Who said hacking doesn't pay off?
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Well, at least for some hackers. The 17 year-old university student, George Hotz, is making his exploits pay off: for his efforts he got a brand new car!
(I wish I could make that sentence sound like Bob Barker.)
For other hackers, they get other prices such as long stints in jail, including solitary confinement: Kevin Mitnick
. Of course he's making money now as a security consultant, but I'm not sure it was worth going to jail to just consult.
Lesson to learn from all this: not all hacking is equal.
Hotz's unlocking of the iPhone goes just under the legal bar of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. However, he can't sell his exploit for other people to do it. Now, that is illegal
Kid's Nation: I don't think it will air
Monday, August 27, 2007
Having never been to summer camp, I'd think that it would be fun to just play outside all day and eat hot-dogs for lunch. Kid Nation's
sounds like summer camp, but working != playing, and many adults agree.
I'm not judging, but I don't think I'd let my 8 year old kid go to a production set in the middle of the desert for 40 days for reality TV filming. Some parents did, but New Mexico officials are claiming that the kids were in fact working
, and child labour is, apparently, illegal in most of the civilized world.
I've never been the biggest fan of reality TV, and although I liked the first Survivor
and watched some episodes of So You Think You Can Dance
, I don't think I would watch a bunch of little kids crying and trying to act like adults. I was a kid once and I liked being a kid. I think other kids would also like to be kids and not be the cruel subject of adult experiments--as adults, we should know better.
Is reality TV jumping the shark?
Didn't The Lord of the Flies
teach us anything?
SUN (the company) being Innovative
Friday, August 24, 2007
Interesting move: changing the trading symbol from SUNW
What does this change have to do with technology, or innovation, or marketing? Not much, I think.
Now, spinning off the Java platform into a separate company would definitely be a gutsy, if not a crazy, move. And I say crazy, because what SUN is signaling the market is that without Java there is no SUN. And this is a problem, which I will get to at the end.
Apparently, not everyone thinks this is a good idea. Steve Collins, for example, wrote in Schwartz's blog
Jonathan, this is one more indication the board needs to look for someone with REAL ideas to lead a once great company. You're all driving wonderful technology innovative and real engineers designed in the ground. You're just a marketing weenie.
No one can deny that this is a good PR move, but hardly the most revolutionary tactic of all times. Someone will come up with a better trading symbol. I can see it now, "Hey, why don't we change our trading symbol to 1337? Can I get my performance bonus now?"
By the way, Schwartz thinks that teenagers care where their technologies come from. He writes: "Ask a teenager if they know Java, and they'll point to their favorite mobile applications, the video uploader [sic] for their social network, or their game console." Really? Show me the statistics. I really want to see the empirical evidence of that statement.
I do think that some teenagers (and I mean the minority) may know what Java is (and probably just that it is a programming language, and only because they use it in their high-school programming class). As for the rest, they just care that their applications do what they are supposed to: ring and take calls; download music and movies (which is illegal in some countries); send and receive text messages; etc.
Most non-technocrats view information technologies as a utility that should just be there and work. And why shouldn't they? We've been telling them so for a long time now. Not long ago "The Network Was the Computer." That says to me that CPUs of all speeds and RAMs of all sizes should just be there and be ready to compute at will, regardless of the platform it runs in. Isn't that the point of the web as a service platform, technology agnosticism?
As for examples of web utilities, I can think of two. First, google is one the best web platforms to date--note that some applications are probably written in Java, but not all of them. And second, the rave now a days, Facebook--the core application is written in PHP. In both cases, nobody cares what technology is used to display videos on youtube, or sending annoying application invitations on Facebook. Well, at least I don't. I really just want to search, view maps, view photo albums, and read friends messages.
