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Moore's Lore
November 2004
November 30, 2004

The Chinese Century XXV: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

“So this is the famous undisclosed location.”

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXV: Fiction"

Your Mother Was RightEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Scientists at the University of San Francisco have found that your mother was right -- you can worry yourself into an early grave. (Used as a plot device this could have made a big hit out of Jim Carrey's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, available from Amazon.Com.)

New Scientist reports on a study of 58 young mothers, some with sick kids and (thus) more stress. It found that telomeres, a sort of "cap" on the end of each chromosome that promotes genetic stability, are shorter in the women under stress than those without worries.

In young people telomeres are renewed by an enzyme called telomerase. Think of it as renewing the plastic caps on the end of your genetic shoelaces. As we age, the enzyme disappears, so the ends get frayed, the genes don't reproduce precisely, and we age. Worriers had less telomerase, and shorter telomeres.

So do yourself a favor and stop worrying so much. You really will live longer.

RSS AdsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I was hammered here recently for a piece in which I warned of what I called RSS Spam. (The image is from the home page of Geekzone, and it's a Clue to what comes next.)

Well it's my own fault, I figured. I'm looking for everything on a specific keyword, and if some store is keyed to that word I'm going to get their stuff. Yes, a good RSS editor should be able to filter-out that stuff, allowing me to unsubscribe to anything that I don't like, but still...

But now that trend has taken another step, so I feel compelled to come back to the subject of my humiliation.

If you don't want to hear about it, don't click below:

Continue reading "RSS Ads"

RISKEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Reduced Instruction Set Knowledge.

That's the acronym I've coined to explain Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science, which I began reading yesterday.

The acronym takes its cue from Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC), a chip model that swept through computing science in the 1980s, when Wolfram was doing much of the theoretical book that resulted in this book.

The idea of RISC was that, by cutting the number of tasks a chip could do, breaking down more complex ones into pieces, you could actually get more done by raising the chip's clock speed. This innovation, found in chips like Sun's SPARC, was later adopted by nearly everyone.

The idea of RISK is there are a relative handful of patterns which, when repeated or combined, can help us understand and explain what seem to be very complex phenomena.

RISK also describes what Wolfram is doing here, putting his reputation on the line to push, not an idea, but a new way of thinking about ideas. It is nothing if not audacious.

Continue reading "RISK"

November 29, 2004

Wolfram For The 21st CenturyEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Stephen Wolfram is one of the most amazing people of our time.

He is known to the lay person, if at all, for a program called Mathematica, which has done as much for the acceleration of change as Moore's Law itself.

By boiling down what you can do with mathematics into a computer program, Mathematica freed science from waiting on mathematics to analyze data. The program helps you devise formulae that work, so the results you get are proven. When people would say "it's not rocket science" they were often referring to the combination of math and science required to launch a rocket. Now, thanks to Wolfram, even rocket science isn't rocket science anymore.

Not only that, but Mathematica made Wolfram's Wolfram Research a going concern, a real business. It freed him from the demands of academe. He truly became the elephant that could tap dance. (He's no Gates, but he's pretty good at it.)

Still, as they always say, what have you done for me lately?

Something quite amazing, actually.

Continue reading "Wolfram For The 21st Century"

The Mobile Trend For 2005Email This EntryPrint This Article

The big trend in cellular or mobile telephony for 2005 will be...gaming.

The reason for that has to do with the nature of gaming in the 21st century (as opposed to the 20th). It's online. (That's why the makers of this Lord of the Rings game won't at all mind paying the bandwidth charges on your download of that troll over there, in exchange for the above link, which acts as an advertisement.)

The point is that in modern online games the game itself takes place in an online realm, for which you pay by the hour. The download of the game itself is trivial. Many game makers offer free downloads. It's the old razor blade analogy (or the computer printer analogy) -- give away the razor and sell the blades (or the toner).

Why will this happen so quickly?

Continue reading "The Mobile Trend For 2005"

The Chinese Century XXIV: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

It was Miles O’Brien who should be credited with the name, “Battle of Atlanta.”

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXIV: Fiction"

2+2=ChangeEmail This EntryPrint This Article

This morning, let's put two and two together to see how change happens. (That's the watch-cameraphone from an Australian photoblog.)

The Korea Times reports that the entire Korean market -- 99% at any rate -- will be camera phones next year. This kind of thing is happening throughout Asia.

Amazon Mobile notes this and creates a service that turns this capability into cash.

It's simple.

Continue reading "2+2=Change"

Third World BroadbandEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I have avoided comment on the municipal broadband issue because, frankly, it's depressing. (That's Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, now under enormous pressure from Verizon to prevent Philadelphia from going ahead with a WiFi project, at the right.)

Once more, wired monopolies and the politicians they own are stamping out competition. As they did with competitive Local Exchange Carriers, so they do with municipal WiFi. They change the law to prevent real competition, moaning about the money they spend and promising to do better next time. Then they don't deliver.

It's Third World stuff.

Back in the 80s and 90s this is precisely what local monopolists did in the Third World, and with precisely the same result. Prices were high, service was lousy, innovation was against the law.

The only force that can spur change is competition. Monopolies won't do it. Duopolies won't do it.

In the Third World local monopolies conspired with government until a combination of obvious opportunities, western pressure and internal restiveness finally poked holes in the tent and the money came pouring out. Today, thanks to cellular competition, Internet cafes and VOIP, the remotest villages can connect with the world.

