Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The future is on the way...

A few of my favorite things from the future that are here today:

Segways: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_z9s92oe4M
- Require a redesign of all our cities, towns and suburbs... but they're definitely from the future.  Perhaps that's why they don't fit in most places today.

iPhone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgW7or1TuFk
- I now take map, web, email and all other forms of computer access for granted... in my pocket.

Wing Suits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttz5oPpF1Js
- Mind-boggling control... these guys are definitely from the future!

LED HDTV from Samsung: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HbXzSdResM
- Debuting at Best Buy last Sunday... the TV we'll all be watching in the future.

Wolfram Alpha: http://www.wolframalpha.com/screencast/introducingwolframalpha.html
- The future Web 3.0 (Semantic Web) is here today (in Alpha form... not yet Beta): http://www.wolframalpha.com/

Computer interaction of the future:
- http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/02/ted-digital-six/
- http://www.branitvfx.com/worldbuilder/index.html


Artificial skin from Stanford
- These prototypes look like the early integrated circuit prototypes of the 60s and 70s.  Where does this lead... burn victim recovery, or I, Robot, Surrogates, and T2?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Motorcycle Diaries displaced?

Since I started riding, I've been tracking (and blogging) about every day I've ridden, religiously. With only a very few exceptions, every mile of nearly 10,000 miles is accounted for in my daily "motorcycle diary" updates, until my March 16, 2009 update capturing updates through 3/6/09....

As noted in that post, I started writing for Examiner.com as their
DC Motorcycle Travel Examiner. Now, with 85 articles since 12/31/08, I'm confronted with the question of whether I should continue to maintain my blog log.... My ODO now reads 9003, with many days of exciting riding included. The thing is, much of it is now captured here:

Let me know what you think!

Meanwhile, since my first Examiner.com article, the number of Motorcycle Examiners has exploded from just three of us, to 20 of us today! Check them out:

Atlanta Motorcycle Examiner

Atlanta Motorcycle Lifestyle Examinerhttp://www.examiner.com/x-8023-Atlanta-Motorcycle-Lifestyle-Examiner

Atlanta Sport Bike Examiner

Boomer Biker Examiner (Florida)

Chicago Motorcycle Examiner

DC Motorcycle Examiner

DC Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Denver Motorcycle Examiner

Detroit Scooter Examiner

Kansas City Motorcycle Examiner

LA Motorcycle Examiner

LA Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Louisville Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Houston Motorcycle Examiner

Manchester Motorcycle Examiner

Miami Motorcycle Examiner

Phoenix Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Seattle Alternative Transportation Examiner

Seattle Motorcycle Examiner

Tampa Motorcycle Lifestyle Examiner

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Audi Q5 Driving Experience

As a die-hard BMW aficionado, it might seem strange that I'm also an Audi fan. Credit that change of heart to last August's Audi Driving Experience! That said, it's fair to say that where there are a number of options, the choice I'm looking for is "All of the above!" My ideal garage contains a couple Ferraris, a Porsche or two, several BMWs (my 550i, an M5 for the track, and a 650i once a hard-top is available), a 2009 Corvette ZR1, and would still have room two or three Audis. I'd also have a bay or two for the motorcycle collection (Suzuki GSX-R1000, Ducati 1098, Yamaha R1, Honda CBR1000, BMW S1200RR).

In any case, offered the opportunity to drive someone else's car (or bike), I'm there! Especially when I don't have to worry about abusing their tires and brake pads.

If you're in the DC area and have nothing planned for tomorrow, run-don't-walk, to sign up for one of tomorrow's sessions: http://www.audidrivingexperience.com/2009/?area=Q5City&id=325! Then, read on. If you're outside the DC area, check out http://www.audidrivingexperience.com/2009/?area=Q5 for your options.

Complimentary, Audi hosts a fantastic well-run event, with a good balance between the marketing and sales pitch, technical briefing, and hands-on driving. Yesterday's all-day affair included continental breakfast, all the cappuccino and lattes you can stand, and was wrapped up with a very nice lunch. Again, all compliments of Audi. Classy.

