Science & Technology

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pioneers Museum revamping medical exhibit

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 10:39 AM

  • CSPM
It was always my favorite part of any field trip (or walk across the street) to the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. All those terrifying old tools, the saws, the dental drills, the cabinets filled with strange medicines and elixirs.

Starting Jan. 1, the museum's array of such things will close for renovation and reinterpretation. The new permanent exhibit, City of Sunshine, is scheduled to open this time next year, and will include new stories, photographs and artifacts, along with audio and visual components. The museum is also working with architects to update the flooring and lighting in that area and show more of the original features of the building itself.

"Museum visitors who have favorite objects in the current exhibit can rest assured that many of them will return but be interpreted in fresh and exciting ways," promises the press release, sent today.

Meantime, a smaller, temporary exhibit called Chasing the Cure will open in March. "It will feature the role our beautiful scenery and climate played in attracting consumptives to the area, the many doctors, nurses and sanitariums catering to the sick, various treatment methods and quack cures offered to health seekers, and hands-on health-related activities for children,” says museum curator Leah Davis Witherow in the release.
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Apple’s Groundhog Day

Posted By on Sat, Sep 27, 2014 at 9:02 AM

  • Andrey Bayda | Shutterstock
Recently, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage to announce a few new products and demo videos of the company's latest technology. The event, though streamed online, was shown to a highly selective audience of industry analysts, tech bloggers and journalists.

Apple’s product launch is the one presentation each year that “fanboys” like myself watch with rapt attention, and the one that Microsoft or Google customers love to hate. But as I watched this year’s event, I noticed that it's starting to become a spectacle like Groundhog Day.

When Punxsutawney Phil pops out of his hole and "announces" six more weeks of winter or an early spring, some participants wind up happy, and some are disappointed. Similarly, financial analysts, app developers, graphic designers and even casual consumers split after an Apple product launch: some feel relief or excitement, and others sighs of frustration.

With this particular event, I find myself in the latter camp.

Case in point: Apple’s best selling product is still the iPhone, but this year’s new iPhones are quite uninspiring. Sure, we got all the standard fare with a product refresh — a thinner phone with better graphics, faster processing speeds, a better camera, a few new apps, etc — but there’s really nothing that compelling for an upgrade. These kinds of improvements to a product are to be expected, with no fanfare, in the way a car manufacturer improves its models each year.

This time around, Apple’s offering us a bigger screen as the impetus to upgrade, and if that’s not enough, you can get a much bigger screen; it makes me wonder if Apple’s running out of ideas for the iPhone. 

There was one big announcement that was very interesting, a brand new product that Apple’s never had before: the Apple Watch. It’s been interesting to see how tech bloggers have responded, with a lot more negativity than I expected, in the days since the unveiling.

I don’t wear a watch, and think it would take a lot to convince me to wear one. (I have an iPhone, why would I have a watch, too?) However, when analyzing Apple as a manufacturer of consumer tech products, I think it’s a step in the right direction. There’s a compelling case to be made that wearable technology is the next frontier in “the Internet of things.” Many tech companies have already begun the rush to develop all kinds of products that you can wear and take anywhere (Jawbone’s “UP” fitness wristband and Microsoft’s “Smart Contact Lenses,” for example).

I’m really quite optimistic about the Apple Watch — and thank God they called it the “Apple Watch” instead of the “iWatch." 

Most of the criticism I’ve heard so far about the Apple Watch is based on two kinds of comments, the first being, “Who needs a watch that does all those things?” I’ll be quick to point out that when the first iPhone came out in 2007, a lot of people were saying, “Who needs to have the Internet on their phone?” Yet clearly, half a billion iPhones later, plenty of people decided that the Internet on their phone is exactly what they needed.

The original iPhone was revolutionary in concept, but also a piece of junk in terms of quality; the camera was terrible, the Internet was unbelievably slow, and the battery life was horrendous by today’s standards. But it essentially launched an entirely new form factor for cell phones that didn’t exist before.

The second criticism I’ve heard of the Apple Watch — which I think makes even less sense — is the price point. The watch starts at $349 and will, ostensibly, go up significantly (perhaps even thousands of dollars) from there based on your choice of straps and accessories. But the base price is nearly half that of an iPhone, and there are no monthly contracts. This is not lost on me, and as I said, I don’t even wear a watch.

The only danger I see her is that Apple’s ventured far beyond its comfort zone, now creating products in a genre that are often purchased only for their stylistic value. Other manufacturers have done the same for a while — Samsung and Sony, for instance — but the jury is still out on whether the average consumer will purchase wearable tech or not. It remains to be seen whether Apple, though famous for their style and design ethos, will be able to overcome this hurdle, as technology has always been the backbone for their products’ appeal.

I’ll be watching with interest to see what the next step is for Apple, as it tries to retain its crown as one of the largest, most profitable tech companies in the world, and the one with the highest brand loyalty. For now, I think our friend the Groundhog is predicting an early spring, but since we know his track record is about as spotty as it gets, your guess is as good as mine. We may all get a snow day soon.

Ron is a web guy, IT guy, and Internet marketer living in Colorado Springs with his wife and five children. He can often be overheard saying things like "Get a Mac!" and "Data wins arguments,” wandering around the downtown area at least five days a week. Follow him on Twitter at @ronstauffer or email him at Questions, comments and snide remarks are always welcome.
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Saturday, August 16, 2014

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a drone?

Posted By on Sat, Aug 16, 2014 at 10:20 AM

  • Shutterstock
When I first heard the media stir about drones a couple years ago, my mind recalled the male bees that live in a hive and do nothing but eat, sleep and breed. Remember those from your elementary school days? Today, the term "drone" is often used in an entirely different context, and the drones in question have only the gift of flight in common with lazy buzzing insects and the role they play is far more complex.

