Category: Random Thoughts

Could be anything

Quantum Computing is Coming

Quantum Computing is Coming

quantum-entanglement

The term Quantum Computing sounds pretty intimidating, powerful and mysterious. What is Quantum Computing? A very basic explanation is it’s a new way of processing information. All existing computer applications and algorithms will not work on a Quantum Computer.

Some of the biggest technology companies in the world have research facilities devoted to this technology. Not only private profit based businesses are interested in this technology. The Chinese government has unlimited resources (no budget) devoted to Quantum Computing research. Besides Cold Fusion, it’s one of the most game changing fields in science and mathematics. The winner, or the first to exploit the power of Quantum Computing, will be in one of the most powerful positions in the world.

How is a Quantum Computer different from our current computers? It’s based on entanglement which is one of the strangest things we have discovered in nature. Basically, two different particles share the same information when they become entangled. So far, we haven’t found any distance that will not allow entanglement to happen. The information sharing also seems to happen instantly, faster than the speed of light.

Microsoft, Google, IBM and other large tech companies, are all investing a lot of money researching Quantum Computing. The types of people they are employing are mostly from academia. Mathematicians, physicists, fields medal winners. Some of the smartest people in the world are working on bringing this technology to the masses. It’s not only the creation of the technology but the algorithms that will run on these machines. Initially, only a few people in the world will have the knowledge to able to write the “code” that runs on a Quantum powered machine.

What’s the difference between a Dell computer sitting in your house compared to a Quantum Computer? It needs to be cooled to near absolute zero to operate is a major difference. It’s not feasible to think that a Quantum Computer will ever be sitting in somebody’s house, or taken to the coffee shop for browsing the Internet. The power will be used for solving extremely complex problems, quickly. An example would be analyzing different molecular combinations for a drug and accurately predicting its outcome. Or being able to process weather and other geological simulations on a massive scale not possible today. It won’t be used to run your Angry Birds apps.

Some have compared Quantum Computing to the industrial revolution. Nobody really understood the full impact of it while it was happening and it changed the world in a radical way. Quantum Computing won’t be affecting your daily life anytime soon. At least not in the next 5-10 years. But the path seems to be in the right direction where we can make another major leap in productivity and knowledge.

Wikipedia on Quantum Computing

Podcast on the current state of Quantum Computing affairs

http://www.livescience.com/52811-spooky-action-is-real.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/quantum-computers-will-change-the-world-2015-4

The Podcasts I Roll With

The Podcasts I Roll With

podcast

My semi-daily commute to downtown Denver is usually occupied by sports talk radio, although I do love to listen to a few different podcasts each week. I thought I would share the ones I like and get some feedback on some other podcasts I haven’t heard of as well.

I am mainly interested in iOS and mobile related podcasts. I also love Iowa State basketball so I do listen to the Cyclone Fanatic podcast.

a16z
a16z

a16z may be my favorite podcast. It’s not development related, but the interviews they hold with business and technology leaders around the bay area is always interesting.

nsbrief
NSBrief

NSBrief focuses specifically on iOS development. The interviews are mostly with independent iOS developers with each interview covering a different framework or aspect of iOS development.

angular
Adventures in Angular

AngularJS is the javascript framework of choice when I do web development. There is usually great discussions and interviews in all of their episodes.

apptodate
App-To-Date

Weekly episodes about the hottest new apps and what’s happening with the popular apps such as Snapchat, Facebook and others.

debug
DEBUG

In depth interviews with former and current Apple employees. I’ve gained a lot of insight about how things within Apple work from this podcast.

ideveloper
iDeveloper Podcast

They recently put out a podcast on developing an app with Swift and the challenges that came along with that.

Keeping up with these podcasts isn’t that difficult as some are not as frequent publishers as others. a16z has probably been the most consistent at 1 or 2 a week but most of the others are maybe 1 or 2 a month. If you’re a developer or technology enthusiast then I’m sure you’ll find a lot of values in these podcasts.

Coping Without Being Connected – Part II

Coping Without Being Connected – Part II

It’s over 2 months without a data plan now, and I’ve discovered a few things about myself and how I now fit into society.

What I’ve discovered in general

  • There is Wi-Fi everywhere. It’s at the grocery store, fast food places, and schools.
  • I still get email when not connected to Wi-Fi. Yes, it’s true. I don’t know if this is common or not, but with Brightspot I can still send and receive email when not on Wi-Fi.
  • There is Wi-Fi at intersections. My trusty Windows phone tells me when Wi-Fi is available, and often times when I’m at a stop light, there is an open Wi-Fi network.

What I’ve learned about myself

  • Sometimes I really miss being able to access the Internet. I would to be able to keep track of the sports scores, get turn by turn directions, get media texts, and send media texts myself.
  • I realize when I can’t access certain functionality on my phone, I feel it’s good for me. It’s like my spoiled kids who get whatever they want with their On Demand TV, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. I think it’s good for me to not be able to access media whenever I want to.

How I now fit into society

I was at my neighbors house a few days ago. A friend was telling me how he’s in a league where they pick NFL games against the spread. I told him how my friend and I made a site where you can look up historical NFL odds data and I went to look it up on my phone. Embarrassingly enough, I could not access the site from my phone. He asked me what the problem was and I quickly changed the subject. I didn’t want to go into detail how I don’t have a data plan on my phone. I still wanted to talk about the NFL :).

Since I can no longer get turn by turn directions, I have a few options:

  • Use a paper map
  • Print out directions before hand
  • Call my wife as I’m driving
  • Use my intuition
  • Stop at a McDonald’s on the way, connect to their Wi-Fi, and look up where I need to go

Since I’ve been without a data plan, I’ve used all of these methods. The time I called my wife for directions was not a proud moment :).

