Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Jolly Green Giant: A fascinating history of trade, the drug war and agriculture

Philip Elmer-Dewitt's use of the well known "Green Giant" reminded me of Eastern Washington's "Jolly Green Giant" monument:

The monument is northeast of fascinating Walla Walla, Washington.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

Stuttgart/Munich: Gazing West, to Cupertino

"Digital experiences are marketing"

"If you don't have digital experiences, you are not on the radar screen. You're irrelevant" - Kjell Gruner [1].


Tap Sport. Launch. Paddle: M1 - M2 - M3 - M4. What's the point of 5 - 8?

Twin Turbo. Intercooled. Open space. No traffic. A blast to drive.

Two days exploring 2 and four lane roads in a fun, German car. The unusually long Friday evening Hertz queue paid off in a terrific ride.


CarPlay worked some but not all times with the BMW's iDrive computer/display. Curiously after an occasional stop, my iPhone would continue displaying directions, but the iDrive screen reverted to an unresponsive connect my device mode. I drove on without a visual map, audio book controls or the car's audio system voice prompts.

The behavior was identical, whether my iPhone was tethered via a USB cable or wireless CarPlay.

I later discovered that a phone call would restore all aspects of CarPlay + BMW to their intended state.

Touring beautiful, open spaces while glancing at the BMW's many buttons and screens offered an opportunity to reflect on my February, 2014 BMW i3 drive and subsequent words: The i3 Long Bet:

I’ll digress a bit and suggest that auto manufacturers will rue the day that they decided not to make software experience a core competency. I am not suggesting the the car companies do it all, rather that they focus on the essentials and make the owner’s experience paramount. The software, or metadata interface is the likely path into the game for car sharing and other value extraction services. (see also Ford said to drop Microsoft for Blackberry’s QNX)

BMW’s iDrive joins the i3 party. The interior materials and finish are nicely done and I found the front and back entry/exit door design to be interesting. I then turned my attention to the driver interface.

One can imagine the planning meetings where a variety of interior experience scenarios were discussed, fought, battled and likely not settled. Ulimately, BMW’s iDrive made the cut, perhaps with blood on the floor, which meant bringing along nearly 15 years worth of evolution (some might say “technical debt“) along with a return to more interface buttons. That just does not seem to fit the i3 ethos, particularly in a car that broke the BMW exterior styling mode. Compare the Tesla Model S (admittedly more money) approach (image) and the i3 (image).

Fast forward to April, 2021.

I remain astonished that BMW's iDrive plus many buttons remains largely the same as my 2014 i3 experience - now more than 7 years ago. Will the experience be different in +7 years? Will the auto players be the same, or might new entrants establish a beachhead?

Over dinner recently, a friend and recent VW SUV driver mentioned that Volkswagen aims to be the largest Electic Vehicle producer. I cautioned "we'll see". The basis of competition is changing, as Porsche's US boss recently noted [1].

1. President of Porsche US, quoted in Bloomberg.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Sunrise with the Sandhill Cranes

Enjoy one of "earth's greatest migrations" in amuz on your iPhone or Android device.

Get it on Apple Books

600K to 700K cranes spend 6 to 8 weeks along the Platte River near Kearney, Nebraska to fuel up before continuing their journey north.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Madison: A Place for all Seasons

"The country’s biggest tech migration increase took place in Madison. The city was gaining 1.02 tech workers for each one that left last year, and it’s now gaining 1.77, a 74% jump." - Mckinsey/Linkedin [1]

We're pleased to announce a new way to explore Madison. Ideal for

  1. Recruiting/HR
  2. Economic Development
  3. Education
  4. Tourism: food/drink, lodging and activities
  5. Real Estate [2]
  6. Marketing: visual first, immersive, elegant.
  7. Promotions: swipe/scan current offers.

  1. An interactive iBook with fast QR scans
  2. See and be seen
  3. Favorites
  4. Effigy mounds: panoramas & drone views
  5. Trails
  6. Architecture + podcasts
  7. Escapes
  8. Food
  9. Sleep & Camp
  10. Ski
  11. A major employer: Epic + Judy Faulkner interview

Get it on Apple Books

1.5 billion reasons why we chose Apple books:

  1. > 1 billion iPhones in use. 87% of American teens have an iPhone, 67% of the population. amuz users enjoy Apple Search, photos, panoramas, video and full screen drone experiences.
  2. 350 million active iPads. The amuz book displays beautifully on iPad screens.
  3. Interactive. Explore the book and with a simple QR code scan, quickly enjoy beautiful visuals.
  4. Distribution in 51 countries.
  5. 90M monthly Apple book users
  6. Apple devices now generate about 50% of Google searches (Google supports 90 to 95% of US searches [3]).
  7. Modern, growing interaction points: amuz experiences/media, ibooks and podcasts are quickly discovered on Apple Search [examples].

QR Code link to the iBook

Explore Madison and more in amuz on iPhone and Android.

