aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, March 15, 2008
$100 million for rural GA ethanol plant
The promised plant is, relatively speaking, in my neck of the woods.
It’s March Money Madness in clean tech these days.
Range Fuels, which says it can produce cellulosic ethanol out of wood scraps, has raised $100 million to build a 100-million-gallon-a-year plant in Georgia, according to VentureWire, which posted the news first. Investors in the round include Khosla Ventures (a previous investor) and an unnamed energy company.
Earlier, the company received grants from the U.S. Department of Energy worth up to $76 million, as well as other venture funds.
CEO Mitch Mandich, a former Apple guy, told us last year that the plant would cost around $150 million. Unlike Web 2.0 start-ups, energy companies require a lot of capital to get off the ground. The company is trying to get the plant running this year to the point where it can produce 20 million gallons a year.
Range Fuels uses thermochemical processes to convert forestry wastes into ethanol. The alcohol can be mixed into gas, or be turned into E85, which is 85 percent ethanol. There are only a few cars on the road that can run on E85 and only about 1,400 stations in the U.S. that sell it, but both numbers are expected to climb.
Friday, March 14, 2008
The Death of Hardware
Why buy computers when you can rent them from Amazon, EMC or Yahoo? Has Jeff Bezos got a bargain for you.
Like everyone else, the executives at gossipy real estate Web site Zillow have been anxiously watching housing prices collapse. Hoping to spice up its offerings to a discouraged consumer, Zillow recently recalculated the values on 67 million homes over a 12-year period, a database of figures that took up 4 terabytes of memory. The company figured it would need six months and millions of dollars to make it happen. Instead, Zillow ran the job over the Internet, on 500 computer servers rented from Amazon.com. It took only three weeks and cost less than $50,000.
“This is a computer-development playground,” says Spencer Rascoff, chief financial officer of 165-employee Zillow.
The next revolution in high tech is taking place inside the “cloud” of the Internet. Small outfits looking to do lots of computing in a hurry are not buying hardware anymore; they’re renting from established players that already operate vast networks of cheap computers. Time-sharing, a concept from the dawn of the computing age, is back with a vengeance
TELEPORTING: InLine search in Google results
Has anyone seen this before?
Search within search. Pretty cool feature. Anyone know how to add this?
I’ve noticed it but, in my haste, often fail to use it. One of Cory’s commenters points to Google’s explantaion of how it works:
Have you ever forgotten the exact address of a site that you wanted to visit? [SEE ALSO 1/30/07 Google the new http://] Not a problem - just type the name of the site into the Google search box and hopefully it appears at the top of the search results page.
We call this “teleporting”, and we’re pleased that we have been able to minimize the need to remember an alphabet soup of .coms, .nets, and .orgs out of everyone’s lives. However, one of the trends we noticed while studying teleporting was that there were lots of searchers who would type the name of a specific website as if they wanted to teleport, but would then immediately issue another more a refined search within this site. [...]
Through experimentation, we found that presenting users with a search box as part of the result increases their likelihood of finding the exact page they are looking for. So over the past few days we have been testing, and today we have fully rolled out, a search box that appears within some of the search results themselves. This feature will now occur when we detect a high probability that a user wants more refined search results within a specific site. Like the rest of our snippets, the sites that display the site search box are chosen algorithmically based on metrics that measure how useful the search box is to users.
Ues it! It’s a very handy, very quick, very cool search tool!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The future is Web Services, not Web Sites
YouTube announced some new API’s—“This is just a geeky acronym for Awesomely Powerful Interactions, which is what users are now capable of performing from just about anywhere”—that Fred Wilson headlines, You cannot be a destination exclusively on the Internet anymore:
If you are not a open web service, you won’t get nearly as far these days. [...]
Twitter launched with this architecture. And it has worked wonderfully for them. Twitter is everywhere.
So if you are building a new web service today, forget about being a destination. Maybe it will happen and maybe it won’t. Don’t fuss about that. Focus on making your service available everywhere. If you do that, you’ll build a much larger user base.
