Archives for April 2009


Apple “iPad” (or “MacbookMini”) is it *Finally* Coming?

I own an Apple Newton (with the 2.0 software) and occasionally get it out to play with it. The Newton OS 2.0 software finally got the handwriting recognition down so that glaring and funny errors weren’t there for the press to ridicule (Apple’s Newton Reborn: Will it Still the Critics? by John Markoff for the New York Times, from 1994).

For a loooong time I’ve believed that Apple was just moments away from a tablet. I’ve wanted one ever since the Newton was murdered discontinued and have been convinced we’re right around the corner. Fortunately I’m not the only one who missed predicting the introduction of just such a device.

I don’t care much anymore. My hope is that Apple will do it eventually and it will be a lusted after, must-have device just like an iPhone, but my Macbook Pro, iPhone and a netbook suffice just fine for now.

Here are three posts where I was convinced such a device was nearly here, but clearly was way off:

Now the rumors are all over the ‘net that “It’s coming! It’s coming!” from flash memory purchases to rumored production starting up to Verizon being the chosen one for a new, cheap iPhone and a netbook-like device.

I’ll wait until Apple announces something and in the meantime, sit back, relax and enjoy this Welcome to Newton video from 1993…


Save $125 Billion With Solid State Light Bulbs

Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb (and 1,000’s of other things!)

All of us need to get rid of our incandescent light bulbs.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has projected that our nation could save 29% of our national lighting energy consumption by 2025 — $125B in energy costs — if all of us converted to solid state lighting (SSL’s which mainly are LED‘s and OLED‘s).

The DOE has this site devoted to SSL technology and even an “L Prize” for innovation and breakthroughs in SSL.

Ever since I purchased a Toyota Prius and a Neuton rechargeable lawnmower, I’ve been both delighted and stunned with the compromises one has to make today to be more energy efficient: the Prius averages 47mpg but is less substantial (and luxurious) than what I’m used to in a car and the Neuton batteries (lead acid’s) and its engine is inefficient enough that I have to cut my lawn every five days or the mower bogs down.

I’ve been on the hunt for LED lights for my home — and 40w, 60w and 100w bulbs seemed to be scarce and certainly NOT available at retailers like Home Depot or Target — but they’re now beginning to appear from companies like EarthLED (and their 100w bulb replacement with a tiny fan in it to keep it cool and ensure the life is long) to companies with initiatives like those at GE and at Philips.

The kicker is that these bulbs are still quite expensive. [Read more…]


Facts About The Digital Economy

Having information and facts at-your-fingertips about the internet and web is absolutely critical whether you’re a startup needing content for your pitch, a marketer needing to understand a 40,000 foot view of trends, a corporate user needing to understand mobile access to the ‘net or international usage, or if you’re just someone like me: an info-junkie who needs a constant data fix in order to constantly track what’s hot and what’s not.

This report is put out by the Progress and Freedom Foundation, an organization that is a “…market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. Its mission is to educate policymakers, opinion leaders, and the public about issues associated with technological change, based on a philosophy of limited government, free markets, and individual sovereignty.

PFF’s research combines academic analysis with a practical understanding of how public policy is made. Its senior fellows and other scholars are leading experts in their fields, with distinguished careers in government, business, academia and public policy. Its research is substantive, scholarly, and unbiased.

Covered in the report are these key areas:

  1. The Growth of the Internet
  2. The Hardware Sector
  3. The Communications Sector
  4. Digital Media
  5. Electronic Commerce
  6. Threats to the Digital Economy
  7. The Worldwide Digital Economy

One of the best parts are the active links in each chapter’s EndNotes which allow you to drill down into many areas covered within this report.

Here is the download page and a direct link (PDF).


A Different Perspective on Earth Day

When I saw Steve Martin live at a bar outside Minneapolis in the mid-1970’s (the now defunct “Hippogriff“), he’d always close with this message which made me realize the importance of conservation…and I’ve never forgotten that lesson:

(“Always take a litter bag in your car. It doesn’t take up much room and if it gets full, you can just toss it out the window!”)

