Tablet PC Thoughts

Monday, June 26, 2006

Lame toppings ...

The weekend before last, I took my son Sam out to spend some time with my parents in the Bay Area of California. While we were there we also ran around so that he could visit with with my sisters and their families. On the Saturday he and I ran down to Big Basin, one of my favorite parks just outside of Silicon Valley. We spent several hours hiking around the immense trees, enjoying the quiet, and the incredible coniferous forest smells.

On the way back we met up with my sister Susan and her family. We ran to get dinner at a local soup and salad place. As usual they have the dessert bar, with soft ice cream. Sam wanted a ice cream cone, and so we walked up to the machine and I pulled a chair up for him to stand on ... he is really wanting to do everything himself these days. He did a good job of filling his cone with the mixed chocolate and vanilla ice cream, and then asked if he could get some "sprinkles."

We walked over to where the "sprinkles" are, and I was surprised that they only had raisins, broken Oreo cookies, coconut shreds, and crushed peanuts. No other choices. I immediated commented to Sam, "Oh man ... they only have LAME sprinkles!"

Sam immediately replied, "Daddy ... I want lame sprinkles! I want lame sprinkles!"

To Sam ... even LAME sprinkles are better than no sprinkles. I've become tainted with age. We did have some peanuts, and Oreos.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Amazing ... Novell opens the door for new leadership!

Wow ... I'm wondering if there might be a glint of sunlight out there for Novell. Once again ... and long over due ... there has been a change of guard in the executive ranks of Novell. Jack Messman is finally out the door, along with the CFO.

I have to admit that I'm only willing to call Jack an executive ... not a leader. From all of my experiences, and watching the direction that Novell has taken, I would have a difficult time calling him a respected leader. Instead, most of the employees that I have talked to felt that he created an oppressive, dictatorial workplace that suppressed the potential of the company.

All I am hearing today are the IMs of joy coming from all directions ... employees and investors.

Good for the board of Novell. No matter what, the culture and the overall energy level in the Novell offices just jumped several notches up.

Where to get Cat5e Cables ... Home Depot?

Last month I was working on rewiring my data center rack to install a slew of new machines. It was on a Sunday afternoon, and I had to run and pick up some CAT5e patch cables ... but where was i going to get them on a Sunday?

I had a few other things to pick up from Home Depot, and so I went back to their electrical section and looked around ... sure enough they sell 3', 7', 15', 25', and 50' pre-made patch cables. Even multiple colors! I didn't even want to look at the price.

I was shocked ... but in the good way! When I looked at the prices they were just under $1/foot! I couldn't believe it. A 3' patch cable for ~$2.98 ... the 25' was $24.95. I bought enough for my rack, and some extras!

Yesterday I walked into CompUSA to buy a video card ... something that I don't think Home Depot would have. While there I figured I would check to see what CompUSA charges for CAT5e patch cables. This time I was SHOCKED ... in a bad way! CompUSA was charging $14.95 for a 7 foot cable in the store!

We have reached an interesting tipping point in computer technology when I can run down to the local hardware store (Ok ... the local Home Depot!) and pick up a CAT5e patch cable ... at a good price. Technology is continuing to weave itself into our lives ... becoming a more and more natural extension of our lives ... leading towards the inevitable substrate transition ...

Adobe ... the dark horse

I'm back working on several very cool Internet/Web projects now. It's fun to get back deep into the Internet, and catch up on what is going on with the bleeding edge. There are several areas that I'm now really digging in ... video on the net, and the whole SEO, web marketing, web advertising, and affiliate marketing.

One thing that has now become evident to me, is that the acquistion of Macromedia by Adobe was brilliant. Adobe/Macromedia is now making huge inroads in web properties, and seems to be linked to a lot of the best things going in Web 2.0.

First lets look at YouTube ... all based on the Adobe/Macromedia Flash player. So distribution of video on the Internet quickly becomes ubiquitous and platform independent! Google Video? Same thing ... Adobe/Macromedia Flash player. There are now a half dozen video related sites ... all using the Adobe/Macromedia Flash player.

Besides the fact that the player is everwhere, and it's on all the top operating system platforms, by using the Macromedia player, the videos can quickly be embedded anywhere in any web property. This is one of the core value propositions that we are leveraging in one of my new start-ups.

So then we get to Flex. Amazing stuff. Again, Adobe/Macromedia now has a platform for creating advanced applications, providing rich UI, and the player is everywhere! And the one key feature is that they can escape much of the "sand box" surrounding current AJAX applications! Writing applications in MXML is now easier ... they have adopted the Eclipse development environment ... and their plug-in can escape issues like cross-domain access. In one of my other start-ups, we're looking at embracing the Flex technology for all of it's benefits. We immediately get a ubiquitous, cross-platform solution that produces user content that can be embedded in any of the top web properties on the planet. Nice.

