UniversalSocialFeed

So it’s about time that someone came up with a universal consolidator of social content. Here’s what I’m talking about.  I post stuff on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Yelp, here on my blog, Instagram, Vine, and who knows where else. And I have friends that do the same. How can I keep track of them? How do I know when you’ve posted something? Do I have to continually check all my apps?

What I want is one place where I can look at a feed of all my friends content and also has the ability to look at a feed of all the stuff from one friend (or more). So if you were using it, you could see a feed in real time of all my posts and you can also see all your other friends. In one place. Why hasn’t anyone done this yet?

Best Picture 2014

 

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Well I saw 8 out of the 9 nominees for best picture and I figured that I would order them and give mini reviews for those interested. Also, I’m going to tweet stuff during the show so if you’re interested, tune in to me at @neodem.

First off, it’s important to note that I’m listing these in my order which is heavily based on which movies entertained me the most, seconded by which ones I’d watch again and of course which ones were made the best (production quality). Also, maybe a also a bit of how well acted they were. But if I were voting in the AAwards I would probably put more acting weight into the acting categories. Anyway, here we are:

1) Wolf of Wall Street. Say what you want about the excess portrayed in this film, it was fun as shit and I could have watched another 3 hours of it if I could. Like, maybe there needs to be a tv series about the Wolf and his buddies. This movie was super fun and was basically Goodfellas set against the backdrop of Wall Street.Wolf-of-Wall-Street

I want to see this again just so I can see Jonah Hill and Leo and McConaughey.

I mean this was just an epic rags to riches story and it was such a fun ride. Sure there were drugs and hookers and greed but that was the story and I simply loved it. And wow, it was funny as hell. Lastly, the fimmaking was pretty awesome. Not flashy, but you never felt that the story was constrained due to the inability to visualize something. It was all there. There were over 300 sfx shots and you didn’t notice one of them. (check out the Wolf reel at Brainstorm Digital)

2) Gravity. This film was just awesomely beautiful. It was so skillfully made and the GRAVITYshots were simply gorgeous to look at. I felt like I was in space and I also felt like I wanted to be there, to see the Earth the way it was shown. I know the movie and the plot was a bit implausible but I didn’t care. I enjoyed the ride just way too much. Ans I admit I’m a space nerd so a lot of my enjoyment came from the realistic seeming space stuff.

3) Her. The vision of the future that they came up with was just so plausible and also kind of beautiful. her3I wasn’t as moved by the relationship stuff as others have been but overall I really liked the story and Joaquin was really perfectly cast.

4) Captain Phillips. Maybe because I have a fascination with boats and have wanted to join the merchant marines but I loved the feel of being on that huge ship. And I loved how real it seemed. The story was super compelling (although maybe not true, who cares) and it moved along at a great pace. Captain-PhillipsWhen we got to after the rescue Tom Hanks played a dude in shock so well and the doctor on the ship was taking care of him and I was just stuck there in shock with him. It was an intense and awesome moment. I really found this movie way better than I thought I would.

5) 12 Years a Slave. I was dreading going to see this film. I really wasn’t looking forward to 3 hours of period stuff about slavery. I know it’s important and I know it’s moving but I’ve seen Roots, I’ve seen other slavery films. I get it.images That period was fucked beyond all recognition and it was awful. What I didn’t think was that I would find the film really beautiful and moving. It was shot so well and it was acted even better. And the story was so interesting and sad and powerful. It was truly a great film. I have a few tiny complaints but overall it would deserve it if it won (which I suspect it will).

6) Dallas Buyers Club. Great performances from M McConaughey and also Jared Leto.A disheveled Matthew McConaughey gets arrested in scenes for 'The Dallas Buyers Club' in New Orleans But the story was kind of uninteresting and the way it was shot wasn’t too compelling either. I think this was a fine film but no where near the above 5. I think this and the next 2 just didn’t deserve to be here.

