What is a Quantum Computer? How does it work? Why is it so important?

March 19, 2017

I really like this explanation of Quantum Computing and what it’s potential is.

Quantum Computing is a science that has the potential to solve problems at 1000x the speed of today’s fastest supercomputers… search vast amounts of data in 1000x the speed of todays’ fastest searching algorithms.

This explanation is the simplest I’ve found to date:

You don’t know how Quantum Computers work!

Microsoft has had large resources dedicated to this field of research for decades, featuring the leadership of one of the world’s preeminent mathematicians, Michael Freedman.  Michael Freedman is a Fields Medal Award winner, an honor often referred to as the “Nobel Peace Prize of Mathematics”, given to the world’s best mathematicians. Together, with numerous other Quantum Computing Researchers at Microsoft’s “Station Q” research facilities in UC Santa Barbara (and other locations), they are on the forefront of Quantum Computing.

Microsoft Quantum Computing Research have also published a video that has a more high level explanation of Quantum Computing and it’s value.  (Hmm.  Maybe I should have put this video first on this post considering it’s simplicity.  Oh well.):

Quantum Computing 101

Here’s a write up about Station Q, our Quantum Computing headquarters:

Here is the web site for Microsoft’s QC Headquarters:

Fareed’s Zakaria: Trump is a B.S. artist

March 19, 2017

Fareed offers his take on why Donald Trump fits the definition of a B.S. artist.

Fareed’s Zakaria: Trump is a B.S. artist

Do not confuse motion with progress.

March 19, 2017

Fareed Zakaria on Donald Trump:
“Let’s say you’re a Trump voter: An honest hardworking American that put up with Donald Trump’s unusual behavior because you wanted aa president that would stop playing Washington’s political games, bring a business man’s obsession with action and results, and focus on the economy. 

How’s that working out for you?”

Fareed Zakaria’s take on the Trump Presidency

Collecting Legoland California Pop Badges

March 13, 2017

UPDATE 6/5/17:
Looks like in the latest flyer for LEGOLAND California, they are advertising the latest special Pop Badges for July 4th & for July 28-29.

And they provide a bit of information about the mysterious Gold Pop Badge as well.  Looks like they are having as many as 10 park employees wear Mr. Gold pop badges and even providing hints on poster, which seems to be a big jump in help obtaining the badge compared to previous Mr. Gold campaigns.  (Hope it’s not ‘too easy’.)


Our family is pretty loyal to Legoland California.  We’ve been to the other theme parks & resorts in Southern California but the only one we buy an annual pass to is Legoland.

imageMy son in particular loves Lego.  When he was in pre-school, he assembled the LEGO Movie 70810 Metal Beard’s Sea Cow by himself – all 2,741 pieces. I never placed a single brick on the model for him. (For those not aware, the Sea Cow is one of the largest LEGO sets on the market)  He’s since also completed:

  • X Wing Fighter (Pre-school)
  • Millennium Falcon (Kindergarten)
  • Imperial Shuttle (Kindergarten)
  • TIE Fighter (Kindergarten)

And his biggest current accomplishment:

He’s currently working on:

One of the collectibles that LegoLand has that seems to be lesser known is Pop Badges.  These are plastic badges that adhere to your kid’s Legoland lanyard or their shirt and represent some special accomplishment or feat.

First news of the Pop Badge Challenge was on this site: https://legolandcalifornianews.com/2016/03/17/collect-your-limited-edition-pop-badges/

They actually first started in the LegoLand Park in the UK, where they’ve been handing them out

Since then it’s been a quiet pursuit of Lego fans that visit the parks.  If you go to LegoLand California, you’ll very occasionally notice some kids walking around with badges on their lanyard or their shirts. These are badges of pride as “they know” about the pop badges and collect them aggressively. 

All you have to do is ask the ride operator for one.  Some of the bigger rides have them.  Here’s a few that we’ve obtained:



These are the badges that you can get by asking the Model Citizen (MC) running/hosting the ride.  Here’s the ones for Heartlake City Horse Riding, Ninjago the Ride, FunTown Firefighters, and The Dragon Rollercoaster.

WP_20170221_21_21_10_RawHOTEL BADGE
If you stay at the LegoLand Hotel, you MAY get a pop badge.  This badge lets you and your family into the park at 9:30AM – a half hour earlier than anyone else to ride a small selection of rides.  They usually include Coastersaurus, Lego Technic, Heartlake City Horse Riding, and Safari.

