Monday, December 31, 2007

Angel financing could do with a little streamlining

Here's a worthwhile article for early stage investors and early stage companies, by Bill Contente: LINK (thanks Paul).

Friday, December 28, 2007

Not so Secret Life of a Serial CEO

Really good article from INC. mag chronicalling the life of a seriel entrepreneur and his new venture (thanks Jaymie). LINK

Good reading for anyone raising venture capital, developing a pitch, thinking about thinking big.

Google Calendar Sync for Blackberry (2)


More on Google Calendar Sync for Blackberry, what syncs and what doesn't, copied in its entirety from a post to the Google Mobile Help Group Forum (LINK) from "Deckrider" (LINK). (My previous post on this sync product here: LINK)
------

I've tried to summarize what does and does not sync based on what
I've read here. (The things I claim _are_ syncing are from first hand
experience.) If you find that more things work than are listed here,
please add them for everyone's benefit.

What Syncs:

- new items added to your BlackBerry (after Google Sync
installation) get added to your Google Calendar

- new items added to your BES* Calendar (after Google Sync
installation) get added to your Blackberry and thus, your Google
Calendar

- all items in your Google Calendar get added to your BlackBerry if
they are within the sync window

- all items in your Google Calendar get added to your BES* Calendar
if they are within the sync window

What Doesn't:

- some (all?) items in your BlackBerry Calendar prior to (the
first?) Google Sync installation on your BlackBerry

- items restored to your BlackBerry Calendar via the Desktop Manager

- items synced from another calendar to your BlackBerry via the
Desktop Manager

*BlackBerry Enterprise Server

------


Interview with Steve Fambro, founder and CEO Aptera


Interview with Steve Fambro, founder and CEO of the three-wheeled electric vehicle startup Aptera. (LINK from Popular Mechanics, via Earth2Tech.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Morgan Stanley + China

Who could have predicted, even a few years ago, that China would purchase a stake in Morgan Stanley? LINK. Isn't that like a lion lying with a lamb? Or a flying pig? Well, no. Big China power inures to big capitalist power because they're actually more alike than dissimilar. A good milestone to remember. Foucault is sadly amused.

Google Calendar Sync for BlackBerry


I've been testing out the new Google Calendar Sync ap for BlackBerry. Here's what I've found. But first my set-up:

- Windows XP machine with Outlook 2007
- Windows 2003 Server with BlackBerry Enterprise Server
- Blackberry 8800
- Google Aps for Domains, including Google Calendar

It works great, with some key caveats. Essentially, the BlackBerry device is serving as the intermediary between Google Calendar and the Windows Server, completely avoiding Outlook. What this means is that I don't have to ever open up Outlook again!* I use GMail for mail. Now I can use Google Calendar . . . well, at some point in the future I'll be able to do so. Challenge is that events that were already in my system do not sync, except in rare unexplained cases. Events newly added since I installed the Google Sync ap sync fine. But what can you expect with a 0.42 version ap? LINK to the Google Sync page.

*Actually I still do have to use Outlook, for other reasons, such as syncs between Outlook Contacts and Salesforce so I can get my contacts into my BlackBerry. Please, will Salesforce and Google get it together a little bit more?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

GPS + Heads-Up Display

I signed up just two days ago for the very nice GPS feature resident in my BlackBerry. Yesterday, it got us successfully to a board meeting when the car in front of me realized they in fact didn't know where they were going. But the limitations of having to switch between GPS display and the real road were apparent at one point when the spoken GPS said "turn left" but actually, you had to take a swooping side road to the right and then swing back to the left to cross the road. A product called Virtual Cable, still very much in concept or at best prototype, would solve that problem nicely: a heads-up display integrated with GPS. It places a virtual line in your view of the road indicating the direction to be traveled. LINK

Monday, December 17, 2007

BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Microsoft Exchange from PACKT

A while back I was asked to provide a review of a book called BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Microsoft Exchange (LINK). It's published by PACKT Publishing and is by Mitesh Desai and Dan Renfroe. They are IT consultants from the UK and USA respectively.

For those who don't know, BlackBerry Enterprise Server is middleware that sits on top of an Microsoft Exchange Server software (or Lotus Notes Domino or other products). It provides management tools for IT admins for BlackBerrys in their organization and it serves as a translator between the BlackBerry devices and Exchange. With BlackBerry Enterprise Server installed you can get full wireless sync of calendars, notes, contacts and e-mails. If your organization limits itself to simply the consumer version of the Blackberry service, you'll merely get your e-mail pushed to you and will have to manually sync, by cable or Bluetooth, your calendar, notes and contacts.

Recently, BlackBerry has lowered the price of its server product in an effort to reach down to much smaller workgroups and organizations. Consequently, a greater number of internal and outsourced IT professionals will need to know how to manage this software and this book is good place to start.

I emphasize "start". It is pretty easy to set up a BlackBerry server. But it's also pretty easy to set it up wrong, as I learned after months of wondering why our server wasn't populating calendar entries correctly. I finally realized that you have to create a special login for the BlackBerry server and that our outsourced IT professional, unfamiliar with BlackBerrys, had neglected this important step. If he'd started with this book he'd have got off on the right track.

