From Technology

Learning to live in the cybernetic singularity of our future.

Top 10 Things Science Fiction Promised Us That Didn’t Happen in 2010

The Jetsons

Image © Warner Bros. Animation

Science fiction makes a lot of predictions about the future — that’s really the point, isn’t it? The best science fiction looks at the future, trying to see where we are headed and what it will be like when we get there. Some authors are so good at this it seems as though they actually are able to peer into the future (even if only through a scanner darkly) and tell stories of what is to come. But even the best sci-fi has, over the years, gotten a lot wrong about what was the future when it was written.

2010 is almost over, and I thought it would be an appropriate time to look at a few things that were supposed to happen (or have happened) by this year, but didn’t.

  1. Flying Cars — This is a popular one to gripe about, but I’ve got bad news for you: it ain’t ever gonna happen. It’s not that flying cars are technically impossible, but they are socially impossible. I have little doubt that if our best and brightest applied themselves to the task, we could mass-produce personal travel devices that would allow us to rise off the ground and zoom through the air just like George Jetson. But imagine a world where the millions of cars on the road are replaced by millions of flying cars, or, should I say, millions of potential flying bombs. Even if we were to create some system that automatically forces cars to avoid buildings, how long before some moron with a beef against a particular government, philosophy, or just against sanity in general hacks that system and heads towards the closest sky scraper in a flying car packed with C4 explosive? No thanks, I’ll stick to the ground.
  2. A Moon Base — We were supposed to have Moon Base Alpha by 1999, or at least by 2001, but for sure by 2010. That didn’t happen. What did happen in 2010 was some unmanned moon landings (deliberate crashes, really) that provided new evidence that it might be technically possible and financially rewarding one-day to establish a permanent (but small) outpost on our lonely satellite. Well, I guess that’s something. The goalpost for a working Moon base has now been pushed all the way to 2069, according to a recent design challenge from Shift Boston. I’ll be 101 years old in 2069, so I just hope we have anti-aging pills soon.
  3. Anti-Aging Pills — Although you can not yet pop a pill and stay 36 forever, the possibility of arresting or reversing aging is looking promising. New advances in unlikely places such as nano-technology are pointing to ways that we might ingest little robots that rebuild our systems from within. But nano-bots are also the bane of a lot of sci-fi stories, turning the world into a mass of gray goo.
  4. Trips to Jupiter — Zooming off to planets far was a staple of 1950s sci-fi. What’s changed in the nearly-50 years since Yuri Gagarin took the first off-planet jaunt is that we learned space is a really inhospitable climate. No air, no water, no heat, no gravity and no magnetosphere leads to dead humans. And recreating all of this in a portable format has proven far more elusive than the dreamers of the golden-age of sci-fi first thought. Even the more realistic versions shown in 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel 2010: Odyssey Two may be centuries away.
  5. Nuclear Holocaust — OK, so it’s a good thing this one didn’t happen, obviously, but when I was a child in the 1970s, it seemed like a high probability. Growing up with the specter of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction, for anyone too young to remember it) looming over you was a way of life that we hoped no one was mad enough to test. The made-for-TV movie The Day After scared the hell out of me when I was a teen. But no one would have guessed in 1980 that by the end of the decade the Soviet Union would no longer exist. The nuclear threat may not have disappeared with it; however, the constant specter of nuclear holocaust has, if not disappeared, at least become less of a daily concern.
  6. Virtual Reality — Sure, we have Second Life, World of Warcraft and Toy Story 3D, but the truly immersive user interface that is virtual reality is still just a dream. There’s some promising work being done with wearable computing, but its still a long way from being able to jack your cranium straight into the net as in Neuromancer, or even hacking your optic nerve with VR goggles as in Snow Crash.
  7. AI Robot Butlers & Self-Driving Cars — I want my piña colada served to me on the veranda at the perfect temperature by a slave robot. I want to be chauffeured around the city at night in my high speed luxury electric car while it reads to me the news of the day customized to my unique interests. I want all of this and I want it all guilt free. Oh sure, I can get a Roomba to vacuum my house or a Lexus which can park itself, but that’s not really the same thing, is it.
  8. Computer Overlords — On the up side, none of the non-existent robot butlers and self-aware cars have risen up to overthrow their human oppressors and imprison them in The Matrix. We’ll call this one and #7 even.
  9. Commercial Supersonic Air Travel — We actually had this mode of travel, but lost it in 2003 with the last flight of the Concorde (although we did get a very funny semi-eponymous TV show). There is some movement to bring back supersonic commercial flights, but I suspect you’ll be buying tickets to Moon Base Alpha before you are buying supersonic airplane tickets again.
  10. Cheap, Clean, and Unlimited Energy — Nikola Tesla’s dream of free and unlimited electricity seems even more impossible today than when he first proposed it in the early 20th century. Many of the wars on this small blue marble we call home are in large or small part over energy resources. Global climate change is intrinsically linked to the ways in which we produce energy. Whether it’s gas for your car or electricity for your house, we all spend a lot of money on energy. A limitless, non-polluting, inexpensive (or even free) energy source could completely transform humanity, taking us out of the energy dark age we live in now, and leading to a true peace on Earth and good will between all mankind. That’s my wintertime wish for the future. Do you have one?

