What will you do with an internet and devices millions of times more powerful?

I keep thinking about the inevitable exponential growth of technology and how it relates to CPU Processing power, Storage capabilities and Data transmission speeds, and then I ask myself what would I do with technology 1 billion times more powerful than the one we have.

If you haven’t noticed, things are getting really powerful, really tiny, and really fast already.

And companies like Google are starting to show hints of what should be done with all these.

Look at the new Google Maps, it’s pretty amazing, and it’s only going to get better.

When you interview at Google there’s one question that keeps coming to you almost from all the people that drill you “How would you make the internet faster?”

It seems Google’s answer is to take over the internet at every layer, they have indexed it like nobody else, they’ve created a browser that’s now taken the majority of the market share and made it really fast, they’ve built application layer protocols faster than HTTP (SPDY), they’ve also seen the exponential adoption of mobile devices and created an operating system for it, and devices for it, and more recently they’re even providing internet access at Gigabit speeds one small city at the time (which is all an experiment for what’s to come)

Then you see them experimenting with very primitive versions of wearable computers (Glass) and if you start putting the pieces together, for example, they were crazy enough to have cars driving around the world to have “Street View” in Google maps… how on earth would you be able to go all the way and digitize reality itself? You put computers on people’s heads and record everything into digital information.

I can see a future where Google will be able to ask you to record whatever you see around you, inside or outside a building, they’ll have your position, your orientation, and best of all, since there will be so many of us willing to collaborate in exchange of some stupid incentive (or perhaps none), they will be able to record reality from almost any angle possible to have a full representation of reality, perhaps even in real time, I think these are the kinds of things that are possible when you have incredibly fast CPUs, incredibly huge storage, and incredibly fast transmission speeds when you have incredibly ubiquitous internet access (remember that Balloon project?)

And that’s just what this little mortal has thought of in relationship to their Google Maps product.

I think Google Glass and an application of this sort will bring forth interesting legal challenges, like, what if you don’t want the inside of your home or office to be in google? how do you prevent anyone from capturing everything and making it public?

Other scary applications that I see possible are real-time face recognition coming from a Google Glass facebook app, then the name “facebook” will really make sense. And best of all, a lot of people (after major debate and laws have been passed with respect of not being scannable by strangers) will actually want to be recognized by strangers, maybe there will be social benefits to complete unanimity, it will all be really interesting.

Things I found to be different in London

I had the opportunity to break away from work for a week and visit one of the most important cities on my I-Have-To-Go-Here list, London.

I found many similarities between London life and New York life, but as I went outside every day I tried to put together a small list of things that I found curious from the perspective of a 4 year old New Yorker.

CCTV, CCTV, CCTV! From the moment you step foot in the city there’s a very clear message put into your head. CCTV!, Big brother’s watching!. The scare tactic seems to work, all my friends seemed to tell me, don’t do this, don’t do that, they’re watching. I personally think it’s more of a deterrent than anything. Nobody can possibly be watching so many cameras, they are probably used for “forensic” purposes.

Pound Currency design FAIL. I understand having different widths for blind people, but they made them way too wide to fit on a wallet. Also they don’t have their denomination shown on all 4 corners, for the tourist, if you insert bills backwards you have to take them out to see how much each bill is, slowing cashier lines with tourists.

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They just don’t fit on my “American Sized” wallet. I guess you have to either have a bigger wallet, or fold them twice. Notice how you can’t tell what bills are what (If you’re a noob with the currency of course), no numbers on all corners.

One thing I loved though on the 10 pound bill, freaking Charles Darwin is in it!

Now see the mighty dollar (Euros have the numbers on all 4 corner) how good the “user experience” is (at least for the non blind)

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London.Underground = NewYork.Subway;
London.Subway = NewYork.UnderPass

What the New Yorker calls the “Subway”, the Londoneer calls the “Underground”. Whoever designed the Logo of their system was a genius, it’s a very versatile logo. Now, here comes a weird thing, Waht we New Yorkers call an “Underpass” The Londoneer calls “Subway”. This little detail had me J-Walking a couple of big avenues with all my luggage right after I came out of the “Underground” , and I couldn’t find for the life of me a pedestrian area to cross, and I kept thinking that some parts of the city weren’t that pedestrian-friendly… Me and other tourists just had gotten out of what we call “Subway” when we saw a sign for the “Subway” again we didn’t use it and we J-Walked it baby. Then it was easy to cross big avenues. In london Underpass = Subway.