Is it going to take lectures from Botswana before we get it?

Now that same cozy, fascist system has come to the United States of America. All our leaders lack are the braided uniforms, and I hear they're coming.

But this won't last.

Continue reading "Third World Broadband"

November 28, 2004

Seinfeld Copyright BluesEmail This EntryPrint This Article

While at the Mall, yesterday, waiting for our movie to start, we saw a ton of displays and ads for the hottest DVD out there this Christmas -- the TV series Seinfeld. (Image from MIT.)

Could there be any better proof that copyright absolutism is counter-productive? (Not that's there's anything wrong with that.)

This show ran on free TV for 9 years. Some 22 episodes were produced each season. Most of the time it was on, it was a re-run.

Since then it's been in heavy rotation in syndication. It is "stripped" in the parlance of the trade -- it's on every day. Often twice a day. My son (a true master of his domain, he says) has memorized lines from Seinfeld the way my generation did Monty Python sketches.

This is not a scarce gem. (It's no marble rye from Lourdes' Bakery.) In terms of its audience, there should be some shrinkage, some significant shrinkage. If you wanted to keep it, you could have taped it. You still can. (You got a problem with that?)

So why is it a best-seller?

Continue reading "Seinfeld Copyright Blues"

November 27, 2004

The Chinese Century XXIII - FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The second “Battle of Atlanta” began as an industrial action.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXIII - Fiction"

The Polar Express in ImaxEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Regular readers of this space will remember my review of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. The use of technology was artful, but the story-telling suffered.

Seen in a regular theater "The Polar Express" is a similarly unsatisfying experience. But in IMAX, in 3-D, as I saw it today, that's another experience entirely.

From the moment the child rises from his bed, fearful of having missed Santa's visit, fearful it's just his dad waiting for him to sleep, you're transported into the world of the story. Disbelief is suspended, which is the film's entire point.

Continue reading "The Polar Express in Imax"

Two Niches: An ECommerce Christmas StoryEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I don't know how it is where you live, but I've been struck lately by the growing number of independent coffee shops and DVD houses in my neighborhood.

Maybe Starbuck's (the coffee giant) and Blockbuster (the video rental giant) are just off their game in this part of Atlanta. Both have outlets here, but perhaps there are also lessons here about technology, about how it's changing, and about what consumers want from it.

So step inside.

Continue reading "Two Niches: An ECommerce Christmas Story"

November 26, 2004

Home LAN Market Retains PotentialEmail This EntryPrint This Article

A new survey from the UK shows the home LAN market retains high potential, even if you're still doing the same old things. (The picture is from this year's production of A Christmas Carol in East Brunswick, NJ.)

The MORI survey showed 90% of home PC owners were getting into arguments over who would use the PC, and when. The kids nearly all say they're doing homework (90% of them), but 43% of users admit they're playing games. (Hey, games can be educational.)

The survey struck me because, at the Blankenhorn house, everyone has their own PC and the TV spent much of Thanksgiving turned off.

We all have our own obsessions. I write, my wife works, my daughter reads and my son plays historical games. It's a far more productive use of our down-time than would be any shared experience before the "boob tube."

Continue reading "Home LAN Market Retains Potential"

November 25, 2004

The Chinese Century XXII - FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

For the 8 AM edition of its Squawk Box CNBC had gotten what its producers, at that moment, considered the ultimate “get.”

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXII - Fiction"

The Chinese Century XXI - FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The official statement was terse, written in diplomatic argot. The leaders had a frank exchange of views. Both sides respected the others’ positions. Further talks would be scheduled at lower levels.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXI - Fiction"

November 24, 2004

The Chinese Century XX: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The beach at Nantucket is a delight in July. In December it’s something quite different.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XX: Fiction"

November 23, 2004

The Chinese Century XIX: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

Even before the President rose to meet Osama Bin Laden, nearly half a world away, in a restaurant near the center of London, an entirely different kind of occasion was reaching its climax.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XIX: Fiction"

A Parent's Christmas WishEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I write in English. I don't do code.

I tried doing code, but I could never get it to run. I'm not that methodical, not that linear. I apologize.

But my son, now 13 (right), has reached an age where it would be good if he tried it. It would occupy his mind, it would be a great skill to have, and he might not be bugging me for video games if he can design his own, you know?

Question is, where are the good tools for beginning programmers?

Back "in the day," a decade ago, there was a boom in things like turtle graphics and languages like BASIC. But c is the language today, and I would love to find a great beginner's text, one that would lure him into it slowly, and bring him to some level of proficiency, from which other texts could take him the rest of the way.

Suggestions? Consider this an open thread.

My Fair NetworkEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Via Weblogsinc comes news that TeleCIS is working on a chip that will combine support for Wi-Fi and Wi-Max.

The chip is due in the second half of 2005. A lot of people are very excited about it.

I'm not one of them.

Here's why:

Continue reading "My Fair Network"

SMS Novels?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Hope you're enjoying the novel. As I have said it's about pushing the medium, trying to see what it's capable of.

In that it's a very Chinese concept, it turns out. (The illustration, by the way, is from the entrance screen to a Chinese romance game.) Only over there the big medium is SMS. Freedom is precious when it's in short supply, and like water it will flow through any chink it can find in tyranny's armor.