7) Nebraska. I was so looking forward to seeing this film and it was good Nebraska film stillbut it wasn’t oscar worthy. It was kind of neutral. There were funny parts and good performances but… eh.

 

8) American Hustle. Why do people love this film? The acting (except for Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence rs_634x1024-131210124228-634.american-hustler-lawrence.ls.121013 and maybe Bale) was kind of terrible.  It was unclear if this was a comedy or a drama. The story could have been so interesting but it felt confusing. The characters didn’t develop properly. I think that the main issue was the direction. This film was kind of shitty. I have seen way better in the last year. 

 

Studio Kitchen is the Bomb

shola11-400x264For a long while now I’ve been wanting to find my way to Studio Kitchen to sample some of the goodness cooked by Shola Olunloyo. I’ve heard about his food and I’ve heard about this experience over and over again (as anybody who is into the Philly food scene has) so I really needed to go here and taste.

The problem is that, much like Cook, it’s hard to get in to the kitchen. There are only 10 seats and he only does dinners once and a while so I would find myself checking out the website from time to time hoping to find a spot at the table that coincided with my schedule and life.

Sure enough, one popped up and I pounced on it. That was last night and I have to say that I’m super glad I was persistent because it was an amazing experience.

I won’t talk about the food specifically since if you go you will most likely not have the same stuff I did. Shola cooks theme meals and it seems like each dish is a one of kind snowflake. I will say one thing. This guy can cook. Not only were the plates beautiful but they tasted amazing. It has something to do with all the super fresh ingredients and a lot to do with talent. Of the 6 courses, not one was bad. The food was quite perfect.

But that wasn’t what made this dinner so awesome. The chef himself and his style was.

First off is the space he has set up for you. This is in an apartment in N. Liberties and you are essentially in the middle of a lab. There are ingredients and spices and stuff all over the place (perfectly organized and labeled) and there are all kinds of molecular gastronomy tools as well. I can’t even begin to name the stuff I saw but it really looked like a lab. We all sat in the middle of the room at this communal table with one side left open for the chef to plate things before we got them. It was a really intimate and fun experience.

Next was chef Shola himself. What a cool person this guy is. Not only is he a great cook but he’s a really gracious and kind host and it’s so clear that he loves to entertain like this. He was the cook, busboy and waiter and really spent a ton of time answering questions and teaching us about the food we were eating.

Overall this was just an incredible experience and if you like dining at all, you need to book a seat at one of these tables. It’s awesome!

Save money on heating in the winter?

Someone I knew once suggested an idea a few years ago that I’m going to post here for your comments. I’ve thought about the idea a bunch since then and I’m not convinced it will work but who knows, maybe one of your comments will stir something up…

As you know, your water supply comes into your house via a pipe carrying cold water. From there it’s distributed to your hot water heater and your boiler for your heat (assuming you have a gas heat system).

In the winter the water coming into your house is insanely cold and your boiler and hot water heater have to do a lot of work to get it to a useful temperature. My friends idea was to add a tank or bladder into the mix and put it between the cold water source coming in from outside and the heating systems. This way the cold water presumably would have a chance to come up to room temperature (or at least rise a bit in temperature) before it goes to be heated with the gas. This could make a big difference in the winter when it’s 60+ in your house and it’s 0 outside. Instead of a bladder you could convert right away to a flexible hose and just have a few hundred feet or so of it up in your ceiling.

To me, this seems like a good idea but I wonder a few things. First, how much temperature gain would you get? It would depend on how much time the water is sitting there not being used and also how well heat transfers into the tank/bladder/hose. Secondly, is it possible for the huge amount of near freezing cold water to actually lower the ambient temperature in your basement (where the tank/hose would be)? Thus making the heating system need to do more work?

Hard to tell w/o experiments.. What do you guys think?

It’s time to start discussing sterilization

I read a story on philly.com today that really was tragic and made me really sad. It was about a parent brutally beating his son. I urge you to read it and then come back here for my opinion on the matter.

