30 June 2010

Epic Promo ~ Old Spice Dude Redux!-)

The latest Old Spice "Man" promo... The Original "Man" promo... Both humorous and well-done -- and yet I still think OS smells like shit.

Dirt ~ The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth!

The stuff is everywhere and yet rather underappreciated. Dirt!

Ben Gulak ~ Werks & Motors Vehicle Ventures

Very cool to have MIT undergrad inventor-entrepreneur Ben Gulak join me on MaximizingProgress.tv tonight! Ben's a new vehicles venturer, building both BPG-Motors, to commercialize the Uno electric super unicycle, and BPG-Werks to deploy the DTV Shredder. He's especially interested in making a difference in peoples lives, whether through a cool, green, clean personal Uno or a cool, extreme, enthralling Shredder! Check out this shred-cam footage of the DTV -- Dual Track Vehicle -- in action...It's not easy doing this while simultaneously balancing his academic career, responsibilities to investors, and commitment to employees. But commercial, personal, and military markets eagerly await!

29 June 2010

14 Cows for America ~ Massive Maasai Gift

Thanks to Miss Cellania for pointing out in her Mental Floss article, A Bovine Gift From the Heart, about the massive Maasai gift of 14 Cows for America and the best-selling illustrated children's book which now shares this story. Author Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrator Thomas Gonzalez, and collaborator Wilson Kimel Naiyomah teamed together to tell of the generous Kenyan villagers so anguished by 9/11 they felt they had to do something to help Americans through their time of sorrow. This is an epic story of hope and heroic compassion.

Civic Transparency ~ India's Right-to-Know Law

Fascinating to read Lydia Polgreen's NYTimes piece Right-to-Know Law Gives India’s Poor a Lever in which...
"...an information revolution [is] sweeping India. It may be the world’s largest democracy, but a vast and powerful bureaucracy governs. It is an imperial edifice built on feudal foundations, and for much of independent India’s history the bureaucracy has been largely unaccountable. Citizens had few means to demand to know what their government was doing for them. But it has now become clear that India’s 1.2 billion citizens have been newly empowered by the far-reaching law granting them the right to demand almost any information from the government. The law is backed by stiff fines for bureaucrats who withhold information, a penalty that appears to be ensuring speedy compliance [...] and has clearly begun to tilt the balance of power, long skewed toward bureaucrats and politicians. [...] "This law has given the people the feeling that the government is accountable to them."
Coupling such legislation with growing use of mobiles and proactive civic media and citizen empowerment tools promises to reduce corruption, boost transparency, and increase civic competence.

28 June 2010

Bike Friendly Cities ~ Current on Copenhagen

Thanks to Copenhagenize for spotlighting this Current piece on Creating a Bike Friendly City...
"Copenhagen embraces bicycle culture as part of daily life with nearly 40 % of residents riding a bike to work. Blogs and fashion photos are dedicated to bike style, and throughout the city you'll find bicycle bars on sidewalks so riders can rest their feet; green lights that change early for cyclists; and even friendly signs greeting "Hi Cyclist!" It's no wonder then that Copenhagen is innovating new ways of creating a bike-friendly city with a system of as many as 15 extra-wide, segregated bike routes connecting the suburbs to the center of the city"

27 June 2010

Greener Tuna? ~ Closed-Loop Fish Farming...

Given Paul Greenberg's piece in the NYTimes this weekend on Tuna's End (with beautiful photos by Kenji Aoki), it is worth thinking about alternative pathways. So see here Kyung Lah's CNN report on 'Ranching' tuna the eco-friendly way, about Kinki University's Fish Nursery Center where general manager Tokihiko Okada and colleagues operate and refine a...
"...closed farming system, which means that the bluefin tuna raised in their ocean tanks have never been in the wild. They're produced from hatched eggs, raised, and then fished for consumption. It's one of the few programs on the globe to successfully raise the delicate bluefin tuna. For three generations, Okada has helped successfully raise bluefin tuna for the world's gourmet restaurants."
Some still consider this kind of hatchling-to-harvest ranching "unsustainable", however, because smaller wildfish are caught to feed the voracious tuna, but it's a major step in the right direction...

Desertec Networks ~ Growing Solar Initiative

The Desertec initiative has growing networks of partners exploring the use of solar power systems in various regions of the world. See here areas in the world with high solar incidence, i.e. the deserts... And what are suitable locations for systems...

