Archives for 2009


Exclusive: Apple iSlate photo?

Yep…this has about as much of a chance of being the “iSlate”, “iPad”, “iTablet”, or “iMiracleDevice” as any of the artist renderings I’ve seen. I must admit being intrigued by all the buzz and fun people are having with speculation about this rumored device — and yes, I do think there will be one and it will stun the world like the iPhone/iPod Touch has — but the “scoop du jour” frenzy will provide lots of misleading clues and pointers to stuff you should probably just ignore over the next few weeks.

By the way, this slate tablet is described here at National Geographic and is, “…a rare inscribed slate tablet dating back some 400 years, to the early days of America’s first permanent English settlement.

Both sides of the slate are covered with words, numbers, and etchings of people, plants, and birds that its owner likely encountered in the New World in the early 1600s.

The tablet was found a few feet down in what may be the first well at James Fort, dug in early 1609 by Capt. John Smith, Jamestown’s best known leader, said Bill Kelso, director of archaeology at the site.”


Library of Digitized Government-sanctioned Comics

At least once per week I discover some new internet resource that surprises and delights me. One of the blogs I follow, Research Buzz, had this post today about a resource at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, NE that is sure to be of interest to many of you:

“A hat tip to ResourceShelf to the pointer about Richard Graham, who has put together a digital collection of comics created/commissioned by the government. There are over 180 comics available in the collection which is located at”

After I’d downloaded some of the comics and looked at them, I noticed a popup menu and was stunned to see dozens of other digitized resources! This shouldn’t come as a surprise to me however. Back in the 1980’s I was with Pioneer New Media who delivered interactive, industrial LaserDisc machines which were usually connected to computers to deliver video and still images as part of courseware, interactive kiosks, or museum displays. University of Nebraska Videodisc Group was one of the pioneer’s (no pun intended) in the development of instructional guidelines, methods and other means of optimizing videodisc technology. They held a conference every year and everyone in the field would attend it. As a side note, the first one I attended was at the Cornhusker Hotel and I envisioned Chevy pickup themed rooms and gravy with every selection on the room service menu, but was quite pleased to stay in what turned out to be a first class hotel in Omaha, NE.

Check out the collections here.


How can *anyone* view 100,000 iPhone apps!?!

As a shareholder and iPhone user I’m delighted that there are ~100,000 apps for the iPhone. As a consumer of these apps, I’m overwhelmed with the sheer number of them and there’s not a snowballs-chance-in-Hell I’ll ever see but a fraction of them. With IDC stating there will be 300,000 of them by the end of next year, a paradox of choice problem gets to be unwieldly.

In his book, “The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less” by Barry Schwartz, he argues that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers. I’ve found that to be true again and again especially with my clients: If given too many choices in software solutions, design possibilities or options, anxiety accelerates and they begin to second-guess me, their choices, and sometimes end up not making a choice at all unless only top ones are subsequently provided.

How long would it take to view all 100,000 iPhone apps? Though it would actually take you longer than this, let’s say you took only one minute to view an iPhone application’s screen in either the iTunes Store or from the iPhone itself. 1 minute X 100,000 apps is 1,667 *hours*!  Figuring in 8 hours of sleep per day and 16 hours of awake time in any given 24 hour period, that means it would take you 104 days to look at each one. God forbid you go off on a tangent or download one! This problem is only going to get bigger.

Using that same 16/8 hour formula, once we hit 300,000 apps it would take you nearly ONE YEAR to view all of those iPhone apps.


Stop Your Whining


When you look at the historical cost of personal computer purchases in the 1980s and 1990s, it’s pretty difficult to whine today about the amount of sheer power we have in our hands and how little we have to pay for it. That said, I still hear A LOT of pissing and moaning from people when they are confronted with a personal computer purchase that is even $1,000.

I know it’s all about a lack of context…so let me give you some.

In the late 1980s, my wife and I had launched a trend forecasting business (she’d been a trend merchandiser for Target Stores so this was a natural) and we created a newsletter called The Trend Curve (its backstory is here). Launching this newsletter was due, in no small part, to the amazing power at the time of the Macintosh SE30, a LaserWriter printer, and a software program called Aldus Pagemaker. Together, the Mac/Laserwriter/Pagemaker trio is what kickstarted the desktop publishing trend and ended up completely disrupting and overhauling the prepress and printing industries, and allowed a young couple to create a business, now over 21 years old, and put a woman named Michelle Lamb at the forefront of international trends in the home furnishings industry.

Less than three years later in the fall of 1990, we were publishing The Trend Curve four times per year and creating flyers, postcards and lots of other promotional products by using a page layout program on a tiny, 9-inch screen. While the Mac SE/30 had a huge 80MB hard drive and a fast 68030 processor, using it was a frustrating exercise as was waiting to proof output in color since that little screen was black and white and I had to scroll all over the place to go to various parts of a page. Knowing I had to upgrade to a computer with color and a bigger monitor — but not having the nearly $6,000 to spend on a Macintosh IIci with a color display — I fortunately knew an Apple business employee who was kind enough to use his once-per-year “first discount” (60% off) and buy exactly what I needed.

