Relativity for Everyone: Part II, Time and Length are Relative

In part I, I talked about the constancy of the speed of light. If you haven’t read that yet, it’s required reading before continuing here. There are terms and symbols used here that were already explained in Part I.

Relativity for Everyone:  Part I:  The Speed of Light NEVER Changes!

By now, you should have allowed the post about the constancy of the speed of light to simmer for about a day and you’ve almost certainly rejected it and gotten mad at the very thought of it if you’ve also been discovering what appear to be massive logic problems with it. If so, GOOD! That means you’ve been thinking about it and you’re thinking appropriately.

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Now, we’re going to establish that there’s no such thing as an absolute coordinate system.  In other words, if you try to declare some point is space as x,y,z and it’s always that point and that point is always in the same place in space, you’ll find that has no meaning.  It makes no logical sense.  To give a coordinate, it has to be relative to some object.  Let me explain…


Suppose you’re on a long train and suppose that train is really a space ship and you’re out in distant space.  Let’s further assume that the train and everything in it are all that exists in the universe.  Now, answer this question:

Where are you?

The question doesn’t make any sense, does it?  All you can really say is where you are on the train.  You can’t really say where the train is!  In order for you to give a location of the train, there has to be something else “out there”.  Then, you could say the train is X miles from that other object.  That’s about all you could say and still make any sense about the train’s location.

Let’s get back to the train being the only object in the universe (along with the stuff and people on the train).  Now, answer this question:

How fast is the train going?

Again, this has no meaning.  You can’t answer it because it doesn’t make any sense.  You could only answer that question if there’s something else “out there” and you can see it going by while looking out the train’s windows.  Then, you could only say how fast you’re moving towards or away from the other object.  You couldn’t even say whether it was YOU or the OTHER object that was moving… Or BOTH, could you?  That’s because speed is relative.  It’s relative to some other object.  Just like standing on the back of a big flatbed truck traveling at 50 mph and holding a baseball.  How fast is the baseball going?  Someone standing on the street would say it’s going 50mph.  You might agree, but then you might say, “I’m holding it in my hand, therefore, it’s not moving.  It’s speed is zero.”  You’d both be right.  What if you throw the baseball forward at 50 mph.  How fast is the ball going?  Well, relative to you and the truck, it’s going 50mph.  If you throw it forward in the same direction the truck is traveling, someone stationary on the ground would say 100mph.  You’re both right because the speed of the ball is 100mph relative to the ground and 50mph relative to you and the truck.  Suppose you’re on the equator driving east.  How fast is the ball going to someone standing on the north pole?  Well, since the Earth rotates at roughly 1000mph at the equator, the ground at the equator is moving at 1000mph and your truck is moving at 1050mph and the ball is moving at 1100mph.  But, how fast is the ball going relative to the center of the sun?  The Earth orbits the sun at roughly 30km/s.  So the ball would be going at Earth’s orbit speed, plus it’s rotation speed (if it were midnight at the location on Earth of the ball and truck), plus the speed of the truck, plus the speed of the ball.  If it were noon, it’d be Earth’s orbit speed minus its rotation speed, minus truck speed, minus ball speed.  What about relative to the center of the Galaxy?  What about relative to the center of another Galaxy?  What about relative to the universe?  Ah ha!  There’s no answer to the last question, not even a relative one.  The universe has no center, no preferred frame, no preferred coordinate system.  The universe just “is”.

A Thought Experiment:

This is where it starts getting weird… in just a few moments.  Now, back to the train in space.  Imagine some unknown source of a flash right beside the front of the train… just a few inches to the right edge of the train, by the engine car.  Now, you’ve got two timing mechanisms on the train.  One at the front of the train and one in the back of the train.  They can time the precise moment they detect a flash of light.  Also assume you have two perfect clocks that are perfectly synchronized; one at the front of the train, hooked to the flash sensor there and the other at the back of the train, hooked to the sensor there.  Let’s say the train is 300,000 km long (one light second long).

You see the flash of light originate at the front of the train.  The front flash detector detects the flash at 12:00 noon, exactly.  The detector in the back of the train, being a full light second away, detects the flash at exactly 12:00:01 PM.  Exactly 1 second later.

