Sunday, January 31, 2010

A special report on social networking: A world of connections | The Economist

A timely social networking special report from The Economist; see the screen clip below for an article index and then visit the report lead article to explore. Also consider subscribing to The Economist (print and/or digital editions) if you’re not a current subscriber; excellent journalism needs financial support, and The Economist is limiting Web content access for non-subscribers.

This special report will examine these issues in detail. It will argue that social networks are more robust than their critics think, though not every site will prosper, and that social-networking technologies are creating considerable benefits for the businesses that embrace them, whatever their size. Lastly, it will contend that this is just the beginning of an exciting new era of global interconnectedness that will spread ideas and innovations around the world faster than ever before.

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A special report on social networking: A world of connections The Economist

Left Out (TechCrunchIT; + Apple iP* musings)

Read the full Steve Gillmor post for what appears to be a blanket forgiveness for all possible present and future iPad limitations.

Fear of iPad is now beginning to circulate with increasing velocity. It seems folks are realizing that regardless of how many things were left off the machine, it still will be bought by virtually everybody on the planet who cares about tech and its show business arm, social media. That means it’s going to be a huge galactic success. That in turn means we have to be very afraid of Uncle Steve owning our data.

Seriously, go read the full post, for more context-setting; I’ll wait here :)…

My $.02, after pondering the iPad intro and some of the petabytes of press/blogosphere/etc. iPad coverage:

1. I don’t want an iPad, at least not the 1.0 device. I’m sure my kids would love to have a super-sized Apple iP* (iPhone/iPod touch) platform device for games, and that there will be some intriguing multi-touch applications, but I can’t justify >= $499 for permission to buy content and apps exclusively from Apple’s stores.

2. I don’t want any tablet that doesn’t have two cameras, one primarily for interactive video and the other for, e.g., taking pictures of presentations at industry events, routine meetings, etc. (to be seamlessly placed in-context with related meeting notes).

3. I am still very pleased with my Kindle. It’d be even more useful for me if Amazon made it possible to more easily integrate the Kindle with other apps (e.g., for getting more value from my clippings collection by making it simpler to redirect clippings to OneNote or Evernote), but I can work around the limitations, for now (e.g., using OneNote and its text recognition capabilities to grab information items from the Kindle PC client, after capturing the clippings/etc. on my Kindle, since Amazon syncs info items along with reader clippings, annotations, etc.), and I believe Amazon will be very responsive to customer feedback and competitive dynamics – including, of course, delivering compelling Kindle clients for Apple iP* devices.

4. I want an app like the “infinite journal” in the Microsoft Courier project. For my needs, it represents substantive innovation, and not just a super-sized iP* device.

Maybe I’m an exception to Steve’s “virtually everybody on the planet who cares about tech and its show business arm, social media,” as I have a Kindle and a Dell XPS laptop that is a great fit for my roaming browsing/blogging/music/video chat/etc. needs. I am more focused on how I can create more value out of the myriad information channels and items I’m already working with than I am interested in exploring, e.g., multi-touch games or watching Disney movies while I’m on airplanes.

So, for now, count me among the “left out.”

Left Out

God bless us every one! Plus, Obama at courtside - James Fallows

Check the full post for a YouTube video.

[…] I got to go to the Georgetown-Duke hoops showdown this afternoon. We ended up sitting more or less directly behind Barack Obama -- though way, way back -- and saw when he went over to the broadcast desk to sit in with the play-by-play crew. We couldn't tell what he was saying, though we saw that he stayed there for more than a mere handshake. Just now I've seen it, and it is deft, funny, and effortless enough that I forgive his now-rote speech ending. Whether or not you wanted to sit through the 80+ minutes of the GOP session, these six minutes are worth seeing.

God bless us every one! Plus, Obama at courtside - James Fallows

FT.com / Media - Walls close in on e-book garden

It’s easy to be an intellectual property utopian, from a customer perspective; reality is a bit more complex – as perhaps the Financial Times might agree, with its policy of offering free access to a tiny number of articles each month (access to 8 articles every 30 days, to be precise), and charging a weekly fee (starting at $3.59) for unlimited access.

The digital publishing industry and consumer advocates breathed a sigh of relief when Apple chief executive Steve Jobs revealed that the iPad would use the open EPUB format for the electronic books it sold through the iBooks store .

Unlike Amazon, which has quickly grown to be the world’s largest seller of e-books, it appeared Apple was steering away from introducing its own file format that would only work on Apple products. Instead, by choosing EPUB, a more common format, it looked like Apple was breaking with its past walled-garden approach.

Those hopes were quickly dashed. According to executives in the digital reading industry, Apple is planning to add its own digital rights management software. Apple could not be reached for comment.

FT.com / Media - Walls close in on e-book garden

Steve Jobs and the Economics of Elitism - NYTimes.com

A timely Steve Jobs/Apple reality check… although many people seem to have forgotten failures such as the Apple III, Apple Lisa, NeXTcube, NeXTStation, and Power Mac G4 Cube (I’m not predicting failure for the iPad; I’m just pointing out that even Steve Jobs doesn’t have a perfect track record)

Timing is essential to make such big steps ahead. Carver Mead, a leading computer scientist at the California Institute of Technology, once said, “Listen to the technology; find out what it’s telling you.”

Mr. Jobs is undeniably a gifted marketer and showman, but he is also a skilled listener to the technology. He calls this “tracking vectors in technology over time,” to judge when an intriguing innovation is ready for the marketplace. Technical progress, affordable pricing and consumer demand all must jell to produce a blockbuster product.

Indeed, Apple designers and engineers have been working on the iPad for years, presenting Mr. Jobs with prototypes periodically. None passed muster, until recently.

Steve Jobs and the Economics of Elitism - NYTimes.com

WSJ: Amazon may again be mulling Netflix buy | Media Maverick - CNET News

A sensible synergy scenario, imho

As Netflix continues to build one of the most formidable online movie services, investors continue to send the company's stock price soaring.

For that reason, Amazon.com may be considering an acquisition of the Web's No. 1 movie rental service, according to a report Thursday in The Wall Street Journal.

Rumors that Netflix is an acquisition target are nothing new and the Journal story is definitely long on speculation. But the author makes a good case for why an acquisition makes sense. For the past couple years, Netflix has been one of the tech sector's most compelling growth stories. This week, the company reported another blowout quarter, as profits rose 36 percent to $30.9 million and revenue jumped 24 percent to $445 million. Netflix also boosted the number of subscribers by 1 million, giving the company a total of 12 million.

WSJ: Amazon may again be mulling Netflix buy | Media Maverick - CNET News

Unboxed - Advances in Sensor-Based Computing Bring ‘Smart Dust’ Closer - NYTimes.com

You – and your stuff – will be assimilated…

Years ago, enthusiasts predicted the coming of “smart dust” — tiny digital sensors, strewn around the globe, gathering all sorts of information and communicating with powerful computer networks to monitor, measure and understand the physical world in new ways. But this intriguing vision seemed plucked from the realm of science fiction.

Smart dust, to be sure, remains a ways off. But technology’s virtuous cycle of smaller, faster and cheaper has reached the point that experts say sensors may soon be powerful enough to be the equivalent of tiny computers. Some ambitious sensor research projects provide a glimpse of where things are headed.

Unboxed - Advances in Sensor-Based Computing Bring ‘Smart Dust’ Closer - NYTimes.com

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The most interesting thing you can watch today (updated x2) - James Fallows

Check the full post for more details and video highlights, and then go read Fallows’ cover story in the latest Atlantic if you haven’t already done so

Obama's Q-and-A session today with the House GOP members, meeting in Baltimore, as shown on C-Span. Program info here; embedded player below. Good-government types often moan that the U.S. should have some equivalent to the lively "Prime Minister's Question Time" from Westminster. This is quite a worthy counterpart. And, not incidentally from the White House's point of view, perhaps the most effective performance by Obama since taking office.