[1] Where Tech Workers Are Moving: New LinkedIn Data vs. the Narrative. McKinsey: The Future of Work after Covid-19

[2] “The Starlink arbitrage may be the greatest real estate repricing of all time. Details matter, and prices may be propped up by bailouts, so a long-only strategy is probably best.

But conceptually: short NY/SF/LA/etc, long rural areas & well-run cities around the world.” - Balajis.

[3] How Apple and Google Formed One of Tech’s Most Powerful Partnerships

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Fanless Football: 2020

A few scenes from the recent Indiana Wisconsin football game at the barren Camp Randall stadium.

Experience Camp Randall scenes in amuz, the multi-lingual and privacy friendly app for explorers on iPhone and Android.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Tap to Wright: Along the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail

The open road.

The iconic travel trailer caught our eye on June 1, the first day 2020 tours were available. California license plates revealed the origin.

Husband and wife architects, the family packed up for a 6 week cross country adventure. "I always wanted to visit Taliesin" - said the father at the wheel, with three children secure in the Jeep's second row. Traveling safely with their pod.

The amuz book - Along the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail - makes it fun and easy to experience the Trail on your devices and plan future, in person journeys. Extra features include nearby FLW homes, and a few fun diversions.

Get it on Apple Books

1.5 billion [1] reasons why we chose Apple books:

  1. Nearly 1 billion iPhones in use. amuz users enjoy FLW Apple Search, photos, panoramas, video and full screen drone experiences.
  2. 350 million active iPads. The amuz book displays beautifully on iPad screens.
  3. Interactive. Explore the book and with a simple QR code scan, quickly enjoy beautiful visuals.
  4. Distribution in 51 countries.
  5. Apple devices now generate about 50% of Google searches (Google supports 90 to 95% of US searches [1]).

QR Code to the iBook

Explore the Trail in amuz on iPhone and Android.

[1] How Apple and Google Formed One of Tech’s Most Powerful Partnerships

Sunday, November 15, 2020

"They were good people"

I've long enjoyed diving into maps. The more detailed, the better.

And, so it was while visiting Walla Walla, Washington recently, I sought a few interesting locations. 7 miles west of Walla Walla, the Whitman Mission national historic site proved a fascinating stop, particularly during a year when monuments were questioned, relocated and in some cases toppled.

The site is pleasant, ideal for a stroll, picnic and an informative conversation with a National Park Service Ranger. The Ranger offered a great deal of background on the Whitman Mission, their relationship with indigenous people and subsequent conflict.

She emphasized that "they were good people" who tried to prepare the nomadic locals for the presence of many more settlers. Unfortunately, this clash of cultures resulted in a massacre.

Learn more:

Brittanica on Marcus Whitman:

In 1836 Whitman founded a mission among the Cayuse Indians at Waiilatpu, 6 miles (10 km) west of present-day Walla Walla. The Spaldings established a mission among the Nez Percé at Lapwai, Idaho, 125 miles (200 km) northeast of Waiilatpu. The men helped the Indians build houses, till their fields, and irrigate their crops. They also taught them how to erect mills for grinding corn and wheat. The wives established mission schools. Progress was slow, however, and the board in 1842 decided to abandon its missions at Waiilatpu and Lapwai and concentrate on those in what is now the area of Spokane, Washington.

October 14, 2019: Thomas Yazwinski

Marcus Whitman statue vandalized on Whitman College campus

September 4, 2020: Associated Press

A local team of art researchers has proposed moving the Marcus Whitman statue from its current spot at the Whitman College campus to Fort Walla Walla Museum where the group says its true context can be shared.

“The statue tells us a lot and it has a rich and fascinating history, but again, that history is not the history of Marcus Whitman, it is not the history of the Walla Walla Valley and its not the history of Whitman College,” said Libby Miller director of Whitman College’s Maxey Museum and art history professor during a Walla Walla city Arts Commission meeting Wednesday

Erwin Thompson (1964 book)
For 11 years, the Whitmans worked among the Cayuse Indians, bringing them the principles of Christianity, teaching them the rudiments of agriculture and letters, and treating their diseases. Then, in a time of troubles when two opposing forces failed to understand each other, the mission effort ended in violence. In the tragic conclusion, the lives of the Whitmans were an example of selflessness, perseverance, and dedication to a cause. Their story is symbolic of the great effort made by Protestant and Catholic missionaries to Christianize and civilize the Indians in the first half of the 19th century. The missions represented one aspect of American expansion into the vast, unknown lands of the Pacific Northwest.

National Park Service Education Programs

Parks As Classrooms - Go to the Parks As Classrooms website at Access the WebRangers and Junior Rangers programs.

The "Parks As Classrooms" program was developed to provide parks with seed money for new and innovative opportunities for Americans to learn about their national parks.

National Park Service documents: Whitman Mission Timeline // Land history.

Walla Walla County, Washington demographics: