Do You Know Your Bacon Number?

If you lived through the mid 90s, you more than likely heard of, if not played, a popular game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. You probably remember him for his famous role in the movie “Footloose”. In 1994, a group of college students got the idea to invent a game that sought to connect Kevin Bacon to any actor in 6 degrees or less. I remember some people were wicked serious about this game. As a matter of fact, the game ended becoming a board game. Now, it has made its mark on the web as Google has actually programmed Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon into its search engine.

Kevin Bacon

Playing the game on Google is very simple. In the search bar, type in “Bacon Number” and then an actor or actresses name. Below, you can see where I chose Prince and you can see that his “Bacon Number” is 3.

Prince's Bacon Number

Notice that there are 3 lines listed showing how Prince is associated with Kevin Bacon. I will go ahead and apologize to you in advance, as if you needed another time waster in your life. Unfortunately, this one can be pretty addictive.

The Guardian had a nice piece about Bacon and his attitude about the game. He thought it was negative at first. He thought it was some new way to poke fun at him, but apparently he ended up meeting the students that invented the game and even wrote the intro to their book. Kevin actually turned this whole thing into something very positive. He started a charitable website called It is a social networking site that connects people to charities and even lets them start their own charitable campaigns. Kevin makes a personal statement on the “about” page of his website.

I want to thank those partners — and especially, I want to thank you, for making a difference in this small world.

All the best,

Take a moment to play the game on Google, then swing over to the Six Degrees website and see if there is a cause near and dear to your heart.

Clara Schumann Google Doodle

Schumann Google Doodle
Screenshot of Clara Schumann Google Doodle

Today’s Google Doodle honors the 193rd birthday of Clara Schumann, a gifted virtuoso, composer, wife and mother, who overcame many adversities. Schumann is the picture of strength, passion, independence, and enduring love.

Early Life

Clara was born in Germany on September 13, 1819. Her father, Friedrich Wieck, was a theologian, but he made a living as a musician by trade. Her father and mother divorced when she was young and she was put into the custody of her father. He recognized her musical talents and built upon that throughout her childhood. By the time she was 11, she had made her first formal debut as a performer. Her father was extremely strict with her and had her tour all over Germany doing performances.

She had the rare ability to perform most piano works from memory. Her influences were Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, and most notably Robert Schumann. Schumann, who was 9 years older than Clara, left law school and took up residence with the Wieck family so he could study music with her father. A romance bloomed between she and Schumann which her father wanted no part of. In fact, he dropped Schumann as a student and sent Clara away to tour so she couldn’t see him. However, her love was strong and through messengers, she and Schumann never lost touch with each other. Without her father’s blessing, and essentially having to get permission to marry through a court order, Clara and Robert were wed one day before her 21st birthday.

Notable Woman

Schumann was a woman of notable character and strength. Shortly into their marriage, Robert had a mental breakdown and was plagued with mental illness the rest of his life. Because of these shortcomings, Clara became the main source of income and financial stability. She achieved this through teaching and performing. Robert was very supportive of her compositions, though it is only lately that her work has been recognized. In fact, Robert lamented that his mental illness, and the fact that they had 8 children, must have cut short many brilliant compositions that lived in her. Clara helped arrange many of Robert’s compositions and he was good to acknowledge such. Unfortunately, Robert’s mental illness landed him in an asylum for a couple of years. During this time Clara was not allowed to make contact with him and didn’t get to do so until shortly before his death. She was a widow at age 37.

There are many other stories that showed her strength and resolve, such as the time she defied a group of armed men, during the uprising in Dresden, to go into the city and rescue her children. She also raised many of her grandchildren because one of her daughters died and one of her sons was committed like his father. He too died in the asylum. Despite the difficulties that plagued her, Clara continued to perform and later teach until she passed away in 1896.

For more information about this incredible woman’s life, and to see a list of her compositions, visit


Editorial: The Sky is Falling! Where Will You Be When the Cloud Goes Down?

