Showing posts with label Television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Television. Show all posts

May 13, 2019

Dragon Power


In honor of the amazing (2nd to last) episode last night of Game of Thrones...

I am posting this artistic Dragon. 

That dragon last night sure was able to do a lot of damage. 

It was a very dramatic and sad episode. 

I won't give it away. 

But an air force of dragons can certainly do quite well. 

Dropping some serious firepower is what they do.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 19, 2018

Terrible TV

So we bought a new big screen television. 

That's exciting, right?

We brought it home from Costco. 

And we gave our prior model away to a family member. 

It was a shlep to move that $2,000 Panasonic behemoth from 2007!

By the time we got back home and connected our new LG TV, oy vey what a disappointment. 

It had this brilliant display in "test mode" that when hooked up to the cable box looked dark and worse than lackluster. 

Even when fidgeting with the settings to offset the dark screen, the gorgeous test display mode still came out looking like crap in actual tv mode. 

But the worst part was that there was a black line down the middle right of the screen. 

When we looked it up on the Internet, it was a known error. 

The instructions said to call LG and make a service appointment. 

WTF!  To heck with this sh*tty TV--it's supposed to be brand new and actually work--so it's going back to Costco where this crappy product came from. 

I dragged this widescreen TV back to the store and put it on one of their flat wide carts. 

The problem was that the wheels on one side of the cart were busted, and it kept turning into the fence, store shelves, and wall.

When the lady behind the returns desk called me for my turn, I tried to push the cart and it wouldn't move. 

Not being able to budge this thing,  I gave it shove forward and the TV went flying from upright to horizontal--SMASH!

The lady behind the returns counter goes to me sarcastically:

"So what was wrong with it BEFORE you just knocked it over???"

Well to make a long story short, I returned the lousy LG television and got a refund. 

And instead ordered a new Samsung curved TV from Amazon--hope this one works!

As for the horrible quality control of today's electronics--it's a shame that they can't seem to make them without problems--they've only been making televisions for like 100 years or so. 

In fact, we recently bought a Dell laptop and within like 5-6 weeks, the motherboard died.  

As you can see, the vendors are wringing profits from the products they are making at the customer's expense. 

There is no quality control to speak of--instead be ready to return the junk electronics to the garbage vendors that make them. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 6, 2016

Living In A Big F-cking Interconnected World

So I can hardly remember a world without the Internet, television, or travel. 

Yet if the world, as created, is just under 6,000 years old, then we only have these critical interconnections with each other for the last 100 years...that's only a tiny fraction of world history or less than 2%!

Pervasive and invasive communications and travel like the Internet (1990), television (1927), commercial airplane (1914), and mass produced automobile (1908) have expanded our personal universes. 

Hearing stories as a kid about how people rarely traveled more than 25 miles from their villages and barely got news from far beyond that, it is very hard for me to imagine such a small world to be confined to. 

Yes, some people look back with nostalgia yearning for the simpler times and "the good 'ol days," but they forget how on one hand, mundane it was and on the other, how unstable and violent it tended to be. 

Now with social media, smartphones, 24/7 news coverage, and world travel, connecting with people and events irrespective of distance or even language is taken for granted, and we are always on and expected to be (the last part is one downside for sure). 

Still yet to be conquered, but I am sure not that far away, is connecting outside of our own world and irregardless of time...reach forward or back and across the vastness of the stars--it's all one. 

Frankly, I do not know what I would do in a world limited to just 25 miles and not being able to get connected online, anytime, anywhere...what a boring and small world that must've been.

In the same way, once we reach beyond our own world and routinely travel to and settle on other worlds, and can reach beyond the present into the past and the future, I think the next generations will be astonished at how small we too have lived. 

25 miles...what the heck!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 13, 2015

tURNING yOUR dEVICE aGAINST yOU!

So interesting article in BBC about the Samsung's "Listening TV."

This TV has voice activated controls and they don't just take commands, but...


"If your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party."


So aside from hackers (and spies) being able to turn your phone and computer mics, cameras, and GPS location data on and off to surveil and eavesdrop on you, now the dumb television set can listen in as well. 


