Skip navigation

public transportation

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /var/www/vhosts/ on line 33.


This Series On The Future Of The Workplace Is Brought To You By Cognizant.

Steve Jobs art from computer objects

Anyone can come up with one good idea. Visionaries come up with big ideas over and over again. Now, here's a secret: Anyone can learn to be a visionary.

"People seem to think that innovation is a special gift. That someone's got, they are born with it. That's bogus. Innovation is a skill that you can learn, practice and become skilled at," says Phil McKinney, an innovation consultant and former CTO of HP's $40 billion PC division, formerly known as the Personal Systems Group.

During his nine years at HP, he helped turn that group around from losing $1.5 billion to being the No. 1 PC maker, pocketing $2 billion in profit. He also started a group called the Innovation Program Office -- cutely nicknamed IPO. It found and funded HP employees' ideas so they wouldn't leave for startups. (He left HP in late 2011.)

McKinney is known for his popular Killer Innovations podcast. He's currently trotting around the country teaching people how to innovate and he's put it all into his new book, Beyond The Obvious.

We caught up with McKinney at a lecture in Colorado where explained how anyone can cultivate creative genius.

No. 1: Change your routines. Look at things a new way.  Drive new routes to work (or try public transportation or ride your bike to work). Eat lunch with different people. Hang out in new social circles. "Get out of your comfort zone. Innovation is looking at things in new ways. If you talk to the same people or hang out at the same Starbucks, you don't see anything new."

No 2: Do a daily brainstorming session on ANYTHING. Eventually, you'll apply this to your business but start with whatever is outside your window or something you see on your commute. Pick a question and start writing down ideas like: "How would I improve the lawn care business?" Or "What other items would people buy at the coffee shop?" Don't stop until you reach 50 ideas.  Don't filter. No matter how wild or stupid, write it down.

"The first third of your ideas will be obvious, the second third will be challenging. The final third are really hard and where the diamonds are," he says.

No. 3: Don't stop at the first answer to any question.  For instance, what is half of 13? 6.5? In one of McKinney's workshops, participants came up with 43 correct answers to that question. In a deck of cards, the answer is 5 (the median card in a suit). In Roman numerals, XIII, the answer is XI (11) and II (2). Want to be creative? Practice looking past the first, obvious answer.

Phil McKinneyNo. 4: Apply focus to your brainstorming. Once you are in the habit of thinking creatively, start narrowing brainstorming to a focused question targeted at your business/career.

No. 5: Notice assumptions. This is difficult because assumptions are hard to see. They are rules we don't even know we are following. McKinney says HP's PC division had to overcome the assumption that there were only two big buying periods for PCs ... back to school (the fall) and end of year (the holidays). They came up with a new season, summer, which they called Dads and Grads (Father's Day and graduation).

To find assumptions ask yourself: Why can't I do this idea? How do I know that reason is still true? What would it look like if it wasn't true?

No. 6: Rank your ideas to find one worth pursing.  Have everyone in your work team help you rank them. The good ideas will become obvious, McKinney promises (More detail on ranking is covered in the book.)

No. 7: NEVER let "not enough resources" stop you. Not enough money, time or people is actually a good thing. "Not enough resources" forces you into creative new processes. Getting all the resources you think you need leads you to work in the the same old way. That's a recipe for a bomb, McKinney says.

No. 8: Ignore self doubt. You'll have it. Good ideas are hard work. Your first try -- maybe even your first 10 tries -- won't be perfect. If you let that stop you then you'll always be stopped.

No. 9: Beware the "corporate antibodies." Eventually, your idea will need some champions in your company or your industry. To get them, you'll have to bat down the naysayers, which McKinney calls "corporate antibodies." (Read more about that: Don't Let 'Corporate Antibodies' Kill Your Best Ideas, Warns Ex-HP Exec)

Please follow SAI on Twitter and Facebook.

Join the conversation about this story »

Your rating: None

waderoush writes "Google wants to 'organize the world's information,' but there isn't a marketplace or a category of knowledge it can organize without remaking it in the process. A case in point: public transportation. Largely outside the media spotlight, Google has wrought a quiet revolution over the last five years in the way commuters get schedule information for local buses and trains, and the way public transit agencies communicate with their riders. GTFS and GTFS-realtime, which Google invented, have become the de facto world standards for sharing transit data, and have opened up space for a whole ecosystem of third-party transit app developers. This in-depth article looks at the history of GTFS and Google's efforts to give people information (largely via their smartphones) that can help them plan their commutes on public transportation — and, not incidentally, drive a lot less."

