Archive for category Technology

Endlessly Re-Booting Laptop

Endlessly Rebootiing
Laptop Can’t Find Starting Point
Life and Work on Hold

That was Friday’s high tech haiku. New disk installed Saturday and I have been recovering data from backups and re-installing applications from CD-ROM (here’s a tip, always get the CD backup for an application, that saves you from having to buy it again).

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The man of the hour has an air of great power

I wrote this last May in draft form and have finally gotten around to finishing it. How quickly the conventional wisdom changes, now everyone knows we are in a recession. Of course you should “raise as much money as you can, enough to last you for a few years until the recession is over” is also part of the conventional wisdom. As my Uncle John would have observed: it’s generally accepted, so generally accepted it may not be true at all.”

May 9, 2007: Report from Silicon Valley

So we are starting to pump a little hot air back into the bubble every week now. The streets of Silicon Valley witness young entrepreneurs looking for department store Santas venture capitalists to listen to their list of needs and make their dreams come true. It’s “not as nuts as 99” but not as sane, or dour, as 2003. Roger Macnamee blogged for the better part of 2004 on “The New Normal” with this as his inaugural post:

Wake up and smell the coffee. This is not your father’s economy. And it’s not the boom that inflated our expectations and then exploded. But it’s also not the doom and gloom we’ve been mired in for nearly three years now! So, wake up. Pull yourself together. Get on with it. With what you ask? With the rest of your life. It’s a bright, fresh world full of opportunities. I know that runs counter to many of the opinions all around us, but it’s true, and I can show you why. It’s true for the investor, the entrepreneur, the CEO, the unemployed, and the human being seeking balance. This blog will be dedicated to insights and discussion about life, business, and investment in what I call The New Normal.
Please join in!

Now I regularly have conversations that remind me of 1997-2000. I am routinely admonished that “the old rules no longer apply” and advised that successful firms spend much of their treasure on PR social media and viral marketing (regular marketing is a waste of money since viral marketing is free). YouTube’s 1.6 billion dollar exit is the exemplar burned in 10 mile high neon letters into the back of everyone’s retinas.

This is not a lament nor a longing for the early 90’s (or early 80’s), now is the best time to be alive and an entrepreneur. It’s a wish that more firms would aim for creating value for their customers.

National Engineers Week

It’s National Engineers Week! Break out the party hats!

Seriously, there are few professions where you can have the same mix of challange, fun, renumeration, and impact on the world as you can with engineering. And women, you should consider a career in engineering.

Alcohol Powered Fuel Cells

What can run longer than the energizer bunny? Fuel cells powered by vodka and enzymes, if you can keep the enzymes around long enough. A St. Louis company is working that very problem, and hopes to one day make fuel cells that run for a month before you fill them back up:

Akermin, however, has developed a polymer membrane that is used to contain the enzymes and prevent them from breaking down.The result is a lab-scale fuel cell that has continuously generated power for more than two years and is still running, said Nick Akers, Akermin’s president and co-founder.

It requires the alcohol supply to be continuously renewed.

The company has demonstrated other breakthroughs, he said:

“The enzymes are able to completely break down the alcohol, increasing efficiency and providing a longer run time from a given volume of fuel than other types of fuel cells. A pen-cap full of alcohol lasts about 30 days”, said co-founder Shelley Minteer, a chemistry professor at St. Louis University, in a radio interview last year.

It has engineered a commercial prototype that stacks several tiny fuel cells into a device like a battery pack that is rugged and about the size of a cell phone.

So far, the prototype is just approaching the amount of power generation sufficient to fuel a cell phone. Creating a device that could run a laptop computer is years away, Akers said.

The eventual goal is creating a small, powerful array of fuel cells that last a long time and can be instantly “recharged” by replacing a small, portable and non-toxic alcohol cartridge. Corn-based ethanol is a likely source of fuel because there is a ready supply, but the cells have been shown to run on vodka, gin and even flat beer.

No word on how long before devices that can power flying cars will be on the market.

So maybe the push into ethanol as a renewable energy source will pay off after all.

OK, I do think it’s really cool that they are doing this work right here in my hometown.

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Can’t Get Enough iPhone

iPhone is so monumental I can’t just leave it with one post.

First, I’ve made some nice paper gains on my Apple stock the last two days. Yes, this is gloating. See item 3.