An overcast drive on 495 turned to rain, which, shortly after our arrival in the Audi tent, turned to torrential downpour. OK. Good for testing stability control systems.

We arrived shortly before 10AM, so had ample time to enjoy the amenities in the first tent as we waited for the kick-off of our 10:30AM session.

The planetarium-like briefing introduced us to Audi and the Q5. Although there are many features of note, probably the most catchy was the full 3D navigation system with rendering powered by a custom NVIDIA 3-D chip. (I own NVIDIA stock, so I'm glad to see growing demand for their chips! ;-)) Also notable was the surprise announcement that we'd also be driving the supercharged V6 A6. Woohoo!

Following the briefing, the skies began to clear, and we moved to the hands-on briefing. These briefings were much more marketing-oriented for the Q5 than they had been for the A4 in August. And, we missed a few key features (turning parking break on/off, turning off rear windshield wipers) that might have been handy. But, who's complaining!

On to the first drive! We split up into three groups. Our group of three Q5s followed our Audi leader on a tour of the area around FedEx Field. It was all quite sedate. Aside from the ride height and elevated view out the windows, it's pretty much like driving a big A4 (which, by the way, is what the Q5 is at heart -- based on the A4, it has a 4" wider wheelbase to preserve the CG relative to the tires).

Back in the FedEx stadium parking lot, we split up into two groups. I was initially disappointed as we headed to the A6, figuring they would be the highlight of the experience; a great place to finish. As it turned out, they were a nice step up from the drive on street. The A6 supercharger launched nicely off the starting line, shifted cleanly into second just before the cones denoting the braking point, and then jumping on the brakes brought ABS into play for a stop well ahead of the turn. The power and braking were not substantially different than I'm used to in the BMW 550i, so it wasn't that impressive of an experience for me. But, to say that a 3 liter V6 is matching performance of a 360 HP 4.8 liter V8 is saying a lot. And, with the supercharger, there's absolutely no turbo-lag.

The more impressive experience was as the passenger. The G-forces that I usually expect from the initial launch were much more surprising when someone else is controlling the throttle, and the first two or three seconds were quite roller-coaster-like. Wheeeee!

Sadly, the shift into second made the relative lack of horsepower evident. With 360 HP, my 550i is just getting going when you shift into 2nd gear at 44 MPH; it continues to pull hard in 2nd until the next 70 MPH shift point. And, would continue to pull hard at 70 MPH in 3rd, if there was anywhere around here to do that. (It continues to pull hard in 6th once you get the car into the 90+ MPH zone. During our trip in Munich, I routinely forgot that I was in 6th rather than 5th at 100 MPH.) If anyone is seeing this as a play for Audi to get me in their S5 and their R8... they'd be right. One way or another, a trip to Sonoma and the Audi Sportscar Experience is in my future!

As we wrapped up the runs in the A6, we watched other group yank the Q5s through the road course blocked out by orange cones. Ah! Now, that's more like it as we watched full-throttle acceleration into S turns, followed by a hard left. One of the Q5s got the rear out in the hard left. Oh yeah!

We each got our own Q5. I took the lead car, and was first out on the track. After a intro run behind the Audi leader, we were each launched one by one onto the course, advised to take the first lap easy.

The first lap was indeed easy, and I was fortunate to sort my way through all the cones. (Others weren't so fortunate.)

My second lap, I pushed harder, and caught up with the car in front of me that had gone off the course. Oops...

My third lap, I pushed still harder, and found that I could break the wheels loose on the wet pavement (the sun was out, and the track was clearing under the cars -- but not yet dry). Hard acceleration in the Ss, right-left-right, then left, hard. Around to the left, then right hard. Accelerate briefly into a hard off-camber left (the parking lot slopped steeply to the car's right at that part of the "track"), and around the left into slalom cones left, right, left, right, left, then hard right and then into the "pit" chicane. Slow, and stop behind the line of traffic.

What a rush! Breath. Relax.