Given the heavy censorship of the Internet, the huge volume of SMS, the immense user base, and (more important perhaps) the concision of Chinese (a 16-bit computer "word" can handle your whole ideographic character set -- do the math) it should not surprise that the idea of "SMS Novels" has hit the country like a storm. (Thanks to Mike Grenville of 160 Characters for the heads-up.)

Continue reading "SMS Novels?"

Pax Software RadiusEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The FCC has approved its first software defined radio. (Thanks to DeWayne Hendricks for posting the release.)

The news came out in one of those late Friday afternoon press releases by which Administrations like to bury bad news. But this in fact very good news.

As the FCC itself noted in its press release:

Software defined radios can change the frequency range, modulation type or output power of a radio device without making changes to hardware components. This programmable capacity permits radios to be highly adaptable to changing needs, protocols and environments.

But what does this mean in the real world?

Continue reading "Pax Software Radius"

November 22, 2004

The Chinese Century XVIII: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The American President’s party most wanted to meet in “Mao’s Library,” the cozy room overflowing with books-and-papers where President Nixon held his famous meetings.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XVIII: Fiction"

SportsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Regular readers know I sometimes spout off here about things I know nothing about. Today's topic is sports.

Continue reading "Sports"

The Real ChinaEmail This EntryPrint This Article

For those not enjoying our online novel, The Chinese Century, here's a piece of non-fiction that may leave you even more upset. (That's a 1963 Time Magazine cover, by the way, of which prints are available for purchase.)

This story comes from our good friend Rajesh Jain. But it originated with the San Jose Mercury-News' Silicon Beat. (Let's see. China to San Jose to Bombay to Atlanta -- nothing but net!)

It's an interview with Ronald Chweng, chairman of Acer Technology Ventures. Acer is based in Taiwan which China calls a renegade province, and the U.S. once called the Republic of China. Chweng's charge is to find U.S. investments. He says there are plenty, but that the focus may be changing.

It may be moving East.

Continue reading "The Real China"

Is Tracking Kids Useless?Email This EntryPrint This Article

The story will break any parent's heart. (You can get a quilt block of this illustration, and a number of other fine ones to make your next quilt, from debscatsnquilts.com.)

A six-year old girl in Nara, Japan is kidnapped. But she has a mobile phone, with GPS on it. She reaches her grieving mother. Then the kidnapper calls. And a few hours later her body is found, near where the last call came from.

The Mobile Technology weblog headlines this, "kid tracking is useless."

Is it?

Continue reading "Is Tracking Kids Useless?"

Cellular Infection RouteEmail This EntryPrint This Article

In describing a new Symbian trojan called Skulls on their weblog, the folks at F-Secure had something interesting to say on the question of how such virii get into the mobile world.

This trojan has been distributed on some Symbian shareware download sites as "Extended Theme Manager" by "Tee-222".

This is one of the less-pleasant aspects of mobile telephony and computing coming together.

Continue reading "Cellular Infection Route"

Success In A Failed StateEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The BBC has a wonderful series of articles on its Web site about the failed state of Somalia. (The picture, of downtown Mogadishu, is from the BBC Online series.)

Since American troops abandoned the country to its warlords a decade ago the place has been a study of anarchy and Hobbesian choices. There is no government to educate the people, or to protect them. Private checkpoints that extort money from everyone and line the pockets of those manning the checkpoints are everywhere.

Many people live in makeshift structures "made from branches, orange plastic sheets and old pieces of metal" on what were the lawns of schools and hospitals. Even aid agencies have left, citing the danger.

Yet there is a success story to be told here, mobile technology.

Continue reading "Success In A Failed State"

The Trouble With Windows MobileEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Take a real close look at this AP photo and see if you can spot the problem with the new version of Windows Mobile, Microsoft's mobile phone software.

Reviewer Bruce Meyerson missed it, so if you have problems I understand.

Give up?

I understand if you give up because it not only skipped past Meyerson, but it apparently skipped past everyone involved in the design and manufacture of this phone. Otherwise it likely would never have seen the light of day.

Still don't have it? OK, click below for the answer.

Continue reading "The Trouble With Windows Mobile"

The Chinese Century XVII: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

Branson and Cuban had been busy boys.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XVII: Fiction"

November 20, 2004

The Chinese Century XVI: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

When President Nixon traveled to China, in 1972, the visit took months to arrange. He drove past busy little warrens of narrow streets, tiny buildings and lives that seemed timeless.

He went there to accept the surrender of the old order, opening China as Matthew Perry and his black ships forced open Japan almost 120 years before.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XVI: Fiction"

November 19, 2004

Motorola's Hidden OpportunityEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I failed to take proper notice yesterday of Motorola's recent purchase of Mesh Networks. (That's Motorola CEO Ed Zander to the left. As you can see from the high forehead, a truly handsome man.)

My bad.

Mesh has found itself roped into the government's orbit in order to stay alive. That is, most of its money has recently come from military or Homeland Security contracts.

But Motorola can do so much more.

Continue reading "Motorola's Hidden Opportunity"

The Chinese Century XV: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

When most lawyers tell their wives they’re going into the office on a Sunday night, suspicious wives would not find them there.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XV: Fiction"

Red Light, Green LightEmail This EntryPrint This Article

One of the most frustrating aspects of our time, in America, is how government has become the enemy of innovation, in the name of big business. (The image, from Taipei, is taken from the work of writer-photographer Dennis Flood. And the meaning for this image will become clear to those who click below.)

