Category Archives: American Ingenuity

I am Pied Piper Billboards appear in Silicon Valley

Stuck in traffic this morning on 101 with thousands of my closest friends, I pass the big LED billboard in San Carlos and there it is.

The “I AM PIED PIPER” billboard from last night’s episode of Silicon Valley breaking out into the real world of SiliconCali. This had me cracking up in my tiny narrow car even though I was only crawling at 8 miles an hour on the 101. Didn’t have a chance to snap a picture with all the traffic jockeying to get past the spilled concrete mess but here it is:

 

Unless you caught the show last night after Game of Thrones you probably would just think it was another billboard for some cloud based music sharing app or whatever else is normally on these billboards. Nope. Just good old fashioned Pied Piper viral marketing. Redditers have reported this billboard is up along 880 by Oracle Arena as well. Good stuff Mike Judge and crew.

Here is the actual I AM PIED PIPER billboard that is scheduled to be up through May 3rd.

I_AM_PIED_PIPER_Billboard_SiliconCaliAnd now that Pied Piper has Russ Hanneman funding, they are hiring.  Are you a fiend for data compression? Do you fully understand the theory behind middle-out compression? Then Pied Piper may just be for you. But if you think middle-out compression is some kind of slimming garment that Erlich Bachman wears then maybe you should just watch the show.

Wonder what HBO’s Silicon Valley will try next? Billboards with only the words:  Who is Strychnine McTwat?

 

Hoppy Friday Silicon Valley!

Hoppy Friday! It’s a warm one today. Time to relax with a nice cold hoppy beer from Ninkasi Brewing Company. This Double IPA is a smooth drinking brew with a nice hoppy bite but not too bitter. Ninkasi’sTricerahops Double IPA is available year round and seems to widely available these days. You’ll be tasting Chinook, Cascade, Summit, Centennial and Palisade hops in every delicious sip. This is not the cheapest beer, you’ll have to spend around 6 bucks (+CRV in SiliconCali) of your beermoney for the opportunity to drink some of the tastiest, responsibly brewed beer around.

I haven’t had a chance to visit the Ninkasi Brewery in Eugene, Oregon yet but I’ll get up there sometime this year. I’m looking forward to sampling their other releases including the space based brew Ground Control that comes out on April 13th. Ground Control is brewed from brewers yeast that was launched into space on October 23rd 2014 from Spaceport America, Las Cruces, New Mexico. If you really want to geek out on the interesting process of how this brew came about, check out this fact sheet PDF from the Ninkasi Space Program.

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A triple threat of dinos prepare to crack open a Ninkasi Brewing Company Tricerahops Double IPA. Sorry no Triceratops were on hand at the time of this photo shoot.

 

Pick one up and enjoy it with your closest prehistoric friends. And beware of the sneaky 8% ABV. Don’t go driving around after relaxing with a few of these or you might go extinct.

Prepare for Game of Thrones with Fire and Blood Beer

Prepare yourself for Episode 3 of season 4 of Game of Thrones with some Fire and Blood. Fire and Blood Red Ale that is. Brewed by Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY and of course licensed by HBO, this red ale is brewed with Ancho Chiles but only has a tiny hint of spice. There are three different images on the beer labels in this series, one of each of the three dragons of Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons. They are Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion. I only conquered two of the three. No matter which label you are lucky enough to find in your quest for the Iron Throne, the beer is the same. A fairly mild reddish ale that has a 6.8 percent bite of alcohol. Nothing that a dragon might actually drink, but if you happen to be at a House Targaryen party it is thirst quenching nonetheless. 

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Game of Thrones Limited Edition Beer from Brewery Ommegang Red Ale Fire and Blood

You can see the color of the Red Ale in this photo:

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Game of Thrones Red Ale in a San Francisco MLB All Star game pint glass

So what if this Game of Thrones Red Ale is in a 2007 All Star Game pint glass, all of my horn beer mugs were in the dishwasher.

 

Game of Thrones Fire and Blood Red Ale. GoT Beer?
Game of Thrones Fire and Blood Red Ale. GoT Beer?

But be sure not to let any young ones like Joffrey, have a drink. They just may choke.

For more Game of Thrones drinking authenticity, try the actual horn mugs:

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Genuine Horn Mugs made in the UK available from jelldragon.com

Oh, and happy easter. May all of your eggs contain dragons. Be prepared to train them though. You can learn how here. No one likes an unruly dragon flying around setting your village on fire. Then the FAA has to go write up regulations on dragon flying and it just gets more complicated.  I hope you know what you’re getting into Khaleesi!

 

I WILL TAKE WHAT IS MINE WITH FIRE AND BLOOD.