You compare the time stamp recordings of both detectors and accurately determine that exactly 1 second elapsed between the front and the back detectors detecting the flash.  Now, since you know that light always travels at 300,000km/s, you can easily determine that the train is 1 light second long (300,000 km long).  As a matter of fact, you could say that distance is defined by light moving in a given amount of time, and vice versa; you could say that time is defined by how light traveled a certain distance.  When light travels 300,000 km, you know exactly 1 second has passed.  When 1 second has passed, you know that light has moved 3000,000 km.  This is always true, from every perspective.

So far, so good.  Let’s throw some freaky in there now.  Let’s add a second, identical space train.  Let’s say it’s passing you on the right at very high speed, moving in the direction of your train’s forward facing direction, parallel to your train.  Now, remember, speed is relative.  The people in the other train may believe it is they who are standing still and your train is passing them on their left, going towards their rear direction.  Both accounts are 100% identical and 100% correct.  Now, they also have 2 perfectly synchronized clocks that keep perfect time and two flash detectors… all just like your train.  If there’s a flash of light beside their front car, they’ll record the same things on their clocks as you did.  12:00 noon exactly on the front clock and 12:00:01 PM exactly on their caboose clock.

As your two trains are matched up (side by side) for just an instant, at that very instant, there’s a flash of light at what appears to be exactly the same location as the last one… just a few inches to the right of your train’s engine car.  It’s at exactly the same relative location to the other train’s engine car, except a few inches to its left (the flash is directly between the two passing trains’ engine cars).

Now, you already know how the timing results play out in your train, and you know how they play out in the other train.  But, there’s a problem!  Let’s say it’s 12:00 noon exactly again just as the flash happens and your clock in your train at the front records it as 12:00 noon exactly.  So does the front clock of the other car.  So far, so good.

As the flash of light travels towards the back of both of your trains, the other train is still moving forward.  Let’s say from your perspective, the other train is traveling at 50% light speed (or 50% c).  This means that the back of the other train and the flash of light will meet each other before the flash of light reaches your rear detector!  As a matter of fact, the back end of the other train will be roughly 1/4 of the way up from the rear of your train when that flash of light hits their rear detector!  See the problem yet?


Let’s say you have a 3rd flash detector location at exactly 1/4 of distance from the back of your train to the front… at exactly the spot where the flash meets the back of the caboose of the passing train.  YOUR clocks measure the flash at 12:00:00.75 PM (3/4 of a second past noon) when the light hits the back of the other train.  Several things to note:

  1. From your perspective, light has only traveled 3/4 of a light second (225,000 km).
  2. Only 3/4 of a second of time has passed!
  3. You perceive the origin of the flash as coming from the front of your train.
  4. The other train has measured a full second of time passing.
  5. The other train has measured that the light traveled a full light second (300,000 km).

You and the other train are disagreeing on both time and distance.  But, you’re both right!  Time and distance are truly relative… hence the term Relativity!

Now, let’s look at it from the perspective of passengers on the other train:

  • When your two trains are perfectly beside each other as YOUR train is racing backwards, there’s a flash of light, just outside and to the left of the front engine car.
  • The light travels a full 300,000 km to reach the back of their train.
  • One full second has passed and their perfect clocks will prove that.
  • While the light is traveling to the back of their car, YOUR train is moving backwards at 50% c and when the light reaches the back of their train, the back of their train is just now meeting up with your 3rd flash detector 1/4 of the way from the back of your train.
  • THEIR clocks have correctly determined that a full second of time has passed and that the light has traveled a full 300,000 km.
  • The light continues racing toward the back of your train as your train continues racing in the same direction as the light is traveling, but at 1/2 light speed.  Eventually the light catches up and meets the back of YOUR train.
  • The clocks on the other train correctly measure that light had to travel much more than 300,000 km to reach the back of YOUR train and that MUCH MORE than a second passed for the light to traverse the full length of YOUR train!

