costa Concordia's path. This partial path matches what the Guardian is showing in the link above.
     
    8. http://www.seanews.com.tr/article/ACCIDENTS/74284/Costa-Concordia-accident-navigational-error/  This site claims to have the full course of the Costa Concordia, including a harrowing navigation between two small islands where they claim the Concordia hit the rocks. The MarineTraffic.com site data does not show the Costa Concordia passing through the two islands. A quick measurement on Google maps shows the gap in the islands to be about 200 feet. The Costa Concordia is about 120 feet wide.
     
    This video appears to be a playback from the MarineTraffic.com site. This seems to match the Guardian's (#6 above) very nice interactive illustration above.
     
    Gimli Glider (Air Canada 143) Links:
     
    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimli_Glider
     
    2. http://www.wadenelson.com/gimli.html
     
    3.   Gimli Glider fly-by on way to retirement
     
    4.  Gimli Glider three months before retirement
    ]]>
    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155712 2011-12-15T06:35:30Z 2013-10-08T15:54:19Z Photos: You Co-Work, Lets Co-Party - Good Times at the #TechCoParty at Kingston Station!
    What a simple lead-in: "You Co-Work, lets Co-Party"

    Here are photos from a really fun Co-Party held tonight at Kingston Station in Boston. Hosted by Ben and Sonciary of Promobox, Ryan and Sravish of Kinvey, Nick of Escapist, Raj of Localytics, Dave of the Tap Lab, Ben of Indie Ambassador, and Brent & Jesse of Evertrue. The event was sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark, Dogpatch Labs, Gunderson Dettmer, Silicon Valley Bank, Goodwin Proctor, Avalon Ventures, Atlas Venture, Boston Seed, and Magners Irish Cider. Wow, quite a list. Importantly, this meant that for a nominal $30 cover, there was food and an open bar! Further proof that co-working is fun and efficient, and when you add the right hosts and sponsors, co-partying works pretty darn well too.

    Here are an assortment of photos from the action: (also available for prints and download at this link)

    ]]>
    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155730 2011-12-02T04:19:19Z 2013-10-08T15:54:19Z How Cool is This: The MakerBot 3D Printer in action @GreenLightLabs

    Nick Tommarello and I have set up a place for entrepreneurs called Green Light Labs. It's at the CIC at 1 Broadway in Cambridge. We've outfitted the space with some unusual amenities, including a loft bed and a reclining "work surface" called the Love Sac.

    But the coolest thing of all is the 3D printer, officially called the "Thing-O-Matic", but more commonly known by the name of its maker…MakerBot Industries.

    If you love things mechanical, then have a look at this video!
    The Thing-O-Matic by MakerBot Industries
    The MakerBot laying down a "raft" that it will build the 3D object upon.
    The software. We're making a test cube here It ends up looking just like a Strawberry Starburst. Just much tougher to chew. And minus the strawberry flavor.
    Brad shows off an actual part.
    Notice that #2 had some issues. That's called learning curve.
    The part on Solidworks.
    ]]>
    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155736 2011-12-01T05:33:00Z 2013-10-08T15:54:19Z Video and Photos: Waffle Wednesday at Green Light Labs is a Big Hit

    This is a wrap up video after the first Waffle Wednesday held at Green Light Labs.
    Nick Tommarello is pretty happy with the results. We had a big crowd, and many happy waffle-eaters.

    ]]>
    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155749 2011-11-29T18:44:00Z 2013-10-08T15:54:20Z If Something Doesn't Look Right, Maybe It Isn't Right
    Boeing's X-32A lost the Joint Strike Fighter competition to Lockheed's F-35. Does this thing look right?
    Here's the Lockheed F-35. This was the winner. And it looks right. Turns out it was a great design.

    I love mechanical design. And I love airplanes. I learned to fly with my Dad, starting when I was 14. By then, I was hooked on flying. I solo'd at 16, got my license at 17, and an instrument rating at 18. Even before these teen years, I was obsessed with airplanes, and to this day, my favorite analogies involve airplanes and flying.

