Showing posts from 2012

Hackerspaces, VC's and Investors.

The more I look at Hackerspaces (or Makerspaces, or whatever name you want to use to describe a co-op like group of people who like to create things, be it software, hardware, art, media, furniture, whatever . in a warehousey place where everyone stores and shares tools/knowledge and joins as a member and helps pay the rent)  I have to wonder:

Could this be a new Venture Capital/ Angel Investment model?

I mean, this is where people who like to make things are gravitating towards.  These are the people the investors are all trying to suss out and recruit.

I'm pretty sure some of the more recently created hackerspaces I'm seeing form are being used by investor types for just this reason (I just read up on a new on in Loveland, CO that seems to be funded by a guy who's a serial company starter himself).

It also looks like it might even be an actual business onto itself as well.  Different levels of access to the space and tools cost a different level of monthly 'dues'.…

Google: Ingress Location Based Game

So, got a closed beta invite yesterday to Googles Ingress game.  Reviews sound good.  Looks like a location based game designed to get people to walk around and take pictures of things (betcha Googles got some interesting things it can do with THAT data).

I played Shadow Cities pretty intensely for a few months early this year, similar concept.  We'll see how good Google is at games when I start playing it later this week.  More to come.

On Makers & Hackerspaces

Paul Graham's got a short thought piece up on makers and the Hardware Renaissance.  Great read.  Link to his latest thought piece here.

I recently joined denhac (, a hacker space based in Denver and it's full of makers.  People who love hardware  But they also love software, technology, music, art and media.

There's a trend here.  A big one.  I think the cost of creating hardware is dropping.  Atoms will always cost more than bits to produce, but the distance in cost between the two is closing fast.  The cost of the tools needed to create are dropping extremely fast and the capabilities of these tools are skyrocketing.

When I really think about it, these hackerspaces are kind of the new computer club, moose lodge/coffee shop/bar/hangout/workspace and free schools of the 21st century.  

I suspect they may be even more, like the beginnings of new local media creation points.  A place where media makers come together as well as technology geeks.  An intersection wh…

A good cellular provider experience.

I had an odd experience yesterday with my cellular provider.

It was a good experience.  

I know, right?  Who says that nowadays?
But it's true.  I switched to Sprint about 3 months ago.  I received a bill that had something on it that I didn't understand.  On a Saturday  I called Sprint and was on hold for less than a minute (huh.. that's new).  The person who answered was not a native English speaker, but it took me a few minutes to figure that out- which is great.  No communication issues there.
The charge was an extra $10 a month that made sense, but hadn't been explained to me by the store employee.  This, of course, pissed me off and based on previous experiences, I simply said "fine... screwed by yet another phone company" and hung up in disgust.

End of story.  Well... no.
Several hours later, the SAME customer service rep called me back.  She told me she'd talked to her supervisor and they would remove the $10 charge, for 3 months, since no one ex…

Oldie but goodie: Custom eWorld Screens.

Ran across these and thought I'd throw them out there.  These are customized screens to the Apple eWorld service (my group at Apple created the software for this service) that was around in the early 90's (pre internet days).  Some appear to be copies, but they're all slightly different.  More on eWorld here if you're interested:


The Fall of the Apple Empire...It's the Little Things

Apple's new Macbook magsafe power connector and it's new commercials:  The beginning of the end.

Simple stuff.  The first is the new Magsafe connector for Macbooks.  Here's a quote from the Apple forums on The Verge website:

"The new MagSafe 2 connector sucks. Apple blew it. It's hard to argue that they changed the adapter for the sake of room when the MBA accommodates it fine. This new adapter is quick to pop out when you are using the notebook on a couch, plush chair or somewhere where it can get forced up while in use."
This is a common complaint.  So what does this tell you?  It tells me Apple is getting sloppy, already.  Do you think Steve Jobs would have allowed something that was badly designed to ever leave the lab to be proto-typed let alone ship?  I think not.

I know this is a small thing, but it's the culmination of the small things that made Apple products great.  It will be the culmination of small things that destroys the 'magic' so m…

Apple's 'Secret' Lab and the Knight Ridder Folks

Did you know Apple had a secret lab in Boulder, CO for several years?  Yep.  It was called the AEML (Apple Electronic Media Lab) and it was a part of the eWorld division, basically, it's research group.

I know because I started it and, along with my local proxy (a brilliant guy named Dennis Dube)  ran it for several years.
Why bring this up now you ask?  Well, this weekend, I attended a 20 year reunion party with a few folks from the AEML, but the parties main event was to bring together Roger Fidler and his crew from Knight Ridders IDL (Information Design Lab). 

The IDL was a 'futures' lab that ran from 1992 to 1995 and Roger Fidler was it's director.

Roger's IDL was the reason I started Apple's secret lab in Boulder in the first place.  I visited him there shortly after he opened his lab and knew, just knew, this was the kind of thing Apple needed to get's it's head around. .  At the time I was the head of R and D for eWorld (Apple's attempt at c…

Privacy, Identity and Your Local Grocery Store

If you think Facebook knows alot about you, take a look at what your local grocery store is tracking.  If you want (sometimes significant) discounts, you are likely a member of a loyalty program with your local grocery store.  You get a card you scan before you checkout (or just your phone number) and viola! you save $10-20 bucks.  Who wouldn't?

