Archives for October 2009


Jon Stewart on Net Neutrality

Senator John McCain and his ‘wizard’ wife Cindy

John McCain against net neutrality? Surprise, surprise. This Fortune archived article entitled, “How I Work” from March of 2006 will give you an interesting overview of how clueless Senator McCain really is…thank God he’s married to a wizard:

I read my e-mails, but I don’t write any. I’m a Neanderthal, I don’t even type. I do have rudimentary capabilities to call up some websites, like the New York Times online, that sort of stuff. No laptop. No PalmPilot. I prefer my schedule on notecards, which I keep in my jacket pocket. But my wife has enormous capability. Whenever I want something I ask her to do it. She’s just a wizard. She even does my boarding passes, people can do that now. When we go to the movies, she gets the tickets ahead of time. It’s incredible.

Detailed explanations of net neutrality don’t work but humor sure does. Behold Jon Stewart on net neutrality and his references to Senator McCain:


Pew Internet: Twitter & Status Updating

The always insightful and useful Pew Internet reports have become must-reads for anyone who cares to gain knowledge of trends related to the internet, web and its use. In a report released just days ago entitled, “Twitter and Status Updating: Fall 2009” they, once again, deliver much of what we savvy social media participants already know, but do so in a way that even we can gain significant value from by reading it.

From the abstract:

Some 19% of internet users now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves, or to see updates about others. This represents a significant increase over previous surveys in December 2008 and April 2009, when 11% of internet users said they use a status-update service.

Three groups of internet users are mainly responsible for driving the growth of this activity: social network website users, those who connect to the internet via mobile devices, and younger internet users, those under age 44.

In addition, the more devices someone owns, the more likely they are to use Twitter or another service to update their status. Fully 39% of internet users with four or more internet-connected devices (such as a laptop, cell phone, game console, or Kindle) use Twitter, compared to 28% of internet users with three devices, 19% of internet users with two devices, and 10% of internet users with one device.

The median age of a Twitter user is 31, which has remained stable over the past year. The median age for MySpace is now 26, down from 27 in May 2008, and the median age for LinkedIn is now 39, down from 40. Facebook, however, is graying a bit: the median age for this social network site is now 33, up from 26 in May 2008.

It will probably become more difficult to track status updating as an independent activity as social network updates feed into Twitter and vice versa. For now, it is clear that a social segment of internet users is flocking to both social network sites and status update services. This segment is likely to grow as ever more internet users adopt mobile devices as a primary means of going online.”

Go to the site and you can read the entire report online or download a PDF of it.


Trusting Your Own Eyes

Imagine watching President Obama speak on TV and watch him tell us he’s actually a “closet” Republican, was just kidding about universal health care, and has a secret man crush on Glenn Beck. Ludicrous right? Someday…maybe not.

Watch this TED video and realize how close we are to no longer being able to believe what we’re seeing in video. From needing experts to determine whether a video is fake, in the same way we now hire Photoshop experts to examine the pixels in an image to determine if it’s been altered.


Windows 7 Launch on a Macbook Pro on Today Show

Carved out a few minutes this morning so I could watch Steve Ballmer’s live launch of Windows 7 on the Today show. I burst out laughing when I saw him standing in front of a huge HDTV with an image of a laptop on it — and one emblazoned with the Windows 7 logo — BUT THAT LAPTOP WAS A PREVIOUS GENERATION MACBOOK PRO!

While I’ll be picking up a copy of Windows 7 to run in Parallels on my MacPro tower (though just for very occasional use), this is still a very funny tweak of Ballmer by NBC Today show staffers who obviously knew exactly what they were doing.


Wolfram Alpha or Rock Band

The interesting applications for the iPhone keep coming. Available now on the iTunes app store is this $50 app to access Wolfram Alpha as well as an $9.95 entertainment app to play a smartphone version of the wildly popular videogame system-based Rock Band (iTunes link).

I asked my 15 year old son at breakfast today, “Which one would you buy?” I knew the answer before I even asked: Rock Band. After I showed him a few results of searching on Wolfram Alpha — seeking he does all the time to get answers for his homework — he perked up a bit but next he said, “Dad, it’s too early to be talking about this stuff, but there’s no way I’d spend $50 bucks on something that oughta be free.” I let the matter drop.