Oh yeah ... and Adobe also got Cold Fusion in the acquisition.

I started to think about new metrics for measuring the success of companies in the Internet. One possible metric is user viewable pixels ... or even a percentage of user viewable pixels. For example if you went to and looked at the page. Out of all of the viewable pixels, who's technology "owns" what percentage of those pixels? In the case of CNN, there are all sorts of Adobe/Macromedia ads running, and even if they are 10% of the viewable pixels ... that is a lot of web real estate. Some sites are more. Again ... think of Google Video ... there Adobe/Macromedia has a huge percentage of viewable pixels. If you add in the number of Cold Fusion sites on the net? Adobe has a lot of the "web-top" now in their pocket.

I think that people so quickly forget about the battles for the desktop, and the complaints about Microsoft "controlling" the desktop. What is amazing to me is the penetration that Adobe now has with the Acrobat reader, and Flash player ... and the tools for the creation of powerful content.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Philippines Videos

I completed a couple of short, amateur videos of my trip to the Philippines and put them up on YouTube. The first was just of a cab ride through Makati to the Manila Airport. The second is the plane flight from Manila to Baguio.

I'll do a few more ... I'm wanting to get back into creating videos.

Identity Verification ... by Tiger Direct

A few weeks back I made an on-line purchase - for the first time - with Tiger Direct. When completing the purchase - a $3000+ Plasma Display for a client - I was really surprised when I was presented with a notification that I was going ot have to answer some questions to verify my identity!

Ok . .. so I was thinking some steps ... but never would have imagined what I was going to see. I was presented with a page that appeared to contain an iFrame, and it suddenly filled with a set of three multiple-choice questions. As I read the questions ... I was shocked.
  • The first question had my city name - Heber City, Utah - and it asked me to pick which street address was in that city. It listed four street addresses ... and sure enough one was for another property that I own. Uh ... ok ... kinda' weird.
  • The second question? This is the one that got me. It asked me to identify the name of someone that I know ... and listed four names. The second name ... was the married name of my younger sister. No way.
  • The third question showed a street address ... and asked me to identify the city that the street was in. I immediately recognized the street address ... but could not identify which of the four listed cities it was in ... funny ... must have been an old rental or something.
It really was a weird experience to see that type of personal detail ... being asked on a web page. Overall, I like it ... it was a cool system and I can see where it would be very tough for someone to gather those pieces of information. At the same time, it was strange to see personal information gathered in such a way.

What made me think about this tonight was when a friend indicated that he requested his annual free credit reports today. He said that the same system was used to verify his identity to request the reports ... wild.

Skype unblocked!

I'm not sure that I want to say that it's over ... but as of today I can SkypeOut again! I spent weeks on their on-line forums, and posted 16+ support requests through their website (NONE of which were ever answered!) and then as of today got a personal message on the on-line forums indicating that I was unblocked.

My Skype account was blocked when I unsucessfully attempted to purchase Skype credit with my credit card from the Philippines. That was on the 28th of May! They blocked my account that night ... and I have been struggling to get it unblocked - on a daily basis - since then.

Sure enough ... I can use Skype again!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Technological life getting biological implants?

I like this one even better. So what we seem to be doing is planning for the future, when technological life has taken over. In this future, entities that have come from the technologic substrate will be able to have biological implants!

Ok ... all kidding aside ... this is till pretty cool stuff. We're making huge advances in the merging of biological and technological life!
Scientists Couple Nerve Tissues With Computer Chip.


RNA Interference

I first heard about RNA Interference a few years back ... caught this article today - here is the full text - that talks more indepth about the tools and techniques. This is amazing stuff ... I have read a few papers about the possibilities and they are endless. The first article that I saw was about a possible gene therapy using RNA interference to possibly change your eye color!

Now we are talking about modern body/identity modifications!
Sharpening the tools of RNA interference. Nature May 23 2006 8:13PM GMT [Moreover Technologies - Genetics news]

RFID Implants ... do it yourself?

When I read this article I immediately began to think about all of the science fiction movies where the various characters are always trying to REMOVE tracking devices from themselves. I can remember the image of Arnold pulling the giant round tracking module from his nasal cavity in Total Recall.

This article, however, is about a growing number of people who are now inserting RFID tags into themselves! Well ... in some cases they are having doctors do it ... but the one web page referenced includes the list of items to do it at home!

Of course this links me back to Pete Ashdown's comments last night about integrity ... we spoke about this breifly after the Utah Bloggers conference had ended. It's cool to see people who are ok with being tracked ... and aren't afraid of anything that might be gathered about them. They are ok with where they go, and what they do.

