Home Voice Automation is a Bad Idea… with Children

As I plugged in my Amazon Echo Dot today, an event that happens only once in a while, I realized that owning this sort of technology is a probably bad idea… with children.

Approximately 25-30% of households have children under 9 years old, and out of those households, a high percentage have more than 1 child. Have you personally experienced the gong show of children with voice automation? If not, you should pull up a chair, put on your patience cap, and watch. You wouldn’t think an AI (i.e. Alexa) could get angry… well, as it turns out, 3 children can definitely make Alexa want to turn herself off.

The whole event caused everyone in the room (AI included) to become immediately frustrated and confused.

Then it was turned off… until next time when I forget how frustrating it is.

Don’t be scared of a little work

I have been working a lot recently on my personal mindset. Karla just sent me this quote, which I truly appreciate and speaks to what I’ve been learning:

Intentionality requires more work, more deliberate action, but that’s where all the reward is—an intentional life always tastes best.
-The Minimalists

I’m pleased to have this opportunity to share. Feel free to comment and share your mindfulness strategies.

Tesla Model 3 Pre-Order Update

Model 3 Delivery Estimate I just happened to think about my Model 3 pre-order today that I placed way back on March 31 2016, so I headed over to the Model 3 website and was excited to find a “Check Your Estimated Delivery” button. After a quick login, I was both happy and sad to see that my date isn’t until “Late 2018“.

Happy because: 1) I don’t really want to get into a car payment just yet, so this actually gives me more runway to get everything in order. 2) The first Model 3’s being produced are (to my surprise) rear-wheel drive and as a Canadian the thought of rear-wheel drive in the winter is terrifying. I wanted the all-wheel drive model, which isn’t being produced for quite a while still.

Sad because, well, this vehicle is impressive and I really want one. Wow, 1.4 years seems like a long time.

Oh well, in the mean time I will sit here patiently waiting my turn.

Vote with my feet, Tesla Model 3

Tesla LogoPre-orders of the Tesla Model 3 opened today at 10:30PM EDT, one full hour before the car was even unveiled by Elon Musk. The Tesla website was under heavy load before starting to automatically redirect all traffic to the launch event site, but I got an order placed by about 10:45PM!

It may seem a little odd to pre-order a car without having actually seen it, but I wanted to make a few points about why I would do this.

First and foremost, Tesla without a doubt understands technology, software, and user experience better than any other car manufacturer on the planet, and a sight-unseen pre-order is my ever-so-small way of demonstrating my appreciation of their commitment to design and engineering.

Secondly, beyond the marketability of creating a car that is better for the environment I believe Elon Musk and Tesla genuinely want to change the world with this. In other words, I don’t sense that this is only for the money, there is heart in this. It has also been an excellent strategy to create high-end luxury electric vehicles (Roadster, Model S, and Model X) that are bought-and-paid-for by the top income earners, and then use that revenue stream to build something else amazing that can be mass produced a lower cost.

Thirdly, I gained a huge amount of respect for Tesla when they open sourced their entire electric car patent library, which also demonstrated to me that they’ve got heart in this.

Lastly, it was a pretty safe bet that the Model 3 would be amazing, and I am now happy to report that I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Tesla Model 3

Red Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 Interior

Tesla Model 3 Interior

Tesla Model 3 x 3

Tesla Model 3 x 3

In addition to being beautiful, Elon Musk presented limited, but impressive specs for a $45,000CAD vehicle:

  • It has a 5-star safety rating in every category.
  • It’s FAST, even the base model will do 0-100Kmph in less than 6 seconds (finally something to complete with my Mini Cooper S JCW).
  • It will do a minimum of 350 kilometres on a single charge, but I expect it will be even higher by 2018.
  • It comes standard with the auto pilot hardware.
  • It seats 5 adults comfortably.
  • The roof is 1 continuous pain of glass.
  • It has front and rear trunks, and more cargo capacity than any gasoline car.
  • It comes standard with super charging equipment (fast charging).

Other interesting fun facts Elon discussed include:

  • They will have 7,200 super charging stations, and 15,000 destination chargers world-wide in 2017.
  • There will be 441 Tesla locations by end of 2017.
  • Their vehicle factory can make 500,000 cars per year.
  • The Gigafactory is fully operational, and is the worlds largest producer of lithium ion cell batteries. This building also has the largest footprint of any kind in the world.
  • Deliveries for the Model 3 are expected to begin at the end of 2017.
  • There were 115,000 other people like me who pre-ordered the Model 3 in the last 24 hours before it was revealed.

Good for Tesla, better for the planet, and fun for my family. I’m looking forward to getting my Model 3 in 2018.

Really Enjoyed Her

Her PosterAfter putting the kids to bed this evening, Karla and I sat down to watch a movie and unwind. We were browsing through what seemed to be an infinite number of titles, discussing how we could possibly select something amazing based solely on the cover and title. Yes, there are definitely UI issues with how these movies are listed, but that’s beside the point.

We were somewhere in the list close to a favourite of ours, Big Fish (2003), which has a subtle, simple, but beautiful cover, when I proposed that even Her (2013) could be good based on it’s subtly.

