Archive for March, 2005

Special Announcement

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

This is the “special announcement” from Flight School – not quite as exciting as I had hoped.

Brant Sponberg, Program Manager at NASA announced 2 new Centennial Challenges. One is for beaming power through space, and the other is for high strength-to-weight materials.

Read the Wired article for more info, or see my notes in the extended entry.

Read the rest of this entry »

Flight School II

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

More notes from Flight School afternoon sessions, in the extended entry. Anybody know how to make MT preserve hard line breaks, but still do word wrap?

Read the rest of this entry »

Flight School I

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

I’m at Flight School, and blogging some notes. The marginal utility of turning this in to readable prose is not very high to me, so for what it’s worth, here are the raw notes, in the extended entry.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bruce Holmes

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

At PCForum Flight School I just saw a pretty inspiring movie clip about the Mars Pathfinder and Sojourner missions made by George Butler, and have been listening to Bruce Holmes of NASA Langley talk about the future of both aviation and the space program. Bruce had an interesting idea I’m not sure I agree with: each revolution in communications has an accompanying revolution in transportation. He cited the telegraph and the railroads, and linked the telephone with the rise of the automobile. An interesting idea.

PC Forum Ideas

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

I’m at PC Forum and wanted to jot a couple of ideas that I heard here that I thought were worth writing down.

John Seely Brown and John Hagel led a moderately interesting discussion of loose coupling vs tight integration. Their main example was Chinese motorcycle companies, which were competing with Honda for the world motorcycle market. By loosely coupling with their suppliers, and working collaboratively, they were able to quickly innnovate the price of a motorcycle down from $700 to $200, while Honda was still at $900. There were two major reasons it worked: loosely coupled modules in a business process can be rearranged or reintegrated to form new things or try new ideas much more quickly than tight integrations. Also, innovation within a module is possible without disrupting the entire system. One other caveat: this mechanism needs a reference model to work from, in this case a Honda motorcycle. Other cases cited include Linux (working from the Unix reference) and Apache (from NCSA, among others).

One interesting company was SoloMio. They provide services through cell operators to allow quick response to an incoming call without necessarily answering it. Imagine when a call comes in from your wife, you can quickly select an option that responds with “I’m in a meeting – can I call you back in an hour?” This is a great idea, and it’s too bad it requires so much work on the part of the operators to implement. One idea I want to add to this is one that’s been kicking around in my head since about 1999, for a Bluetooth watch. No, I don’t want to get the time via Bluetooth. I want to know who is calling (caller ID) and have a set of 3-5 responses I can send with one touch. That way, when someone calls, I can just glance at my watch, and possibly press a button, to respond – with minimal interruption of the conversation or meeting I’m currently in.

There was also an interesting open source panel, with Kim Polese (CEO of SpikeSource) and Mitchell Baker (Chief Lizard Wranglers of the Mozilla Foundation, and boy does she look different from her picture in the program). They both represent large Open Source projects with corporate sponsorship. One thing we didn’t explore in too much depth was the shift (or maturity) from random developers from scratching their own itches and gratifying some ego, to real enterprise application development. To my mind, there is not always much of an intersection between the people with domain knowledge in an enterprise business process, and people with development capability. So, what is interesting is that in the new models it’s companies that are altruistic, not just people. Some companies have the farsight to realize that it is in their long term best interest to pay for the development of software that will be given away.

Missed opportunity

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

I’m at PC Forum, and I just missed an opportunity. I didn’t get much sleep last night, but that’s no excuse. There was an entire panel discussion on metadata and tags, with audience participation encouraged. I missed an opportunity to get on my favorite soapbox, and ask why photos don’t the ability to embed user-created metadata. I wrote about this before.

Basically, I always want the metadata to be closely coupled with the data itself. My big problem with Flickr is that if I take my photos somewhere else, I don’t get to keep my metadata. I don’t understand why we can’t store the tags in the EXIF, the same way we store ID3 tags in the MP3 file.

PC Forum Kids

Monday, March 21st, 2005

I got in late from golf^H^H^H^Han important business meeting, and all the dinner tables were filled except for the kids table. I had a very enjoyable dinner with about 7 14-year-olds. What was really nice was that for the most part these kids were mature and extremely smart.

To pretend I was working, I polled them for their technology habits. As expected, they were all quite computer literate, and used their computers (mostly Macs) a lot for school and play. However, I found a couple of surprising things.

One was that they all use AIM for instant messaging, without fail. Another was that none of them use email, at all. They all had cellphones, and considered them much more important than their computers. They do some SMS, but consider it too hard for real conversations, and mostly just call their friends, leaving voicemail if they need to. They do play computer games, and sometimes get really into them, but then the interest fades as they get into other things.

Not a scientific sample, at all, but I was surprised that for them IM and cellphones had made email irrelevant.