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:

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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 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.


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):

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 - Telef√≥nica 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