You can be heard, seen, and found...whether you know it or not. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal with eyes and ears from here and here with attribution to Firas and Simon James)

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August 10, 2014

Why Innovation Is On The Decline

You've experienced it firsthand, innovation is slowing down (and yes, it's quite disappointing!).  

Do you feel compelled to get a new smartphone, TV, or just about anything else...or do you already basically have the latest and greatest technology, even if it's a couple of years old now?


But imagine, if something great and new did come out...we'd all be dancing in the streets and eager to buy. 


That's right, innovation is not what it was...according to the Wall Street Journal, there is "An Innovation Slowdown At The Tech Giants."


The question is why is this happening?


No, the tech companies are not copying Washington politics (sleepy, sleepy...)! 


But instead, we may have become our own worst enemies to our ability to innovate anew. 


The New York Times today explains that our minds have a toggle switch between being focused on a task and being free to let your mind wonder and innovate. 


You can't do both at the same time, no you can't.


And these days, we have so flooded ourselves with information overload with everything from 24/7 work and "big data," email/texting, social media, and thousands of cable stations and billions of YouTube videos, and more that we are forever engaged in the what's now, and are not allowing ourselves to rest, recuperate, and think about the potential for what's new. 


If we want more from the future (innovation, creative problem solving, and sound decision making), then we need to allow some space for our minds to restore itself.


Whether that means daily downtimes, weekly walks in the park, monthly mediations, or semiannual vacations...we need to stop the diminishing returns of constant work and information arousal, and take a little mind breather. 


Instead of chugging along our insane nonstop routines of endless activities and firehose information engagement, we will do ourselves and our children and grandchildren a great service by pulling the train over for some rest and relaxation...and only then will real innovation begin again. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 23, 2013

Innovation Infertility

Many of you may have probably the seen the movie, "Children of Men,"--it is themed around a time in the future when women are infertile (because of pathology, pollution, drugs, or whatever) and the world is in chaos--for what is life without children to carry on?

Fortunately, in the movie, after 18 years, one woman does get pregnant and bears a child and there is hope in the scientific community for a resurgence of humankind. 

Unfortunately, we are now in a similar period of technology, where big innovation of yesterday has come grinding to a miserable saunter. 

When the biggest news leaking out of superstar innovator, Apple is the potential for an iWatch--uh, not exactly earth shattering, we know we are in innovator's hell!

And vendors from Apple to Samsung and Sony trying to come out with some sort of voice activated television--again, who doesn't hate the TV clicker, but really this is not going to revolutionize our entertainment center days.

With hundreds of thousands of apps available for everything from social networking, eCommerce, gaming, and more, it seems like there are more copycat apps then anything else coming out these days--where's the real wow factor?

Microsoft can't find it's way in a mobile world, the mighty Intel has been supplanted by ARM with mobile chips, Marissa Mayer is trying to figure out how to remake the jump for joy, Yahoo, relevant again, as are the Vanderhook brothers and Justin Timberlake trying to do for MySpace.

With the overemphasis on the form factor making bigger and smaller sizes and shapes for computing devices, we seesaw between iPod Classics and Nanos and between iPads and Minis. But where are the great functional enhancements? Yeah, ask Siri.

Similarly in computing architecture, we have latched unto cloud computing as the next great savior of IT-mankind, ignoring the repackaging again of the mainframe into a cool new computing model again, and relegating the prior go-to architecture of distributed computing as the evil twin.  Sure, we can save some bucks until the pendulum swings back toward more decentralization and agility again.

In social computing, with Facebook what can you say--it's got a billion users, but virtually not a single one would pay a dime to use it. If not for marketers scooping up our personal information online and advertisers annoying us with their flashing and protruding pop-ups, we continue to trade privacy for connectedness, until we lose too much of ourselves to identity thieves and snooping sources, and we fall back clamoring for more protection. 

In security, we are getting clobbered by cyber intrusions, cyber espionage, and cyber attacks--everyday!  We can't seem to figure out the rules of cyberspace or how to protect ourselves in it. We can't even find enough qualified people to fight the cyber fight.