The most interesting thing you can watch today (updated x2) - James Fallows

Apple makes $208 on each $499 iPad (Computerworld)

Tbd if Apple has figured out how to “… make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk” and/or mutated its “DNA” to facilitate shipping it either way

The $499 version of the new iPad tablet actually runs Apple about $270 in materials and manufacturing costs, a Wall Street analyst said today.

According to a bill of materials (BOM) analysis by Brian Marshall of BroadPoint AmTech, the cost of goods inside Apple's 16GB Wi-Fi-only iPad totals $270.50. That figure includes a $10 line item dedicated to manufacturing, but doesn't include another $20 set aside for under-warranty service costs. Adding the latter makes Marshall's bottom-line total $290.50.

Apple makes $208 on each $499 iPad

The Slatest - Slate Magazine: Obama to GOP: This Is Not a Cage Match

On the manipulative/cynical media modus operandi and inflated-expectations themes, I believe Obama’s Baltimore event yesterday is going to be seen as a milestone in Presidential history; see this NYT article for more details

President Obama didn't pull any punches during an address to House Republicans in Baltimore on Friday. "I don't think [the American people] want more gridlock, I don't think they want more partisanship, I don't think they want more obstruction," Obama said. "They didn't send us to Washington to fight each other in some sort of political cage match to see who comes out alive." He took Republicans to task for potraying him as a guy who's "doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America" and accused them of attending ribbon-cuttings for projects funded by the stimulus bill they voted against. Republicans didn't hold back either.

The most important news and commentary to read right now. - The Slatest - Slate Magazine

Business & Technology | iPhones keeping ski resorts honest on snow reports | Seattle Times Newspaper

Sign of the times

It may not seem like much: a resort's bragging of an 8-inch snowfall when the slopes really got only 4 or 6 inches. But to a skier or snowboarder, those extra inches make slopes more desirable.

[…]

Apple Inc.'s iPhone and the application SkiReport.com are apparently helping keep resorts honest, allowing skiers to log reports in real time, from chairlifts or base lodges.

"Exaggerations fall sharply, especially at resorts where iPhones can get reception," the report said.

Business & Technology | iPhones keeping ski resorts honest on snow reports | Seattle Times Newspaper

Seeing Through the Apple (and ‘Avatar’) Hyperbole - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

I worry that there is a broader pattern here – an increasingly pervasive cycle, in the press/punditry/blogosphere, to build up outrageous expectations and then savagely and cynically attack when super-human results don’t follow. In some respects, it looks like a journalist/blogger/etc. full-employment act – sustaining a reservoir of timely and titillating topics by artificially creating them when necessary.

There are a few similarities between Wednesday’s Apple announcement and the blockbuster movie “Avatar.” They both cost many millions of dollars and took many years to produce. They both required vast amounts of technology to build, and of course they will both make hundreds of millions of dollars for their respective companies. But they will also share another category: too much hype before their launch, and a result that comes across as intriguing and entertaining, yet sadly anticlimactic.

Seeing Through the Apple (and ‘Avatar’) Hyperbole - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Amazon Pulls Macmillan Books Over Pricing Rift - NYTimes.com

Interesting times in the book business

A person in the industry with knowledge of the dispute, which has been brewing for a year, said Amazon was expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books. The person did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of e-books to around $15 from $9.99.

Macmillan is one of the publishers signed on to offer books to Apple, as part of its new iBookstore on the iPad tablet unveiled earlier this week.

Amazon Pulls Macmillan Books Over Pricing Rift - NYTimes.com

A matter of minutes - The Boston Globe

Voice is an app and we’re past the dawn of the stupid wireless network; it would be counterproductive for Apple to try to go against these market dynamics

Apple on Wednesday said it will allow users of its popular iPhone to place calls through their Internet service without using their cellphone plan’s voice minutes. With the right software, iPhone users with an AT&T unlimited data plan will be able to talk as much as they want, and at a lower price than the carrier charges for traditional cellphone service.

A matter of minutes - The Boston Globe

Friday, January 29, 2010

iPad vs. Kindle: It’s Way Too Early to Tell « Steve Wildstrom on Tech

A timely press/analyst/blogosphere/Apple reality distortion field reality check from Steve Wildstrom; see the full post 

The fact that Steve Jobs gave only the sketchiest outline of the iPad’s ebook capabilities and told us even less about the iBook store did not prevent a fierce debate from breaking out over whether the iPad will or will not kill Amazon’s Kindle. Now this argument  would be fundamentally misguided even if we knew a lot more about the iPad. It is a peculiar conceit of the tech industry that any new product has the be evaluated as the potential killer of some existing category leader, completely ignoring the very real prospect that both the incumbent and the challenger might prosper. For example, I think it is entirely possible the Kindle and other e Ink-based readers continue to be the choice of voracious readers of fiction and mostly text non-fiction, while the iPad wins the market for textbooks and multimedia newspapers and magazines.

But I digress. What really puzzles me is the tendency of analysts to come to firm conclusions based of the flimsiest of evidence—or perhaps none at all.

iPad vs. Kindle: It’s Way Too Early to Tell « Steve Wildstrom on Tech

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » iPad, Therefore I Am - Cringely on technology

Cringely plausibly ponders his off-target previous post; an excerpt follows below. Read the full post -- I believe it’s part of an emerging pattern that suggests lots of iPad details are still squishy, and that iPad 1.0 may turn out to be a dead-end device (since upgrades will soon follow with, e.g., a camera or two).

Just because Apple didn’t mention Verizon doesn’t mean they won’t also offer 3G service from Verizon. The word “exclusive” was never used referring to AT&T. They trotted-out that pre-paid plan, but it would be crazy for carriers to not also offer a one-year or two-year subscription plan, too, which would drop the unit price somewhat. Maybe the subscription rates weren’t yet set. More likely the Verizon details were still in some limbo or Apple gave AT&T an exclusive presence at the intro in exchange for some concession we may never know about.

With Steve Jobs the deal isn’t done until it is done so I am sure he’s still trying to take one or both carriers to the cleaners.

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » iPad, Therefore I Am - Cringely on technology

Pattern Finder: Oracle Announces Oracle Cloud Office

If Oracle Cloud Office turns out to be as vaporous as IBM “Concord” (“IBM Lotus Symphony for the cloud”), it’s going to be a long time before we see anything beyond an announcement or early proof-of-concept demo.

Although the details are sketchy, it appears that Oracle will be coming out with Oracle Cloud Office, a SaaS-based productivity suite based on OpenOffice.org. See the following articles:

This adds Oracle to the list of vendors who already offer an online productivity suite (Google, Zoho) or will soon (Adobe, IBM, Microsoft).

Pattern Finder: Oracle Announces Oracle Cloud Office

Despite Changes, Many Still Oppose Google Books Deal - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

The saga continues

But version 2.0 of the settlement has failed to placate many of the critics who opposed the original agreement. With a Thursday deadline looming, several parties rushed to file a new round of objections to the settlement, which requires court approval.

In a new, 33-page filing, Amazon.com, a vocal opponent of the original deal and a rival of Google in e-books, said the new agreement “continues to give Google exclusive rights likely to lead to a monopoly.” Amazon and several others, including the Department of Justice, argued that the original deal would have given Google exclusive rights to millions of unclaimed or “orphan works” — out-of-print books whose rights holders were unknown or couldn’t be found.

Despite Changes, Many Still Oppose Google Books Deal - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Counsyl Brings Genetic Screening to the Masses - NYTimes.com

Interesting times

The company, Counsyl, is selling a test that it says can tell couples whether they are at risk of having children with a range of inherited diseases, including cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, spinal muscular atrophy, sickle cell disease and Pompe disease (the one afflicting the children in the movie).