So, good book, clearly written, easy to follow, well indexed. My criticism however is that if you approach IT like many small businesses do, which means following instructions only in retrospect and having to trace your mistakes backwards, you may find this book slightly frustrating. What I would have wished is that it provided a more comprehensive list of common problems and mistakes. I'm sure that the writers have a long list of things that typically go wrong. This would have been helpful. Unfortunately, without such a compilation, you'll have to sift through all the user forums and plus RIM's own site to figure out what mistakes you're making and why it's taken you four hours to get the your boss's damn new BlackBerry Curve up and running--only to discover that if you'd just left it tethered to the server a little longer, the thing would have started to do it's activation sequence correctly. This is a book to start the BB Enterprise Server process with, not a reference manual to diagnose problems.

A lot is changing in the world of smartphones. In the US, Apple's iPhone outsold ALL windows mobile devices combined in Q3-2007 and almost outsold all BlackBerrys (LINK). But when I did finally get that Curve up and running I recognized the value of the BB Enterprise Server. Virtually everything transfered to the new phone and it was up and running, a seamless copy of the previous device. That sort of enterprise management is what gives RIM some measure of an edge. So, go RIM! and if you make the investment, throw this book on the requisition as well. But don't ask me what that cover picture on the book is supposed to signify!

More on Huckabee's campaign manager, Jesus Christ

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Tourism of Doom

"Travel agents report clients are increasingly requesting trips to see the melting glaciers of Patagonia, the threatened coral of the Great Barrier Reef, and the eroding atolls of the Maldives . . . " LINK from NYTimes

Monday, December 10, 2007

What I want for Christmas

Blackberry vs iPhone

People keep asking me why I don't have an iPhone and remain committed to my Blackberry. Two reasons: keyboard and wireless sync of calendar and contacts. Additionally, the Blackberry Enterprise software sure does make upgrading to a new device easy--every little preference is transferred from the old phone to the new one.

As noted in PCMag, "while surveys show more than 90 percent of iPhone users are happy with the device, several executives have gone on the record, including at the Reuters Media Summit in New York last week, as saying it is too vexing to tap out long e-mails on the touch screen." LINK


But the article also talks about companies writing business software for the iPhone. A leading example is SAP, which is releasing an iPhone version of their software ahead of the version for Blackberry: "The first generation of the iPhone software will load business contacts, information on sales prospects and account data onto the device . . . SAP decided to introduce the iPhone software ahead of programs for other devices at the request of its sales people, saying they prefer using iPhones to the other devices." LINK

Did you know that Jesus Christ himself is running in the Republican primary?

Frightening video in which Huckabee all but declares himself the second coming of Christ.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Prius almost outsells ALL of VW in the US

The Toyota Prius just missed outselling the entire Volkswagen line in the United States, by 1,000 vehicles. Again: the single model Prius almost outsold all Volkswagens combined! LINK

Thursday, December 06, 2007

More brilliant insights from his fake steveness

"Of course [Apple has] another advantage, which is that our business model aligns our interests with the interests of our customers. The happier they are, the more money we make.

"Facebook's business model is the opposite. It pits Facebook against its customers. The amount of money that Facebook can make is defined (and constrained) by the degree to which its users will allow themselves to be exploited." LINK

Sunday, December 02, 2007

How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook

A highly articulate piece from Cory Doctorow (LINK . . . and what else would you expect from Cory?) about the built-in limits of social networking platforms like Facebook. It argues that Facebook is limited by what I'd call "slack anonymity", the fact that you have to "accept" or "reject" friends and that this black and white act at some point makes it a system from which you have to opt out entirely rather than face the requirement to choose. But the alternative is the way I use Facebook--and it seems this is how most of my age 30+ friends use it too. It's a business social networking site not a personal site. It's a public face not a private one. I assume that anything posted on Facebook is not only accessible to my Facebook friends but in fact to the whole world. Yes, I don't want to be friended by everyone. And I'm many many orders of magnitude away from the public persona that is Cory's blessing and his curse, meaning that I'm generally friended by people I know. But I don't think Facebook has to devolve to the scrapbook of history, as Cory suggests it will. Facebook's choice, instead of sliding into the obscurity and the ignominy of being simply a Wikipedia reference, is to become essentially a public place, effectively if not actually an unwalled garden, a more personal LinkedIn. And with a valuation to match, certainly less than their current $15 billion one. And other, more private places will figure out how to take their place for one's more personal and private circles of friends. Or they can figure out how people can create different faces within their system.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The man who invented Shrek


Here's a piece (LINK) on my great uncle, William Steig, referencing the shows of his work going on right now in Boston (LINK) and New York.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mossberg on Kindle: stick to your knitting


"Amazon has nailed the electronic-book shopping experience. But it has a lot to learn about designing electronic devices." LINK

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Slight quieting on the Western Front

“There is a sense of quiet on the streets that we have not seen for a long time in Baghdad,” he told me, “but there is also a big question mark in the shadows of every alley. We don’t know what is lurking back there, but we suspect, and evidence suggests, that it is the same set of problems that were always there.” James Glanz, The Times’s Baghdad bureau chief, in opinion by Thomas Friedman: LINK

Utterly brilliant banner ad


Clever mac banner ad from Amit Gupta on Vimeo.