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Nokia > iPhone
Most people have Nokia phones there. Didn’t see a single iphone among my friends. Saw an Android though

The underground has no exits, only ways out.
The undeground has no "Exits", only Ways out

When you cross the street they always make you waste time on this buffer zone, many of the times lots of pedestrians end up waiting in the middle. Maybe its a combination of making car traffic flow faster, and also to help tourists remember cars are coming the other way.

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It seems that the city is a very democratic place and that it has lots of issues, during the 6 days I was there I saw protests from very different groups. It also seems that there’s this love for Rollerblading like nowhere else, saw big crowds of Rollerbladers (wearing funny customs some times) in several occasions. Not sure if they were also protesting.

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Maybe I’m just used to it, but I think the water in New York tastes 1000 times better than the water in London. There’s something in the London water after you swallow, it never seems to quench my thirst, it has to be extremely cold for it to feel the same way, and it was my experience that everywhere that I went I had to ask for a lot of ice. It must be an european thing (my wife doesn’t drink iced water either, nor does her family, they can even drink room temperature beer, yuck) drinking water at its natural temperature, maybe it’s part of the energy culture in America that we don’t give a crap to spend energy in cooling water?

Overall, I loved the experience, the night life seems very much alive and real. Heard some stories of pickpocketing and of areas that I shouldn’t dare visit and this made me think that it may be a city a little more dangerous than New York.

Maybe it’s the week dollar, I don’t know, but everything felt to me that it was double or triple the price than in New York. I only spent money on food, transportation and internet connectivity, other than that I don’t think it was worth it for someone who comes from New York to do any shopping over there and I certainly didn’t spend a “p” on anything outside my most basic needs.

Thoughts during my first hours in London

I’ve finally taken a week off from work, and I decided to go to one of the must-visit cities on my list while my wife does her Indian journey with her sister. I’m in London, and I must say I’m not that thrilled yet (I haven’t seen anything so far), maybe it’s cause I’m alone, maybe it’s the weather, maybe I’m tired, or maybe I’m too cheap for the freaking prices so far in this city. Here are some of the thoughts I’ve had so far during the trip:

  • American Airlines for the first time had really good food during the flight. Also the movies on demand rocked, I could watch Valkyrie and Yes Man.
  • As we started to descend I realized I would not see the sun again during the whole vacation. Anywhere from 10,000 meters to like 100mts from the ground there were layers and layeres of clouds and fog.
  • Subway cars are tiny
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  • The subway system is a piece of cake
  • Every thing is twice as expensive as in New York, and it pisses me off
  • There’s a never ending drizzle
  • At first I thought the whole place would sound like I was in a harry potter movie, so far I’ve only heard Polish, German, Portuguese, Italian, and very little English with British Accent
  • Everything reminds me of my wife, traveling with her is 10 times more fun than traveling alone
  • It’s been only a few hours, hopefully I’ll get used in a couple of days on how crossing the street works, even though there’s signs in most places “Look right!” “Look Left”, I still have to think hard to figure out where cars are coming from on some streets. It’s all so crazy, they should switch.
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  • I forgot my power adapter
  • Everything is too expensive, 20 pounds for the internet connection on the hotel is not good at all, that’s like $30 usd. In 2 days I’d pay my monthly ISP with that amount of money back home
  • I still think the US is the best fucking country in the world, no matter how much people hate it, I find everything in america so convenient it’s hard to change it for any other country, at least for me

Update
In the afternoon after I walked more then I got more excited after I went to a few landmarks like the London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Picadilli Circus (below). I finally got some sleep, but I still feel that I’ve some jetlag on me, so I’ll take more of this sunday to sleep it off, that’s what vacation is for, resting.
Me at Picadilli Circus

The conclusion of the first day, most things in this country are backwards. I’ll try to make a list of them, it’s not only the driving. The bread toaster this morning was backwards, you’d get the bread down by pulling a lever up… wtf.