Once informed, Counsyl says, couples can take steps like using in vitro fertilization with genetic testing of the embryos, to avoid bearing children who would have the diseases, many of which are incurable and fatal in childhood.

Counsyl Brings Genetic Screening to the Masses - NYTimes.com

'Millions of people' now own Kindles, says Amazon in its most non-vague sales statement yet -- Engadget

Intriguing that Amazon is unwilling to provide precise data in this context

At any rate, CEO Jeff Bezos let out the tiniest smidgen of Kindle's sales today in its fiscal report, saying that "millions of people now own Kindles." If we're lucky, next earnings call we'll get to play a "higher or lower" guessing game. Maybe.

'Millions of people' now own Kindles, says Amazon in its most non-vague sales statement yet -- Engadget

Thursday, January 28, 2010

IPad? That’s So 2002, Fujitsu Says - NYTimes.com

Oops…

It’s sleek. It’s mobile. It has a touchscreen.

The Fujitsu iPAD.

It’s Fujitsu’s iPad from 2002.

Sold mainly in the United States, the multifunctional device from the Tokyo technology company helps shop clerks verify prices, check real-time inventory data and close sales on the go.

Fujitsu, which applied for an iPad trademark in 2003, is claiming first dibs, setting up a fight with Apple over the name of the new tablet device that Apple plans to sell starting in March.

IPad? That’s So 2002, Fujitsu Says - NYTimes.com

Happy Tablet Day « Evernote Blogcast

Evernote is exceptionally well positioned to ride the tablet wave.  Read the full post for more Evernote perspectives and plans.

Evernote loves tablets. We’ve got a long and storied history with tablets of all kinds. Got an old tablet lying around somewhere? Chances are we either developed technology for it, had applications that ran on it, or both. Usually both.

Remember the awesome Apple Newton? Evernote’s current R&D engineers developed the handwriting recognition technology that made it so notable (and ahead of its time). Remember those Doonesbury strips making fun of the Newton? You know who cried when those came out? We did. Well, not me personally, I was in college and the Newton was at the top of my unattainable gadget drool-list, but the guys sitting next to me right now clutching their Newton prototypes while watching the Apple liveblogs did. I’ve got those Donnesbury strips in my Evernote account now.

[…]

Ok, so we’re excited by the iPad itself, and by the HP Slate, and the Sony VAIO L series, and the Nvidia Tegra, and by the added light that these and other devices will shine on touch computing in general. I’m looking at some happy engineers right now.

Happy Tablet Day « Evernote Blogcast

Platformonomics - iPad Observations

See the full post for Charles Fitzgerald’s insights.

Looks nice, but more evolutionary than revolutionary.  Price better than expected, but still won’t be racing out to buy one. Expectations were impossible to meet, but Apple gets a lot of blame for setting them so high.

Platformonomics - iPad Observations

Apple iPad first hands-on! (update: video!) -- Engadget

This post has the most useful iPad (~7-minute) video/demo I’ve come across so far (it also includes the brief list of initial thoughts/impressions I referenced last night, e.g., re lack of multitasking). Apple has also posted the (~1.5 hour) intro video here, but you have to use Quicktime to view it (I suspect it will be transcoded and posted on YouTube soon).

Here it is folks, the Apple iPad. The screen is gorgeous, tilting is responsive, and the thing is super thin. Still, if you've used the iPhone before -- and you can see the two devices side-by-side here -- there's not a lot of surprises here so far.

Apple iPad first hands-on! (update: video!) -- Engadget

Peace, love, and the IBM System 360s (Forrester: The Forrester Blog For Application Development & Program Management Professionals Blog)

A timely Oracle/Sun summary from John Rymer; read the full post. My $.02: Larry Ellison evidently wants Oracle to become the Apple of the data center – an end-to-end provider of solutions that “just work;” tbd if that’s what enterprise IT customers (and IT professional services companies, which, due to outsourcing and long-term services contracts, are often the ultimate decision-makers for enterprise IT organizations these days) actually want.

"Our vision for 2010 is the same as IBM's for the year 1960." So said Oracle's Larry Ellison from the stage at today's event to celebrate his company's acquisition of Sun Microsystems. With Sun in hand, Oracle will now take us back to the simple virtues of mainframes 50 years ago. Updated, these virtues are:

  • Simple deployment. Rather than integrate and configure a collection of software products on a server, customers install a purpose-built box with all the software installed, integrated, and configured.
  • Simple support. Rather than weave through the pointing fingers of multiple vendors, customers turn to just one to obtain support for their systems.
  • Simple reliability and performance. Because the vendor owns all of the elements in the hardware-software stack, it can "engineer-in" reliability and performance, as IBM did with the System 360.

Forrester: The Forrester Blog For Application Development & Program Management Professionals Blog

Business & Technology | iPad lifts off to much iHype | Seattle Times Newspaper

Apple also noted yesterday that it has sold a total of 75 million iPhone and iPod touch devices

Early in his presentation Wednesday, Jobs delivered a few updates, including news that the company sold its 250 millionth iPod a few days ago, 3 billion apps have been downloaded from iTunes and Apple just reported $15.6 billion in quarterly revenue.

Apple is a mobile-devices company, Jobs said, noting that its revenue comes from iPods, iPhones and Macs that are mostly laptops nowadays.

"It turns out that by revenue Apple is the largest mobile-device company in the world now," he said.

Business & Technology | iPad lifts off to much iHype | Seattle Times Newspaper

First Impressions of the New Apple iPad | Walt Mossberg | Mossblog | AllThingsD

See the full review (no wsj.com subscription required) for details – interesting that Walt Mossberg evidently didn’t have a preview iPad to explore; perhaps that explains why his weekly print WSJ column this week is about Mozilla Thunderbird 3 rather than the iPad

It’s about the software, stupid. While all sorts of commentators were focusing on how much Apple’s new $499 iPad tablet computer looks like an oversized iPhone, the key to whether it can be the first multi-function tablet to win wide public acceptance probably lies in whether consumers perceive it as a suitable replacement for a laptop in key scenarios. And that, in my view, depends heavily on the software and services that flow through its handsome little body.

I have only spent a short time hands-on with the iPad–too short to fully run it through its paces and formally review it yet. But, after attending the rollout of the new device today, and trying out some of its features for myself, I have some first impressions.

First Impressions of the New Apple iPad | Walt Mossberg | Mossblog | AllThingsD

Apple’s splash not wilting e-book screen maker - The Boston Globe

I agree – Amazon may need to be more supplier-flexible in its pricing structure, to address Apple’s publisher pricing/licensing model, but I don’t see the iPad as a threat to the Kindle at this point

For now, analysts said, it does not appear the iPad will wipe out the market for e-readers - the core of E Ink’s business. “I think E Ink can rest a little bit. I bet they were up late last night worrying about it,’’ said Forrester Research media analyst James McQuivey. “Over time, there will be more credible threats to E Ink, but this isn’t it.’’

Instead of being a Kindle killer, he said, the iPad might simply be “competition that will make everybody sell better.’’ He estimated that 6 million e-book readers will be sold this year.

Apple’s splash not wilting e-book screen maker - The Boston Globe

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple iPad first hands-on! (update: video!) -- Engadget

Think different…

There's no multitasking at all. It's a real disappointment. All this power and very little you can do with it at once. No multitasking means no streaming Pandora when you're working in Pages... you can figure it out. It's a real setback for this device.

Apple iPad first hands-on! (update: video!) -- Engadget

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Hello iPad, Goodbye PC

Lots of useful insights from Nicholas Carr; read the full post 

The PC era ended this morning at ten o’clock Pacific time, when Steve Jobs mounted a San Francisco stage to unveil the iPad, Apple’s version of a tablet computer. What made the moment epochal was not so much the gadget itself - an oversized iPod Touch tricked out with an e-reader application and a few other new features - but the clouds of hype that attended its arrival.