I was surprised that even magazine, Fast Company, which prides itself on finding the next great innovation out there, states this month (April 2013), "Growing uncertainty in tech is creating chaos for startups, consumers, and investors...nobody has a non-obvious new social business model that can scale."

As in the movie, Children of Men, we are suffering from an infertility of innovation--whether from burnout, a focus on short-term profit instead of long-term R&D investments, declining scores in STEM, or a lack of leadership--we are waiting for the next pregnancy so we can have hope again, but are disappointed that so many are false positives or overhyped prophets. 

One of the things, I am most excited about is Google Glass and their concept of augmented reality, but the glasses are geeky and will need to be package in a lot more eloquent solution to really be practical in our futures. 

The next great thing will come--life is a great cycle--but as in the Bible with 7 fat cows and 7 skinny cows, leading to the great famine in Egypt, we are now seeing lots of skinny cows walking around and it is darn scary. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 2, 2013

Sony, From Hipster to Nerd

Gone are the days when Sony made innovative products like the Walkman and great products like televisions that you willingly paid top dollar for. 

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (18-24 February 2013) reports on Sony that "after eight years of losses in the TV business, it projects a $215 million profit this year--only after selling its New York headquarter for $1.1 billion."

LA Times reported last May that Sony announced its largest ever loss for year-end March 31, 2012 of $5.6 billion, nearly double its prior-year loss of $3.2 billion. They also announced layoffs for 10,000 employees. 

Sony is reorganizing and shedding businesses (displays, chemicals, etc.) and according to Bloomberg looking to generate 70% of sales and 85% of profit from just 3 remaining businesses--cameras, smartphones/tablets, and gaming. 

However, Sony has lost its way...

Maybe it started in the 80's when Sony lost out in VCR (videocassette recorder) format wars with its Betamax to VHS, and it continues today with a lack of innovation in the mobile technology marketplace. Anybody want to buy a Sony Ericsson phone?  Ah, no! 

Additionally, if you have ever been to a Sony retail store--probably not--they are a truly sad imitation of Apple and virtually nobody is in there. Hello--echo.

Sony is not only losing the technology war, the retail war, and the market share (it has only 4.5% of the phone market according to the Wall Street Journal) and earnings war, but also the branding war and they have just become plain uncool.

Sony's products have names that are unrecognizable, unpronounceable, or just plain alphabet soup. 

Do you want to buy a MacBook or a Vaio, iPhone or Xperia, Kindle Fire or PRST, a Sharp Elite or XBR, an Xbox 360 or a PS4?

The answer is obvious to everyone but Sony. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 28, 2011

Moving Forward in Reverse


There is "more than one way to skin a cat" and there are those who take the high road, and others who take the low road to get to where they are going.

The Wall Street Journal (28 November 2011) has two articles this morning on how how reverse is the new forward.

"Reverse Mentoring Cracks Workplace" is about how "Top managers get advice on social media, workplace issues from young workers." It's a reverse on the traditional mentoring model where older, experienced workers mentor younger workers; now younger technology savants are teaching their older colleagues some new tricks.

According to the article, Jack Welch championed reverse mentoring as head of GE when "he ordered 500 top executives to reach out to people below them to learn how to use the Internet...fast forward a decade and mentors are teaching theirmentees about Facebook and Twitter.

Really this phenomen of learning from the young is not all that odd, when you think that many, if not most, of technology's greatest advancements of the last 35 years came from college kids or dropouts working out their garages and growing whole new technologies, industries, and ways of doing business.

Another article called "Great Scott! Dunder Mifflin Morphs Into Real-Life Brand of Copy Paper" describes how Staples and Quill have teamed up to market a new brand of copy paper called none other than Dunder Mifflin (from the TV show "The Office" now in its 8th season).

Here again, we are in going forward in reverse. "For decades, marketers worked to embed their [real] brands in the plots of TV shows and movies. Nowadays, they are seeing value in bringing to life fictional brands that are already part of pop culture."

