Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Getting Rid Of The Steering Wheel

English: Left to right, Eric E. Schmidt, Serge...
English: Left to right, Eric E. Schmidt, Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google Polski: Od lewej do prawej: Eric E. Schmidt, Sergey Brin i Larry Page z firmy Google (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A self driving car should have a lot more room than a car you have to steer around. You tell the microwave oven to heat up something for three minutes. During those three minutes, you are out and about doing your own things. You don't spend those three minutes "steering" the oven. A firewood oven is another story. You have to keep steering the fire. You have to stay watchful.

You should be able to instruct your self driving car as to your destination, then you should be able to forget the car. Finally Google is doing it. And finally the Google Car looks like the Nano car of India. A self driving car should also be smaller, no? A two seater self driving car would be awesome. If you think about it, the very concept of parking is a ridiculous idea. Now that Google has built its own car, it should build its own app. Google should not sell these cars. Google should build and own them and rent them out to people, on a per ride, per day, or per month basis. And those rates ought to be ridiculously cheaper because, well, if five people are paying for the same house, the cost per person should be five times less, no? The car drops you off at a destination, and then instead of going to look for a parking space, it goes off to pick up the next person. It keeps moving.

Airplane ride is safer than riding a bicycle, by a wide margin, but "common sense" tells you otherwise. Driverless cars are similarly safer to human driven cars. Self driving cars don't encounter fatigue. They don't get drunk. They are equally vigilant in all directions. They are looking in the front, and in the back, and on the sides, like we are looking in the front. They can look up weather information, and road conditions updates, and gas station information without taking time away from driving. They don't get distracted when others talk.

The concept of human organized car pooling, very inefficient in the first place, goes out the window. The car's app does the car pooling for you.

I would love to go on cross country rides on this Google Car. I would not miss a beat from working. It would be like I am in a moving office, with beautiful views, and I am online and making phone calls as I please. People don't need to know where I am.

A computer with internet access is not just a computer plus internet. It is a new thing. Similarly a self driving car is not just a car that drives by itself. It is a new thing.

Commutes will no longer be considered wasted time. The beginning of your commute is when you start work. And you could choose to end your work day at the end of your commute. That would make more time for personal stuff like family.

A maximum speed limit of 25 miles per hour means this is just for city driving, and I am happy, because I live in New York City. But in future it will also have to be built for highway driving. There you go with the wind, I mean the speed limit. Sometimes that can be 75 miles per hour.

Electric power will mean little to no driving noise. You will enjoy your music more.

The car should also be designed to automatically takes pictures in the event of a crash. So seconds before an impact the picture taking starts, and stays on for a minute or so, so a picture every five seconds perhaps. And there should be a black box. And any crash should automatically generate a 911 call. The call would transmit the crash location.

The Google Car is a startup. But this effort could not have been bootstrapped. You needed a company with deep pockets to attempt this.

Highway driving is less tricky than city driving. So it is perplexing that the speed limit on the car is 25 mph. I guess they want to tackle hard first.

Google plans to start in Detroit. Larry Page is from Michigan. Google will kill the car companies that the Great Recession was not able to, and that Obama worked so hard to keep afloat.

Google Car will mean less pressure on the roads. It will mean less pressure on the planet, because these are clean cars. These are carbon zero cars. These cars you can ride in as much as you want and not even feel guilty.

This car would transform New York City. Nothing has been able to compete with the subway in NYC. I think this car could. Imagine a NYC with 10,000 of these Google cars, all owned by Google, that you access with an app, that are cheaper than train rides even, that show up within a minute of your asking for it. The city's efficiency would go up. People would live by the minute. There would be no need to plan ahead of time. Like Google Now tells me I should now leave if I want to be on time for my next meeting. Imagine that Google Now that is integrated to the Google Car that I subscribe to (yes, I want to subscribe, not buy, I don't want to do oil changes, among other things, and I want my car to keep changing, changing cars like changing clothes). Google Now will say, you should leave now for your next meeting, and your car will be outside there for you in 40 seconds. And if you want half price on the ride, your car will pick up someone else at the corner of 18th Street and Seventh Avenue. Google Now might even send me the Google+ page for that person, and next thing you know I have a new contact. We even talked for five minutes in the car before I got off for my meeting.