I don’t know about you, but the whole “cloud” thing is starting to get a little old. I feel like we’re in the 1980s again, when all you had to do was slap “2000” on anything and it was instantly cool. Don’t believe me? Would you rather have Windows or Windows “2000”. The next fad came with the lowercase “i” on everything. iPods needed iSpeakers and iTunes etc… Now, we have “cloud”. If you want to instantly make your business sound legitimate, just add some kind of “cloud” service to the title and you’ll garner instant fame, at least that’s what some seem to think it will do. Don’t get me wrong, cloud computing is serious business, but as cool as it sounds to have your business “in the cloud”, where are you going to be when it all comes crashing down?

Cloud Computing’s Appeal

Some of you may be wondering what the “cloud” actually is. Isn’t a cloud a white puffy thing that floats in the earth’s atmosphere? Believe it or not, that’s the second result you’ll get if you search for “cloud” on Google. In very simple terms, the cloud is a service that is delivered to you via the internet. If you look below, you will see a representation of a laptop at the bottom of the picture. The laptop connects to the internet via it’s Internet Service Provider, which could be DSL, 4G, cable etc… The internet is represented with a cloud. The reason for this is because once you get past the physical boundaries of your home or work-space, the route that your computer’s data takes is very complex. You have probably been using cloud services for years and didn’t even realize that’s what it was called. For instance, if you use Hotmail or Gmail for your email service, then you are using software as a service. It is provided to you via the internet, rather than something being stored on your computer.


There are many things to like about cloud computing. Probably its greatest appeal is how easy it is to access your information. For instance, one of my favorite applications is Dropbox. I can create a grocery list on my laptop at home and save it to my Dropbox folder. When I go to the grocery, I use the Dropbox app to open the grocery list and do my shopping right from my phone. From a business standpoint, there are a lot of great advantages to using cloud services too. For instance, I work in the construction industry and we deal with blueprint designs all of the time. Most blueprints are designed using a program called AutoCAD and the files it creates are usually enormous in size. Even if you convert them to PDF format, the drawings are usually still to large to transfer via email. Using a service like Dropbox allows our project managers to share these files with field personnel, which saves the cost of printing the files and putting them in a truck and driving them to a job site.

It’s Shark Week on Discovery Channel!

It’s hard to believe, but Discovery Channel is celebrating 25 years of Shark Week! All of Discovery’s programming is turned on its head as their prime time slots swallowed whole by these fearsome creatures of the deep. In a press release, Discovery promises their viewers “eight all-new shark-filled specials that get you so close to the action, if you were any closer you’d be bait!” Now that is close my friends!

Shiyam ElkCloner via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to know everything you could possibly imagine about sharks, then Shark Week is for you. Discovery has a website dedicated to Shark Week at There is a ton of trivia, videos, show previews, games, and lots of teeth! Embedded below, you can see a preview of tonight’s episode called “Sharkzilla”.

[Video Link]

If TV isn’t enough for you, fear not, Discovery has you covered. You can download the “Discovery Channel HD” app that let’s you in on all the action via your iPad. It is available in iTunes via this link. When you download this app, iPad users will have exclusive access to “Shark Week Plus”, an interactive second screen experience, synchronized to select shows from Shark Week’s 25th Anniversary! You can also play along with your Facebook friends while you’re watching Shark Week with Shark Week Bingo. Pictured below, you can pick which episode you are watching and you can click on game pieces as you see them come across your TV screen.

Shark Week Bingo

Somewhere in all the horror, fun and games, and the sheer amazement of Shark Week; hopefully, the most important message comes across. Sharks are extremely misunderstood and are suffering from both natural and man-made stressors that threaten their very existence. Perhaps the most important aspect of Discovery’s website is the link where you can support shark conservation efforts. For more information, visit

Watch London Olympics Closing Ceremony Online

London Olympics 2012

NBC has succombed to pressure and is going to stream the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremonies live via its website It will will also be streaming via its NBC Olympics Live Extra app. Live streaming coverage for the closing ceremonies will begin at 4PM EST. NBC does still plan to show its tape-delayed coverage for its regular viewers. Also, keep in mind that the live streaming website and app require you to verify that you are a satellite, cable, or telco customer.