Whose measurements are correct?  They BOTH are!  Time and length are relative.  This disagreement in time is called, Time Dilation and it’s a real and measureable phenomenon!  In fact, it’s so real, that much of our technology works because of it.  Nuclear bombs wouldn’t work if this time dilation didn’t happen.  Nuclear energy wouldn’t work.  Our GPS satellites are traveling at roughly 4.6 miles per second.  That’s fast enough that the incredibly precise clocks on board, necessary to triangulate your position on Earth, would get out of sync with clocks on the ground because of the time dilation.  Because of this, the scientists that designed the GPS satellites had to change the speed of the clocks on board the satellites so they’d stay synchronized with the clocks on the ground!

Congratulations!  You now understand Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity.  Check back later for Part III in my series to discuss Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity which deals with space and time distortions due to gravity.  This will be an equally strange section.  We’ll bring up black holes and why they exist and all the fun stuff you can do with them, like spaghettifying an astronaut falling into one, to name just a few.

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Why the recent news of Neutrinos reportedly Going Faster than Light is Rocking the Scientific World

If you’ve heard the recent news about the speed of light supposedly being broken by neutrinos being detected as having traveled faster than the speed of light or 186,000 miles per second or 300,000 km/s (henceforth we’ll simply call “c”), unless you’re familiar with relativity, you might not understand how Earth shattering this would be if it turned out to be true.

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It goes like this:  According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, NOTHING with mass can travel faster than light, nor even reach the speed of light.  Not even light can go faster than c.  Nothing that could carry information about distant events can go faster than light.  To do so would allow for backwards in time transmission of information, or, would even allow a solid object to travel backwards in time.  The ramifications of this are obvious:



As most of you know, a paradox is an event which is logically impossible, such as going back in time and murdering your younger self.  Of course, if you did that, then how do you explain the existence of the older you that wasn’t murdered to go back in time to do the murder?  If you were murdered earlier, you wouldn’t have been around to go back in time to commit the murder, but if you didn’t murder your younger self, then you’re older you could exist to go back and murder the younger you which prevents the older you from existing, etc… etc…

I won’t go into the explanation here of why faster than light (FTL) travel results in time travel.  I’ll do that in this series of articles here:

Relativity for Everyone: Part I: The Speed of Light NEVER Changes!

If these neutrinos truly did go faster than light, then this presents us with a paradox problem.  Some observers traveling at high speeds relative to CERN and Italy where the transmission and reception of the neutrinos occurred, would see Italy receive the neutrinos before they left CERN!

So much of our understanding of the universe has the fundamentals of relativity (in particular, the limit of c) as their foundation.  Proving something can go faster will turn everything upside down.

But then again, maybe not.  Maybe we’ll discover something fundamentally different about this event that doesn’t really violate relativity.  But, jus the thought of something with mass actually going faster than light sends shivers down the spines of scientists the world over.  I can’t wait to see how this plays out.  In a few months, it will be attempted to be repeated in a different lab in Chicago.

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Relativity for Everyone: Part I: The Speed of Light NEVER Changes!

In this series of articles, I’ll be explaining Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  I’ll use little to no math.  If I do use math, it’ll be roughly 3rd grade level, not to insult you, but because that’s all that’s really necessary.

Relativity can’t be given “point blank”.  There are steps involved.  Its conclusions are counter intuitive and impossible to believe without being walked through the simple steps of reason to get there.  This first article will be that first step.

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Let’s begin with the end though, so you’ll know what we’re building up to; the impossible to believe conclusions:  (and I give these intentionally with no explanation in this Part I)


• Nothing with mass can go faster than light. (I acknowledge the recent news that claims neutrinos were recently measured at slightly faster than light speed.  This is still uncomfirmed.  More later).
• If you could go faster than light, you could go backwards in time.
• The faster you travel, the slower your local time is compared to the rest of the universe.  (You’ll age slower and your clocks will tick slower).
• The faster you travel, the shorter you and your ship become.
• The faster you travel, the more massive you become.
• If you were to reach the speed of light, you would have infinite mass.
• If you were to reach the speed of light, you would be completely compressed into a 2 dimensional plane.
• It would take infinite energy for you to reach the speed of light.
• It would take infinite time for you to reach the speed of light.
• There’s no “universal time”.  Time is relative to the observer.
• There are no universal coordinates in space.  Space is relative.
• Two travelers going at different speeds disagree on length, time, and order of events because time and space are relativeAnd  BOTH observers’ measurements right even though they disagree!
• Time moves slower in gravity fields.  The stronger the gravity, the slower time moves.