Going through some papers this weekend I came across the invoice above and the memories came flooding back. Not only the glee I felt having a state-of-the-art Mac but one that sported a HUGE 13″ color display with 640×480 resolution! You can see the technical specifications here and I know that any of you reading this will look at this IIci today and have the same reaction my 15 year old son did (“….and you actually used that thing every day?”) but at the time this was one amazing and powerful machine.

The retail price of this setup was nearly $6,000 and the Apple employee discounted price was $4,193.00. To give you a sense of the buying power of that $4,193.00 vs. today, the inflation rate average from 1990-2009 has been 2.73% so $1 in 1990 would require spending $1.67 in 2009 dollars to get the same value. Therefore the “dollar worth” of that IIci today would’ve meant a retail price of $10,020.00 and that Apple employee discounted price would be $7002.31 in 2009 dollars.

Yikes. Today that $7,000 could easily buy three powerful desktop machines plus one laptop.

So the next time you go in to an Apple Store and see a 27-inch 2.66ghz iMac with 2560×1440 resolution, 4GB memory and a 1TB hard drive for $1,999.00, I sincerely hope you appreciate the sheer power at your fingertips, how you can use a machine like this to start your own business, and resist the temptation to whine.


Sir, Yes Sir! Thank You for Thinking *For* Me Sir!


One of the dangers in being a “thought leader” or “influencer” in blogs or social media is this: others might actually believe you’re an expert and take what you say on faith, as gospel, or as their duty. On the flip side, those of us who follow so-called thought leaders make some assumptions that they’re experts or at least more plugged in than we are so they must know something we don’t (and too many people are influenced by them automatically). I’ve been seeing this happen too often in the group-think that occurs in the blogosphere and this sort of mass persuasion (or “mass meme’ing” as my friend Bill calls it) is now moving even faster with the real-time internet (e.g., Twitter).

In my several decades on this earth I’ve learned the power of propaganda, seen the unfortunate downsides to “spin” and group-think, and have been made well aware of the persuasion, motivation and psychological manipulation techniques most people with an agenda employ.

Having an agenda and trying to persuade or motivate is not inherently evil or good, it just is-what-it-is. Humans are driven by all sorts of intrinsic motivations that go well beyond Maslow’s baseline on his hierarchy of needs. In my view, Maslow was stating a pyramid of needs that was far too happy-assed and missed many human motivators like a hunger for celebrity, power or control by an individual or organization, the continual nation-based struggle for resources, or a need to be dominant.

Think about all of this the next time you read something (especially a blog post or tweet), listen to a political speech, are asked to do something by your boss, or watch a TV show or movie about a big topic. What are the writer/tweeter/producers motivations? Who is funding it and/or what is their agenda? What are the creators of it trying to get you to do, to think and what action do they want you to take?


Apple iTablet: It Does Everything!

Apparently this Digitimes article is all the buzz over on Techmeme supposedly saying the rumored Apple tablet is delayed.

DAMMIT anyhow! I fully expected this new tablet to cure cancer, singlehandedly save the publishing industry, remove toe fungus once-and-for-all, and let we mobile users be much, much cooler than anyone who doesn’t yet have one (until millions have it like the iPhone, you know, THOSE PEOPLE WHO INSIST ON USING “XYLOPHONE” AS THEIR RINGTONE!).

Now it’s not coming out or, as linkbaiter PC World says, it might be dead? This blows.


TV of the Future

Was incredibly pleased I stumbled across this video today since, what with the internet, I’ve been wrestling with what the TV of the future will look like.  😉


…and people wonder why I drive a Prius

[click for larger view]

It is so obvious from even casual observation that consumption of oil for energy is continuing to accelerate. Too many people I know continue to choose gas guzzlers when they buy a new car, as if “someone out there” will take care of what’s happening to world oil supply.

From the Economist:

A Developing Thirst

GLOBAL demand for oil is set to rise from 84.7m barrels per day (bpd) in 2008 to 105m bpd in 2030, says the International Energy Agency in its latest annual energy report. Transport will account for 97% of this increase as rising numbers of cars hit the roads of the developing world. Demand from these countries will overtake that of the industrialised OECD nations by 2030. By then, America, Japan and Europe will be using less oil than in 1980. But the thirst for oil will balloon in Asia — and in India and China in particular — where demand is predicted to rise by as much as 400% compared with 2008.


Whistleblower Claims IEA Is Downplaying Peak Oil

Yesterday the Guardian ran a story based on two anonymous sources inside the International Energy Agency who claimed that the agency had distorted key figures on oil reserves.

“The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the [IEA] who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying. The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.”

Today the IEA released its annual energy outlook and rejected the whistleblowers’ charges. The Guardian has an editorial claiming that the economic establishment is too fearful to come clean on the reality of oil suppplies, and makes an analogy with the (marginalized, demonized) economists who warned of a coming economic collapse in 2007.

from Slashdot


Verizon Ad dissing AT&T

Always humorous to see one company bash another, but the Verizon red has one dirty little secret: it’s CDMA and not compatible with the rest of the world and is not Long Term Evolution (LTE), the oft-termed “4G” mobile networks (AT&T touts 2011 as 4G rollout and Verizon network-wide by 2010….but we’ll see).