We Are Not Alone

Dr. Edgar Mitchell, scientist and the sixth man to walk on the moon

Former astronaut, Dr. Edgar Mitchell, came out some months ago on a BBC broadcast stating unequivocally that he had personal knowledge of extraterrestrial visits to earth. This CNN article on Monday reiterated that position well:

Mitchell, who was part of the 1971 Apollo 14 moon mission, asserted Monday that extraterrestrial life exists, and that the truth is being concealed by the U.S. and other governments.
He delivered his remarks during an appearance at the National Press Club following the conclusion of the fifth annual X-Conference, a meeting of UFO activists and researchers studying the possibility of alien life forms.

Mankind has long wondered if we’re “alone in the universe. [But] only in our period do we really have evidence. No, we’re not alone,” Mitchell said.

How many galaxies are there in the Universe? William Keel, Professor of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Alabama, summed up the proposed number of galaxies able to be seen by the Hubble telescope:

“…the Hubble telescope is capable of detecting about 80 billion galaxies (although not all of these within the foreseeable future!). In fact, there must be many more than this, even within the observable Universe…”

Though evidence is necessary to remove any doubt, I’ve long held the belief that we’re not alone. Sheer numbers of possible planets where life could exist number in the billions and in the hundreds of millions for earth-like planets that could inhabit life.

How hard would it be for a civilization advanced enough for interstellar space travel to keep contact to a minimum or make sightings fleeting?

Dr. Mitchell was interviewed on Kerrang Radio, July 23, 2008. Listen to Mitchell saying there is life in the Universe. He says we have been visited, and that UFOs have been covered up by the government for a long time. He says he’s been inside military circles and they know we’ve been visited and talk about it behind closed doors. He says he’s been involved in certain research committees and knows people who know the real story.

Dismiss it or argue the possibility all you want, but what if we are not alone?


Why isn’t Dean Kamen on a Wheaties box?

Why do we pay so much attention to sports heroes and celebrities, when the people doing the work to advance humankind are virtually invisible?

Over four years ago I wrote a similar post to this one about scientist and inventor Ray Kurzweil. My son was 10 years old and had to choose a “hero” and write about what made them one. When I saw the list I was appalled and emailed his teacher to ask why current and contemporary inventors, scientists and visionaries were excluded?

60 Minutes had a piece last night about the US military working on something akin to a “Manhattan Project” for prosthetics. This is certainly a response to the huge numbers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan maimed from war in unprecedented numbers.

The firm they worked with was none other than Segway inventor, Dean Kamen and his DEKA group. Many of us have already seen the video about the prosthetic arm developed under a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Amazing doesn’t do it justice.

From a wheelchair that can climb stairs and allow the user to ‘stand up’ to talk at eye level with others to the Segway and a Stirling engine water purification system for small villages, Kamen and crew are taking big ideas and manifesting them in to a reality that is changing the world. 

Yes, I realize that not every kid can be an Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison or Ada Lovelace, but reaching for a dream allows a kid to accomplish much more than if they don’t, and though sports achievement can impact many other areas of someone’s life, an inventor mindset means that a kid learns to look at every process, method, possibility or vision they have, and to figure out how to make it more efficient or to leap forward in a revolutionary way.

Compare that to the ability to slam dunk a basketball and answer this question, “Do you want your child to aspire and emulate some NBA star, or instead become an inventor like Kamen and make a difference in the world?


Jarvis to the Newspaper Industry: You Blew It

Been following Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine for some time and he wrote a speech he wished would be delivered to the Newspaper Association of America at this week’s meeting and delivered it with with one key theme: you blew it.

He starts off with this:

You’ve had 20 years since the start of the web, 15 years since the creation of the commercial browser and craigslist, a decade since the birth of blogs and Google to understand the changes in the media economy and the new behaviors of the next generation of – as you call them, Mr. Murdoch – net natives. You’ve had all that time to reinvent your products, services, and organizations for this new world, to take advantage of new opportunities and efficiencies, to retrain not only your staff but your readers and advertisers, to use the power of your megaphones while you still had it to build what would come next. But you didn’t.

You blew it.

This is worth a read if you care at all about strong journalism and, especially, investigative journalism. Unless you’re a fascist, of course, and would really love to have a weak media filled with easily intimated bloggers (all with day jobs) so you could push your agenda with no one calling you out on it. Nicely done Brother Jarvis.


Would *you* pay the $20 cost to get 160mbps internet at home?