What it best for society? Would be better off if none of us had access to data plans? It’s an interesting question because so many business models are now built on people being connected 24/7 along with GPS access. I think about the early 90’s when I would read the paper to see the sports scores and the stock quotes. My life was good then, and I don’t think it was any better when I had a data plan. I wasn’t happier then…

A few times I’ve heard that people’s happiest times are when they have very little, and their scraping to get by. I think a point like that in a person’s life they are able to appreciate the little things much more. Since they can’t just go out and buy whatever they want, each decision in life is important.

It’s make you think what really is best for society, and where we are heading. Would we be better off without the Internet? Maybe so. Maybe we’re heading into a new generation, Generation I, where everything is instant. It will be interesting to see if we can keep our heads above water in a sensible fashion.

 

This post is a follow up to my original post, here

Coping Without Being Connected

Coping Without Being Connected

Due to unfavorable contract terms with Sprint, I was still rolling with my HTC EVO last week. I was going on 3 years with this phone and I was counting down the days until I could upgrade on January 1st, 2014. When the EVO was released in 2010 it was coveted as the most advanced smart phone on the planet. While it was still getting the job done, it was time to move on. The battery life was awful and the internal storage kept dropping down to warning levels where I had to keep uninstalling apps.

On my birthday on October 25th I was blessed from above when I dropped my phone and hit it just right on the corner where it smashed the screen to oblivion.

Broke HTC Evo

That very same day a co-worker of mine, Ely Lucas, was kind enough to give me his old Windows 7 phone that he wasn’t using anymore. He gave it to me so I could test my apps on it (Side Note & Side Bet).

I had a working GSM phone that wasn’t compatible with the Sprint network. I ended up getting a T-Mobile compatible SIM card and dropping Sprint. The plan I chose, Bright Spot Mobile was a no data plan for $35/month. I figured since I was on Wi-Fi most of the time I would be fine without data connected to my phone all the time. I was wrong…

You wouldn’t imagine how hard it is to get used not being connected to data 24/7. It’s like a drug, which I just discovered was very addictive. 7 days in to life without data has proven to be challenging so far, but I think it’s a good thing. I no longer check my phone at stop lights for emails. I no longer fire up Pandora on the way home during rush hour. I no longer constantly check my phone. The no data plan has exposed my data addiction, and I’m liking my life without it.

It’s definetely a challenge in this day and age to go through life without an expensive data plan. It seems like we are programmed to get an expensive data plan from one of the big 3 carriers. It was fun exploring options and knowing that I’m saving money each month. My wife and I’s total cell bill was $170/month for the last few years. Now it will be $105/month for a total savings of close to $800/year. I encourage others to try this out. It’s very liberating, and it’s even fun to deprive yourself of things. I makes your life more interesting just from the challenge.

I’m walk the earth without a data plan and so far I’m still accepted and functioning in our society. It hasn’t been easy, but I think it will be good for me. If anybody has similar experiences please share them!

Energy Industry and Pollution

Energy Industry and Pollution

In the case of energy companies, the main ethical consideration is pollution. The famous suit against chemical companies has to be Erin Brockovich when her law firm went up against Pacific Gas & Electric. The movie definitely gave a bad reputation to energy companies nationwide, not just Pacific Gas & Electric.

The problem with companies that have pollutants is that there is a benefit to what they are doing, otherwise they wouldn’t exist. They were not built just to send pollutants into the air, they were built to product energy. It is this energy that we use every day to power our homes, businesses and traffic lights. Inevitably there will be an accident where pollutants get into the ground water or soil surrounding one of these plants. It is this risk/reward that we have deal with in our society.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is in place to protect us from mishaps from energy companies, and other companies that produce pollutants. There are very strict testing requirements facilities have to follow in order to operate. My father is the owner of Keystone Laboratories in Newton, IA. At Keystone Laboratories they see these kinds of mishaps all the time. Just a couple of years ago there was a big testing and cleanup effort on behalf of Pella Windows in Pella, IA. It’s not just big smoke stack facilities that can put pollutants into the ground.

Most of the dangers from energy facilities can be anticipated. The EPA knows what kind of chemicals to test for based on what the facility is producing. Each industry has its own set of toxins that is produced as by-product. If it is not caught at the facility, it will eventually get caught downstream. Perhaps it would get caught in well testing or from a farmer testing his soil.

There are many industries that face ethical issues, a similar one to the energy industry would be the chemical manufacturing industry. Just the word chemical had a negative connotation to it, so they are immediately facing an uphill battle. The experiments and tests the companies use to do research, often come into question. Many people are against testing on animals, which will always be an issue for chemical manufacturers.

The field of chemical engineering also includes biological and or chemical weapons, which is one of ultimate ethical questions we face on earth. War is already about killing, but most argue that there is humane killing. Biological weapons lead to suffering, and not necessarily death. The ethics of biological weapons is very similar to nuclear weapons, in which they can harm people far beyond the impact zone.

In the case of chemical weapons, it is impossible to completely govern them. There are international laws in place to prohibit the development, stockpiling, production and use of chemical weapons. The Iraq army was blamed in using chemical weapons during the gulf war. George Bush responded saying he would bomb Iraq with the same chemicals used.

As far as energy companies go, the best resource we have is quality testing by independent laboratories and regulation by the government.

Welcome to the blog!

Welcome to the blog!

Starting a new gig tomorrow at Aspenware.  The people and the work they do is amazing, so I’m really looking forward to it.  Look for many more blog posts related to technology coming soon!

On a side note, I loved watching Tiger win at Doral today!