It’s important to mention that drones are not new: "drone" is a layman's term for what is technically known as an "unmanned aerial vehicle," or UAV. UAVs have been used by governments across the globe, for various reasons, for decades. In fact, the U.S. used them in the ’70s during the Vietnam War, and perhaps even earlier, for reconnaissance or other fact-finding missions. The basic concept of a UAV or drone is really quite a broad umbrella though, and not limited to wartime uses: a drone can be both the
multi-million dollar, missile-firing machines used today by the CIA in Pakistan, and small machines that are essentially remote control toys. You can even buy the innocuous "Parrot Drone" quadri-copter online for just a few hundred bucks and fly it with your smartphone. (Yes, there's an app for that.)

Aside from the military and occasional weekend hobbyist, there's one type of drone user that's conspicuously absent: businesses. Where are the companies and organizations using drones for commercial use or humanitarian efforts? You haven’t seen much of that, and odds are you won’t anytime soon due to one major opponent: the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA has essentially embargoed any and all commercial use of drones, and has been fighting court battles for years and issuing fines to keep businesses from employing drones for any use whatsoever. Why? For a few good reasons, safety being the most obvious; with the possibility of a drone falling out of the sky and injuring or killing someone, or at the very least causing property damage. Or, a craft could fly into the path of a passenger jet, putting dozens, if not hundreds of lives could be at stake. Additionally, camera-equipped drones flying over private property present major privacy issues, because some drones can be nearly undetectable, and you wouldn’t even know you’re being spied on.

However, surveying the technological landscape in 2014, one could argue the real reason we haven't found a solution to allow the use of commercial drones is because we're afraid of them.

If you need proof, look no further than the fact that nations similar to ours, in western Europe and Asia, have been using drones commercially for decades. Yamaha has been providing agricultural drones for Japanese farmers for more than 20 years for crop dusting. In the USA, however — the country known for its drones—regulators have tried very hard to prevent progress of any kind.

There is some hope; in a recent case, a federal judge ruled that the FAA has no authority to regulate small drones at all, since they’re essentially “model planes,” falling under the same rules as a small radio control airplanes. But the legal ground is still shaky, and in case you think I’m only picking on the FAA, it’s worth mentioning that many state governments have passed laws preventing certain types of drone use. Louisiana’s most recent anti-drone law would essentially criminalize aerial photography of any kind, with enormous fines and jail time. And even some cities have enacted their own anti-drone laws like Charlottesville, VA, that recently banned law enforcement agencies from using drones anywhere within city limits.
Look at the bizarre paradox this presents: do we really believe that the right answer is to prevent the good guys from using a technology that the bad guys will certainly use, regardless of the law? Will that make us safer?

One could argue — and I would — that there are numerous reasons to allow, and even encourage the commercial use of UAVs. The aforementioned agricultural use for farmers comes to mind, as does journalism, aerial firefighting, environmental research, search and rescue missions, law enforcement; the list is nearly endless. Take a recent search and rescue success story for example; an elderly man went missing in a wooded area in Wisconsin earlier this summer. A traditional search party of more than one hundred people was dispatched, as were search and rescue helicopters, and tracking dogs, but after three days of searching, the poor man still had not been found — until a volunteer sent his drone looking for the man and found him twenty minutes later. Who could argue with results like that?

Believe it or not, our government can argue with it—and has. The FAA has specifically sent letters to search and rescue organizations stating that they cannot use drones even for this powerful, cost effective, and life-saving purpose. But, to be fair, the FAA has finally agreed to take some steps to integrate drones into our skies, though every one of the congressional deadlines for integration has been missed.

I’m not optimistic about the current projection for full integration by 2020 — that’s a full six years away anyway, not counting any further delays. There are still many questions to be answered, and I’m sympathetic to the logistical nightmares it could be to offer common sense regulation that allows the safe, legal operation of drones. However, to think that everyone will sit idly by and watch and wait for a simple blessing from the government to use a technology that is readily available, powerful, and cheap, is naïve. Do we think that a simple rubber stamp from a bureaucratic agency will keep enthusiasts and profiteers twiddling their thumbs for six years? I daresay not.

I recently heard a quote in another context that fits here as well: I listened to an IT speaker's panel at a local university, and the subject matter at one point turned to cyber security. One of the speakers, a security tester (aka a "white hat" hacker), expressed concern about the state of the industry and said, "Right now, the bad guys are beating the good guys, and we're constantly playing catch-up." This is a somber warning for many fields of technology, drones included. If we keep the “good guys” from unleashing their innovation and creativity, it's only a matter of time before someone else, perhaps someone more sinister, will.

Ron is a web guy, IT guy, and Internet marketer living in Colorado Springs with his wife and five children. He can often be overheard saying things like "Get a Mac!" and "Data wins arguments,” wandering around the downtown area at least five days a week. Follow him on Twitter at @ronstauffer or email him at Questions, comments and snide remarks are always welcome.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

TEDx comes to the Springs

Posted By on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 8:06 AM

Dan and Kristie Cichello hope to make TEDx Colorado Springs an annual event. - VIA TEDXCOLORADOSPRINGS.COM
  • Via
  • Dan and Kristie Cichello hope to make TEDx Colorado Springs an annual event.

Some ideas are worth spreading.