Monday, November 19, 2007

First Drive of a Hydrogen Car that feels production ready


Honda Clarity. Worth reading even if you could care less about cars. LINK to Jalopnik.

Aptera: another thing I want



I think we're only at the beginning of radically new, beautiful and functional forms of transportation. High energy costs are going to force tremendous creativity. LINK to Jalopnik

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blackberry personal server

I'll be posting a review of a book on Blackberry enterprise server soon. But in the meantime, here's interesting news from Blackberry Cool: LINK. The "personal Blackberry server" called Blackberry Unite! is rumored to be coming to the United States. It launched in a test market, Spain, a month or two back (though how much beyond press release that launch actually is remains in question, at least to us in the US). But what I'm waiting for is full wireless sync that will automatically suck your calendar from your laptop or from your calendar in the cloud and send it wirelessly to your Blackberry, no server or software installation required at all. That would be the sort of Android ap that has every right to claim part of the $10 million Google pot-of-gold announced the other day and of which RIM had better be a bit watchful.

Commentary on how "open" Google really is

Some excellent commentary from Wired about the meaning of Google's recent "open source" efforts: LINK.

Android Dreams

Here's the video posted up by Google about the new Android SDK. What on earth does that mean (if you're not from the world of 2muchtech)? Android is the new open source mobile phone platform from Google and the SDK is the Software Developer's Kit. There is of course no Gphone per se, but there will be amazing new phone applications developed over time for a rapidly proliferating base of hardware. It will be fascinating to see whether Android will produce a similar situation relative to the iPhone as Windows relative to Macintosh: while Windows was never open source, its ubiquity across multiple hardware platforms allowed it to multiply compared to Macintosh by a factor of 20x. Will Android make the iPhone merely the inspiration for a 20x proliferation of Android-based phones in innumerable shapes and sizes, with the sort of overwhelming variety of software that Windows still enjoys?



But what I don't understand is why, with all their billions, they have to make such an important video seem like a cheap infomercial? Do they somehow think it will be more authentic if they use distracting backgrounds from the bowels of Google's offices? And does Sergey Brin have to wear a grey t-shirt that looks like it was just pulled out of the dirty clothes hamper and seems like he's been chewing it around the area of the neck? I hope that Android applications don't come with the same aesthetic. Just because Apple polishes everything they do to the finest point of perfection, you don't have to foreswear taking a shower in order to stand in contrast to them!

More: best bluetooth earpiece

A nice cutaway and video of the best bluetooth earpiece: LINK from Metacool. And my links to the Jawbone here: LINKS.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Women discriminate based on race; men don't. (?!?)

"Another clear gender divide, this one less expected, emerged in our findings on racial preferences, reported in a forthcoming article in the Review of Economic Studies. Women of all the races we studied revealed a strong preference for men of their own race: White women were more likely to choose white men; black women preferred black men; East Asian women preferred East Asian men; Hispanic women preferred Hispanic men. But men don't seem to discriminate based on race when it comes to dating. A woman's race had no effect on the men's choices." LINK on Slate

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why we risk falling behind . . .

Besides the fact that the Canadian dollar hit $1.08 against the greenback, here's another reason to be concerned: software is moving to Canada because it can't import foreign workers into the United States as easily.
If you want to understand why Microsoft is about to open a 700-employee software development centre in Richmond, British Columbia . . . (more at: LINK)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Willfullness and design

Here's a good little comment about the importance of "willfullness" as a necessary part of the design of good products: LINK from Powerpage.org, an Apple weblog.

It refers to a feature in the new Apple Leopard operating system that seems to be universally disliked by users. What interests me is the acceptance of what appears to be a design flaw because it represents an element of the passion for good design that is evident throughout the Apple operating system. The reviewer's final comment: "If you want an OS with more innovation and cohesion than Vista then you need to learn to live with a bit of willfulness."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Amit Gupta #2: Eye-Fi

Amit intros the Eye-Fi, an SD card for your camera that looks just like any SD card for your camera, but with an extra special feature: it's virtually (actually??) magical. You have to have to have to check it out: LINK

Amit Gupta #1: Open Social

Amit Gupta has some thoughts on Google's new OpenSocial attempt to run a ring around the rapidly expanding Facebook and try to corral the damn thing: LINK

Social networking . . . for business

In a previous post I speculated about Facebook for business. Tomorrow, Google is announcing an alliance, called OpenSocial, of all the other social networking sites--LinkedIn, Friendster etc.--to create a common platform for ap development. And business sites like Salesforce are signing on. See NYTimes here: LINK

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fastest Vista laptop is made by . . . Apple

PC World: "The fastest Windows Vista notebook we've tested this year is a Mac. Try that again: The fastest Windows Vista notebook we've tested this year--or for that matter, ever--is a Mac. Not a Dell, not a Toshiba, not even an Alienware. The $2419 (plus the price of a copy of Windows Vista, of course) MacBook Pro's PC WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 88 beats Gateway's E-265M by a single point, but the MacBook's score is far more impressive simply because Apple couldn't care less whether you run Windows." LINK via FakeSteve

Facebook for business?