A simple click, and the synopsis read:

In the not so distant future, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely writer purchases a newly developed operating system designed to meet the user’s every needs. To Theodore’s surprise, a romantic relationship develops between him and his operating system. This unconventional love story blends science fiction and romance in a sweet tale that explores the nature of love and the ways that technology isolates and connects us all.

This made us both laugh out loud because it definitely sounded like something we could both enjoy watching, and it truly didn’t disappoint. What an interesting movie that explored “human” emotion and the very real impact technology increasingly plays on our lives. Understanding this complexity will become so much more important in the coming decade, as technology will be embedded into our very fabric.

Highly recommend Her; a great watch.

Mr. Nobody, Really Something

Mr. Nobody ArtworkFew movies have struck me the way that Mr. Nobody has. What a brilliant and thought provoking story by Jaco Van Dormael:

A boy stands on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? Infinite possibilities arise from this decision. As long as he doesn’t choose, anything is possible.

I have a bit of a fascination with the concept of time, brought on by Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines, and Lee Smolin’s Time Reborn. I am also both fascinated and terrified by the Oscillating Universe Theory, which this movie lightly explores.

I would definitely recommend hunkering down and watching Mr. Nobody.

Getting A Trip Into BlackBerry Travel from TripCase

bb10travel BlackBerry Travel is one of my favourite BlackBerry applications of all time. Even when I had my BlackBerry Bold 9900 (which I had a rather strong disliking for), BlackBerry Travel kept me smiling. Needless to say I was delighted when they brought it to BlackBerry 10. I get lost without this application when I travel, literally.

For iOS and Android users that don’t know the awesomeness of BlackBerry Travel, they have TripCase. TripCase seems just fine, I’m sure they have an equally enthusiastic fan base. Unfortunately there isn’t a BlackBerry 10 version, which is fine because I use BlackBerry Travel.

Okay… so the problem is that I recently received an American Airlines flight itinerary directly into TripCase, and there wasn’t an obvious way for me to e-mail myself the itinerary. This means the trip wouldn’t get added to BlackBerry Travel, thus I would end up lost.

To solve this:

  1. Log into the TripCase web interface, and select your trip.
  2. Click the big “Share Itinerary” button at the top.
  3. Add one of your own alternative e-mail addresses (in my case I used GMail’s awesome +whatever trick), and be sure to check off the “Share Itinerary” checkbox.
    share-itinerary
  4. Once you receive the shared TripCase itinerary e-mail, forward it to trips@blackberry.com from your real BlackBerry Travel e-mail address.

Within a few minutes if all goes well, your TripCase itinerary will now be in BlackBerry Travel. Now you won’t get lost! Happy travels.

Multiple Accounts in Google Drive

Google released their Google Drive last week, and I’m feeling conflicted about it. On one hand it’s awesome, nearly everything I would want in a document sharing service; on the other hand Dropbox has been providing me with similar functionality for years when Google couldn’t or wouldn’t, so I have a certain level of loyalty there.

Regardless of my internal struggles I thought I would point out one glaring issue I have with Google Drive: I have 2 Google accounts, a personal one and a work one, and this intentional line in the sand cannot be crossed.

Based on a statement from their support website it is currently

“not possible to use Google Drive for your Mac/PC with more than one account at the same time”

Okay that is fine with me actually, but at least let me configure two accounts in settings (each with their own separate shared directory) and then let me switch between the one that is actively syncing. The disconnecting and connecting with a different account (as they suggest) doesn’t really solve the issue of keeping these two accounts separate.

This was never really an issue with Dropbox for me because of how I structured my Dropbox directory, whereby my “Work” directory was shared with work people, and my “Home” directory was shared with family.

Besides that one glaring issue I have to say, I am very impressed with Google Drive. The integration with Google Docs is especially brilliant.

At this point Drive and Dropbox coexist happily together on my Mac, each being used for something slightly different.

Life Changing Experience

I almost have to laugh when I think about how much I have changed over the last several years, and one of the biggest changes in my life has been my views about having children. I used to be under the impression that having a child would prevent me from doing the things I really wanted to do, and I was convinced I would somehow lose my identity and become a standard complacent father figure shell of my old self.

I now know that what my old self failed to realize is that this scenario is not an inevitability, it is a choice.

Karla and I feel like the two luckiest people in the world right now, and it is my pleasure to introduce Mr. Declan Simpson, an 8lbs 14oz bouncing baby boy. I have spent the past few weeks at home getting to know Declan, and watching him explore the big new world around him. This has been a truly indescribable experience that I will no doubt treasure for the rest of my life. Welcome Declan, enjoy life my son.

I Need Your Discipline

I haven’t had a favourite song of the moment in quite a while that was of any sort of quality, so I was very happy to hear NIN’s new Discipline single. What a great song and the video is a perfect match. To top it all off, NIN was giving the MP3 away for free on their website. The song also comes with a bit of a teaser in the comment of the MP3’s ID3 tag, which states “Go to www.nin.com May 5”. Interesting. I hope that means there is more of this to come.