Featuring marketing tips, tech news, digital wonders, some personal things and everything in between . . .

Cities Around The Country Making Attempts To Catch Google’s Eye

Monday April 19, 2010

Reading Time: 5 minutes
google's eye
Greenville, South Carolina recruited citizens to spell out Google with color coded glow sticks.

Last month Google announced its plan to provide a Fiber Optic network to a select group of cities. This fiber optic network would be 20 times faster than residential fiber optic services that are available now in select areas. This is big news and there are a number of cities that would love the opportunity to harness the full power of Google. Immediately after Google made its announcement, cities around the country started making attempts to catch Google’s eye. You may ask yourself: what does it takes to get the attention of the biggest company in the world? Let me tell you the great lengths cities have gone to: Topeka, Kansas renamed its city ‘Google’ for the month of March, Mayors signed proclamations, city employees were forced to sing and dance, jumped into freezing lakes, etc.

Google will provide the network free for the city that wins, (consumers using the services will be charged). The speed will be incredible, 1GB/sec fiber, 100 times faster than the average American’s Internet speed. Digital communications and measurement firm Steketee Greiner and Co. analyzed over 90 cities across the US to determine which city was trying the hardest. Not an easy task, according to Tech Crunch, “through measuring activity around online conversation, digital syndication, presence, involvement and activation, to determine which city will come out on top. At the moment, Steketee reports that Duluth seems to be in first place, with Grand Rapids taking second, Topeka coming in third place, Fresno in fourth place and Sarasota rounding out with the fifth spot”.

digital syndication graph

Unfortunately, I live in a city that did not make as much effort as the others. I submitted a request here in Eugene, OR for the opportunity to experience Internet the way it was intended, but, I fear there were not many here who did the same. Oh well, perhaps in the future we will have the ability to partake in the experience. At the end of the day it makes me happy to know Google is encouraging other Internet providers to offer the same kind of services. Internet should be in every home, whether you can afford it or not, live in the country or city, there is no reason why you should not be connected to the world.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The days of driving yourself around may be coming to an end sooner than we all might think! Ever since the automobile was first conceived people have had the shared dream of the day when cars would drive us around. A team of researchers at the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS) has modified an Audi TTS with computers and GPS receivers, creating a vehicle that could handle itself. This year the car will attempt to ascend Pikes Peak without a driver at race speeds. This Audi TTS currently holds the world land speed record at 130 mph for autonomously driven vehicles; the car’s computers understand things that the average human driver, shouldn’t, but does struggle with – the car knows how to drift, accelerate, brake, park, and more!

How does it work? The “captain” of the vehicle can utilize two different modes or can combine both options. Sensors detect the vehicle’s movement, comparing this data to external sensors that pick up objects. The computer uses pixel analyzing software in order to detect the lines in the road or the curb, then the data with the other external and motion sensors send the appropriate commands to the vehicle i.e. stop, accelerate, and turn information. On the race track it will be a little bit different because there will be other variables to factor in. One will need to program some of the necessary functions to complete the race track. It seems like one will need a basic understanding of geometry and physics to complete this task; factors like road camber, surface type, traction information, and corner radius are some of the many things that will need to be considered before top speed travel could take place.

It will probably be several years before the car will be ready for public use, but the dream is what matters at the end of the day. Not to mention the progress that has been achieved by VAIL (Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory) and CARS together, it is unbelievable how far they have come.

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Morgan SX-704 grapple skidder Morgan SX-704 grapple skidder – a modern skidder with dual function fixed boom grapple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life in Maine is a little bit slower than the rest of the country. People pride themselves on doing things by hand and using out of date technology – so-to-speak. My friend G.W. Martin believes in using animal power as opposed to gas powered engines to get things done around the farm. “The trick isn’t getting them to pull, that’s easy – it’s gettin’ them to stand still”. This morning as the sun was rising in Montville, Maine I was a part of the Back Woods Maine Mule Train. The log that you see in the pictures weighs approximately 2000 pounds, and the two Mules Bonnie and Olivia move it with no problem.

Everyone else in the area uses a machine called a Skidder, it’s basically a bulldozer with wheels and a claw. G.W. has used a Skidder before to haul wood, but he would rather use animals to get the job done. There is a lot to be said for doing things the old fashion way.


Reading Time: 2 minutes
A tipped cow. Taken near the Cliffs of Moher i...A tipped cow. Taken near the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Traditionally you would hear stories of people going cow-tipping at night when they are bored. Cow tipping is simply tipping over a cow (some view it as animal abuse). Some think its best to do this activity when the cow is sleeping but the fact is, cows do not sleep standing up to begin with. It is possible to tip over a cow with two to four people using their pressure at the same time.

