Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Calling Apple's DRM bluff

The Sleuth does a good take on Apple's battle with France.

Sometimes it seems you can't throw a rock without hitting a company that is at odds with the French government, but this time it may be vive la France!

My continual struggle to get my Windows machine to operate in a normal, non-buggy, non "ctrl-alt-delete" manner is a daily challenge, so now I get nervous anytime someone wants to control a market by shutting others out.

Apple took its superior PC product and almost imploded a while back because it wouldn't play nice in the industry. Will it do the same mistake again?

Facebook is doing the Skype dance

The new bubble? Rather than looking for massive IPOs a-la the dot-com era, are Web 2.0 start-ups now looking for the massive buy-out?

(I know I know... Web 2.0 is not a bubble... it is for real this time... sorry to offend.)

Schools Cut Back Subjects to Push Reading and Math - New York Times

I’m glad to see there is a renewed focus on basic skill such as reading and math in schools, but at the risk of sounding like someone who can never be satisfied (not for the first time, mind you), I find it disheartening that increases in math and reading comes at the expense of other subjects like art and social sciences.

For the US to produce an innovative workforce and remain competitive in the future, its graduates must have strong quantitative and communication skills (math and reading), but they also must be aware of the world around them (social sciences) and creative thinkers (art/music). What the US doesn’t need is a generation of highly skilled, highly adept test-takers (No Child Left Behind.)

In our quest to quantify learning, we forget that it essentially an abstract process. In the drive to cram little heads with formulae and trivia that can be rote repeated come test-time, we neglect to teach how to learn and we neglect to foster their curious and creative sides.

I’m all for improvements in math and reading… if you don’t have those basics down, then all other attempts at education are moot. But there should be more balance and other aspects of a child’s mind need to be developed. There is a bottom-line argument for this. Silicon Valley can only survive if it is creative and innovative. The business of new ideas is here, the business of simply cranking out gizmos has moved on to other parts of the world where rote learning is more the norm.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hey Buddy, Can you Spare a Yuan?--China Law Blog

Interesting discussion on China Law Blog about the state of lending to small start-up businesses in China.

The key point highlighted is that there isn't much credit available for start-up and small businesses to found and expand their operations.

This highlights one of the overall issues that has me uneasy about China, that while there is a lot of money going into the economy there, certain foundational piece of infrastructure remain absent, in this case the availability of credit for small businesses.

There are other similar examples of holes in China's economic infrastructure. I just wonder what will happen first, will the holes be filled in? Or will too many people just fall right into them?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tom talks TiVo

Tom Foremski talks TiVo here.

Here's the money quote IMHO:

BTW, Tivo could have become the Netscape web browser to the TV--instead it thought it was a box maker.

Most recently, it has switched to an annual subscription/commitment model instead of month-to-month payments. Why would someone hand over an annual payment or make a year-long commitment to a company struggling to find its way? Shouldn't Tivo remove obstacles to gaining customers and make it as easy-as-pie to be a subscriber?

SiliconBeat: Billionaire green entrepreneurs; the sweet Loremo & SF's cleantech competition

SiliconBeat does a great job of summing up some of the interest here in the valley around new green technologies.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, businesses "get it" and green technologies are a key path to a sustainable future. We need the government (especially this polluting administration) to get out of the way.

For example, given the concerns about the environment and our addiction to foreign oil, and witnessing the potential behind green technologies, how can you possibly explain why the pork-barreled, lobby-slave, Mr. Bridge-to-Nowhere Don Young (R-Alaska) is trying to block the creation of America’s first large-scale offshore wind farm in Cape Cod???

Oh wait… I think I’ve answered my own question.

Unskilled and Unaware of It

I have an above-average awareness of my below average skills.... so if you take these two scores together, I come out right on the average.

Here are the thoughts to make you go "hmmmmm":

1. Incompetent individuals, compared with their more competent peers, will dramatically overestimate their ability and performance relative to objective criteria.

2. Incompetent individuals will suffer from deficient metacognitive skills, in that they will be less able than their more competent peers to recognize competence when they see it–be it their own or anyone else's.