WP_20170221_21_21_19_RawKING’S GOLD
If you go through Castle Hill, you may wander past an area that looks like panning for gold.  That’s exactly what it is.  For $3, you can receive a pan and start go through the river sand looking for a nugget of gold.

It’s a fun activity for the kids and if they find one, they can turn it in to the cashier for a gold medal from the King’s Treasury.  This is what it looks like.  It’s not technically a pop badge but you’ll find kids wearing them with pride nonetheless.

WP_20170312_14_04_42_Pro.jpg (2)These are badges that you can obtain if you visit LegoLand during the month of October SPECIFICALLY during their special “Brick-or-Treat” days, where they had out treats and have other special activities for kids dressed up for Halloween. The photo above is the set from the 2016 Halloween.

There is reportedly someone with a special rare “Gold” pop badge wandering the park.  We’ve never encountered it while there but photos of the supposed-badge look like a gold-colored badge showing a gold mini-figure on it reading, “Take me to guest services”

There is a sign in the Legoland Hotel that briefly talks about it near the elevators and it describes the badge as being very rare and worth something if you turn it into guest services.  At the UK Legoland, it looks a bit different, showing a ‘gold brick’ on the front and it is reportedly worth a free ticket to the park – but it requires that you turn the badge in to guest services, meaning you lose the badge as a collectable.

Examination Day

March 10, 2017

I have never been one to succumb to conspiracy theories or quackish beliefs in extreme subterfuge like that of what some of my “far left” or “far right” friends subscribe to…

…but when I actually see people that celebrate (CELEBRATE!) outlandish propaganda, blatant deception against their own interests, full retraction/negation of citizen’s rights – all based on what can only be called pure ignorance, the inability to comprehend 6th grade logic, and the unverified carrot of “I’ll take care of you & rid all that ails you”, I start to wonder if ‘Keep America Stupid Forever’, really is the long term strategy for this administration.

Many years ago as a 15yo kid, I saw this short 10min episode of the ‘new’ Twilight Zone, and it will be no surprise, once you read it, that after more than 30 years, it suddenly came rushing back to me. At the episode’s conclusion, I remember sitting in the corner of the living room sobbing.

It’s a really good episode about the future. Do me a favor, and watch it.

Twilight Zone “Examination Day”

DEAL: LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack for Xbox One – $49.99

March 10, 2017

imageThe Microsoft Store has a secret.

It’s selling the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack for Xbox One for only $50. While it’s available cheaper for other platforms like Xbox 360 or PS3/4, this is steeply discounted for the most in-demand platform for this title. For reference:

Trust me.  I’ve scoured the planet and this is the cheapest it gets… until it sells out from the store, at which point y’all will be paying $20 more per copy.

Lego Dimensions is the best “toypad” game out there, beating the likes of Skylanders & Disney:Infinity by a long mile.  The gameplay is intuitive and easy for kids to learn, and the characters are well-documented and have very unique but valuable powers throughout the game.  When you get a new mini-figure from a Fun Pack, for example, that has a capability you need, you want to scream & shout, “YEAH!” (Like ‘flying’ or ‘super speed’ or ‘swimming’ or ‘digging’, etc.)

I should know – I own them all and have played them with my son. Lego Dimensions is not only the best, it’s created by TellTale Games, the folks behind all the other Lego video games as well as critically acclaimed hits like “The Walking Dead”, “The Wolf Among Us”, “Minecraft: Story Mode”, “Game of Thrones”, and “Tales from the Borderlands”.

And they’re still, after 2 years, building more NEW content for it.  Just this past month, they published the following expansions packs:

  • Knight Rider “Fun Pack” – featuring Michael Knight & K.I.T.T.
  • Lego Batman Movie “Story Pack” – featuring the ENTIRE Lego Batman Movie
  • Harry Potter “Fun Pack” – featuring Hermoine Granger

And it’s not expensive. Getting these “Fun Packs” gets you new physical LEGO & minifigures to build and use during with the toypad that comes with the Starter Pack.  And each Starter Pack can be as cheap as $1. (Not kidding.  The 99 Cents Store had a massive sales on Fun Packs a month ago.)

With the never ending releases of expansion packs with new characters, new content, new levels and new worlds, this is the best video game investment I’ve made since Fallout 3.

LEGO Dimensions: “Endless Awesome” Launch Trailer

Go get this deal while it’s available.