Elon Musk is back with an high speed transit-system he calls the Hyperloop!


You know by know that Elon Musk is one of my favorite mad individuals. A couple of days ago he launched a global discussion with the following tweet:

Musk published a 57 page paper outlining the Hyperloop proposal. The Hyperloop is a concept mass transit system that could become a fifth mode after plains, trains, cars and boats. Its fast (extreme fast), safe, cheap and self-sustaining regarding the energy usage. He is giving the idea as open-source to the community hoping that it will be improved and eventually picked up by entrepreneurs or governments. Musk himself is currently to busy running the other companies.

It’s Musk reaction to the approval of a already horrible delayed and super-expensive project bullet train between San Francisco and Los Angeles US. According to Musk (and I agree) there is a better, faster, environmental friendlier, cheaper and more comfortable way.

The Hyperloop in a nutshell

The basic idea is to have a tube on pillars with reduced air (not near vacuum as many articles claim) shooting small pods for 14 people (or larger versions that can contain cars) through it every 30 seconds at maximum. It will use electric engines (adjusted Tesla engines), magnetic fields and an air-floating system to minimise friction to get the pods going.

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The air in front of the pod is sucked up by a van, compressed and pushed out of the back and through little holes in the skies which will lift the pod (compared to air-hockey, except the air is coming out of the pod (puck) and not the tube (table) making sure the tubes remain relatively inexpensive).

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The pods will reach speeds of 800 miles an hour with only some downforce on the passengers whilst travelling because the pods will bank in the corners (think of bobsleds).

An artist's impression of the Hyperloop pod

Why wouldn’t this work?

Technically I’m not advanced enough to truly judge weather or not this is feasible but I tend to blindly believe Musks claims. I also believe that there will be some engineering challenges, and maybe it will be a bit more expensive than he claims but who cares. It most probably still be much cheaper than the intended ancient-train. And its a cool project!

Some nay-sayers already claimed that there will be a heating problem due to the air-compression and friction. Others say that it will politically impossible.

He made it snow in summer!


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Edward Snowden deserves a spot on this website. After all, this is about mad individuals  leaving their mark on the world. Individuals who dear to stick their neck out. This certainly is the case for, the by now very famous, Edward Snowden. This hero couldn’t take it anymore and decided to show the world some unacceptable activity done by the US.

As we all know by now, the world was shaking for a while. Everyone is upset and the US is preparing a official statement about the subject, to ensure their allies (and enemies) that this is all a big misunderstanding.

At this very moment of this writing, Snowden sits around somewhere in the Moskou Airport becoming another Tom Hanks case, like in the movie The Terminal (great one by the way). The only difference now, is that in our case the whole world is watching. First we learn that the US is tapping us all. Not Americans on their own soil (because that’s agains their law), but basically, including their closed allies, the rest of the world.  It’s no longer only about the ‘enemies of the free world’ but also about you and me and our little home Apple.

The whole world is raging about it and obviously, the US is a little annoyed by him. They would love to get their hands on him to make him stop leaking.

Who will let him in?

There is a lot of pressure on Snowden. It’s good that he put his face out there. At least he is safe for the moment. The question is, will a government stand up and be grateful what he did. The people all over the world most definitely are. But who will take care of him?

Here in Europe, nobody wants to make the US angry. Ecuador I believe is still (or back) in the picture. Putin is also politically pulling back. I wonder who will be brave enough to let him in and protect the guy who was brave enough to stand up. Will be remain on his own?

Impact of his deeds

We don’t know yet what the total impact of Snowden will be. If it escalades and it backfires America, it could mean a global power shift. Already its getting pretty sensitive here and there. If the dollar ends up falling (not much for that needed), America as economical leader is out of the picture, ready to be replaced by China, Japan or Europe (if we ever get our EU government in order). Unless, they decide to become military leaders. Than we have a problem.

 

 

Gangster gardener Ron Finley


I always wondered why there weren’t any fruit trees growing randomly in the streets. Why is the only place you can buy an apple in the store? Plant a tree, and it will give fruit for free for ever. Isn’t this weird? It’s like the farmers or supermarkets have a patent on growing food.

Meet Ron Finley and his inspiring vision of repurposing unused the 26 square miles (!!) of open space with his group L.A. Green Grounds.

Guerilla gardening

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Guerilla gardening is a global trend. More and more people start to grow their own food and make the city a better place to live in. With a little creativity of vision, and willingness to get our hands dirty, we can remake spaces defined by asphalt and dead grass into productive places of beauty. Rooftops are also a beautiful place to grow your own food!

Extreme rare books for sale


It’s always nice to have special- and rare editions of things. Especially when those things had impact on all of us. With some books that is definitely the case. Well, At The Jones Brothers you can find supreme rare versions of those books. First and signed editions of The Great Gatsby for example. Or copies of the BOND books.