I have been excessively excited about the Facebook ap for Blackberry over the last couple of days. It's not because I like Facebook. I find it mostly an annoying distraction with too much junk, perhaps because my friends are for the most part not active users. But Blackberry-Facebook changes the utility of Facebook, or at least suggests some really interesting possibilities, particularly for business.

I've showed Blackberry-Facebook to multiple friends. Only two got it. One was excited for one of the reasons I get excited: it's just a really nicely executed ap, a cool bit of programming. The other was mildly intrigued because it made him think about uses of handheld tools like that for business. He isn't a Facebook user. I showed him how you access your list of friends. And then he asked if you could see their calendars. And of course you can't. But a "Facebook for business" should and could. And that gets to the crux of the opportunity.

Will businesses start wondering how they can use Blackberry-Facebook for something more than social networking? Someone, someday is going to create a really good networking tool for business, particularly for our free agent nation. But unfortunately Blackberry-Facebook is just a glimmer.

LinkedIn is somehow supposed to be the business social networking tool. But for me it has devolved to a fancy resume posting tool. And I don't need my resume out there.

Facebook has glimmers of possibility.

Wouldn't it be great if you could put your business network on Facebook, like you can on LinkedIn, but selectively interact with groups of contacts? Whether you're fully free agent, and working with multiple clients on multiple projects, or you're working within a company on multiple projects, wouldn't it be great to create groups of people for particular projects as easily as you can create groups in Facebook? Wouldn't it be wonderful to selectively show your calendar to these groups, so that it was showing Busy/Free or all Details on a need-to-know basis by group? Wouldn't it be great if you could update your status (like in Facebook) quickly on the fly so different teams could know where you are or what you're doing? And wouldn't it be great to have an inter-office or inter-project e-mail system like you do in Facebook, that beautifully integrates with your POEmail (PlainOldEmail) system, like it does with Blackberry Facebook? Wouldn't it be cool if you could see everyone's calendars too, all within the same system? And the key would be, without any implementation of an Exchange server, a Blackberry Enterprise server, or anything like that but a system that business and personal contacts can all easily hook into.

How does Facebook use Facebook internally for their own business purposes? What business networking tools are there that I'm missing?

2nd Element22 Salon November 6

Zero Energy House? Why Not House As An Energy Producer?

Bruce Coldham, founder and principal of Coldham & Hartman Architects, has been practicing environmentally responsive architecture for more than 30 years.

He contends that the concept of "Zero Energy" is a phrase that is used fast and loose these days. There is a lot of arm waving and wishful thinking.

What is a zero energy commitment, really, and who does it challenge? Why bother to decentralize power production at the level of the home rather than produce it at some central location?

And while we're challenging assumptions, is it possible to design and build a house that provides a net energy gain? Can a house be an energy producer? A community? A town?

Following the Element22 salon format, Bruce will share his experience and insight in a short presentation, which will be followed by a facilitated discussion and question and answer period.

Come early. Stay late.

Register (ideal but not necessary) at Facebook to say you're attending: LINK

Event located here:


View Larger Map

BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Microsoft® Exchange

I'll be reviewing this book in the near future . . . I'm intrigued to see the relevance of that cover picture to the contents of the book!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Over $800 for an iPhone

Really interesting piece in the NYTimes about a Piper Jaffray estimate of the value to Apple of each iPhone, including the phone itself and the annuity from AT&T. LINK. An excerpt:
As a result of this analysis, his estimate of Apple’s 2009 revenue increases from $36.2 billion to $42.8 billion. And the company’s net income per share increased by 14 percent. The bottom line: Mr. Munster’s target price for Apple’s stock, which today sells for around $184, goes to $250. (He had it pegged at $220).

AIM for Blackberry (finally)


Even though RIM launched last week a universal Facebook application for Blackberry (universal in this context meaning "any wireless carrier") they still have only a limited AOL Instant Messenger, available only on certain carriers. And of course, like with the Facebook ap, whoever is in charge of their website does their best to first make it almost impossible to find and then when you do, makes it difficult to figure out that it won't work with AT&T and certain other carriers.

There is a great GoogleTalk ap for Blackberry and an ap for Yahoo! IM too (I haven't tested that one). But no AIM that's universal. However, today I was happy to discover a $20 alternative, beejive. To my great surprise it seems to be fully functional, integrating not only AIM but GoogleTalk, ICQ, Jabber, Windows Live and Yahoo! It's a beautiful implementation with an Apple iChat look. (The screenshot posted here from their site doesn't do justice.) Amazing that RIM hasn't pushed this application as free and standard, because as evidenced by their Facebook ap they're trying to push their demographic down. You'd think they would have made sure they had an easy AIM ap. Download directly to your Blackberry (LINK) and you should be chatting away in no time.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Kinda relevant to my last post about Facebook

So what happens when the dominant culture starts to usurp the tools of the original culture and make it it's own? Example: Blackberry for Facebook (though I know this is really an attempt by RIM to get younger people to use BB's for personal use rather than an attempt to get corporations to adopt Facebook). That's what's happening to Facebook, but what doesn't seem to be happening to MySpace. What does that mean for Facebook vs. MySpace? Here's a quote from a danah boyd academic paper just published about her experience getting into the teen world of MySpace.