This reminds me of when I started seeing Wonka chocolate bars--originally from the movie, Willie Wonker and The Chocolate Factory--showing up on store shelves.

Whether the young mentoring the old or fictional brands showing up in real life, changes that are the reverse of what we are used too, are not something to "bristle at", but rather are the new normal.

There are many ways to success and we will find them through creativity, innovation, and entreprenuership--any and every way forward.

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August 5, 2011

Facial Recognition Goes Mainstream

Bar

Facial recognition applications are no longer just for the military and law enforcement to identify hostiles or criminals, but rather is going mainstream.

The Wall Street Journal (5 August 2011) reports from the bar scene to the television and from vampire gaming to celebrity match-ups, facial recognition software is now part of our everyday technology mix.

Facial recognition is "at a tipping point where some of these face-recognition technologies are not just gimicks, but are becoming useful." Moreover, the technology has become quite good with "frontal face images, the error rate of rejecting a legitimate claim--when the face image and name match-decreased to 0.29% in 2010 from a rate of 79% in 1993."

So here are some examples of how facial recognition is being used:

- SceneTap: Free app for iPhone and Droid "displays real time stats on the local bar scene...shows the number of people at the bar, the male-to-female ratio, and the average age of the patron"--all from facial recognition--this is not bad except for the bartender on a slow night.

- TVs with Viewdle: TV set-top boxes with facial recongition can "identify who is sitting in front of the TV then customize programming accordingly...displaying most recently watched or recorded shows"--can anyone say America's Got Talent!

- Third Eye: Facebook game that based on facial recognition identifies people as either vampires or slayers. Even without the app, I'd bet I'm one of the slayers :-)

- FaceR Celebrity: This iPhone app uses a picture and facial recognition software to determine which celebrities you most closely resemble. For me, it's Sylvester Stallone, all the way--I'm sure of it.

A lot of people are concerned about the privacy implications of facial recognition--collecting and storing images of faces and using it for surveillance and tracking and getting into your business...like knowing what bars or whereever else you are going to.

But apps like SceneTap say they don't collect personal information, nobody sees the video feed, and they don't match the images to photos on the web or Facebook to identify exactly who is entering the bar. This is sounding a little like TSA and the body imaging scanners they use--i.e. don't worry nobody sees your privates! :-)

But perhaps, whether or not they do or don't isn't the point, they could and that is a privacy concern.

Facial recognition technology, even though it is used in gaming, it is not kid's play, and it should be regulated to avoid a society where Internet "big brother" has virtually unlimited capability to track and match each and every facial you!

(Source Photo: here)

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June 11, 2011

The Internet: A Right and a Responsibility

Poverty_computer

Good Online is reporting (10 June 2011) that the “U.N. Declares Internet Access a Human Right.”

According to the U.N. report, “The Internet has become a key means by which individuals exercise their right to freedom of expression.”

But as Good points out, this is not just a “third-world concern,” since even in America those without high-speed access cannot adequately perform certain functions “and that surely this affects their ability to get informed, educated, and employed.”

The U.N. is pushing for more protections for people to “assert themselves freely online,” but Good proposes that Internet access means more than just freedom of expression, but also the right to more public Wi-Fi access, better access to technology in libraries and I would assume in schools as well.

Interestingly enough, just on Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg of NYC and AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson announced that as part of NYC’s “Road Map for the Digital City,” they were launching a five-year initiative for free Wi-Fi service at 20 NYC parks—this is seen as a “critical developmental tool” for children, families, and communities.

The Internet stands alone as a technology that is now a “human right.” Radios, televisions, and telephones—none of these have that status. Yes, we have freedom of speech, but the technologies that enable them are not seen as a human right.

Similarly, access to the printing press (i.e. the technology for printing) itself is not a human right—rather, freedom of press (i.e. expression through print) is.

Do we not communicate and express ourselves over radio, TV, telephone, and other technologies as we do over the Internet? Do we not get information from them and through them? Do we not reach out with them to others both nationally and globally as we do over Net?

The answer to all of these is of course, we do.

So what is distinct about the Internet that the mere access to it is declared a human right?