Or so the founders of the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conferences would claim. TED conferences have become synonymous with presentations geared to inspire, called TED talks. Since the advent of in 2007, TED talks have been the toast of the web, attracting millions of viewers and awards aplenty. Around the world, TEDx conferences — licensed TED conferences outside of the main event — add to the bank of ideas and information presents.

Now TEDx is coming to Colorado Springs.

Dan and Kristie Cichello are planning a TEDx event for Oct. 11 at Stargazers Theater (10 S. Parkside Drive). The event will feature between 10 and 15 local speakers, plus a performance from Celtic Steps, an Irish dance company. Dan Cichello says the theme of the event is, "Choose to start."

"We really want people to come away from this recharged and interested in taking part in something bigger than themselves," he says. 

Dan has wanted to attend a TED event since shortly after discovering the phenomenon in 2010. Unfortunately, he discovered there isn't a regular event in the Springs. Denver hosts the annual TEDx Mile High conference, but Dan thinks Colorado Springs needs its own conference.

"The thing about TEDx [events] is that they're really focused on the local community. The things that are happening in Denver are not necessarily what's happening in Colorado Springs," he says. Ultimately, he hopes to make TEDx Colorado Springs an annual event.

The 10 confirmed speakers are as follows:
  • Aron Foster will speak on making good computer security as everyday as a seatbelt.
  • Amy Snyder will discuss her experiences writing a book about a 3,000-mile bike race.
  • Kirk Sorensen will talk about the untapped energy potential in Thorium reactors.
  • Frances Cole Jones will present strategies for selling and marketing yourself.
  • Nancy Saltzman will share her experiences with loss, finding purpose, and moving on after tragedy.
  • Elizabeth Dunn will take a scientific perspective on spending smarter.
  • Elizabeth Yarnell will show how to "eat healthy in a toxic world."
  • Edward Cope will examine rites of passage.
  • Theresa Strader will talk about rescuing mill dogs.
  • Andrew Morrison will put the tiny house movement under a microscope.
  • Molly Wingate will look at the benefits and costs of slow parenting. 
For more information on the event, including ticket sales and sponsorship information, see
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

It's Nikola Tesla's birthday, and here's how you can celebrate

Posted By on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 3:25 PM

"Tesla's Colorado Springs Lab" - PHIL LEAR
  • Phil Lear
  • "Tesla's Colorado Springs Lab"
One-hundred and fifty-eight years ago today, a little boy was born in what is now Croatia, and he would grow up to do amazing things, which are really best explained not by me, but by one of Nikola Tesla's number one fans, the Oatmeal.

(Call me lazy, but an infographic with swear words is way more fun to read. So take a minute, learn up if you haven't already.)

Right, so Tesla, the guy who set up a studio in Colorado Springs to experiment, and whose currents caused city-wide blackouts and sent horses galloping, crazed from the electricity in the ground they picked up through their shoes.

This is also the same guy who spoke eloquently about topics way before his own time. Via Mental Floss, this heartening quote on gender equality from 1926:

“But the female mind has demonstrated a capacity for all the mental acquirements and achievements of men, and as generations ensue that capacity will be expanded; the average woman will be as well educated as the average man, and then better educated, for the dormant faculties of her brain will be stimulated to an activity that will be all the more intense and powerful because of centuries of repose. Woman will ignore precedent and startle civilization with their progress.”
You can celebrate Tesla in lots of ways, for instance, right now you can visit the Mining Exchange and see paintings of him by local artist Phil Lear.

On Saturday, you can hit the Manitou Springs Heritage Center for Tesla Fest, where throughout the afternoon you can eat cake, learn about Tesla truths and enjoy live music.


Lastly, starting in September, Colorado College's I.D.E.A. Space will open a new show devoted to Tesla-inspired artwork, with Transmission/Frequency: Tesla and His Legacy. Per the presser from curator Jessica Hunter-Larsen:
Transmission/Frequency: Tesla and His Legacy features contemporary artists whose works reflect — deliberately or not — Tesla’s maverick spirit and enduring legacy. Featured projects engage some of Tesla’s ideas, such as free-floating electrical current, self-sustaining systems/movements, electrical and fluorescent light, and magnetic fields. The exhibition will also include images and reproductions of Tesla’s inventions, with a focus on his time in Colorado Springs. 
Some of what's coming to Transmission/Frequency. - I.D.E.A. SPACE
  • I.D.E.A. Space
  • Some of what's coming to Transmission/Frequency.
In addition, I.D.E.A. will host a number of talks about Tesla's legacy, his contributions to science and engineering, and much more. Read it all after the jump.

Continue reading »

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Meet the Web Guy

Posted By on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 7:00 AM


Hi there! I'm Ron Stauffer, The Web Guy. For more than seven years, I've been working with companies of many sizes, and from many industries, helping them understand the Internet and finding ways they can harness the power of the web to build and grow their businesses.

Over the years, I've observed that people who visit your website ask themselves three questions as they scan your homepage, often subconsciously. I call this the "three questions in five seconds rule," and it goes like this: you have about five seconds to answer these questions, in order:

1. Who are you?
2. What do you do?
3. Why should we care?

Although you're not visiting my website, and I'm not selling you a product or service, I figured I'd answer these three questions for you about myself today, following my own advice, in a way. Here goes.

First question: who am I? That's always a challenging question because I generally answer it differently depending on who's asking. I am, in no particular order:

- A California native (I moved to Colorado Springs in my teens).
- An occasional entrepreneur (I started and ran my own business full-time for three years and now part-time for the past few years).
- An athlete of sorts (running and swimming, mostly, but last year I took lessons in fencing. En Garde!).
- A musician (I play the guitar, the trumpet, the tuba, and sing opera on occasion).
- A Colorado Springs downtowner (I've been working downtown for over 10 years).
- A husband to a beautiful girl, also from California (We're celebrating nine years this October).
- A father of five children (I even helped deliver four of them. home, if you can believe that).
- A proud tech fanboy (a fan of all things technology, especially new and exciting consumer products).

