The Fifty States Project

Sufjan Steves

Sufjan Stevens, a musician from Detroit, plans to compose a “concept” album for each and every state in the country. According to his bio, before moving on to the 50 states, he composed concept albums for the Nine Planets, The 12 Apostles, and The Four Humors. The first album “Illinoise” is a true folk-revival classic. If you haven’t already, check out the songs “Chicago” and “The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Heart” (iTunes). Next on his list is Oregon(!) – my home state.

I wonder if he will follow through with all 50 states. It would have been a lot easier if he had decided to do a song for each state. If he actually does it, I think I’ll buy the entire set generic cialis cheapest price.

IPoAC and Network Neutrality

As the debate over Network Neutrality rages on, it’s hard not to see IPoAC as a viable alternative to the limited options available to consumers relying on “traditional” technologies. IPoAC or (IP over Avian Carries) first emerged in 1990 as a proposal by the Internet Engineering Task Force. The concept is simple: utilize homing pigeons to carry internet protocol traffic. Although their packet loss ratio was 55%, with a response time ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 seconds, this was a long time ago. Considering Moore’s Law, it would seem logical that IPoAC would have greatly improved since the original tests, and could pose a threat to the oligopoly effectively caused by capital intensive last-mile infrastructure.

Alright, I’m just kidding. But pigeons actually are used as a data transmission method of sorts. Rafting photographers use pigeons to carry digital film to safety. According to an article on Wikipedia:

“Over a 30 mile distance a single pigeon may be able to carry tens of gigabytes of data in around an hour, which on a purely bandwidth basis compares very favorably to current ADSL standards”

A whole nomenclature has sprung up around the humorous concept. See:

  • TCP – Transmission by Carrier Pigeon
  • PGP – Pretty Good Pigeon (Where “phishing” scams create problems on traditional networks, hunting may become an effective method for hacking IPoAC networks)
  • Wi-Fly (longer range than now antiquated “wi-fi” technology)

Here’s a link to the IETF’s original proposal. – Useful For Anyone Who Eats Food, founded by Guy Michlin and Phillip Leslie, is an awesome new startup that publishes restaurant health inspection records in an accessible format – information that’s also published by the Health Department, but anyone who’s ever used a municipal website knows the experience is a bit like going to the DMV. So, imagine what it might be like like if you could renew your drivers license at an Apple store, and you’ll have a good idea of the difference between using and their municipal counterparts. They list some of the worst offenders on the front page, like Izalco Restaurant in San Francisco, who went from a respectable score of 96 out of 100 in March 2004, down to a 43 in July 2006. So what does a score of 43 mean? Major, moderate, and minor violations like “severe cockroaches”, “ready-to-eat food exposed to raw meat/chicken/fish/eggs”, “hazardous materials improperly stored”, and “dirty utensils/equipment”, the kind of things that make you cringe and hope you’ve never eaten at a restaurant with violations like that. Undoubtedly we all have.

I think it would be great to see the top 25 worst Cleanscores syndicated in local newspapers. This would put more immediate pressure on restaurants to comply with standards, and give some helpful exposure viagra pharmacie sans ordonnance. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the ability to text message with a restaurant name and city to get the score in a reply. Although they’ll probably hold off on this until they have wider coverage, as they currently only provide scores for San Francisco. The site was designed by Vestal Design, who, in the interest of full disclosure has done work for me on several projects. seems to be doing a great job of bringing their service to the public. Their content gets indexed into the “more info” section for a lot of restaurants searched on Google Maps, and I’d expect to see integration efforts with other big players in the future.

In general, bringing transparency to the food services industry can only be a good thing. It gives restaurants a healthy incentive to operate with high standards of cleanliness, while giving consumers the option to avoid the establishments who fail to meet those standards.

Luchmeet at has a recent interview with Guy and Phillip:

Where is UPC-Based Home Grocery Shopping?

Every product we buy at the grocery store has a Universal Product Code (UPC) printed somewhere on the packaging, a unique identifier that can be scanned easily using relatively cheap equipment. Now, enter inexpensive home delivery of groceries by household names like Safeway and, and you’re looking at all the key elements of a UPC-based home ordering system. It’s an extremely obvious marriage of existing technologies. The consumer leaves a UPC scanner in the kitchen sitting on the household wifi network. Any time they run out of something, they simply scan it before they dispose of the packaging. The UPC scanner relays the shortage to the household computer, which keeps track and puts in an order to the pre-existing online ordering system at the end of the week. The user could easily browse the online shopping system for other miscellaneous extras, even DVDs and video games Netflix style. Although MUCH less complex, the concept is functionally similair to the inventory supply chain automation that goes on already at your grocery store (and almost all other big stores box stores operating in the 21st century), so it could even act as an extension of that system. When you scan an empty can of dill pickles on Tuesday, that information could filter all the way back up Safeway’s automated supply chain, so that their inventory is optimized when your order goes out on Friday. Grocery store margins are razor thin, the business is all about managing inventory efficiently, so it seems like this would be pure gold for the grocery industry. Not only would it would build massive customer loyalty and offer unprecedented improvement to their supply chain, it would be wonderfully useful for the consumer.

Safeway has around 1500 stores in the United States. With the right customer incentives and an easy to use interface, they would wreak havoc on their competitors. It’s the kind of thing people were dreaming about when “smart homes” were in vogue, and is by no means a new idea. So the question is, where on earth is our integrated household UPC ordering system?

Also: check out this 1967 Prediction of the the home of the future (I wasn’t kidding about this not being a new idea):

Feature Snafus Part 1

Seth Godin wrote a post a few days back about the ready availability of chips that can be embedded in alarm clocks to provide “day-of-week” information, for about 20 cents. His point was that a feature like “only trigger alarm on weekdays” would be almost universally useful, yet most alarm clocks don’t integrate this technology.

“So why doesn’t every alarm clock have this feature? Because most people in that business are busy doing their jobs (distribution, promotion, pricing, etc.), not busy making products that people actually want to buy–and talk about.”

His critique, unfortunately, applies to some other industries I can think of. For instance, for years almost all cell phones would disable their clock when they were out of service (many still do) – probably because the phone is pinging the network to provide the most accurate time. For some reason, the clock feature was written to be completely reliant on the network. They must have never stopped to analyze the way people were using their phones (as watch substitutes!) to call for this to be fixed. It’s a classic feature snafu, a cell phone could very easily estimate the current time without constant communication with the network, yet for some reason this was and still is consistently overlooked acheter cialis generique.