3. Incompetent individuals will be less able than their more competent peers to gain insight into their true level of performance by means of social comparison information. In particular, because of their difficulty recognizing competence in others, incompetent individuals will be unable to use information about the choices and performances of others to form more accurate impressions of their own ability.

4. The incompetent can gain insight about their shortcomings, but this comes (paradoxically) by making them more competent, thus providing them the metacognitive skills necessary to be able to realize that they have performed poorly.

Damn Interesting � Unskilled and Unaware of It

Lucent Technologies and Alcatel Respond to Merger Talk Rumors

We've all seen the coverage... but what I'm really wondering is why did they put out Lucent this statement? Something must have triggered it? Were there rumors about this before the statement was issued? Think this was done to drive up the price?

Om Malik and Mark Evans offer insights into the deal.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Video games... good for the economy

So funny... I remember back in the day when parents and teachers and so on were lamenting the destructive influence of "Pac-Man" on kids. Now, a few years on, governments are lining up to provide incentives for these companies to move into their jurisdictions.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Local Matters IPO

Wow... I didn't think it was possible any more for any sort of company even remotely connected with search to make it all the way to IPO without being acquired or shut down.

Watching these guys go IPO feels like watching someone overcome great odds to finally reach the end of an epic odyssey like in...ummm.... the Odyssey.

Inveneo.org | A New Way to Serve NGOs and Remote Communities with Technology

As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I'm a huge fan of different ideas to bring the benefits of IT into developing parts of the world. I've written about the MIT $100 computer a bit, but here is a new company, Inveneo.

It looks like they focus on doing a single integrated system that is easy to use, and has low power consumption.

Inveneo.org | A New Way to Serve NGOs and Remote Communities with Technology

A Peace Corps for Generation Net - March 1, 2006

As far as I know, getting equipment to developing parts of the world isn't really that huge of a problem. I mean, it is a challenge to find the gear and then transport it to where it has to be, but there are organizations that are pretty adept at that.

Getting the gear to run and stay running... now therein lies the challenge.

Leave it to some global geeks to solve the problem.... Peace Corps for the 21st century.

A Peace Corps for Generation Net - March 1, 2006

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

SiliconBeat: Wilson Sonsini: VCs going to China & India at unprecedented rate

Is it a bubble or is it not? That seems to be a very good question as more and more people pile money into different parts of the world.

My gut feeling is that China may be a bubble whereas India is not. I have no experience in making such calls so feel free to ridicule me. My logic? India's growth is based on (somewhat) more sound economic principles whereas China feels to me like a house of cards being built up by the government and well-connected industries.

I've also been reading about funds heading into Israel and parts of eastern Europe. If things settle in the Middle East, I can see a lot of excitement in that area as well.
SiliconBeat: Wilson Sonsini: VCs going to China & India at unprecedented rate

Bona tempora volvantur--by Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Sucking Down

As a fairly insignificant clog in the greater Cisco machine (ok, a TOTALLY insignificant clog in the greater Cisco machine) I really appreciated Guy Kawasaki's thoughts on sucking down.

Bona tempora volvantur--by Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Sucking Down

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Free Donald Trump Tickets

We all know business is a dog-eat-dog world… so here is your opportunity to learn from the hungriest and boorish dog out there. That’s right, DONALD TRUMP!!

Everyone’s favorite boss is speaking next weekend in San Francisco and he will share his knowledge on how to get rich! Rich! RICH!!!

Normally, tickets to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event can go for several hundred dollars a piece. But through my EXCLUSIVE agreement with the Trump empire, I am able to offer four pairs ABSOLUTELY FREE (some conditions apply).

To win the tickets, simply answer in the comment section this skill testing question:

In the comic “Bloom County”, the brain of Donald Trump is removed from his body and transplanted in which character:

A) Opus the Penguin
B) Bill the Cat
C) Milo

Good luck!
Penguin IP

Real Estate Wealth Expo | Home Buying Seminar | Real Estate Investing Conference | Real Estate Foreclosure Training

Plugged In: Global warming could melt your portfolio - Mar. 21, 2006

Nice to see where business is succeeding where governments (especially here in the US), again, for the unteenth million time, have so miserably miserably failed.

