Tag Archives: performance

Wooden surfboards are on the rise – interview with Spirare Surfboards: Kevin Cunningham

Just a few questions from the Liquid Salt interview:

 

Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background?
I was born in Baltimore and spent summers growing up in Ocean City Maryland. I moved to Rhode Island to attend the Rhode Island School of Design in 2000. I started shaping boards while I was still a student in 2002 and was hooked on the experience of shaping and riding my own boards. I kept shaping more and more boards for myself and eventually friends were asking for them too. I was turned off by the negative environmental aspects of the polyurethane foam and resin though. I began to look for more sustainable means to shape boards while maintaining a high performance standard, and being an artist the aesthetics of the boards is important to me too.

What’s next for Kevin Cunningham and Spirare?
I’ve been working with reclaimed found marine debris lately. I am currently using fishing nets and lines that wash up on the beach to make fins and accessories. It’s amazing how much trash you can find on the beach when you start to look for it. I hope to develop more uses for this material in the coming months too. Other than that I’m going to keep shaping as many boards as I can and push the performance of my shapes as far as possible.

 

Keep reading: Liquid Salt - Spirare: Kevin Cunningham

 

You had me at Baltimore…and the wealth of ocean trash. So far I’ve found a kayak paddle, three leashes, wetsuit, several sand-toy sets, and a nail file – Ocean Recycling!

 

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Review – new MacBook Air has great performance improvements, no design changes

You have to give it to ars technica, they write the best, most in-depth reviews. If you’re interested in buying the new MacBook Air the whole 4-page article is worth reading.

But, to cheat, I skipped to the last page and copied the conclusions below:

 

Conclusion

The 2012 MacBook Air doesn’t look any different than its last couple of predecessors, but the upgrades on the inside are what make the machine. Although Apple elected not to try and squeeze a “retina” class display into the MacBook Air this year, such a change would have come with great sacrifice to performance and battery life. And let’s be honest—with the MacBook Air, there’s very little wiggle room on either of those metrics. For me at least, I would rather have the performance and battery life.

For someone like me upgrading from a 2010 MacBook Air, or even a MacBook Pro from the last couple years, it would be no question: go ahead and buy one of Apple’s latest MacBook Airs. The performance increase is noticeable even during everyday use (even while using the lowest-end 2012 machine), and Apple finally gives users the option to upgrade from the soldered-on 4GB of RAM to 8GB of RAM in the Air.

Finally, this makes it a more serious machine than it was pre-WWDC, and the battery life of the MacBook Air has reached a respectable level as well. With the addition of Thunderbolt for I/O and USB 3.0 this year, it’s going to be difficult to convince me (or most other existing Air owners) to go back to a MacBook Pro—unless they are hankering for that shiny new retina display or even more significant performance improvements.

 

Review: The 2012 MacBook Air soars with Ivy Bridge

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Award-winning short about legendary surfer – ‘Another Day in the Life of Wayne Lynch’

Wayne Lynch is a surfing legend, blazing individualistic pathways in both the performance and the lifestyle. Ascending during a time of great change and experimentation, Wayne took up the mantle personally, redefining what a surfboard should look like and how it should be ridden. Much of this innovation done outside of surfing’s athletic or institutional complexes.

Today, Wayne’s life is almost as it was 40 years ago. He still shapes surfboards, still lives simply by the sea. Were it not for his recent heart attack, both the observer and Wayne himself, could be forgiven for thinking things had stayed the same, despite how they change. But serious jeopardy to anyone’s health, our surfing heroes included, can have a way of radically altering everything underneath the surface, appearances be damned. A rebirth into the same skin.

In this portrait, filmmaker Cyrus Sutton provides a window into Lynch’s new life. With a nod to Jack McCoy’s Tubular Swells, Another Day in the Life, is crafted with ultra-fine cinematography and a spare and modernist feel. The viewer is transported back to the Wayne Lynch they grew up idolizing, while making current those admirations and anchoring them in the reality of human mortality.