Rail West Africa ~ Present & Future Ports & Ways

I'm quite interested in rail infrastructure generally and as applied to the West African ECOWAS region specifically. The situation today is very fragmented, with differing gauges, aging ways, and shorthaul lines mostly from resource extraction points to coast, as you can see from the Atlas on Regional Integration West Africa...
But there's growing support for further interconnections...

Sexy Skyscraper ~ Chicago's Curvy Aqua Tower!

Thanks to UniqueDaily for spotting the Aqua Tower post at Kuriositas! Architect Jeanne Gang calls her 82-story Chicago skyscraper "sexy"!

Pest(s) ~ Nuisible(s) Short Video by ArtFx

Nice Nuisible(s) short by ArtFx about Pest(s)...

Frankenfish ~ AquaBounty's GM Super-Salmon

Andrew Pollack writes in the NYTimes that Genetically Altered Salmon Get Closer to the Table about AquaBounty's GM super-fish which...
"...contains a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon as well as a genetic on-switch from the ocean pout, a distant relative of the salmon. Normally, salmon do not make growth hormone in cold weather. But the pout’s on-switch keeps production of the hormone going year round. The result is salmon that can grow to market size in 16 to 18 months instead of three years."
It still needs FDA approval, but as you can imagine, luddites and religious wingnuts of all flavors are already protesting noisily. P.S. Pollack writes on 21 Dec 2012 that Engineered Fish Moves a Step Closer to Approval...
"The Food and Drug Administration said it had concluded that the salmon would have “no significant impact” on the environment. The agency also said the salmon was “as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon.” While the agency’s draft environmental assessment will be open to public comment for 60 days, it seems likely that the salmon will be approved, though that could still be months away."

RazErblades ~ MIT's Charles Guan Skates Forth!

See here MIT's hackster-extraordinaire Charles Z Guan skate forth for the very first time on his Deathblades, er, RazErblades at MITERS... Want!

26 June 2010

BOP Energy ~ NextBillion.net Series on Solutions

Adeena Schlussel has kicked off a BOP Energy Series at NextBillion.net development innovation blog which is...
"...a descriptive review of companies and projects "extending the grid" for the BoP. The organizations and technologies featured in the upcoming posts are worth watching, based on their success thus far and their immense potential looking forward. This series will be broken up according to organizations that generate energy, and then those that render it useable."
I'm especially interested to read in her second installment about M38 and Sodigaz, two ventures which supply LPG to customers in Ghana and Mali respectively, thus shifting their dependence on dangerous and dirty charcoal or firewood. I'm quite keen on LPG as a developing regions fuel and admire clean energy capitalists E+Co's foresight in investing in these two. The rest of the article spots several additional interesting energy ventures, including SELCO and HUSK.

Nerd Girls ~ New Reality TV Show Now Casting...

MIT's own Star Simpson just gave a shout that Nerd Girls is casting their new reality tv show. Hearken to their spincycle...
"Developed from a professor's curriculum and the web site Nerdgirls.com -- both created by Dr. Karen Panetta, a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Tufts University -- the "Nerd Girls" brand concept builds on Panetta's original initiative, encouraging women to change their world through science, technology, engineering and math, all while embracing their feminine power. Says MPH partner Jim Milio, "Popular culture has become obsessed with stereotyping young people. Young women seem especially vulnerable to narrow-minded labeling by their peers. We believe that empowering young women to demonstrate that 'geek is chic' and 'brains are beautiful' offers a potent and compelling message in today's media-obsessed society."
Also check out their promo casting call video...

24 June 2010

Skypark Infinity Pool ~ Singapore's High Dive!

Wow, cool, check out this Singapore Skypark rooftop pool!

Ballestiero & Ramos ~ MIT-Brazilian Venturing!

I was very pleased to have both Marcelo Ballestiero and Yuri Ramos join me on MaximizingProgress.tv last night! Wide-ranging discussion about their experiences this past year as MIT Sloan Fellows, their engineering and entrepreneurial past, and what venture opportunities they're interested in going-forward. Both are from Brazil, the booming growth country and we also talked quite a bit about the tremendous opportunities both in-country and for Brazilian companies to become global champions. Prior to coming to MIT, Yuri was with UOL Universo Online, the Yahoo of Brazil and Marcelo had founded and built Spirits Tecnologia, an IT software and services business, both based in São Paulo. And, of course, we spoke about the futebol team;-)

Curious George ~ Congo Chimp Wants to Know!