What do I do? I said in the beginning, I'm a "web guy." That's a term I use for simplicity rather than trying to cram "website-designer-and-developer-and-internet-marketer-and-tech-consultant" into my "elevator pitch."

Long story short, being a “web guy” means I can help just about any business use just about any kind of connected technology to run more efficiently (think computers, servers, networks, laptops, iPads, iPhones, etc). I watch industry trends carefully to analyze the up-and-coming products, services and devices, and try to make recommendations based on this. Sometimes, new technologies make sense (Bluetooth Low Energy, Smart Thermostats, 3D Printers, etc), while other times, they should be avoided (NFC payments, QR codes, "waterproof" smart phone cases, and more).

And, I’ve never shied away from a technical challenge. I've even stood on the rooftop of a customer's office at midnight, in below-freezing weather, installing a satellite dish for an Internet connection, altimeter and compass in hand, trying to find a distant satellite somewhere out in the night sky. (I found the satellite, and made good money that night, but I don't ever want to do that again).

All that aside, I think the most important question is the last: why should you care? I could answer that with what I think is an overused and frankly arrogant approach often used in the industry and call myself an "industry expert" or a "guru." However, I think grandiose, self-given titles like that are presumptuous, and rarely true.

I'm just a "web guy." Actually, at one of my more recent in-house jobs a few years ago, I insisted that my official title be the "Internet Marketing Dude," because that's what I was: just a dude —I still have business cards to prove it.

I won't ask you to trust me because I'm an expert, or because I know everything about computers and technology — I don't. However, I'd say there’re two simple reasons why I think you might care what I have to say: I'm honest, and I speak in plain English.

I'll tell you when something is cool, even if nobody else in the tech world is using the word "cool." And you might find it refreshing when I say "Windows 8 sucks. And here's why." I've found that speaking in plain English is an asset, and seems to be an anomaly in the web/tech sector. I promise I'll never throw industry jargon your way to try to sound impressive. I'll just explain what things are, how they work (or don't work, as the case may be), and why you should care. All in language that your dad could understand.

If all of that sounds good to you, then I hope you stay tuned, as I have plenty to share in the future.

With that, I'll keep it short and sign off. I have a product launch to watch: Apple is announcing a new iPhone and I can't wait to find out all the ways the one I bought last year is obsolete.

Ron is a web guy, IT guy, and Internet marketer living in Colorado Springs with his wife and five children. He can often be overheard saying things like "Get a Mac!" and "Data wins arguments,” wandering around the downtown area at least five days a week. Follow him on Twitter at @ronstauffer or email him at Questions, comments and snide remarks are always welcome.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson will join our universe, virtually

Posted By on Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Neil deGrasse Tyson will drop in via Google Hangouts in Colorado Springs next week. - COURTESY SPACE FOUNDATION
  • Courtesy Space Foundation
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson will drop in via Google Hangouts in Colorado Springs next week.
The host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey will answer your questions about the mysteries of the universe starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at the Space Foundation Discovery Center, 4425 Arrowswest Dr. in a Google Hangouts live video call.

The event featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson is part of the Space Foundation's astronomy-themed activities during its Summer of Discovery. Tyson, who appeared at the Space Symposium in recent years, is also the Frederick P. Rose Director of New York's Hayden Planetarium and author of best-selling books such as Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries and The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet.

Here's more about the event and other things going on at the Discovery center:

The fee for Tyson's Google Hangouts video chat is $3.00 per person, plus admission to the Discovery Center, which is: $9 for adults, $7 for seniors (age 65+), $7 for college students with I.D., $3 for children ages 4-17. Military fees are $4.50 for adults with I.D., and $1.50 for children ages 4-17. Children age three years and younger are admitted free.

Astronomy-themed daily activities at the Discovery Center June 24 - 28 include:

FREE Make-Your-Own-Solar-System Sticker set for the first 25 paid children admitted each Tuesday through Friday and first 100 paid children admitted on Saturday (age 4-17 only, includes Discovery Passport holders)
Science On a Sphere® Presentations Astronomy Apps Presentations (iPhone and Android)
Bounce House
Mars Robotics Laboratory Presentations (11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.)
Astronomy-themed crafts include:

Make-Your-Own Telescope
Astronomy Coloring Pages
Constellation Station - make your own necklace, bracelet or keychain ($3 extra fee)
Craft Table
Star Chart or Astronaut Window (available Tuesday-Friday)
Space-themed Door Knob Decor or Make-A-UFO (available Saturday)
Register to win one of these great prizes:

Tickets for the Rio Grande Railroad Starlight Express
Gift Certificate for the Name A Star Registry
Tickets to the Space Foundation's 3rd Annual Space & Science Fiction Costume Ball
Drawing to be held Saturday, June 28 at 4:00 p.m., need not be present to win
Activities Wednesday, June 25:

3:00 - 5:00 p.m. - Showing of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (Fox television show)
6:00 - 6:30 p.m. - Google Hangouts video chat with Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson ($3 extra fee per person)
Activities Friday, June 27:

11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 — 7:30 p.m. - Sabrosos Tacos Food Truck
6:00 p.m. - Presentation with Dr. Devin J. Della-Rose: "Exoplanet Research & Discoveries from the Last Two Decades"
8:00 p.m. - Star Gazing with Southern Colorado Astronomical Society
Activities Saturday, June 28:

11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Sabrosos Tacos Food Truck
11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. - Solar Gazing with Southern Colorado Astronomical Society
4:00 p.m. - Prize Drawing (see details above)
Please see our website for further details at Activities are subject to change.