- Scott Hulet, The Surfer’s Journal

Bill Gates invests in the future of electricity storage – Liquid Metal Batteries

Liquid Metal Battery Corporation, an MIT spin out that’s developing new technologies for electricity storage, has raised $15 million in funding from Khosla Ventures, Total and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. The technology behind the company was developed by Dr. Donald Sadoway (his famous TED Talk), a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was recently named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

“Large-scale electricity storage will be a critical part of reinventing the global electric grid infrastructure, and LMBC has developed the most innovative chemically-based solution that we’ve seen,” said Andrew Chung of Khosla Ventures.

via GeekWire

 

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Bill believes that creating large-scale batteries to store energy is a critical problem to solve if solar and wind energy are to become mainstream. In this video, Bill and MIT Professor Donald Sadoway discuss the importance of new battery storage technology and Sadoway’s focus on the development of a “liquid metal” battery.

via Gates Notes

 

 

To get more technical, the liquid in the all-liquid battery is molten salt and liquid metal, which:

“…avoids cycle-to-cycle capacity fade because the liquid electrodes are reconstituted with each charge – similar systems have operated in a lab environment for more than 17 months with daily cycling and no reduction in performance. The molten salt electrolyte combines high conductivity with abuse tolerance at low cost. Self-segregation due to three immiscible liquid phases of different densities (e.g. oil and water separation) allows for robust operation and ease of manufacture. Together, these attributes will enable the liquid metal battery to exceed 70% round-trip AC efficiency for over a decade without degradation.”

Learn more on the2-page information sheet from LMBC (pdf)

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The story of Ballet shoes

The story of ballet shoes, from the factory to the stage. Filmed on location at Freed of London & the New York City Ballet.

Client: New York City Ballet
Director + Editor: Galen Summer
Producer: Kristin Sloan
Director of Photography: Hillary Spera
Sound Mixer: Guillermo Pena Tapia

 

// Thx – José Vega

The End of My Affair

Most affairs don’t begin with a person saying “I’m going to have an affair” for the sake of having an affair. That’s just not how it works. Mine began a year and a half ago. The situation practically begged for it – it was that attractive and tempting. And yes it felt wrong. But it also felt good. Really good. Like the kind of heavy release you have after being under water for an extended period of time, coming up for that first gasp of air. It was such a facile conquest.

It feels trite to attribute it to work circumstances – I could timorously say that had I not been in the position I was in, I wouldn’t have started the affair. But I can’t say that. I chose to be in that environment, driven by something shiny, tempting, and new. The affair was a coping mechanism – a blinder – to avoid dealing with what was really going on. But isnt’ that how all our vices take life? As a distraction from reality. Even as I commenced writing this not-so-easy admission, the craving returned.

Adderall is a stimulant drug used to enhance cognitive performance and “treat” Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). If you’ve ever sat next to me in a meeting, you’ve noticed my leg thumping at an accelerated speed, like an industrial-style sewing machine hard at work. Ostensibly I meet all the criteria for ADHD. I say ostensibly because I’m not convinced not liking to sit and participate in an activity that offers little benefit or stimulation (aka boredom) qualifies as a disorder. In the first grade my mom had to demand my new school test my IQ when a teacher wanted to place me in a “problem student” group – she said I wouldn’t be a problem if I wasn’t so bored. She was right.

The catalyst for my affair was a new job role – with new responsibilities – including sitting through three and a half hour long meetings. I felt like a lioness trapped in a six-by-six foot cage. The worst part was it didn’t have to be a long meeting – it was the result of ineffective and inefficient processes, tools and management (which eventually were addressed). I did a little research on ADHD and the drugs to treat it, then made an appointment with my doctor. He asked me some questions and prescribed it. And it worked. I was able to perform tasks with an element of physical detachment that I had never experienced before.