[…]

The rapturous reaction to Apple’s tablet - the buildup to Jobs’s announcement blurred the line between media feeding-frenzy and orgiastic pagan ritual - shows that our attitude to the tablet form has shifted. Tablets suddenly look attractive. Why? Because the nature of personal computing has changed.

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Hello iPad, Goodbye PC

iPad initial impressions, part 1

I’d rather have one of these:

image 

Courier: First Details of Microsoft's Secret Tablet - Microsoft courier tablet - Gizmodo

A Twitter-like Site Showing How You Spend Money - TIME

I still don’t get it…  See the full article for details.

If you want to know how I spend my money, go to Blippy.com Each time I make a purchase on my credit card, the amount I've spent and the name of the place I've spent it automatically pop up on this weird new site. Why would any sane person volunteer to publicize that information? Philip Kaplan, a technology entrepreneur and one of Blippy's co-founders, hazards a guess: "To tell people — friends, acquaintances, maybe even strangers — a little bit more about you."

A Twitter-like Site Showing How You Spend Money - TIME

Apple Event to Focus on Reinventing Content, Not Tablets | Epicenter | Wired.com

Okay, my last pre-announcement Apple tablet-related post, I promise…

Apple’s goal is to offer a new platform for content creators to reinvent books, magazines and online content — in addition to offering a new avenue for content producers to make money. That platform will likely be far broader than just a tablet device, and will extend to every device or computer that iTunes touches.

HTML5 and iTunes will form the centerpieces of Apple’s new content strategy. The new iTunes content will not be packaged as apps sold through the App Store, though Apple will likely provide a tablet app for displaying new content created with this new platform, and developers will still be free to create apps. Instead, HTML content will be presented similar to the way iTunes currently presents enhanced music and video content.

“The focus is going to be on content creation and participation,” a technologist with close ties to Apple told Wired.com. “If the tablet is going to be an answer to things like the Kindle, which are purely about consumption, what you’re going to see is Apple is going to be full-blown about creation.”

Apple Event to Focus on Reinventing Content, Not Tablets Epicenter Wired.com

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » Apple Tablet Twit! - Cringely on technology

Perhaps the most significant milestone of all: Apple was not able to keep the details secret until the official unveiling. No doubt Apple’s lawyers will be busy for the next few months… In the meantime, check the full post for a photo and a couple more details (and also check the post comments; some people believe Cringely was hacked and/or hoaxed)

From a beta tester:

Apple tablet is OLED + back has solar pad for recharging, but (the charger) really doesn’t work quickly. More a gimmick. Verizon+att, wifi yes!

Apple Tablet has thumbpads on each side for mouse gestures, reads fingerprint for security. Up to 5 profiles by fingerprint for family.

Yes, there are 2cameras: one in front and one in back (or it may be one with some double lens) so you record yourself and in front of you.

I can tell u the battery life is great in ebook reading mode but not great when on wifi or playing games. 2-3hrs.

Yes, the apple tablet is running an iphone os flavor with ability to have multiple apps running at same time (ie pandora, browser).

The price will be $599, $699 and $799 depending on size and memory in apple tablet. Also, wireless keyboard + monitor connection for TV.

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » Apple Tablet Twit! - Cringely on technology

PLATO History

2010/06/02 – 03 event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View (via Richard Eckel)

Perhaps the greatest untold story in the history of computing is the development of the PLATO system at the University of Illinois and later also at Control Data Corporation. Largely unknown today to the general public, PLATO's list of innovations and seminal influences is considerable. For the first time ever, this event will assemble many of the key people involved with the creation of the PLATO phenomenon.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and learn from an amazing variety of technolgy innovators, including Microsoft's Ray Ozzie (who got his start on PLATO at the University of Illinois); Don Bitzer, creator of PLATO and co-inventor of the flat-panel gas plasma display; Dave Woolley, creator of PLATO Notes (which inspired Ozzie to later create Lotus Notes) and many others to be announced soon.

PLATO History

With Sun, Oracle Aims At Giants - NYTimes.com

More Oracle/Sun expectations

On Wednesday, Oracle will hold an event at its Silicon Valley headquarters where executives from the company will talk in detail about the plans for Sun Microsystems.

Mr. Ellison said that in the next few months, Oracle planned to lay off fewer than 2,000 people, while hiring more than 2,000 people in engineering, sales and other roles. He did not rule out that additional layoffs might occur later.

Mr. Ellison added that he expected Sun’s chief executive, Jonathan I. Schwartz, to resign and that he hoped that Scott G. McNealy, Sun’s co-founder and chairman, would stay on at Oracle, although his title and duties were not clear.

“We need to have more conversations about his role,” Mr. Ellison said.

[…]

Mr. Ellison added that Oracle would sell products directly to Sun’s top 4,000 customers, which accounted for about 70 percent of its revenue, rather than relying on partners as Sun had in the past.

“Sun has wonderful engineering, but they didn’t seem to like selling very much,” Mr. Ellison said. “The partner model was disastrous, and we are immediately changing that.”

With Sun, Oracle Aims At Giants - NYTimes.com

Google beefing up new 'Social Web Team' | The Social - CNET News

Hmm…

Is Google plotting to encroach upon Facebook's comfy territory? Well, it seems it's launched a sort of social-networking task force: Open-standards guru Will Norris announced on his blog Tuesday that he'll be starting a new job at Google on February 1, joining a few other prominent social-networking thinkers who have also recently made the jump to Mountain View.

"I'm happy to announce today that I've accepted a job at Google, working on the newly formed Social Web team," Norris wrote on his blog. "I will be joining fellow new hires Joseph Smarr and Chris Messina, as well as a host of other incredibly talented engineers, in contributing to the emerging standards and growing developer community in this space."

Google beefing up new 'Social Web Team' | The Social - CNET News

Google’s Colonization and Bomb Threats - Digits - WSJ

A timely Google reality check

The company also lacks “emotional intelligence,” he [the New Yorker’s Ken Auletta] added.

For example, Mr. Brin asked Mr. Auletta why he didn’t publish his book online for free, saying it would reach a wider audience that way. Mr. Auletta asked him if he’d ask a teacher to work for nothing, then asked who would pay for the expenses involved in reporting, editing or marketing the book.

“He quickly changed the subject,” Mr. Auletta said. It wasn’t a surprise that Mr. Brin might not know the intricacies of the publishing business, but his response gave Mr. Auletta some insight into the “instinctual attitude that Google brought to the question of copyright,” he said.

That topic, as well as privacy issues and its size, are three “atomic bombs that could blow up in Google’s face,” he said. “They’re not as sensitive to those three atomic bombs as they should be.”

Google’s Colonization and Bomb Threats - Digits - WSJ

Oracle's Ellison Sets New Course - WSJ.com

It’s going to be an interesting day, with Oracle unveiling its detailed plans for Sun, Apple unveiling its tablet, and the State of the Union address…

With the acquisition, Mr. Ellison, who built his fortune selling computer software and shunning hardware, says Oracle's mission will change significantly. He said he plans to transform Oracle into a company that is as serious about server systems—the big back-office computers used for processing corporate data—as it is about business software.

Mr. Ellison said his planned 2,000 new hires will outnumber the cuts Oracle is making in Sun's head count, which stood at 27,596 as of Sept. 30. Oracle, which had 83,366 employees at the end of November, was widely expected to slash Sun's work force.

Oracle's Ellison Sets New Course - WSJ.com

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

McGraw-Hill: Tablet will be based on iPhone OS | Circuit Breaker - CNET News

I’m guessing McGraw-Hill won’t be getting top billing at Apple’s event tomorrow…

On the eve of Apple's expected tablet announcement, the top executive at a major book publisher has stolen a bit of Apple's thunder.