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Your rating: None

Vehicles involved in fatal crashes

After seeing this map on The Guardian, I was curious about what other data was available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It turns out there's a lot and it's relatively easy to access via FTP. What's most surprising is that it's detailed and fairly complete, with columns for weather, number of people involved, date and time of accidents, and a lot more.

The above shows vehicles involved in fatal crashes in 2010 (which is different from number of crashes or number of fatalities). This data was just released last month, at the end of 2011 oddly enough. It's a calendar view with months stacked on top of one another and darker days indicate more vehicles involved.

Nearly every single data point also has location attached to it, so I tried some mapping, but they look like population density more or less. Here's one that shows crashes that occurred on local roads (orange) and those on freeways, highways, etc (blue). Road patterns start to come out for the major interstates.

I also mapped by weather (rain, fog, snow), time of day (midnight to 4am, 4-8, 8-noon, noon to 4, 4 to 8, and 8 to midnight), and crashes due to drunk driving but it wasn't as interesting as the day-by-day.

If you're a teacher looking for data to use with an assignment or just want to practice, this is a good set, despite the somber topic. You can find the data here, and there's an FTP link in the footer of the page to download more detailed data. You'll also need this guide [pdf] that defines all the variables.

Your rating: None

m7kenji with his NuVJ gear at a playground in Koenji

This weekend, game creator m7kenji will reunite with world famous chip musicians for this year's Blip Festival Tokyo event, where he will be projecting sprite art visuals during live sets as a VJ. It will be the third time Kenji has joined Blip, having played the New York chiptune gathering earlier this year.

As the artist has thrown himself into the scene, he has come away with techniques for channeling its vibrant low-fi aesthetic into his apps for smart phones. His free iOS game, called Ringo, attracted an enthusiastic niche audience for its sweetness and simplicity. Unburdened by enemies or obstacles, the player explores a harmless 8-bit space by tapping on the touchscreen, collecting fallen apples.

His latest release, for iOS and Android devices, is an interactive concert program for the imminent Blip party at Koenji High. Free to download, it's the killer app for those lucky enough to be in the area to grab tickets at the door.


Prior to his collaborations with the 8bitpeoples collective, Kenji was performing as a VJ in and around Tokyo for several years. It is often mentioned that the combination of efficient public transportation and plentiful variety of clubs make Japan's urban centers ideal homes for performance artists. Before long it became clear that his visual style, informed by the sprite art of Game Boy games, was a perfect match for the city's Cheapbeats chip music shows.

blip2011_logotn.jpg"When I was a kid, all I played was the Game Boy," says m7kenji.

"While my friends were being converted to Super Famicom and PlayStation, my parents were more strict when it came to buying me game consoles. Still, I loved tinkering with the Game Boy Camera, recreating Zelda pixel art using that software."

That pastime has come in handy while performing at Blip with chip stars Bit Shifter, Starpause and Sabrepulse. Through his involvement in the chiptune scene, Kenji has also had the experience of sharing the stage with one of the Game Boy era's most influential creators, Hip Tanaka.

Kenji describes his process creating live visuals as an extension of the tools that Tanaka helped design, bringing user-generated content to the Game Boy camera. His sprites are built in Photoshop by arranging pixels on a 120 x 160 resolution grid. Those shapes are converted into GIF or Flash animation file formats. They are then manipulated in real time during live music sets using a NuVJ video controller.

"He had an influence on me," the artist says of Hip Tanaka's music, "especially EarthBound."

"The Mother games convinced me that RPGs didn't always have to be a Medieval fantasy. You could tell that kind of story even in a more familiar, modern setting. That has given me a lot to think about as I make games today."

[Japanese language content forthcoming. Translation by Yoshi Miyamoto. Photo by Jeriaska. For more information on the concert, visit the Tokyo Blip Festival website.]