Why did they have to exclusively partner with Cingular? Everybody I know who’s ever had Cingular has hated them. Not disliked, not been unhappy, HATED them. Couldn’t get off the plan fast enough.

How would you like to be Michael Dell? He gave the daily keynote speech at CES yesterday at the same time Steve Jobs was giving hisMacWorld keynote. Seen any coverage of that? Yeah, me neither. Almost ten years ago, when asked about Apple, he famously said “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.” Yikes! That has to rank as some of the worst investment advice ever. Still, Mr. Dell is reportedly a lot easier to work for than Mr. Jobs. Oddly enough, so was Atilla the Hun.

Apple Computer is dead. The pundits who predicted it’s demise for so long are not rejoicing however, because Apple Inc. is alive and well. A rose by any other name would be just as sweet, but who am I to argue with Steve Jobs? Or Carl Howe of Blackfriars marketing who claims that Apple just changed consumer electronics nine ways. Maybe next year CES will change their dates so Mr. Jobs can speak there.

Brian Tiemann noticed that Apple dropped more than computer from the company name; Apple may have droped the Mac from Mac OS X now that it is the iPhone operating system as well and wonders if it should be pronounced “Oh Ess Ecks”? After Jobs made such a big deal about putting a phone, an iPod and an internet device into one seamless device, I predict they will rename Mac OS X as NXS and pronounce it “in excess”, that way they can combine a great operating system with a great rock band, INXS. It’s What You Need.

John Gruber says the iPhone screen is amazing: “166 DPI is an amazing resolution – tiny, tiny text is amazingly legible.” I’m guessing John isn’t over forty, because for people of a certain age tiny tiny text is not just illegible, its unnoticable. But after springing $600 dollars for the phone, I suppose I can spend $10 on a pair of reading glasses to go with it.

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The iPhones Are Here, The iPhones Are Here!

A lot of people make bold claims but few can back them up, but when Steve Jobs talks, people listen:

“Well, today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class,” said Jobs. “The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. The third is a breakthrough Internet communications device.””These are not three separate devices,” said Jobs. “This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone. Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.”

No not everything turns out like the iPod (just don’t mention “Brain in a Beaker” or Newton to Steve), but Steve and Apple have been on a roll lately. I haven’t even seen the thing, and I want one. Of course, I’ve already drunk the Kool Aid, so what else would you expect?

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Month of Apple Bugs

I’m a big Mac fan, and so in the interest of equal time, fair and balanced, journalistic ethics, etc. etc. etc. here is a link to the The Month Of Apple Bugs blog. Here’s hoping they all get squashed.

UPDATE: Apparently there was a bug with the URL which has now been squashed.


Up, Up, and Away

Somedays I’m more proud of my Swiss ancestory than others — and today is such a day. Yves Rossy flies like a bird, or at least as close to a bird as you can with composite wings and kerosene powered engines. It’s not man powered, but it is wearable. He straps on the 10 foot wings, jumps out of a plane, and flies using his body as the control system. Yikes! Of course he has a web site:

So I salute you, Yves Rossy, truly a Real Man of Genius.


Guilty Pleasure

I like Macs. I’ve bought five over the years, starting with that little darling, the Mac SE. My latest is the latest 20″ iMac. I even own Apple stock. So I like the current round of ads with the slightly annoying Mac and the more than slightly nerdy PC — see them all here.

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Fastest Wireless Network

The Aussies at CSIRO have developed the fastest wireless link so far:

The CSIRO ICT Centre today announced that it has achieved over six gigabits per second over a point to point wireless connection with the highest efficiency (2.4bits/s/Hz) ever achieved for such a system.Multi-gigabit links operate at speeds that leave current wireless networks far behind. For example the entire works of Shakespeare could be transmitted over this six gigabit link in under seven thousandths of a second or a full DVD movie in just over three quarters of a second.

I just bought a Netgear WGR614 802.11g wireless router, and it’s already completely obsolete, and I thought it was pretty darn cool. Oh well.

I predict teenage girls will be able to make use of that bandwidth and still hunger for more. The older I get, the more amazed I am at how women are driven to communicate (I say that in amazement, not scorn). And yes, one day Glenn Reynolds will be dethroned as king blogger, and it will be by a queen (insert your own Andrew Sullivan joke here).