    For this post, I'll illustrate the point that we have an amazing ability to sense when things look right, and when they don't. I'll use two airplanes where there was a "flyoff" -- a competition between to designs made for exactly the same purpose. The first, is the the most expensive airplane program in history, the Joint Strike Fighter. It was Boeing's F-32 vs Lockheed's F-35.
    Even looking at the top view, something just doesn't seem right about the F-32 on the top. It just seems like the wing is too bulky, too fat.
    This is the F-32, parked at a museum. Tell me that looks don't matter. But more than that, don't you just get the feeling that something isn't right about this fighter plane?
    Lockheed F-35, the winner
    Boeing F-32, the loser
    F-35 from Lockheed

    This video of the Marine's F-35B vertical take off variant of the Joint Strike Fighter. Lockheed actually managed to make one basic aircraft fulfill three roles: land-based for the Air Force, carrier-based for the Navy, and vertical/short takeoff for the Marines. If you love airplanes, watch this 15-second video. You'll see the first supersonic jet in history that can take off and land vertically.

    http://bloom.bg/oNSHfb
    The F-35B program has had many technical challenges, and this report from Bloomberg News shows the latest sea trials of the Marine's version of the JSF.
    The Northrup A-9, the losing contender in the A-9/A-10 close air support flyoff. It first flew in 1972.
    The A-9 in flight.

    My second example compares the winning A-10 from Fairchild vs the Northrop A-9. This program began in 1967, and test flights began in 1972. In this case the airplane's role is different. Essentially, these planes are "flying tanks" that support ground troops. They literally need to be bullet-proof, and withstand heavy fire from the ground.
    The Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt (also called the "Warthog") 

    In this case, neither aircraft looks beautiful or sleek. But they're not supposed to. Their mission is to be tough and unstoppable. If you were on the ground, and were under attack and needed help, which of this puppies would you want to call in?
    The A-9
    The A-10 (Okay, this is unfair because this picture shows it loaded with weapons. But still)
    Oh wait. This one of the A-9 does have weapons. Who you gonna call?
    Same here. I rest my case. The A-10 not only was a better design. It looked right for the part.
    Epilog: The A-10 Thunderbolt joined the Air Force in 1977, and is still in service today. It is planned to remain in service until at least 2028. The A-10 aircraft above saw service in Iraq. It landed safely after encountering heavy fire over Bagdad.
    ]]>
    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155759 2011-11-29T03:35:00Z 2013-10-08T15:54:20Z Smartphones Are the New Cigarettes; Why I Turned my iPhone Back On
    My x-dumb phone.

    Receipt for said x-dumb phone.

    Third in an on going series about what smartphones are doing to us.

    Okay, I admit it. I lasted 19 days. I never did smoke, but I sure did get hooked on that new way to light up, the smartphone. (But read on, cause it's not entirely like it seems) 

    The story started on November 9th, when I went to the AT&T store and asked for a downgrade and bought a dumb phone to experience life before smartphones.  On that same day I posted Smartphones Are Making Us Think Small Thoughts because I found that I spent almost every free moment staring into my 4 inch screen. On November 17th, in How to Show an iPhone Who's Boss., I outlined what I found was so addictive about the iPhone and what I had done to stem that. And today, I'll cover why I returned my dumb phone, re-ignited the AT&T plan on my iPhone, but I'm still making fundamental changes in how I use the iPhone.
    The AT&T store in Central Square, Cambridge

    I learned many things during my experiment. For example:

    Three Apps Fuel My Addiction: The iPhone does all kinds of useful things, but I learned that there are three apps that are my main addictions: Mail, NY Times, and Fluent Reader (a news reader). In my experiment, I removed these from my iPhone. No mail. No NY Times. No news. That was a big help. (Also took off all Twitter apps.) These apps are still gone, even though I've turned the AT&T service back on.