Exhibit A. Philadelphia's efforts to build an urban Wi-Fi grid may be stymied by the state's efforts to protect the Verizon-Comcast duopoly.

All the benefits of Always-On applications, not to mention the convenience of sitting in a park and working, are to be tossed until the owners of the wires decide they want to take control of the wireless spectrum?

Idiocy. But the rest of the world doesn't look at things that way, which means the rest of the world will march toward the future while America, in its desire to protect private monopoly, continues to march backward.

Want an example of that?

Continue reading "Red Light, Green Light"

The Wi-Fi ParadoxEmail This EntryPrint This Article

There's a big paradox at the heart of the 802.11 or Wi-Fi market. (Escher print from anyarchitect.org.)

Shipments are rising fast, and high-end (802.11g) gear is dominating. But the industry's revenues aren't growing very fast at all.

As fast as Wi-Fi moves ahead, it's becoming a commodity even faster. Even when an access point is bundled with, say, a DSL modem as a "residential gateway," you're essentially getting it from your phone company free, as part of a service agreement.

This can't continue. Here's why:

Continue reading "The Wi-Fi Paradox"

November 18, 2004

SBC Yahoo?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Once again the news has me speculating about Yahoo's eventual fate, this time as an acquisition target for SBC. (The image, by the way, is from SBC's own support pages.)

The story is that the regional Bell and the Web portal are expanding their alliance, putting the Yahoo brand on SBC's mobile offerings as well as expanding the effort in DSL.

But could this just be the prelude to a marriage?

Continue reading "SBC Yahoo?"

The Chinese Century XIV: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The fact that everyone else was in the same boat, that it was like an economic “Act of God,” didn’t make Nikki Paris feel any better.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XIV: Fiction"

Get Your Hot New DowngradeEmail This EntryPrint This Article

A new trend has emerged, thanks to Hollywood.

Hardware you already purchased is having its performance degraded, remotely, through "software updates."

Specifically I'm talking here of the iPod and TiVo. Both companies have shipped, or announced plans to ship, "patches" that actually reduce performance, that take away features you already bought, and that you might be using and enjoying.

All this is being done in the name of "fighting piracy" but I wonder whether Hollywood hasn't just jumped the shark on DRM.

Continue reading "Get Your Hot New Downgrade"

Another View On VoiceEmail This EntryPrint This Article

While searching for stories on Open Source (for our new ZDNet blog) I came upon a conference in New Delhi where 200 engineers from around Asia shared experiences on speech synthesis and recognition.

It was the speech of Dayanidhi Maran (right), India's IT Minister, that first attracted my attention. He wanted applications in all India's languages, not just the "majors" like Hindi, Tamil, and English. And he wanted this to be open source.

But it was the conference itself I found most fascinating.

Continue reading "Another View On Voice"

November 17, 2004

The Chinese Century XIII: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

‘Next up, our Number Four story on the Countdown for a Friday, America, pay the mortgage or we foreclose! Yeah-heh-heh-heh-haaa! We’ll be talking to Fannie Mae president Franklin Raines.”

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XIII: Fiction"

Fat Lady Singing For Opera?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Has "the fat lady sung" for Opera, the Norwegian Web browser?

Opera's parent company reported a wide loss for its last quarter. Internet Explorer is losing share, but the share is being lost to Firefox, not Opera.

The question is no longer, do we need an alternative browser? The question is, do we need another browser company?

Continue reading "Fat Lady Singing For Opera?"

RSS SpamEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Thanks to those lovely folks at Newsgator, I've been enjoying an RSS feed on topics of interest, sent to my e-mail box, for the last month.

It's useful. It gives me great stories. But here's a dirty little secret. It's also filled with spam.

Want some examples? Let's go to my inbox today and find a few:

Continue reading "RSS Spam"

Everyone Mesh TogetherEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The physics folks at UT-Dallas have won nearly $1 million to study the idea of making every radio part of a giant "mesh network." (That's the UT-Dallas seal over there, with its motto of discipline, civilization, and absolute rule by a self-appointed elite.)

The idea is that mobile phones and laptops could act as relay points for other users' transmissions, creating what the physicists call "cooperative wireless networks" but which might best be termed a "giant mesh."

Continue reading "Everyone Mesh Together"

November 16, 2004

Everyone Into The Press PoolEmail This EntryPrint This Article

We have covered the debates between "real" journalists (those with paychecks from big journalism companies) and bloggers (those without) to death.

Anyone who can write and can have an opinion can be published, can be read, can be heard. We get it.

But the advent of mass market camera phones means something else.

It means anyone can be a reporter, a "bird dog" out in the field, looking for news. (That's why I brought our Estonian friend back. Click below and we'll fire him together.)

Continue reading "Everyone Into The Press Pool"

Pyrrhic Victory? Or Final Defeat?Email This EntryPrint This Article

PalmSource is saying it's no big deal that Windows has overtaken it in sales of PDA software.

The report covers only software shipments for PDAs and excludes sales to makers of smart phones, Palm said.

On the surface, good point. PDA sales in general are down. Sales of the Treo smart phone means Palm's total sales are understated.