I WILL TAKE WHAT IS MINE WITH FIRE AND BLOOD. Or maybe just some jelly beans. Thanks!

#FireAndBlood

Update July 24, 2014: Game of Thrones beer collectors bottles have been spotted for sale at Comic Con for 19 bucks each! Wow, I hope that price includes CRV.

Blue Bottle Coffee now available in cartons

bluebottlelogoOakland based Blue Bottle Coffee has made good use of their recent 25.75 million dollar round of funding to expand into retail grocery stores. Now you can enjoy the fresh flavor of Blue Bottle New Orleans Style Iced Coffee at home without waiting in a long line of hipsters. You just have to wait in line at the Whole Foods checkout as so far these little 10.66 fluid ounce cartons are only available there, and only at NorCal locations so far. Along with creating these little school lunch like cartons of tasty coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee plans on opening more cafés in Oakland, LA, Palo Alto and Manhattan.

The New Orleans Iced Coffee is popular on warm NorCal days in hipster infested locations around the Bay Area and is made with chicory, cane sugar and Clover organic milk.

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Update August 2:  The Atlantic just came out with a lengthy article on the expansion of Blue Bottle Coffee and the future of venture cap funded artisan coffee roasters. If you want to read the article, take a few deep slurps of your Blue Bottle NOLA and check out the link.

Welcome to day 100 of the year 2014

We are 100 days into 2014, the internet is half broken with a bleeding heart and there are still no flying cars. Where are my self driving flying cars? Google? Richard Branson? Elon Musk? Anyone? Maybe that should be a kickstarter project.

Tango T600 narrow electric car makes an appearance in HBO’s Silicon Valley

This YouTube video caught a rarely spotted Tango T600 electric car as seen in HBO’s new comedy ‘Silicon Valley’.

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This tiny speedster can do 0-60 in 3.2 seconds all under electric power. The very narrow design can split lanes and fit in narrower spaces than some motorcycles.  The T600 is probably the world’s slimmest car. Seats are set up like an F-14 fighter jet in a tandem arrangement. Though you probably shouldn’t drive the T600 inverted like Maverick and Goose. This is the same orange car that is featured on the commutercars.com website and the Progressive Automotive X-PRIZE. This bright orange specimen is actually owned by someone who has done quite well here in the Valley. This very car has been driven by well known car nut Jay Leno. George Clooney also has a classy glossy black version of this rare electric automobile. He bought the very first T600 from the Spokane, Washington company.

If you like to go fast but want to use petrol instead of electrons, you can pick up a base Audi R8 for close to the same price as a Tango T600. Though going fast isn’t the main design point of this car.

The Tango T600 is similar in size to the Corbin Motors Sparrow (now known as the NmG for No more Gas), but way cooler. This is one tiny Tesla competitor. Hopefully it won’t get tipped over after being left alone in the car park. But it could wind up in an office on April Fool’s Day. Google’s Eric Schmidt found one of these in his office in 2008. A video is still up on YouTube of the tiny car antics. 

One surprising thing you may notice in the clip is how small Eric Schmidt’s office actually is for such a high position in a high powered Silicon Valley company but that’s the way they roll at Google. As you’ll see in the video, this isn’t the first time a car has found its way inside Eric Schmidt office. The Tango T600 weighs about as much as a Subaru Outback due to the batteries, so the Google engineers didn’t carry the mini car into the building. The California license plate of this office dwelling blue car is 6DET206. Other known Cali license plate numbers for these so far extremely rare mini automobiles are for the orange one in the photo above, 6JEY683. Another based in Washington state has plate number 836-JYC.

Most of these cars reside on the West/Left coast. You probably won’t find one of these Tangos speeding up the mountains of Wyoming, but you never know. You can download the brochure for the Tango electric car but you probably will have a hard time finding one for sale.

The first episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley is available in full on YouTube. The fake company website for Pied Piper is also of course live at PiedPiper.com.

Oh, and by the way, I am not Satoshi Nakamoto. Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto.

Happy 2014 Silicon Valley!

Happy 2014 Silicon Valley and the Bay Area! No Scarlet Plague has stricken the Bay Area in 2013 and no dot com crash has hit as of yet. But some of the signs of a bubbly dot com bubble are appearing. From a frothy, unsustainable real estate market that has pushed rent costs higher and higher, to increased traffic of Tesla Model S 4 door sedans piloted by GoogleGlassHole drivers running up and down the 101. It’s here. The Tech Bubble. When will it pop? No one knows. Yet. Though some of the high flyers of the Tech World in this bubble are different from the Pets.com era of the past. Some of these booming tech companies in SiliconCali are actually profitable and are minting money as I type.

