FarmBot: Open­source precision farming

FarmBot is an open­source and scalable automated precision farming machine and software package designed from the ground up with today’s technologies. The world’s population is growing and is projected to surpass 9 billion inhabitants by 2050. As a result farms must increase production by about 60 percent to meet demand which is stunning since many believe we have reached the limits of traditional farming.
FarmBot

In comparison to desktop digital 3D printers and CNC machines FarmBot extends the idea of X, Y, and Z directions and applies it to plows, seed injectors, water and sensors in order to accurately and efficiently grow plants and soil. I think that I would like to try this out in my own backyard.
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Latest Read: Makers: The New Industrial Revolution

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution is the best book hi-lighting the impact Makers have established over the last five years. The Maker movement is growing due to the collision of powerful digital tools, the internet of things and cost effective manufacturing. As a child I always wished for these advanced tools to bring to life my ideas, inventions and the toys my childhood friends would talk about and dream about making.

Makers The New Industrial RevolutionMy ideas for creating art was always apart of my Saturday art classes at the Toledo Museum of Art. The drawings I kept of my inventions have all but disappeared.

This is where Makers: The New Industrial Revolution comes into focus for parents and educators today a generation later. What is making this possible? The industrial global supply chain has driven the cost of affordable powerful IoT including the new $5 Raspberry Pi Zero that will drive new innovations at incredibly efficient price points.

We should be careful at home because the world is embracing these technologies. Remember Anderson shares his belief that inventors and creative types are actually makers. Now this is happening on a truly global scale.

If the buzz of 3D printers and filament reels make your eyes glaze please remember that YouTube is the best example of Makers sharing their passion. Look at any dedicated YouTube channel – say woodworking- and you will find Makers creating and uploading passionate lessons regarding their craft. Look no further than Esty for a commercial success as a reseller of Maker’s crafts now listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Simply unheard of just 5 years ago.
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FireFox at 10

FireFox turned 10 years old this week.  As much as the internet and society has had a love/hate relationship with this browser it is very important to not lose this one lesson: Initial month of deployment: 100 million downloads (10% market share) and now Microsoft was threatened by this new upstart browser and had just finished destroying Netscape.

But the real lesson not to be forgotten:  Blake Ross was a Stanford freshman (just 19 years old) along with Dave Hyatt and Joe Hewitt started developing this browser.

They were fresh out of High School when they all began developing what we now know as FireFox.

In Higher Education we need to really see that the world has changed rather significantly and for many administrators this lesson on launching a successful alternative to Internet Explorer is not lost on me.

Are we fully acknowledging that in the new App Economy we already see European countries teaching mobile app development in grade schools.

How far do we fall behind?

Will printed books remain relevant in the future?

Milwaukee radio station 620am WTMJ broadcast a segment regarding ebooks last week.  I finally got around to blogging about it today.  The segment was titled: Will printed books remain relevant in the future?  Book/library aficionado/blogger Paul Everett Nelson joins WAN at 4:34pm.

While the discussion was simple and well targeted to their audience there is certainly more to this story.  I understand the limited time allocated to radio segments — its Milwaukee’s WTMJ – not NPR.

My own experience and love of reading drew me to think deeper about the discussion of the publishing industry and their new demand to charge libraries unbeliveable fees.Some believe the publishing industry has been decimated in the internet age like the music industry.  Not sure that I completely agree with this statement.  A well run publishing business should be able to make significantly more profit from selling ebooks.  But in order to be successful the publishing industry must cannibalize itself.

One of the points of discussion is a rather draconian sales policy ebook publishers have demanded. They are changing their Terms  by actually charging libraries to repurchase (at full price no less) any ebook checked out more than 25 times. Yes you read that correctly – publishers plan to force every library that checks out an ebook 25 times to re-purchase the ebook at full price.

When exactly did those same publishers force those same libraries to purchase additional hardback copies of their books at full price after they were checked out 25 times?  Never, since the idea is just asinine.

Imaging a cable company requiring you to purchase a new cable package after watching 25 TV shows. Yep – now you know how stupid — or simply greed — is driving this decision.

Ever see a stack of 500 books on a shipping pallet?   Consider all the costs for print, assembly and shipping.  Add costs to distribute those books to bookstores and big box resellers….that is an expensive and time consuming process.  Oh yea…want it fast? — then pay extra for overnight shipping. Remember those books are only available during business hours.
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MDNA: sales vs. torrents

I simply burst out laughing reading the Detroit News‘ article regarding Madonna’s sharply falling record sales.  Her latest release MDNA debuted at #1 last week after selling 359,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan. Yet as the article indicated: Madonna set to make the wrong kind of chart history.  Clearly author Adam Graham (@grahamorama) has no idea how torrents have simply crushed the music industry.  If he does understand — it was not mentioned in his article.