I believe it is the fact that the Internet is the first technology whose very access enables the protection of all the other human rights, since it empowers EVERYONE to hear and speak from and to the masses about what is going in—whether in the tumultuous streets of the Arab Spring to the darkest prisons silencing political dissent.

While radio and television, in their time, were important in getting information and entertainment, but they were essentially unidirectional modes of communication and these can be manipulated by the powers that be. Similarly, the telephone while important to bridging communications over vast distances was for the most part constrained between two or at most a few individuals conversing. And publishing was limited to the realm of the professionals with printing presses.

In contrast, the Internet enables each person to become their own TV producer (think YouTube), radio announcer (think iTunes), telephone operator (think Skype) or publisher (think websites, blogs, wikis, etc.).

The Internet has put tremendous power into the hands of every individual. This is now a declared right. With that right, there is a tremendous responsibility to share information and collaborate with others for the benefit of all.

Of course, as a powerful tool of expression, the Internet can also be used malevolently to express hatred, racism, bigotry, etc. and to malign other people, their thoughts or opinions. Of course, it can also be used to steal, spy, hack, and otherwise disrupt normal civilization.

So we also all have the responsibility to behave appropriately, fairly, and with dignity to each other on the Internet.

While I applaud the U.N. for declaring the Internet a human right, I would like to see this expanded to include both a right and responsibility—this to me would be more balanced and beneficial to building not only access, but also giving and tolerance.

(Photo Source: WorldVisionReport.org)


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February 21, 2011

Glass, More Than Just Window Dressing

This is FANTASTIC!

Video by Corning on glass uses for the future and what a future it is going to be (G-d willing).

Called: "A Day Made of Glass...Made possible by Corning."

This made me want for more of these capabilities NOW.

Imagine everything you do, but doing it better with glass display powered by technology and lots of information--all around you, as you need it!

I was aware of Corning's use of glass in high-tech ways for fiber optics transmission (i.e. Internet) and for the Hubble Telescope.

Now so many types of glass for seemingly every functional area of our lives...

  • Photovoltaic
  • LCD Television
  • Architectural
  • Surface
  • Appliance Veneer
  • Handheld
  • Automotive
  • Large-Format
  • All Weather
  • Wall Format
  • Work Surface
  • Electronics Ready
  • Large Panel
  • Flexible
  • 3-D TV
  • Portable

Smart products, great vision, and a future that I want to buy into.

Thanks to my relative, Alex S. for sending this video my way.

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January 1, 2011

A House for The People


(Source for graphic: The $300 House)

National Geographic (January 2011) reports that one out of every seven people—or 1 billion people—in this world lives in slums.


Forbes (11 June 2007) predicts “By 2030, an estimated 5 billion of the world’s 8.1 billion people will live in cities. About 2 billion of them will live in slums, primarily in Africa and Asia, lacking access to clean drinking water and toilets, surrounded by desperation and crime.”


Harvard Business Review (January-February 2011) shares an innovative idea by Vijay Govindarajan to design and mass-produce houses for the poor for $300! Moreover, these units would include “basic modern services such as running water and electricity…[and] create shared access to computers, cell phones, televisions, water filters, solar panels, and clean-burning stoves.”


The breakthrough idea of the $300 high-tech house is that this is not something governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or charities would develop and deploy, but rather one that is a challenge for commercial interests who can take lead on creating mass scale, “ultra low cost, high value housing…as a mega opportunity, with billions in profit at stake.”


While I understand that the profit motive is very compelling and efficient in getting results, I would suggest that when it comes to helping the poor and downtrodden that we need to temper this as a driving factor, and let our humanity and conscience kick in as well. In other words, sure make a profit, but by G-d have a heart.


With The $300 House, aside from the notion of truly helping people—en masse—and making a genuine difference with moving them from slum houses to homes is the concept of leapfrogging them in their technology. Think about it:


- Solar power
- Walter filtration
- (Even) Tablet PCs


This reminds me of the One Laptop Per Child initiative of 2005 that sought to put $100 laptops in the hands of hundreds of millions of disadvantaged schoolchildren to advance their educational opportunities. It expands and augments it to make the change impactful to people’s lives on the ground today in terms of how people are able to care for themselves and their families, so that they can get to a brighter tomorrow and put that education to work.


