Dell Ideastorm, a great idea!

Today Dell announced a social networking / Digg style site that they’ll use to collect ideas for new products.   I think it’s a great idea.   Not clear to me yet if Dell is going to use this for collective troubleshooting as well, which I think would be far more helpful than new product ideas.    Typically in my experience user forums are VERY cumbersome to use and I find it’s better to simply do Google searches and hope you bump into some expert commentary about a problem.  However with DIGG like content evaluation and better organization a sort of DELL FAQ / Troubleshooter would be great.

Progressive bifocal fix

I’m throwing out this “life hack” after finally, almost, dialing in my new progressive bifocal glasses so I can see acceptably well both at  computer distance and long distance.

Problem ONE:  lenses are fairly small.   Not clear this is necessarily part of the problem, but I think it makes each of the 16 gradations in the lens smaller and therefore makes it harder to get the glasses to sit “just right” on your face.   I kept the small lenses but recommend you get medium to large lenses with progressive bifocals.

Problem TWO:  Reading Prescription was wrong.    I have a pretty capable eye doctor so it really surprised me when I went in after initial problems.  He sat me down next to his computer with hand lenses of -.25 , -.50, and -.75 diopters and had me experiment.  This was VERY helpful and surprised him as we found I had more of a difference between distance and computer range than he’d measured with the instruments before.

Costco sent the specs back in at no additional charge to boost the lower portion of the bifocals.    The new ones were better, but I still had problems with wavyness and inability to dial in a good focus on both eyes.

Problem THREE:    Optical Center could be off as measured.   In my case this was NOT a problem though it felt like it.   She measured it many times and it matched earlier numbers.  But have them do this if you have problems since errors here will create problems.

Problem FOUR: Optical Center could be off as the glasses sit on your face.   This does appear have been part of my problem and I’m still tweaking the nose pieces to make sure vision from each eye is correct.

Problem FIVE:   ANGLE of the GLASS is WRONG.    THIS appears to have been my big problem.  In general the glass should be parallel to your eyes, yet many frames won’t sit this way and need extensive adjustment.    Before I got the new prescription this potential problem was mentioned *immediately* by the doctor and optical person so I assume it’s common.   FIX:   Take a small needle nosed pliers, clamp them up near where the little screws attach lenses to frame, and bend the ear pieces DOWN (or perhaps up in some cases?).   Mine are now at a much different angle than they came, but the glass now is parallel to my face and therefore the glasses are working much better.

Note that 20 feet to infinity distance need the same prescription for most people.

Note that often eye doctors and especially glasses providers will often encourage you to “get used to this”.    Generally I think this is very BAD advice and you should insist on working with the specs until you dial them in perfectly, or close.

Artificial Intelligence Optimism: Human intelligence on a computer is coming soon.

I don’t know how I missed reading Raymond Kurzweil for so long.  He’s an amazing pioneer in a variety of innovations from music to Artificial intelligence, and his perspectives on the ongoing shift from human to machine thinking are quite brilliant. It’s too bad we miss so much of this, needing as we do our daily fix of Anna Nicole news.

Here are a couple really neat items from a recent interview with him:

KURZWEIL: We’ll have sufficient hardware to recreate human intelligence pretty soon. We’ll have it in a supercomputer by 2010. A thousand dollars of computation will equal the 10,000 trillion calculations per second that I estimate is necessary to emulate the human brain by 2020. The software side will take a little longer. In order to achieve the algorithms of human intelligence, we need to actually reverse-engineer the human brain, understand its principles of operation. And there again, not surprisingly, we see exponential growth where we are doubling the spatial resolution of brain scanning every year, and doubling the information that we’re gathering about the brain every year.

nonbiological intelligence, once it achieves human levels, will double in power every year, whereas human intelligence—biological intelligence—is fixed. We have 10 to the 26th power calculations per second in the human species today, and that’s not going to change, but ultimately the nonbiological side of our civilization‘s intelligence will become by the 2030s thousands of times more powerful than human intelligence and by the 2040s billions of times more powerful. And that will be a really profound transformation.

Profound indeed. Look at how our modest intelligence capabilities, when applied cleverly, lead to really neat innovations, higher standards of living, better environment, etc, etc. With a *billion times* our abilities the thinking machines should be able to create a blueprint for an earthly utopia. There are plenty of resources on earth to give everybody a high standard of living- we just don’t distribute them optimally, primarily due to hopelessly ineffective economic systems and conflicts in the developing world and only modestly effective ones in the affluent sectors.

When the computers give us the blueprints for change will we choose to implement the suggestions? Will they look for ways to force us to use them? Will they value humanity as we do (which, I would argue, is not much given the state of affairs in the 3rd world and how little attention we pay to that suffering).

Kurzweil Reader

Kurtzweil Website