Setting aside the fact that the store security should have alerted police to the abuse by the father, I want to take a second to talk about what I consider to be a big problem in our society today that nobody seems to discuss: There is a cycle here that needs to be broken and nothing we are doing is breaking the cycle.

I would wager a fair amount of money that the father was abused as a child and I would wager even more that the son will end up abusing his children (if he has any). In my travels around the city I see parents hitting children all the time for minor things. I’ve seen parents wheeling their children around in strollers while completely doped out on heroin. I’ve seen all kinds of things that seem so obvious to me are part of a cycle. I’m certain that these parents got this way by the way they were raised (or not raised). And I’m certain the children I see are going to end up repeating the same things again.

Could we fix this problem with better education? Perhaps there is a chance. Could we fix this problem with better mental health programs? Or better drug programs? Maybe all 3 of these things could help.

But I feel that we need to do some more drastic things. And they all involve sterilization. Before you start calling me Hitler, you have to agree that it makes some sense to sterilize obviously bad social people. Drug addicts, criminals (especially sexual abusers, animal abusers, murderers) and the like are obvious bad actors.

I’m not saying that the urge to be an abuser is genetic, I’m just saying that these people should not be allowed to be parents. If you don’t want to sterilize, then you take the babies away when they are born.

Yes, I know what you are thinking : How do we decide who is a bad actor and who is not? Where is the line drawn? How do we measure? And if we establish a line, how do we ensure it doesn’t move? I don’t know the answers to these questions but perhaps with discussion we as a society can start to answer them.

Another thought that came to me and I know it is a tragic one, but what about this child? Do we think he should be allowed to have children? What kind of a parent will he become after all the abuse he’s most likely suffered?

Lastly, look at the comments on the post. From those alone you can see that we are creating a society that is going in the wrong direction. The commentors who are saying “good job” to the father. Seriously?

Want to talk about a Hero?

I just finished reading Janet Reitman’s amazing article “The Men Who Leaked The Secrets” in the December 19 issue of Rolling Stone. It tells the story of who I consider one of Americas greatest heroes and the reporter who broke his story. I’m talking of course about Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald.

Take the time to give this article a read. It’s totally worth it.

The more I think about how the Obama administration has sanctioned the behavior of the NSA and how most of America could barely care, the more angry and disillusioned I get when I think about the future of this country.

I solved Quantum Mechanics

So there is a lot of things yet to be decided in quantum mechanics and I want to propose related answers to two of them. One of the questions talks about the so called Quantum Leap and the other question involves entanglement. Both are talked about in this cool Nova video:

If you didn’t watch the video here are my very simple explanations of the problems:

Quantum Leap

Electrons can be on any one of a number of orbits around the nucleus of an atom but as the atom is heated the electron will jump from one orbit to another and never be anywhere in between. This is a huge mystery and if you think about it, it makes no sense at all.

Entanglement

In short there is this property of a particle called spin and it can be of one of two states (well there are more than those but for this simple example lets stick with 2, just as the video does) and when two particles become connected or entangled, when you observe the spin of one, the spin of the other will be the opposite. The interesting thing is that this will always be true no matter how far apart the particles are.

Its a mystery how two entangled particles are able to ‘know’ about the spin state of their partner without any connection.

My Solution

Well, I have solved both of these riddles. It was really quite simple once you make the assumption that all of our reality is simply a computer program. That we are ‘sims’ in this ‘world’ that we live in. It’s not that far fetched and some recent thoughts by respected scientists (and a great movie) have headed in this direction.

If I were writing a program to simulate the world I would have to start with some fundamental building block of everything and since I don’t think that my sims will be able to get that deep I will make that the particle and one of them is called the electron (or whatever the sims will call it, but for now lets assume the creator of the simulation used the same names we do… although he/she/it most likely didn’t).

