Thursday, August 30, 2007

Self sufficient

Life in Western Massachusetts. Old diesel MB running on veg and a greenhouse to grow your fuel . . . don't actually know if that's what these folks are doing but looks like it!
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thanks Tom and Sarah for the veg!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Product placement and William Gibson?

In between working on vacation, as a way to distract myself and attempt to get a little vacation, I spent time reading Spook Country. I really enjoyed Gibson's last book, Pattern Recognition. This new novel contains Bigend again, the head of Blue Ant, and a main character who seems like a half sister of Cayce Pollard. I enjoyed Spook Country, but perhaps enjoyed the premise and the general outline a lot more than the specific writing.

But the product placement! That Cayce makes a living from her allergy to brand was simply brilliant in Pattern Recognition. If she had read Spook Country she would have gagged! Although Bigend drives a Maybach, otherwise everything else is VW including multiple Phaetons. What is that about?? Did Gibson get a kickback from VW? Is he prepping this book for a movie? Or is there some meaning in this overt product placement? He does suggest that Blue Ant uses Phaetons because they look almost like Passats and therefore are a more anonymous luxury car. Maybe Bigend got them on remainder discount because the car didn't sell well at all. But also, does everyone have to use an Apple computer? I can't figure it out. Any ideas? For me it really put a vein of rot through the book.

(Similar sentiments on a blog called Where am I?)

Monday, August 27, 2007

VC's are insecure pimply adolescents (sometimes)

Here's a funny quote from Xconomy, commenting on VCs:

If your best buddy had a new girl he was dating, you probably wouldn’t say “Oh yeah. I dated that one—I dumped her.” But apparently, when it comes to business, an insecure pimply adolescent still exists in some of us. “Oh yeah. We saw that one—we passed” is a ubiquitous mantra in venture conversations. I always get the feeling that the firm in question may have “seen” the deal only in the sense that they put it on a list somewhere (i.e. he spoke to her in the hallway and she smiled).


If Green is the new Red, are these two equivalents? Both black, swoopy and chopped.

Rain City + Work Cycles +

Here's a beautiful website . . . just a great flash UI. And it's from my hometown. And it's about cool bikes. What more could be perfect? Daryl Hannah? (via LINK).

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sync from Outlook to Google Calendar

I hadn't realized how well it seems to work until today, but the Plaxo sync between an Outlook calendar and a Google calendar seems perfect to me. If you need to share your Outlook calendar (should you be required by your enterprise to maintain such a thing) you can automatically sync in the background Outlook out to your Google calendar and then publish that Google calendar to your spouse or others who need to see it but don't have access to the enterprise server. Or it will enable you to look up your own calendar from any web browser. (I haven't looked into the sync back from Google to Outlook.)

Cannondale Europe-only urban bikes

Will anyone import this beautiful Europe-only Cannondale bike for me? Integrated lights. Sealed, internally geared Rohloff hub available (in a similar model) (LINK). Drool over the PDF brochure (LINK). In the U.S., we're limited to essentially only two models (LINK). How much longer do we have to wait for European bikes (and cars) to become more widely available here?

Eclipse Aviation video

Eclipse Aviation's manufacturing and assembly process described and photographed by Dan Bricklin, inventor of the spreadsheet. Great aviation and general engineering geek video. Text about it here: LINK

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Well-funded naysayers

There is an excellent and lengthy cover story in Newsweek about the history and tactics of climate change deniers (from Exxon-Mobil on down). LINK

(The * below the headline says "Or so claim well-funded naysayers who still reject the overwhelming evidence of climate change. Inside the denial machine.")

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Black Swans and Tinkerers

Go to Kedrosky for an excerpt of Charlie Rose, interviewing Nicolas Taleb of Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness fame (LINK). His recent book has received a lot of hype recently (displays at airport bookstores etc) but "hype" and "Taleb" aren't natural partners. What captures me is the earnestness, the passion, the obsession of Taleb as he tries to make sense of the randomness he sees in the world. If you read the New Yorker article on him (LINK) you know how influential his childhood growing up in Lebanon has been--seeing his world go from paradise to hell in six months. A deep rooted need to understand how this could have occurred drives him. Stay with the interview because although he starts off hesitantly, his quiet strength of intent is a pleasure to watch.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

more truth to power!

this is a great quote from John Maeda:

composing messages on the iPhone is a little like why women might choose to wear high heels -- it's sexy looking but terribly difficult to actually walk around.


still speaking truth to power

this is one of the best Fake Steve Jobs posts yet (LINK). he's so right. it's like they shipped this product without anyone even looking at it. what a complete visual mess!

Plaxo old school

I don't get this in the new Plaxo. What are my "real life" friends? You think I'm putting Second Life avatars in my Plaxo address book or something??

How do you know {contact name}?

Choose all that apply

Colleagues, classmates, folks you've met along the way.

Your real life friends. (Not your "social network friends")

Mom, Dad, spouse, siblings, cousins... You get the picture.


As a few people know by now, Apple came out with lots of new goodies yesterday. The most interesting to me was Numbers, Apple's third iWork product in their office productivity suite (LINK). Since Excel is my strongest remaining link to Microsoft, I'm looking forward to seeing if Numbers can be the scissors that severs that tie entirely.

(I wonder if the postponement of Office 2008 for Mac, noted in my post below, had anything to do with Microsoft waiting to see what the announcement of iWork 2008 would bring.)

See also "Apple's Stealth Campaign for Business?" LINK

Thursday, August 02, 2007

new rev of Office for Mac postponed . . . again

Despite online products like Google's spreadsheet ap, Microsoft Excel still rules in my work world. In its current version it's a bulletproof application. And it only works on Windows. The Macintosh version is so old it's unusable in my opinion for anyone who's half a spreadsheet jock. Crashes all the time. So, you have to either use a Windows machine or run Windows on your Mac. For me, since I'm increasingly running my life on Google, switching to a Mac is less relevant. And without Excel on the Mac in any decent form, no reason for me to switch. And now that Microsoft will postpone the Office rev for the Mac until Q12008 (LINK), it will be a while before my Thinkpad is retired . . . unless Apple finally comes out with its rumored "Cell" application that's supposed to be part of iWork?

This does make me wonder about Microsoft and its business model. Where are the areas where it still holds sway? Certainly Office is a major money maker. I think it will be a really long time before online aps can stand up to Office Aps, particularly to Excel. Will iWork really ever make a dent in Office? I'm looking forward to seeing if I can make the transition and whether the "Cell" program is the tipping point.