Still, this brings up a point I’ve been thinking about: Wouldn’t everyone, including kids, want an app that they could carry around that would pop out answers to questions instantly? We’re constantly playing mind games like, “I’m thinking of an animal…” and giving 10 clues before revealing the answer, or trivia-based mind games that challenge each of us (and my son already has an amazing amount of trivia packed in to his brain).

I don’t think Wolfram will sell too many apps outside of higher education, math geeks or maybe financial “quants” on Wall Street, but Wolfram Alpha is a learning curve worthy of climbing vs. becoming highly accomplished at Rock Band. 


A Woman’s Nation? Yes & for a Long, Long Time

(click for larger view)

Watching Meet the Press this morning and Maria Shriver was on to discuss the just-released Center for American ProgressThe Shriver Report” about the changes in the workforce and the amazing changes that have occurred as it has shifted toward a critical mass of women and the earning they’re responsible for today.

NBC is devoting an entire week to “A Woman’s Nation” and this report is certainly going to be on the tips of the tongues of many going forward. 

I married a professional woman who has worked at a high level all of her life so the sorts of things discussed today on Meet the Press — women out-earning men and primary breadwinners; male egos; and the flexibility companies and organizations need to address as these shifts occur — are ones my bride and I have dealt with, and negotiated on, our entire lives and with pretty good success. 

Whether you agree with some of the conclusions in the report or not, the facts are irrefutable and are ones shaping our future regardless of any personal opinions. I predict the next report to hit the national consciousness will be ones outlining the changes in the ethnicity of our nation and the changes here now and coming next.


Apple’s MobileMe Still Having Issues

Don’t get me wrong….I love Apple and the stock I bought at $33 many years ago has been very, very good to me. But for a company all about great user experiences, the MobileMe one is so laughingly bad that I’m stunned they don’t apply more resources to make it great (or at least work).

I’m so infrequent with my use that when I do log on (about 4-5 times per month) I’d guess at least one of those times something is wrong: the site loads slowly; everything loads except for my account settings; or it works like today, nothing comes up including the account settings.

Hopefully spending some of their cash like they’re rumored to be doing with this $1B data center will enable them to do something other than iTunes that’s cloud-centric and do it well.


Why Buy DVDs When They’re Free?

Received an email this morning from Barnes & Noble on their 50% off sale. They had images below this red banner of about a dozen movies in the sale.

As I glanced at the titles, I was struck by how many of them were titles sitting in my “instant watch” queue on Netflix, and I pay them $8.99 per month for the privilege of watching any of them at any time. I happen to have a Mac mini hooked to my HDTV and run Boxee on it. One of the “applications” I’ve chosen inside Boxee is Netflix and thus I can browse all of the movies and add any that are instantly watchable to my queue for later viewing.

The good news? If you have a broadband internet connection (a must-have, of course) you don’t need a little computer to run Netflix online, a $99 Roku box or XBox 360 will work just fine, as will any of these devices. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, in this interview with the Motley Fool in October, said DVDs have “two years left” and then their delivery will be online. A bold statement but one I absolutely believe is true. You can hear the 8:28 interview here.


My 401k Comeback

Up until the Fall of 2008, my bride and I were quite pleased that our hard work and focus on our 401k retirement accounts had paid off. Then came the global economic downturn and we, like too many of our fellow citizens, found our 401k had turned in to a “200.5k” since it was down about 50%!

I’m ashamed to admit I strongly considered panic selling when I watched my Apple (AAPL) holdings — comprising far too much of my portfolio since I’d worked at Apple in the 1990’s and amassed a nice chunk of the (then) relatively cheap stock — had plummeted from $200-ish a share to a low of just over $85 on Christmas Eve. My bride has a strong AAPL position too and I just dug in my heels and absolutely refused to bet on our economy sliding in to another Great Depression and didn’t sell.  

Thank God I didn’t. Not only has it rebounded nicely, Apple has a $210 price target on it. I hold out hope that we can be self-reliant in our old age since it’s unlikely we, at the tail end of the 77 million strong baby boom generation, will enjoy any governmental help in the form of social security and Medicare in a meaningful way (and hopefully our hard work won’t be horribly taxed when we start to cash out our 401k…but I’m betting it will).

(Note: This is an update since my buddy Phil noticed I’d made an error on the graphic).