And Steve Rubel says, The Future is Web Services, Not Web Sites:
The leading players on the web all see the train coming. They are wisely creating APIs and turning themselves into plug-and-play services, not just big destinations. YouTube is just the latest to do so today. Amazon has S3. Google has OpenSocial and an extensive library of APIs. As does Microsoft. Facebook is allowing its applications to live outside the site. Twitter is an API first and (eventually) a business model second. Finally, the booming widget economy shows the promise of small content that can go anywhere.
These are the leaders. But everyone - including marketers - will need to think of their online brands not as sites but as portable services that can go anywhere and everywhere the consumer wants. Without such appendages, no brand will ever be able to break through the online clutter such unlimited choice offers.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Chris Anderson on Charlie Rose
As an aside, I will NOT be renewing my pledge to Georgia Public Broadcasting. The local NPR broadcaster was down for weeks with no notice, GPB carries Bill Moyers on Sunday (not Friday) and cancels it completely more often than not.
They do not carry Charlie Rose at all. When I call or email, they do not respond. It’s well known around these parts that to those “Inside the Perimeter” Georgia doesn’t extend beyond its boundary. I will not be renewing my contribution.
Friday, March 07, 2008
Moving beyond Library 2.0
Yesterday I proposed a presentation for a summer library conference titled Moving Beyond Library 2.0. Here’s what I submitted:
My title, “It’s a wwwwww1234 World: Technology and the Web from 1984 to 2020” is a play on the classic 1963 comedy film ”It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” that opens with a spectacular car crash in the California desert, then zooms through a comedic treasure hunt and ends with a suitcase filled with cash dumped from a swinging fire ladder on an excited crowd of passersby below.
I plan to use a clip from the film as a fun kick-off and comedic intro to the presentation. The film also serves as a metaphor and commentary on our relationship to technology—the pace of change is quick; the influence of money and the market has meant huge economic swings from boom to bust then back again; and all of it has wrought wonderful social changes that were wholly unimaginable only a short time ago.
Or were they?
I pick 1984 as the starting point because it was the title of George Orwell’s iconic novel in which obsolete and wasteful technology is deliberately used in order to perpetuate useless fighting. 1984 is also, of course, the year the Macintosh was introduced. And 1984 is the year the term “Cyberspace” was
coinedpopularized [yipes! Got that wrong...] in the science fiction novel Neuromancer. A line from that novel—“The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.”—has also been taken up as a mantra for the web 2.0 crowd. I end with the year 2020 because a recent report, Semantic Wave 2008: Industry Roadmap to Web 3.0 and Multibillion Dollar Market Opportunities, ends with that year.
The report actually takes us all the way through to Web 4.0, so I use it to walk us through Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4, and also to look at Cloud Computing, Utility Computing and wrap up with a look at Chris Anderson’s forthcoming book [Free] (outlined in the much discussed March Cover Story of Wired Magazine), Free! Why $0.00 is the Future of Business, in which he argues that the Google model—the gift economy, low-cost digital distribution made possible by abundant bandwidth—will revolutionize business.
My conclusion is that in reality what we nearly always get is more of the same, just a little bit different ("new paradigms don’t eclipse old, they just spawn new business models").
I did a variation on that theme for faculty a couple weeks ago and it was a hit but I rushed through it in 11 minutes (it was supposed to be 7) so I decided I should give it its due and extend it to a full presentation.
I should say that I suffer from terrible stage fright. My presentations are often well received, despite my inability to relax and enjoy them. We’ll see if the proposal is accepted.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
People Power: the good, the bad & the ugly over a puppy
A Monroe Marine’s sister said her family is “living in a nightmare” as news spreads around the world linking the man to a video of what appears to be a U.S. Marine throwing a puppy off a desert cliff.
Death threats and graphic descriptions of physical violence continue to be directed at the Marine and his extended family as their personal information is being spread on the Internet. [...]
“They are getting angry about this puppy and the loss of this puppy, if this is real,” the sister said in an interview with KIRO (710-AM) radio talk-show host Dori Monson. “On the same hand, they are also threatening human beings’ lives. They are putting this puppy’s life above human beings.” [...]
