Monday, October 30, 2006

Diebold Variations

(c)2004-06 Rand Careaga/salamander.eps

This is an amazing set of parody ads: "Diebold Variations". Click the image for many more.

Via Apophenia

Personal Blimp makes its maiden flight

This start-up is based in Western Mass- achusetts. And believe it or not, there really is a powerful business model behind this. Who says Silicon Valley gets all the cool start-ups? This one's two blocks from my house!

As Dan Nachbar the founder and inventor of Sky Yacht said of the maiden voyage of the first Personal Blimp, "For the first time ever, there is a small blimp that can both control its lift (because it uses hot air rather than Helium as a lifting gas) and be easily steered (previous hot air blimps have had very poor steering.)"

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Quote about Concentration and Productivity from Neal Stephenson

Writing novels is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time, each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not nearly as productive as an unbroken four. If I know that I am going to be interrupted, I can't concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be interrupted, I can't do anything at all. Likewise, several consecutive days with four-hour time-slabs in them give me a stretch of time in which I can write a decent book chapter, but the same number of hours spread out across a few weeks, with interruptions in between them, are nearly useless.

The productivity equation is a non-linear one, in other words. This accounts for why I am a bad correspondent and why I very rarely accept speaking engagements. If I organize my life in such a way that I get lots of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write novels. But as those chunks get separated and fragmented, my productivity as a novelist drops spectacularly. What replaces it? Instead of a novel that will be around for a long time, and that will, with luck, be read by many people, there is a bunch of e-mail messages that I have sent out to individual persons, and a few speeches given at various conferences.

thanks Apophenia

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


This from the NYT:
A quarter or so of a typical Iraqi unit is on leave at any one time. Since Iraq lacks an effective banking system for paying its troops, soldiers are generally given a week’s leave each month to bring their pay home.
We know that there's so much in the United States that we take for granted. But it's hard to comprehend the multitude of challenges that have dramatic cascading effects on the ability of an organization to function effectively.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Why Americans Don't Do Green

Here's a long post by Joel Makeover about why Americans don't do green. It's a summary of a report presented by ecoAmerica which makes these points:
  • There is no common agreement on what environmental concern means or what to do about it.
  • Libertarian values are gaining over communal ones.
  • Environmental complexity is paralyzing.
  • Pocketbook environmentalism is powerful.
I knew some of this a decade ago when I helped with a venture called Ecotrek. We were selling outdoor products made from recycled polymers but knew that we couldn't sell them as "green" and that we had to meet or exceed the performance standards of conventional outdoor gear. And we did, with founder John Fabel getting a Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice award for his designs. Even among outdoor-oriented people who you think would buy green, we realized that while it may be part of building a brand, ultimately you can't compromise performance in a product.

(Thanks TNR)

Monday, October 23, 2006

To Stand or Fall in Baghdad: Capital Is Key to Mission

According to the NY Times:
Military commanders here see no plausible alternative to their bedrock strategy to clear violence-ridden neighborhoods of militias, insurgents and arms caches, hold them with Iraqi and American security forces, and then try to win over the population with reconstruction projects, underwritten mainly by the Iraqi government. There is no fall-back plan that the generals are holding in their hip pocket. This is it.
"There is no fall-back plan." Wow. That's pretty strong stuff. Again, we're going to have to go through the abyss and back again before we can renew our faith in ourselves.

Halloween + Steven King + MoveOn is small stroke of marketing magic

Whatever you think about our President, you have to admit the recent combination of Steven King and is a small stroke of marketing genius. From an e-mail I received "from" Steve King.
If I know anything, I know scary. And giving this president and this out-of-control Congress two more years to screw up our future is downright terrifying. Thankfully, this national nightmare is one we can end with—literally—a wake up call.

My friends at Political Action are organizing pre-Halloween phone parties this weekend, Oct. 28th & 29th. We'll be calling progressive voters in key districts who may not turn out unless they get a friendly reminder or two.