I'm going to keep thinking about this one. I have been thinking that with the younger generations adopting lifestyles where 'body modification' is becoming the norm, they will be more and more open to technological implants. If you are willing to get tattoos, and have piercings, then when might you go for subdermal animated LED impants, or RFID tags?
Social Consequences and Effects of RFID Implants?.


More molecular assembly ...

Ok ... this is my day for finding interesting articles on molecular manufacturing. I really like this one ... a MIT team using genetically modified viruses to manufacture.
Battery electrodes self-assembled by viruses. Genetically modified viruses that assemble into electrodes could one day revolutionize battery manufacturing.

The MIT team genetically modified viruses to create the electrodes. They introduced snippets of single-stranded DNA that caused the virus... [ Accelerating Intelligence News]

Writing a 10nm point size

I caught this today ... IBM going further and further with their molecular-scale lithography. They are now able to write compounds onto a substrate at sizes down to 10 nanometers. We are getting closer and closer to molecular manufacturing at a whole new scale.
IBM uses atomic microscope for direct writing. IBM has unveiled a new method of direct writing (like an inkjet printer) to substrates that harnesses an atomic force microscope (AFM) to electronically control molecular-scale lithography.

For semiconductors, IBM's new electronically controlled ... [ Accelerating Intelligence News]

Visualizing Communities

I always like a good visualization of Internet activity. Especially when it relates to social and human interaction. I like this paper ... some nice ideas in here.
Visualizing Bidder Activity In Online Auctions [Nooface]

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Utah Bloggers Conference ... the first!

I'm at the first Utah Bloggers conference, and it's fun to see the size of the community here. Ryan Money from HireVue kicked off the meeting, and quickly went into the panel discussion.

The group of panelists included Cydni Tetro, Phil Burns, Phil Windley, Tim Stay, and Pete Ashdown. The questions varied from what blogging software is being used, to making money with your blog. It was good to hear them all. I really liked one thing that Pete Ashdown said about the record of your history on the Internet ... he referred to that as the "... price of integrity." Instead of going to edit your history - such as on the Wikipedia - you simply live honestly with the choices that you have made.

One of the people stood up and admitted that he doesn't yet have a blog ... he wanted to know what to do to start. Phil Windley suggested his essay How to Start a Blog. Nice ... it's the first result when you search Google for that sentence.

Ryan wrapped things up talking about how we really do have a good blogging community. Utah is continuing to grow rapidly, and the growth from people moving to Utah is fueling the tech industry here. We are slowly gaining some real momentum. There are going to be some future events ...

That was it for now ... I'm going to get some other video ... another YouTube video ...

A kick in the blog ...

Man ... too many new things since returning form the Philippines. I'm going to get back into the habit of regular blogging ... and I'm at the Utah Blogger event tonight which is kicking me into gear.

I got home on the 1st of June, and thought long and hard about what I have been doing with my life. I've been working at Agilix Labs and having a lot of fun, however I realized that I wanted to do more ... to further pursue some Web 2.0 projects. In addition, Agilix is realigning its direction to more focus on the student and mobilized learning market ... and for now not as much focus on the SDK and developer community. I made the choice ... time to move on!

I'm still going to be working closely with Agilix on some specific projects, but I am now back out in the consulting world. I've already landed two consulting deals, both which are working on some cool new technologies and human-oriented services. I'll be blogging more about them as I get rolling and into the groove of the new routines. What is really fun already is working deep in the Web again ... I'm developing in both 'realms" ... AMP and .NET.

The AMP development involves a lot of Javascript and AJAX, and has been a great learning experience. It also involves a lot of digital video, and so I get to play back in one of my favorite hobbies ... video editing. I'm not a pro at it ... I just like to play around. I posted my first video to YouTube and am going to be posting a number of others.

The .NET development is for a social networking site ... but more. It's actually looking to create a new type of media ... combined media ... interactive media. I guess it's kind of like true 'multimedia' ... a new way to deliver a media experience 'wrapped' into a single download. What is really cool also is that the site is already leveraging some of the most advanced Atlas technologies ffrom Microsoft ... so taking the site to new levels of interactivity and customization.

On top of this ... I'm working on my new Software Development Outsourcing company. The web site is coming quickly, and after I have now been using a half dozen developers from overseas, I am ready to share the power of these people with anyone interested.

Anyhow ... I'm going to listen and blog about the Utah Blogger conference ...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Still Skypeless ...

Amazing ... I have been sending support requests every single day. And I get no response, except for the occasional reply to some of the messages saying "We normally will respond within 72 hours." Uh guys ... if you are hearing this ... it's now been almost two weeks! Uh ... they still have my $10.00 ...