Thank you to our "Astronomy" sponsor Ent Federal Credit Union.

Other Summer of Discovery themes include:

Astronomy, part 2, July 1 - 3 (the Discovery Center will be closed July 4 and 5)
Mars, Rovers & Robots, July 8 - 12, July 15 - 19
Rocketry, July 22 - 26, July 29 - Aug. 2
A Taste of Space Technology, Aug. 5 - 9, Aug. 12 - 16
The Space Foundation also announces that its 30th Space Symposium, held May 19-22, at The Broadmoor set a record for attendance at 11,000, making it the largest annual citywide convention in the Springs. Representatives from more than 600 companies from 26 countries attended.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Meet Dr. NaKaMats, inventor extraordinaire

Posted By on Wed, May 7, 2014 at 10:47 AM

He invented the floppy disk, digital displays and has more patents — upwards of 3,200 — to his name than Thomas Edison.

He photographed every meal he's eaten since the 1970s, which won him a 2005 Ig Nobel Prize (for useless research).

He's run for mayor of Tokyo numerous times, and lost.

He's Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu, or Dr. NakaMats, as he's also known, and he's coming to Colorado courtesy of the International Tesla Society, which is based here. You can meet him Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at the Comfort Inn in Manitou Springs, which will be celebrating Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu Day.

Nakamatsu is quite a character, as evidenced by this 1995 article with the New York Times' David Lazarus. Nakamatsu shows Lazarus his "spacious office" in downtown Tokyo and what he was working on at the time: a liquid to make sex "three times more enjoyable" (imperative given Japan's declining birth rates), and a condom that won't blunt sensitivity.

Sex products aside, he also developed Dr. NakaMats Brain Drink, which says it'll help you lose weight, smooth out your complexion and keep you regular, and about that Ig Nobel mentioned earlier? Well, Nakamatsu must be a good sport, because he's serious about the benefits of diet for health, per this 2012 interview in Smithsonian Magazine
Dr. NakaMats believes that the right food and drink, moderate exercise and an unflagging love life will keep him alive until 2072. “The number of sleeping hours should be limited to six,” he advises. “Alcohol, tea, milk and tap water are bad for the brain and should be avoided. Coffee is also very dangerous. One meal a day is optimal, and that meal should be low in oil and no more than 700 calories.”

His own diet consists of a single serving of puréed seaweed, cheese, yogurt, eel, eggs, beef, dried shrimp and chicken livers. He seasons this concoction with Dr. NakaMats’ Rebody 55, a dietary supplement comprising 55 grains and several mystery ingredients. “It is ideal for sprinkling on soup or cereal,” he says.
Nakamatsu is now well into his 80s, but his systems seem to be working, given his trip all the way from Tokyo to Manitou Springs, and he's even bringing some of his newest inventions. Plus, his website looks like this:
What a boss.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Lyft: New ride service debuts in Colorado Springs

Posted By on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 10:22 AM


Pro tip: After signing up, don't hit "Request Lyft" if you're, uh, not needing a ride. As soon as the screen changed to "Contacting drivers" — the nearest of which, the app tells me, is eight minutes away — I think I tinkled a little. 

But this is all backwards, so first the good news: Lyft is here! It's an app and a San Francisco company that vets its local drivers before they take you where you want to go for the low, low rate of this:


(Wait, am I going to have to pay a cancellation fee for my button mashing?)

Anyway, the service is going in some 60 cities and just recently added Colorado Springs because, as spokeswoman Paige Thelen told the Gazette, "We really loved the strong sense of community — we met a lot of friendly people there. We are excited to provide another option and fill a gap for people who want to get home from a bar at night or commute to work."

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Utilities goes on the offensive vs. Gazette

Posted By on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 2:25 PM

David Neumann
  • David Neumann
In a highly unusual move, Colorado Springs Utilities has issued two public statements in the wake of two newspaper articles in efforts to have the city's position known about the Neumann Systems Group emissions control technology being installed on the Drake Power Plant downtown.

The statements are in response to two stories that appeared in the Gazette in March, both highly critical of the NSG technology. The articles quote Tim Leigh, who wasn't re-elected to City Council in 2013 after he spent two years on a campaign to discredit the technology. Leigh beat an ethics charge filed by NSG owner David Neumann, who alleged Leigh maligned his business, among other things.

The March 2 article, titled "Costs, doubts rise at Colorado Springs power plant," also quoted Boris Nizamov, a scientist who worked for Neumann:
In fall 2012, Leigh got an email from a chemist who had recently left Neumann Systems Group. Although Leigh would not disclose the name of the sender, The Gazette confirmed it was Boris Nizamov, who was instrumental in creating the Neumann technology and shares credit on 17 patents with David Neumann.

"I left NSG last summer when I came to the conclusion that NSG has no future because there will be no customers other than CSU," he wrote in the email.
The article also quoted Nizamov as saying the NSG system was initially going to cost $13 million and now is estimated at $130 million.

On March 10, Springs Utilities issued a statement titled, "Neumann System right decision for Drake."
In response to the March 2, 2014 article in The Gazette regarding emissions control at the Martin Drake Power Plant, I want to provide the following points to clarify several inaccurate and misleading statements:

The NeuStream scrubber is the correct option for Drake Power Plant to comply with emissions control requirements.