All the statements above are 100% true and if you don’t believe me and you’re not privy to how relativity works, then that proves your mind is working properly and you’re ready to begin.  Your skepticism is well founded.  Here we go!

First, let’s absorb a strange fact that was observed and confirmed well over 100 years ago and confirmed over and over in experiment after experiment, so much so that much of our modern technology relies on it.

The Speed of Light is Constant.

Most people misunderstand what that means until they start learning about relativity.  That does’t just mean that light always exits its source at 186,000 miles per second.  It also means that if someone were flying away from you in a fast space ship and going say, 99% the speed of light and shown a bean of light towards you from the back of their ship, not only would they measure the speed leaving their ship at full light speed, you’d measure it passing YOU at full light speed (which we’ll call “c” from this point forward).  You would NOT measure it at c minus their ship speed like you’d measure the speed of say a bullet leaving their ship at bullet speed minus their ship speed.  Light is different.

Reread that last paragraph.  It’s fundamental.  This weirdness is not derived from complex theories and calculations.  It’s derived from direct observation.  Nobody knows why this is.  It just is.  It’s difficult to accept, but it’s true.  It’s been observed and tested time and time again.  At no point has any light ever been measured at anything other than c from any source, whether it be from galaxies billions of light years away receeding at near light speed or from double star systems where the stars are orbiting closely at high speeds, receeding, then aproaching us in their orbits, nor from anything local, like the sun or our own satelites, nor from anything on Earth.  NOTHING!  Light may be delayed though, when passing through materials like air, glass, or water, but it never goes faster than c.

This is a well known, well established, and well tested phenomenon.  Most, if not all of the weird bullet points listed above are based on this one freaky fact of nature.

Nothing is as it seems.

This is called, “The Constancy of the Speed of Light”.

Before I conclude this Part I, I’ll ask you to wait 24 hours before moving on to Part II.  Let this oddity of the constancy of the speed of light simmer in your mind for a while.  It’s a difficult concept to accept and there’s no known logical reason why c is constant.  We just know that it is… always.  Here’s your homework assignment, which you’re probably already doing:  Come up with logical reasons why this can’t possibly be true.  Why this can’t add up mathematically.  If someone in that fast moving ship shines a beam of light, out the back, to you, and you BOTH measure it as exactly c, what would that mean?  What illogical and crazy things would have to be true for c to always be constant?

These are probably the questions Einstein asked himself that triggered him to come up with the theory of relativity.

This concludes Part I.  Please wait 24 hours before reading Part II.

Relativity for Everyone:  Part II:  Time and Length are Relative

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Facebook copies Google+’s “Data Liberation”

Wow!  Facebook is clearly on high alert (ie. They’re scared shitless) by Google+.  A lot of the cool stuff that Google baked into Google+ from the beginning, Facebook is playing catch up with.  Just in the last day or two, Facebook has copied yet another Google+ exclusive in another “ME TOO!” move.  This time it’s with Google’s “Data Liberation” feature which was implemented to show one of the major philosophical differences between the two services.  Facebook didn’t let you get anything you wanted, especially contact information.  Google lets you download everything.  Facebook now does almost exactly the same thing.

Here are the two features side by side:

image image
Google’s “Data Liberation” Facebook’s “Download Your Information”

The only notable differences I’ve seen is that Facebook won’t let you download contact data if the person who owns that data disabled it in their privacy settings.  Though, I’ve seen reports that Facebook is also downloading the entire photo archive of each of your friends, if those friends mentioned you in any images.  I started the download of mine from Facebook a few minutes ago.  I should be e-mailed when it’s done.  I’ll update this post to see if that rumor is true and to also report on the quality of the data.  I’ve already done this for Google+ and it seems to work as expected.

