Benny's Adventures

Ideas for Good–Good Intentions, Flawed Execution

Take 30 seconds to watch the video.

At first glance this sounds reasonable, right? Toyota is doing good in the world!

Yet the engineer in me screams in disgust. Is Toyota really claiming that their use of solar panels in their car lead to the use of solar panels to ventilate medial tents in remote areas? Let me watch the video again…

Yes, the Toyota marketing team wants to plant in your minds that their research is the reason some lady or some tent designer decided to put solar panels to use in this way.

This is precisely like saying, “Toyota – we use internal combustion engines in our cars, so every hospital that uses generators based on the same principles uses our technology!”

I appreciate that Toyota is trying to improve quality of life and energy efficiency but there’s gotta be a better way to advertise this than this. Here’s another example:

This ad makes the same mistake as the previous one but even more than that. The claim that the park would be self-sustaining simply because they regenerate electricity from braking roller coasters is laughable. If energy was harnessed from the motion of people’s steps and some solar energy as well I think the claim is applicable but with the statements in the commercial this is not the case.

I think that this is probably like seeing political ads for someone who is well-versed in political culture and facts. I’m in training to be an engineer so over the years my brain has come to think like one so I notice engineering flaws that I’m trained to notice.

For what it’s worth though these commercials are probably great marketing for Toyota.

What do you think? How did these commercials affect you?

22 February 2011 Posted by | Engineering | , , , , | Leave a comment

My First Extension: StayFocusd

I’ve used Chrome for a while but never really bothered with the extension scene. This was the same back in the day when I used Firefox. However I tried my first extension today in an attempt to increase my productivity.

I didn’t set out to do that but I was browsing the Chrome extensions rated highest and stumbled across StayFocusd.


The premise of this extension is blocking access to a website after an allotted amount of time. The precise configuration of length of time and days active can be configured in the settings.

What I’ve set up is a system where I block the sites that I waste the most time on during the useful work week, which I defined personally to be Sunday through Thursday, inclusive. I left Friday and Saturday open because I’d like to relax before I get back to work on Sunday.

I’ll see how this extension works and report on it at the end of this week. Hopefully one of the benefits you’ll see is more posts on my blog.

20 February 2011 Posted by | productivity | , , | 3 Comments

Video Games on the Colbert Report

On February 3rd, the author of the book Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal, appeared on the Colbert Report. Here is the interview:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jane McGonigal
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

I’m not sure why the video is doing this, but if you click on the link you should be able to see it.

The majority of the interview is really good. However there is one point that I would like to contend:

Colbert: “We game to get away from the real world.”

McGonigal: “Ah, that’s another misconception…”

However I don’t think that’s a misconception at all. In fact it is the reason games exist, I believe. The connection between reality and video games is expressed much better later in the video clip where McGonigal says, “…the emotions we feel in games spill over into real life…” This is a far better point.

Aside from that little tidbit I think I can support McGonigal’s points. Judging by her interview I think getting her book more publicity would be beneficial. Thus, here is my contribution:

Product Details

17 February 2011 Posted by | Gaming | , , , | 3 Comments

My Guilty Pleasure: Judge Judy

Isn’t she awesome?

I don’t normally enjoy shows that take something serious and dramatize it for the sake of television. However Judge Judy is an exception for me because she’s a bastion of reason, albeit harsh reason.

While elsewhere people are making millions because coffee is hot I’m confident the same line of thought would not fly in Judge Judy’s court. Judge Judy does not take faulty logic from anyone and I appreciate that. The fact that this is all televised makes the whole thing more accountable so I have no problem with the judgments. Should any be terrible the judgment is document on video. The cases are minor compared to what high courts deal with but I think they can learn a lot from Judge Judy.

Here’s an example:

Elsewhere the case would have dragged on and on or encountered a confounding factor. I think in any other court besides Judge Judy’s court the man could have made a case for himself and win this.

It’s also interesting to see what happens afterward. Check this out:

I’ll try not to spoil the video if you haven’t seen it but the reactions after the judgment are a chance to see how the plaintiff and defendant feel about the case. Sometimes they say things that contradict what’s taken as the truth in the court room but more often than not this happens with people disconnected from reality or just plain lying. The personalities and their responses are great to see so the viewer gets another chance to make a judgment of the judgment (after all, I believe that’s why it’s on TV, at least next to making money).

It makes me happy to see at least an attempt at reason flourish somewhere in this world.

16 February 2011 Posted by | Funny, Television | , , | 3 Comments

Katy Perry’s Chest

While in a car with friends I was told that Katy Perry’s breasts are on fire in her video for “Firework”. See here:

Katy Perry–Firework

I began watching with the childish thought, “boobs on fire!” but ended up wandering into the state of modern social perception.

I listened to the song and did my best to understand its message. I think it’s an admirable message that Katy Perry (or the song writer) is trying to convey and the song is worth at least one listen even if you are not a Katy Perry fan.

At first glance, however, it’s tough to take it seriously when at 0:46 Katy Perry’s chest lights up and fireworks start spewing forth. Why is that, though? After all the metaphor in the song is that your heart is full of light, brilliance, and wonder and you can shine brightly. Had this been a man singing this there would have been a reaction of a much smaller amplitude with respect to breasts.

But then what man would ever accept a song like this? It feels like we’re trapped in a world where if you’re a guy you have to have an “edgier” message or have scantily clad, attractive women dancing in the background. Perhaps a more specific way to phrase it is that a man cannot be sweet.

Of course it may just be that I’m not very exposed to all the music out there. However, this is my current impression.

If you have music I should listen to that supports or serves as a counter example let me know!

14 February 2011 Posted by | Life, Music | , , , | 1 Comment



Taken with: Motorola Droid

I was at the beach and this is a very interesting sand formation I saw. This is quite close up and it makes it seem almost other-worldly.

13 February 2011 Posted by | Miscellaneous | , , , | 2 Comments


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