Hyperloop Hype

Anyone that travels internationally will usually convey enjoyment and awe at train efficiency in Europe or Japan. When you consider the overwhelming number of ridership not to mention a wonderfully efficient and clean mass transit system you have to wonder why this couldn’t be a staple of the American experience.

 

For starters, it was America that delivered the automobile as a form of independent travel requirements. However, long before the car was horse and buggy or the transcontinental railroad. As the automobile and flight grew into efficiency, the rail system seemed to be outsourced to the industry as a method of moving goods and services. People were and continue to be excluded from the rail experience in America because for some reason it is not efficient?

 

Despite Europe, Japan, China and other nations embracing rail need as a cost savings entity our country seems hell-bent at protecting the automobile. In fact, the stigma of not having an auto and opting for mass transit may accidentally label individuals as no longer qualified to drive because of legal reasons. Trains, buses, and mass transit have become a lesser standard of independence and status whereas the automobile is valued as a personal statement. Watching motorists with oversized SUV’s perhaps squeaking out 12 miles per gallon driving alone doesn’t entirely demonstrate our willingness to become more sustainable. Instead, sustainability is nothing more than a marketing word that people use when separating waste materials.

 

What if the United States began to reinvest in the rail system once again? Sure, it will be an expensive endeavor. The expense comes at a cost because we have neglected a system created a hundred years ago preceding to high-speed interstate highways with overrun budgets and periodic surface repavings. The last time Amtrak introduced a new high-speed locomotive was the in the year 2000 when the Acela Express entered service. That indicates that Federal Transportation Administration is not concerned with replacing aged out rail locomotives. To make matters worse, the Acela Express broke apart in early 2018. If this were an aircraft, there would be orders and inspections to ensure the highest level of public safety. As for the typical U.S. rail system, it is viewed as the lower tier of service. In fact, bus travel is higher than rail service because of the limited destinations trains may travel.

 

A reason we don’t have a bullet train in America is that we don’t have the right rail system and protections in place to allow high-speed rail. Additionally, there is no competition with Amtrak whereas Ford, Chevrolet, and other automakers share the same roads. Moreover, the typical American transportation hub doesn’t create a practical design where trains, planes, and buses meet at an apex point. Instead, planes are at remote airports, buses are located on the shady side of town, and train stations… well, if you find one, let me know. America created the design flaw, and perhaps the automotive industry had its fingers in the pie to allow that to occur.

 

With all the talk about a hyperloop system seems somewhat like a fantasy scene from the Jetson’s cartoon. Why on earth would a hyperloop work in American when we cant even develop and maintain a capable working rail system? Sure, it sounds impressive, and personally, I would celebrate the day such an endeavor reaches the average American. However, I am not as optimistic because a hyperloop must endure the same identical bureaucratic standards as the rails system or anywhere land is developed. In the meantime, I will keep watching the Jetson’s and pretending we live in such a world.

Fake or Credible Internet?

Executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google appeared today before Congress to discuss issues of possible Russian election interference. What I learned from that discussion was that internet providers are not as transparent as they claim to be. It has been a long-standing unwritten policy that the internet will not be controlled by anyone or any company. What we perceptively learned today was that the big internet giants have an interest in revenues and public image. Naturally, they do not wish to be labeled as “controllers of free speech.” But what about television, mail adverts or newspaper media flyers. They are regulated by many rules and regulations, and the deliverables of that particular irregularity or false product could be held liable for distribution not to mention investigators will be serving search warrants and filling up evidence boxes for later court dates. Such false advertising or false production is similar to snake oil pitches. Eventually, the salesman and the product can be banned and criminally charged if it causes harm.

The internet can be a dangerous place. It does have a unique mystique about it, and the data it collects and shares can be compared to a diamond mine depending on how one desires to implement a plan. But the internet today is not the porn hub central that once was deemed the 1990’s deviant playground. Today, the internet has become a part of our connected world with ala carte news and home appliance device connectivity. This is a differing contrast to European and foreign markets that protect user information. The internet has become dangerous because we have created conditions for it to be hazardous. Without fundamental enforceable law and boundaries, we have allowed the internet to be policed by not companies and people but instead analytics and software. This is not to imply a conspiracy theory of artificial intelligence taking over the world. Alternatively, the implication is that software is not human enough to determine what is real versus what is not. But to take that argument a bit further, many Americans have difficulty in distinguishing between fake or credible.