Later this week: 10 for ‘10: 10 things sci-fi promised that DID happen in (or by) 2010.

Dream Jobs You’ve Never Heard Of: Parabolic Flight Crew

In Douglas Adam’s book Life, The Universe, and Everything, he shares the secret of flying: it’s the art of learning how to “throw yourself at the ground and miss.” Tim Bailey  teaches people how to do just that:  throw themselves at the ground (in an airplane) and miss in order to fly.

Tim Bailey — Parabolic Expert
Tim Bailey — Parabolic Expert

Professionally speaking, Tim wears a lot of hats. Although his LinkedIn profile gives his job title as simply “Catalyst”, it  then lists 10 separate jobs under “Current”. To name just a few, he works on SpaceVidcast, Space Task Force, Yuri’s Night (The World Space Party), and is the co-founder and Chief Operating Office of Sky Fire Lab—an independent organization promoting space travel in the media. See a theme yet?  But if you scroll down to the bottom of his lengthy list of job titles, you will see that he is also a member of the Parabolic Flight Crew for the ZERO-G Corporation. What’s that you ask? parabolic what?

Tim’s job is the closest thing there is to being an astronaut without actually going into space. He spends his days assisting and training people in aircraft flights that simulate a microgravity environment—effectively he’s a flight attendant teaching people how to fly—and he is one of only nine people on the planet qualified to do this.

Tim has performed over 150 such flights, each with multiple parabolas—where the craft goes up and down at a steep angles to create a “weightless” free-fall environment inside—equating to over 24 hours of his life that Tim has spent unencumbered by the Earthly bonds of gravity. This has led to Tim’s unique ability to, as he puts it,  “execute some fairly bad-ass flips in any axis [x, y, and z].”

In addition to being an evangelist and trainer for manned space travel, though, Tim is also a husband and recent father. Judging by his recent Twitter posts, he spends a lot of time with his family going between  Kennedy Space Center and Disney World—a true geek dad’s paradise!

I recently chatted with Tim about his job, his work advocating for manned space travel, and his own future in space.

Read the full interview on GeekDad »

Adding Transparencies and Gradients With CSS

24 Ways
24 Ways

The way you handle color in your web designs is about to change. Perhaps you’ve been playing around with hexadecimal color values since you were a wee web-babe; if you were, get ready to to grow up fast. CSS3 has arrived, and your palette is about to get a whole lot bigger.

Compared to what’s coming, it’s sas though designers have been color-blind, working with only a small part of the chromatic spectrum. No, new hues will not be added to the rainbow.

What will happen is that color values will be defined in new ways, the entire spectrum of opacity levels will be added and gradients based on pure CSS rather than images will be thrown in, too.

Some forward-thinking websites, such as the impressive 24 Ways to Impress Your Friends, are already playing around with RGBa for text and background color effects—and the results are great.

Read the full article on Webdesigner Depot »

Web Designers VS Web Developers

Some one sent me this insanely funny info graphic on Web Designers VS Web Developers. It reminds me of the series of articles I did for Webdesigner Depot: 5 Pet Peeves Designers Have With Developers (and How to Avoid Them … and the sequel 5 Pet Peeves Developers Have With Designers (and How to Avoid Them …

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Get my new book on CSS3 for $9.99 (cheap!)

