My Prediction for 2010: Rise of “Micro Mapping”

mall-map

I was a judge again this year at SJSU’s Neat Ideas Fair. It’s a student innovation contest that is open to the public. Two companies this year addressed a rising trend that I call micro mapping. “Kart Buddy” helps grocery shoppers create a route in the store matching their shopping list and “Airport Buddy” helps travelers navigate airports. I predict this will be huge in 2010.

Micro mapping is like Google maps for indoor or off-road locations.

Eventually you could be guided everywhere we go. As my friend and fellow Neat Ideas Fair judge Paul Fazzone said, ‘these ideas can help customers find stores faster’. This makes these tools highly monetizable, which is good for the entrepreneurs. This is a mobile trend.

Some pioneering micro mapping applications are already available:

I think there is lots of space for further innovation. Here are use cases I can think of:

  • Grocery: How can I do my work grocery shopping in the fewest steps possible?
  • Airport: I’m running late, how do I get to terminal 4 gate 6 the fastest, and do I have time for a Starbucks?
  • Downtown: I’m downtown, where is the nearest restroom?
  • Lane Assist: I’m pulling a trailer and needs to ensure I get in the correct lane at this upcoming highway junction (Garmin is working on this)?
  • Campus Mapping: Where is building 2 at the Googleplex?

What micro mapping use cases can you think of that would improve your day-to-day?

Everest Summit Day HD

HD footage from “ivegivenallican” (I’ve given all I can). Shows the the three most memorable parts of summit day, those being Hillary Step, South Summit and Everest Summit. I wish it showed the balcony — I have a pretty foggy memory of this spot and it would have been nice to see it again with a fully oxygenated mind.

Everest is a different climb than any other mountain climb. As the video shows, it is a climb on army-like scale. Larger in duration (73 days in my case) and in the size of the average team (my team was 25 people). Most people on my team were support crew who stayed lower on the mountain. More than half never left base camp. 5 of us were from North America, the rest were Sherpa. Only 6 of us ever intended to reach the summit, 3 North Americans and 3 Sherpa. The altitude is what makes Everest take so long, require such a huge army-life support organization, and it’s why Everest has captured the imagination of so many. I have climbed many mountains that are more technically challenging than Everest, but there is no mountain higher than Everest and that is exactly why Everest is such a formidable goal. The air is 25% as thick at the summit as it is at sea level. Even with oxygen the body is coping with a fraction of the oxygen it needs to perform. Each step requires multiple breaths. Each step is an opportunity to quit. Each misstep off the ridgeline carries enormous consequences.

Watch this full screen.

My Email Usage

Shockingly, I write email on average from 6AM to midnight from Monday-Friday. The frequency is highest in the early morning when I am responding to customers and teammates. It dwindles in the afternoons when I take most of my meetings.

This dataset is from my corporate email over the last 12 months. I created this report using an Outlook plugin called Xobni (a Cisco investment).

This dataset excludes my private email account, which might extend the hours even wider, gasp.

Seems a bit excessive actually.

EmailTraffic-Jun-Dec09

About Project Graph: At Wharton we’re taught that everything can be graphed. This is my attempt to graph my goings-on.

How I Came To Get Mauled By A Dog

jaxon-023On Sunday at 9AM I walked past my front window and noticed that my cat was staring at a gorgeous Amber German Shepard standing in the street outside my house. What I did not know was that 5 minutes later this gorgeous animal would maul me and send me bleeding to the Hospital Emergency Room.

Here’s how it happened.

I walked outside and heard the dog was whining anxiously and prancing around a street gutter. His ball was down there and he wanted it back, badly.

No good deed goes unpunished.

John, the owner, came by and asked me to help him move the heavy grate so we could get this sweet dog’s his ball back. He told the dog’s name was Jaxon. I bent over and began to move the grate. Jaxon mouthed my foot and left teeth marks.

At that point I should have run away.

For some reason I wasn’t at all concerned that the dog had just bit me, probably because my skin hadn’t broke and I was uninjured. I asked the John to curb his dog so it didn’t get hurt by the grate or knock me over. John curbed his dog a little but the Jaxon was so anxious that he was uncontrollable.

I bent over again to lift the heavy grate. Like a dart, Jaxon opened his mouth and latched onto a large chunk of my tricep. His left top canine tore through my skin and dug deep through skin and flesh. It happened lightning fast, in less than a second it was done.

I looked down and saw a 1″ x 1/2″ hole in my right arm. The puncture had deep tissue protruding and was oozing blood.  I screamed in pain and Jaxon scooted away.

Then it got quiet except for the drip of my bloody arm.

Jaxon curbed himself and was far enough away for me to calmly stand at a distance. John and I spoke. He gave me his business card. He is a Mercedes auto mechanic. He was a nice guy and was visibly surprised.

At that point it could have gone one of two ways. Neal = cranky, or Neal = reasonable human being. I chose to…

Turn the other cheek.

I told him that I would neither be suing him nor demanding his dog be punished — provided he agreed to train his dog to prevent this from happening again. He agreed and told me Jaxon had all his shots — that was a relief!

photo (7)I spent the next 2 hours in the ER getting 5 stitches. On the way home from the ER I updated John on the phone and repeated my intentions to let this thing go. He was effusively appreciative and his appreciation felt good to me.

It’s really strange but my arm never hurt during this entire thing. It began to ache a lot as soon as I pulled into the ER parking lot which I attribute to psychosomatic response associated with my knowledge that it was about to be stitched. The doctor prescribed me pain relievers and antibiotics, neither of which I filled. The human body is an amazing machine.

Get back on the horse.

The first thing I did when I got home is play with my two neighbor dogs Mango and Max. I knew I had to “get back on the horse” and spend time with dogs in a positive environment or my love of dogs might be ruined by one anxious Shepherds mistake.