"Going native in a networked world is extremely difficult. What makes the experiences of say teens so vibrant is cluster effects. They're using the technologies with their friends. It's not about them and the machine. It's about them and their friends interacting through the machine. One of the things that I figured out really quickly is that having a profile did me absolutely no good. I needed to have friends who would interact with me so that I would get what it was like to experience the technology as a mediating force. Thus, I have dragged my friends kicking and screaming into using these tools just so that I could get it. Using these tools in my own social framework is not the same as experiencing what teens experience, but I needed to feel the social awkwardness, the consequences of power relations, the gulp factor when a comment was taken out of context, and the uh-ohs involved in expressing information in a persistent and searchable manner in the face of broad audiences. And this required my friends to be involved." LINK

Facebook for Blackberry

Launched on Wednesday for Blackberry: a Facebook application. It's very very nice. Dramatically increasing the utility of Facebook because you don't have to fully enter their "walled garden" but you can access it from outside. Makes the Facebook e-mail actually usable to me because I can access it from my Blackberry. Very nicely designed application but . . . the instructions for installation by Blackberry are completely obtuse! They have no screenshots posted. You can't find it on the software section of their website. When you go to the URL www.blackberry.com/facebook/ you can't even find the link to download the ap! Terrible! Can't they learn something from Apple? For those of you with Blackberry and Facebook, highly recommended: LINK. Caveat is that you've got to be running Blackberry OS 4.2. You can check whether you are by looking under Settings/Options/About. If you're not, you've got to download it from the carrier specific part of the RIM site: LINK.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Life goes on

ATLANTA, Oct. 22 — For more than five months, the lake that provides drinking water to almost five million people here has been draining away in a withering drought. Sandy beaches have expanded into flats of orange mud. Tree stumps not seen in half a century have resurfaced. Scientists have warned of impending disaster.

And life has, for the most part, gone on just as before.

NYTimes: LINK

challenges in complete sychronicity

If you haven't used Plaxo to sync your whole life (calendar, contacts in particular) you should check it out. And they appear to have finally cracked another code, bringing GMail contacts into the sync fold. Unfortunately, the link to my GMail for Domains broke at the same time so it was actually a back step for me. They didn't claim to support GMail for Domains but it was working fine until today.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rudy Giuliani is a wanna-be socialist

Why people don't realize that there's more in common, in some respects, between Republicans and socialists is beyond me. They're both for centralized power. The notion that the Republicans are for the little guy should have been completely eliminated in the last six 1/2 years as more and more power has been concentrated in the hands of Washington and in the office of the President. So I found this comment in Slate ironic, in an article on nuclear power:
There's also still the huge problem of where to put the waste. But as Rudy Giuliani suggested recently, if a bunch of European socialists can figure out what to do with the radioactive leftovers, why can't we? "France is ahead of us in nuclear power," he said recently, with the same sort of disgust he might use in reporting that the Red Sox were ahead of his beloved Yankees. "Eighty percent of the electricity in France comes from nuclear power." LINK
Point is, a reason that France has so many nukes is because of centralist authority. Nukes are the opitime of a centralized approach to solving the energy crisis, vs. a decentralized and locally democratic approach. If Rudy wins, we can expect still greater authority centralized in the hands of Washington, overriding the wishes of local constituents who may have no wish for a nuke in their backyard or down the street.

Coming droughts

Simon Norfolk/NB Pictures, for The New York Times

"As the 20th century progressed, many water managers came to believe that the 1950s, which included the most severe drought years since measurement of the river began, were the marker for a worst-case situation. But recent studies of tree rings, in which academics drill core samples from the oldest Ponderosa pines or Douglas firs they can find in order to determine moisture levels hundreds of years ago, indicate that the dry times of the 1950s were mild and brief compared with other historical droughts. The latest research effort, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in late May, identified the existence of an epochal Southwestern megadrought that, if it recurred, would prove calamitous."

Read more in this sobering article from NYTimes Magazine: LINK

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Is BLACK the new Green???

See here for Google's thoughts on Blackle (main point: may actually consume MORE energy):
LINK

Design by Dictatorship

"It was design by dictatorship. All else, this marketing, these focus groups, what have you, is bullshit."

- Mini Clubman chief designer, Gerd Hildebrand.

via Metacool. Read more here about why I love that comment there: LINK

Milestone: Chinese Muscle

"This week, Beijing pulled out of a meeting at which leading world powers are to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. Chinese officials cited “technical reasons” for not participating, but they left the clear impression that they might downgrade support for international efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program if foreign powers interfere in China’s internal affairs." NYTimes LINK

In other words, if the United States gives an award to the Dalai Lama.