But compare the share of Windows Mobile in the smart phone market with that of Palm, and look at who has more development deals pending.

Someone's whistling past the graveyard here and getting away with it.

The Chinese Century XII: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The plot had been perfectly planned, perfectly executed.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XII: Fiction"

InvisibleContentEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Russell Beattie (of whom I'm one fan among many) wrote something recently about Communicontent I've been puzzling over ever since.

The idea, which is valid, is that through blogging ordinary communication becomes content. I know this is true because my own newsletter, a-clue.com, has been losing readers ever since I started blogging here. It's not just that readers prefer getting my thoughts through the blog instead of e-mail. It's that the one-week lag between my writing and your reading is eliminated by blogging. You're not just an audience here, you're practically reading over my shoulder as I type.

But it seems to me this is old news.

Continue reading "InvisibleContent"

November 15, 2004

The Chinese Century XI: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

Jiang Zemin may have been the first Chinese Emperor in all history to voluntarily relinquish power, with good health still intact.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XI: Fiction"

Dogs Do Not Need TailsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The phones have always been the tail in the mobile phone game. The carriers are the dog.

If carriers don't let your phone on their network, you don't have a business. I had a tail-less dog as a kid so I know what I'm talking about concerning dogs and tails. (As a puppy our dog Duchess looked a lot like this cutie, from Haslam's Terriers.)

Already, in the U.S., I've heard reports of carriers demanding crippled features on phones -- cameras whose pictures can only be moved off the phone on the carrier's expensive network.

So it was inevitable that the carriers would take the last piece of the tail's independence away -- the branding.

Continue reading "Dogs Do Not Need Tails"

Here Come The KoreansEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I have a soft spot in my heart for Korean people. (Image from the University of Wisconsin.)

I tell friends the Koreans are the Irish of the Orient. They're full of tragedy, blarney and (sometimes) alcohol. They know how to tell a story. They're fiercely independent. They're great folks. Since my mom's Irish, I figure this makes us kin.

So when I saw a few months ago that two Korean outfits -- Samsung and LG -- drew leading grades on customer satisfaction from J.D. Power (trailing only Sanyo), I took notice.

And my patience has been rewarded.

Continue reading "Here Come The Koreans"

How Carriers Plan To Capture Wi-FiEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The problem with Wi-Fi is it exists in small islands. You can't depend on it. (Actually if you want this magazine, click here.)

But if you could depend on it, would you be willing to pay for it?

Carriers think you will, or at least that a lot of people will. But in order to make you pay they know they need critical mass.

And, through alliances, that's what they're going for.

Continue reading "How Carriers Plan To Capture Wi-Fi"

November 12, 2004

Always-On In KoreaEmail This EntryPrint This Article

My vision of Always-On has always been based on the idea that applications would live on the wireless network in your home. A Wi-Fi set-up has both the bandwidth and computing power needed to handle several such applications.

But early medical applications move with you. And thus they ride on the mobile network.

The Mobile-Technology Weblog (the picture is taken from that blog) has an example today from Korea. (It's a small world. The author lives in Munich, he's represented for ads by a British firm, and here I am blogging about it from Atlanta, Georgia.)

The hook is "here's the fat police," but the story is that there's a Samsung SPH-E3330 mobile that can measure your body fat level.

Continue reading "Always-On In Korea"

The Chinese Century X: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The towers of downtown Johannesburg were a Potemkin Village.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century X: Fiction"

Skype's GameEmail This EntryPrint This Article

One point often missed in the rush to Voice Over IP is how it leaves us all at the mercy of software companies playing games with standards.

For instance. Most Voice Over IP products are fairly standard. The telephone industry's VoIP efforts will all be fairly interoperable.

The exception is Skype. And guess who dominates the market.

Right now this is no big deal. It's trivial to load two VoIP programs on a PC, and to use the one the person you're calling prefers.

But this is about to change.

Continue reading "Skype's Game"

First Trojan For Mobiles SightedEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The first true Trojan Horse program targeting mobile phones has been sighted. (The image, by the way, comes from a page that is relevant to this discussion, at a Texas high school.)

There have been several claims on the title of "first mobile virus" during the year. Our first contestant turned out to be a copy protection feature. The second, it turned out, was harmless.

Now we have a "winner," a Russian trojan aimed at phones called Delf-HA. This claim, too, may be open to dispute. The payload itself goes to PCs, which then call Russian mobile numbers and send those phones SMS spam.

But it is becoming clear that firms like Symantec, which are readying versions of their anti-viral tools for mobiles, are no longer just playing on false fears. Whether their stuff works or not will, of course, remain open to testing.

Blogging As StrategyEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Warren Buffett (left, from Slate) was probably the first big-time executive to really "get" blogging. That's really what his annual letter to shareholders is Read them in turn, going backward in time, and see if I'm right. It's a pre-blog blog.

Jonathan Schwartz, COO of Sun, understands this. His blog entries are longer than most, often being fairly-detailed position statements on Sun's view of issues, but his is a true blog, which aims to participate in and prod ongoing discussion.

Continue reading "Blogging As Strategy"

November 11, 2004

Fiction: The Chinese Century IXEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. For those who are new to the work, you can reach the Table Of Contents here.

At the White House, the President was back on the bridge.

