Archive for January, 2023


Skin Deep

Update:  I literally was seconds away from posting this, and only looking for the final piece of this article, which was the website address of their company webpage for a link … That’s when I discovered that just a few hours earlier, the company had gone into bankruptcy. Will they survive? That’s the harsh issue with any startup … 

Seen at CES2023, there are now companies that will evaluate your startup idea/proposal and give you at least some thoughts that you may not have considered that are unique for today’s entrepreneur.    If Lightyear had used them, very probably they wouldn’t be in the trouble they’re in now. While they’re obviously in hot water currently, the article still stands, as do my observations and desire to own one … continues …

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Despite a couple of new Teslas in the driveway, I still couldn’t resist ordering (as my 1000+hp Cybertruck still has no expected delivery date) the new Lightyear 2. The pics below are the Lightyear Zero as I wasn’t permitted to take a picture (design is in flux) of the new “2”, but it seems reasonably similar. While it’s certainly not the rocket like my current performance models, it has such a unique persona that I knew it belonged in our driveway. The entire top of the car is covered with solar cells that add (under a reasonable amount of light) about 50 miles to its range each day. Most people don’t drive that much in a day, so essentially it’s a day without costing me literally as much as a penny to drive on my errands.

Should you need to charge it on the road, there is more good news! It will NOT come with the absurd CCS plug that other manufacturers cripple their cars with. Instead, it’ll use the far more advanced North American Charging Standard (NACS) developed by Tesla that is ‘half the size, twice as powerful’ as the outdated CCS system. That means unabated access to the largest and most reliable EV charging system on the planet. With that and the panels, range is better than any gas-powered car on the planet with no reliance on the alternate charging companies that can have a 95+% chance that it doesn’t function.

With over 500 miles of range and an amazing amount room inside it looks very much the part of a long-distance cruiser. Bear in mind, if you don’t take long road trips and basically stay close to your home, your annual electricity bill will be zero. Compare a gas car getting 25mpg for 40 mile trips for year at $3.00 a gallon … that’s almost $1800! In a Lightyear, it’s nothing … additionally, consider all the usual maintenance that gas-powered cars have and your savings alone may be equal to three or four months of car payments. Gas-powered cars just don’t make sense any longer, just like steam-powered cars at the turn of the last century were displaced by the superior tech of petroleum. Chunks of coal or wood losing out to an easy to transport, high-energy liquid in the last century, is the equivalence of a highly-flammable liquid being replaced by electricity today.

This isn’t like the usual “EV” from the largest car companies that are in reality just hacked-up formerly gas-powered vehicles. This, like Teslas, are purpose-built EVs from the ground up … so there are no compromises. Any other “EV” on the market (excepting, of course Teslas) look shockingly crude once you open the hood. Having a bunch of colored LEDs lighting the inside and/or the front grill, combined with an absurd and useless giant LCD screen in front of you, isn’t indicative of what the car really is underneath.

Gone to the Birds

Under the heading of “why didn’t someone think of this sooner?” comes the “Bird Buddy.”

 

 

 

 

Essentially it’s a smart bird feeder that alerts you that there’s a visitor to your fancy bird restaurant.

But, it’s actually much more sophisticated than just a feeder with a camera. The weatherproof feeder also captures video and still images during the day, has Wi-Fi capability that will notify you of low seed levels and is even available with a solar panel roof. One of the really innovative items is that it recognizes over 1000 species and organizes them, according to the inventor, in a “Pokemon Go” like arrangement. The picture quality is surprisingly good as is the live streaming.

Of course, there’s the ubiquitous phone app to control it. You can also choose to have it immediately post the picture to the Bird Buddy Live page and many do. On this page there are constant fresh images to excite any birder.

Impressively, at the 2023 CES, it won Innovation Awards in three categories: Software and Mobile, Digital imaging and Smart Home.

Initially funded on Kickstarter, and it’s worth noting, unlike many, many projects on crowdfunding sites that are purely scams, this project is genuine and there are almost 40,000 users currently.  After speaking to the inventors in person, they’re not through with more add-on options and models. Most models, even with the solar roof is under $300.

I don’t see how this can miss as this is a win-win product, the winged visitors get groceries at times when there may not be much to eat, and we get to smile.

 

First Impressions of the 2023 CES

While this year’s CES is 40% larger than last year, it’s still much, much smaller than the pre-China virus shows. The South Hall which is normally a gigantic two-story exercise in burning calories and sore feet, was empty this year. Despite the reduced size, I still managed to walk an (for me at least) amazing 34+ miles in four days of exploring. Usually, blisters are my unrelenting dark passenger, but I got lucky this year.