“What it says for them is when they are so passionate about a single dog’s life, yet they are willing to—they say they are—willing to kill the entire family over something like this,” the sister of the Marine from Monroe told KIRO. Her brother has served his country in Afghanistan and Iraq and “none of them take that into account,” she said. “They just want to jump on him and immediately call him a mental maniac.”
To the best of my knowledge (and the story reports that) it has yet to be determined whether or not the video footage is real.
RELATED: On The Media talked with Clay Shirky about his new book, Here Comes Everybody, which depicts the activist audience in this new online world, driven by networks that grow and act in never-before-seen ways.
Monday, March 03, 2008
The economics of “Free”
If you have yet to read Chris Anderson’s cover story in the March issue of Wired Magazine, now is as good a time as any. Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business:
Once a marketing gimmick, free has emerged as a full-fledged economy. Offering free music proved successful for Radiohead, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, and a swarm of other bands on MySpace that grasped the audience-building merits of zero. The fastest-growing parts of the gaming industry are ad-supported casual games online and free-to-try massively multiplayer online games. Virtually everything Google does is free to consumers, from Gmail to Picasa to GOOG-411.
The rise of “freeconomics” is being driven by the underlying technologies that power the Web. Just as Moore’s law dictates that a unit of processing power halves in price every 18 months, the price of bandwidth and storage is dropping even faster. Which is to say, the trend lines that determine the cost of doing business online all point the same way: to zero.
Nine Inch Nails net distribution
Nine Inch Nails founder Trent Reznor has become the latest recording artist to bypass the traditional music distribution machine by releasing a 36-track album over the internet.
The album, titled Ghosts I-IV, is available on the band’s official website for prices that range from free to $300 depending on the package. Reznor is giving away the first nine cuts, as 320 kbps MP3 files, along with a 40-page PDF book that covers the entire album. For $5, fans can get the remaining 27 songs and have the option of getting the files in lossless formats including FLAC.
Less than 24 hours after the album became available, the band’s website had slowed to a crawl. At time of writing, attempts to download the free package were greeted with an error message indicating the URL was not available. A download of the $5 offering initiated, but at a speed of just 10 kbps, we weren’t optimistic we’d be hearing the new tunes anytime soon. (Administrators are racing to add more servers “to accommodate the unexpected demand,” according to a note on the site.)
Even still, you’ve got to admire Reznor for trying to figure out a viable way to stick it to the man. Unlike the much-ballyhooed online release a few months ago of the most recent Radiohead ablum, the Nine Inch Nails experiment is a lot easier to take seriously. That’s because Reznor has made album available in both lossless and high-bit rate formats. Radiohead’s In Rainbows, by contrast, came as only a 160 kbps MP3, which hardly seemed worth the time it took to download it.
Oh, and the album in no longer available as an online download. Radiohead singer Thom Yorke later dismissed a net-only album paradigm, saying people want to buy a tangible object rather than a download. Makes you wonder why Britain’s favorite navel gazers bothered in the first place.
Additional packages of the new Nine Inch Nails album that include audio CDs, CDs and DVDs an autographed “ultra-delux” limited edition set that also comes with vinyl LPs are are priced at $10, $75 and $300 respectively. And just in case this net distribution thing doesn’t take off, Ghosts I-IV is also available as a regular CD in retail stores.
Gosh, I’m not sure if The Register’s got the best or least biased sources. I’m more of a lecture listener myself, but back in the day…
If you’d like to give it a go, Read/Write Web (which has a decidedly more positive take on the story) notes that NIN uploaded the free package to BitTorrent sites:
“Now that we’re no longer constrained by a record label, we’ve decided to personally upload Ghosts I, the first of the four volumes, to various torrent sites, because we believe BitTorrent is a revolutionary digital distribution method, and we believe in finding ways to utilize new technologies instead of fighting them,” wrote the band in a text file distributed with the BitTorrent release.