During a live taping on CNBC on Tuesday, McGraw-Hill Chairman and CEO Terry McGraw said the tablet will be introduced tomorrow, will have college textbooks on it, and will be based on the iPhone OS.

McGraw-Hill: Tablet will be based on iPhone OS | Circuit Breaker - CNET News

Apple in Talks With Publishers in Advance of Tablet's Debut - WSJ.com

Apparently the slides for tomorrow’s Apple event are not finalized yet…

Apple's business model for books, which the company has kept under tight wraps, shifts the focus away from the bargain-basement prices Amazon has made popular, according to publishers who have met directly with the company. Apple is asking publishers to set two e-book price points for hardcover best sellers: $12.99 and $14.99, with fewer titles offered at $9.99. In setting their own e-book prices, publishers would avoid the threat of heavy discounting. Apple would take a 30% cut of the book price, with publishers receiving the remaining 70%.

News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers was in serious negotiations with Apple late on Tuesday to appear in the starting lineup for the tablet, set to be unveiled at a news conference in San Francisco Wednesday morning. News Corp. also owns The Wall Street Journal.

Apple in Talks With Publishers in Advance of Tablet's Debut - WSJ.com

The iWhatever Deadpan Line of the Day « Steve Wildstrom on Tech

A timely Apple “news” reality check 

Isn’t it about time that all of us stopped parroting the Apple-releated blathering of everyone declaring him- or herself to be an analyst, especially when the latest breathless “news” really makes no claim to be anything more than a guess. All we know is that Apple is announcing something Wednesday and if it isn’t a tablet, their will be a lot of disappointed fanboys, investors, analysts, and reporters. Beyond that, those talk don’t know and those who know don’t talk.

Bu the way, while it is possible that  the iPhone will become available to all comers when the AT&T exclusivity expires, it would require a new iPhone model or models. The current iPhone supports GSM and EDGE at 850, 900, 1800, and 1900 Mhz and UMTS/HSPA 3G at 850, 1900, and 2100 Mhz. To support T-Mobile, Apple would have to add 3G at 1700 MHz. Verizon and Sprint would need CDMA 1X and EV-DO at 800 and 1900 MHz, the former for Verizon only. That’s a lot of radios to cram into one little phone.

The iWhatever Deadpan Line of the Day « Steve Wildstrom on Tech

Bill Gates Defends Google, Then Pans It - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

See the full article for more context-setting

Mr. Gates declared himself unimpressed and a bit perplexed by Google’s recent threat to drop its search business in China to protest Chinese censorship of search after attacks apparently intended to spy on Gmail accounts of human-rights activists. “They’ve done nothing and gotten a lot of credit for it,” Mr. Gates said.

One may or may not agree with the laws in China, he said, but nearly all countries have some controversial laws or policies, including the United States. “What point are they making?” Mr. Gates asked. “Now, if Google ever chooses to pull out of the United States, then I’d give them credit.”

Bill Gates Defends Google, Then Pans It - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Gates: “Innovation, Not Insulation” | The New Republic

Read the full article for more on Bill Gates’ perspectives

Gates’ remarks are the most noteworthy--and pointed. Writing on his personal blog under the title “Why We Need Innovation, Not Insulation,” Gates says energy innovation has been on his mind lately, and he has posted an angular, politically incorrect complaint about the extent to which the country is missing the point on the appropriate goals and means for carbon reduction.

Very much in line with posts like this one and this one here, Gates declares that the carbon emission goal that really matters is getting to an 80 percent world cut by 2050 (rather than to just a 30 percent by 2025 cut), and says that that dictates certain priorities. Says Gates: If that massive 2050 goal is the challenge, then “we are going to have to reduce emissions from transportation and electrical production in participating countries down to zero.” Continues the technologist: To get to zero, we are going to need to focus on the right things:

“If addressing climate change only requires us to get to the 2025 goal, then efficiency would be the key thing. But you can never insulate your way to anything close to zero no matter what advocates of resource efficiency say. [And so] innovation in transportation and electricity will be the key factor.”

Gates: “Innovation, Not Insulation” The New Republic

For The Love Of Culture | The New Republic

A timely Google reality check from Lawrence Lessig; excerpt:

How might we do better? What would a solution to this mess look like, a solution that would not bury our culture in a morass of legal and technical code? The core problem here is not one of Google’s creation. It is not a problem that we should expect Google, or any other private company, to solve. Indeed, Google has gone a great distance in the settlement to mitigate the problems that the law (given digital technology) imports: the settlement has a special deal for libraries and universities, and it has the potential to offer a special deal for researchers. Google and the plaintiffs have tried to grant special favors of access, no doubt to avoid precisely the kind of concern I am raising here. And no doubt the settlement as a whole is an experiment that could teach us a great deal about how culture is demanded, and what access we need to secure.

But we cannot rely upon special favors granted by private companies (and quasi-monopoly collecting societies) to define our access to culture, even if the favors are generous, at least at the start. Instead our focus should be on the underlying quandary that gives rise to the need for this elaborate scheme to regulate access to culture. However clever the settlement, however elegant the technology, we should keep Peter Drucker’s words clear in our head: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

For The Love Of Culture | The New Republic

Oracle-Sun merger foes head to China, Russia - Page 1 - Information Architecture

Go figure…

MySQL founder Michael 'Monty' Widenius said in a statement Monday that the Commission, Europe's top competition regulator, showed weakness when it struck a deal with Oracle last month that paved the way for an unconditional approval of the acquisition of Sun. Widenius left MySQL in 2009 and might have been part of a group of possible bidders for the unit should it have been ruled an impediment to the merger.

[…]

Oracle still has not obtained clearance from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS). FAS said last week that it has extended the deadline for its ongoing probe of the deal.

Widenius' helpmysql.org campaign has over 600 supporters in China and more than 800 in Russia. Widenius said it will now work closely with its local supporters to support the work of the competition authorities in those two countries and will step up its efforts to collect signatures from local MySQL users.

Oracle-Sun merger foes head to China, Russia - Page 1 - Information Architecture

With Apple Tablet, Print Media Hope for a Payday - NYTimes.com

Given a potential choice between oblivion and following instructions from Steve Jobs, I suspect many publications will choose the latter

This opportunity, however, comes with a sizable catch: Steven P. Jobs.

Mr. Jobs, the chief executive, made Apple the most important distributor of music by imposing its own will on the music labels, bullying them into accepting Apple’s pricing and other terms. Apple sold lots of music, but the music labels claimed that iTunes had destroyed the concept of the album and damaged their already deteriorating bottom lines.

With the new tablet, media companies could be submitting themselves to similar pricing restrictions and sacrificing their direct relationship with customers to Apple.

With Apple Tablet, Print Media Hope for a Payday - NYTimes.com

Apple Posts Higher Profit, Sales - WSJ.com

Setting the tone for tomorrow’s event…

The growth was fueled by strong sales across most of Apple's product lines as iPhone shipments more than doubled and Macintosh computer sales climbed 33%.

[…]

Overall, Apple reported a quarterly profit of $3.38 billion, or $3.67 a share, up from $2.26 billion, or $2.50 a share, a year earlier. Revenue increased to $15.68 billion from $11.88 billion.

Apple said its latest results were helped by new accounting rules that allow it to recognize all the revenue for iPhone sales at the time the phones are sold.