Buy the eBook version of CSS3:VQS this week for $9.99»

CSS3: Visual Quickstart Guide by Jason Cranford Teague
CSS3: Visual Quickstart Guide

After months of research, coding and writing, my latest book—CSS3: Visual Quickstart Guide—is finally in shops and available for purchase online. This book covers everything you can do with Cascading Style Sheets today, including the latest advances in design and interactivity. This is a particularly exciting time to be a Web designer: we are about to get a whole new set of tools for our Web designs. This book will show you how the CSS3 capabilities ready for prime time (or soon will be) that will explode your creativity.

CSS3: VQS is a slim concise volume covers the breadth of CSS3, much of which remains unchanged since CSS2/2.1. If you are an old hat at CSS, Here’s a brief peak of the new material I cover in the book:

  1. Borders –  Border images and rounded corners.
  2. Backgrounds – Multiple backgrounds can be added to a single element, backgrounds can be more precisely positioned, backgrounds can be extended clipped to the inside or outside of a border and backgrounds can be resized.
  3. Color –Color opacity settings, gradients in backgrounds, and HSL color values.
  4. Text – Text shadows, text overflow, and word wrapping.
  5. Transformations – Scale, skew, move, and rotate an element in 2D or 3D space.
  6. Transitions – Simple dynamic style transitions.
  7. Box – Drop shadows, boxes can be resized by user, overflow can be set separately in horizontal and vertical directions, outline offset allows you to set space between the outline and the border and box model specifications allows you to set how width and height are applied to the box.
  8. Content – Styles used to add content to an element.
  9. Opacity – Elements can be transparent.
  10. Media – Ability to style pages based on the viewport size, color, aspect ratio, resolution and other important design considerations.
  11. Web fonts – Updates and extends the ability to link to fonts for use in a design.

The book also includes:

  • Compatibility tables showing the exact browser version each CSS property is compatible with
  • Quick reference tables showing all property values, their compatibility, and default values
  • Quick fixes for common CSS problems
  • How to organize and debug your code
  • 33 best practices for CSS

A support Webpage where you can download all of the code from the book

For a limited time, you can buy an eBook version of CSS3:VQS directly from Peachpit for the low, low cast of $9.99. Get all of the advantages of the most thorough resource on the latest version of CSS3—with information on how you can apply these cutting edge techniques to your Web site today—in a convenient electronic format. This deal is only available from my publisher this week, so get it now.

Buy the CSS3:VQS eBook now for $9.99 and let me know what you think.

10 Geeky Web Tricks with HTML5 and CSS3

It’s a glorious time to be a web geek! Did you see the cool effect the folks at Google added to their logo the day before they made their big announcement about changes to the perennial search engine? It’s gone now, but for a brief period when you moused over the logo, it flew apart in colorful blobs avoiding your mouse.

To most people’s surprise (OK, maybe only to most web geeks’ surprise), this interactivity was not created with Adobe Flash, but instead using the most recent versions of common Web technologies. It’s likely that you’ve already benefited from these new Web technologies: HTML5 and CSS3. They are already popping up all over the place, despite the fact that they are not supported in the most popular browser, Internet Explorer <insert dramatic pause here> at least not until today!

That’s right, the next version of Internet Explorer version 9 will support HTML5 and CSS3 and that version will be released today 15 September as a public beta!!

And there was much rejoicing!!!

Our long nightmare is finally over. Now everyone will be using a modern browser and Web designers can finally do really cool things without Flash. Ok, maybe I’m being premature — it’ll take a while before everyone is upgraded — but a guy can dream, can’t he?

The great thing about any ground breaking technology is all of the cool experiments that get thrown together. The early adopters are less worried about finding practical applications and more interested in just playing around to create new toys. Let’s play with a few today!

Below is a list of my favorite 10 new Web toys. Of course you will need a modern browser — Safari 5 or Chrome 6 are usually best, but Firefox 3.6 will work for a lot of them. If you are running Windows — and are very brave person — you should go download Internet Explorer 9 right now and test these toys out. Let me know in the comments if all of them are working for you in your browser of choice.

Continue Reading “10 Geeky Web Tricks with HTML5 and CSS3″ on GeekDad»

via GeekDad.

