What a gorgeous bike.

A gorgeous day in Central Park

A life-changing app: @TalkTo

A few months ago I read about TalkTo and decided to install it on my iPhone. Since then it’s changed my life.

I love trying new restaurants and because I live in Manhattan, the act of reserving a table can be quite the hassle, especially for the trendier ones. Everybody hates having to call restaurants, being put on hold, only to find out that there’s no availability. It’s a huge waste of time.

With TalkTo, I find whatever restaurants I want to try, draft up my request, I’d like a table for 2 on Friday at 8pm and copy and paste that message to each restaurant. TalkTo corresponds with the restaurant and then tells me which are available – then I simply choose which I want to eat at and then TalkTo arranges the reservation. Yes, it’s that easy. TalkTo is persistent too, they call back if it’s busy or closed.

I think TalkTo’s positioning can be tweaked. I see them as a micro version of Fancyhands - a virtual personal assistant that you send piecemeal tasks to.

Using TalkTo raises a couple questions: How do they make money? What’s the experience like for the receiving end of a TalkTo inquiry?

Things I’m currently interested in

Quartz

I’m deeply interested in China due to its seemingly wild and uncontrollable growth in all directions – and Quartz’s editors keep on top of it better than any publication I’ve seen so far. The Quartz website is well-designed, presenting content quickly in a nice layout. qz.com

Elon Musk

He’s the man of the hour, with Tesla knocking awards out left and right, his work with privatizing space travel, and his plans for the Hyperloop. I personally believe he will surpass Steve Jobs as the next great visionary. Tesla will soon be releasing its Model X, and SUV that will redefine how we’ve traditionally viewed them, as gas guzzling eyesores.

legorobo

I’ve always been fascinated with Lego and I think the most interesting work comes not from Lego but the extensive builder community that churns out mind-blowing creations. The builders I admire most are ones who can create figures with complex shapes and patterns while maintaining a pleasing and consistent aesthetic throughout their work. legorobo is one such builder.

Custom purpose-built bicycles

I came across Sizemore Bicycles the other night and have loved reading about his philosophy of “just enough is perfect.” A well-crafted frame of strong metal gliding on good components is just heaven.

supersonicelectronic

An amazingly curated tumblr of art. I like a post or two daily. supersonicelectronic

Last year I wrote a post entitled Siri, or Watson, or Jarvis about the advent of technology that will allow us to have conversations with it to help solve problems we didn’t even know existed.

Each person has a unique personality guided by a mind-map of influences that has shaped them. Because each of us is so different, we respond to stimuli in our unique way.

Therefore, there will be a day where we can choose the personality of our iPhone, or Android, or whatever device it will be – one that complements all our eccentricities.

What will your device be? Encouraging? Authoritative? Meek?

My friends at MATTE - they’ve come a long way and there’s no stopping them.

matteprojects:

MATTE Films

There’s always somebody better than you. This is the best beatboxing I’ve seen in a long while. Accurate hits and syncopation!

Siri, or Watson, or Jarvis

A few days ago as I was walking to work I decided to use Siri to send a message to my girlfriend. I was in a bit of a rush so I used Siri’s dictation ability as I hurried down the street:

"Message Shirley Hey can you grab an onion while you’re at the market today?"

Siri replied, “I have two contacts named Shirley.”

I begrudgingly looked down at the screen and tapped on the correct one.

Siri replied again, “Ok, here’s your message to Shirley. Should I send it?”

I said “Yes,” and off the message went.

It was definitely better than typing as I walked – but at the same time it was such a robotic experience. You see, I believe that Siri is the right step into the future, albeit a premature one. The experience isn’t ready for prime time because nobody likes talking to a machine. Siri should have known I only talk to one of the Shirleys on a regular basis. I should have not had to say “Yes” to send my message, nevertheless having to press+hold the home button to begin the dialogue in the first place.

Even though the current experience is a clunky one, using natural language to interface with our technology is a huge step. But there are even more exciting things on the horizon.

These days, everybody is talking about big data. From IBM’s big data website:

Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few. This data is big data.

72 hours of video uploaded to YouTube a minute. 250 millions tweets a day. 300 million Facebook photos uploaded a day. That’s only “social media,” and that number keeps growing. Think about how much medical, scientific, economic, and municipal data there is as well. What do we do with all this data? What really excites me is what can be inferred by all of it.

There are companies like Prior Knowledge that are creating APIs to help companies “Predict product purchases from consumer data” or “Assess disease risk”. That’s powerful.

Watson, the AI that beat the two toughest Jeopardy players in the history of the show, will soon fit into your smartphone. As Bernie Meyerson, IBM’s VP of innovation, said– one day, a farmer could stand in a field and ask his phone “When should I plant my corn?” He would get a reply in seconds, based on location data, historical trends and scientific studies.

Think about how simple–yet powerful– that is. “When should I plant my corn?”

Often times we joke about how far-fetched scifi can be, but in this case, I don’t think it’s that far off. In the movie Iron Man, Tony Stark has a computer named Jarvis with which he has converations. We can’t have conversations with Siri. But in the future we’ll be able to.

One day, Siri, or Watson, or Jarvis, or whatever it’ll be called, will always know when to be helpful and how to make our lives better. We’ll have conversations with our technology that will help us solve problems we didn’t even know we had. And that excites me.