Continue reading "Fiction: The Chinese Century IX"

The Carriers' Wi-Fi PlayEmail This EntryPrint This Article

A reporter (not this guy -- him I found in Estonia ) called the other day to praise my recent work on Voice over Wi-Fi. He wanted to write an analysis calling mobile carriers Clueless for letting people get out of their pay-per-minute world and make "free" long distance calls on their mobiles.

Naturally, I confused the heck out of him by playing devil's advocate with myself.

Here (as best as I can remember it) is what I said:

Continue reading "The Carriers' Wi-Fi Play"

The Four Stages Of Portable DesignEmail This EntryPrint This Article

In watching how people use their devices, I have come to the conclusion that we're witnessing four separate evolutions of the user interface:

  • The laptop interface is the one most folks are comfortable with. It requires two hands, a lap, and full concentration. I'm using this now. Last weekend at Stanford I watched DeWayne Hendricks play with one of the best such interfaces, on his PowerMac, and while it's powerful, I was struck by how it's that last requirement -- full concentration -- that is its great weakness.
  • The PDA interface lets you stand up, but it requires two hands, and nearly as much concentration as the laptop interface. This may be why PDAs are so out of fashion right now. Even with a color screen and handwriting recognition you still need to stop and look at it for several seconds to get anything done.

  • The mobile telephone interface (right, from the BBC) requires just one hand and minimal concentration. Once you learn whatever tricks you need to learn in order to do whatever you most commonly do with a phone, you can keep one hand on the wheel (or on whatever's in your eye) and half a mind on your driving (or getting the dust out -- ouch) while getting full use of it. I do suspect more lives are now being lost on our roads each year to phones than to alcohol, but phones are far more addictive and I don't see how a ban could be enforced.

Which brings us to the next stage:

Continue reading "The Four Stages Of Portable Design"

November 10, 2004

The Chinese Century VIIIEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. For those who are new to the work, you can reach the Table Of Contents here.

The answer to Greenspan's question was that Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui was, like him, on the phone.

With New York. With George Soros.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century VIII"

Adjusting Wi-Fi To FitEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Here's an issue I want more attention paid to, framing a wireless network so that it fits the geographic space used by its owner.

This is literally putting a square peg in a round hole.

Continue reading "Adjusting Wi-Fi To Fit"

Circuits On Your ClothesEmail This EntryPrint This Article

If you're to take Always-On applications into the world with you, they have to be fashionable. They have to look smart. It would be very nice if they were machine washable.

Now they are.

Eleksen , located at Pinewood Studios west of London, is marketing a line of fabric sensors and switches.

What would you use this stuff for?

Continue reading "Circuits On Your Clothes"

The New Look For Spring: Bluetooth In Your EarEmail This EntryPrint This Article

With all the hoop-de-doo over mobile phones being bad for you, it makes sense that a wireless headset, connected to your phone or (maybe even) your iPod, would make sense.

Continue reading "The New Look For Spring: Bluetooth In Your Ear"

November 09, 2004

The Chinese Century VIIEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

Alan Greenspan felt like a man in full.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century VII"

Meanwhile, Behind the WSJ Firewall...Email This EntryPrint This Article

The Wall Street Journal (sorry, no link -- they're too good for the Web) has a feature today about the cable guys' new ambitions for mobile telephony.

There's a lot of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). As usual with the Journal, there's not much insight.

Here are the industry's choices:

  • They could re-sell Sprint PCS service. Low risk, but there's limited capacity, which must be shared among Sprint and its other re-sellers.
  • They could individually buy a mobile operator, maybe NexTel. But the service territories would not overlap, and since they're mainly looking toward bundled services where's the beef.
  • They form a consortium to buy all or part of a mobile operator. This makes more sense, but they've never been able to hold a consortia long before.
  • They could come to a business agreement with one of the major operators, but the whole reason for doing this is to bundle service against telephony, and telephone companies own nearly all the board.

Now that you've read the book, see the movie. (He's fun-ny.)

UWB Will SurviveEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Weblogsinc today links to an ABI Research piece claiming UWB is about to be done-in by disputes over standards and 802.11n.

I haven't seen such basic scientific ignorance in a long, long time.

Continue reading "UWB Will Survive"

The King Of Yes, ButEmail This EntryPrint This Article

At the Accelerating Change conference I attended at Stanford last weekend the undisputed star was David Brin. (Left, from his Web site.)

Brin is a science fiction writer, a physicist, a futurist, a skeptic, and a great public speaker. With no PowerPoints and few notes he held hundreds of very bright people in thrall for 45 minutes and made it look effortless.

Brin’s theme was the election. For the first time in American history, he said, a President won re-election by running against the Enlightenment, against Galileo, against pragmatism, against the very idea of criticism as a good.

Brin’s talk was a therapy session. “We need criticism,” he said. “Karl Popper said that if you're not making falsifiable statements you're not making statements.” And he could have added, you only learn when you change your mind.

Continue reading "The King Of Yes, But"

November 08, 2004

The Chinese Century VIEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The old Forbidden City was buzzing. The limousine coming on with the American flags in front of it was scrutinized carefully. Everyone it passed wanted to look at the expression on the face of the American ambassador.