RWW suggests you grab it here. You’ll avoid those pesky error messages.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
IT has much to learn from libraries
I worry about IT in our state. And the state of IT. Late last year the governor said our computer infrastructure isn’t working. And so his plan is to hand Georgia’s information technology over to the private sector.
He’s right, of course, that it isn’t working. And I agree that the private sector is the place to be these days. But then, there’s the “private sector”—stodgy staid status quo incumbent telcos and cable cos—and there’s the private sector—lithe hip cool innovators Google, Amazon, and eBay who reside on the other side of the Net Neutrality divide.
What worries me is that the “IT mindset” is rooted in that old incumbent telco/cableco way of looking at the world, when what I think it should be—what I’d like it to be—is the hip-cool-innovator Google, Amazon, and eBay mindset.
What’s more, I’d say let’s chuck the whole notion of “IT.”
Information is overrated. It’s a hyped buzzword. We live in an age of information promiscuity. All too often a colleague will dump an unfiltered email string on me, or a ton of unread documents, and call it “background material.”
Without proper filtering and processing and synthesis and context, information is not knowledge. It is useless! Worse, it is counterproductive.
The “T” is no longer so pristine either. When this week I asked a group of students if they were “good with technology,” all agreed emphatically that they were not, even as each professed high usage of cellphones, web cameras, facebook, and a myriad of other technologies unimagined when I was their age.
So I say chuck it! Chuck IT! The term, that is, not the technology.
The term to keep, the tradition to protect, is found in the library. The library has a tradition, the librarian has a practice, of privileging the individual patron, of protecting that individual patron’s relationship to the knowledge being sought. The librarians’ profession has successfully codified and established the means, methods and sometimes even the laws to protect our privacy and our rights to access that knowledge.
Apparently I’m bucking a trend here:
Library science graduates are finding jobs with software companies, biotech and law firms, even the military and CIA, said Ron Pollock, career services director at University of Texas’ School of Information.
In 2003, the faculty renamed the graduate school, dropping the word “library” from the name. The new moniker reflects the fact that library science has grown into information science and that librarians do not always work in libraries, Pollock said.
I have never been a librarian, but I have spent my life in libraries. I have the utmost respect and admiration for librarians.
Today, I work as a Technology Specialist in an academic library. I know, intimately, the IT world. We have much to learn from the libraries. My sense is, we don’t know what we’re missing.
We’d better start learning.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Google expands Project Homeless phone numbers
I love GrandCentral!
Google is partnering with homeless shelters in San Francisco to distribute free phone numbers and voicemail accounts to those without homes, the company said Wednesday.
The Internet giant is expanding a service that was started by Grand Central, a San Francisco-based start-up that Google acquired last year. Grand Central’s technology allows calls to be routed to a home, business, or cell phone using a single phone number. The service offers people a way to organize and unify their communications, a Google spokesman said.
Grand Central had already been offering the free phone number and voicemail service to people in San Francisco through Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Project Homeless Connect, which brings together nonprofit organizations and other social-service providers in one location to provide on-the-spot services for homeless. The services include medical, mental health, substance abuse, housing, dental, and legal services, plus free eyeglasses, California ID, food, clothing, and wheelchair repair.
Since the acquisition of Grand Central last year, Google has been participating in periodic Project Homeless Connect events in which it has been providing the homeless with free phone numbers and voicemail accounts that they can access from any phone. More than 4,000 phone numbers and voicemail accounts have been distributed this way, Craig Walker, a senior product manager of voice products for Google, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
On cellphones in schools
Around here yesteday there was lots’o’buzz about Abilene Christian University giving out iPhones/iPod Touches to all incoming freshmen.
May I be among the first to chime in and agree with virtually all the commenters on this promotional video that the “initiative” reeks of corporate welfare gussied up as as education.
Such thin gruel—“I can check my email, I can watch YouTube...Internet on my phone, I’m pumped!” says one student. “I already downloaded the new Wilco album,” says another—does a disservice to those real initiatives that are out there trying to effectively use technology as a means to motivate and enable learning.
