Thursday, December 15, 2005

I'm back!

Hi all -

Sorry for the dropout - pushing to get some stuff done around here.

Here's a really, really interesting arcticle from Yahoo :
Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that relies on volunteers to pen nearly 4 million articles, is about as accurate in covering scientific topics as Encyclopedia Britannica, the journal Nature wrote in an online article published Wednesday.

The finding, based on a side-by-side comparison of articles covering a broad swath of the scientific spectrum, comes as Wikipedia faces criticism over the accuracy of some of its entries.

Two weeks ago prominent journalist John Seigenthaler, the former publisher of the Tennessean newspaper and founding editorial director of USA Today, revealed that a Wikipedia entry that ran for four months had incorrectly named him as a longtime suspect in the assassinations of president John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert.

Such errors appear to be the exception rather than the rule, Nature said in Wednesday's article, which the scientific journal said was the first to use peer review to compare Wikipedia to Britannica. Based on 42 articles reviewed by experts, the average scientific entry in Wikipedia contained four errors or omissions, while Britannica had three.

This is really important, because it says that community efforts can stand aside commercial efforts, and be of equivalent quality. Of course, this is what Ernie is going to depend on.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Joe Batista and Commoditization

Well, I had the most interesting morning with Joe Batista, the "chief creatologist" of Hewlett Packard. A quick bio :

Joseph (Joe) Batista, Director & Chief Creatologist at Hewlett Packard (HP) Corporation, is responsible for building new business realties leveraging HP’s portfolio of assets, and driving new growth, strategy and implementation agendas that deliver real business results.

As you might know, I'm a former chairman of the Cape Cod Technology Council, which sort of sounds like "President of the Orleans Kiwanis". In a way, it is, but with a twist. Tons of successful Boston area executives and engineers have houses down here on the Cape, Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, and they all have a vested interest in seeing high tech on the Cape flourish. So, we tend to have excellent speakers come to our breakfasts. As an example, we had the director of NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC), who has a house here, speak to us about all the neat 10 to 40 year projects that NASA is working on, including anti-matter drives and hopper bots. And yes, it does sound like Star Trek. That's because the producers of Star Trek make regular visits to NIAC for TV show fodder. Yes, anti-matter drives are a real project, ableit nascent, at NASA. Cool, huh? But, I digress.

Joe was speaking to us about the new economy, where the real asset is ideas. As part of this, he spoke about commoditization, and used as real world examples Clorox and coffee beans. Now, here's an excellent take away based on coffee beans. It doesn't take a creatologist to relate this to today's world of telephony:

Commodity == coffee beans, 1-2 cents per pound
Product == Maxwell house coffee, $1.25 per pound
Service == Dunkin Donuts Coffee, $1.25 per cup
Experience == Starbucks Coffee, $2-$5 per cup

I'll leave you with a quote from Pulp Fiction :

How 'bout you, Peggy Sue?

I'll have the Durwood Kirby burger
-- bloody -- and a five-dollar

How d'ya want that shake, Martin
and Lewis, or Amos and Andy?

Martin and Lewis.

Did you just order a five-dollar

Sure did.

A shake? Milk and ice cream?


It costs five dollars?


You don't put bourbon in it or


Just checking.

Can I have a sip of that? I'd like
to know what a five-dollar shake
tastes like.

Be my guest.

She slides the shake over to him.

You can use my straw, I don't have

Vincent smiles.

Yeah, but maybe I do.

Kooties I can handle.

He takes a sip.

Goddamn! That's a pretty fuckin'
good milk shake.

Told ya.

I don't know if it's worth five
dollars, but it's pretty fuckin'

He slides the shake back.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Made me fall off my chair!!!!

Ok - this has nothing to do with anything, but this was SO funny, it made me fall off my chair. Anyone who's ever been an engineer has a story like this one, but this is so over the top, I just had to share....

No matter how much resolve you could muster, it was still difficult to quit Apple if Steve wanted you to stay. You'd have to sit down with him for a reality distortion session, which was often effective at getting people to change their minds. One day, a few of us were talking about strategies to overcome Steve's persuasiveness.

"I've got it!", said Burrell. "I know the perfect way to quit that will nullify the reality distortion field."

Of course we wanted to know how he could do that.

"I'll just walk into Steve's office, pull down my pants, and urinate on his desk. What could he say to that? It's guaranteed to work." We laughed, thinking that not even Burrell would have the guts to do that.

A year and a half later, it finally was time for Burrell to quit, after months of scuffling with Bob Belleville and some of the other managers, who wanted to cancel the "Turbo Mac" project (a redesigned, faster Mac based on a semi-custom chip, with an internal hard drive) that Burrell was working on with Brian Howard and Bob Bailey.

Burrell told Bob Belleville (who was probably relieved, since he knew that Burrell didn't respect him) and the human resources department that he was quitting, and then made an appointment to see Steve that afternoon. When he walked into Steve's office, he was surprised to see Steve grinning at him.

"Are you gonna do it? Are you really gonna do it?", asked Steve. Somehow, word about the urination threat had gotten back to Steve, and he was genuinely curious if Burrell would go through with it or not.

Burrell looked Steve in the eye. "Do I have to? I'll do it if I have to."

Steve's expression gave him the answer, so Burrell turned and walked out of the office, no longer an Apple employee.