The New Honesty

Three times in the last week, I've been reminded by a cashier that what I was buying wasn't worth the money:

  • Long Beach Airport, Terminal 3. A single Larabar was $5. Cashier says "you sure you want to get that, it's five bucks"
  • Las Vegas, concession at Interbike somewhere. I grab a Crunch chocolate bar and the cashier says "dude, that's three dollars, you sure you want it?"
  • Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay parking lot food service for the US Crit finals. Parched, and with no water supply I ask for a 8oz bottle from the bartender. He says "this is $4.50, you actually want it?"

Sometimes there is an upside to a recession.

Off to Interbike

_DSX3108.jpg, originally uploaded by Hugger Industries.

Near the end of high school, I finally scored a job at a local bike shop, fulfilling my dream to have fun while making $3.35/hour. It was 1989 and every year then and after, I secretly lusted after the Interbike passes my friends deeper in the bike industry would score each year. I went off to college, kept riding bikes off and on for fun, and even still I would attend if given the chance.

My chance is finally here, thanks to Bike Hugger. Though I sort of despise Las Vegas for its over the top drunkedness, smoking, and depressing gambling addicts, I made an exception to my life rule of never setting foot in a vegas casino again to live a 20 year old dream: visiting Interbike, the largest bike industry trade show in North America. There will be new bikes, new parts, and famous riders (I hope to meet George Hincapie) on display and I’ll be there covering it all.

Check out both Bike Hugger and their Interbike hub site for updates.

Julie and Julia

I caught Julie and Julia today in a theater with all of three people (including me) while everyone else in town was at the first showing of Gamer. I wanted to see this because I was intrigued how one even goes about making a movie about a blog.

It did a pretty good job showing how the Julie character decides to do a blog and what it's like to write daily about yourself and how that can sometimes hinder your offline relationships. The concurrent storyline of Julia Child seemed truthful and sincere and overall I enjoyed it and left the theater feeling uplifted and inspired to cook.

But there was this one scene. Julie is in her cube and she's ecstatic that a post got 53 comments and she high fives her coworker, and moments later her husband calls and says he just noticed she's #3 on the most popular Salon blogs list and her arms shoot up out of her cube in victory and I began to cry tears of joy.

I sat in the theater thinking about my little blog and how it became a community large and a business small. I remembered walking into a coworker's office in December 1999, arms in the air, as I exclaimed "100!!! One hundred people hit my web server today! 100!!!" I remembered being so stoked that three thousand people hit the site in January 2000, when I won a web site of the day award. I remembered the first time a newspaper reporter called and wanted to talk to me of all people.

The tears kept rolling through the next scene and stopped after 5
minutes or so and I thought to myself how weird that I was brought to
tears by mundane shots about blogging serving as mere
story continuity to others in the theater.

Sure, it's just another romantic comedy that most people could say is forgettable date movie. But it's the first movie about blogging and the first movie that resonated in a way no other movie ever has with my own experiences. This will probably make sense to about a few dozen people with experiences similar to mine but my god did that film move me.

How long until we get a babelfish iPhone app?

I think the future is awesome right now and lately I've been amazed at all the stuff I can do with my laptop on the road (like edit an image on my home desktop and upload that to a web server while on vacation in the middle of nowhere) and my iPhone (the mantra "there's an app for that" is really true) that I had an obvious idea the other day while watching a film with subtitles.

The iPhone is great for finding food and points of interest while traveling, it's been indispensable on my last few trips. While finding national parks and a place to get dinner helps out a great deal in unfamiliar territory, the language barrier is still with us. The new iPhone 3GS has a microphone and voice recognition. While I know it's a leap that current iPhone chipset performance and API may not allow, I'm hopeful that this feature is coming soon.

Where Imagine landing in a country, using your iPhone to figure out your location and find your hotel and somewhere to eat. Now imagine you need to ask for help from someone on the street so you launch a babelfish app, pick the required language and speak into your phone mic while it displays the results. Here is me asking "Where is the library?" into an imagined app.

This can't be too far off, right? Even if the recognition wasn't that good, you can get a lot of information out of a few key words and figure out what someone is asking about.

Of course, to make it work really well, it'd also need to translate answers as well, so could get english text results for the answers you get, and that might just be beyond the scope of even current high powered desktop computers.

Still, I have hope we'll see an app like this someday in the next 5-10 years that works on portable devices.