Check out my article on Chris Pirillo’s

imageI’ve been asked by Chris Pirillo to write some articles for his web site  My first article is how to choose the right kind of light bulbs to save the most money, taking just about all variables that affect your expenses into account.

How to Save Money with the Best Light Bulb

If you haven’t heard of Chris Pirillo (and shame on you, if you’re a techie and haven’t), he used to host the TV show “Call for Help” on TechTV and lots of other cool stuff.  You can follow him on Google+ here:

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For that matter, you can follow ME on Google+ here:

Follow ME on Google+

I’ll be writing some more for, so check back here and I’ll post the links as they’re posted.  I’ll also be announcing them on Google+.

Google+ Netiquette

imageNow that Google has opened the flood gates to Google+ to anyone, without the need for an invite, it’s time to publish the proper netiquette on Google+.  If you’ve been lucky enough to have been in the trial phase, you probably noticed that, for the most part, discussion has been civil. Of the thousands of posts I’ve seen, I’ve only seen less than a handful of people commenting with things like, “well, I blame the!”
Most people on G+ would prefer it to stay civil and if newcomers (and old-timers alike) abide by the same netiquette that’s formed on G+, then G+ will remain a civil place to socialize online.
  1. Remember the Golden Rule: Treat people the way you want to be treated. Continue to do this even when they don’t.  Always be polite, even to people that disagree with you, even if they’re not polite to you.
  2. Avoid posting anything that’s likely to start a fight.
  3. Don’t vilify a person or group that you know many support or respect.  Put special effort into avoiding obvious hot topics like blaming a political ideology for anything.  Other obvious argument starters are: Religion, Global Warming, Politics.
  4. Contrary to popular opinion, you’re NOT legally bound to provide a counterpoint to every statement made that you disagree with.  Let it go!
  5. Agree to disagree.
  6. Don’t draw people into an argument. This is called “trolling”. If someone politely (or even impolitely) disagrees with you, they’re NOT obligated to give you a detailed explanation, complete with footnotes, links to research, etc… to justify their disagreement. They’re not even obligated to give you ANY explanation at all. A simple “I disagree” can simply be left at that.  See “Golden Rule”.
  7. Learn to walk away.
  8. If someone is tired of arguing with you, it means they’re wrong and you’re right because clearly they can’t defend their position. And if you believe THAT I’ve got a bridge to sell to you. People’s personal time is more important than satisfying your debate lust.  And, if YOU walk away, it doesn’t mean “you know you’re wrong” either, in spite of the fact your opponent will undoubtedly say it does.  No one reading the thread is stupid enough to believe it and most likely, neither does the person saying it.  They’re just trying to pull you back in.
  9. Having “the last word” does NOT make you appear as the “winner” to the other readers. It just makes you look pedantic.
  10. If you’d like to debate someone, please leave OR contact them privately and POLITELY ask for clarity. Your intent should be to better yourself by learning more from another viewpoint, NOT to “put them in their place”. If that’s not your purpose, then leave well enough alone.  See “Golden Rule”.
  11. Instead of being pulled into arguing with someone, block users that continue to violate netiquette. Feel free to announce who and why. But, try not to do that until you’ve asked them to respect your differences. If they continue to be a troll, block them.  Blocking is, by it’s very nature, the lastresort.
  12. Write in clear English (or clear in any human language).  You have unlimited space, so write in complete sentences.  Google+ is NOT your phone’s texting service and it’s NOT Twitter.
  13. Just because YOU’RE familiar with Twitteresque writing, doesn’t mean your G+ followers are.  Google+ is Google+.  It’s not Twitter.  Believe it or not, many people on Google+, including many tech savvy people, have never and never will use Twitter.  Leave your Twitter shorthand and hasheson Twitter.  (Update:  Google+ now supports hash tags.)
  14. Don’t cross post.  Don’t set up automation to automatically copy your posts between Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.  Each service is different with different expectations from the users.  Google+ users expect actual content, not just links and unreadable shorthand.
  15. Be forgiving.  People can and will slip up from time to time.  So will you.
  16. Don’t spam (do I really have to say this?)
  17. Don’t hijack someone else’s thread.  Don’t start a separate conversation with a buddy you found commenting on someone else’s thread.
  18. Stay on topic to the original post.
  19. It’s none of your business if someone uncircles you.  Don’t take it personally.  Dealwith it!
  20. And for crying out loud!  If someone has different tastes than you, don’t waste your and everyone else’s time explaining why you think their “taste” is wrong!  Let it be!  (I’m speaking to YOU, you MS vs. Apple, iOS vs. Android, Linux vs. everybody else crowds!!!)
  21. Avoid analyzing, out loud, the other person or people in the thread.  In other words, all your text should be about the subject matter.  NEVER discuss the other person, no matter how much you think they’re a nimrod.  That’s GUARANTEED to start a flame war and YOU will be responsible for it.  Refer to #18 above.  NEVERmake it about someone in the thread.  The best way to avoid this is to never use the word “you”.
  22. Don’t be a jerk (see 1-21 above).