Twitter takes over City Hall in San Francisco

The growing flock of Twitterers celebrated 2013 in style with their first holiday party since the successful IPO earlier this year. City Hall in San Francisco was bathed in Twitter Blue lighting inside and out.

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Twitter Blue City Hall on December 19th 2013

Some of the unusual treats featured were blue cotton candy served on blue glow-sticks.

Dell’s new Haswell based XPS 13 laptops are released today

Dell’s 3 pound XPS 13 range of thin and light laptops refreshed with new Intel 4th generation Haswell processors have been released today. And along with the Windows 7 or Windows 8 versions, the developer edition known as Project Sputnik also receives the Haswell update. So far Dell has two versions of the Ubuntu XPS 13 listed on their business site. One version priced at $1249 is based on the 4th generation Intel Core i5-4200U processor with a 3M Cache. This dual core i5 processor has a base clock speed of 1.6 GHz with turbo up to 2.6 GHz. Not too speedy but this is a thin and light laptop so the processor’s 22 nm lithography and 15 watt max TDP will ensure it sips electricity from the 55 watt hour integrated 6 cell battery. Which is good because the battery is not user replaceable. The higher end version of the XPS 13 DE runs on an Intel Core i7-4500U processor with a 4M Cache and a 1.8 GHz base clock speed that ramps up to 3.0 GHz when the turbo kicks in. This version is priced at $1549 and includes a 256 GB SSD.

Both versions of the XPS 13 Developer Edition run Ubuntu 12.04 LTS or Long Term Support. This version has been tweaked by Dell’s Project Sputnik team to ensure that it runs smoothly out of the box on this slick lightweight hardware. Both of these XPS 13 laptops now include a full HD 13.3 inch 1920 x 1080 touchscreen and 8GB of Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM running at 1600MHz. They weigh in at a svelte 3.02 pounds. These low powered, long running laptops do not have room for a dedicated graphics card but run the 13.3 inch display through the adequate Intel HD Graphics 4400 built into the CPU.

If you want to run Microsoft Windows on your new Haswell based XPS 13, there are 3 choices available. The most affordable starts at a penny less than a grand and is the only version that includes classic Windows 7 Home Premium instead of Windows 8.1. While you get the familiarity of Windows 7, this version is hobbled by a relatively slow Intel Core i3-4010U processor with a 3M Cache and base clock of 1.7 GHz. While similar to the base clock speed of the other XPS 13 processors, the i3-4010U does not have any Turbo Boost technology to speed up demanding tasks. You are stuck at 1.7 GHz with your dual cores and 4 threads of processing. This puts the processing capability of the lone Windows 7 configuration closer to netbook territory. Though with the Windows 7 version of the Haswell XPS 13, you get a full HD 13.3″ screen unencumbered by the light obscuring touch screen layer. With no turbo boost eating up precious battery juice, this version could be the battery life champ of the new XPS 13 laptops. The i3-4010U based XPS 13 should be fine for long hours of browsing and basic office tasks, just don’t try running Battlefield 4 on this little puppy.

The other 2 Windows configuration of the new XPS 13 run Windows 8.1 on their full HD touch screens and use the same processors as the Ubuntu versions. Prices run from $1299.99 for the i5-4200U version with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD, while the i7-4500U version goes for $1599.99 and has the same 8 GB of RAM but a 256 GB Solid State Drive. All of the versions include a backlit keyboard.

No matter which of the 3 available operating systems you choose if you decide to pick up the new Haswell based XPS 13, you’ll be getting a handy portable system with a full HD screen and a long battery life, but these are not full blown gaming or desktop replacement computers that can handle intensive 3D graphics. But if you want an SD card slot, an old fashioned copper RJ-45 port  or a full size HDMI port (without using an adapter) in a similar sized package, you’ll have to look at something like the HP Spectre 13t-3000. Though the Haswell based HP Spectre 13 only ships with Windows 8.1, so if you want to run linux, you’ll have to install it yourself. Will Fedora or Ubuntu run on the Spectre 13? Good question. Haven’t had a chance to test that one yet. The specs are similar to the Dell XPS 13 but the HP Spectre 13 has a new “HP Control Zone” trackpad designed for Windows 8 style touchscreen swiping using the trackpad instead of the screen. Finding the correct linux drivers for that piece of wizardry could be problematic. Though the middle part of the trackpad should behave like a normal trackpad under linux. Like most of the new breed of thin and light Ultrabooks/laptops, the HP Spectre 13 has a buitl in sealed battery that is only factory replaceable. Unless of course you are handy at cracking these this machines open and soldering the parts back into place.

Full specs of the new Dell XPS 13 laptops are listed in this pdf.

Happy Independence Day Silicon Valley!

Happy Independence Day Silicon Valley and the Bay Area!

Have a safe and happy 4th!