Now, coming back to the problem this move represents for SUN. Java is definitely important in the technology world, but I wouldn't say it has "near infinite [value]," as Schwartz wants everyone to believe. He knows that every technology goes through a predictable life cycle
, which is represented as an S-curve. Sure, right now it feels as if Java will just keep on giving, but the point of saturation will come and the law of diminishing returns
will kick in. This means that a new and better technology will become available, overlapping Java's technology adoption S-curve. What then? Change the trading symbol again?
So it should be clear that when that time comes SUN will be in trouble. For example, imagine that the new platform of the future, lets call it YAVA, is in fact better, faster, and cheaper to implement than Java. In our imagined future, Java will become a synonym for expensive, outdated, and bad technology. Who would want to invest in a company with that trading symbol? The very strategy to take advantage of the Java branding could backfire.
It can be argued that this grim future I just portrayed will not come true because Java will just keep getting better, and therefore this is not a problem for SUN. Well, not so fast. On the one hand, something better always comes along--it's the nature of our economic system: creative destruction. On the other hand, SUN doesn't have infinite resources to keep making Java better and better, and it is unlikely that it will invest everything they have into only one technology--it doesn't make sense, and it goes against every fibber of every CFO's being: a one technology company, a well diversified corporate portfolio does not make.
Either way, this change may turn out to be expensive in the long run. Either Java becomes outdated (and it will), or SUN invests everything they have into Java (which, Schwartz said they won't: "we are Sun, we are a systems company"). Of course, right now Java can do no wrong, and the change will be applauded by all. It's a brand equity thing that we non-marketing folk don't understand. Or do we?
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I've been doing some research on technology innovation for a paper I'm writing, and found this website: TeckCast
. If you are into technology, this site may be of interest (you have to pay for a subscription, but there is some interesting free content).
Where it is at? (rather, will be at?) RFID, B2B ecommerce, utility computing, quantum computing, smart drugs...
For a forecast technological overview, see this PDF presentation: Forecasting the Technology Revolution: Implications for Europe and Other Regions
A note of caution: these are prediction someone made, hence are not likely to be exact. So change you career with your caution.
Finally, one more link on technology foresight: Foresight Management in Corporations and Public Organisations [sic]
Monday, August 20, 2007
Creativity and Innovation: Larry Keeley
This is an old lecture on Innovation Effectiveness given by Larry Keeley
, at UC Santa Barbara
, on 15 November 2005. Most of what he's talking about is being said in some form or another in up to date graduate business programs in North America, but the overview presented here in 1.5 hours is worth your while.
Keeley claims that the "hit rate" of innovation is very low--around 4% of innovative ideas are successful--because of the way we think about innovation and the way we have been taught to innovate, e.g., think outside the box, innovate without boundaries, brainstorm without objectives, etc.
We need to change those old patterns, and this is what he recommends (this is a literal transcription of his summary slide):
- Align top management around an innovation intent...
Clear innovation definitions and directions are imperative
- Diagnose your situation; select relevant capabilities...
Break out of the orthodoxies used in your industry
- Use special method to produce relevant discoveries...
Not just technology shifts but key unmet human needs
- Build initiatives using clear protocols...
Ground innovation in your skills with special disciplines
- Keep the emphasis on prototypes and future platforms...
Avoid trying to "prove" the financial case first
If you follow this formula, you can't fail: according to Keeley, you should "expect innovation hit rates between 35 to 70%."
Even though this is a good summary of the talk, I would recommend watching the whole video. Of particular interest to some of you will be The Ten Types of Innovation™
, and the Innovation Landscape™
, which is a set of graphs created with Excel--I don't know too much about the methodology, but the graphs and the information that you can read off them seem impressive.
I want to introduce a new term: wob
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I haven't googled it at all, so if it is out there is by pure coincidence.wob
= web mob; as the digg wob, or the facebook wob, or the reddit wob.
I expect it to make the dictionary by next year. "Doh!"
I gets no love from North Dakota
I was playing around with google's analytics
and found out that I have no visitors from North Dakota
, nothing, zero, nada, el zilcho.