    Speed Kills. Or More Exactly, Addicts: It is widely known that speed is crucial for addiction. Google is very careful to make sure that search is always super fast, because they know that even milliseconds of reduced speed lead to lowered use. And one of the things that smartphones give you is instant start. Watch two people at a restaurant. Watch when one leaves for a trip to the bathroom. Time how long before the other takes out their smartphone. Time how long it takes before they are getting their "fix". I believe this is the key to addiction, and the key to keeping smartphone addicts thinking small thoughts. Watch when his girlfriend heads to the bathroom, does the guy ponder how to solve that big problem he's been working on? Nope. Out comes the iPhone to check for an email that turns out to be discussing three possible meeting times.

    Usefulness vs. Addictiveness: I learned that the smartphone has two different worlds. The world of useful apps, vs. addictive apps. I think its worth asking yourself: "What are my most addictive apps?" Just watch yourself in those free minutes. Where do you go? Do you open Pages on your iPhone to work on that book? No. Explore Maps for your next meeting? No. It's something that gives you the quick fix. That burst of smartphone nicotine. I'm leaving my nicotine fixes turned off, even though the phone is back on.

    After getting my iPhone plan turned back on, I went to lunch at Four, the burger place next to the iPhone store. As I munched on a wonderful salmon burger, I thought "hey, my 3G service is back" and I was about to fire up my favorite - the NY Times. Ah, but the icon was still gone, and while I could have gone on Safari and typed in nytimes.com, I didn't. For two reasons. One was that would take too long, and my fix was no longer instantaneous. And two, I thought: why did I do this experiment, and I shouldn't stop now. So instead of looking down at my screen, I looked up and looked around. A tv showed what happened in the football games on Sunday. Kind a cool. People walked in and out and I looked them and they glanced at me. Hmmm. That's interesting too. Somehow, my food tasted better as I looked around.

    And then I had big thought. "This is better." It's better to look up. To look around. 

    So the iPhone is on, but the nicotine apps are still being held at bay. Day 19.

    I intend to keep the addictive apps off my iPhone. I intend to look up. Not down.
    ]]>
    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155776 2011-11-29T01:52:46Z 2013-10-08T15:54:20Z Video: A Defining Moment (as told at SVB CEO Summit) #SVBCEO
    On November 18, I spoke at the Silicon Valley Bank CEO Summit. They just posted video from the event. Here's a link to all the videos. And here's a link to my earlier blog post that gave some more info and pictures of some of the people in the Defining Moment story that I told.
    ]]>
    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155787 2011-11-19T02:27:05Z 2013-10-08T15:54:20Z New Blog Post: Audio: Bill Warner Talks About Defining Moments #SVBCEO
    I spoke at the Silicon Valley Bank's CEO Summit today at the Microsoft Nerd Center. They asked us to talk about defining moments, so I relayed a story about a key moment in the creation of the Avid Media Composer. Even though this is a video, it's just the audio track with a few photos, so go ahead and turn it on while you do something else. This blog post doesn't reveal the story.
    In 1997, Avid made a poster commemorating its 10th anniversary. They found this old photo of the four earliest employees of Avid. Left to right is Eric Peters, Jeff Bedell, me, and Joe Rice. Joe plays a prominent role in the story I told.
    Recently, Joe held a party at his house and most of the way back Avid crowd was there. Mark Overington was there, and informed me that he took the original photo from the 1997 poster. So we decided to re-create it, with Mark as photographer once again. Jeff had already left the party, so Scott Glorioso was his stand-in before photoshopping.  Above is my rough Photoshop of the recent version of the four of us.
    Here's the photo we took recently as the source for the Photoshop work.

    In the video, I mention my boss at Apollo, Mike Gallup. I ran into him at an event, and got this interview. The full blog post is here
    ]]>
    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155799 2011-11-17T22:55:00Z 2013-10-08T15:54:21Z How To Show an iPhone Who's Boss: Detox is Working
    On November 9th I put up a blog post saying "Smartphones Are Making Us Think Small Thoughts." I found that for any quiet moment, I was immediately, (and addictively) turning to my iPhone for a hit of email, NY Times, instant messaging, or Twitter. I found myself thinking differently. Thinking smaller. I set out to tame the smartphone beast.