It used to be if you were an environmentally-conscious company it was (falsely) assumed you were losing money. Finally the tables have turned and it becoming apparent that it is the environmentally-damaging companies that are really at risk of losing the bottom and top lines.

Global warming is happening, there is not doubt about it. And like anytime in history when an organism fails to adapt to the new climate, they die (think dinosaurs... which seem to have a lot in common with some companies.)

Now think about it, if you were an investor during the late Cretaceous period, would you have placed a bet on dinosaurs?

Fast Forward: Facing reality about climate change - Feb. 24, 2006

Oh well, better late than never I suppose....

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The secret behind Web 2.0

So I've just spent a couple of hours of a sunny California Saturday afternoon indoors surfing blogs checking out photos and watching goofy videos on YouTube.

I have it all figured out...

Web 2.0 is all about doing sweet F-A with your time.

HD DVD and Blu-ray get launch dates - vnunet.com

"Both formats ready to rumble" says the article.

Wow... HD DVD vs. Blu-ray....sounds now like such an anachronistic match-up; all the drama of, say, Celebrity Deathmatch with none of the contemporary relevance.

Yes, I suppose for a few years it will matter which format you are able to play at home, and then it won't. You'll just download your favorite HD Hollywood movie (same crappy plot and characters, better picture quality) and leave the format bickering to the manufacturers.

HD DVD and Blu-ray get launch dates - vnunet.com

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Fast Forward: The new Net boom - Mar. 17, 2006

David Kirkpatrick of Fortune says that the current excitement in tech is a boom, not a bubble, and is therefore built on more sustainable foundations.

I'm not smart enough to comment either way, but taking David's word for it, then what the future holds will be mass consolidation of these many new disparate Net companies. Some will get acquired by larger companies and some will go out-of-business, but if it is indeed a sustainable innovation boom that we are witnessing, then those companies that remain will have to merge or gobble-up smaller companies in order to grow and become more competitive.

That would be interesting....

Fast Forward: The new Net boom - Mar. 17, 2006

Friday, March 17, 2006


I think these guys are awesome and highlight some of the real power behind such online video services a YouTube.

Two guys, a camera, and some pretty nifty tech insights. This show has some good review of wireless products including our very own Linksys gear.

I fear that sites like YouTube may see their fortunes wane as they undoubtedly come under attack from various copyright holders and as some of the novelty wears off from both viewers (like me) and producers (like “TeH_ShoW” team). But in the meantime, I’m enjoying the certain unpredictable and of such sites.

I’ll continue to tune into “TeH-ShoW”

Metro WiFi

There are some things you love as a concept, but just don’t see how they can work in reality. For me, Metro WiFi is one of those concepts. I absolutely think that cities should provide cheap (or free) wireless access for people to access on their PDAs and other hand-held devices. As someone who gets lost walking to the corner store, the time I save wondering aimlessly through streets and back-alleys alone is worth my tax dollars. Plus it would be a boon for local retailers and other local small businesses that could target and attract customers in the neighborhood.

But considering how complex these networks are, I just don’t see how a city can properly manage them. These networks are finicky devices and the technology is improving so rapidly, you will need a committed and highly trained SP to ensure the municipal network is properly maintained and upgraded, and I’m not convinced that a city has the resources to be that sort of SP.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Knight Ridder and the fate of MSM

Despite what media doomsayers say, I don’t think the sale of Knight Ridder heralds the end of the MSM. The media, like every other industry, is going through and evolution, but not necessarily and extinction. I love the wild, somewhat democratic feel of YouTube and the gobs of blogs that are out there, but few have the authority or reliability of the MSM. Blogs et al. are good for exploring ideas, rumors and opinions, but they are not so hot for really getting facts and information (with some very notable exceptions, of course).

Note that many of the bloggers who actually do provide valuable primary information are really MSM journalists in real life.

Also, the MSM is a primary source for information which bloggers use as fodder to provide comment and endlessly debate minute topic of interest.

Another thing is that bloggers do not provide more voices, but rather serve to further amplify existing voices… hence the “echo chamber” phenomena, which I think is the blogosphere’s dirty little secret.