[APPLE]

Apple Posts Higher Profit, Sales - WSJ.com

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Kindle World blog: Another 1.5 million Free Books-Documents + Other good items

More from the “paradox of abundance” domain…

Internet Archive Text area - almost 2 million free books and documents - Kindle formats included, via ".mobi" or ".prc" files or specifically labeled "Kindle."
  Remember that the Kindle also directly reads .txt and PDF files although .prc or .mobi ones may be more readable in font size.
  There are also areas of files with somewhat questionable value, but the main sub-collections include American Libraries, Canadian Libraries, Universal Libraries (Carnegie Mellon, governments of India, China, Egypt), Project Gutenberg (another access point) -- and there are recent contributions from The Library of Congress, UCLA Scanning Center's special collections, etc.). 

A Kindle World blog: Another 1.5 million Free Books-Documents + Other good items

Pope’s Message to Priests: We Must Blog (Mashable)

Sign of the times

Pope Benedict XVI has a message for priests of the Catholic Church: they must proclaim the gospel by not only having a website, but by blogging and utilizing new web communication tools.

The 265th Pope of the Catholic Church has been an unexpectedly strong proponent of social media. Last year, he launched a YouTube channel, and six months ago, he released Facebook and iPhone apps to spread the Church’s message. It looks like that he hopes Catholic priests will follow his digital example.

Pope’s Message to Priests: We Must Blog

Your Brain Can’t Handle Your Facebook Friends (Mashable)

See the full post for more details

Ever heard of Dunbar’s Number? According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, it’s the cognitive limit to the number of people you can be friends with. The number is 150, meaning your brain can only handle that much friends, and – shockingly enough – it also applies to Facebook.

Even if you have thousands of friends, that number is really meaningless as far as true friendships go, Dunbar told Times Online. He supports this with traffic data. “The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world,” he said.

Your Brain Can’t Handle Your Facebook Friends

The Media Equation - A Shroud of Secrecy for Steven Jobs and Apple’s Tablet - NYTimes.com

A timely Apple reality check

And the most magical part? Even as the media and technology worlds have anticipated this announcement for months, Apple has said not word one about The Device. Reporting on the announcement has become crowdsourced, with thousands of tech and media journalists scrambling for the latest wisp and building on the reporting of others.

However miraculous the thingamajig turns out to be — all rumors point to some kind of tabletlike device — it can’t be more remarkable than the control that Apple and Mr. Jobs have over their audience.

[…]

“Other companies put things in beta, let people try it out and then bring it out,” said Steven Levy, a senior writer at Wired. “With Apple, they say nothing, build the suspense and then say: ‘Here it is. You may discuss.’ Other companies don’t have the discipline, the heart, to do that.”

The Media Equation - A Shroud of Secrecy for Steven Jobs and Apple’s Tablet - NYTimes.com

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Secretary Clinton’s Internet Freedom Speech, Abridged « Clay Shirky

A handy summary

[Ed. note: I attended Secretary Clinton's speech on internet freedom on Thursday the 21st, which I thought was a good combination of principle, policy, and illustrative stories. Talking to people afterwards, the commonest question was "What did the Secretary commit the State Department to?" The text below is my attempt to answer that question.

I don't have any inside information about the particulars of the State department's plans; the text below is simply an abridged version of the speech, from which I removed everything except statements you could judge future actions of the State Department on. Stripped of it's context (and with my apologies to the speech writers), my read of the speech is that the success or failure of our internet freedom policy will come down to our ability to live up to the principles outlined below. -clay]

Secretary Clinton’s Internet Freedom Speech, Abridged « Clay Shirky

Digital Domain - On Tax Returns, Why Enter What the I.R.S. Already Knows? - NYTimes.com

Hopefully a matter of when, not if, for U.S. taxpayers

Many developed countries now offer taxpayers a return containing all information collected by the taxing authority — to “get the ball rolling by telling you what it knows,” Mr. Bankman says.

It’s a stunningly reasonable idea. When you prepare your return, why can’t you first download whatever data the Internal Revenue Service has received about you and, if your return is simple, learn what the I.R.S.’s calculation of your taxes would be? You’d have the chance to check whether the information was accurate, correct it as needed and add any pertinent details — that you’re newly married, for example, or have a new child — before sending it. Far better to discover problems early with the I.R.S., whose say matters more than third-party software’s best guess.

Digital Domain - On Tax Returns, Why Enter What the I.R.S. Already Knows? - NYTimes.com

PowerPivot: 44 Million Records in a 5MB File -- Visual Studio Magazine

New horizons for desktop analytics

At the front of a crowded room, Carmen Taglienti stood over his laptop, hovered the cursor over the "Sort" button and clicked. Instantly, some 44 million records in his Excel app were sorted, newest to oldest, top to bottom. That's right: 44 million records. Welcome to the world of "self-service BI."

Taglienti, a Microsoft technology architect, was at the monthly meeting of the New England SQL Server User Group to show off the PowerPivot for Excel 2010 add-in (formerly code-named "Gemini"). He said Microsoft developed PowerPivot to rein in the growing enterprise problem of "spreadmarts," basically tech-savvy users developing their own sophisticated spreadsheets to cull business intelligence out of various data sets and shipping the resulting -- sometimes gigantic -- files all over the company via e-mail, with no organization, security or management.

SQL Server, NoSQL, RDBMS, Relational -- Visual Studio Magazine

Saturday, January 23, 2010

E. O. Wilson: Trailhead : The New Yorker (+ Jaron Lanier in Harper's)

A few colony/hive themes to ponder on a sunny Saturday morning:

From the latest issue of The New Yorker – an excerpt of beautiful writing by E. O. Wilson:

(Hmm – the Web designers at The New Yorker automatically inserted the link above when I copied/pasted into Windows Live Writer; very handy…)

From the latest issue of Harper’s MagazineThe Serfdom of Crowds, by Jaron Lanier. Harper’s has not made the full article available to non-subscribers, but I found it on this page; an excerpt:

At the time the Web was born, in the early 1990s, a popular trope was that a new generation of teenagers, reared in the conservative Reagan years, had turned out to be exceptionally bland. The members of "Generation X" were characterized as blank and inert. The anthropologist Steve Barnett saw in them the phenomenon of pattern exhaustion, in which a culture runs out of variations of traditional designs in their pottery and becomes less creative. A common rationalization in the fledgling world of digital culture back then was that we were entering a transitional lull before a creative storm - or were already in the eye of one. But we were not passing through a momentary calm. We had, rather, entered a persistent somnolence, and I have come to believe that we will escape it only when we kill the hive.

I’m hopeful both publications will be available in full digital content subscription options sometime soon -- maybe on the Apple tablet :) -- in the meantime, I am a very happy subscriber to the dead-tree editions of both.

p.s. you can download an extensive sample of Jaron Lanier's latest book, You Are Not a Gadget, on this page; if you don't have a Kindle, download the free Kindle client app here

E. O. Wilson: Trailhead : The New Yorker

Motorola Files Patent Complaint Against RIM | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

The mobile market has apparently turned into the lawyer full-employment act

The mobile handset market is quite the hotbed for litigation these days, isn’t it? Nokia sues Apple, accusing the company of hitching a “free-ride” on its intellectual property; Apple (AAPL) countersues Nokia (NOK), claiming it essentially copied the iPhone; and now Motorola is joining in the fun.

On Friday, Motorola filed a complaint against Research In Motion with the U.S. International Trade Commission, claiming the BlackBerry maker has infringed five of its patents related to Wi-Fi access, user interface and power and application management.

Motorola Files Patent Complaint Against RIM | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

A Big-Picture Look at Google, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Excerpt from a timely NYT reality check; see the source article for the full chart and more commentary

 image

The chart above illustrates many of the services these companies provide. Some of their products have been cornerstone revenue streams, and others are just at the beginning of development. But putting them up against each other really helps illustrate each company’s focus and their possible future directions of exploration.