Nice little paean to Al Gore

"I don't mean to paint Gore as a saint, or say there's no ego or calculation behind his actions. Human beings are complicated. But the explanation of his life that makes the most sense, that requires the fewest pop-psychological speculations and conspiracy theories, is that he's a decent, committed human being. He kept plodding on, kept trying, until he got it right. What finally worked for him was artless, unapologetic sincerity. This irony-armored reality TV world goes piss poorly on sincerity. I won't apologize for being inspired by its improbable success." Gristmill: LINK

Monday, October 15, 2007

Time takes its toll

The progressive effect of six 1/2 years of faith and effort but very little doubt (from the WSJ, via Slate: LINK).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Milestone: Chinese fighter jets

“For the first time in history, we are seeing another nation, in this case China, with newer fighters than we have.” LINK

Monday, October 08, 2007

Saturday, October 06, 2007

This weekend Oct 6-7: Velomobile Event in Amherst

Photo: John Fabel

Bearing Witness

This is a remarkable story of a Roman Catholic priest bearing witness to the Holocaust. LINK








Photo: Antoine Antoniol for The New York Times

OLPC Laptop IS actually very cool

The OLPC or One Laptop Per Child laptop has been getting a lot of bad press lately. The goal was to make a $100 laptop that could be bought by developing countries in the tens or hundreds of thousands. But, as Fake Steve so snidely puts it, poor people don't want a cheap laptop made for them. They want the same stuff that Western countries want: cool, stylish Macs (or less cool but still powerful Windows machines). In this video, David Pogue of the NYTimes reviews the OLPC laptop and declares that to the contrary, the thing is really cool. I want one and have for a while. It would be a great field laptop for scientists, backpackers, people traveling to remote areas. And for wanna be novelists biking their hipster fixies to cafes. And starting November 12, for a 2 week window, you too, if you're living in America, can buy one and get one free, the free one being donated by the organization to a kid in a developing country.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Low-end Blackberry Enterprise server?

As anyone knows who has installed an Exchange server to enable workplace calendar and contact sharing, it works when it works but getting it to work requires sophisticated IT support. Fortunately, alternatives to Microsoft Exchange for shared calendaring, contacts and other workgroup functions are emerging, such as the Google Apps suite. But for mobile users, alternatives are still non-existent beyond Windows Mobile via Exchange or a Blackberry Enterprise Server.

But a really interesting, low-cost alternative is emerging. RIM is launching what appears to be a basic Enterprise Server solution . . . al beit only in Spain so far. From their press release:
Madrid, Spain and Waterloo, ON - Telefónica and Research In Motion (RIM) today announced plans to introduce BlackBerry® Unite!™ -- a free PC-based software offering that will allow small groups, such as a family or small office, to stay connected and enhance communications and coordination. In addition to wireless email and web browsing, BlackBerry® Unite!™ software will provide groups of up to five users with mobile access to shared calendars, pictures, music, documents and other desktop content through BlackBerry® smartphones*. LINK (via Engadget)
Hopefully it will migrate back to North America

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Power of Brand

You have to take a look at this blog and the two side-by-side pictures of a lecture hall dominated by glowing Apple logos: LINK (via Fake Steve). At the blog, scroll down a bit and make sure you click on both photos.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bill and Steve compared

Another really good post from Presentation Zen comparing Bill and Steve's presentation styles. It has a nice set of thumbnails of recent slides from presentations that they each recently gave that gives one a good sense of the difference--what to do and what not to do. LINK

Friday, September 28, 2007

Here today; gone tomorrow

Recent quotes related to climate change policy:
Germany’s environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, took a detached view of the [President Bush climate change] conference, noting that the Bush administration would be gone in less than 18 months, and that it was unlikely to change its position. He said he spent two days this week discussing climate change with Democrats in Congress with an eye toward the post-Bush future. LINK (NYTimes)

And from an Al Gore e-mail to his list:

On Friday a friend of mine forwarded me an e-mail from Martin McGuiness, special assistant to the president for legislative affairs. At this point, we expect the White House to spin every issue to its advantage, but this quote in Mr. McGuiness's email stood out:

"This administration has done more for the environment and addressing energy security and climate change than any other in history."

While the claim that George Bush has done more to address climate change than any administration seems ridiculous, I am always willing to welcome converts to our movement. If this administration has finally come around on the climate crisis, then now is the time for them to take action.

Let's join together and demand that the Bush Administration commit to an international treaty that would cut CO2 by 90%. LINK


revolutionary quackery

Just got a link in my mailbox from Revolution Health pitching cold medicines . . . I clicked and learned that the #1 seller is the quack medicine Airbourne. What revolution? The more things change the more they stay the same. Whenever I think of Airbourne I think of 19th century quack doctors peddling Magic Elixir from the back of a horse drawn wagon. THIS is the progress we've made in the last hundred years?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pedal Powered Garbage Collection


The way our trash is picked up: Pedal People. (Or cynically, America edges closer to India and China.)
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Scroogle


Fun and creepy short story from Cory Doctorow on the subject of "if Google went bad". LINK

rest of the world still running equivalent of DOS

"The significance of the iPhone is not that it is the best phone/smartphone. It isn’t. It is, however, the first of its kind, an elegant if flawed harbinger of a new era — just like its ancestor, the first Mac. The rest of the world is still running the equivalent of DOS. When you use the iPhone, you are using the future of portable, personal computing." LINK from Bob Matsuoka via David Strom