Read an article just now in the New York Times. It seems that there is a very interesting offering being delivered in Japan that makes it all the more apparent that the cable companies are purposely limiting broadband speeds from what I (and many others) believe is a strategic attempt to protect their cable TV delivery franchises by limiting video, TV and movie delivery over the internet.

J:Com, a Japanese cable company (with TV, net and telephony services), is delivering 160mbps internet service at a cost to J:Com of network upgrades of $20 per home!

At my office, I have Comcast’s DOCSIS 3.0 service that runs at 50mbps download speed and 10mbps upload speed. While blazingly fast compared to the 16mbps down/2mbps up speed I have at home, it took an installer over an hour to hook up the Cisco box (about the size of an audio receiver) and the modem. Apparently J:Com’s service requires just a modem which is a self-upgrade (they just ship you the modem or you pick it up at one of their stores).

  • J:Com’s pricing for the 160mbps download and 10mbps upload is 6,000 YEN (US$60) per month with no bandwidth cap.
  • Comcast’s pricing for the 50mbps download and 10mbps upload is US$139.95. A 250GB monthly bandwidth cap is in force, regardless of which Comcast tier of service you buy.

Makes you wonder about the slow upgrading of current US cable networks — especially if it really is as cheap as $20 per home like the article states — which makes my tinfoil hat paranoid assumption (that the cable companies are protecting their TV delivery franchises over the public good as I stated in this post) all the more valid.

World’s Fastest Broadband at $20 Per Home
By Saul Hansell

If you get excited about the prospect of really, really fast broadband Internet service, here’s a statistic that will make heart race. Or your
blood boil. Or both.

Pretty much the fastest consumer broadband in the world is the 160-megabit-per-second service offered by J:Com, the largest cable company in Japan. Here’s how much the company had to invest to upgrade its network to provide that speed: $20 per home passed.

Read the full article here.


Broadband Providers: “Let’s cut ’em off at the pass!”

Even the most naive and casual observer can see that the threat from services like Hulu; both Apple’s TV and movie offerings within iTunes; Joost; and the accelerating number of media center software offerings (providing access to ANY video on the internet), pose a huge threat to the cable companies and other broadband providers.

They are all clearly trying to get out ahead of the user market (and the maturity of video provider business models as well as the open source media center software) and put caps in place before wider adoption occurs.

As a tail-end baby boomer with enough of a geek nature to be involved far too deeply in the ‘net, web and social media in my business, I realize I’m atypical within my demographic on how I, and as a result my family, use our Comcast broadband connection. With Comcast’s 50mbps down/10mbps up DOCSIS 3 setup in my office (Note: we were one of two companies in their Minnesota rollout of this new technology) and 16mbps down/2mbps up at home, I’m dealing daily in video, photos, moving around large Zip files, screensharing, personal publishing, and numerous other online activities. These activities are mission critical to our small business, my wife’s and my client interactions, as well as family activities and connecting with others.

Comcast, one of the largest providers in this space, directly affects all aspects of our digital lives. With my family and my current and increasing use of the internet for an every expanding array of online activities (Skype calling; my son’s video gaming; Flickr and Vimeo for photo/video sharing; online backup of our computers; use of our new Mac mini media center), we are certain to end up violating Comcast’s draconian 250GB bandwidth caps (er, I mean, Network Management Policy).

The kicker? According to Comcast’s executive escalation group, I can’t even pay them more for higher tiers of service with no cap or, as one representative told me in March, “…the cap is the cap, regardless of the tier of service.

Did you know that, in Comcast’s case, they can simply cut you off for exceeding that 250GB cap with no warning and that their promised metering tools are still missing in action?

Then I read this recently about Time Warner’s laughingly low caps and realized that, if Time Warner gains traction with this approach, Comcast will follow suit and we’ll all have to watch and do whatever these providers allow us to do online.

[Read more…]


You’re NOT a Court Jester

As someone who carves out time early each morning to scour my RSS feed reader, I’m always aware of what I’m not accomplishing by investing the time necessary to consume input from my trusted sources.

It’s one reason why each April Fool’s day I cringe on the truly lame attempts by geeks to be funny and how 90% of these attempts are not worth the time to view or read.

That said, there are truly some good ones this year that even I — someone who appreciates people and humor attempts that are well done vs. those from people who should no better than to act the fool — are finding to be worth checking out:

Even with a few funny ones, remember geeks: if the court jester displeased the King, he was beheaded.