Repeat! Fourth and fifth laps, I accelerated the entire time except where necessary to stay within the cones. On my third or fourth lap, I just about ran over the cones on the off-camber turn, but was able to balance braking and throttle to use the front wheels to pull the Q5 through the remainder of the turn. Confidence inspiring! Even wildly abused, the Q5 maintains its composure.

The fifth lap was just silly, as I was now fully comfortable with the car, and the lay of the track. Tires complaining at every turn and then engine revving hard much of the time; where's the video recorder when I need it!

Heart rate returning to normal as we walked back to the tent for debriefing and a quick 15 question "test" / competition, lunch preparation was under way.

We took the post-event survey, giving Audi high marks, and then jumped in line for lunch.

Wrapping up close to 2PM, it was a very full day! A quick spin through the empty FedEx parking lot gave the 550i a chance to breath and wear off a little tire. OK! Time to head home before the FedEx security folks call the police.

Thanks again Audi! A fantastic experience that I'd recommend highly to any car fan!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Great quotes

Here's my new favorite quote based on a variety of recent experiences (fortunately, very few of them first-hand). I'm not sure I can completely take credit for this one, but it's my wording:

"Some people just aren't happy unless they can find something to complain about."
- http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Some+people+just+aren%27t+happy+unless+they+can+find+something+to+complain+about%22

A couple (updated 3/25/09) for motorcyclists:

"Live every day as though it was your last, but ride to make sure it's not!"
- me

"Riding like there's no tomorrow is the quickest way to prove yourself right."
- me

Also, from the wisdom of the iPhone Backgrounds app:

"Take risks: If you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise."

...and another that is exactly right:

"Don't look for inspiration. Start working, and inspiration will come to you."

And, one from a friend:

"To achieve one's goals, one must be willing to give without expecting to receive anything in return. Be proud even when you think you don't have anything to be proud of, and be friends with those who wish to see you fail. Because a follower will always be a follower until he or she makes the sacrifice of a leader."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Motorcycle Diaries 2009.03.09

If you aren't following religiously already, check out the (near) daily updates here:

In particular, check out the latest series, starting with:
Motorcycling is a religious experience

3/9 GSX ODO 8269
To work and back, twice.
Notable: This was a good day to ride! Not only did the weather cooperate, but drywall finishing work on the new home theater required a lunch-hour trip home. Twice the fun, half the gas!

3/8 GSX ODO 8236
Notable: Still exhausted from the previous day's ride, didn't have a whole lot of motivation until just before sundown; just a quick ride to clear the cobwebs.

3/7 GSX ODO 8225
Notable: DC rides: Algonkian Parkway to Georgetown Pike to George Washington Parkway

3/6 GSX ODO 8149
Loudoun Motorsports and back.
Notable: Perfect weather for riding. Talked with Clay Davidson for the first time in too long. In 2006, Clay got me started on the SV650-S and was there when I was ready to make the jump to the gixer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Motorcycle Diaries 2009.02.25

2/25 GSX ODO 8119
Notable: 50 really is too cold to ride. I missed my first real turn when I felt the rear breaking loose and wasn't sure the front-end was going to turn-in properly. I've skidded the rear a couple of times on the same downhill run when braking, but this is the first time I felt like I might not make the turn. I rode on straight (in spite of my turn-signal) rather than risk it, glad that no one else was at the intersection. ...but tomorrow is supposed to be 60+!!! woohoo!!

If you aren't following religiously already, check out the (near) daily updates here:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Motorcycle Diaries 2009.02.11

Happy New Year! And, yes, I have been riding around Virginia in the middle of winter!

2/11 GSX ODO 8114
To work and back.
Notable: After a visit to the eye doctor, the weather (68 and partly sunny) was just too good to pass up. So, after swapping the car for the bike, returned to work, wrapped everything up, and then headed back home. It's necessary.