    I decided to take action. Actually, drastic action. I went to the AT&T store and asked for a "downgrade." I turned off the data and phone plan on my iPhone. I paid over $200 for a dumb phone with no commitment (so I could eventually get my iPhone 4S upgrade…no I'm not giving up of smartphones forever!) I'm here to report that the experiment is working, and that I'm learning a ton.

    I found out that there are two applications on the iPhone that I cannot live without. Luckily, these are not addictive at all, but they are useful: Calendar and Contacts. There's just no way that a dumb phone, even one with a pop-out keyboard, can handle either of these tasks. So, I have successfully re-created my PalmPilot days. I have a device that I carry that does a great job of calendar and contacts, and it even syncs automatically over WiFi to all my desktop machines. Very nice.

    Even though the iPhone has no data or phone plan, it still can search the web when there's WiFi. So I had to take another step: I removed all the addictive apps, which actually turned out to be a small list:

    -- Email
    -- NY Times
    -- Fluent News Reader
    -- Twitter
    -- Txt (killed when I ended the AT&T plan)

    Interestingly, that took care of it. Yes, I still have Safari when there's WiFi, and yes, I could look at the NY Times website. But I don't. It's not there all the time. And it takes too long. I can't just whip out my iPhone, click an icon, and get a minute or two of news satisfaction.
    The same is true for email. Here's what I get when I hit the email button now. A start screen, because I went into settings and turned email off. If I really had to send an email, I could go into settings and turn it on. I could be back in the email business in a few minutes. But I don't. It just takes too long, and instead of using up that couple minutes in email every free moment, I'm reminded that I'm changing paths. (By the way, I had to turn email back on to get that screen image. It was quick, and no problem to do that in an emergency.)
    What have I learned? Lots. First - dumb phones have really, really bad interfaces. Mine, the Samsung Evergreen, comes with a 157 page manual. And it needs it. Everything you do takes many keystrokes and many menu hits. Each time I use this thing I remind myself that I'm part of a human experiment aimed at increasing creativity, and that's why I gave up my iPhone.(mostly except contacts and calendar) It turns out that making an interface without a touchscreen is really hard. AT&T and Samsung have teamed up to provide a particularly convoluted interface.
    This is a screenshot from a well-produced 8-minute YouTube video that shows how the Evergreen phone works. Go ahead and watch a minute or two and then you'll know what I'm going through in the name of science. (By the way, I think they call it Evergreen cause when you throw it away, you don't have to feel guilty cause they've made it recyclable.)

    I've learned some interesting things about contacts. When I first got the phone, I was told I could take it to Staples and move my contacts over from the iPhone. But I had 2800 contacts there, so I went through and culled it down to the people I might likely call. That brought me to 144 contacts. I never went to Staples, and I'm saving names in the phone as I go. I have about 20 names, and that seems pretty good. Hmmm. A factor of about 100. My contact list goes back to my PalmPilot days -- around 1998. Thirteen years of contact accumulations with nary a major culling.

    Lastly, there's the benefit of delayed gratification. I believe that smartphones are killing our ability to accept delayed (or maybe better yet, non-) gratification. One of my goals in this experiment was to break the instant information pipeline. This part of the experiment is working well. With the iPhone I've found myself expecting instant answers to any little query that pops into my head. "Was J. Edgar Hoover really gay, as the movie portrayed?" "What is the status of the Fukushima 5 and 6 reactors…the ones at a distance from the worst hit ones?" "When does 30 Rock premiere this year?"

    The answers to all of the above? I don't know. And I haven't looked. And maybe, just maybe, I'm better off not knowing.
    ]]>
    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155604 2011-11-09T21:43:00Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z Smartphones Are Making Us Think Small Thoughts

    My new phone is a dumb phone.

    My name is Bill, and I'm a smartphoneaholic.

    Every spare, quiet moment I have is given over to the wonders of the smartphone. It's usually a toss-up between reading the New York Times, or checking email. If both have been picked over, I have a wider-ranging news app called Fluent. After that, there's Twitter. And by then, the period of quiet time is over.