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mozy (backup) + EMC

Here's a story about my favorite way to ensure my data security--Mozy--being bought up by EMC. If you worried about having your data "out there in the cloud" I've always said that it's safer than simply residing on your physical desk, ready to be snatched. The interest and possible acquisition of Mozy by EMC should make some people more secure that the idea of a backup copy in the cloud is bright. LINK via Xconomy.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Revolution Money

New Steve Case etc. thing launched. Revolution Money with Revolution Card. Hopes to be a great secure, alternative PayPal , Visa etc. Key features are that you always use a PIN and can change that PIN whenever you want. Good for one-time purchases where you think you're dealing with a sketchy vendor. Also, card doesn't have your name on it or any personal info embedded. Press release: LINK And apply for a card here: LINK

Southwest: Customer Service Done Right

"Wit, style and panache" (says David Strom) about Southwest's revision to their check-in procedures as described on their website: LINK. Worth a quick peek for an example of a company that uses the Web expertly to get right to the heart of their customers.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Smart Growth and Global Warming

Here's a new publication to add to the "walkable neighborhood" vs. "greentech" debate in the architecture and planning world. LINK via Gristmill. And part of the discussion we'll be having October 3 about what really matters in the challenge to confront and adapt to global warming.

San Diego Mayor: A Mayor with Backbone

In a tearful press conference, Republican San Diego mayor explains his eleventh hour decision to backs gay marriage. As one YouTube commentator said, "Very human and moving. America Rocks!" (Thanks Apophenia.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fresh new snow

Picture of fresh, new snow in Alaska from a wonderful bike-oriented blog: LINK.

1st Elements 22 Salon, October 3

I'm teaming up with a great marketing and branding guy, Mitch Anthony, to initiate what we're calling the "Element 22 Salon Series". We're planning a diverse range of salon topics, united by our own broad interests. First event: October 3. Time: probably 7:30 - 9:30 pm. Venue not yet determined but it will be in Franklin County, Massachusetts. This first event is about climate change.

Except for a few rare folks lurking in the back closets of the Wall Street Journal Editorial page, everyone accepts that global warming is happening. The question is: what can we do about it and does what we do really matter? Even in the best case scenario of significant reductions in carbon emissions, global warming is with us for the next few centuries, at least. We should not only be trying to foster changes in the way we live, we should be planning for a future world that looks very different that today. What questions do we need to ask? What are the opportunities that such a change is likely to offer?

On October 3, we'll create a collaborative salon to discuss these issues. The event will be headlined by my brother, Eric Steig, a climate change scientist based in Seattle. He's also a founding member of the blog Real Climate, recently named by the Guardian newspaper as one of the top ten green websites. RealClimate bills itself as "a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists".

More details to follow. In the meantime, take a look at the recent Thomas Friedman article which gets directly to the issue (LINK).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

2009 Honda Fit


Yep, that's the car I want. The current one is nice but this one is really nice. More filled out and muscular but still tiny. Will be here in a year. Finally, the US is getting some interesting small cars. LINK to Temple of VTEC.

Skype for iPhone or Blackberry

Love to hear from anyone who has used this product: LINK. How well does it work?

AT&T and RIM are in the dark ages!

AT&T and RIM (Research in Motion, maker of Blackberry) have some clueless marketing folks that ought to be shown the door immediately. They are in the dark ages!

Yesterday, September 19, press releases hit the geek "2muchtech" websites like GizModo, Engadget, Boy Genius. They said that finally the Blackberry 8820 was being released on September 20. This is a long awaited phone, the first Blackberry with WIFI. But BOTH the AT&T and Blackberry hyperlinks in the press release . . . WERE DEAD LINKS. They didn't even go to a page that said something like "being released tomorrow". I'm sure the logic was "well, since it's being released on the 20th, we won't make those Web pages live until the 20th". But the press release got onto the Web on the 19th! So effectively, both AT&T and RIM pissed off the early adopters, the folks who's love they need, and showed what complete marketing buffoons AT&T and RIM indeed are. Had someone at Apple done such a thing, the entire team would have been permanently exiled to Siberia!! AT&T and RIM deserve to have Apple eat not only their breakfast and their lunch but their dinner as well unless they clean up this sort of behavior.

(But I still want an 8820 instead of a iPhone . . . at least for now.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Personal Fabrication


You have to follow this links on this blog post of Amit Gupta's about personal fabrication and a company called Ponoko: LINK

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hans Rosling, the Zen master of statistics

This is really a stunning presentation about life expectancy relative to GNP and also an amazing example of data visualization.



More about GapMinder here: LINK

Thanks to PresentationZen for this: LINK

Now The True Story of Colossus Can Be Told

From David Strom:
What if I told you that a secret project conducted more than 60 years ago held the true origins of the modern computing era? And that the country behind this project did such a good job erasing its tracks that it did itself a disservice? And that many of the things invented during this project would only be realized with modern-day PCs?
It sounds like a made-for-TV movie, and it should be, and finally -- Now The True Story of Colossus Can Be Told (cue announcer and swelling music).