The population is fairly small, 635,867
as of 2006 census; it seems to be a predomintaly rural area
(336,769 rural vs. 299,098 urban); and the Hispanic or Latino population is small compared to the rest of the country (1.6% vs. 14.4%). One statistic I couldn't find is the internet usage of the state--it would be interesting to compare it to the rest of the country.
I'll check again in a couple of weeks, and because I'm writing about North Dakota, I expect to see at least 1 visitor. It's the nature of the web, otherwise google's AdSense wouldn't work.
And so it begins: Barcelona 1 - Bayern 0
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
This was only a friendly game and not part of La Liga, but what a goal. Messi is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world.
I'm looking forward to Barcelona winning the Champions and La Liga. :)
BTW, I think the commentators in the video are speaking Catalan
. Catalan is a
variant of Spanish
[thanks Jordi] language, rooted in Latin, spoken in the northern part of Spain.
I didn't know I could speak Catalan, too. Well, at least understand it. Note that this is not big feat, as anyone who speaks Spanish likely understands Portuguese, Italian, Catalan, very little French, some Latin, and Caliche.
Second Life has become an ecosystem in itself, and it is a topic of heated discussions. These are some of the stories I found interesting:
Second Life bank goes bust - This is interesting, as fake money will likely be regulated like real money. But then again, is money really real?
Second Earth - Why? Well, maybe because it is just cool.
Working while playing, or playing while working? - Companies are trying to keep employees happy by creating virtual work hangouts inside virtual worlds. Forget the security issues this practice will raise ("Hey, who's that guy with shifty eyes on the corner?"), what I wonder is how this will play out when someone programs a "virtual web browser" that connects to the real internet--some companies are already limiting the access to social network sites (e.g., Facebook), so imagine someone going into the virtual world just to surf.
What firewall will detect that? Hey, I just created two virtual products; and don't copy my ideas, they are already being "virtually patented." (And by virtual, I mean imaginary.)
A virtual web inside the web - How tedious.
This will certainly be useful.
WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING?
Monday, August 13, 2007
I'm looking into technology roadmaps and found this document
at Industry Canada's web site.
The whole document is written in CAPITAL letters. This is a sample of its shouting glory:
0.1.3.2. DIGGING FOR GOLD - FINDING THE RESOURCES TO DRIVE DEVELOPMENT
THE GREATEST SOURCE OF LONG-TERM RESOURCES IS UNQUESTIONABLY THE PRIVATE SECTOR. WHILE GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR ANY PARTICULAR AREA CAN BE SUBJECT TO SHIFTING POLITICAL PRIORITIES, RESOURCES FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR DEPEND ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY ON BOTTOM-LINE RESULTS, AND SO, IN THAT SENSE, WILL ALWAYS BE AVAILABLE FOR IDEAS THAT CAN DEMONSTRATE FUTURE PROFITABILITY. BETWEEN 15% AND 25% OF THE SUCCESSFUL PRIVATE SECTOR LANGUAGE TECHNOLOGY PRODUCTS PRESENTED ABOVE INVOLVED SOME TYPE OF CONTENT PROVIDER/RESOURCE PROVIDER PARTNERSHIP. THIS NEED NOT BE RESTRICTED, OR EVEN FOCUSED, ON SUCH AREAS OF LOW PALATABILITY TO MANY EDUCATORS AS VENTURE CAPITAL AND ASSET ACQUISITION. IN FACT, THE MODELS CHOSEN REFLECT THE HIGH POTENTIAL FOR SUCCESS IN JOINT VENTURES AND WORKING ALLIANCES.
It must be VERY IMPORTANT or it is a formatting mistake--although some of the headings are properly capitalized.
I don't mean to nit-pick, but I couldn't read further than the first sentence:
THE TASK OF DETERMINING A DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY IS THUS DESCRIBES BY INDUSTRY CANADA:Ironic?