Gizmodo reviews the fictional city of San Fransokyo for “Big Hero 6”

The original comic took place in Tokyo, but to make it their own, Hall and Williams decided to set the story in a brand new yet familiar city, melding the original locale with a near-future San Francisco. “It’s a very high-tech city that blends Eastern and Western culture, so we wanted it to be a mashup, just like the movie is a mashup between Disney and Marvel,” says Hall.

The resulting animated metropolis—which truly is its own character in the film, although people say that a lot—is a celebration of futuristic urban life and the high-tech culture that drives its residents. And it’s brought to life thanks to several new animation technologies developed in-house by Disney itself.

via A Tour of ‘San Fransokyo,’ the Hybrid City Disney Built for Big Hero 6.

I’m rather enamored of the trailers, and the city looks freaking amazing so far. I want to see it.


Drag Performance, Brand Pages and Personal Identities

The issue of the “Real Name” policy, whereby users are told to use “real” names (not necessarily actual names, but “real-sounding” names), is problematic for social networking services (SNS). It’s especially problematic when SNS operators refer users to use brand pages – profiles which are maintained and moderated corporately by one or more users for organized purposes such as promoting a brand or a movement –  as alternatives to using pseudonyms on their personal profiles. The reason is that such a solution is half-baked on the sites which most emphasize the use of “real names” for users’ profiles, particularly Facebook (and formerly Google+).

Functionality issues

The suggestion by Facebook for preferably-pseudonymous users to use their pseudonyms on brand pages ignores the fact that pages on Facebook offer less interactivity than personal profiles. Facebook pages don’t allow pages – which are built to serve organizations rather than pseudonymous personalities – to form or join groups. In relation to this, Facebook also does not allow brand pages to automatically invite other users to events; compare this to Facebook groups, which allow for automatic invitations of all members to event pages.

Google+ Pages, in comparison, offer a bit more interaction, with the ability to create and join “communities” (equivalent to groups) as your brand page. In addition, G+ Pages can also add user profiles to circles (a more advanced version of Facebook’s “adding friends”) and invite followed profiles, circles of profiles and whole communities to events.

Presentation issues

However, in the case of pseudonymous users being “nudged” to create pages for their pseudonyms, G+ and Facebook both suffer from a high learning curve and a lack of tailoring toward personal identity pseudonyms.

Facebook’s “Create a Page” has six main options: “Local Business or Place”, “Company, Organization or Institution”, “Brand or Product”, “Artist, Band or Public Figure”, “Entertainment”, and “Cause or Community”. The closest to a means of controlling a personal pseudonymic identity is “Artist, Band or Public Figure”, which is limited alongside other Facebook pages in its interaction abilities.

By comparison/contrast, G+ only has “Storefront (Restaurant, Retail Store, hotel, etc.)”, “Service Area (Plumber, pizza delivery, taxi service, etc.)”, and “Brand (Product, sports team, music band, cause, etc.)”, which is even more confusing from the outset by the grouping of so many options into just three categories.

The ideal page

The ideal brand page system which would work perfectly for personal pseudonyms at the intimacy perhaps most desired by drag performers in an SNS, IMO, is a combination of Facebook’s presentation and G+’s functionality and interactivity:

  • Having at least 6 page-creation options including “Artist, Band or Public Figure”, or even a 7th “Character or Pseudonym” option.
  • Having the ability to follow/be followed by users and create/join groups “as” the brand page.
  • Have the option to switch to a preferred brand page identity upon login to one’s personal user identity.
  • Have the ability to restrict access to one’s personal profile while simultaneously operating a brand-page identity.

In such a system, performance artists such as drag performers would have the full ability to interact with their fans as their pseudonyms or public personas, to organize their fans into discussion groups (both public, private and secret) under their personas, and to easily invite fans to events (or even games and apps), all without revealing or exposing any of their personal profiles to the public.

When the brand pages are not fully baked, not fully conceptualized as alternative identities for both individuals and corporated groups, the ability to control your presence is hobbled. Performers like Sister Roma offer an opportunity for Facebook, G+ and the SNS sites of our era to not only listen more to their users, but to make their brand pages more useful for more people. The “Real Name” policy (as well as the restriction against multiple profiles on sites like LinkedIn) only hurts privacy, doesn’t help the quality of conversations on Facebook, and is not remedied by half-baked brand page tools.

Adding an electric car cut the payback point of our solar panel investment in half


When we discussed our home solar panel project in mid-2011 with friends, one of the first questions everyone asked was, “What’s the payback period before you break-even?” The second question was unsurprisingly, “How much is it costing you?” but the focus always ended up on the payback. After all, if you’re going to invest in green technology, you’re hoping that at some point in the near future, you get ahead of the game. It turns out that something we didn’t plan for — our Chevrolet Volt(s gm) — is actually helping us boost the ROI and cut our payback time in half.

Details of the solar panel investment

Solar panel framingI shared details on both the solar panel project and the car before, but let me step back and recap a bit. In October 2011, we added 41 solar panels to our southern-facing roof in southeastern Pennsylvania. Each panel is rated…

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Google Glass will soon be invisible – and the new normal

It depends on the openness and adaptability of the technology, but I digress…


“There are three sides to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying.” – Robert Evans (“The Kid Stays in the Picture”)

I recently met up with my friend and one-time business partner, Steve Lee, who is product director on the Google Glass project, and before that, ran product management on Google Maps for Mobile. Other than a quick tour of the device, Steve basically let me dive in, so as to experience Glass with a beginner’s mind. I won’t bother reviewing the basic capabilities and specs, which have been covered exhaustively already. Instead I want to focus on some of the points that are in debate, and whether I believe that Glass is destined to succeed.

Glass is translucent; designed to be invisible

In “Waves of Power,” David Moschella shows how new disruptive industries begin as verticals, since the complete product solution requires…

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