Vote For Me to Speak @SxSW

SXSW Panel Picker

SXSW Panel Picker

I want to spread the good word of Web typography again to the fine folks attending South By South West (SxSW) at the 2011 event, but I need your help. The first round of selection is (literarily) a popularity contest based on a thumbs up or down by the public at large.

I’m proposing a session on Web typography (surprise, surprise), recapping the basic technologies, but then examining directions those new technologies are taking us. Here’s a bit from the intro:

As the dust settles from these changes, a new style of Web typography is emerging, one that reflects print origins, but is also experimenting with the unique strengths of online communication. This session begins by recapping recent advances in technology and then focuses on case studies at the borders of online typography. Designers will see how they can use the new Web typography to set their work apart from the rest of the herd.

SXSW Diagram
30% is up to you!

All you have to do to help me out is give my session on Web typography the thumbs up. You will have to register (don’t worry, it’s painless) and that’s it! And if you could leave a comment at the bottom of the ballot, I would be ever so grateful.

While you are there, I can also recommend a few other great panels to vote for:

Voting ends 11:59 CDT on Friday, August 27.

So, run, don’t walk to the SxSW Panel Picker and choose the best.

Win a ticket to the CSS Summit!


It’s been a crazy busy few weeks for me as I finish up my new book CSS3 Visual Quickstart for Peachpit, but I’m really excited that in just over a week I’ll be presenting at the online event of the year for CSS: The CSS Summit. The summit is an online only event lasting from 9am–5pm Central Time (10am–6pm EST) brining together some of the best minds writing about CSS today to give you the inside scoop on Web design.

In addition to my own teachings on fluid web typography, you can hear:

  • The wonderful Stephanie (Sullivan) Rewis teaching the gospel of CSS and progressive enhancement.
  • My buddy David McFarland talking about CSS Animations.
  • The energetic Zoe Gillenwater helping you get effective and efficient design with CSS.
  • My sister from another mother, Desnise Jacobs helping you troubleshoot your CSS.

All of this for the low, low price of $149, and, if you act now, you can get a 10% (~$15) discount using the code CSSCRANFORDTEAGUE. You can also use the discount to get a meeting room ticket, getting 10% off the $449 price (~$45).

Wanna’ go? Of course you do, and I have two tickets to give away to two lucky readers.

How to Enter to Win Tickets

There are three ways to enter to win one of the two tickets.

  1. Follow @jasonspeaking on twitter and then tweet “I want to go to the #CSSsummit to hear @jasonspeaking»” .
  2. Follow @fluidwebtype on twitter and then tweet “I want to go to the #CSSsummit to learn @fluidwebtype»” .
  3. Add a comment at the bottom of this post with a link to a Web site that is using Webfonts (not using Flash or images) to create particularly inspiring typography.

Three ways to enter, and yes, you can enter all three ways once a day to improve your chances to win. The more you enter, the better your chances.

RULES: The contest starts at 12:00 PM EST, Friday, July 16th and runs through 12:00 PM EST, Tuesday July 20th. Winners will be announced later that same day. You have to be following @jasonspeaking or @fluidwebtype when the winners are announced OR have left a comment. This is the only way I will have to contact you. Only one entry per channel per day will be accepted. The judges decisions (mine) are final.


Join Me At Voices That Matter

Voice That Matter Web  Design Confernece
Join Me!

I’m approaching the half way mark for my new CSS3 book, but I’m getting psyched up to amongst some heavy hitters in the Web industry at the upcoming Voices that Matter: Web Design Conference in San Francisco. It’s just a little over a week until I’ll be presenting a retooled and updated version of my session on Fluid Web Typography. If you want to get the latest on branding your sites through typography, be there.

The post-conference seminar with Tantek Çelik talking about HTML5 is already sold-out, but two days with Jesse James Garrett, Dan Cederholm, Steve Krug, and other luminaries is still yours for the taking.

If you are going to be there, let me know.

LIVE(ish) – Fluid Web Typography at SXSWi 2010

I was poking around the SXSW site, and realized that the recording of my session on Web typography is finally available. I had to pick through the code a bit, but finally found the file I needed to embed. For reference, I’m also embedding the slide share version of the presentation slides. It’ll almost be like being there!