Here’s how a civil disagreement degrades into a pointless pissing match.  DON’T do this!

  1. Person A posts an opinion or some news report about something debatable.
  2. Person B questions the facts.
  3. Person A provides references.
  4. Person B questions the reliability of the source(s) and provides counter facts.
  5. Person A questions the source.
  6. A or B calls the other’s source “biased” or “nutjobs”.
  7. A or B complains about A or B and not the facts.
  8. A or B calls the other a pinhead (usually it’s not quite that nice of a word).

Where did the fail?  At 6.  Don’t do that.


Got any more netiquette suggestions to keep the civility?  Let us know in the comments below.

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Windows 8 Out in the Open, Finally!


OK, yesterday, September 13, 2011, Microsoft had their “Build” conference and gave us LOTS and LOTS of details about Windows 8.  Here’s my rundown and opinion.  There’s a lot to cover, so I’ll divide it into the following sections:

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  • UI (User Interface)
  • OS (Operating System) Functionality
  • Hardware Support
    • x86
    • ARM
    • Windows Phone
  • Security
  • App Store
  • Networking
  • Software Development

There’s so much to cover, I can’t possibly do it in one blog post, so each section above is a different post.  Please click the links to view them.  As you can see, not all of them are hotlinks yet.  This means I’m still in the process of writing them, so check back and keep refreshing this page.  Assume 1 or 2 updates a day until I get them done.

BTW, if you want an invite to Google Plus, e-mail me at image. That’s not a clickable e-mail address… It’s a picture to prevent spammers from easily scraping it. You’ll need to type that address, exactly as you see it, including the G and the + in front of the word “Invite”.

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Windows 8 User Interface Out in the Open, Finally!

On September 13, 2011, Microsoft unveiled and showed in great detail the new Windows 8 Operating System.  Here are the details of the new User Interface (UI) of the new OS:

First, let me point out that there are TWO DISTINCT User Interfaces in Windows 8.  One is the old, familiar user interface with the task bar, the desktop, and resizable windows.  That won’t change and that stays, and there are even some improvements on that side.

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This article is one in a series.  Click here for the full index.

The OTHER UI is the new “Metro” UI.  If you’ve seen a Windows 7 Phone (and I’m assuming most of you haven’t since it’s soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo unpopular), I’ll point out that it’s like the Windows Media Center interface.  You have a bunch of tiles on a screen.  It’s a UI designed for something more like a DVR interface on a TV.  Tiles are somewhat the equivalent of application icons, but much MUCH bigger and will have live, updatable data in them.  For example, your e-mail app icon will likely have the number of unread messages in it.

Note that the Metro UI is designed with “Touch First” intentions.  The entire UI is designed so that it’s easy to use in a touch environment and ALL of it is touchable.  There’s nothing you’ll HAVE to switch to the keyboard or mouse for.  BUT, the keyboard and mouse are FULLY supported too.  If you don’t have a touch screen (and who does for the home PC or notebook, right?) you can FULLY use your mouse and keyboard.

Oh!  One more thing.  This Metro UI is designed with touch tablets in mind, but it IS the default UI no matter whether you’re using a touch tablet, a notebook, or a desktop PC.

