Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mega drive 2008: the newest innovations

We're doing one of our family mega-drives. Thousands of miles with 1 dog, 3 children, 2 adults, one van.

It works. Better than a reasonable person would expect.

Each time we do this there's some technology variation. This year we had two.

First of all, we got the video iPod to output video to our shockingly reliable $200 car video "system". This would have worked years ago if I'd tried harder (or bought a custom video iPod cable), but Apple didn't distribute much kid vid. I would have had to rip my own video. Too much trouble!

Now Apple sells "Ben 10" and similar TV for $2 an episode, a small price for auto peace. We put Tom and Diane's iTune's gifts to good use.

Three year old technology, so this one was about the content.

Our second innovation was 3G Net Access with Emily's Blackberry browser. Between Saint Paul Minnesota and Escanaba Michigan Emily asked Google (I drove) about the location of Liverpool and three other topics:
  • Rib Mountain, Wausau, Wisconsin: The mountain/hill rises mysteriously from flat land. It's a final remnant of the 1.9 billion year old Penokean mountains, and the 2nd downhill ski resort in America. When I see it I imagine a colossus of the new earth, a tower far greater than Everest. Now all that remains is this rock, the broken heart of the ancient mountain. Once a century it beats "I was".

  • Chippewa Falls and Seymour Cray: How the heck did Cray, a certified eccentric genius, persuade a team to follow him from Minneapolis to Chippewa Falls? How good was Cray that Control Data built a lab for him on land he owned? (Very good, of course.)

  • The Yellowstone Trail: America's first northern coast-to-coast motoring road, the fruit of a small group of South Dakota entrepreneurs. I can't tell from the web site how much of this trail can be followed today.
We couldn't continue our data tourism into Canada, the long distance data costs are prohibitive. So all of this was from a few chance encounters in a single day's drive.

My iPhone to come will have a GPS. It will learn what I am interested in. Soon, when I travel, it will strike a bell each time I pass near these sorts of things.

Our next car trip will be even more novel.

PS. Another drive related observation. The UK academics that grace Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time program don't know squat about economics. What gives? Is it forbidden knowledge over there?


cathy said...

I grew up in central Wisconsin, but was not aware of the origin of Rib Mountain (never /hill to a Wisconsinite). Thanks.

alanbooker said...

Great post, I will be listening for the peel of the bell!