    I believe that this imitate time with my smartphone has helped me think many small thoughts. In fact, I've come to believe that I'm losing something important. I'm losing that time of day dreaming. I'm losing that time of looking around and thinking. I'm less likely to even make a phone call and talk to someone. I'm more likely to stare into the smartphone, read small articles, read emails, and think small thoughts.

    Take a look around at the poses of people and their smart phones. They stand near each other, glowing screens in their hands, literally lighting up the face with an eerie blue.Their heads are down, their posture submissive. One doesn't think about how to change the world in these moments. No. I believe you're thinking about your next email or your next tweet or your next article.

    Why are smartphones so addictive? I think it's because they offer such instant gratification. Got a question? It's answered instantly. Want to send a message? Send it instantly. Got a minute? Fill it instantly.

    Since I always loved Star Trek, I can imagine some diabolical, evil commander in a far away galaxy reporting on the progress of their latest attempt to subjugate the Earth. "Commander, the smartphone project is working even better than we had projected. Millions of people are now addicted to the phones. Humans are already becoming more submissive. Our eventual takeover will be easier than we had planned. And, both of our projects, Apple and Android are ahead of plan. Oh, and the Apple one has $80 billion in the bank."

    So today, I went into the AT&& Store and met a very capable sales person named Bob, and I told him I wanted to "downgrade." He said it was the first time he heard that, but he quickly understood what I wanted.
    Samsung Evergreen

    My goal is to slow everything down. Make sure that it's just too slow to get to the NYTimes, too slow to look up that arcane fact, and too slow to read email. Bob assured me that this phone would fit the bill on all counts. And so, I have a dumb phone in my pocket now. My iPhone has been neutered. It says "No SIM." If there is WIFI nearby, though, it is still dangerous and addictive, so my goal is to leave it home.
    The Evergreen has a pop-out keyboard, so I can still send text messages…which I don't do all that often. More importantly, it's fun to hold the phone in one hand and open and close the keyboard.

    The Internet is so slow and takes so long to start. But it makes great phone calls, and I can send and receive an occasional text. Perfect.

    And, I have 30 days see how I like this new world. If I don't, Bob assures me I can return the Evergreen, and upgrade to an iPhone 4S's.

    "Commander, I've picked up some early signs of downgrading!"

    "Give it 30 days. They cannot resist the smartphone"
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    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155610 2011-10-30T03:53:23Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z Great Video of #MassTLC #unCon by Amy Black of MassTLC
    Great video by Amy Black of MassTLC that shows some of the vibe from the event this Friday. What a great crowd, and what great energy! Includes cameo appearance by Jeff Taylor of Monster.com and DJ fame.
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    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155617 2011-10-28T01:49:29Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z Teaser Video: Jason Calacanis Will Perform Startup Exorcisms at #MassTLC #unCon on Friday

    If you're one of the 800+ people registered for tomorrow's MassTLC Innovation 2011 unConference, you're in for a unique opportunity that combines expert startup advice with the power of ancient mysticism. Don't miss Jason Calacanis' "Startup Exorcisms and Healings". The Reverend Jason will perform his work right after lunch, in Session 3.
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    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155620 2011-10-27T06:03:46Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z Photos From The Very Cool @DartBoston @MassTLC Pre-Party at Storyville
    Yes, the really did have karaoke at the DartBoston MassTLC Pre-Party at Storyville. And good live music too!
    Lots of folks gave it a try. Even with a full martini, I was still too shy. Maybe I need two for next time!
    Bill and Connector Co-Chair Tuan Pham. I shot a lot of the photos in B&W. I never use a flash, so check out what can be done if you try really hard!
    To see all the photos, click here: https://picasaweb.google.com/110927372783322061802/20111026DartbostonMassTLCPrePartyAtStoryville?authkey=Gv1sRgCOXIs6Kf_bjXxQE
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    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155626 2011-10-22T18:58:41Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z Photos and Video: Nick Tommarello's Vampire Hackathon Fills Anything Goes Lab With Action Till Sunrise See all the photos and a couple videos here https://picasaweb.google.com/110927372783322061802/20111021VampireHackathon?authkey=Gv1sRgCNDexvCh-OzsVA
    There was plenty of candy, coders, drinks, pizza, and code writing at the Vampire Hackathon. I left at 3:30 am, and everything was going strong, with over 60 hackers still slicing away at their keyboards.