Based on that little snippet of discovery it will be hard-pressed for any prosecutor to effectively rule on the Russian election hacking issue. Not because of evidence, but because of the complexities of election laws differing across state lines and internet data servers that typically reside outside the United States as a form of redundancy and backup qualities. Let’s not mix up collusion with election tampering. Collusion is a secretive path to data where tampering is a physical adulteration of data. But I think it is equally important to ask tech giants to disclose to government or a branch of oversight how it maintains its secretive or propriety paths. For example, today I performed a random search of Kevin Spacey and Anthony Rapp separately. What I quickly discovered was that Spacey had all the press information while Rapp had similar linkage. There was not one negative search story about Rapp to include alternative viewpoints or discussions. Why? Is it that analytics immediately point to what is deemed credible or is it what tech giants want us to read?

Overall, it is very complicated, and any legal ramifications about internet tampering will ultimately set a new precedent of how we or others police credible data. Another question to ask ourselves “does metadata exclude opposite viewpoints on purpose because it deems them as false?” This would be the argument I would introduce because not one blog or publication raised issues with Rapp. I am not attempting to slam Rapp. I am only using this as a prime example of how information seems adulterated and selectively scrubbed while searching for it.

The bottom line is that tech giants have an agenda and we the people are its product. Naturally, there won’t be much transparency from tech giants because that would remove a large slice of income and data collection from its grasp.  Google, Facebook, and Twitter currently monopolize our data where we do not own ourselves or our privacy any longer. Until someone breaks up the monopoly or peels back the onion of these companies, we will continue to witness distortion and snake oil pitches that seem all too real. Perhaps the internet and another nation adulterated our recent election by creating emotional harm. At what point will it become perilous where many people die or are harmed because the internet has succeeded credible standards seemingly no longer used because it’s not technical or high speed sufficient?

Apple Losing its Appeal?

I am a fan of Apple products. In fact, I have been a fan so long that I still remember my first Apple computer purchased in 1987. Owning an Apple during that time was radical because it was molding and changing a new market of home users. Over time Apple pushed the envelope again and again. But when it came to my phone I was a hardcore Blackberry user. I was convinced that nothing would ever replace Blackberry devices and that they would forever rule the world. I was surely wrong about Blackberry. Today I use an Apple iPhone 6 Plus in conjunction with my Apple Watch and enjoy them both. I was indoctrinated from Blackberry to Apple that I would be a happy customer, and so far I have been pleased.

Today Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 and a new watch. In a nutshell, I was not impressed and left feeling deeply disappointed. In viewing the reaction of audience members during the presentation, it almost felt like a scene of canned laughter and applause for a television sitcom. I became a bit flustered that each of the new qualities Apple introduced is the standard to competing phones. It had me questioning, “why am I still loyal to Apple?” For starters, the customer support is rock solid. I have never had an issue with an Apple product that could not be resolved with a quick call to Apple technical assistance. Additionally, the ease of use without having to hire a nine-year-old to help you figure out how to use a feature has been a relief. But Apple thinks that all of its users are or will be some amateur turned professional photographer. This is simply not the case with me. I don’t plan on creating any home movies. While I am appreciative towards Apple’s efforts in creating an entertainment device, I would have wished for some practical convenience features.

Many of us professional business users tend to wear the battery life out of our phones. I would have liked to have seen a wireless battery charging platform or something similar to a Tesla charger for the iPhone that will bring your battery life to 70% in 5 minutes. While it is true that Apple extended battery life maybe an hour longer, I remember that same conversation a few iPhones prior where there was a battery flaw causing a replacement recall. Okay, the new home button is no longer an actual button. So what!? Sure, I get haptic feedback which I rarely if ever use. Then the huge announcement that the iPhone 7 is water and dust resistant which is a far cry from waterproof. To me, this only means that once again I am at the mercy of purchasing another Apple condom or similarly based Otterbox.

If Apple wants to impress me, then begin creating devices that don’t crack or break when you accidentally drop them. We live in an active world where Apple claims to be a part of but creates devices corresponding to the children’s egg-and-spoon race. Apple must create a game changer scenario where its devices are durable for a family and practical world free from required and bulky Otterboxes. Why should my prescription eyeglasses be more durable than my iPhone? Once Apple personally answers that question, then maybe I will be awed and impressed.

A part of me would like to buy the new iPhone 7. The practical part of me says it is not worth the move yet. I cannot see the benefit of upgrading my nearly two-year-old iPhone 6 plus. I think I share the sentiment because Apple is struggling and flatlining among many of its loyal users. Sadly the observation I am witnessing is akin to the once dominant Blackberry device. As the mobile device community grew and became radically diverse, it left Blackberry far behind. My fear is that Apple is losing its creative edge allowing other devices or technologies to overshadow its long-standing innovative side.

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