* It is cheaper and more efficient than competing scrubbers;
* Compared to other technologies NeuStream works best for the facility's
unique space requirements;
* It has lower capital, operating and maintenance costs, and
* Uses less water and power than conventional systems.

The cost of the Neumann system on which the 2011 decision was made was $121 million, which includes required plant upgrades (due to inflation current total cost projections are $131 million) compared to an independent study estimate of $168 million for conventional technology (including plant upgrades). Cost estimates quoted before 2011 are not pertinent as there was no design work done and no agreement to build scrubbers at that point.

Our 3-year testing process showed that the NSG system reliably removes 97 percent of sulfur dioxide from plant exhaust compared to 90 percent removal for conventional technology. In addition, an Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) study was performed which verified the system was scalable to the level needed and provided realistic cost estimates. Early testing indicated that the NSG scrubber could also remove nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, but we chose to go only with SOx removal based on regulatory requirements and financial considerations.

The royalties on future sales were not a factor in the decision to move forward with NeuStream. We are confident that a market exists for the scrubber, and such proceeds would always be an added benefit. Using the NSG scrubber is a sound business decision for our community even if no future sales are made.

Bruce McCormick
Chief Energy Services Officer
Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Pam Zubeck
On March 30, The Gazette came back with another article, "Cost of scrubbers at Colorado Springs power plant keeps rising." 

But Utilities jumped the gun by issuing a statement two days earlier, on March 28, with the heading "NeuStream - A Sound Investment for Our Customers."
Recent news coverage about an emissions control project at the Drake power plant has lacked complete information, and Colorado Springs Utilities would like to share the facts about the approach we are taking to meet new EPA mandates by the end of 2017.

Colorado Springs Utilities and its board selected a wet scrubber process, called NeuStream in 2011 - a technology developed by local business Neumann Systems Group (NSG). The NSG technology has been rigorously tested and is proven to control sulfur dioxide emissions. Springs Utilities recommended and the Board has supported this solution because it will allow us to meet strict federal regulations, cost less than other technologies, and accommodate the unique construction requirements of the Drake plant.

A Sound Decision

Colorado Springs Utilities is moving forward with construction of the NSG project. Our goal is to hire as many local contractors/vendors as possible to build the system, providing needed economic stimulus for the local economy.

Changing direction at this point is not in our customers' best interest. Springs Utilities has already made the majority of the required investment in the NSG project. And based upon extensive testing, we remain confident that the NSG technology remains the best approach for Drake.

Facts about Drake

Drake reliably generates about one-third of our electricity and is a key reason we can deliver cost effective electric service to our customers. Colorado Springs Utilities electric rates for residential and commercial customers are lower than both Xcel and Blackhills Energy in all categories. Additionally, Drake and all of our power plants meet or exceed all EPA air quality standards.
Answers to frequently asked questions

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Has the price increased?
The cost of the Neumann scrubber on which the 2011 decision was made was $111.8 million. When accounting for required and expected site improvements (necessary for any type of scrubber), as well as price escalation for construction and materials, the 2013 projection is $131 million. Cost estimates quoted before 2011 are not representative as there was no design work done and no agreement to build scrubbers at that point.

Does it work?

The 3-year testing process, verified by an independent 3rd party, demonstrated that the NSG system is capable of reliably removing 97 percent of sulfur dioxide from plant exhaust. An Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) study was performed which verified the system was scalable to the level needed and provided realistic cost estimates. NSG system components are commonly used in a wide variety of applications, including power plants. The proprietary NSG process has been effectively used in other applications as well.
Did NSG originally expect removal of all emissions?

Early testing demonstrated positive results for removal of SOx, NOx, particulates and CO2, and NSG believes there is market potential for removing these substances. However, Colorado Springs Utilities purchased only SOx removal to meet regulatory compliance requirements at the lowest cost for the following key reasons:

Particulate removal and mercury standards are already being met with existing emissions control equipment;
NOx removal can be achieved at lower cost using other methods, so NOx was not purchased from NSG; and
No regulatory mandate currently exists for CO2 removal.

Has Colorado Springs Utilities benefitted from the sales of NSG to other customers?

Using the NSG scrubber is a sound business decision for our community even if no future sales are made. We believe that a market exists for the scrubber, although, no other company has purchased the technology at this point. As scrubbers are sold, our agreement with the vendor allows for proceeds to benefit our customers.

Why invest $131 million on an aging coal plant?

While the Martin Drake site has been in operation for over 80 years, the three units currently in operation are units 5, 6 and 7, built in 1962, 1968 and 1974, respectively. The Drake power plant has been well maintained over the years to operate efficiently and reliably while meeting regulatory requirements. The units have had continuous runs exceeding 100 days several times in recent years, which is an industry benchmark of excellence. The plant complies with all EPA environmental regulations.

The Drake facility provides about one third of the community's electricity needs. Shutting the plant down would require purchasing power from for-profit utilities or spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a new power plant, which would have adverse rate impacts for our customers. The Utilities Board and our customers are currently reviewing a third-party study on decommissioning options and will make a recommendation on the future of the plant.
The release also contained this comparison:


Meanwhile, NSG filed suit on March 28 against Nizamov, alleging that he signed a nondisclosure agreement when he began working as a consultant for NSG on June 21, 2004. In it, Nizamov agreed to "protect proprietary information." Nizamov left NSG Aug. 19, 2011. In December 2012, he agreed to a settlement agreement with NSG after "he made public certain confidential information about NSG that he obtained when he worked for the Company," Nuemann's lawsuit states.

Yet, the lawsuit states, he disclosed information to The Gazette for his March 2 report.