A New trend began in 2005, smart-car-tipping in Canada where someone began tipping over smart cars in urban areas. I found it too funny so I took the liberty of creating this image below:

What are your thoughts on this new ‘trend’?

Reading Time: < 1 minute

From the 2007 Entertainment Gathering Conference Ian Dunbar, dog trainer, animal behaviorist and veterinarian, suggests we approach training from the point of view of the dog. This compassionate approach builds love and trust. These “interaction skills”, as Ian Dunbar calls them can be applied to not only our relationships with our pets but all of our relationships.

Enjoy this 15 minutes talk from Ian Dunbar. I viewed this episode the last Sunday and it has been on my mind affecting my actions ever since. I hope you enjoy this presentation as much as I did.

Reading Time: 10 minutes


coffee maker

2008 Daylight Saving Time (DST), aka daylight time, will come to an end on Sunday, November 2nd at 2:00AM**. So if you happen to be awake at 2:00AM on Sunday morning and you don’t live in most of Arizona and Hawaii please remember to “fall back”. Most people will go around their home before they go to bed on Saturday evening and reset all of their clocks. They will check the kitchen stove, microwave, coffeemakers, wall clocks, grandfather clocks, alarm clocks, their wrist watches, etc. Depending on the age of your automobiles or the sophistication of your car you may need to reset your vehicle clocks, as well. Your computers will update automatically and the good news is if you have cable TV your local cable company will automatically update your cable boxes. “Springing forward” and “falling backward” can be exhausting.

40 year old oven clock

If you take the time to read the history of daylight saving time you will find that the pros and cons continue to baffle countries, states, counties, etc. When these governments debate the benefits, typically research shows that most of these benefits are never realized. But that is not my problem this year. You see this year I moved to Arizona, one of two of the United States that chooses not to observe “daylight saving time”. Arizona is actually located in the Mountain Time Zone which means that when it is 10:00AM in California (PST), then it is 11:00AM in Arizona, except during “daylight saving time” when Arizona does not “spring forward”, which means from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November it is the same time in Arizona as it is in California! Now just to confuse the issue a little more, part of Arizona includes the Navajo Nation and the geographical boundaries of the Navajo Nation include parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico; therefore, the Navajo Nation does observe “daylight saving time.”

cable box
Cable Box

Time zones can be quite entertaining. We tend to zero in on our own time zone and sometimes have trouble with the simple computation of adding or subtracting hours to determine what time it is in another time zone. Let me give you an example. When I was an innkeeper in New Hampshire (EST) it was not unusual to get a phone call at midnight with someone requesting to make a reservation. Invariably when I would inquire where they were calling from they would say something like California (PST). If I had been awakened from a deep sleep, I would further inquire “Do you know what time it is in New Hampshire?” And more times than not, the response would be: “Oh, isn’t it 6:00PM? Isn’t New Hampshire three hours behind us?” No….New Hampshire is three hours ahead of California!

I, too, have been time zone challenged over the years. When I first moved to Alaska in the winter of 1983 there were four time zones Alaska. Yes, you read correctly, four time zones in one state. This became a problem when Dennis would travel throughout the state and he would call home to check in, many times forgetting that he was two time zones away from me and I had already gone to bed! Fortunately, in September 1983, Alaska went to two time zones. Some at the time referred to this new larger time zone as “political time.” The New York Times reported on September 18, 1983: “Transportation Secretary Elizabeth H. Dole ordered changes Friday that will put most of Alaska in the same time zone and end years of confusion and communication problems in the state. Under the action, taken under the Uniform Time Act of 1966, all but the extreme western portion of the Aleutian Islands will be consolidated in the Yukon Time Zone. The change takes effect on Sunday, Oct. 30, when the country goes off daylight time. Alaska, the largest state in area, stretches across four time zones. That has created problems in doing business within the state, with the rest of the United States and with foreign countries. The changes were made at the request of the Alaskan authorities, who had complained of the difficulties of dealing with four time zones, after public hearings in the state.”

wall clock
Wall clocks need to be changed

The good news for me is that tonight I don’t have to go around the house and change all of the time pieces, but I do have to remind myself for the next four months that I do live in the Mountain Standard Time zone and not to call my California Webconsuls’ associates too early in the morning. Remember Mountain Standard Time is one hour ahead of Pacific Standard Time. This means when it is 6:00AM in Arizona, then it is 5:00AM in California!

This morning it just occurred to me that Fire safety officials encourage people to use the two annual clock shifts as a reminder to check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. I wonder how Arizonians remember to check their smoke alarm batteries, since they don’t need to reset their clocks. I will let you know how this works out for us.

By the way, since it is Saturday, why not share some of your own anecdotes about Daylight Saving Time?

**Daylight Savings 2012 ends on November 4th at 2:00AM.