Juan Enriquez: Tech Evolution Will Eclipse The Financial Crisis

Mr. Enriquez is right on, I think, in this TED presentation from (if the YouTube date is correct) February 17, 2009. The financial problems we see today are nothing in comparison with the wave of technological evolution that is coming. This wave – not if, but when it comes – will usher in the next era of human (should I say hominid?) evolution.

Bailing out technologies like automobile industries and insurance companies is a Go Nowhere proposition. Mr. Enriquez points out that venture startups represent .02% of GDP investment, but 17.8% of output. The things that we are desperately clinging to as “a way of life” today are already dead. We are just burning money.

Most people are blissfully unaware of the advances already made. Even now, Juan says that the ability to engineer microbes, tissues and robots will fundamentally alter the course of human evolution. MIT’s Registry of Standard Biological Parts is a kind of “Radio Shack for biology … go out and get your proteins, DNA…” with which you build not a motherboard or radio, but a living organism.

Technologies such as cochlear implants are discussed. With these, the deaf can hear, not as well as a non-deaf person – yet. So – in 10? 15? years? – will these be electronic devices still? Or a cell programmed to restore hearing? And will we advance this further to allow (hopefully on demand) listening to say, a bat? A whale? Someone 300 yards away?

So here it (we) come(s): Homo Evolutis. “Hominids that take direct and deliberate control over the evolution of their species … and others.” – Juan Enriquez.

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished … That will be the beginning.” – Louis L’Amour

Well worth the 18 minutes (as are all the TED talks!):



Magento: Sprucing up the Contact Form

I wanted to add our address, phone numbers and a Google Map to our Contact Us page. Additionally, I wanted a link to the left of the standard “My Account” link to take you directly to the page.

Content

The form itself is located in app/design/frontend/yourTemplate/default/contacts/form.phtml. In this file, I simply added my Google Map (as an iframe, I know…) and my store’s hours, address, etc.

Layout

The layout for the page is controlled by app/design/frontend/yourTemplate/default/layout/contacts.xml. Here I changed line 37 to use the one column layout, because I wanted my content to span the width of my page.

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<contacts_index_index>
    <reference name="root">
        <action method="setTemplate"><template>page/1column.phtml</template></action>
        <action method="setHeaderTitle" translate="title" module="contacts"><title>Contact Us</title></action>
    </reference>
    <reference name="content">
        <block type="core/template" name="contactForm" template="contacts/form.phtml"/>
    </reference>

Links

The standard “My Account”, “Login” etc. links are defined in app/design/frontend/yourTemplate/default/layout/customer.xml. I wanted my new link to appear just before “My Account”. I added a line near line 51. There is probably a magento “url helper” that I should be using – someone will surely let me know!

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<!-- Mage_Customer -->
<reference name="top.links">
    <action method="addLink" translate="label title" module="customer"><label>Contact Us</label><path>/e/index.php/contacts</path><title>Contact Us</title><prepare/>
<urlParams/><position>4</position></action>
    <action method="addLink" translate="label title" module="customer"><label>My Account</label><url helper="customer/getAccountUrl"/><title>My Account</title><prepa
re/><urlParams/><position>10</position></action>
</reference>

Here’s the result.

Magento Uniform Positioning of Add to Cart Button

The grid view in magento, with Add to Cart buttons on each product, doesn’t line up as nicely as I’d like. Here’s how it looks:

Before applying changes, Add to Cart buttons aren't
Before applying changes, Add to Cart buttons aren't aligned

I want all the add to cart buttons to line up along the same horizontal. So, I make two quick tweaks:

1. In skin/frontend/yourTemplate/default/css/boxes.css, at around line 713, I added a new identifier for a div that will wrap the product name. The product name is the only variable in my case, ranging from 1 to 4 lines.

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/********************** Catalog Listing */
#myCo-product-grid-name { height: 65px; }
.catalog-listing { line-height:1.35em; }

2. In app/design/frontend/yourTemplate/default/template/catalog/product/list.phtml, at around line 123, you’ll see the product getName code, wrapped in an h5 tag. In my file, the “Grid Mode” starts around line 110. I’m just going to wrap the getName link in a div id’d by my new myCo-product-grid-name.

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<div id="myCo-product-grid-name"><h5><a href="<?php echo $_product->getProductUrl() ?>" title="<?php echo $this->htmlEscape($_product->getName()) ?>"><?php echo $this->htmlEscape($_product->getName()) ></a></h5></div>

And here’s the result:

My Add to Cart Buttons Lined up
My Add to Cart Buttons Lined up

PhotoSynth: Philly Skyline from the Art Museum

I took these yesterday as we were leaving the Art Museum. I took Trent out to the steps. Lisa waited in the car – she’s still in the wheelchair with her broken foot and was a bit tired from our long tour. I said “OK, Run up like Rocky!” at which point Trent said “Who’s Rocky?” Oops. I’m lagging in my Philadelphia Sports Dad duties.

I’m still a bit wobbly on PhotoSynth. It’s an amazing tool, a very creative idea. I don’t, for example, fully understand how it decides which picture to start on. And I still haven’t explored the concept of vertical synthing.

PhotoSynth wants me to embed with iframes; failing that (i.e., if you don’t see it here),
click here.