Reed Abelson and Milt Freudenheim take a look at GE's latest moves in the health care business. Their new services include
Is Amazon.com becoming the Napster of the book business?
The analogy may not be far off, say some observers of the used-book industry. Publishers, particularly textbook publishers, have long countered used-book sales by churning out new editions every couple of years. But the Web, particularly sites like Amazon and eBay, have given millions of consumers an easy way to find cheap books - often for under $1 - without paying royalty fees to publishers or authors.
Mass-market publishers are not certain the used-book phenomenon is a problem worth addressing, but others in the industry have already made up their minds.
A Forrester Research report asked Internet users which activities they were spending less time doing in order to spend time at their computers. 78% of the people polled said that they gave up television viewing. A study from The Georgia Institute of Technology's Graphic, Visualization and Usability Center showed a clear shift in media habits with more than one third of respondents saying that they "use the Web instead of watching TV on a daily basis."
This DHS announcement illustrates the tremendous costs of a computing monoculture.
The Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team touched off a storm this week when it recommended for security reasons using browsers other than Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer. Mozilla and Opera are two excellent browsers. Mac users can choose from those as well as Apple's excellent Safari browser. There's also Netscape.
Business Week's Stephen Wildstrom also says that IE is too risky.
Richard Seaman posted some beautiful photos of last week's historic spaceship one flight.
Dean campaign architect Joe Trippi's new book discusses the power of the internet and how individuals and organizations can benefit.
I hadn't been taking some proposed new copyright legislation very seriously, mainly because it's logically absurd on its face. But the "Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004" (PDF) seems to be moving so quickly that we have to pay attention now.
This bill, the stated purpose of which is to criminalize actions that might "induce" copyright infringement, doesn't just overrule the Sony Betamax case, which gave us the right to tape TV shows to watch later. It would turn people offering totally legitimate technology into criminals, if what they offered could also be used for infringing purposes.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch is cloaking the bill as "child protection." It is nothing of the sort. It is a Hollywood-sponsored attack on fundamental freedom, and on innovation. (Ernie Miller deconstructs Hatch's floor speech introducing the bill. See also Lessig's comments.)
Mojave Airport, with its stands of refreshments (orange soda and doughnuts) is the site of Monday Morning's Spaceship One Launch. This will be the first privately funded initiative into orbit - paving the way for space tourism. Mike Hodgkinson updates us from Mojave. Mike Melvill is the pilot of this Burt Rutan designed craft. Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen has backed the project with $20M.
Duncan Campbell profiles Steve Jobs. Some classics:
Jobs on money: "I was worth over $1m when I was 23, and over $10m when I was 24, and over $100m when I was 25, and, erm, it wasn't that important, erm, because I never did it for the money" From Triumph of the Nerds, 1996 TV documentary
Jobs on Bill Gates: "I wish him the best, I really do. I just think he and Microsoft are a bit narrow. He'd be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger"
Robert Jones provides a very useful introduction to Bioinformatics, or the the intersection of molecular biology and computer science.
The idea is to create a new tourist industry: "For the last 30 years, people have thought that space flight is only for a select number of government employees," said Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and president of the X Prize Foundation, the competition's organizer. "We want to change that mind-set."
Wisconsin native Marc Andreessen (now living comfortably in Silicon Valley) participated in a Washington Post online chat yesterday. Andreessen discussed the tech business, new software tools, P2P/distributing information and open source software. He also touches on John Kerry's statements on globalization and midwest manufacturing: "it's not coming back". A useful read.
But he reverted to form, pretty much insisting that Verizon would reserve the right to discriminate on what gets delivered, and at what speed, on the lines and networks it controls.Residential internet users should, like those in Japan and Korea have much faster broadband connections at attractive prices. Current US dsl and cable options are quite slow compared to what's readily available in other countries (speeds to 20mbps and beyond vs dsl at 768kbps).
Here's an economic development issue, if there ever was one. I mentioned this issue to then candidate Jim Doyle some time ago......
In the end, these conferences can suffer from "increasing returns", because the Kansas Biosciences Association, among many others are exhibiting (in the Kansas Pavilion), so too must the Illinois Farm Bureau, and many, many others.
From Wired: They are masters of innovation, technology, and strategic vision: 40 companies driving the global economy.
Old-school business types found some solace in the bust - at least the upstarts got their comeuppance. Hardly! With the economy finally perking up, newcomers are running the show: Three of the top five companies in this year's Wired 40, our annual list of enterprises leading the charge toward a connected global economy, were founded in the past decade. One-third are less than 20 years old.