While we may never be able to fully eradicate poverty, we can certainly significantly raise the status of living for the masses that need help through commercial opportunities, technological proliferation, and of course, through a charitable heart.

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October 8, 2010

You’ve Got An Alert

You’re all probably familiar with the capability of signing up for alerts to your computer or mobile device (phone, blackberry, pager, PDA, etc.).

By signing up, you can get notifications about severe weather (such as tornados or earthquacks), transportation troubles (such as street closures or metro incidents), utility disruptions (water, telephone, or power), government and school closings, Amber alerts, or breaking news and information on major crisis (such as homeland security or other emergency situations).

Unfortunately, not everyone bothers to sign up for these. Perhaps, they don’t want to bother registering for another site, giving and maintaining their personal contact information, or maybe they just prefer to rely on major news sources like CNN or social networking sites like Twitter for getting the word out.

The problem is that in a real crisis situation where time is of the essence and every minute and second counts—envision that tornado swooping in or that ticking time bomb about to go off—we need to let people know no matter what they are doing—ASAP!

According to GovTech (October 2010), the California Emergency Management Agency is planning to deploy a new system called Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) to “deliver warnings and safety information via text alerts to wireless phones in specified areas without requiring individuals to subscribe to the service.”

A pilot is scheduled to begin in San Diego in the fall.

With CMAS, emergency information can be targeted to an area affected and transmitted to everyone in the receiving area without them having to do anything. Just like your televisions receiving the emerging alerts (which is great if you happen to be watching), now your mobile devices will get them too.

I remember hearing the stories from my father about World War II how the German Luftwaffe (air force) would blitz (i.e. carpet bomb) London and other Ally cities, and the sirens would go off, blaring to give the people the chance to take cover and save their lives.

Well, thank G-d, we don’t often hear any air raid sirens like that anymore, and with CMAS having the potential to someday grow into a full national network of wireless emergency alerts, we may never have to hear sirens like that again.

(Photo: Courtesy Oak Ridge National Laboratory Emergency Management Center; http://communication.howstuffworks.com/how-emergency-notifications-work1.htm)


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May 29, 2010

Internet, Anything But Shallow

Over time, people have transitioned the way they predominantly get their information and learn, as follows:
1) Experiential—people used to learn mostly by doing—through their experiences, although these were usually limited in both time and space.
2) Reading—With the printing press, doing was supplanted by reading and information came from around the world and passed over from generation to generation.
3) Television—Active reading was upended by passive watching television, where the printed word “came alive” in images and sounds streaming right into our living rooms.
4) Virtuality—And now TV is being surpassed by the interactivity of the Internet, where people have immediate access to exabytes of on-demand information covering the spectrum of human thought and existence.

The question is how does the way we learn ultimately affect what we learn and how we think—in other words does sitting and reading for example teach us to think and understand the world differently than watching TV or surfing the Internet? Is one better than the other?

I remember hearing as a kid the adults quip about kids sitting in front of the TV like zombies! And parents these days, tell their kids to “get off of Facebook and get outside and play a little in the yard or go to the mall”—get out actually do something with somebody “real.”

An article in Wired Magazine, June 2010, called “Chaos Theory” by Nicholas Carr states “even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.”

Carr contents that the Internet is changing how we think and not necessarily for the better:

1) Information overload: The Internet is a wealth of information, but “when the load exceeds our mind’s ability to process and store it, we’re unable to retain the information or to draw connections with other memories…our ability to learn suffers and our understanding remains weak.”
2) Constant interruptions: “The Internet is an interruption system. It seizes out attention only to scramble it,” though images, videos, hypertext, email, IM, tweets, RSS feeds, and advertisements.
3) “Suckers for Irrelevancy”: “The stream of new information plays to our natural tendency to overemphasize the immediate. We crave the new even when we know it’s trivial.”
4) “Intensive multitasking”: We routinely try to do (too) many things online at the same time, so that we are predominantly in skimming mode and infrequently go into any depth in any one area. In short, we sacrifice depth for breadth, and thereby lose various degrees of our ability in “knowledge acquisition, inductive analysis, critical thinking, imagination, and reflection.”
While I think that Carr makes some clever points about the dangers of Internet learning, I believe that the advantages of the Internet far outweigh the costs.