NBC has taken a beating for its delayed coverage of the London Olympics. So bad in fact, it even garnered its own hashtag “#nbcfail” on Twitter. In an age of instant media, NBC chose to take the old fashioned tape-delay route for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and they have paid dearly for it in the arena of public opinion. It appears that there was some fear on the part of NBC execs that the live streaming coverage would somehow interfere with the ratings of its top shows. Quite the opposite has happened, however. The description regarding this year’s Olympics ratings usually has “unprecedented” somewhere in the sentence.

This year’s closing ceremonies promises to be an exciting one. According to the London 2012 website, “‘We want it to be the best after-show party there has ever been.” Kim Gavin, who has masterminded spectacular stage shows for acts including Take That in the past, explains its focus: ‘It is about British creativity in the arts. There is a hell of a lot of talent and music and a hell of a lot of show in the show.’ Let’s hope it lives up to all the hype!


Google Play Music Celebrating the Phonograph with $2.99 Albums

Google Play is running an interesting promotion right now. Pictured below, you can see a few famous album covers pictured with the heading “50 Classic Albums From $2.99″. They say they are celebrating “Edison’s Invention”.


When you click on their link, it will take you to a page with some pretty famous albums that you’ll recognize right away. Curiously however, if you look at the picture below, they have the top of their page labeled with “The Phonograph’s Birthday”. I am not sure where they are getting their information. Wikipedia refers to Edison’s phonograph being invented between May and July 1877. makes mention of August 12, 1877 as being the potential invention date but also says there is some skepticism about it. Whatever the case, Edison came up with a really cool idea and one worth celebrating.

Phonograph's Birthday

It seems to be a pretty eclectic selection of albums and most of them are going for $2.99. However, be aware there are a few that are a little more expensive. Janis Joplin’s “Pearl” is going for $4.99 as well as, Paul Simon’s “Graceland”. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the Google Play team went about selecting what they refer to as the “50 Vinyl-Era Classics”. Pink Floyd’s the “Dark Side of the Moon” album is a no brainer in my opinion, but Jethro Tull??? Hmmm… not so sure about this one.

So what do you think? For me, I can’t help but wonder where is AC/DC, or Black Sabbath? Go take a look at the albums and tell me what you think would be worthy of your all time vinyl-era classics.

[Editorial] What Is Wrong With HTC?

Extremely long post ahead. Please make sure your stomach is full, and your bladder empty before continuing further. Skip the tl;dr if you are brave enough!

tl;dr – HTC started making similar phones, locked bootloaders, made its skin too bloated and slapped the Beats Audio branding as a gimmick. Made lots of promises in 2012 with One series, but they all turned out to be a dud. To save their ass, they need to fulfil their promises and support the Android modding community.

HTC was the first handset manufacturer to release an Android running phone, the T-Mobile G1. Both, HTC and Android have grown to great heights within a short span of time, and have complemented each other’s growth. Without HTC, Android might not have ever taken off. Without Android, HTC would have been still known for making Windows Mobile based phones and its Sense skin.

However, over the last 1.5 years or so, HTC’s growth has slowed down tremendously while Android has continued to grow and has grabbed nearly 50% of the world mobile OS market share. So how is it that a company that helped an OS grow, is suddenly struggling with its profits and market share shrinking with every passing quarter, when the OS in itself is reaching new heights?

No, it’s not Samsung that is to be blamed for HTC’s falling market share here. HTC is itself responsible for its own demise.

In 2010, the company released some iconic handsets like the Sprint EVO 4G, Desire, and the Desire HD.