The world's first electronic digital computer wasn't developed on American soil but presaged by nearly two years during an intensive British top-secret wartime effort called Colossus. A team of engineers built the room-sized computer for a single purpose: to decrypt German military radio transmissions. The original designer died without ever receiving any acknowledgment or acclaim accorded to many of his American computing counterparts, yet he was responsible for the first implementations of program-controlled logic, parallel processing, variable programming, hardware interrupts, optical reading of punched paper tape, shift registers and other things that are now common to the PC lexicon. Some of these innovations took a decade or more to implement elsewhere by others.
More: LINK

shellac + modernist bars



New bars on the Bianchi Volpe, now taped and drenched in shellac. (Did you know that this is how handlebars used to be taped and that shellac is a naturally derived substance?) Previous post about these modernist bars.
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Colbert does Bjorn Lomborg

Nice job by Colbert poking fun at global warming skeptic Bjorn Lomborg (via Treehugger). Colbert gets the point that RealClimate made a year or more ago: if you, Lomborg, are so concerned about issues other than global warming, why aren't you focused on doing something about those issues (like malaria) instead of trying to create confusion about the significance of global warming? More on Lomborg here and the RealClimate post here. Specific criticism of Lomborg's new book here. Main conclusion, here quoting Eban Goodstein in Salon: "he cherry-picks evidence to manufacture a scientific and economic consensus that doesn't exist." Goodstein goes on to say:

The glaring error in "Cool It," and the one that disqualifies the book from making a serious contribution, is that Lomborg ignores the main concern driving the debate. Incredibly, he never mentions even the possibility that the world might heat up more than 4.7 degrees. Although he claims IPCC science as gospel, in fact the scientific body gives no single "standard" estimate as its official forecast for this century's warming. Instead, the IPCC provides a range of up to 10.5 degrees -- more than double the number on which Lomborg bases his entire argument. (LINK)

My climate change scientist brother taught me long ago that stats like 4.7 degrees have a high degree of uncertainty, which means that they could not be that bad but equally they could be much much worse. And if so, we're in really big trouble. Consequences are too big to take the Lomborg gamble.

I have to admit though that I warmed to him a bit by the way he responded in this interview in Salon (LINK):
Interviewer: Don't you think it's kind of odd that the Bush administration invited [Michael Crichton] to the White House to talk about climate change?

Lomborg: They did? Yeah, that is weird.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New bars!

OK. Folks are laughing at me in the office. But I love these new bars. A modernist take from France via Velo Orange. (LINK)

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

best bluetooth headset

Another accolade for my favorite headset:
"It sounds excellent, better than other headsets. In fact, in my testing, the Jawbone sounded even better than using a cell phone directly." PCMag. LINK

My previous review here: LINK. Available online and at ATT (née Cingular) and Apple stores.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Facebook + LinkedIn + Plaxo + DayLite = Dreaming

I've been casually following the Scoble/boyd debate about Facebook (FB), privacy, and why tech insiders are responding so rabidly to FB.

Distillation:
boyd: "But what I don’t understand is why so much of the tech crowd who lament Walled Gardens worship Facebook.”

Scoble response: "Because there isn’t anything better. It’s like why we are so gaga over the iPhone. The iPhone is locked up tight and doesn’t let us play. But it is so superior to the alternatives that we’ll put up with all the walls."
What I really want is something more and different. I find FB tiresome and banal (maybe that's just my friends . . . but I am linked to Scoble). I find LinkedIn overly restrictive. What I want is something that will allow me to flexibly annotate in private my own take on my network of contacts--how they relate to each other etc.--regardless of whether the contact is in the network or not and have it update and sync with those contacts who are in the network. In other words, I'd love to have a LinkedIn like system in which I can keep track of my business connections and other people's business connections, but add into it my own data, my own connections whether they're on the network or not. This would be like a personal CRM system (Customer Relationship Managment, like the wonderful DayLite) that's connected into the broader world. Plaxo sort of does this, by allowing you to sync up all your own contact data, and if a person is on the Plaxo network (or other networks like LinkedIn) connect also with that live contact data. But what Plaxo needs is the greater toolset of a CRM (connecting contacts to companies, to projects, to opportunities and tracking historical relationships), the business orientation of LinkedIn and the open source elements of FB. I guess I'm dreaming . . .

Sunday, September 09, 2007

World's Smallest Cars

I love this compilation of the world's smallest cars from Dark Roasted (via Treehugger).

When will the current accepted American standard for cars change to something other than a combination of speed and size? Certainly the Mini is a change in the right direction. The Fit too. And the Prius is #11 best selling car (or something like that). And my favorite small car, the Miata, is one of the very rare cases of a car not changing in size since it was introduced 17 years ago. But we've still got a long way to go. My Miata has actually gotten smaller over the years, at least proportionally to other cars on the road. I think the American obsession with 4x4 do everything big cars has at its root a deep paranoia: should catastrophe appear, or I just want to escape, I can take virtually all my possessions with me and hit the road.

collapsible chair adoption


None of these collapsible chairs existed 15 (?) years ago. Now every single person has one. I find consumer adoption like that remarkable.

recycling . . . but why create it in the first place?

I like that this recycling bin shows the excesses of our consumption.

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