A Big-Picture Look at Google, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Google founders to sell stock, cede majority control by 2014 | Relevant Results - CNET News

Maybe they’ll both make generous contributions to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

"Today, we disclosed that Larry and Sergey have entered into plans to sell 5 million Google shares, each over the next five years--these shares represent about 17 of their overall Google holdings," Google said in an e-mailed statement. "They are both as committed as ever to Google and are integrally involved in our day-to-day management and product strategy. The majority of their net worth remains with Google. These pre-arranged stock-trading plans were adopted in order to allow Larry and Sergey to sell a portion of their Google stock over time as part of their respective long-term strategies for individual asset diversification and liquidity."

Google founders to sell stock, cede majority control by 2014 | Relevant Results - CNET News

With Kindle, Publishers Give Away E-Books to Spur Sales - NYTimes.com

A timely Kindle content market snapshot; see the full article for details.  I’ve also been greatly enjoying the “sample” option available with many Kindle items.

Here’s a riddle: How do you make your book a best seller on the Kindle?

Answer: Give copies away.

That’s right. More than half of the “best-selling” e-books on the Kindle, Amazon.com’s e-reader, are available at no charge.

Although some of the titles are digital versions of books in the public domain — like Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” — many are by authors still trying to make a living from their work.

With Kindle, Publishers Give Away E-Books to Spur Sales - NYTimes.com

Friday, January 22, 2010

James Gosling: so long, old friend….

See the source page for a link to buy assorted t-shirts etc. with the graphic (via Anne Thomas Manes)

image 

James Gosling: on the Java Road

Internal Memo: Sun CEO Jon Schwartz to Staff | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

Excerpts from an Oracle/Sun transition memo written by one of Fake Steve’s favorite subjects; somehow I suspect he won’t have a long tenure as an Oracle employee…

Upon change in control, every employee needs to emotionally resign from Sun. Go home, light a candle, and let go of the expectations and assumptions that defined Sun as a workplace. Honor and remember them, but let them go.

For those that ultimately won’t become a part of Oracle, this will be the first step in a new adventure. Sun has a tremendous reputation across the planet, well beyond Silicon Valley. It’s a great brand to have on your resume. We’re known as self-starters, capable of ethically managing through complexity and change, for delivering when called upon, and for inventing and building the future. With the world economy stabilizing, I’m very confident you’ll land on your feet. You’re a talented, tenacious group, and there’s always opportunity for great people.

[…]

Sun is a brand, Oracle is your company.

[…]

Go Oracle!

Internal Memo: Sun CEO Jon Schwartz to Staff John Paczkowski Digital Daily AllThingsD

Sully’s ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ Airbus For Sale | Autopia | Wired.com

Sign of the times…

That isn’t exactly the listing but it might as well be: The US Airways Airbus 320 that Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed in the Hudson River a year ago is for sale. The insurance company that took possession of it after paying off the policy is looking to unload it.

The auction — “As Is/Where Is (New Jersey),” Chartis Insurance Group is compelled to disclose — does not include the airliner’s engines or avionics, and the lot is somewhat in pieces. But apart from that it seems to be surprisingly intact for a craft that hit the water at a normal touchdown speed with ad hoc landing gear comprising the entire fuselage and wings — which, by the way supported all 155 people aboard as they safely deplaned and awaited rescue craft on the frigid Hudson.

Sully’s ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ Airbus For Sale | Autopia | Wired.com

Business & Technology | Google's 4th-quarter results finally click with investors | Seattle Times Newspaper

See the full article for more details on Google’s 4th quarter

The quickening growth pace indicates Google is regaining the pre-recession stride that enabled the company to consistently increase its quarterly revenue by at least 30 percent. Google is so large now that it will be difficult to get back to that level, but analysts still think revenue could rise by nearly 20 percent this year — up from 9 percent for all of 2009.

[…]

Google added 170 workers in the fourth quarter, bringing its payroll to 19,835 employees. If it can find enough qualified candidates, Google would like to hire about 2,000 workers this year, with an emphasis on engineering and ad sales, said Patrick Pichette, the company's chief financial officer.

Schmidt also told investors in the conference call that the company will likely make at least one acquisition per month, "some big, more small." The company's biggest pending acquisition is a proposed deal to buy AdMob, a mobile advertising service, for $750 million.

Business & Technology | Google's 4th-quarter results finally click with investors | Seattle Times Newspaper

Manuscript recalling Newton apple story lands online | Digital Media - CNET News

Newton apple, not Apple Newton; check out the full article for images and details

Another famous apple has been in the news this week. A 1752 manuscript revealing how Sir Isaac Newton formulated the theory of gravity is now online for people to view and read.

A conversation between Newton and scholar William Stukeley about Newton's life, notably his alleged encounter with a falling apple, prompted Stukeley to write Newton's 1752 biography "Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life." Experts carefully transformed the delicate 250-year-old book into an electronic version that now is on display at Britain's Royal Society Web site.

Manuscript recalling Newton apple story lands online | Digital Media - CNET News

Amazon fortifies Kindle beachhead against Apple assault | Good Morning Silicon Valley

An update on some recent Amazon Kindle moves; I still believe the Kindle software + service will be more complementary than competitive with Apple’s tablets, however

But with the benefit of rumor-mill radar, Amazon has had time to watch this storm build, and the company is taking measures to secure its position before landfall next week. For starters, Amazon said Wednesday it will begin offering a substantially bigger royalty cut to authors and publishers of books priced under $10. The company also started plying some of its most faithful printed-book customers with a calculated and tempting offer: Buy a Kindle, and if you don’t love it, you get your money back and you get to keep the Kindle.

And today, Amazon took its boldest step, announcing that it will open the Kindle platform to developers of third-party apps, clearing the way for the delivery of active content via the device’s Whispernet wireless connection.

Amazon fortifies Kindle beachhead against Apple assault | Good Morning Silicon Valley

CHART OF THE DAY: Remember Google Wave? (Silicon Valley Insider)

A Wave reality check

For a moment, Google Wave -- the company's ambitious, futuristic new messaging/docs/email/IM service -- was hot stuff. Getting an invitation to the service took real work. People seemed seriously excited about it.

But after a quick spike in activity, Web visits to Google Wave have dropped sharply, according to Hitwise.

SAI Chart Google Wave

CHART OF THE DAY: Remember Google Wave?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Watch Obama’s State Of The Union Speech Live From Your iPhone Next Week

Another sign of the times (via Anne Thomas Manes)

The White House has announced on its blog that they have released an official iPhone / iPod Touch application dubbed ‘The White House’ app (here’s the iTunes link).

The application comes packed with content, including the latest news items, videos, photos and blog posts from The White House. One feature that stands out is live video streaming, which enables iPhone and iPod Touch owners to watch the President’s public events at the White House as well as other events like key speeches and press briefings in real-time.

Watch Obama’s State Of The Union Speech Live From Your iPhone Next Week

Slashdot Your Rights Online Story | USPTO Grants Google a Patent On MapReduce

From press and public relations perspectives, this probably isn’t ideal timing for Google (via Dave Kellogg)…

"Two years ago, David DeWitt and Michael Stonebraker deemed MapReduce a major step backwards (here are the original paper and a defense of it) that 'represents a specific implementation of well known techniques developed nearly 25 years ago.' A year later, the pair teamed up with other academics and eBay to slam MapReduce again. But the very public complaints didn't stop Google from demanding a patent for MapReduce; nor did it stop the USPTO from granting Google's request (after four rejections). On Tuesday, the USPTO issued U.S. Patent No. 7,650,331 to Google for inventing Efficient Large-Scale Data Processing."

Slashdot Your Rights Online Story | USPTO Grants Google a Patent On MapReduce

The War Between Apple and Google Has Just Begun - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

The press in this context is only covering part of the story: Google now essentially competes with every company that directly or indirectly involves the use of Internet content + advertising (e.g., see the full article for details on YouTube planning to compete with Apple iTunes and Netflix), and the stimulus-response consequences are gaining momentum. It’s not just Apple-versus-Google; it’s Google-versus-everybody-else, and Google will have only itself to blame for the results.