In 2011, when the company’s fortune changed for the worse, it released more than 15 different handsets all that were hardly different from each other. At MWC in 2011, which is arguably the biggest mobile tech event of the year, the company unveiled three single core phones – Incredible S, Desire S and the Wildfire S. The first two handsets had the exact same internals, except for some minor differences, which in turn had the same internals as the 2010 high-end phone from HTC — the Desire HD.

Yes, these phones looked different, had different resolution cameras, and a few other differences, but they were ultimately powered by the same 1GHz single-core processor and packed the same amount of RAM. The worst part was that these phones were priced way too close to each other to make any sense. The Desire HD retailed for around the 30k mark in India in 2010, while the Incredible S and Desire S costed 28k and 25k respectively when launched in India in early 2011. The Galaxy S2, which Samsung had also announced at MWC, was also priced around the 30k mark, and was much better than these handsets from HTC.

Then in March, HTC announced its first dual-core phone, the HTC Sensation. On paper, the Sensation looked like a decent competitor to the Galaxy S2, with a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3 processor, 768MB of RAM, an 8MP camera and a qHD (960*640) resolution screen.

Sadly, HTC’s greatest advantage — Sense — turned out to be its biggest disadvantage in the Sensation. The Sense 3.0 skin from HTC was way too bloated, and even lagged on a dual-core powered smartphone, which was downright unacceptable. Random reboots, poor battery life, and a sub-par camera were other serious issues with the phone, that did not go down well with the few Sensation users.

Adding salt on the wound of the original Sensation owners, was the Sensation XE, that the company released just a couple of months later on. The Sensation XE packed similar internals to the original Sensation, except for a slightly faster 1.5GHz processor, a much better 8MP camera, a Beats Audio logo and a beefier battery.

As 2011 progressed, HTC kept on releasing phones that made little sense. The Sensation XL had a big 4.7-inch screen but was powered by a single core processor and was priced higher than the Sensation and Sensation XE, which was downright stupid. The HTC Rhyme, Amaze 4G, Vivid, Hero S, and the Raider 4G are other phones that the company should have never released.

By releasing so many phones that barely had any difference, HTC confused its potential customers who ultimately brought a Galaxy S II or other Galaxy branded phone from Samsung.

Beats Audio Filled Non-Sense And Broken Promises

In a pre-Android 4.0 world, HTC’s Sense skin was considered to be the best OEM Android skin out there. However, in 2010, HTC made its biggest advantage its biggest weakness as well. The Sense 3.0 skin from the company looked downright jaw-dropping beautiful, but it was slow and was just too bloated. Even in 2012, it is not uncommon to see the HTC’s Sense launcher — Rosie — restart itself after a session of gaming.

HTC loyalists and quite a lot of other people still preferred HTC’s Sense skin over Samsung’s childish and ugly TouchWIZ. Most people would just install a de-bloated Sense based custom ROM and be happy with their phone.

Then, in late 2011, Google announced Ice Cream Sandwich, that completely over-hauled the look of Android OS. Stock Android in itself looked beautiful now, and there was no need for OEM customisations. However, OEMs needed skins to differentiate their Android handsets from each other, and thus continued with their skins.

In 2012, HTC finally realised its mistake of releasing so many handsets and unveiled the ‘One’ series of phones. The One X and One S have a build quality to die for, power packed internals, decent camera and battery life and sufficient storage space. The company also de-bloated Sense 4.0 and made it much lighter.

Once again, things looked good on paper for HTC and it looked like that the Taiwanese maker finally had an answer to Samsung’s Galaxy series. The One X sold like hot cakes when it was initially released, but soon people realised that not all is well with the phone. HTC may have made Sense 4.0 lighter than before, but the skin was still a resource hogger. HTC had also tweaked broke the multi-tasking on the One X to optimise battery life.

While I completely understand OEM skins are very-much needed to differentiate handsets, they should add some useful features instead of adding some useless gimmicky features.

