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Mar 19, 2007 at 12:00
Last week was one of my favorite ones of the year; I got to hand out our Product of the Year Awards in Silicon Valley. This year our awards are beautiful, engraved marble plaques. I'm always sorry that I cannot get around the whole country to present all the Awards but we do as many as possible in person.
%IMG_left_popup_99%The process generally involves the company organizing the presentation with a mixture of management and engineers attending. Last week we had CEOs, VPs, design engineers and marketing staff in attendance.
I concoct a little, off-the-cuff, short speech about the product -- and why the award, according to our totally undemocratic process, was made. I have never seen, in all the years we have been doing this, surprise or any kind of startlement on the faces of the company employees. What I do see on their faces is the fact that their very hard work is being validated by this guy who has the temerity to say it publicly.
But the shoe fits in the other direction as well. Every smiling design ...
Mar 17, 2007 at 12:00
The cell phone industry has done an artful job of using its quasi-monopoly status to screw its customers into paying as much, or more, than their cable bill for services that can only be described as pitiful. Worse yet, in their efforts to make sure that we pay dearly for every iota of bandwidth and every minor convenience that they dole out, the carriers are screwing themselves and strangling any real innovation that could keep the wireless industry afloat in the long term.
If you know anything about electronics it's apparent that the cell phones bouncing around in our pockets are not living up to their potential. While they can take pictures, play music, or run a contact database, it's difficult, and sometimes impossible, to make these neat features work in concert with the stuff you already have on your computer. Impossible, at least, until you pay another $10 - $30/month for something that would be free on your laptop. A couple of years ago, I would have chalked up a phone's inability to move music and p...
Mar 12, 2007 at 12:00
Pressing the Print button at the TechShop has a whole different meaning than most other places in the world. Rather than commit a few milligrams of ink or toner to a paper document's surface, choosing Print on one of the TechShop's lovingly-recycled machines might move the contents of your CAD file to a table-top laser cutter whose beam can render your design in neatly-etched pieces of plastics, woods, paper or cardboard, fabric, leather, and even chocolate. Other labs within the tidy industrial building located on the outskirts of Palo Alto, CA have hardcopy capabilities that include a 3-D printer which produces solid plastic models directly from CAD drawings and a plasma jet cutter that can slice the parts for your next race car, bio-fuel converter, or battle-bot out of ½-inch plate steel.
But as interesting as the gadgets that seem to lurk in every corner of the shop might be, the most remarkable thing about this post-modern geek clubhouse is that it's inhabited by amateurs -- people from all walks...
Mar 5, 2007 at 12:00
I have never personally wanted a doctorate; it has always seemed like it was too much of a game of intense particle inspection to yield something marginally different from others' opinions. I remember as a child how my mother typed, and retyped, and retyped the dissertation for the son of family friends from Northern Ireland as he spent hundreds of pages analyzing one sentence of a Shakespeare play. His PhD from Cambridge plus further research eventually landed him, Ronnie Mulryne, the chair of English and Comparative Literature at Warwick University; a prize Professorship so close to the Bard's original -- and final -- home.
The typing did yield box tickets for my spouse and I at a performance of Romeo and Juliet by the RSC in Stratford, but there was a lot more value in the typing than that…
%IMG_left_full_96%So, when a young friend asked -- in a very special way -- to see whether I could wangle a doctorate, I was pleased to lend a hand. There are many online universities these days, places like th...
Mar 5, 2007 at 12:00
Management By Photo-Op: George Bush's Carney-Style Energy Policy Why is our president playing a shell game with the nation's energy R&D budget?
by Lee H. Goldberg
Trading in his flight suit for a lab coat last week, President Bush staged his latest photo-op at Novozymes North America, the North Carolina-based subsidiary of a Danish technology company involved in cellulosic ethanol development. This public relations exercise touting his newfound interest in renewable energy technologies reminds me of a carnival shell game. You remember how that works? All you have to do to win that big doll is to figure out which of the three shells the guy with the straw hat is hiding the pea under -- but somehow that pea is never where you think it is. Much as the carnival barker's clever légère de main keeps you from figuring out where the pea is, Mr. Bush is using photo-ops and misleading statements to hide the truth that the year's energy R&D budget is woefully inadequate, and heavily-biased toward...