The lawsuit also alleges that Nizamov's disclosures interfered with NSG's contract with Utilities and thereby jeopardized that contract, as well as a potential new contract for scrubber technology at Ray Nixon Power Plant south of Colorado Springs.

Nizamov's response to the lawsuit characterizes the newspaper article as "the exchange of ideas in a healthy public debate regarding a public works project. Any statement made by Mr. Nizamov was simply a spontaneous remark that was injected into this debate."

The lawsuit also states that the only statement by Nizamov "that is not clearly in the public domain is the '$13 million' figure that was misquoted and relates to estimated costs of the NSG scrubber six years ago. However, a figure of 'less than $20 million' has been in the public domain for a long time."

Moreover, the response says, if Nizamov did want to inject his opinions into the debate, those statements would be protected by the First Amendment.

On Tuesday, NSG issued this release:
Neumann Systems Group, Inc. (NSG) has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Boris Nizamov alleging violations of the employment agreements he signed when he was employed by NSG. The suit is tied in part to actions by reporter Dave Phillips and the Gazette in publishing information provided to them by Tim Leigh and Dr. Nizamov. In his employment agreements with NSG, Dr. Nizamov agreed to, among other things, not disclose confidential and proprietary information that he obtained when he was employed by the company. NSG has alleged that Dr. Nizamov disclosed NSG’s confidential and proprietary information, including technical, project-specific, cost, and customer information to third parties on several occasions. An initial hearing on the case will be held Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in El Paso County District Court. Joel Neckers of Wheeler, Trigg, O’Donnell LLP will represent NSG. The hearing involves NSG’s request that the Court enter a temporary restraining order against Dr. Nizamov preventing Dr. Nizamov from disclosing information in violation of his employment agreements.

During the almost five and one-half years Dr. Nizamov was employed by NSG as a senior scientist, he received total compensation in excess of $700,000. While at NSG, Dr Nizamov was named as co-inventor on 39 US and international patents and patents pending for which NSG holds all the rights. He also gained his US citizenship during his time at NSG. When Dr. Nizamov voluntarily resigned from the company, he gave notice in writing and stated, “I appreciate the opportunity I was given at NSG and I want to thank you for it.” During his out-processing from the company less than two weeks later and after he had been denied a follow-on consulting agreement with the company, he made broad accusations of wrong doing by the company. He declined, in writing, to elaborate. Dr. Nizamov did not respond to a subsequent second written attempt by the company to obtain specifics. More recently Dr. Nizamov interviewed with Dave Philipps, reporter from the Gazette, and released an email and statements about NSG which he had previously sent to Mr. Tim Leigh under a false name.

According to recent publications, Dr. Nizamov works for a company in Denver called either Pioneer Astronautics or Pioneer Energy where his work involves development of a carbon capture system for application to enhanced oil recovery. Dr. Neumann, NSG’s President, said: “This is an area that NSG has been involved with dating back to laboratory experiments in 2007 and 2009 measurements at the Martin Drake plant. I am concerned that given Dr Nizamov’s demonstrated disregard for his legal responsibilities to protect NSG confidential and proprietary data, he may have employed NSG owned intellectual property and trade secrets in the performance of his duties at Pioneer.”

NSG is an advanced technology company conducting externally funded research and development projects in emissions controls and carbon capture. Its largest contract is for desulfurization equipment for the Martin Drake power plant owned by Colorado Springs Utilities. Most of the forty+ contracts and grants received by NSG over the past decade have been competitively awarded by the federal government. NSG is pursuing national and international market opportunities for its NeuStream® emission control and carbon capture systems. More information on NSG can be found at
At a court hearing Tuesday afternoon, attended by one reporter, yours truly, District Judge Gregory Werner granted NSG's request for a temporary restraining order against Nizamov disclosing information. A hearing for a longer-term injunction is set for April 11.

Nizamov's attorney, Gregory O'Boyle, argued, "If Mr. Nizamov is commenting about information in the public domain, he has a right to do that. This agreement doesn't prevent him from doing that."

NSG's lawyer, Joel Steven Neckers, countered that Nizamov's statements have violated the confidentiality agreement. "He's done this four separate times," he said. "The information was not in the public domain when he was speaking. NSG is involved in a very public debate on its scrubber technology. Having past or current employees talking about price and other things causes harm."

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Steve Wozniak to speak at CSBJ event Feb. 7

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 5:38 PM

A man of many talents. Dancing though, isn't one of them. - MICHAEL BULBENKO
  • Michael Bulbenko
  • A man of many talents. Dancing though, isn't one of them.
That's right, Woz himself will come to Colorado Springs Friday, Feb. 7 for the Colorado Springs Business Journal's Celebrate Technology Reception, happening at 5:30 at the Pinery at the Hill.

Wozniak is best known, of course, as the co-founder of Apple. According to his bio on, he founded the company with Steve Jobs, and introduced the Apple I and II before leaving in 1985. Since then, he's earned 11 honorary doctor of engineering degrees, founded various charitable and technological organizations (he reportedly adopted the Los Gatos School District), dated comedian Kathy Griffin for a short time, and did the worm on Dancing with the Stars. For a video of that, and his his appearance The Big Bang Theory, click here. Lately though, he's in the news for his numerous speaking engagements around the country like this one.

Given, though, that everyone seems to work on Apples these days — it's the machine I'm using right now — he's entitled to share his experiences until kingdom come. Check him out in this 1984 video with Jobs and the rest of the Mac guys presenting the first Mac personal computer for the public.

Tickets for the event are still available, though going fast, and include the talk, appetizers and a drink, and music, starting at $35.
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Friday, March 29, 2013

Drake Task Force makes its pick for decommissioning study

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Attention, Colorado Springs Utilities fans (and foes): If you had HDR Engineering Inc. in your Drake Task Force bracket, congrats.