Riddle me this: How does Nielsen, Billboard or any other entertainment resource accurately reflect the impact of torrents on sales?  Ah….they can’t. The fact that Nielsen/Billboard still lists “traditional chart history” tells me another analog business is choking to death on the globalized internet.

I have come to accept that illegal downloads are no different than drugs, ebooks, guns or music.  All are in heavy demand.  The only difference: ebooks and music use the internet. Supply and demand.  Nothing more.

Its been a long standing issue for me to see mainstream media really show how inept they are when it relates to the globalization of the internet.  So what exactly did Adam Graham miss?

If you really want to understand the way the world works…

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Latest read: Cognitive Surplus

Remember the last time you read a great story that you caught yourself peaking at the remaining unread pages because you didn’t want the story to end?  That’s how I can best describe Clay Shirky‘s book Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.  His stories were coming to a close before I was ready to put the book down.

cognitive surplusThis is a great follow-up to his first book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.  Shirky is right on target with engaging, connecting stories to share his ideas about our new ability today to share collective knowledge.

Over 1 trillion hours of TV is watched per year. Imagine what can happen when people turn TV off and begin contributing.  And Shirky elegantly shares the shifting nature of professionals vs. amateurs in the age of the internet.  Pretty amazing reading.

I believe there have been attempts to move in the direction he outlines but a tipping point has been the mass availability of consumer devices at very affordable price points.  I recall Peter Gabriel‘s interview on the Today Show in 1988 talking about the efforts of Amnesty International and their attempts to videotape human rights abuses with large, analog cameras.
Today we know all to well from the murder of Oscar Grant that cameraphones have made their efforts real.

The Napster thing
IMHO Clay’s single oversight in the book surrounds Napster.  I think he was trying to communicate a holistic answer to why people (not just Gen Xers) were stealing music.  He called it sharing — it was stealing plain and simple.
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Sports Illustrated Tablet

Sports Illustrated is highlighting a forthcoming tablet from Time Inc. It looks interesting but what is Time’s market for this type of product with their brands?  How does a subscription their publications justify the hardware and annual subscription fees?  Who is their wireless provider, how do I sync it to my laptop and what about DRM?
Sure any designer worth a grain of salt can redesign a magazine…Let the Tablet games begin!

Tags: Sports Illustrated, Time, Inc., Tablet, design, wireless, magazine, trends

Authors at Google: Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson visits Google to present his book “Free” This event took place on July 9, 2009, as part of the Authors@Google series. My book review of Free.

From the Google Author Series:

He makes the compelling case that in many instances businesses can profit more from giving things away than they can by charging for them. Far more than a promotional gimmick, Free is a business strategy that may well be essential to a company’s survival.

The costs associated with the growing online economy are trending toward zero at an incredible rate. Never in the course of human history have the primary inputs to an industrial economy fallen in price so fast and for so long. Just think that in 1961, a single transistor cost $10; now Intel’s latest chip has two billion transistors and sells for $300 (or 0.000015 cents per transistor–effectively too cheap to price). The traditional economics of scarcity just don’t apply to bandwidth, processing power, and hard-drive storage.

Yet this is just one engine behind the new Free, a reality that goes beyond a marketing gimmick or a cross-subsidy. Anderson also points to the growth of the reputation economy; explains different models for unleashing the power of Free; and shows how to compete when your competitors are giving away what you’re trying to sell.

I found Chris’ idea really is not so radical given today’s economy.  It will benefit those companies smart enough to recognize the innovative opportunity to grow their customer base.

Tags: Chris Anderson, Free: The future of a Radical Price, marketing, Google Author, copyright, internet, economy, innovation, ideas, business, radical, reading, trends

Latest read: The Future of Music

Would you like to access music the same way you access water?  David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard have written an amazing book about the music industry, artists, record companies and how massive changes are underway that will benefit everyone who enjoys music.

The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution proves that indeed access to music can be modified to be as simple as finding water.  If you are interested in education David and Gerd actually spell out something special in chapter one … maybe without even knowing it.

Without a doubt they have The Future of Music nailed down: Mobile and Digital.  The book is labeled a Manifesto for good reason.  If you want to understand the music industry from the inside, gain a better perspective on how the record industry stacks the deck against musicians and how mp3 + iPod + iTunes = Revolution then you will really enjoy The Future of Music.

Authors David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard have combined their knowledge and talent to truly place a wonderful series of ideas, thoughts and experiences from the music industry into a book that will show how radical changes to the digital distribution of music will actually make everyone happy, kill Digital Rights Management in the process yet make the music business profitable.

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