Consumers are witnessing the beginning of a new war between computer companies. Instead of the Apple-Microsoft conflict of the early 1980s, this fight is taking place between Apple and Google.

The latest skirmish: BusinessWeek reported Wednesday that Apple was in talks with Microsoft to make Bing the default search engine on the iPhone’s Safari Web browser. The article said the two companies had been negotiating for weeks over a possible partnership on the iPhone.

The War Between Apple and Google Has Just Begun - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

E.U. Gives Final Clearance to Oracle-Sun Deal - NYTimes.com

It’s going to be a stark day of transition at the former Sun Microsystems today, and I expect Oracle’s acquisition team will be in high gear over the next few months, with the final Sun hurdle behind it

The European Commission said Thursday that it had approved the proposed $7.4 billion takeover of Sun Microsystems by Oracle, the U.S. software giant, because it would not significantly affect competition in the European Union.

“I am now satisfied that competition and innovation will be preserved on all the markets concerned,” the European competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes said in a statement. “Oracle's acquisition of Sun has the potential to revitalize important assets and create new and innovative products.”

E.U. Gives Final Clearance to Oracle-Sun Deal - NYTimes.com

With Rival E-Book Readers, It’s Amazon vs. Apple - NYTimes.com

While the mainstream press seems to love battle-of-the-titan topics lately (see, e.g., last week’s BusinessWeek cover story on Apple-versus-Google, or a recent Fortune article on the emerging “titanic triumvirate of HP, IBM, and Oracle”), I expect a revised Kindle client app will continue to be a very popular choice for the iPhone/iPod touch platform, including the Apple tablet

It’s a formidable high-tech face-off: Amazon.com versus Apple for the hearts and minds of book publishers, authors and readers.

Amazon’s Kindle devices and electronic bookstore now dominate a nascent but booming market, accounting for more than 70 percent of electronic reader sales and 80 percent of e-book purchases, according to some analysts. And on Thursday it will take a page from Apple and announce that it is opening up the Kindle to outside software developers.

With Rival E-Book Readers, It’s Amazon vs. Apple - NYTimes.com

Nokia takes on Google with free navigation app | Signal Strength - CNET News

The GPS device/service market takes another hit from Google-related competition

Nokia is making its navigation service free to all GPS-enabled Nokia devices in a move that will help the company better compete in the smartphone market against the likes of Apple and Google.

Starting Thursday, Nokia users will be able to download for free the client that enables GPS phones to get Ovi Maps and Navigation, as well as, various city guides on their phones. Nokia has been offering the maps and navigation service for more than two years. After its acquisition of Navteq announced in 2007, it enhanced the service by adding turn-by-turn pedestrian navigation. And it added premium content from partners, such as Lonely Planet.

Nokia takes on Google with free navigation app | Signal Strength - CNET News

Get into the mind of Bill Gates with his new Web site

It looks like his Twitter account will stay active as well.  

Want to know what Bill Gates is thinking? Well, he's launched a new Web site, the Gates Notes, where he's sharing his thoughts on improving the world and keeping his fans up-to-date with his philanthropy.

Looks like his foray onto Twitter and his return to Facebook on Tuesday weren't just for the heck of it.

Get into the mind of Bill Gates with his new Web site

Intuit and Microsoft Join Forces to Deliver Web Applications to Millions of Small Businesses: Companies expand cloud opportunity for developers and channel partners.

Interesting times

Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) plan to create new opportunities for software developers to deliver and market Web applications to small-business customers through the Intuit App Center. The two companies plan to integrate the capabilities of their cloud services platforms — the Intuit Partner Platform and Windows Azure platform — to enable developers and channel partners to deliver solutions to the millions of employees within businesses that use QuickBooks® financial software. In addition, the two companies will provide small businesses with Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity applications via the Intuit App Center.

Intuit and Microsoft Join Forces to Deliver Web Applications to Millions of Small Businesses: Companies expand cloud opportunity for developers and channel partners.

Evernote Software Review | Walt Mossberg | Personal Technology | AllThingsD

A milestone review for beyond-the-basics-hypertext Evernote

What if you could collect, in one well-organized, searchable, private digital repository, all the notes you create, clips from Web pages and emails you want to recall, dictated audio memos, photos, key documents, and more? And what if that repository was constantly synchronized, so it was accessible through a Web browser and through apps on your various computers and smart phones?

Well, such a service exists. And it’s free. It’s called Evernote. I’ve been testing it for about a week on a multiplicity of computers and phones, and found that it works very well. Evernote is an excellent example of hybrid computing—using the “cloud” online to store data and perform tasks, while still taking advantage of the power and offline ability of local devices.

Evernote Software Review | Walt Mossberg | Personal Technology | AllThingsD

Apple Sees New Money in Old Media - WSJ.com

The big Apple event next week is going to be fascinating

With the new tablet device that is debuting next week, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs is betting he can reshape businesses like textbooks, newspapers and television much the way his iPod revamped the music industry—and expand Apple's influence and revenue as a content middleman.

In developing the device, Apple focused on the role the gadget could play in homes and in classrooms, say people familiar with the situation. The company envisions that the tablet can be shared by multiple family members to read news and check email in homes, these people say.

Apple Sees New Money in Old Media - WSJ.com

Apple, Microsoft talks reported - The Boston Globe

Interesting times…

Apple Inc. is in talks with Microsoft Corp. to replace Google Inc. as the default search engine on the iPhone, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The talks have been underway for weeks, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. The negotiations may not be concluded quickly and might still fall apart, the people said.

Apple, Microsoft talks reported - The Boston Globe

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

IBM May Not Be the Patent King After All - BusinessWeek

See the full article for more context-setting (actually, you’ll need to purchase the dead-tree version of the latest issue, if you want to read the entire article; in what I expect is a leading indicator, BW appears to have stopped publishing full weekly print content on their Web site)

In all, Microsoft's portfolio was assessed at 3.3 times that of IBM's. "This is something that IBM people won't accept, but it's accurate nonetheless," says Steve Lee, president of Ocean Tomo's patent-rating division. He says IBM's portfolio includes a large number of service-related patents, which do not command as high a price as the video-game and software patents that heavily weigh in Microsoft's portfolio.

"The ultimate value is not some rating," says Manny Schecter, IBM's chief patent counsel. "It's the leverage we are able to get from the patent [licensing] negotiations."

At Microsoft, Horacio GutiƩrrez, the company's chief intellectual property officer, says patents are treated not as a profit center but "as a currency that you use to trade to another company" for its patents. Volume is an important gauge of a company's innovation, he adds, but "only if they are high-quality patents."

IBM May Not Be the Patent King After All - BusinessWeek

If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online - NYTimes.com

See the full article for a stark reality check

Those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones.

And because so many of them are multitasking — say, surfing the Internet while listening to music — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours.

If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online - NYTimes.com

IBM Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year Earnings Announcement

More IBM earnings details;  interesting to see Lotus revenues decline while Microsoft sees record growth for SharePoint.

Revenues from the WebSphere family of software products, which facilitate customers’ ability to manage a wide variety of business processes using open standards to interconnect applications, data and operating systems, increased 13 percent year over year. Revenues from Information Management software, which enables clients to leverage information on demand, increased 7 percent. Revenues from Tivoli software, infrastructure software that enables clients to centrally manage networks including security and storage capability, increased 7 percent, and revenues from Lotus software, which allows collaborating and messaging by clients in real-time communication and knowledge management, decreased 5 percent. Revenues from Rational software, integrated tools to improve the processes of software development, decreased 4 percent.

IBM Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year Earnings Announcement