Thanks to MIT's Hector Hernandez for spotting this real-life Curious George on the National Geographic magazine site in a video plus article on the chimps of Congo's Goualougo Triangle! If mama chimp had not hurried things along, this would have turned into a camera take-apart party;-)

23 June 2010

Skolkovo ~ Russian Edu & Tech Hub Vision

Excellent to see Professor Dmitry Repin of new Russian management school Skolkovo and its affiliated Innograd technology-business park -- the "Russian Silicon Valley" project -- on CNN just now... I've known Dmitry since his post-doc days at MIT Sloan and during his time founding and building BIT, the Russian Business of Innovation and Technology Competition. It's really quite compelling to see the formation and development of the greater Skolkovo innovation vision.

Indoor Flybots ~ Autonomous Sense & Navigation

Check out MIT Robust Robotics Group demo flybot... Ryan Hudson just spotted this iPhone-controlled Parrot AR.drone...

22 June 2010

Echoing Green ~ MIT Alumcos in 2010 Fellows!

The Echoing Green social action and entrepreneurship initiative has just publicly announced their 2010 Fellows! Two of our MIT alumco leaders have been tapped, Jodie Wu of Global Cycle Solutions and Jamie Yang of EGG-energy! Here's Jodie describing GCS which is "Transforming the Bicycle into a Vehicle for Income-generation and Innovation"... And here's Jamie describing EGG which is "Offering Poor Households in Tanzania a Battery Subscription Service"...

21 June 2010

Serious Gaming ~ Solving Real World Problems

Thanks to MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge (and VC) colleague Claire Wadlington for spotting this Fast Company piece IBM's CityOne Is Like Sim City, Except the Solutions Are Real by Cliff Kuang. He gives a shout to IBM's under-development CityOne...
"... a video game that plops you into the role of being a city planner, trying to solve the sorts of business and environmental problems that grip today's modern cities. The ultimate aim for this so-called "serious game" is to teach laypeople how to better cope with complex modern problems by showing them the forest of solutions that have to be brought to bear, ranging from technological wizardry like smart grids, to better IT, to smart environmental policy."
On the serious gaming front, see here Jane McGonigal's TED talk on Gaming Can Make A Better World... I'm very keen on serious games for helping us crowdsource solutions to complex problems as well as doing experimental interventions on randomized populations of social gamers. Experimental and synthetic sociology, here we come! Indeed, here WSJournal blogger Michael Casey writes Real Economist Learns From Virtual World about a virtual...
"...world controlled and influenced by the interactions of real people: the 350,000 real world subscribers to EVE Online -- its "capsuleers," as the spaceship-piloting gamers are known in their virtual existence. These people’s actions, economists say, offer a treasure trove of information to study and analyze, primarily because each one of their decisions leaves a trail, creating a vast database that economists can only dream of in the real world. In effect, it creates a giant laboratory within which to study human behavior, dramatically scaling up the kind of classroom-based experimental economics that were pioneered by 2002 Nobel Prize winner Vernon Smith."

Postcards from Hell ~ Images of Failed States

Elizabeth Dickinson captions images from the world's most failed states in Foreign Policy photo essay Postcards from Hell. Not pretty.

19 June 2010

Epic Fast Food ~ Subway On-Top 1 WTC...

Charles Bagli writes in the NYTimes, For Ironworkers Up High, a Movable Feast, about the Subway franchise on-top of the under construction 1 World Trade Center...
"The shop is open to ironworkers, who work at the top of the building as it goes up, as well as laborers, concrete workers, electricians and others on the lower floors; at any time more than 1,000 people can be on the job site. But they are not required to eat at the Subway. [Construction firm] DCM reviewed nine companies interested in opening a restaurant in an unfinished skyscraper. DCM wanted good food that could be prepared elsewhere and that required minimal packaging, [...] Subway won on the basis of its business and financial plan, she said. The ground zero Subway shop is now atop the chain’s list of unusual locations, which include an aluminum smelting plant in New Zealand, an air-conditioner plant in Georgia, car dealerships in California, a church in Buffalo and a riverboat in Germany."
Fantastic inventiveness -- and the best views for lunch!-)

16 June 2010

Gyrowheel ~ Physics-Enabled Transit Solutions!

This Gyrowheel is exactly what electric unicycles need!

Bavaria Babes ~ Guerrilla Promo at World Cup;-)

In an epic guerrilla marketing move, beer company Bavaria slipped several babes disguised as Danish supporters into the Netherlands vs Denmark World Cup match. They soon revealed their true colors... Stupidly enough, this was considered illegal by FIFA who've been paid big sponsorship by rival Budweiser, the "official beer" of the Cup. So they got the South African police to arrest the babes! This, of course, means that essentially everyone not only knows about Bavaria beer, but would rather drink it than the swill that Budweiser brews!