This year's list reflects the churn we've come to expect in the tech economy. Only nine selections appeared on the original list back in 1998. Still, the criteria for inclusion remain unchanged. These 40 leaders have demonstrated an uncommon mastery of technology, innovation, globalism, networked communication, and strategic vision - skills essential to thriving in the information age.
Interesting intellectual property case: Monsanto went to court to stop a Saskatchewan farmer from replanting genetically modified canola seeds (without payment of an annual license fee). Wired News | NY Times.
Use the internet to be active and informed!
Nicholas Carr's recent controversial book explains how technological, economic, and competitive forces are combining to transform the role information technology plays in business, with profound implications for IT management and investment as well as strategy and organization.
I witnessed the dual edged nature of IT firsthand early Tuesday morning. My delayed flight landed at 2:10a.m...... I walked to the Hertz counter where some very tired folks were scrambling to deal with their customers (including me). I generally just grab the express package and go. Murphy, as always, showed up. The Hertz computers were down. Therefore, the Hertz employees resorted to conventional paper contracts (filled out by hand). They clearly had not done this in awhile (if ever). 30 minutes later, I walked to my car (now 2:40a.m.)
We take so much for granted.
A "must have" product for the backyard bbq set:
The Mosquito Magnet® mimics a human by emitting a plume of carbon dioxide (CO2), heat and moisture, and a short-range attractant, octenol. This precise combination is irresistible to female mosquitoes (the ones that bite), no-see-ums, biting midges, black flies, and sandflies. As the mosquito approaches the trap hoping for a human, it is quietly vacuumed into a net where it dehydrates and dies.
Silent, odorless, no mess.
One would think that this type of thing should happen here first....
Maria Alicia Gaura writes:
After 25 years of persistent work, Marin County rancher Albert Straus has figured out a way to run his dairy farm, organic creamery and electric car from the manure generated by his herd of 270 cows.
Cheered on by a small gathering of engineers, environmentalists and fellow farmers, Straus stepped into a utility shed Thursday, switched on a 75- kilowatt generator, then stepped outside to snip the ribbon spanning a spanking-new electrical panel.
OpenPark Launches free, public wireless (WiFi) internet access on the Washington Mall.
This is not your typical celebrity-kitchen show. In fact, it’s not typical TV at all. “The Hippy Gourmet” eschews the frantic pace of most TV programs and doesn’t measure its success by ratings alone. “We don’t do three-second edits like MTV,” Ehrlich says. “‘The Hippy Gourmet’ creates a new tone for TV, one that’s about relaxing and seeing what good can be done in the world.” Beside preparing meals, the show promotes such causes as sustainable agriculture, social welfare and environmental activism.
It’s a philosophy that has earned “The Hippy Gourmet” millions of fans on the West Coast. Now in its third season, the 30-minute show broadcasts via 24 public access cable stations from the Bay Area to Lake Tahoe. And, through talks underway with PBS and The Food Network, Ehrlich expects to soon boost his audience nationwide. He credits the show’s high visibility to the production standards enabled by his Apple tools. “We could not have created this show without the Mac and Final Cut Pro,” states Ehrlich.
Her Deepness, Sylvia Earle mentioned repeatedly during her recent UW talk that we must never underestimate the power of one. Jeff Jarvis writes today that Kerry DuPont has "done something wonderful in the cause of freedom: She just sent laptops, scanners, cameras and more equipment of citizens' media to Iraqi bloggers, including Zeyad and Omar and Ays."
So many opportunities....
Tom Friedman writes about a recent trip to Silicon Valley:
Still others pointed out that the percentage of Americans graduating with bachelor's degrees in science and engineering is less than half of the comparable percentage in China and Japan, and that U.S. government investments are flagging in basic research in physics, chemistry and engineering. Anyone who thinks that all the Indian and Chinese techies are doing is answering call-center phones or solving tech problems for Dell customers is sadly mistaken. U.S. firms are moving serious research and development to India and China.
The bottom line: we are actually in the middle of two struggles right now. One is against the Islamist terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere, and the other is a competitiveness-and-innovation struggle against India, China, Japan and their neighbors. And while we are all fixated on the former (I've been no exception), we are completely ignoring the latter. We have got to get our focus back in balance, not to mention our budget. We can't wage war on income taxes and terrorism and a war for innovation at the same time.