The Internet provides an unparalleled access to information and communication. It gives people the ability to get more information, from more sources, in more ways, than they would’ve in any of the other ways of learning. We are able to browse and search—skim or dig deep—as needed, anytime, anywhere.

With the Internet, we have access to information that exceeds the experiences of countless lifetimes, our world’s largest libraries—and TV isn’t even a real competitor.

At the end of the day, the Internet is a productivity multiplier like no other in history. Despite what may be considered information overload, too many online interruptions, and our inclinations to multitasking galore and even what some consider irrelevant; the Internet is an unbelievable source of information, social networking, entertainment, and online commerce.

While I believe that there is no substitute for experience, a balance of learning media—from actually doing and reading to watching and interacting online—make for an integrated and holistic learning experience. The result is learning that is diversified, interesting, and provides the greatest opportunity for everyone to learn in the way that suits him or her best.

Moreover, contrary to the Internet making us shallower thinkers as Carr contends, I think that we are actually smarter and better thinkers because of it. As a result of the Internet, we are able to get past the b.s. faster and find what we are looking for and what is actually useful to us. While pure linear reading and thinking is important and has a place, the ability online of the semantic web to locate any information and identify trends, patterns, relationships, and visualize these provides an added dimension that is anything but shallow.

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July 19, 2009

Battle of the Tech Titans

Google and Microsoft are going head-to-head, and they are going for the jugular.

ComputerWorld stated in the July 6/July 13, 2009: “Google Set to Wage OS War with Microsoft.” Wired wrote in August 2009 issue according to CEO Eric Schmidt, Google is the “anti-Microsoft”.

According to Wired, the two companies are fighting for the title: King of Technology.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

Google

Microsoft

Web Browser

Chrome (& FireFox distribution)

Explorer

Operating System

Android, Chrome OS

Windows, XP, Vista, Mobile

Business Productivity Suite

Apps Suite

Office

Search

Google

Bing

Online Advertising

Adwords, Adsense, Doubleclick

aQuantive

On one hand, Google is the undisputed master of the Internet delivering 78.5% of search results in the U.S. (versus 8.2% for Microsoft ) and pulling in $22 billion in revenue in 2008 for text ads. On the other hand, Microsoft owns the personal computer environment with 90% of the operating systems for all laptops and desktops yielding $16 billion in 2008 sales and $14.3 billion in 9 months for it’s productivity applications (versus Google which mostly gives away is email and other online applications); further Microsoft has 70% of the browser market to Google 2% for Chrome. (Wired July 13, 2009)

So is there really a full tech war going on or are Microsoft and Google just chipping away on the edges of each others territory, using so-called guerrilla warfare tactics?

It’s a little of each. Both companies are technology behemoths trying to be the king of the tech jungle. But they have very different approaches. Microsoft believes that computer software is the key to tech kingdom, while Google believes that the Internet is the path to people’s technology hearts.

Google is willing to give away software to challenge Microsoft on its home turf, and Microsoft is investing in its new search engine to erode the core strength of its competitor. It’s a jab for jab face-off where I would imagine we would continue to see the corporate fists flying for as long the two are standing.

From a strategic point of view, Microsoft has such a dominant position on our computers both in our homes and businesses, it is hard to imagine them being easily dethroned. Microsoft also has a war chest and the ability to replenish it to fight a darn good fight. But many companies have been smug and have lost to a determined challenger.

Google is coming out strong for its innovativeness and can’t turn down offer of free products. If the television business is any predictor of a winner-take-all, television’s advertising revenue built an incredible entertainment industry that we all enjoy and which still largely dominates today.

And now I think I will go watch 60 minutes on my big flat screen TV.