Martin Drake Power Plant

Drake Task Force to Recommend Firm to Board
In today’s meeting, the Drake Task Force chose to recommend HDR Engineering Inc., to the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Board as the firm to conduct a Study of Alternatives Related to the Potential Decommissioning of the Martin Drake Power Plant.
The Task Force received six proposals and created a short list of three firms to give oral presentations at today’s meeting.
HDR Engineering Inc. was selected based on the following criteria:
· Most Relevant Expertise
· Depth of Knowledge of Martin Drake Power Plant
· Understanding of Effort and Implementation
· Superior Risk Analysis
· Management and Staffing
Task Force co-leads, Brandy Williams and Val Snider, will present the recommendation to the CSU Board during the April 9 City Council meeting.
HDR Engineering Inc. is headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich., with five offices in Colorado, including Colorado Springs.

The Colorado Springs office is on Briargate Parkway.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ivy League education in a box!

Posted By on Sun, Jan 27, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Ever felt like taking courses at Princeton, University of London or Berklee College of Music — for free?

In the eight months since online education site Coursera started up, some 2.5 million people have used it to take university-level classes in everything from computer science to Aboriginal culture.

Courses generally range from six to 10 weeks, and there are hundreds to sign up for. You can, for instance, study music improvisation with jazz legend Gary Burton, take artificial intelligence or equine nutrition classes from the University of Edinburgh, or explore the social context of mental health and illness with University of Toronto professor Charmaine Williams.

While I haven’t personally taken any classes yet, a friend who’s a math professor in Europe recently posted online about the experience:

“I have never seen online math presentations quite like the ones in my class. (The University of Pennsylvania professor who teaches the class estimates it takes 20 hours to produce each 15 minute lecture.) While it seems you can take a class and do nothing more than watch the videos and get something out of it, in reality these courses — or at least the one I am taking — are not meant for the casual learner. My class is broken up into 5 topics, each topic consisting of a series of lectures. Each lecture is a 15 minute video. There are a total of 57 lectures in all. So we are talking a real commitment.

“In addition, each lecture includes a homework assignment that is automatically corrected upon submission. Videos often require multiple viewings in order to fully get the material and do the homeworks. In addition, there is an exam at the end of each topic. There is a deadline for taking exams and handing in homeworks. There will also be a final. The homeworks have taken me about an hour apiece. I expect a lot of the students are spending much more time than I am.

“At the moment you cannot get course credit, at least nothing that will transfer to another university. But once that day comes, I think you can say farewell to a great deal of the clunky distance education programs out there.”

Warning: The following video from Dr. Elsa Barkley Brown will make you want to take her course:

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Synthesizing Kurzweil

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 7:11 AM

Ray Kurzweil cover, Colorado Springs Independent
Ray Kurzweil’s stock has been on the rise of late.

The futurist inventor — who’ll be speaking this evening at CSU-Pueblo as part of its free Distinguished Speakers Series — made headlines last month when he was hired by Google to a high-level position where he’ll essentially be teaching its machines how to think. (Read our Indy interview for more on that Google gig, among other things.)

But while the name may still be new to some, the controversial scientist's theories have been of interest to Animus Invidious for a while now. In fact the local musician sought Kurzweil’s permission to use excerpts from his writing as the basis for his 2009 track “Rampant Misconception.”

“I thought he was cool when he responded directly to an email inquiry about using some text of his in a song via text-to-speech synthesis,” says the electronic musician. “Afterwards I Wikipedia'd him and realized he helped develop that very same technology.”

You can listen to the track below.

Meanwhile, note that doors open at 6:30 p.m. for this evening’s talk, which will be held at Hoag Recital Hall. (Our Seven Days to Live write-up contains more event details.) Organizers tell us that, due to an anticipated overflow crowd, a live feed will also be simulcast in the university’s Life Sciences Auditorium.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Space museum: To infinity and beyond

Posted By on Fri, Oct 5, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Gee, I might have decided to be a scientist if there were cool things around when I was kid to motivate me like the Science On a Sphere I saw today at the Space Foundation. Although it's hard to do it justice with my little camera, here's a shot of it.

The Space Foundation held a grand opening today for the Northrop Grumman Science Center at the foundation's new headquarters at 4425 Arrowswest Drive.

The center was funded with a $375,000 donation from Northrop Grumman and features a replica of the moon module built by the defense contractor.

Lon Rains, director of strategic communications for Northrop Grumman, says such investments are made to advance educational programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). "These are exciting careers," he says before the dedication. "Things like this really grab their interest. This is about making sure we give opportunities so the next generation of dreamers can build things in space. They think it's our destiny."

Already, 350 students from the area have toured the facility during soft openings in the past few weeks, says Iain Probert, the foundation's vice president for education. Fourteen classes from kindergarten to high school have experienced the center, which is open for field trip bookings. "The children were blown away," he says. "The teachers were blown away."

The centerpiece of the exhibit is the sphere, a dynamic spherical projection system developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that uses special software and satellite imagery to render dramatic, full motion views of the Earth, sun, moons and planets, the foundation says in a press release.

"The Space Foundation has long dreamed of creating a space where we can offer students and visitors an extraordinary educational experience. Northrop Grumman made it possible for us to do this very quickly and in a spectacular way," Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham said in a news release. "We are thrilled that, through this collaboration, we are offering teachers and students a compelling platform for STEM education and we are launching a new visitor destination in northwest Colorado Springs at time when the community needs it."

More shots of features in the exhibit:

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