Notables missing were drones, GoPro, 3D printers, flying cars and a vast sundry of the smaller usual attendees. The past hawkers of Crypto and NFTs were mercifully reduced as well. CES cost bucks to attend and since the expected crash (“crash” is putting it mildly) occured, it’s no surprise they weren’t here. This however doesn’t mean there wasn’t some weirdness in attendance …

I’m having a real issue this year to designate a winner due to the circumstances of reduced presence of companies and inventors. More thought is required …

If there was one thing at the show that is best described as a scary and an ever-present undercurrent, was AI. Even some in the tech industry are clearly worried about it now. It seemed anyone that was pitching it kept focusing on how secure it was and non-threatening … if it was that safe, why would that be bulk of their pitch? The larger companies (Google, Meta, etc.) would only mention they’re using it with literally zero mention of how … from the quiet conversations I had, I truly believe that a few of their sharper folks are becoming concerned and sadly, more than a few have never even considered the consequences. Do they realize they probably can’t control it at a certain point? If I can take some liberty with a “Game of Thrones” inspired parable, it’s this: you have a fire breathing dragon in a cage the size of a cat, that enjoys the occasional hotdog … when the dragon grows as large as a football stadium, it eats whatever/whenever/whoever it wants … that’s the potential of AI currently. NO one at those companies truly understands the consequences … figuratively, they can’t see the forest for the “money or ESSP” trees. However, in all fairness, I sincerely believe that few people do, excepting those who read science fiction, and are watching fiction not-so-slowly, quietly becoming fact. For mega maniacs like Bezos, it’s viewed as an untapped ATM for building their second/third/fourth/ninth superyacht. A more accurate description currently of AI, is a fire in your garage and you only have a single bucket of water to fight it, but you waited too long to douse the initial flame … on the positive side, it’s getting rid of all the vermin and bugs … while it’ll take a bit of time to burn to the foundation, eventually, it’ll still burn the house down as well. Their response is that their hidden cash will protect them and allow them to live life on their terms … preferably on 600+ foot yachts swarming with hand-picked attractive servants under NDA contracts and limitless cases of champagne. In case you weren’t aware, the superyacht companies, unprecedentedly, are literally swamped with orders that will take untold years to fulfill. In particular, the one I’m thinking of, is currently expected to be finished in around four to six more years … bear in mind, this is after more than two years of current construction. Is this the billionaire’s idea of a fallout shelter? In complete seriousness, I don’t think this is just the hubris of billionaire narcissists … should you like a tiny, but still not so benign taste of what I’m talking about, look into ChatGPT.

Right now, the dragon has jumped from the size of a cat, to about the size of a large dog on a very weak leash held by a clueless and remorseless bald guy whose favorite toy, other than supermodels and his friend’s wives, is a rocket shaped like a sex toy. Not very reassuring …

 

Alexa has a new home and … is listening

The 2023 CES emails have been pouring in as expected, but quite a few are from companies I’ve never heard of. Why is that a concern? You have to read between the lines … are there not enough of the legacy attendees to merit my attention?  I noticed the South Hall will be completely unoccupied … that’s two absolutely gigantic floors of missing companies. The new West wing is fully booked, but it’s not remotely as large as the other halls, and additionally, that’s primarily a car show. The “gift” from China is still affecting the show and preventing many who wanted to appear there from the fear of catching COVID. To see who will actually be there will be interesting and will tell you something about the folks managing those companies. Do they actually understand science, or do they kowtow to irrational fears. Not to be in attendance and be part of the tech community, can be the death knell for startups. This may be their only/final opportunity to show their tech/products to the broader community or wait until next year when there may be competitors and that magic window of ingenuity will be gone … and with it, investors.

I’ve been reading ZDNet and other commercial “news” sites about the show and I have to wonder … have they ever really been there?  Or they wouldn’t be asking the questions they are. The things they are concerned with were news six months ago. Of all the 2023 CES articles I’ve read, shockingly only the non-tech Forbes seems to grasp the significance.

On a positive note, one complete section of the Musk tunnel will be open, saving an absurdly long and dangerous walk to Las Vegas Blvd. I have my fingers crossed for the car area as the new West Hall has barely been used since it opened and though much smaller, it’s a truly nice facility. This additional new West Hall was supposed to allow all attendees to stay in one central area by eliminating the need to use multiple distant hotel meeting rooms. But I noticed some folks are still displaying quite a distance away … as an example, getting to the Aria from the main convention, during show times, is more than a trifling inconvenience, it’s a real pain. I keep wondering, what were they thinking?        You shouldn’t let someone who has never been to CES arrange meeting facilities.

I’m fully expecting a certain degree of lunacy as CES is ground zero for this type of thing … at the show, Kohler is announcing it’s beginning to sell the $11,500 toilet shown at the 2019 CES featuring … Alexa.

Am I the only one who finds this frightening?