Network insecurity

I often wonder about whether a hotel network or a public access network is secure. If you wonder that too (and you should be wondering) click the title above and read the post from David Strom about insecure hotel network access. He also references a report that concludes that in its review it found only the for-pay networks I-Bahn and T-Mobile to be truly secure.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


More stuff to buy . . . This is the new Airstream trailer intended people who have an active lifestyle and want a fancy home for all their stuff while on the road. Designed by Nissan Design America plus Kelty. I don't even want to know the price but it will certainly add up to multiple kayaks+skis+bikes. At the Airstream site at the moment you unfortunately can only get more info by downloading the brochure.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

U.S. Says Violence in Baghdad Rises, Foiling Campaign

Our hubris has gotten us into this mess and it's that same hubris that makes us great. Being an entrepreneur is having the faith that you can change the world. The same faith that someone like Paul Wolfowitz displayed with Iraq is the same faith that Martin Luther King had and the same faith that allowed Steve Jobs to create Apple or Sergey and Larry to create Google. It's hard to accept that no matter how right it was to attack Islamic-Fascism, our strategy with Iraq was utterly wrong from the beginning. And that's the problem with faith. It's two edged. It helps you break through into new worlds. But it also helps you tunnel into oblivion, looking for the light that will never come at the end of the tunnel, just digging yourself a bigger hole and ignoring the increasing darkness. I think we're going to have to go through a crisis bigger than anything we've ever known in order for us to be reborn on the other side.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Food Blog!

I've been casually wondering about where the food blogs are. Here's one that probably others have known for a while but it's seems great: Slashfood! (For those non-techies it's off of Slashdot, which is the classic news for nerds site.)

A real SUV

Here's a real SUV, the Tout Terrain Panamerica, sold soon by Peter White for what will I'm sure be lots and lots of $. I want one. Innovation? Integrated-with-frame rear rack for off-road touring.

Really Personal Computers

HP has a new ad campaign that Slate says is of the quality of an Apple ad. The campaign emphasizes the personal nature of computers, as objects which are an extension of ourselves. It's a powerful, appealing and subtle message. Computers, for at least some of us, are the most personal objects we own, well beyond our clothes, our cars, or any other objects because they really do contain large components of ourselves--our journals, our pitches, our photos, our intimacies.

But HP is still lost! They don't get that the fetishization of these commodities has to extend beyond the ad. You want to be able to get as close to touching and feeling these objects as possible. When you click beyond the ad, you're left with the same dull website, where the pictures of the objects of desire are minuscule and of poor quality. So in the end, you're unfulfilled. Still amazing to me that after all these years, Dell, HP etc. just don't get it. Haven't they ever looked at the Apple website where you can actually see the computers in all their full featured beauty? Completely amazing to me that these Dell, HP etc. people are living in the same universe.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Spitzer's backbone and principle

Whatever you think of gay marriage, you have to admit it takes backbone and principle to take a stance like this:
Mr. Spitzer, who is running for governor and holds a commanding lead in the polls, made his strongest declaration yet in support of gay marriage in his remarks to the Empire State Pride Agenda, the state’s leading gay lobbying group. He told the audience, “We will make it law in New York.”
quote from the New York Times

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Is Apple finally taking workplace collaboration seriously?

From a press release that's been virtually unreported:

For the first time, Mac OS X Server will [with Leopard] include a calendar server for users and groups to coordinate events, schedule meetings, reserve resources and use time more effectively. iCal Server uses the open CalDAV standard for integration with leading calendar programs, including iCal 3 in Leopard, Mozilla’s Sunbird, OSAF’s Chandler and Microsoft Outlook. Leopard Server also includes a wiki server to make it easy for teams to create and share information through their own shared website and provides web-based access to shared resources such as team calendars, weblogs and Podcasts. Spotlight Server is the fastest way to search and find content on servers within a network. Designed for workgroups with shared documents, projects and file archives, Spotlight Server works with Leopard clients to deliver quick, lightning fast searches of content stored on mounted volumes across the entire network.
But how will it work with my Blackberry?

via CalendarSwamp