I spoke to John again recently, and he told me that he’d already talked to his trainer about ways to socialize Jaxon in a way that prevented his anxious biting response. It was good thing this happened to me and not some young kid with a smaller arm.

Should I Raise Ducks In The Backyard?

[Update] It is not illegal to raise chickens in San Mateo, California. No word on ducks.

[Update] My current preferred duck species is the Khaki Campbell (pictured below). They are good in the water, are hardy and lay more eggs than a chicken. I do not know how loyal they are.

Khaki Campbell in hand

I want to raise a flock of 5 ducks and keep them in my backyard. This is a surprisingly common suburban practice, although more people do it with chickens than with ducks. There is even a Yahoo group called Silicon Valley Chickens for people doing this same sort of thing in my community. If I raise ducks from chicks I’m told they will fly and swim in my lagoon, and return home at night.

Why I want to do this:

  • I miss having animals around. I grew up in rural Minnesota and worked on a sheep farm in Switzerland
  • Fresh eggs are yummy
  • Being disconnected from our food sources is not healthy
  • My backyard is too perfect for ducks not to take advantage of it
  • How cool would it be if they swam alongside me at Aquatic Park (file this idea under “amazing pipedreams”)

coop

Things I’ve figured out:

  • I want ducks, not chickens. Ducks are quieter, and like to fly and swim
  • I want a coop with an enclosed run to keep them safe when I’m not able to watch them

Things I am still working on:

  • What species duck? My criteria are #1 loyalty, #2 egg laying ability
  • Who will sell me 5-6 duck chicks? Hatcheries sell ducks in 25 chick lots
  • If I let them out for a fly/swim how do I “call” them back home?
  • My landlord and local ordinances

Stay tuned. And please if you can help.

Great White Sharks In The San Francisco Bay

20091103_075903_ssjm1104sharkstudy91

The Graphic: The colors lines represent actual sharks from 2000-2008. The gray area represents the extrapolated ranging of all great whites in the area. There is no blow-up of the bay, but supposedly they roamed inside the Golden Gate.

The Study: According to a Stanford University-led study released Tuesday, great white sharks occasionally stray from their Northern California feeding grounds for jaunts under the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco Bay, apparently in search of snacks. The sharks lived in the deep ocean near Hawaii between January and July and in Northern California between August and December. The scientists tracked the snaggly toothed predators between 2000 and 2008 from the Bay Area to San Diego, Hawaii and back as the sharks followed a surprisingly precise route in a strict time frame.

My take: There are thousands of seals in the Bay. However, the water is comparatively cloudy and noisy. This relative different probably ruined the hunting efforts of the sharks while they were in the Bay. That said, it’s only a matter of time until there is a great white attack in the Bay — shiver.

Read more: San Francisco Chronicle


Final 16 Ideas from Google Ideas Contest

google

Google has selected the final 16 public policy ideas from their big ideas contest. You can see the full range of ideas here. This type of work is important to me because ideas frame our understanding of the world and drive our behaviors.

The ideas that resonated with me are:

  • encourage positive media depictions of engineers and scientists (Neal note: ala the Intel commercial)
  • create a transportation system that enables electric cars to run on a rail-type system (Neal note: imagine the beauty of highways paved in grass with thin rails)
  • partner with banks and technology companies to increase the reach of financial services across the world (Neal note: ala Paypal)
  • create an advanced health monitoring system (Neal note: ala Google Health)

Reading this list makes you realize just how phenomenal a company Google is. 22% profit margin allows Google to think big-picture and drive projects that will change the world. Cool. It’s easy to imagine how all these initiatives will help Google’s central mission to “make the world’s information searchable.”

Goal = Get iPhone

Huge news, I got my sweet invited into the Cisco corporate iPhone pilot. I’m pretty excited, but am also leery that as soon as I get this iPhone 3GS the iPhone 4G will launch and make my new fancy gadget look like a stone.

While the cartoon is funny, here’s my thoughts on it. 3GS is the upgrade to 3G. 3GS has video recording. As for MMS, I feel like the Facebook app solves this. The memory criteria is just not relevant given cloud computing trends. That said, the cartoon is smack-on with the video call capability, and apparently this is reportedly coming in iPhone 4G.

Why is it a goal of mine to get an iPhone? Well, 100,000 apps cannot be wrong. My Blackberry Bold is/was good but it has only a couple dozen applications. Blackberry apps pale in comparison to their iPhone counterparts (e.g. Webex, Scrabble, Gmaps). And there are loads of apps that do not even exist on the Blackberry, even Chipotle has an iPhone application. A man’s gotta eat!

Source: Journaldugeek

iphone-vs-stone

Panorama of San Francisco After 1908 Quake

desktopThis desktop panorama is just amazing. If you have double monitors at your desk try spanning this image across your desktop. It looks amazing.

I’ve stared at it’s detail for the past 20 minutes waiting for a work telecon to begin. It was taken from a flying gunship overlooking the waterfront and the Golden Gate (before the GG bridge spanned this gate). The picture was taken just after the 1906 earthquake that destroyed much of the city.

What I noticed:

  • Most the buildings are still standing, even after the quake. Reportedly, this mid-week quake struck on Wednesday and was huge,  7.8 on the Richter scale
  • After 100 years of urban development the only recognizable landmark is the Ferry Building, which survived both the 1906 earthquake and the 1989 earthquake with amazingly little damage.
  • The other landmark are the San Francisco piers, but they were different in 1906 when San Francisco was an active port. Now the piers are a tourist destination with a small crabbing and fishing operation based out of Fisherman’s Wharf.

1906-SFquake-panorama