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October 7, 2008

Holographic TV and Enterprise Architecture

Watch out enterprise architects…holographic technology is coming your way.

CNN reported on 6 October 2008 that “Holographic television to become reality.”

Of course, the TV piece of it is only the tip of the iceberg, because 3-D holographic technology can be used in our organizations for all sort of presentations (forget about simple PowerPoint slideshows anymore), video-teleconferencing (think CISCO Telepresence on steroids), desktop computer applications (think Office and Internet applications that take place literally on your desk rather than on a flat screen). Also, holographic technology will be able to be applied to specialized areas such as tele-medicine (for example, battlefield surgery), more realistic professional training (all kinds), and enhanced command and control functions (such as common and user-defined operational picture for defense, law enforcement, and Intel), and much more.

Why is all this now seen as possible?

Recently, researchers at the University of Arizona had a major “breakthrough in rewritable and erasable holographic systems.” This is “prerequisite for any type of moving holographic technology,” like a television where “images would need to be changing multiple times each second,” says Dr Nasser Peyghambarian.

Dr.T ung H. Jeong, a retired physics professor at Lake Forest College outside Chicago, says that “We are moving toward the possibility of holographic TV…It has now been shown that physically , it’s possible.

Peyghambarian believes that this “technology could reach the market within five to ten years.”

The challenge will be to produce it cheap enough to make it viable for the mass market.

As with most technologies that reach a basic level of maturity and profitability, competitors will rush in, drive down costs and commoditize the product.

We can look forward to this tremendous evolution in the way we watch and interact with information, applications, entertainment, training, and social media.

Users will have a richer and fuller experience by virtue of using this technology. It is the job of the enterprise architect to identify new technologies like this for our organizations and to plan the way ahead for their alignment with the business, adoption and use.

Holographic technology will change the way we conduct our operations in business, government, and our personal lives.


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May 15, 2008

Happiness, Human Capital and Enterprise Architecture

As those of you who are regular readers of this blog know, I am a proponent for a human capital perspective for the Federal Enterprise Architecture.

The human capital perspective would provide the people focus, while the business perspective provides the process focus, and the services, technology, and security provide the technology focus.

This would round out the established view of people—process—technology that fields like organizational development and enterprise architecture look to address.

From a human capital perspective, one critical item that organizations would of course look to baseline, target, and transition plan for is money—essentially, how we financially compensate our employees and motivate them with dollars and cents.

However, employees are not only motivated by money. People want to get up in the morning and not dread going to the office. So the human capital perspective can also look at other factors that make people happy, such as employee recognition, professional growth, challenging work, ongoing training, and so on. Making for a happy workforce, improves productivity, attendance, retention, and more.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), 2 April 2008, reports that there are three primary factors for making people happy:

  1. Disposition—“whether you are, by nature, a happy person or not—there isn’t a whole lot you can do about this.”
  2. Circumstance—“your age, health, marital status, and income.” Here the organization can impact income, but “this stuff isn’t nearly as important as folks often imagine. If your income doubled, you would initially be delighted. But research suggests, you would quickly get used to all that extra money.”
  3. Activity—“how you spend your time.” Of course, there are “’engaging leisure and spiritual activities,’ things like visiting friends, exercising, attending church [or synagogue], listening to music, fishing, reading a book, sitting in a cafĂ©, or going to a party.” I would add that the organization can also help here by providing employees with challenging but achievable, meaningful, growth-oriented activities. Both the spiritual/leisure activities and the appropriate work activities can all help people to be “happy, engrossed, and not especially stressed.”

The WSJ calls watching something like television “neutral downtime” It’s “low-stress and moderately enjoyable. But people aren’t mentally engaged.” So the benefits are not great. In this case, I would argue that a productive day in the office is more enjoyable than sitting home and vegging in front of the tube (although that occasionally can be therapeutic as well).

The key here is people need to feel engaged, productive, challenged, that they’re going somewhere and that it all has some meaning. Yes, we all need money to pay our bills, but there are other factors in work and at leisure that make for happiness. This is one area where the human capital perspective can play a role.


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