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Steve Wozniak on Color Computing

When Apple released the Apple II at the West Coast Computer Faire in 1977, it was a big deal with its color display. Since I love poking around FORA.tv and watching the thought leader videos curated there, I was pleased to see this snippet of a Steve Wozniak (Woz) interview (you can watch the entire hour+ program here) about the spark of genius. The cool thing? As you listen and watch Woz describe how he came up with the idea to deliver color computing for a radically reduced price, it is the quintessential description of problem solving and creative solutions to problems.

This was recorded at the Bay Area Discovery Museum on February 1, 2010 and they describe it this way:

Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder and philanthropist in conversation at the Discovery Forum 2010 with Emmy-award winning journalist Dana King from CBS 5 Eyewitness News.

Renowned technology pioneer Steve Wozniak speaks to the importance of hands-on learning and encouraging creativity, and how the Bay Area Discovery Museum is a critical resource for preparing children for the challenges of the 21st century.

The Discovery Forum serves to increase awareness about the importance of childhood creativity, and raises support for the Museum’s educational exhibitions and programs.

Watch this couple of minute segment (yes, there are ads first) and you’ll see what I mean about creative problem solving:

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Apple A4 Chip is the “Magic” & is “Revolutionary”

Couldn’t agree more with Jay Yarow at Silicon Alley Insider that The Real iPad Revolution is the A4 Chip That’s Running It. That is where the “magic” is and will set Apple apart for a very, very long time.

Many people seemed to wonder about Apple’s 2008 acquisition of PASemi, a small chip designer for $278M. Ever since I devoured former Apple CEO, John Sculley’s book “Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple : A Journey of Adventure, Ideas, and the Future“, where Sculley outlined the future of computers (in 1987, I might add) where chip designers would shrink functionality on to custom chips cranked out by fabrication plants for those designers, I’ve been a believer in this concept and wondered what has taken so long for a company to jump on this and do it.

Though it’s highly unlikely that Jobs would even acknowledge this vision from the guy that got him ousted from Apple and took the helm to the company’s detriment, it’s nice to see Apple driving forward on this concept that will give it competitive advantage no other company will be able to match.

Watching the keynote video I can only imagine what an A4, or its derivative, will mean for the nextgen iPhone certain to ship this summer!

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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.

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Mogulus: Yep…It’s Still a Beta Product

This is a cautionary tale about a jaw droppingly fabulous technology that simultaneously was quite a frustrating and shaky experience as a producer with what turned out to be just over 94% uptime today. This story also illustrates how inventive and innovative technologies are really pushing the envelope with cloud computing.

Over the last several weeks, I invested days in due diligence on video streaming eventually signing up with Mogulus, “…the most powerful live broadcast platform on the internet.” While I don’t doubt they’ll achieve that vision someday, the tiny gray label in their logo that says “Beta” means that they’re actually, “…the most powerful live broadcast platform on the internet in beta.

Any non-online software company will flat out tell you NOT to use beta software “in production”. Of course, Google’s permanent affixing of the word “beta” under Gmail means that beta has become a convenient excuse when something goes wrong and, frankly, makes you and I as users partly to blame (which reminds me of that line in the movie Animal House when, after destroying the car belonging to the brother of Flounder, one of the fraternity pledges, Otter tells him, “Hey! You fucked up…you trusted us!”

I spent all day today running an online channel filled with several dozen videos, organized into storyboards, for a 24 hour internet broadcast channel for a client. Luckily, the 28 minutes during the live, streaming conference event for my client worked flawlessly, but at least five other times during the day the streaming channel simply went black (though the ticker at the bottom of the screen worked but no video played) and four other times there was stuttering or videos repeating parts of themselves.

Frantic calls from other team members ensued, I emailed support and it corrected itself in minutes (varying from 5-8 minutes) so the email replies were always, “Ahh…I looked at it and it looks fine.”  Each time this happened (or the several times the video stuttered or replayed short snippets of a video 2 or 3 times), we lost viewers which was the real irritant.