Below are some images of the new UI with explanations…


Above is the “Lock Screen”.  When you’re not using your computer, this is what is shown.  As you can see, there are some status icons on there, which could be a potential security threat.  Do you really want people knowing you have unread e-mail and unread IMs and how many of each?  Probably not a big threat, but still, this is information that has the potential to cause harm.  For example, a malicious user could determine whether it’s been a long time since you’ve checked your e-mail.  They could see this number drop, and thereby know you’re logged on somewhere else.  They can determine your activity just by monitoring your lock screen.  I’m assuming this is customizable and that you can remove them if you wish.



Above is the logon screen.  There are multiple ways to log on.  In the example above, this is the photo log on.  “Julie’s” logon photo is a photo of her daughter, she touches her daughter’s nose, then her drink, then swipes across the rope behind her daughter, and then she’s logged in.  You can use a plain old password of a 4 digit pin if you like too.



Above, is the new “start screen”.  This is the replacement of the old, familiar desktop.  All your app icons are here, in groups that you make.  You slide your finger (or mouse, or touchpad) left or right.  Each icon is called a “tile”.  Tiles can have life data updated in them like number of unread messages for your E-Mail app icon or the current weather on your weather app.  You can pinch to zoom in or out.  You can rearrange tiles by touching one, holding, then dragging it to a new location.

This part’s cool:

You can hold the icon with one finger, then with your other hand, pinch to zoom out, (without letting go of the icon with your other finger), you can then drag it to a different location in the same or a different group.



Julie and Steven on stage demonstrating the Metro UI.



This is an example of Julie dragging the Weather app tile to a new location.  The tiles underneath respond to show where the dragged tile will be dropped, if you let go.



Julie’s apps tiles zoomed out.  I’m not too keen on this.  I’m a developer and have LOTS and LOTS of apps and icons.  I’m not sure this horizontal structure is sufficient for me.  I’ll be swiping and swiping and swiping.  They need to let me stack vertically too.



On-screen keyboard for touch typing.  You can continue to use your physical keyboard.  This is really intended for tablets. Spell check is EVERYWHERE in the Metro UI, BTW, which is pretty cool!  There’s even an option to have the keyboard split with half the keys on the far left and the other half on the far right with the intention that you’re holding your tablet with both hands and are typing with your thumbs.



The Control Panel in the Metro UI.  All touch enabled.



Julie using the notebook’s front facing web cam to take a new profile picture.



Her profile screen with her new profile pic.



Changing her lock screen image.



Swipe from the right and get the standard menu from anywhere.



“Docking” two apps on the Metro UI screen.  Unlike what we’ve become accustomed to since 1984, you don’t have dragable windows with defined and resizable borders that can overlap, everything is always full screen.  There is no background.  So, apps will always stretch to fill up all screen space.  This is showing a video player on the right and a custom app, for demo purposes only, that shows a social network news feed docked on the left.  You can drag that green bar to resize both apps.  Options here are severely limited.  Fortunately, the old Windows 7 desktop user interface is still available with the touch of a Windows-Key combination.  But, Metro apps only run in the Metro UI and regular Windows apps only run on the regular Windows UI.  There’s no cross-breeding.


This is Internet Explorer 9 running as a Metro app.  Again, it’s always full screen, unless you have a docked app on the left.  It does scroll impressively fast which brings up another nicety:

Graphics Speed:

ALL of the Metro UI uses your hardware’s GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) to speed up all displays.  They demoed this on about a dozen computers from a monster with tons of RAM and a super fast, 8-core CPU down to an ARM based tablet, and they’re all fast on screen updates and swipes.

My Opinion:

This Metro UI is kind of neat for tablets, but I can’t imagine using this for my day to day work.  I’ll certainly play with it once I get it up and running, but for actual work, I’ll likely be spending 99% of my time (or probably more) in the standard Windows 7 UI where I have MUCH more control over my experience.  Metro UI is far to “appliance like” with limited usability.