There was no sign of the Holo inspired Magazine style swipe UI in Sense 4.0. The company even removed the stock Android 4.0 animations to include its own, which made little sense. With Android apps themselves using the Holo theme with Swipe gestures, the lack of the Holo theme and swipe gestures in Sense 4.0 was downright stupid from HTC. If anything this will create more confusion among users and lead to UI inconsistency, and ultimately give Android a bad name.

HTC, and even Samsung, should learn from Sony and Motorola on UI skinning. Sony’s skin adds some much needed features to core Android, without going over-board. Motorola has also done an excellent job with its skin with the ICS update for the RAZR. The company has changed the icons and add some tweaks but has otherwise left the Holo theme on ICS untouched.

HTC had also invested heavily in Beats Audio and started branding its phones with the Beats Audio logo. The Sensation XE was the first phone from HTC to carry the Beats Audio logo, but at that time Beats Audio was nothing more than a software tweak.

In 2012, it was expected that HTC will release phones that live up to the Beats Audio branding. Things however, took turn for the worse. The international One X carried the Beats Audio logo, but the sound quality of the phone was pathetic to put it politely. The Beats Audio feature still remained nothing but a software tweak that only boosted bass and did nothing else.

HTC’s promise of the ‘One’ brand was also broken with the release of the EVO 4G LTE on the Sprint network and the Droid Incredible 4G LTE on Verizon’s.

On the other hand, Samsung managed to release the Galaxy S III on all the major carriers of the United States without any modifications in design, name or software thus maintained the ‘Galaxy S’ brand. Oh! and while the International Samsung Galaxy S III does not come with the Beats Audio logo or anything similar, it does come with a Wolfson DAC that provides an excellent audio quality.

They Locked It!

Until 2010, HTC handsets were the favorite of the Android modding community. CM and other AOSP based ROMs were always available for all HTC handsets within weeks of the release of the handset. In 2011, HTC started locking bootloaders on its handsets starting with the Thunderbolt. This unexpected move from HTC definitely shocked the whole Android community. The whole Android community took a stand against this with numerous petitions, but HTC turned a deaf ear to them. It was only when the company’s handset sale stared falling that the company realized its mistake and promised to release a bootloader unlocking tool for its handsets, which the company soon did.

Once again, things looked good on paper but were not in real life. HTC’s bootloader unlocking tool only did its job partially and did not provide true S-OFF, making the rooting process of their phones much more complex. All this did not go down well with the Android community and they started recommending Samsung’s Galaxy series of phones over HTC phones to normal users.

How Can HTC Rescue Themselves?

Fulfill all your promises. Don’t use the Beats Audio for just marketing, deliver brilliant music quality from your phone as well. Tone down Sense. Yes, you already did that with Sense 4.0 and 4.1, but you need to tone it down even more. Use Sense to add some useful features to your phones. Follow the rule of Don’t fix it if it hasn’t broken. Provide developers with full S-OFF, and for God’s sake don’t release a XL or XL+ model, which as rumors suggest you are going to do with the One X.

Google’s Self-Driving Cars Log Big Miles

Google’s self-driving cars have reached a new milestone. According to their official blog, their fleet of self-driving cars have logged more than 300,000 miles of testing. Google began this project back in 2010 to “help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use”. The World Health Organization, at the time this project was introduced, announced a staggering statistic that 1.2 million lives are lost due to traffic accidents. This has been one of the driving factors behind Google developing a safer way to travel.

The newest member of the Google Car team, the Lexus RX450h (Courtesy Google Blog)

Not only has Google logged more than 300,000 miles on their computer controlled cars, not one accident has occurred under computer control. While Google is proud of this accomplishment, they admit they have a long road ahead of them. “To provide the best experience we can, we’ll need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter.” This sounds like a pretty tall order considering most humans don’t even handle these situations very well.

The next phase for the Google car is to let the driving team go solo rather than in pairs. Up to this point, there has been one team member ready to take the wheel just in case of problems, while the other team member managed the car’s software applications. Moving to just one team member pushes the development of the Google car that much closer to the average commuter. “One day we hope this capability will enable people to be more productive in their cars.” I guess this means you’ll be able to put on your makeup on the way to work without fear of being in a wreck, or maybe finish up that last minute report while your Google car gets you where you’re going.

Pictured above, you can see the new Lexus RX450h that Google has recently added to its fleet of self-driving cars. “With each breakthrough we feel more optimistic about delivering this technology to people and dramatically improving their driving experience.” I just hope one day I can get an extra nap in on my way to work in the morning. Happy driving!

Watch the 2012 London Olympics Online

London 2012 Olympics Clock
London 2012 Olympics Clock (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The countdown is just about over and the Olympics are about to get into full swing. Opportunities for watching the Olympics this year are better than ever. As a matter of fact, you would almost have to try to miss the Olympics this year as there are so many ways to view it.

NBC has created a comprehensive website with all of the information you could possibly want out of the Olympics. Unfortunately, NBC has decided that anyone wanting to use their service to watch the Olympics online will have to verify that they are a TV customer of a cable or satellite customer. So if you’ve ditched your TV service recently, you’re out of luck. However, if you are a cable or satellite customer and want to watch the Olympics at work, then go to and get signed up.

The real news appears to be coming out of London itself. BBC is making an unprecedented move to broadcast  up to 24 live HD streams online. They are boasting 2,500 hours of broadcast time across multiple platforms. To visit their Olympic coverage online go to

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will also be providing streaming video, via its YouTube Channel, to 64 territories. According to their press release,

The live-streaming on the IOC’s YouTube channel will provide exclusive digital access to the London 2012 Olympic Games in territories where digital broadcast rights have not already been acquired by the IOC’s broadcast partners:

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Bhutan, Cambodia, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

And in 42 Sub-Saharan African territories on a non-exclusive basis, including:

Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

If you’re an Olympics junkie, then this is the year for you. If not, I am not sure where you’ll be able to hide from all the madness. Don’t forget that there are mobile apps available in just about any flavor. Read more about those at Mobiles Apps for Olympics 2012 page.

Google Doodle July 4th 2012

Google Fourth of July Doodle

Today, Google commemorated Independence Day in the U.S. with a whimsical red, white, and blue doodle, pictured above. Inside the letters of the doodle are the lyrics to a famous American folk song “This Land is Your Land”. Written by American folk singer, Woody Guthrie, the song describes scenes of America. Though many people today may not realize the song was a bit of a protest by Guthrie at the time, as he was sympathetic to communist causes. Wikipedia has a nice article about the song and information about little known verses that we seldom hear of today. The link can be found at

Google also took the initiative to post a link at the bottom of their website. Notice in the picture above, a link is circled in red. If you click that link, you will see a plea from Google to support a free and open internet. The internet is truly one of the last frontiers of freedom and governments and corporations alike, are doing all they can to censor it, control it, and quell the freedom of ideas that spread across it. Is the internet perfect? Absolutely not! To me that is just a reflection of those who use the internet, humans. We are not perfect so why would the internet reflect otherwise. There are grumbling even in the U.S. government and legislation is being written that threatens greatly the freedom we have on the internet. Google would like you to take action at this link They also have a flag that they have asked everyone to download with voices from history and today. It is free to download. Below is a video they posted as well.

Independence Day is a national holiday in the U.S. which celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Thirteen colonies lifted their voices and declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. It was a bold step for the fledgling country and one that is celebrated nationwide every July 4th. Our country is merely a baby when compared with the ages of nations that surround us. I think it would do all of us well to take note of the Declaration of Independence. Spend a few minutes of this day and read what was on the hearts and minds of people a couple of centuries ago. You can find the transcript at Happy 4th of July everyone! May it be a safe, joyful occasion, and may freedom ring in the hearts of everyone today.