As it happens, on the very same day up in New York City Dr. Roland G. Fryer, the Harvard economist who is working as chief equality officer for the Education Department, was launching the “Million” Motivation Campaign, an experimental program distributing cellphones to about 2,500 students in seven middle schools there.
Privately funded, the point is to motivate and reward students; they get the phone, called the “Million,” with opportunities to earn minutes and other rewards if they achieve academic goals set by their principals.
Giving Apple iPhones to middle class kids in Texas vs. generic anyphones to disadvantaged kids in NYC. Which side do I come down on? Well, the NYC phones are Samsung phones. So generic anyphones remain a Tim Wu Freedom Fighter future we should all work toward. Still, handing out phones not tied to specific educational goals reeks of corporate welfare and makes no educational sense to me. At least in New York the phone is a motivational device tied to ongoing rewards!
There’s been plenty of criticism of the New York program (not least that cellphones are banned in schools) but most of it echoes the same old argument around whether or not paying for grades really works.
It could be my liberal bias showing but I’m seeing some hidden bias myself: giving iPods to kids in Abilene Christian—GOOD! Giving cellphones to poor kids in NYC schools tied to motivational goals, BAD! I say Bloomberg should give Klein and Fryer all the support they need to see if their idea can work. As for Abilene Christian, it looks too much like Apple hype.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Online movement for autistics’ rights
Wired’s got a long feature on Amanda Baggs, a woman with autism who doesn’t speak, but who uses video and online forums and MMOs to make an eloquent case for autism as a different—but valid—style of cognition, and argues for the rights of people with autism to be recognized on their own terms. The article looks into the long-held belief that autism and retardation are tied together and concludes that this just isn’t true—rather, that people with autism have been incorrectly classed as retarded for generations.
Baggs is part of an increasingly visible and highly networked community of autistics. Over the past decade, this group has benefited enormously from the Internet as well as innovations like type-to-speech software. Baggs may never have considered herself trapped in her own world, but thanks to technology, she can communicate with the same speed and specificity as someone using spoken language.
Autistics like Baggs are now leading a nascent civil rights movement. “I remember in ‘99,” she says, “seeing a number of gay pride Web sites. I envied how many there were and wished there was something like that for autism. Now there is.” The message: We’re here. We’re weird. Get used to it.
This movement is being fueled by a small but growing cadre of neuropsychological researchers who are taking a fresh look at the nature of autism itself. The condition, they say, shouldn’t be thought of as a disease to be eradicated. It may be that the autistic brain is not defective but simply different - an example of the variety of human development. These researchers assert that the focus on finding a cure for autism - the disease model - has kept science from asking fundamental questions about how autistic brains function.
I, of course, love that she was inspired by gay pride web sites.
The Economics of Free
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The MacBook Refresh
So if I do stick with the Mac (yeah, we know I will) it knocks my price tag down a tad.
Aw snap. It finally, really happened… kind of. Apple has just dropped a nasty refresh on its MacBook and MacBook Pro lines, knocking the processor speeds up, and giving the Pros that tasty multi-touch the MacBook Air has been sporting. Still, they couldn’t break off an even slightly new form-factor for us? Both lines are sporting Intel’s downsized new Penryn chips, which should make your lap and / or battery quite happy. Right now we’re seeing updates to the GPU memory, an LED backlight (option!) for 17-inchers, as well as LEDs on all the rest of the Pros (sorry again MacBookers). New specs on the MBPs include a CPU boost to a base speed of 2.4GHz all the way up to 2.6GHz, that suspiciously new 3MB or 6MB L2 cache on the CPUs, added RAM to the graphics cards (up to 512MB for the higher-end 15-inch, and all 17-inch models), and of course the new trackpad. On the MacBook front, things look even more familiar, with only minor bumps to speed (2.1GHz up to 2.4GHz) and CPUs. Both new lines get hard drive increases, with the MBPs rocking 200GB or 250GB options, while the MBs range from 120GB all the way up to 250GB. Ports, weight, and size all appear to be just the same for both lines, undoubtedly to the chagrin of many readers, and Apple is skimping on the Apple Remote across the line; it’s now a $19 add-on.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
“Solving” Global Climate Change
I’m reading Big Foot in The New Yorker. I’ll comment later. In the meantime, it reminded me I wanted to post this provocative Ted Talk from environmental scientist David Keith titled A Surprising Idea for “Solving” Global Climate Change…
Friday, February 22, 2008
Ray Kurzweil: Daydream Believer
Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil gave the keynote address at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. In it he apparently touched on pretty much everything. Except games. A sampling from CNet:
Kurzweil explained how previously unrelated fields will essentially become information technology fields. For instance, in the field of medicine, an artificial red blood cell called a respirocyte could eventually duplicate the work of the real thing, but with 1,000 times the efficiency.