This is Google taking over transportation like Google took over search. There is no competition in sight. Moving information is important. But then moving people is also important.

The idea is not cars. The idea is transportation. And there Google should make an attempt at the fastest/cheapest mode of transportation. Ships in the ocean are cheaper than trains which are cheaper than buses and trucks and cars. Bullet trains that fly a few inches in the air are cheaper than trains that grind on the iron. Also, a train carrying 1,000 passengers will be cheaper than a car carrying two passengers, cheaper per person that is.
Top ten fastest trains in the world Shanghai Maglev tops the list with its maximum operational speed of 430km/h and average speed of 251kmph.

11 Incredibly Fast Trains That Leave America In The Dust Shanghai's magnetic levitation train hits 270 mph..... American rail travelers will have to settle for Acela trains, which hit 150 mph. ..... Shangai's magnetic levitation (maglev) train floats above its track thanks to powerful magnets. It covers an 18-mile trip from downtown to the airport in just 8 minutes, hitting 270 mph. ..... apan is known for the bullet train, so it's no surprise that the Shinkansen train has a top speed of 275 mph. It is nicknamed the "Duck-Billed Platypus" for its odd-looking, aerodynamic nose...... The top dog in the world of fast trains is China, which broke the 300 mph barrier with the CRH380A. The 302 mph top speed makes this the fastest legal way to travel by land.
Could Google do 300 miles per hour? How about 350? At that point you are giving air travel serious competition. There is so much more to see near the earth's surface. A train that connects San Francisco to Denver to Chicago to New York City, another that connects Boston to NYC to DC would create a Silicon Backbone. People would be on the train and will keep working.

Trucking companies killed trains in this country. Trains are superior to trucks. Maybe they need to make a comeback. And while you are at it, also do campaign finance reform so that trucking companies of the future do not kill the trains of the future. China does not only have bullet trains, it also has campaign finance reform. Coincidence?

You get off the train and the Google Car is waiting for you, because you did not sign up for Google Train or Google Car, but for Google Transportation. It is a point A to point B proposition, not a NYC to LA proposition.

From there you also have to move to the air and then to space. The fastest way to go from NYC to Beijing might be through space. How far is the moon? You become a dot com millionaire because you want to make a trip to the moon, and you had internet access the entire time. People were still emailing you. You were taking selfies on the moon and sharing on Instagram in real time. And you got a lot of likes. Cheap popularity? No, expensive popularity.

There was one suggestion that Apple should buy Tesla. Maybe it is Google, maybe it is Google that would buy Tesla. Musk would be my idea of an acqui-hire!

Google Transportation will compete with Google Search in turning Google into a trillion dollar company.

Look Ma, No Hands: Sergey Brin’s GoogleCar Has No Steering Wheel, No Brakes
The two-seat, all-electric autonomous automobile is remarkable mainly for the features it doesn’t have, such as a steering wheel, a dashboard, and a brake pedal. “We took a look from the ground up and asked what should self driving cars be like?” Brin said ..... Nadella demonstrated a new Skype tool that can almost instantly translate a live conversation into different languages. “This has been a dream of humanity,” Nadella said. The feature, called Skype Translator, will begin rolling out later this year .... Brin said that creating a car from scratch allowed Google to focus on building in safety measures, such as a foam bumper and a flexible, plastic windshield, and to install a 25 miles-per-hour speed limit for pedestrian safety. ..... He described riding in one of the vehicles on a test track and called it relaxing: “Within seconds I was doing my e-mail. I forgot I was there. It reminded me of catching a chairlift by yourself. There’s a bit of solitude.” ..... He imagines a fleet of autonomous cars that users can summon like taxis and ride to their destinations. Such a network of roving robot cars will make owning a car less important and allow cities to make better use of land that is currently devoted to parking lots and fleets of vehicles that sit idle for most of the day...... The self-driving car project is a testament to the influence Google’s co-founder still wields at the company, despite the fact that he says he has largely removed himself from decisions affecting other parts of the business. Unlike other projects in the X lab, like efforts to spread wireless Internet access around the world via high-altitude balloons, and Google Glass, which arguably makes surfing the Web and taking photos easier, the driverless car project does not appear to affect any of Google’s current businesses. “The project is about changing the world for people who are not well-served by transportation today,” Brin said. ..... driverless cars are “significantly safer” than vehicles with a human ..... at the wheel.
Google is to start building its own self-driving cars
The car will have a stop-go button but no controls, steering wheel or pedals. ..... the cars had the ability to "improve people's lives by transforming mobility"..... Google says it expects its self-drive cars to be on the road 'within a year'.... The company plans to build a fleet of around 200 of the cars in Detroit, with the hope of using them as an autonomous technology test bed.
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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Books In The Mail