Anyway, lets say our atom code had some collection of electrons and for each electron we had properties describing it. One of those properties is the ‘orbit’ and for simplicity I chose to make it an integer : 0 representing the innermost orbit and each orbit past that would be another integer (1,2,3,etc.)..

ElectronInfo {
 ...
 // orbit location in the Atom
 orbit = 0
 ...
}

Atom {
 // other properties
 ...
 // the electron collection 
 Collection<ElectronInfo> electrons;

 // operations on Atom
 ...
 ...
 pushElectronsOutOneOrbit() {
   for each ElectronInfo in electrons
     info.orbit = info.orbit+1
   end
 }
 ...
}

So when We apply heat to the atom we simply increment the orbit:

addHeat(Atom a, int amountOfHeat) {
...
for each amountOfHeat
a.pushElectronsOutOneOrbit()
...
}

Presto, we just implemented a Quantum Leap. Ready for the entanglement? Lets assume we model particles in our simulation to have a location, a spin and a reference to another particle for entanglement:

Particle {
 // position in x,y,z space
 Location loc;

 // Spin can be one of the enumerated types {Up, Down, ...}
 Spin spin;

 Particle entangledPartner;
}

Now we have a couple of methods on our world, one is called observeParticle which allows us to observe a particles spin and for whatever reason we decide that when one particle is observed we alter the other particles spin. The other is called getParticleLoc which gives us the particles location:

observeParticle(Particle p) {
 Particle partner = p.entangledPartner;
 Spin pSpin = p.spin;
 if(pSpin == Down) {
   partner.spin = Up 
 } else {
   partner.spin = Down
 }

 return pSpin;
}

getParticleLoc(Particle p) {
  return p.loc;
}

And again we have trivially solved the entanglement issue.

I don’t know. Whenever I hear about problems in quantum physics I always think that this stuff is simple, whoever wrote our program had stopped here at the bottom and there is no more ‘depth’ to the ‘world’. What does that say about our ‘reality’? You got me. That’s where I stop trying to speculate because I’d like to stay sane. Seriously.

Prime Directive

(I’m switching over computers and going through some old files. Some are blog posts I was working on but never posted. I decided to post them now.. enjoy)

(this one circa 2009)

In Star Trek there is the concept of the Prime Directive where when they visit a new civilization that is not as advanced as theirs is they are not allowed to give them any technology or expose them to any concepts ‘from the future’. This is to preserve the natural evolution of the civilization in question.

I think there is another reason why this is a great idea, you don’t want to overwhelm the primitives with stuff they can’t comprehend. At a minimum this is cruel, at its worst I would guess it could cause paranoia and insanity.

With that thought in mind I’d like to try a thought experiment. I ask you to consider the case where you are some super resourceful entity that is in charge of preparing some people who have traveled forward in time (for whatever reason) about 200 or so years. Your mission is to adjust them to their new home in our present as smoothly as possible. Imagine how shocking even the simplest things would appear. Technology, language, societal rules, etc. So as much as you’d like to take them on a airplane and fly them around, you need to get them used to clothing and cars first (for example).

So how do you do this without blowing their minds out completely? Perhaps you decide to create some safe location that is very similar to the one they left behind. Perhaps you construct a village out away from the city and technology and you make it as close to their old world as possible. Perhaps you intend over a year or so to adjust them to new technology and customs so you make the culture shock as minimal as possible.

Your plan would be pretty good if you had the resources to pull it off. It seems to be very humane and logical. Maybe you take it farther and you don’t even let them know you are adjusting them to the ‘new world’. You let them learn themselves and you simply provide them with clues along the way. Kind of like the lobster in the slowly heating up pot of water.

Let’s extend the problem some now. Say you had to prepare 6 billion people to enter some new experience that was orders of magnitude more even more complex and different? How would you do that? What if that task belongs to someone/something and we are being systematically adjusted to this new place? Could Earth be some very complex and huge staging ground? Could what we know of as ‘our lives’ simply be some complex training for some unimaginable experience? I wonder. At least it’s a possibility right?