“Biology is very capable and intricate and clever,” Kurzweil said, “but it’s also very suboptimal, compared to what we ultimately can build with information technology and nanotechnology...If you were to replace a portion of your blood with these respirocytes, you could do an Olympic sprint for 15 minutes without taking a breath or sit at the bottom of your pool for four hours.”
Kurzweil also believes that nanotechnology will solve the world’s energy crisis within two decades. Solar panels are hard to manufacture, heavy, inefficient, and expensive, but Kurzweil said the advent of nanoengineered solar panels will change that.
Within five years, he believes that those high-tech solar panels will become less expensive per watt of energy produced than oil, taking away the financial incentive for people to burn through nonrenewable natural resources. Within 20 years, they will have largely replaced fossil fuels as the primary source of the world’s energy.
In a more general view, Kurzweil noted that the average life expectancy was growing at the rate of roughly three months a year. Now that information technology is affecting medicine, Kurzweil projected that in 15 years, the life expectancy of people will start expanding at the rate of more than a year for every year that passes, essentially not only delaying death, but actually pushing it further away with each passing day.
“We didn’t stay on the ground,” Kurzweil said. “We didn’t stay on the planet. And we have not stayed within the limitations of our biology.”
Here’s Wired’s coverage. I’m guess it will be podcast one day. I’ll be watching for it.
X300 “will be perfect for many” users
So says Walt Mossberg. I am late today because I’ve been waiting for all the crashes with my Mac. (See my earlier Mac complaints with that earlier X300 post.) A Mac pal tells me she rebuilds her Mac every 6 months. I tell you, I’m planning to spend $4,000 bucks (that’s with an education discount!) on my next one.
What am I, crazy???
I am seriously thinking I’ve got to stop sipping from the Apple Kool Aid.
A few words from Walt:
I can recommend the X300 for road warriors without hesitation, provided they can live with its two biggest downsides: a relatively paltry file-storage capacity and a hefty price tag. This ThinkPad starts at $2,476 for a stripped-down model and at $2,799 for a preconfigured retail version with a half-size battery. The configuration I expect to be the most popular, with a full-size battery and DVD drive, is about $3,000.
The key factor in both of these downsides is the solid-state drive, or SSD, which replaces the hard disk. The SSD is fast and rugged, but today it can hold only a cramped 64 gigabytes of files and is very costly. Apple offers a MacBook Air version with the same solid-state drive for a similar high price. But Apple also has a much more affordable $1,799 model with an 80-gigabyte standard hard disk. Lenovo doesn’t.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Geek Chic Girls
The NYTimes looks at the December Pew study finding that girls lead boys significantly in content creation online across all categories except video (boys are almost twice as likely as girls to post video files). Still, the imbalance among adults in the computer industry remains:
Women hold about 27 percent of jobs in computer and mathematical occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In American high schools, girls comprised fewer than 15 percent of students who took the AP computer science exam in 2006, and there was a 70 percent decline in the number of incoming undergraduate women choosing to major in computer science from 2000 to 2005, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology.
Scholars who study computer science say there are several reasons for the dearth of women: introductory courses are often uninspiring; it is difficult to shake existing stereotypes about men excelling in the sciences; and there are few female role models. It is possible that the girls who produce glitters today will develop an interest in the rigorous science behind computing, but some scholars are reluctant to draw that conclusion.