The role of the MSM is to try to break down the walls of this echo chamber. It is this function that will save the MSM and keep it relevant to society.

I guess I don't agree with Bill Gates or Craig Barrett

Craig Barrett doesn't like MIT's $100 laptop, and neither, it seems, does Bill Gates. Unfortunately, Gates has to incur the wrath of the blogosphere for his opinion.

I actually like the $100 laptop. I think it is a great idea and can do a lot of good in developing countries. The very valid question is, if you're dying of disease and malnutrition, why do you need a laptop? These are excellent questions to which I reply a laptop is of course not a panacea to save the developing world, but access to such technology, and more important the Internet, can help improve the overall economy of developing countries and raise the overall standard of living (computers haven’t done much for the rural poor in India, but they have helped raise the country overall into one of the world’s most dynamic economies.)

A device for developing countries, be it MIT’s $100 laptop or anything else, needs to be simple and resilient. My vision is that they are used as wind-up kiosks to help villages access government services. With a direct line to these services, villages will be spared dealing with corrupt local bureaucrats who are, IMHO, a chief obstacle to development (and I speak with some experience here).

The “one-laptop-per-child” is a loft goal, but I agree, I’m not sure the MIT $100 laptop does the trick… but you never know.

Gates and PR: He still doesn't get it | News.blog | CNET News.com

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

i heart youtube

Why advertise when we can get Cisco fans to advertise for us (nice use of classic Simpsons footage here.)

I’m only a recent discoverer of YouTube and am fascinated by it. It is so inventive. I used to be a pretty frequent visitor to iFilm byt YouTube is a lot more fresh and funny.

I have a TV, but I only use it to watch NetFlix. So we don’t have cable and no over-the-air reception so whatever TV I get, I either get it at a friend’s house (like I did with the Oscars) or I download clips from the Internet (mainly Daily Show excepts.) I suppose I could get a video iPod and start downloading clips from iTunes, which I may begin to do. But at the moment that seems like too much trouble. I mean, I only want to watch a few minutes of TV on my laptop, I don’t think I could take watching an entire show on a small 2 inch screen… I’d probably go blind or something.

As Internet TV Aims at Niche Audiences, the Slivercast Is Born - New York Times

I think what people don't realize is the role Cisco played in this trend. I don't mean to be all "rah-rah... my company is the best" and all (although I am in PR... so it is a bit of a reflex action) but if it wasn't for broadband and the increasing presence of the Internet in our lives, Slivercast wouldn't be possible (nor would YouTube... which is awesome IMHO).

I'm probably not going to tune into Sail.TV because sailboats make me throw-up, but I think it is great that people who want all sailboats all the time now have a place they can log onto and get virtually seasick.

And all this is because of the Internet... yay Internet.

As Internet TV Aims at Niche Audiences, the Slivercast Is Born - New York Times

Thursday, March 02, 2006

News @ Cisco: Mark Chandler, Cisco SVP and General Counsel, Talks About Censorship in China

This is an issue that has been dogging Cisco for a while and it is one many people rightly have concerns about.

I think it is important to clear the air about several misconceptions about what it is Cisco does in China....

There are still allegations that you have altered your equipment for the purposes of censorship. Why do you think that is?

Mark Chandler: I think the allegations likely stem from a misunderstanding of thefunctionality of our equipment and, unfortunately, inaccurate claims made about Cisco's actions in China. Cisco has not and does not design products for the purpose of political censorship.

The equipment we sell in China is the same equipment we sell worldwide. We have not designed, marketed or altered equipment for the Chinese government. The filtering capabilities of all Internet routing equipment, necessary for protection against viruses, spam and denial of service attacks, can be used to block access to sites for political reasons, anywhere in the world.

What are your views with regards to political censorship?

Mark Chandler: Cisco strongly supports free expression on the Internet.

News @ Cisco: Mark Chandler, Cisco SVP and General Counsel, Talks About Censorship in China

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Origami on YouTube

With all the hype around MSFT's Origami ask yourself this, is this video on YouTube a mistake? An unfortunate leak? Or part of they hype?

(OK, honestly, it is probably a leak... but what if it wasn't?)