Curriculum was and is a hot topic in the Madison School District.
Further, the tech industry has been playing footsie with Hollywood (ironic, given the size of the tech industry vs Hollywood) regarding our fair use rights. Dan Gillmor has recently published a draft version of his upcoming book: Making the News. Chapter 11 includes some very troubling quotes:
When Microsoft shipped its first search-engine (which makes a copy of every page it searches), it violated the letter of copyright law. When Microsoft made its first proxy server (which makes a copy of every page it caches), it broke copyright law. When Microsoft shipped its first CD-ripping technology, it broke copyright law.
It broke copyright law because copyright law was broken. Copyright law changes all the time to reflect the new tools that companies like Microsoft invent. If Microsoft wants to deliver a compelling service to its customers, let it make general-purpose tools that have the side-effect of breaking Sony and Apple's DRM, giving its customers more choice in the players they use. Microsoft has shown its willingness to go head-to-head with antitrust people to defend its bottom line: next to them, the copyright courts and lawmakers are pantywaists, Microsoft could eat those guys for lunch, exactly the way Sony kicked their asses in 1984 when they defended their right to build and sell VCRs, even though some people might do bad things with them. Just like the early MP3 player makers did when they ate Sony's lunch by shipping product when Sony wouldn't.
Unfortunately, Microsoft's answer has been to build Digital Rights Management -- the more appropriate term is "Digital Restrictions Management" -- into just about everything it makes.
But now consider the ways it could be used, beyond simple tracking by copyright holders of what they sell. Anderson writes:
[Trusted Computing] provides a computing platform on which you can't tamper with the application software, and where these applications can communicate securely with their authors and with each other. The original motivation was digital rights management (DRM): Disney will be able to sell you DVDs that will decrypt and run on a TC platform, but which you won't be able to copy. The music industry will be able to sell you music downloads that you won't be able to swap. They will be able to sell you CDs that you'll only be able to play three times, or only on your birthday. All sorts of new marketing possibilities will open up.
The potential for abuse extends far beyond commercial bullying and economic warfare into political censorship. I expect that it will proceed a step at a time. First, some well-intentioned police force will get an order against a pornographic picture of a child, or a manual on how to sabotage railroad signals. All TC-compliant PCs will delete, or perhaps report, these bad documents. Then a litigant in a libel or copyright case will get a civil court order against an offending document; perhaps the Scientologists will seek to blacklist the famous Fishman Affidavit. A dictator's secret police could punish the author of a dissident leaflet by deleting everything she ever created using that system - her new book, her tax return, even her kids' birthday cards - wherever it had ended up. In the West, a court might use a confiscation doctrine to `blackhole' a machine that had been used to make a pornographic picture of a child. Once lawyers, policemen and judges realise the potential, the trickle will become a flood.The Trusted Computing moves bring to mind a conversation in early 2000 with Andy Grove, longtime chief executive at Intel and one of the real pioneers in the tech industry. He was talking about how easy it would soon be to send videos back and forth with his grandchildren. If trends continued, I suggested, he'd someday need Hollywood's permission. The man who wrote the best-seller, "Only the Paranoid Survive," then called me paranoid. Several years later, amid the copyright industry's increasing clampdown and Intel's unfortunate leadership in helping the copyright holders lock everything down, I asked him if I'd really been all that paranoid. He avoided a direct reply.
The Apple Learning Interchange has posted a virtual field trip: The Wright Start
The invention of the airplane by Wilbur and Orville Wright is one of the great stories in American history. It tells of the creation of a world-changing technology at the opening of an exciting new century, an era full of promise and confidence in the future. At the center of the tale are two talented, yet modest, Midwestern bicycle shop proprietors, whose inventive labors and achievement transformed them from respected small-town businessmen into international celebrities. The influence of their invention on the 20th century is beyond measure. The transport by air of goods and people, quickly and over great distances, and the military applications of flight technology, have had global economic, geopolitical, and cultural impact. The Wrights' invention not only solved a long-studied technical problem, but also fashioned a radically new world.
Or - why Windows PC's can be unsafe at any speed. Yuki Noguchi writes
The Federal Trade Commission today is hosting a daylong workshop in Washington to discuss the effects of hidden software that may be used to control or spy on a computer without its user's knowledge.Some organizations, including the Madison schools, only support a computing monoculture - fertile ground for spyware.....