I wrote them the following message:
Please ... oh Skype gods ... let my account go! Please unblock me ...

My prayer to the Skype gods ... please have mercy on my account ... PLEASE unblock my account. Why haste thou forsaken me????

Our Skype who art in Luxemburg,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy phone call come, thy will be done,
on the Internet as it is on POTS lines.
Give us this day our daily SkypeOut,
and forgive us our use of mobiles,
as we forgive our non-Skype friends.
And deliver us from expensive calls,
for thine is the $.02/minute, the p2p calling,
and the VoIP solution forever.

Oh please Skype gods ... please unblock my account ...

Will it work? Hmmmm ... we'll see ...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Skype ... where the whole world CAN NOT talk for free. Not even for PAY!

Ok ... I had to take a moment to vent about Skype. What a great product ... what lousy execution. Their support? It sucks beyond almost any vendor I have ever dealt with.

On my recent Philippines trip, I started to use SkypeOut ... or tried to. First, I was unable to get them to accept any of my credit cards ... business or personal. Now these are the same credit cards that I use for all other on-line purchases ... but not with Skype. Nope. They wouldn't take them. So no SkypeOut credit.

Well, then I noticed that they accept PayPal ... hmmm ... wonder if that will work. Yeah! It worked! A week ago I was able to pay Skype $10 for SkypeOut credit. They even gave me an extra $1.60 of credit for paying! I called lots of people ... for one day. Then ... back to ground zero.

Six days ago ... the morning after my success paying via PayPal ... and after using Skype to make calls for over an hour ... I wen to dail a number only to see a red bar appear that said:
Skype Account Blocked - Your Skype account has been blocked! Click here for details
Yeah ... right. Try clicking ... it takes you to their home page. Uh guys ... how about if I log into my account? I simply get another message:
You are currently restricted from purchasing services or redeeming vouchers. Please contact Customer Support to review your account status.
Ok ... great. No details ... I click the link ... get taken to a crappy tech support form. Fine ... I filled it in, posted it, and was sent to a page with a bunch of unrelated "knowledgebase" articles ... with another button to *really* post my support request.

So six days ago ... I sent my support request. And I have done so for each and every day since. No response. Oh ... well this monring I finally got back a message saying that they have received my first support request ... sent seven days ago!

So Skype has my money ... and has blocked my account. As for the "free in the US" they claim to be offering? I can't call those numbers either now ... my account is blocked. I can call PC to PC ... I think ... but no SkypeOut at all ... nada.

So they lie ... the whole world CAN NOT talk for free. And in my case, I have even paid my $10 and I can not talk ... at least not via Skype. What a bummer ... some people are screwing up a perfectly good idea.

The Trip to Baguio

After spending one day and night in Manila, we headed up to Baguio City ... north of Manila in the Mountains. We left early and flew Asian Spirit ... in a YS-11 ... an old turboprop airliner. After taking off, we quickly climbed to ~10,000 feet. The grey color of Manila slowly began to be sprinkled with green, and the quantity of green again continued to grow as we flew north away from Metro manila.

As we continued our flight, the spots of green continued to grow until we were over a large flat valley with some large winding rivers. Various roads - paved and otherwise - cut convoluted paths between farms, towns, and open ground. All of these roads seemed to wind in strange directions with no rhyme or reason. Below, one large river wound below us, leaving groups of buildings, and maybe whole towns, stranded on empty oxbows. And then the foothills appeared.

It was impressive to see the mountains rise from the valley as a series of large sharp ridges. The river winding below us came from a valley in between some of these ridges, and a large reservior with a dam had been built to hold back its waters. The mountains continued to rise. And rise! All of the sudden the stewardess announced that we were approaching Baguio ... and the mountains continued to climb up towards our altitude. Below us there were now a few roads winding up the jagged mountain sides ... all looking like dirt roads. And then the first towns appeared up in the mountains. As we passed over one of the larger ones ... now looking only a few thousand feet below us ... I caught site of a runway cut into the mountains ... one end spilling out over a shear mountain face. Baguio Airport?

As we now passed that runway the plane began to turn ... yep ... that's Baguio! I actually shot some pretty good footage of the landing ... amazing mountain with a mix of small homes and big mansions. The vacation homes of the upper-class, mixed with the homes of the average people. We continued to bank hard left ... circling around to the other end of the runway that I saw ... to land in the direction of the shear mountain face. As we got lower and lower there were all sorts of streams and rivers flowing down the mountain, with waterfalls all over the place. We continued to decend, and finally touched down. We're in Baguio!

As we exited the aircraft, it was immediately cooler than Manila ... by far! Nice. We wandered the parking lot ... found a cab ... and headed to Session Road ... one of the main roads in Baguio. I'll write more later.