They're so transparent.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century VI"

The Second Life (of lawyers)Email This EntryPrint This Article

A big highlight of the Accelerating Change conference at Stanford last weekend was a demonstration by Linden Labs of Second Life. (The image is from Second Life's Web site, meant to explain the game.) It is, as its home page notes, "a 3D digital world imagined, created and owned by its Residents."

Second Life lives in a server rack somewhere in San Francisco. Each server represents 16 acres of virtual space, where users' avatars can live, work and play. So far there are about 500, but 10 more are added each week. Think of it as Everquest without the plot.

In Second Life the users own what they create. It's a simple concept, but one that is extremely hard to implement. For instance, the demonstrator couldn't pass around any of the work done in Second Life because Second Life doesn't own it. Thus, he couldn't sign the conference's standard release form, which lets the organizers have rights to what's shown.

Continue reading "The Second Life (of lawyers)"

Today's Buzzword -- HMIEmail This EntryPrint This Article

HMI stands for Human-Machine Interface. (The image is from a student page at the RWTH Aachen University, Germany.)

This subject is finally getting real attention, especially on mobile phones, where tiny screens and a paucity of buttons make conventional interfaces impossible.

While at the Accelerated Change conference last weekend I happened to bring up the shortage of HMI to a small group of other speakers. "We haven't had a real innovation since the mouse," I said, adding "no offense" because the inventor of said mouse, Doug Engelbart, was sitting right behind me.

But it's true. When you stand up your lap disappears, so how do you use a laptop? PDAs require two hands and full attention to use. A mobile phone is a one-hand device, and it's this limit that is finally sparking innovation.

Continue reading "Today's Buzzword -- HMI"

November 07, 2004

The Chinese Century VEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The announcement from Moscow, like the previous one from Beijing, was low key, untelevised, mere words in magnetic ink.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century V"

November 04, 2004

A Note On My BookEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I'll be spending a few days speaking at the Accelerating Change conference in California. As Frank Morgan might say, "I'm hobnobbing with my fellow wizards."

Meanwhile, right here, we've begun an experiment.

Back in the 19th century the great Charles Dickens published most of his fiction in the form of magazine serials. They're wordy, in part, because he was paid by the word.

Later in that century, Mark Twain's books were sold door-to-door. An early chapter was printed for the salesmen, who took orders for the completed manuscript, cash in advance.

I am no Twain. I am no Dickens. Not even "with four M's and a silent Q"! I'm a journalist. I like experiments that test both me and the medium I write for. I also understand that all art (both good and bad) must live in the market. The Internet is a market.

I've written for the online medium since 1985 when I joined the staff of Newsbytes News, then on The Source. I've been there since before the beginning, as they say. I know this medium and love it dearly.

So let's push this online market, and see how far it goes. Enjoy (or not). Comment (or not). Throw money (probably not).

See you when I get back.

The Chinese Century IVEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

In Beijing the announcement was put out early on the morning of the 30th. This meant it reached American ears just as Lou Dobbs was signing-on with the Monday version of his popular evening business show at CNN.

"In order to stabilize the Yuan at its natural level," the statement said in translation, "the Bank of China is adjusting its holdings in foreign instruments, including dollar-denominated instruments. We expect this program to continue for some time to assure all those with Yuan holdings an orderly market."

"What the heck does that mean?" Dobbs asked his guest.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century IV"

The Future of VoWi-FiEmail This EntryPrint This Article

VoWi-Fi, for those who don't know, means Voice Over Wi-Fi.

The movement not only intends to enable you to make calls over a Wireless Internet connection (big deal) but to enable hand-offs between Wi-Fi hotspots and cellular networks (bigger deal).

Folks are real excited. Maybe they should be.

And maybe they shouldn't.

One thing VoIP godfather Jeff Pulver (above, right, from the bio on his Web site) preaches constantly is that VoIP is about more than voice. This is something most folks still don't get.

Continue reading "The Future of VoWi-Fi"

The Chinese Century IIIEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is the third part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

Unlike novels written by novelists, The Chinese Century uses real people and takes place in the present day. The links, and pictures, are real. The story is made up.

Let me repeat this for all who might be offended. The story is made up.

By the time Philippe Khuong-Huu got to his desk at Goldman Sachs on November 29, it was already too late.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century III"

A True Phone For The Rest of UsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Remember Apple's early Mac campaign saying it was the computer for "the rest of us?" (That's Bangalore, India, to the right, from Sean Breazeal's WorldCityPhotos.)

Well, the population of the "rest" of us never grew very large. It wound up meaning "the best" of us, those with the education, discerning eye and (most of all) fat wallets needed to get one of those cool Macintosh machines rather than settling for the cheaper, kludgier Windows box.

The rest of us should mean everyone, everyone in the whole wide world, including everyone in India. And while everyone doesn't have a PC, at least now they can have a phone.

Continue reading "A True Phone For The Rest of Us"

Dissing Wi-MaxEmail This EntryPrint This Article

It was inevitable that, with Intel describing 802.16 or Wi-Max as a technology that could easily make its way into clients, a la Wi-Fi, that folks start getting confused and dismissive.

Cisco CTO Charles Giancarlo (left, image from Cisco) was the latter this week, calling it overhyped, and saying his company wasn't interested. He even compared it to MMDS and LMDS.

It's OK if a company isn't ready for Wi-Max, and thus more ready to pile on some FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) than actually deal with it. But that is, to my mind, Clueless.

