Inspiring TED Talks

One of the best things about a 45 minute commute each way by train is you can watch some TED videos for inspiration. Here are some of my favorite talks from the series.
Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds
Temple makes the case that there is a little autism in all of us. Its what makes great minds and needs to be celebrated.

Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight
What happens when a brain scientist experiences the very thing she has been studying? Jill talks about her experience during a massive stroke which she knows all about.

David Blaine: How I held my breath for 17 min
David goes into detail about the great lengths he took pushing his body to the limit of oxygen deprivation.

Lewis Pugh swims the North Pole
This guy is tough. To help spread awareness to global warming, Lewis swam in the icey waters of the North Pole in nothing but a speedo.

Kevin Kelly tells technology’s epic story
Kevin explains how technology evolves like a cell or a meme.

Hans Rosling: Asia’s rise — how and when
Hans has a thick Sweedish accent that you would expect from a great mind. Here he predicts the exact day when India and China will outstrip the US as the economic powerhouse of the world. I marked the date in my Google Calendar.

Willard Wigan: Hold your breath for micro-sculpture
Willard makes incredibly detailed sculptures out of single grains of sand. His patience for his work, which can be inhaled without thinking , is really mind blowing.

Make A Podcast Out Of A YouTube Username

Have you ever wanted to get an RSS feed of portable media player ready video files from a specific YouTube user? Yea neither have I. But if I ever did, I now know where to go. makes a podcast feed straight from most YouTube users uploads. You just give it a username and it spits out a feed for iTunes, Zune, or other RSS catchers. The idea is clever and YouTube does all of the encoding on it’s end. transforms the publicly available RSS feed of a YouTube user and modifies the video URLs to get the MP4 version. Then it’s just a matter of forming the RSS feed using the other meta data. Screenshot

If you ever wanted to start a video podcast you could easily let YouTube host and distribute your files to your viewers now! I just need to find some good YouTube users to follow in order to take advantage of this handy tool.

Steve Gibson Explains Internet Congestion

There has been a lot of commotion about net neutrality and packet shaping in the news recently. All of the stories that I have read have been from the point of view of the common Internet user whose freedom of access has been threatened by the gatekeepers of the Internet, the service providers. On the recent episode of Security Now, Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte take an objective look at how the Internet clogs up and what the ISPs have to do to manage their network. Starting off at how the HTTP protocol was designed through how ISPs swap traffic at the backbone of the Internet (known as peering) to the future of fatter broadband pipes, Steve doesn’t miss a beat.

To be frank about it, the Internet is short on bandwidth. There is simply too much demand and not enough space to squeeze all of the data around the world fast enough. Everybody wants fast, snappy web pages to spring up as soon as they click a link. But services like Bittorrent tend to max out the network’s resources causing the other web traffic to grind to a halt until the bottleneck is gone.

Submariane Cable Map of the Internet - 2008

Map of the under-sea cables connecting the continents to the Internet. If one should fail then the packets will be sent through an alternate route.

The Internet was designed for traffic to automatically re-route itself for the best available delivery route. But if the packets encounter holes, your connection will slow down the sending of packets in hopes that the strain on the route to the destination clears up. This is why your connection might seem to slow to a crawl around the time people are getting off of work and heading home to surf the web there.

The Internet was never designed with the scale that it is today in mind. ISP’s are simply trying to manage their networks for the sake of everybody’s experience. For the sake of the net, researchers are busy devising new protocols to make network traffic more efficient but it is a tough nut to crack with many variables to take into consideration. And then there is always the ethical and political issues. Internet congestion is one tough pill to swallow!

You can listen to the 1:21:12 mp3 for Security Now Episode #139 and follow along with the transcript.