“We can hope that this translates, but so far the gap has remained,” said Jane Margolis, an author of “Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing” (MIT Press, 2002). While pleased that girls are mastering programs like Paint Shop Pro, Ms. Margolis emphasized the profound distinction between using existing software and a desire to invent new technology.
Here’s the Pew report.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Midwest Teen Sex Show: Porn
Among my responsibilities, I oversee a linux lab in an experimental high school. We use Dan’s Guardian and while discussing it with a high school teacher last week I wondered whether the pervasiveness of porn on the Internet means that today’s kids simply pass through a porn phase, then go on with their lives.
Sure, some get stuck and we should identify and help them but it’s the adult males—those who never got to go through that phase (sort of akin to the 40 year-old gay man who comes out of the closet late and does all kinds of embarrassing things)—who have the real problem.
I guess we’ll never know.
Anyway, here’s a fun Midwest Teen Sex Show episode on Porn:
Saturday, February 16, 2008
The perfet laptop. (Hint: It’s not from Apple)
Apple builds a slick machine and I love my MacBook Pro but I’m telling you it is overrated and overpriced. Mine cost $3,000 and the one on my buy list comes in at $4,000 but every single day Safari crashes many, many, many times (in the crash reports I dutifully send to Apple I write, “Safari sucks!!!!").
To those of you who suggest I use Firefox instead my answer is, I do. And it crashes too. (I don’t send the same missive in the Firefox crash reports.)
Everything in the Adobe Design Premium package crashes.
Preview will not save changes to pdf documents.
I could go on. And on. And on. I’ll spare you.
The students tell me I’m a power user. I’m not. I’m a heavy user and my machine should be able to stand up to that.
I like my Mac and am scheduled to buy another. They’re masterful marketers at Apple and I’m subject to it. That’s the world I live in. But I am no fan of many Apple practices and my world may change.
Lenovo is the Chinese company that bought IBM’s PC business. BusinessWeek reports on their effort to build the perfect laptop:
“Phyllis! Get me one of those interoffice mail envelopes!”
It was just after lunchtime on Jan. 15, and Peter Hortensius was storming through the cubicles at Lenovo Group’s offices in Morrisville, N.C., shouting for his secretary. Hortensius, senior vice-president in charge of laptops, had just heard that Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs had unveiled the supersvelte, aluminum-clad MacBook Air by declaring it the “world’s thinnest notebook” and dramatically pulling it out of an interoffice envelope. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X300 notebook was due out in February, after a year and a half in development, and Hortensius was alarmed that it could be upstaged before it even made its debut.
His secretary, Phyllis Arrington-McGee, ransacked filing cabinets until she found one of the envelopes. She handed it to Hortensius, who gingerly slipped the X300 inside. “It fits! It fits!” he shouted.
Perhaps no one was more relieved than David Hill, Lenovo’s chief designer, who stopped by Hortensius’ office right after the envelope experiment. It had been his idea to create the superthin X300, which was originally code-named Kodachi. Hill shared a laugh about the test with Hortensius and later couldn’t resist a poke at Jobs’ latest creation. “I’m a bit tired of looking at silver computers,” said Hill. “I’d never wear a silver business suit.”
The X300 will be officially unveiled on February 26. It is a full-featured, high-end, ultra-thin laptop I’m unlikely to buy (but I may suggest it for my boss). Their goal is a “halo” product to positively reinforce the corporate brand. Walt Mossberg’s got a sneak peak:
[U]nlike the Apple, Lenovo’s new skinny ThinkPad comes with a hefty complement of ports and features, some of the very things critics complained Apple left out. It has a built-in DVD drive, removable battery, three USB ports, and a wired Ethernet networking jack. Inside, in addition to Wi-Fi, it can be ordered with a built-in cellphone modem and even GPS. It comes with either Windows Vista or Windows XP.