What about the iPad?  I believe Microsoft has a viable competitor to Apple’s iPad and since all devices now support the Metro UI (desktops, notebooks, tables, and phone, and to some degree, XBox 360 with the Windows Media Center interface), they’ve got a whole ecosystem where people will be exposed to this UI and will become familiar and comfortable using it.  Imagine in the not too distant future, someone using Windows 8 (or whatever they’ll call it then) with the Metro UI, then going to BestBuy to buy a tablet.  There’s the iPad, multiple Android tablets, and a Windows 8 tablet with exactly the same user experience that the user is already used to.  Also, many of their applications on the home PC will just run on it.  The decision to buy a Windows 8 tablet becomes clearer.

But, I have a theory about why the iPad is popular and why other tablets aren’t:  I believe the vast majority of people that want tablets don’t actually want a tablet for its functionality.  They want the latest and greatest thing from that “cool” company called “Apple”.  It’s a status symbol.  In addition to that, many girls are on record of saying if they see a guy with an iPhone, he scores more points in their eyes than if he’s got an Android phone.  Being an Android carrying guy myself, I’m a little offended, but on the other hand, being someone that cares about function, price, and needs over style, and being a married man, I don’t really give a %$#@!  Anyway, my point is that tablets don’t have much of a real world use.  They have a cool factor and most people that have had an iPad for a year or so don’t use it much (if at all) anymore.  In reality, there’s not really a “tablet market”.  There’s an “iPad market”.  The other tablet makers are making a device for a market that doesn’t exist.  Nobody wants a tablet that doesn’t have the Apple logo on it, regardless of how much more functionality it has, regardless of the fact that you’re not locked into a walled garden, regardless of the fact that with non-Apple tablets they have the freedom to install whole classes of applications that are banned on the iPad.  All they want is to be seen with they shiny, expensive toy from Apple.

If you’re under 18 or at work or within ear-shot of children, or are easily offended by colorful words, do NOT watch the following video.  Everyone else enjoy! Winking smile


BTW, if you want an invite to Google Plus, e-mail me at image. That’s not a clickable e-mail address… It’s a picture to prevent spammers from easily scraping it. You’ll need to type that address, exactly as you see it, including the G and the + in front of the word “Invite”.

See this image? image_thumb26
You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article.

FBI’s Most Wanted

This man is wanted for planning an attack on 9/11/2011 for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks:

Please share the FBI link with everyone on FaceBook, Twitter, Google+ and anywhere else you can!

Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to Terrorists; Conspiracy to Murder, Kidnap, Maim, and Injure Persons in a Foreign Country


Subject Image

Multimedia: Images


Jude Keenan Mohammad, Jawad Khan Afridi


Date(s) of Birth Used:
November 4, 1988
Place of Birth:



5’6″ (172.5 cm)


160 pounds (72.5 kg)













Scars and Marks:
None known

Mohammad speaks English and very limited Pashtun. Mohammad is believed to be in Pakistan.


On July 22, 2009, a Federal Grand Jury in North Carolina indicted Jude Kenan Mohammad for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to murder, kidnap, maim, and injure persons in a foreign country. Mohammad is at large and a federal warrant was issued by the United States District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, for his arrest.


If you have any information concerning this person, please contact your local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

Field Office: Charlotte

Rant: You do NOT have “A Facebook”!

Let’s be clear here: You do NOT have “A Facebook“! There is only ONE Facebook. It’s a humongous web site run by hundreds of people. But, there IS ONE person that has “A Facebook” and it’s not just “A Facebook“, it’s “THE Facebook” because there’s only ONE Facebook. That one person that has THE Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg because it’s HIS Facebook. Everyone else has a Facebook ACCOUNT on HIS Facebook website. There are hundreds of millions of Facebook ACCOUNTS and they all exist on the ONE Facebook.

If you tell me you have “A Facebook”. I’m going to ask you:
• Oh yah? Cool! What’s the domain name?
• Does it have better security than the original facebook?
• Do Zuckerberg’s lawyers know you’ve named yours the same thing?
• How many people have created accounts on YOUR Facebook?
• What server platform are you running it on?
• What development platform did you create it on? PHP, .Net…?
• How many servers are you using?
• How do you advertize it?
• how are you monetizing it?

What’s that? Oh! You don’t have A Facebook? You only have a Facebook account? Well why didn’t you say that?

Got it? Good!