Cognition performance meds like Adderall and Ritalin have become the drug de jour of such illustrious groups such as Hollywood celebutantes and Ivy Leaguers. Lindsay Lohan was recently outed in Us magazine for using it to lose weight and it is widely accepted as the norm at college campuses to give students the boost they desire at finals time. 95% of these drugs are sold in the United States, with the biggest geographic consumer being the Northeast. There was even an episode in Desperate Housewives where one of the moms tapped into her child’s Ritalin stash to become Supermom.

So if everyone is doing it, what’s the big deal? It has become as common as athletes using steroids – who doesn’t do it? Roughly seven percent of all college students, and up to 20 percent of scientists, have already used Ritalin or Adderall to improve their mental performance (Wired). And several prominent ethicists and neuroscientists for Nature recently published a paper entitled, “Towards a responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy.” So why would I end my affair with Adderall?

Because as with all “quick fixes” in life, there is always a catch. There’s always a cost. Sometimes it takes longer to discover all the costs. The first and most apparent one I noticed was the impact on my heart. I started experiencing chest pains and irregular heart beats, just every now and then, but enough to impact my ability to workout and be active. As an athlete and someone who has maintained a lifelong commitment to physical well-being, this was disturbing. If I know one thing it’s this: when it comes to matters of the heart, you don’t mess around.

And then there’s the bigger cost, one I didn’t fully realize until after returning from SXSW. It was my first time at the “Springbreak for Geeks” conference. I attended along with two great friends and colleagues (Andrea Baker and Steve Mandzik) and we had a blast (Steve’s write-up best explains why). After returning, Steve and I were standing in the middle of a bar (RFD) and he asked me how I felt now that we had returned from Southby. I paused for a moment and said, “I didn’t take my Adderall. I didn’t need it.” He asked me a few questions – why I started taking it, how it makes me feel – then let out this maniacal laugh – the quintessential Steve laugh, like the jokes on you and he’s thoroughly enjoying it. And finally he said it – You’re trying to fit into a world that doesn’t cater to people like us.

I started to tear up because I knew he was right. The fact is, I wasn’t taking Adderall to lose weight (FYI: I know people who are on Adderall who are not skinny) and I wasn’t on it to give me more energy (for someone like me, it tempered what I consider my natural buoyancy). Maybe it helped me slug through the more menial tasks at work but I don’t think it helped me perform better. (Side comment: if college students need to use it to get through finals, a process that does nothing to promote actual learning, maybe it’s time we actually address education in this country).

I’ve been Adderall-free for 3 weeks now. When I first went off, I felt…like me, which can probably be most easily conveyed by The Tigger Song. I’ve been able to “manage” my Sengrrr-ness by doing “radical” things like moving to a different desk so I can concentrate without constant interruptions and distractions, taking walks throughout the day, working hours that take advantage of my most productive period in the day (which is not the morning), reading work material on the elliptical and treadmill at the gym (which is where I do some of my best thinking), bringing a balance ball chair into work to encourage proper posture at my desk, bringing job-related reading material to meetings so I can utilize the time during the attention-not-critical segments, having clear and defined objectives for any meeting I attend and organize and sticking to them, and working by myself in a conference room when I need space to be creative and think big. Do any of these activities seem radical?

I wrote this post without Adderall. I’m concerned that people are being sold a bill of goods with cognition performance drugs, mainly because I don’t believe I thought any better on Adderall nor performed better. I wasn’t more creative or innovative and quite frankly, I have more energy and passion when I’m off of it. It did keep me up at night and for me, sleep and rest is key to mental and physical performance. Maybe some people like being an automaton. Maybe there are people who want a country of automatons. Maybe being able to do menial tasks for longer periods of time is a competitive advantage and I say if you want this competitive advantage, go for it, by all means, because my advantage will be that I’m not on it. I can’t say I won’t fall off the wagon and take Adderall again. But I can say I refuse to live a life where I need a drug to feel less like me in order to get through the day and I when I do feel the urge to take it, I’ll pay attention to the cause and deal with that instead of addressing the symptoms.