Fred Wilson, Google, Facebook, Apple, USV

English: Apple iPad Event
English: Apple iPad Event (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fred seems to have taken some flak for his comment that in 2020, Google and Facebook will be among the three biggest tech companies in the world, but not Apple. When asked if one of his portfolio companies will be among the top three he said, I most certainly hope so.

I am bullish on Google. I see it becoming the first trillion dollar company in the world. Usually when companies get big, they get innovation lazy. In Google's case when they have become big they have innovated at large scales. They have tackled problems that small startups just can't because they don't have the huge resources.

I disagree with Fred on Facebook. I am not sure Facebook will be among the top three in 2020. Facebook has been a one trick wonder. They have the option to be among the three, but I have not seen it yet.

I agree with him on Apple. Apple will milk the iPhone and the iPad as much as it can, but that momentum will last only a few more years, and then funny things might start happening to its standing in the stock markets. The next sexy hardware is not coming from Apple.

As for Union Square Ventures, I don't think they have a portfolio company that will be among the top three in 2020. I would love to be proven wrong. But that is a judgment call I am making. Point be noted I am not up to date on USV. I don't have a good knowledge of their investments in the recent two years.

Devices vs Cloud
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Saturday, May 24, 2014


Breakthrough Technologies

Bitcoin: A New Twist In The Plot

Kitkat Battery Issues Resolved

Original flavor KitKat purchased in Atlanta, G...
Original flavor KitKat purchased in Atlanta, GA, USA in Feb. 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It was easy. You google up the matter, and you get reminded you reset your phone like the last time Android sent you an updated version of the operating system.

There was resetting the phone, which also freed up a lot of space on my 8 GB phone. And then there was turning off a Google+ feature. Now photos on my phone only get uploaded online when the phone is on wifi and when the phone is connected to a charger.

The auto upload feature is why Google+ is my top choice for photo upload and sharing. But that was also draining my battery.

Now my phone feels more normal. So much so that I still want a OnePlus One phone, but I am not in a desperate hurry.

My external battery clocks at 10,000 mAh. That is what I carry. So it is like carrying two phones. But it's worth it for the peace of mind that my phone will quite literally never run out of juice during the course of the day. When your smartphone is your personal assistant, you tend to use it with some intensity.

I am thinking a 5,000 mAh inside a phone might finally do the trick.

Another reason not to be in a big hurry for the One is the idea of actually being with people when you are with them. Face time is also good for the phone battery.
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OnePlus: The China Angle

English: Jack Ma speaks during The Future of t...
English: Jack Ma speaks during The Future of the Global Economy: The View from China plenary session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, China 28 September 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
And there is this whole Jack Ma angle. Alibaba showed up in America with a bang. This guy is not even a coder. And he has created this ecommerce behemoth in China. Like I said at one point, Jack Ma is the new Jack Welch.

A lot of what we think about China gets colored by the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. There are genuine issues of free speech and democracy, but one can not stop but take a good look at some genuine innovation that is coming out of that country.

China is getting global in a big way. OnePlus is the newest example where a Chinese company is out to eat the lunch of companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google. China is not just the back end factory for your front end brand name. We live in era when people display their status more through their phone than their car or house. If there OnePlus is going to do well, all bets are off.

OnePlus is making smartphones the way smartphones are supposed to be made.

OnePlus: The Company
Culprit: Kitkat
OnePlus One Launch Keynote
OnePlus One
The $50 Phone
The Chinese Are Coming
Jack Ma Is The New Jack Welch
The Alibaba IPO
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