Secure your copies to fill a book shelf and be ready to impress (and leave the cheesy versions for the e-reader). They will look great next to your vinyl collection.

Or, if you want to do your own digging, have a look on Ebay & Co. For example, I did some searching regarding the first edition (first print, first issue) of The Great Gatsby and there are some versions available. I believe the originals go for about USD 3,000 and up depending on the condition. All without the original dust jacket. Those alone go for a whooping USD 150,000 and up on auctions.

 

The ultimate nap-couch.


Jump into your couch. Literally. Camp Daybed by Stephanie Hornig

Clean alternative to Lorum Ipsum


If you don’t want your clients to be asking what “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet” means, this might be a good alternative. Download Blokk Font for free. For me, I prefer the Lorum Ipsum. It has some character.

Coming Up: Launching soon (with LaunchRock)


As I said in a earlier post, we are working on a new project called Coming Up. The product is still in development, but thanks to the guys from LaunchRock we already have a ‘launching soon’ website in the air.

LaunchRock offers a tool to quickly set up this page! The concept is great, though there are some bugs in the software. For example, the site is not responsive so it doesn’t look good on my mobile phone, and there are some tiny things regarding the sharing on Facebook. The support team is adequate and they are responding in a great way to my emails. At LaunchRock you can see who signed up and by whom they are referred. There are some other statistics like who referred the most people so you can reward them if you like. Obviously, you can export the users to have your mailing list by time you need to warn them.

Coming Up

Coming up is an app that will help you to get together with your friends in real life! Plan something spontaneously, invite friends to join or just see what they are up to (but only if you are invited, or their plans are public).

Pre signup here, we will let you know the moment we launch!

A/B testing


I did some A/B testing on the website for Shortcut Media. Well, I think there is clearly a winner. The plan was to let the experiment run for a week, but I guess that is not needed.

Variation 01 is outperforming the original page with 447% and shows a stunning conversion  rate of 20%.

The page offers a free QR code generator tool. I already talked about that in an earlier post. In the original version, the generator is on top and below I offer the visitors a (superior) alternative (the product we want to sell). On the variation page, I offer people first the alternative and then the QR code generator. As I had seen before in earlier tests, by simply putting the stuff you want the visitor to click on, on top, conversion increases dramatically. (Seems a bit obvious in retrospect of course).

Here is the winner!

 

How many animals of each kind did Moses take on the Ark?


Two animals of each kind right?

If you are like most people, that answer popped up in your mind within a split second. This is what phycologists call the Moses Illusion because: “Moses didn’t take any animals on the Ark. That was Noah.”

This experiment is quite famous and I believe first explored by Erickson and Mattson somewhere in the early eighties. Why now this subject? Well, I am reading ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow‘ by Daniel Kahneman. My father gave it to me for my 34th birthday. Although I am only at page 80, it’s already became clear to me that this is a very interesting book.

He speaks about your brain functioning in two different systems. System 1 and System 2. System 1 thinks fast and jumps to conclusions. System 2 thinks slow, needs to validate and rationalise, doesn’t trust things that much but – and here is the ‘problem’ – is also a quite lazy.

When you were happy with your answer “2” on the opening question, this was typically system 1 at work. Quickly coming up with a conclusion, not validating (that would be system 2) and move on, never knowing that you were completely wrong. Don’t worry, we are all subject to a set of reliable biases and illusions. Not just you.

Already I believe this is a brilliant book. It gives you great insight in how the brain works. He brings in his now research and that of many other psychologists and other scientists.

This world famous experiment by Professor Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris for example where you have to count the number of times a group of people passes the ball to each other. I’d seen it before, but if you don’t (lucky you) have a look at it. Enjoy 🙂

Did you see it? It’s funny that when you know the film, there is no way you cannot see it even when I focus as hard as I can on the task. It’s hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t see it. It’s so obvious!

And here is the book cover. Click on it to buy it on amazon (yes affiliated)

 

New Project: Coming Up


One of my dearest friends and business-partners had this idea. An idea to build an app. Now, often do we have ideas and often it doesn’t evolve beyond the idea and they fade away after some beers and weeks.

We both have 15 years of experience in online and our ideas are often not that bad. For example, we had a working demo of a ‘taxi-app’ long before you saw any taxi-apps out there. And too often we said “And this time we should do it.” (Note that we have executed many of our ideas before, but sometimes due to lack of resources we can’t).

We have left the building!

This time we went from idea, to wire-frame to production. It’s going to be an App called Coming Up. What it exactly does I cannot tell at this moment but it’s going to be amazing! We plan to launch beginning 2013 and have high expectations!

I will updated progress here on my blog!

 

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