    Nick' innovative furniture design for Anything Goes Lab includes an amazingly comfortable "pillowsac" that attracted two folks from MassChallenge's Montreal-based finalist invup, as well as person who described herself only as a "groupie."
    Meanwhile, Nick's two level design allows an important conference be held in the loft right above the pillowsac. This is a "casual meeting area" not a bed!
    While there was plenty of drinking and eating, like any good hackathon, what really happened was a whole ton of coding.
    Unable to figure out how to wire money to England, an American company decided it was easier to pay Memrise founder Ed Cook in cash and let him move the money the old fashioned way...in a pocket. No, it wasn't a drug deal...it was for running a memory workshop in (of course) Las Vegas. (Yes, he told me that, and yes, I believe him.)
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    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155644 2011-09-22T03:39:23Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z The Pain at HP Just Keeps On Going http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/22/technology/hewlett-packard-board-meets-on-replacing-ceo.html?_r=1&ref=technology

    The New York Times is reporting that HP's board will fire Leo Apotheker and replace him with Meg Whitman, founder of Ebay.

    Starting in 1975, I designed electronic circuits, and came to revere Hewlett-Packard. Every time I saw one of their products, it was elegant, amazingly capable, and fairly priced. The company was just a fountain of innovation and energy.

    Even today, after a decade of bad management by the Board, it is one of the largest technology corporations in the world. And yet, it has just dumped its tablet effort, and is talking about abandoning PCs all together. It says it will focus on software, when that accounts for only 2% of its revenue, and it is one of the most skilled hardware companies in the world.

    I feel that HP is one of our national treasures, and it pains me in a somewhat personal way to see the company go through wave after wave of bad decisions from its Board. Is there any way to stop the insanity? An intervention? A stockholder revolt? Or will HP just die a multi-decade death of a thousand cuts?
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    tag:billwarner.posthaven.com,2013:Post/155650 2011-09-09T21:40:00Z 2013-10-08T15:54:18Z The Things You're Going to Do Happen Quickly (BW1)


    I intend to help people see the simplicity in life. I love to observe my own life, and the lives of others, and develop simple theories that are easy to understand, easy to use, and pretty reliable. This is my first in what what I hope will become a useful list:

    BW1: The things that you're going to do happen quickly. The things that you're not going to do take a long time.

    Have you ever had that pet project that you've thought about for years, but never done? It always seems like a good idea, and you often work out some of the elements in your head, but you never seem to do it. And yet, you never say you're not going to do it. I believe these "take a long time" projects (at least in your head…during gestation) are actually quite expensive things. They take up important brain cells, and they block creativity for what you really will do. And yet, they never get shot down because they seem so "good."

    I propose it's time to do some shooting. Especially now that the fall is here, summer is over, we're all back to work, and we're ready to get stuff done.

    Try it. Here's the steps:

    1. Take an idea that you've been thinking about for a long time, and that is pretty darn important to you, but …well… is taking a long time.

    2. Consider this: You're now thinking about something that is not going to happen. Simply because it's taking you so long. And I believe it's taking you so long for some pretty great reasons that you're not fully in touch with.

    3. Think about project and say "…x… is not going to happen. It's over."

    4. Do it again. "….x …. is not going to happen."

    5. Notice a rushing feeling in your head. This is those brain cells being freed up, and creative juices beginning to flow.

    6. Soon a new idea will come to you that you'll do quickly.

    QED.

    BW1: The things that you're going to do happen quickly. The things that you're not going to do take a long time.

    Please send me your stories that go along with (or counter to ) this theory.  (bill@warnerresearch.com or in the comment section…which everyone gets to see)

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