Happy Mr. Smiley Rock

Happy Mr. Smiley Rock

Remember the Pet Rock–someone made millions of dollars selling lonely people a rock with instructions for care.

Playing around on the computer this evening, I crafted a new character.

Meet Mr. Smiley Rock.

He tough as a rock, handsome with his lovely hair, and dashing with a smile that’s ear to ear.

I started with a picture of a rock that I noticed when hiking.

The rock had leaves at the top that made it look like hair to me (I know crazy, huh).

I thought to myself take the photo and then when I am back, I can just add a smiley face and voila–it’ll come alive.

I found this cute smiley face balloon online and created this mashup.

I showed it to my wife who gave it her expert blessing.

Now, I share it for your enjoyment and critique.

Hey, what are weekends for if not a little fun and creativity?

(Source Photo of Smiley Balloon: here and adapted with my photo of the rock with leaf hair)

>Seeing things Differently with Augmented Reality


One of the most exciting emerging technologies out there is Augmented Reality (AR). While the term has been around since approximately 1990, the technology is only really beginning to take off now for consumer uses.

In augmented reality, you layer computer-generated information over real world physical environment. This computer generated imagery is seen through special eye wear such as contacts, glasses, monocles, or perhaps even projected as a 3-D image display in front off you.

With the overlay of computer information, important context can be added to everyday content that you are sensing. This takes place when names and other information are layered over people, places, and things to give them meaning and greater value to us.

Augmented reality is really a form of mashups, where information is combined (i.e. content aggregration) from multiple sources to create a higher order of information with enhanced end-user value.

In AR, multiple layers of information can be available and users can switch between them easily at the press of a button, swipe of a screen, or even a verbal command.

Fast Company, November 2009, provides some modern day examples of how this AR technology is being used:

Yelp’s iPhone App—“Let’s viewers point there phone down a street and get Yelp star ratings for merchants.”

Trulia for Android—“The real-estate search site user Layar’s Reality Browser to overlay listings on top of a Google phone’s camera view. Scan a neighborhood’s available properties and even connect to realtors.”

TAT’s Augmented ID— “Point your Android phone at a long-lost acquaintance for his Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube activity.”

Michael Zollner, an AR researcher, puts it this way: “We have a vast amount of data on the Web, but today we see it on a flat screen. It’s only a small step to see all of it superimposed on our lives.”

Maarteen Lens-FitzGerald, a cofounder of Layar, said: “As the technology improves, AR apps will be able to recognize faces and physical objects [i.e. facial and object recognition] and render detailed 3-D animation sequences.”

According to Fast Company, it will be like having “Terminator eyes,” that see everything, but with all the information about it in real time running over or alongside the image.

AR has been in use for fighter pilots and museum exhibits and trade shows for a number of years, but with the explosive growth of the data available on the Internet, mobile communication devices, and wireless technology, we now have a much greater capability to superimpose data on everything, everywhere.

The need to “get online” and “look things up” will soon be supplanted by the real time linkage of information and imagery. We will soon be walking around in a combined real and virtual reality, rather than coming home from the real world and sitting down at a computer to enter a virtual world. The demarcation will disappear to a great extent.

Augmented reality will bring us to a new level of efficiency and effectiveness in using information to act faster, smarter, and more decisively in all our daily activities personally and professionally and in matters of commerce and war.

With AR, we will never see things the same way again!

>Better Data Management and Enterprise Architecture


What is Information Technology? Well in simple terms its technology that enables information processing, storage, sharing, and accessibility. The business needs information to carry out its functions, processes, activities, and tasks. The systems and their underlying technologies process the underlying data to get it to the people who need it in our organizations.

Government Computer News, 21 January 2008 has an article by Mike Daconta (previously from the Department of Homeland Security) that offers tip on better data management.

  1. Data privacy audit—“given that identity theft and government data loss are of public concern, you should conduct an audit of the privacy vulnerability of your data assets.”
  2. Data dictionary—the article calls for a business glossary to communicate across organizational boundaries; to ensure that terms mean the same thing to everyone. I would call this an enterprise data dictionary.
  3. Data mashups—use web applications to combine data and/or functionality from more than one source.
  4. Data elements—“expose each major data entity in your business glossary [I would say in your data inventory]…with a standard set of create, read, update, and delete services. You then build higher-level services on top of these foundational services” for SOA.

The article has a simile for describing data as follows: “if money is an organization’s lifeblood, and people its muscles, data is the nervous system.”

But data is not really the nervous system, instead the network is the nervous system, since it is the network that relays messages back and forth from one body part to another.

So what body part is data like?

Data is the electrical impulses carried by the nervous system that tells the various body parts what they need to do.

Interestingly, when is a person declared dead? When they have no brain function anymore. Not when they cannot eat or breathe (machines can perform this artificially to keep a person “alive”.) But if the brain that processes the data is not functioning, then we declare a person dead. Without the ability to process data, neither an organization nor a person can survive.