2/8 GSX ODO 8099
Woohoo! Waxpool, 50, Snickersville Turnpike, 7, lunch at Nick's, and then home!
Notable: Riding the sweepers on Northern Virginia’s historic Snickersville Turnpike
Meeting up with 14 other sport-bike riders at noon, then hitting the road with the group. Heavy Metal Thunder! The pace was quick, and mostly legal, most of the time. It was well after noon, so it's unlikely that we woke any of the Snickersville residents, and passing rapidly, it's unlikely they were troubled by the roar of the bikes for too long. We may have seen 116 briefly on the way back on 7, but for the most part, kept the pace with the traffic. A fantastic ride, with a great new group of friends as a bonus! Oh, most notable of all: nearly 70 at 11:30AM and warming; still comfortable when I finally headed home at 5:30PM. This is the way winter is supposed to be!

2/7 GSX ODO 8017
Out to enjoy the weather for just a bit before heading to the Washington Auto Show.
Notable: In the high fifty's and sunny, it's good enough for a quick run around the block. (It's a big block.) Passed a couple riders going the other way, and then caught them again arriving home.

2/1, GSX ODO 8006
To pick up Joe's truck and back.
Notable: How different a Ford F150 and a Suzuki GSX-R1000 handle. And yet, the Ford's massive V8 and four giant tires their share of work to handle all that mass. But, nothing beats a bike and a rider weighing in under 600 lbs! 168 HP can handle that weight nicely.

Hauling lumber with the F150, I missed the apex of the temperature -- into the mid 60s. But, it was warm enough to enjoy the ride out and only a little chilly on the way back after 5PM.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


Leadership is about "what" must be done (and why). Managing is about "how" it will be done. The distinction between the two is less about an individual's level in an organization, and more about the nature of the direction being provided by that individual and whether constraints (e.g., resources, time, money) are informing that direction (leadership) or limiting that direction (management).

This distinction is important, because I'd argue that good managers are also effective leaders, great managers understand when and why they need to switch hats, and the best leaders and managers clearly understand the distinction between the two roles.

The basic keys to being an effective manager are succinctly enumerated in The One Minute Manager. Certainly far more vast volumes have been written. But few can claim to be so clear and concise in capturing the core elements of good people management.

Through a mentorship program I recently participated in, I had the opportunity to analyze and discuss the nature of leadership. I've been fortunate through my career to work with a number of great leaders, and see a wide range of leadership styles. Taking the best of the attributes I've seen, I assembled this list characterizing...

A great leader...

is honest, treats all members of their organization with respect, and communicates with integrity.

treats others as he/she expects to be treated, and leads by example.

demands accountability from all members of the organization, including themselves – both taking on appropriate responsibility, and accepting responsibility.

has a clear long-term vision for what the organization will accomplish, and clear understanding of the specific goals that must be achieved to support that vision.

effectively communicates their vision to their management team and the organization as a whole.

is able to clearly articulate a mission for the organization that inspires the members.

is enthusiastic about the organization, the people, and their collective mission.

is humble, and serves the organization.

is confident, and unthreatened by disagreement or conflicting ideas.


makes it clear that although they will listen to criticism and differing ideas, they are not looking for approval – "it's not a democracy."

provides thanks, praise, and other positive feedback at all opportunities (daily) to individuals, groups, and the organization as a whole.

provides constructive criticism and/or reprimand when necessary, and is sensitive to providing this feedback in an appropriate venue.

sets clear priorities, and makes decisions rapidly.

knows when to ask for more information in order to make an informed decision.

is comfortable not always being right, and isn't discouraged by making mistakes.

recognizes that it's often better to make a decision and be wrong than it is to fail to make a decision.

encourages a culture in which it is OK to make mistakes and take responsibility for them.

reacts positively to adversity, seeking solutions rather than placing blame.

knows the limit of their expertise and when to seek expert counsel and/or specialized professional support (e.g., logo design).

is genuinely interested in the people that work for them, and makes an effort to learn and address all members of their organization by name.

is willing to spend time with members of their organization at all levels.

Thank you to the great leaders I've worked with, who, by their example, made this summary so easy to assemble.

What other aspects of great leadership have you seen?