Sporting the traditional ThinkPad black slab design, the X300 isn’t as skinny or sexy as the Apple, but it’s still very slender and attractive, at under an inch thick. Also, unlike the Apple, most of the ThinkPad’s configurations are a bit heavier than the 3-pound weight that traditionally denotes a subnotebook. But it still feels very light to carry around, at 3.12 pounds with the standard battery and DVD drive.
The biggest downsides to the new ThinkPad X300 are price and limited storage capacity. Unlike the Apple, which can be ordered with a higher-capacity, lower-priced hard disk, the new ThinkPad will only be available with the expensive, limited capacity solid-state drive. So it will start at between $2,500 and $2,800â€“up to $1,000 more than the Apple’s base priceâ€“and will be limited to a paltry 64 gigabytes of storage.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
[First, a news flash! My book will be previewed as the cover story in Wired this month. Out in about ten days. Link then. I think you’ll like it ]
- Kevin Kelly has been on tear of great writing/thinking about free, including this delightful rhapsody on eight new scarcities created by free (remember: every abundance creates a new scarcity), and this, on how technology “wants to be free”.
- Another great thinker/writer about free is Techdirt’s Mike Masnick. If you haven’t subscribed to his feed, you should. Start here.
- Tim O’Reilly’s TOC conference, now underway, has spurred the book industry to announce some modest experiments in free, such as limited versions of free online books and selling books by the chapter. Harper Collins is taking the lead, including free books by Paulo Coelho and Neil Gaiman. The idea is that these are “samplers” that will drive sales of older books. This is all good, but it’s just a start...
- Q: Does Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo stem from the company’s fear that Office is competing with free? (A: No. But I appreciate the suggestion that free productivity software in now a mainstream idea anyway...)
- Whoops! Glenn Fleishman reminds me that the biggest free news of the day is actually Starbucks switching to free WiFi for people who use the Starbucks cards. [My excuse for the miss: I’m an Verizon Evdo junkie, even though it’s anything but free, and I don’t use WiFi in public spaces anymore]
SEE ALSO: Computing in the Cloud.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Not yet. But soon. In the meantime, these plugins make your phone Facebook aware:
CityWare, was launched last summer. If you get close enough to another person who is also running the plugin on their phone, you are provided with a link to their profile the next time you login to Facebook. It was developed as part of a research project also called CityWare, partly funded by HP, Nokia and Vodafone.
Kostakos is working on more plugins, one of which really brings social networking and phones together.
Called Little Bird, it gets your phone to update you with information from your friends’ profiles whenever you meet them. “When you walk into a room, a message on your phone tells you what events your friends in the room are attending in the near future,” explains Kostakos.
Via Andrew Sullivan, “Online cruising just took a quantum leap forward.”
Obama the Google president
On 60 Minutes last night, Obama likened himself to Google:
“I mean, one of the problems that you have, still, is the question of experience. And you’ve done a lot of remarkable things in your life. But when you sit down and you look at the rÃ©sumÃ© - there’s no executive experience. And, in fact, correct if I’m wrong, the only thing that you’ve actually run was the Harvard Law Review,” Kroft pointed out.
“Well, I’ve run my Senate office. And I’ve run this campaign,” the senator replied. “One of the interesting things about this experience argument is that it’s often posed as just a function of longevity. You know, ‘I’ve been here longer.’ Well, you know there are a lot of companies that have been around longer than Googleâ€¦but Google’s performing.”
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Don’t just share information, collect it
We’re really excited to bring you forms! Create a form in a Google Docs spreadsheet and send it out to anyone with an email address. They won’t need to sign in, and they can respond directly from the email message or from an automatically generated web page. Creating the form is easy: start with a spreadsheet to get the form, or start by creating the form and you’ll get the spreadsheet automatically.
Responses are automatically added to your spreadsheet. You can even keep a closer eye on them by adding the Google Docs forms gadget to your iGoogle homepage, created by software engineers Valerie Blechar and Sarah Beth Eisinger (in her first month at Google!). It lists your recent active forms, with new responses highlighted…
At Google, we’ve already been using it for signups, surveys, and miscellaneous mischief. And we can’t wait to see what you do with forms in Google Docs.