Continue reading "Dissing Wi-Max"

November 03, 2004

The Chinese Century IIEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE To Readers: This is part of a work of fiction. Here is the Table of Contents.

Ambassador Randt felt he could trust his staff with important communiques.

But within hours the contents of his message was all over the Internet.

"China threatens U.S. over Iraq, Taiwan" the headlines blared.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century II"

Palm Abandoning Palm?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Since Palm (the hardware company) and PalmSource (the software company) have split, it makes some sense that Palm (the hardware company) might want to become less dependent on PalmSource (the software company). (Image from PenComputerSolutions.)

But Windows?

That's right. Palm is planning on making a version of its Palm PDA that runs a version of Windows. PalmSource plummeted on the news (never mind that it's replaced a 3Com chairman with an Apple refugee) and it's easy to see why.

Continue reading "Palm Abandoning Palm?"

Why The U.S. Is A Third World Mobile CountryEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Mobile telephony is the first major technology to leave Americans in the dust since the dawning of the computer age.

We fell behind in some areas, temporarily. We fell behind in PC manufacturing for a time. We abandoned displays and keyboards. But, thanks to Microsoft, we always controlled these products, and these markets, partly because we grew faster and partly because the technology they needed to survive belonged to us.

In mobile telephony it's different. International carriers are smarter. International suppliers are dominant. (This guy, from the New Internationalist, may have better mobile service than you do.)

And, because they use a single technology standard, based on GSM and Java, they're able to do things we can only dream of doing.

Exhibit A.

Continue reading "Why The U.S. Is A Third World Mobile Country"

Nokia PDAEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Since word came early this year that Nokia was losing market share, having missed the move to clamshell-type phones, it's been busy. (Image from Dexigner.com, the world design portal. )

First we had a Blackberry turned into a mobile phone, which I dubbed the NokiaBerry. Now it has its main operating system partner, Symbian, delivering a Symbian PDA.

Depending on how European and Asian users react, this could be big news. And the risk is minimal.

Continue reading "Nokia PDA"

Qualcomm's Big BetEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Qualcomm's $800 million investment in building a national mobile broadband network called MediaFlo puts more than money on the line. (Image of Qualcomm logo from CNNfn.)

Qualcomm made its name on a mobile technology, CDMA, that efficiently squeezed extra digital voice calls on scarce cellular bandwidth. This put it in bed with mobile carriers, like Verizon, as a key technology supplier, which was offered in the form of phones and infrastructure.

But by offering to take over construction and management of mobile broadband networks, Qualcomm is betting heavily on those carrier relationships, and its ability to manage them.

Continue reading "Qualcomm's Big Bet"

The Chinese CenturyEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: The only way I could deal with recent events was through the medium of fiction. Here is the Table of Contents. Enjoy.

Clark Randt was pleased to have gotten the audience, yet concerned.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century"

November 02, 2004

What Are You Doing Here?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Isn't there a voting line you should be standing on?

And this just in. My favorite writer of all time, Jimmy Breslin, (right) is ending his column.

Jimmy was one of the first writers to inspire me, back when I first learned to type. IMHO he was the greatest columnist ever. The first book to make me cry was his World Without End, Amen, about the "troubles" in Northern Ireland.

A new era has truly begun.

November 01, 2004

Top Down vs. Bottom Up TechnologyEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The folks over at BoingBoing remind me that, just as there are both top-down and bottom-up models of politics, there are top-down and bottom-up models of technology.

Apple represents a top-down model that masquerades as bottom-up. Its advertising has always been egalitarian, even liberal, but when push comes to shove it's the most controlling outfit out there. This is built into its DNA and corporate history. People forget that the years in which Apple allowed Macintosh clones were among its darkest.

So when Apple decides to, in Cory Doctorow's words, "remove features from your iPod and presenting it to you as an 'update'" I just nod my head and ask, "So what else is new?"

Continue reading "Top Down vs. Bottom Up Technology"

One More Political RantEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Last one. And it really relates to what I wrote earlier on OJ-ization:

Continue reading "One More Political Rant"

The Camera Comes StandardEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Today, nearly one in six mobile phones in America has a camera.

Alan Reiter has delivered unto me the new JD Power survey of mobiles, which carries some other interesting nuggets:

Continue reading "The Camera Comes Standard"

New Horizons in Camera TelephonyEmail This EntryPrint This Article

From Alan Reiter comes word from Japan of a mobile phone program that edits your pictures into ghost images.

The idea, according to International Gaming News, the program focuses on a sub-image within the picture and generates the ghost from it. (The image here is from the IGN story.)

But here's what it really cool.

Continue reading "New Horizons in Camera Telephony"

Hooray for HollywoodEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Hey, kids! You can get this cool wallpaper of the Hollywood sign for your PC right here. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled tech blog.

Texas Instruments has a new chip, code-name Hollywood, that will deliver real TV to mobile phones.

The chip doesn't just process TV images using mobile phone frequencies. It actually connects you to TV signals, over-the-air, including digital TV standards. It includes a tuner, OFDM demodulator and channel decoder processor.

It's great. But in a way it's a stunt.

Continue reading "Hooray for Hollywood"

O.J.-izationEmail This EntryPrint This Article

No matter who wins the election tomorrow I know who has lost.

The media has lost.

And I know why.

Continue reading "O.J.-ization"