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TV = Brain Off / Computer = Brain On

In 2004 Steve Jobs famously said about TV vs. computers, “We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off, and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on.” It was one of those statements that seemed like a throwaway (and one most of us did the old head bobbing up-n-down about), but it’s become more and more true since then.

My wife and I often take our laptops upstairs and lie in bed finishing up the days emails, exploring, and increasingly watching “TV”. In fact, my brain gets SO turned on that I find it hard to go to sleep…so I’ve actually stopped doing that in order to relax, quiet down and nod off (and older relatives have cautioned on how “you’re going to ruin your marriage” by playing with our laptops at night vs. with each other).

When I first saw the delightful Alec Baldwin Hulu ad on the Super Bowl — with its clear and humorous reference on how TV watching turned your brain into a gelatinous mush they could scoop out and eat (since they’re aliens, after all) — the brilliance of the campaign took my breath away.

It did so because of the NBC team’s recognition that most of us in the always-on, always-connected participation culture — increasingly turning our attention away from all traditional mediums like TV, radio, newspapers and magazines — view television watching as the mind numbing, brain mushing pursuit it is, but still one we turn to when we choose to be entertained passively.

The team obviously recognized that doing a fun advertisement to get our attention, directly addressing this obvious fact within it and, of course, delivering a service that meets our needs whether we’re watching an actual television set or have our brains turned on with our computing devices, they nailed it.

Jobs nailed it too over four years ago with that statement. He didn’t say anything about turning your brain on to perform tasks, but rather computers as an extension, a stimulator of our brains.

As we all move away from purely linear, serial tasks and processes toward a world where we drink in information, news, entertainment while connecting with others in a parallel and associative way, I’m eager to live in this time of awakening where more and more of us are living in a perpetual state of having our brains turned on.

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Fall of 1983: Steve Jobs Introduces Macintosh to Us

Anya Major, the “woman with hammer” in Apple’s famous 1984 commercial launching the Macintosh

I saw Steve Jobs introduce the Mac to company sales personnel in Hawaii in 1983, the essence he’s brought to Apple is the subtlety and nuance of an approach to design and of quality to Apple, PIXAR and undoubtedly to his family and friends, and is a legacy that will endure forever.

The Mac, OS X, the tools, and everything else he has wrought have empowered people like me to create businesses (our core company publication is 21 years old thanks to my Mac SE/Laserwriter and Pagemaker) and continue to be able to deliver high value content and communications.

Bill Gates (Microsoft); Mitch Kapor (Lotus 1-2-3); Fred Gibbons (Software Publishing)

In honor of Steve Job’s letter today (explaining why he won’t be at Macworld) and in honor of tomorrow’s Macworld keynote by Phil Schiller, I bring you two videos from Steve’s intro of the Macintosh to the company in October November of 1983….and I was there!

This man’s vision has brought us so much and, I suspect, will bring us much more, starting tomorrow morning.
 

 
This was the faux “Dating Game” with Fred Gibbons, Mitch Kapor and Bill Gates. Many don’t remember Fred, CEO of Software Publishing, but the other two were an important duo supporting this new computer.

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Is Apple’s App Store Top Secret?

There’s been plenty of talk about Apple’s decision to restrict certain applications from the iPhone App Store. We even talked about it today on our Minnov8 Gang podcast (one of our team is head of marketing for DoApp, the startup iPhone app developer in Minnesota).

While I’ve observed some of the commentary about previous apps that were rejected after the developer had done the work and submitted the app for review (like this “Pull my Finger” fart one), I was somewhat agitated — but then very agitated — when an app I wanted was rejected (even though I still was able to buy NetShare and download it before it was removed…probably permanently).

Then at the end of the week, I had a jaw-dropping surprise over the rejection of an iPhone application from the app store called Podcaster (You can see a video of Podcaster, and/or order the application, here).

Now I fear that Apple is making moves which will give pause to the ecosystem and either ensure that the killer app is on Google’s Android vs. the iPhone, or at the very least slow development of applications as the developer ecosystem waits to see if the control-freak Apple attitude toward the iPhone persists.