Your rating: None

Hurricane Irene wound up by most estimates as one of the top ten most destructive and deadly hurricanes to hit the United States since 1980. While ultimately not as powerful as many had predicted, the storm still killed at least 27 people along its path from the Caribbean to the eastern seaboard. Transportation was shut down all along the east coast, stranding residents and tourists in shelters, airports, and train stations. More than 5.8 million customers lost electricity, thousands of flights were cancelled, flooding washed out roads and destroyed homes, and evacuation orders were issued for hundreds of thousands. Gathered here are pictures from the Hurricane's path. -- Lane Turner (44 photos total)
Billy Stinson comforts his daughter Erin Stinson as they sit on the steps where their cottage once stood on August 28, 2011 in Nags Head, N.C. The cottage, built in 1903 and destroyed by Hurricane Irene, was one of the first vacation cottages built on Albemarle Sound in Nags Head. Stinson has owned the home, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, since 1963. "We were pretending, just for a moment, that the cottage was still behind us and we were just sitting there watching the sunset," said Erin afterward. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Add to Facebook
Add to Twitter
Add to digg
Add to StumbleUpon
Add to Reddit
Add to
Email this Article

Your rating: None

Vladimir Rodionov / AFP - Getty Images

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev holds a special forces sniper rifle during a visit to the 10th Detached Special Purpose Brigade of the Russian Defence Ministry on Monday, Aug. 8, 2011.

Jonathan Woods writes

I present you with this photo knowing full-well that my colleague, David Arnott, just published an image of Russian P.M. Putin. But you can't get too much of a good thing, and pictures of top Russian government officials doing quirky things cannot be published with too great a frequency.

Let's just hope a few U.S. Presidential candidates provide us some fodder in our current election cycle that rival what we've seen in the past.

Your rating: None

China Daily via Reuters

People inspect the scene where a bus dropped at the collapsed Wuyishan Gongguan Bridge in Fujian province, China, on Thursday, July 14.One person died and 22 were injured after the bridge collapsed Thursday morning in east China's Fujian Province.

China Daily / Reuters

Rescuers and injured people are seen at the collapsed Wuyishan Gongguan Bridge in Wuyishan, Fujian province July 14, 2011. One person was killed and 22 others were injured after the bridge collapsed Thursday morning in east China's Fujian province, according to local authorities, Xinhua news agency reported.

Jonathan Woods writes

It's shocking more people were not killed in this accident. No further information was immediately available about the cause of the collapse.

Your rating: None

Daniel Wilson is a PhD roboticist who made his name with a series of fun, light science books about robot uprisings and similar subjects. But his new novel, Robopocalypse, is anything but fun and lightweight: it's a gripping, utterly plausible, often terrifying account of a global apocalypse brought on by a transcendant AI that hijacks the planet's automation systems and uses them in a vicious attempt to wipe out humanity.

Robopocalypse opens on the first days after the terrible robot war, with Cormack Wallace, a human soldier, contemplating a "black box" containing the war's history as recorded by Archos, the rogue AI that nearly exterminated the human race. After this bit of stage setting, we go back to the months before the war, when a researcher unwittingly creates Archos and then loses control of it when it murders him. A series of small, grisly episodes follow in which automation systems are compromised by Archos and domestic robots, autonomous cars, and other devices turn on their owners. These presage the war that is to come.

But the war, when it arrives, is far more brutal than Wilson hints. Archos possesses perfect global coordination, and so when the killing begins, it is near-total and so swift that humanity hardly knows what's coming. Cars mow down people in the streets (even as their owners, trapped within, scream in horror and beat at the windscreens); elevators and domestic robots conspire to drop terrified people down empty shafts or shake them to jelly; planes crash themselves; buildings seal themselves and asphyxiate their occupants.

But some humans survive, thanks to luck and sheer numbers and a bit of cunning, and these humans live to fight. Slowly, and with little success (at first), humanity strikes back at the robots, learning something about the threat they face. Archos is adaptive, though, and every successful measure evinces a countermeasure, horror piled on horror that will have you glued to the pages.

Like Max Brooks's World War Z, Robopocalypse is structured as a kind of oral history, composed of vignettes that take the form of first person accounts, transcripts, technical documents and so on. This is a great literary device in that it dispenses with much of the stage-business in novels where characters get from A to B so that the reader can see what's going on -- rather, the author is free to jump from anyplace to anyplace else, telling the story with a viewpoint that's both omniscient and intimate.

But Brooks's novel had very little in the way of recurring characters, while Robopocalypse quickly converges on the stories of a dozen or so freedom fighters whose lives gradually become entangled. This recurrence gives Robopocalypse something World War Z lacks: heart, in the form of character arcs, wherein heroes learn and change and grow, and we get to root for them.

The film rights to Robopocalypse have been bought by Stephen Spielberg, who has announced a big-budget feature for 2013. If the script is at all true to the novel, it might just be one of the best and scariest science fiction movies of all time.


Your rating: None