So far most "spyware" and "adware" programs, often placed on Windows PCs by such downloaded programs as file-sharing programs, appear to have been used for the relatively benign purpose of tracking consumer preferences, said Howard Beales, director of the FTC's consumer protection division. The FTC is watching to see if criminals start making widespread use of this technology to steal credit-card and Social Security numbers of unwitting computer users, he said.
"So far [we] haven't thought that it warranted regulation," he said.
Steve Greenhouse writes a useful article on the economic & cultural implications of the Wal-Mart system:
We already know that Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer. (If it were an independent nation, it would be China's eighth-largest trading partner.) We also know that it is maniacal about low prices. (Some economists say it has single-handedly cut inflation by 1 percent in recent years, saving consumers billions of dollars annually.) We know that its labor practices have come under attack. (It charges its workers so much for health insurance that about one-third of them do not have it.)
Windows PC users are subject to an average of 28 electronic spies on their computer, the BBC reports:
The average computer is packed with hidden software that can secretly spy on online habits, a study has found.
The US net provider EarthLink said it uncovered an average of 28 spyware programs on each PC scanned during the first three months of the year.
Security expert Bruce Schneier writes about the reality of National ID cards:
The potential privacy encroachments of an ID card system are far from minor. And the interruptions and delays caused by incessant ID checks could easily proliferate into a persistent traffic jam in office lobbies and airports and hospital waiting rooms and shopping malls.
But my primary objection isn't the totalitarian potential of national IDs, nor the likelihood that they'll create a whole immense new class of social and economic dislocations. Nor is it the opportunities they will create for colossal boondoggles by government contractors. My objection to the national ID card, at least for the purposes of this essay, is much simpler:
It won't work. It won't make us more secure.
David Pogue reviews the latest VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services, which allow you to call anywhere in the United States for as little as $20.55/month (plus your broadband internet connection):.
This development is annoyingly called voice-over-Internet protocol, or VoIP, which means "calls that use the Internet's wiring instead of the phone company's." When you sign up, you get a little box that goes between your existing telephone and your broadband modem (that is, your cable modem or D.S.L. box, a requirement for most of these services).
At that point you can make unlimited local, regional and long-distance calls anywhere in the United States for a fixed fee of $20 to $40 a month (plus the cost of your broadband Internet service, of course). Overseas calls cost about 3 cents a minute. These figures aren't subject to inflation by a motley assortment of tacked-on fees, either; voice-over-Internet service is exempt from F.C.C. line charges, state 911 surcharges, number-portability service charges and so on.
Save money, switch! I've been using www.packet8.net for some time.
Nahal Toosi writes a very thin article about blogging, including campus initiatives.
Learn more by visiting www.xprize.org
Speaking of Entrepreneurs, IBM launched System/360 on April 7, 1964. Many consider it the biggest business gamble of all time. At the height of IBM's success, Thomas J. Watson, Jr. bet the company's future on a new compatible family of computer systems that would help revolutionize modern organizations. Get a behind-the-scenes view of the tough decisions made by some of the people who made them, and learn how the System/360 helped transform the government, science and commercial landscape.
Former White House Security Czar Richard Clarke was evidently on 60 minutes Sunday recently talking about terrorism & politics (he also has a new book on the way...). Interestingly, Clarke was part of a federal government effort to cozy up to convicted monopolist microsoft regarding an initiative to "bifurcate" the internet..
I believe we must decide to bifurcate cyberspace into the current area of anonymity on one side and a secure zone for critical infrastructure on the other
Recall also that the Department of Homeland Security chose Microsoft as it's exclusive supplier of desktop and server software. (DHS chooses the least secure product...)
From John Robb...
From the NY Times:
The Camera Never Lies, but the Software Can...
The Personal Video Recorder (PVR) Tivo has garnered many fans (though it's far from a runaway winner).
Some bloggers wonder why Tivo has not been a big hit. Doc Searls nails it...
The 71-year-old former astronaut has made two trips to the moon -- the historic first lunar orbit flight, December 1968's Apollo 8, and the aborted Apollo 13 mission in April 1970.
I posted some photos here.
The government is very close to deciding whether to grant the first licenses for commercial space flights carrying passengers, the chief commercial space regulator said on Monday.
Three teams have applied for permission to send people on suborbital ships, which would fly to an altitude of about 100 kilometers, or 63 miles, and then return near the point of launching.
Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites has posted an extensive library of photos and information from their test flight program (very interesting!). They recently flew faster than the speed of sound.