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Are we in the midst of the internet revolution?

As a lay student of history, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it must’ve been like as the world shifted from an agrarian, farm-based economy — with most people living on farms — to a mechanized, industrial one in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s when people migrated to cities and to jobs in factories and offices.

According to Wikipedia, “The industrial revolution brought about various shifts in agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation, which had a profound effect on the socioeconomic and cultural conditions in Britain. The changes subsequently spread throughout Europe and North America and eventually the world, a process that continues today as industrialisation.

The onset of the Industrial Revolution marked a major turning point in human society; almost every aspect of daily life was eventually influenced in some way.

Think about the pain and angst people felt as their kids left home for the city, children labored in factories, wages were low and conditions horrendous, and how much time it took for some sort of equilibrium to occur. It took many decades.

I would argue that we’re right in the midst of an internet and cleantech revolution that’s just begun and is influencing almost every aspect of daily life right now. As Bruce Sterling so famously said, “The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.

The internet, and my business, personal and learning use of it, has fundamentally changed my life and those around me. The same could be said for many others I know. Of course, then there are those in my life that don’t even have computers, or use their mobile phones for voice only. It will take years (decades?) for the future internet to get evenly distributed, though I predict it’s going to happen far faster than anything that’s come before.

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Minnov8: Showcasing Minnesota Innovation in Internet & Web Technology

If you’re out in the Bay area or on the other coast in New York or Boston, it’s pretty easy to be smug about your culture of risk-taking, pool of top talent, and strings of successful, world-changing innovations. But as the world continues its acceleration to one that’s increasingly connected and ways of collaborating make distance irrelevant, smart people will pop up everywhere and I’m convinced we’ll see a flattening of the geographic advantages these pockets of innovation represent.

Six of us were bugged that there was so much going on in Internet and Web technology innovation right here in Minnesota, that when I suggested we start our own blog to showcase that innovation, there were nods of agreement and a willingness to dive in and make it real.

The biggest reason we were all interested in this blog is that these showcases and interviews are what we wanted to read and there wasn’t anything like it out there.

The result is Minnov8: Minnesota Innovation in Internet & Web Technology. This past weekend was the biggest Barcamp yet, Minnebar, and over 400 people showed up to present, learn and participate. Rather than recreate everything on this blog, why not take a peek at Minnov8? This and this post are ones that will recap what took place.

Wherever you live and whatever space you care about (e.g., technology, education, greentech, etc.) and where there are a critical mass of people willing to leap in and work together as multiple authors, I’d encourage you to start one of these…it’s pretty simple to do and fun to boot.

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Apple: Wrong or Right?

Over the past few years, I’ve been in numerous discussions about how social media (and blogging in specific) is driving a new level of transparency in marketing, public relations and corporate communications, while also providing unprecedented opportunity for thought leaders to carve out a niche in new and powerful ways.

In my consulting engagements when talk comes around to discussing crowdsourcing and ways to spark creativity and innovation through social media means, Apple often is brought up as an example of how to innovate: “We’ve got to create an iPod” is often brought up as a successful innovation.

Often this occurs without much talk of how Apple really succeeded with it by focusing on the entire value chain. Nailing the value chain was the secret sauce in delivering a three-tiered value chain offering by tying that iPod to a desktop application (iTunes) so people could rip their CD’s and manage their music, alongside that same application (iTunes) acting as a Web hosted application (iTunes connected to an iTunes Store). Then they offered this whole package up to an industry on its knees as its product (music) was being stolen out from underneath them.

But then I’m quizzed by clients. “Hey, wait just a dang minute Borsch. You’re promoting and pushing us to be transparent and let employees blog when a company you laud, worked for and own stock in is polar opposite?” Apple is a different beast that needed to be opaque since they were close to being out of business in the 1990’s, but the problem is they haven’t changed direction about their lack of transparency now that they’re a resounding success.

I’ve been troubled by that paradox until just now.

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