Saturday, April 26, 2008

Top Brands in the World released its annual report on the top brands in the world and their estimated value.

Here is the top 10 list in reverse order:

#10 - Marlboro - $37 Billion
#9 - Nokia - $43 Billion
#8 - McDonald’s $49 Billion
#7 - Apple - $55 Billion
#6 - IBM - $55 Billion
#5 - China Mobile - $57 Billion
#4 - Coca-Cola - $58 Billion
#3 - Microsoft - $70 Billion
#2 - GE (General Electric) - $71 Billion
#1 - Google - $86 Billion

They also list the change in value from last year. Marlboro was the only one in the top ten whose value decreased (by 5%) from last year.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Look Into My Eyes

Yup, as the title suggests the image you are seeing is that of my eye! In particular it is the retina of my left eye. To remind you, the retina is the back part of the eye which sits behind and is seen through the pupil. That yellow dot slightly off center is my macula.

I had my yearly eye exam last week. When I walked in the optometrist gave me a pamphlet describing a new machine / service called the optomap® Retinal Exam. It uses a laser to scan the eye and take pictures of the retina without the need for the eye drops. It costs about $30 and is not covered by insurance. I said I would do it under one condition: I need copies of the images!

So there you have it. Luckily it appears that my eyes are healthy. My doctor spent time showing me images of several abnormal ones. Below for example is what glaucoma looks like.

I got this from the website of the machine's manufacturer which includes a disease library that shows what several conditions look like.

According to the website it is also possible to get an amazing 3D views of your eye but unfortunately my doctor didn't show me mine. Here is one I found on the website:

Now I have something to ask for next year.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

21 & Bringing Down The House

I saw the movie 21 on Sunday. This of course is the Blackjack movie based on the best seller Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich.

Based on a true story it describes how several MIT students used a system to count cards and win millions in Las Vegas. Like every other book-turned-movie the book was much much better. It is quite an amazing read.

On a positive note the movie did introduce me to an interesting probability problem I never heard.

Since the movie was announced I wondered why they named it 21 instead of Bringing Down the House. How could I have forgotten this gem:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Game Show Host Problem

You are on a game show and there are three closed doors.

Behind one of them is the grand prize and nothing behind the others.

You choose door #1 so the host opens door #3 knowing it is empty.

The host then asks you if you would like to change your selection.

Should you?

Answer below.

If you change your choice to door #2 your odds of winning will actually increase from 1/3 to 2/3!

Confused? Yea, I was too.

A good way to understand how this is possible is to increase the total number of doors in the problem to one million.

Pick a door from the million? Do you like your odds?

The game show host then opens all losing doors leaving only yours and one other.

Do you want to change your choice now?

Put another way, you are very likely to pick the wrong door the first time (2/3) and then the game show host does you a favor by revealing the other losing door.

Thank you to the for explaining this to me!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Trigger Happy TV

My friend (thanks Cal) turned me on to a pretty funny British hidden camera show called Trigger Happy TV. Basically they do "strange stuff" in public which makes those who see it laugh, confused, or shocked. Here are a few clips I liked.

Job interview

The 1,000,000th customer

Phone call in an art gallery

A walk down a quiet alley

Find more Trigger Happy TV clips at youtube or with google video.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I had dinner last night with a close friend who told me about a new project he is working on involving "telepresence".

Telepresense is next generation video conferencing that makes everyone participating feel like they are in the same room. Special conference rooms or "studios" provide an IMAX-like viewing experience where each user appears life sized and directly across the table from one another.

There are several competing technologies that include Cisco Telepresence and HP Halo.

Here is a video of Cisco Telepresense in action.

Large corporations and the military are already using these systems.

HP recently announced plans to install Halo rooms in select Marriott hotels that the public can rent out.

MS Surface in AT&T Stores is reporting that AT&T will be using Microsoft Surface in some stores starting on April 17th.

In AT&T stores it will be used as a means for users to access information about devices, rate plans and services. Microsoft's Surface has object recognition technology, so if a device is placed on the table, the surface displays information on that device. A user can even place multiple devices on the Surface side-by-side and the table will compare and contrast them.

Engadget has a write up and posted this video.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Meghan McCain's Blog

I stumbled upon tonight. It is a blog by Meghan McCain, John McCain's 23 year old daughter, and her two friends Heather Brand and Shannon Bae as they hit the campaign trail with her father.

It provides a unique and refreshing behind the scenes look at his campaign and her journey with it. It is not particularly political in nature but instead feels more like a personal site (like facebook or myspace) that one of my girl friends might maintain if they were on some extraordinary trip.

Rather than political issues she focuses on the family and social side of the campaign. She writes about and posts images/videos of the interesting people she meets, places she goes, and events she attends. She recently posted images from a Blue Angels air show she attended and also a video that includes shots from a BBQ event held with the media.

I found the site quite endearing. In a time when political candidates and their families are so protected from us it is nice to get a view from a perspective other than the canned speeches, debates and campaign ads. wrote an article on Meghan's site back in Decemeber and the AP just wrote one last month.

Check it out.