Imagine how that information (what you - mostly - eat) can be interpreted.  Buy a lot of vegetables fruits and chicken?  How about a medical insurance discount to go along with that?  Oh, you like candy, Nutella and pizza?  We'll pass that along to your doctor and your insurance company for a future checkup and premium increase.

If they have a pharmacy (and many stores do) they're able to track that as well.

I'm not saying that's happening today, but, it easily could.  I mean, really.. did you read that Terms of Service for that loyalty program card? 

And it's getting even more all encompassing.

Now, of course, there&#…

Book Review: Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez

I can't say this is science fiction so much as a near (actually, really near) future war story.  I know a guy in Boulder, CO. that consults for the military creating a specialized Android OS specific to the US Air Force designed to fly, remotely, jets.  As in F18 type jets.  He told me almost 2 years ago about how they had to have autonomous operations if they were cut off from remote control and much of what I read in this book sounds very similar to concepts my friend told me about over lunch at a restaurant on Pearl street in 2010.


So, not so 'near future' as 'tomorrow or the day after' future.

As far as this book is concerned.. exceptionally well written.  He's using a Tom Clancy like style and, for a story like this, it works beautifully.  Fast paced, (reasonably) believable characters and an excellent plot line.  It's also all a bit close to home.  Police forces are considering (and in some municipalities, have already implemented) drone techno…

Community Broadband: An apparent threat to big business

Every so often you see the real harm that comes from big companies having too much say in the local politics of your town, state or region.

Community broadband is one of those areas.  Just recently, we saw an example of this.  N. Carolina, effectively, made it illegal for a town to have it's own broadband services.

I live in a town that owns it's own power and water sources.  It also has a fiber loop that could easily be adapted to provide high speed internet services to businesses and households.  When the town started making noises like it might do just that, Comcast and others created an astro-turf 'group' that opposed the town's interest in being an actual 'smart' city.  They spent over a quarter of  million dollars (this is a smallish town; less than 100K people) to get the local population to vote against it.

The first time this happened (in the mid 2000&…

Who's data is that... really?

Propublica has a fascinating article up on the location data your cell phone provider tracks and what they do with it.

The thing I found most interesting was they'll give it to lots of people, with one major exception:  You.

It's worth taking a few minutes to read if you have a cell phone with GPS capabilities (which is, very likely, most of you).

Silicon Valley is Hollywood for geeks... and not in a good way

Brendon Wilson from TechVibes has a pretty interesting post comparing Silicon Valley to the Bio-Dome.
Silicon Valley believes itself to be a self-contained, self-sustaining ark of innovation. To hear technology industry luminaries tell the tale, there is simply no better place to achieve your geek dreams than Silicon Valley: there’s money, there’s brains, and therefore (the theory goes) there’s success. Much like Woody Allen, Silicon Valley casts itself as the romantic lead in its own movie and the rest of us willingly suspend our disbelief. We hail pimply-faced youths on the covers of our magazines and marvel at the virtual success they’ve achieved, even if it defies all rational explanation.

I view the situation somewhat differently. Instead of thinking of Silicon Valley as a self-contained innovation ecosystem, I think of it more akin to Biosphere 2, a self-contained environmental ecosystem that spent the majority of its existence trying very hard to kill its own inhabitants.Silico…

Daniel Suarez - A great new author worth checking out

Some fiction books are more then entertainment. Every so often you read a book (or in this case 'books') that really grab you and make you think.

Daniel Suarez has written a pair of books that nail it. Daemon and FreedomTM. If you've got a day free (you'll need it because you likely won't want to put these books down until you're done) and want to have your view of the world shaken up a bit, these near-future sci-fi books are worth every penny (thanks to Brad Feld for the pointer via his blog: ).

For more on the books and it's author:

Daemon & its sequel, FreedomTM - by Daniel Suarez

For those of you who are introverts.... Susan Cain on the power of introverts.

Don't join a class action suit. Instead, individually sue in small claims court.

This may seem like a small thing, but it's really a big thing because this women won her small claims suit against Honda.  Instead of 100,000 people suing a big company after it lies to them in a class action lawsuit, and, maybe, getting a few hundred bucks each, with the lawyers getting millions, they each sue in small claims court, getting, in this case, almost $10,000.  
Instead of a $100MM settlement, it becomes a $1 Billion dollar nightmare (not counting the administrative costs, likely another billion) for the companies involved.
Maybe, just maybe, this will help keep our largest corporations just a little more in line and thinking about their customer first.

This could change the face of class actions in America.  Instead of hiring a lawyer, you go to a coordinating website to learn how to get your fair share.

This is the kind of thing that the internet is best at, leveling the playing field for the average person and, in this case, democratizing the law itself making it mo…

A slippery slope

A slippery slope:  It would seem the word "Freedom" doesn't really correlate with "America" like it used to.

"Reporters Without Borders released its 2011-2012 global Press Freedom Index. The indicators for press freedom in the U.S. are dramatic, with a downward movement from 27th to 47th in the global ranking, from the previous year. Much of this is correlated directly to the arrest and incarceration of American journalists covering the 'Occupy' protest movements in New York and across the country. 'This is especially troubling as we head into an election year which is sure to spark new conflicts between police and press covering rallies, protests and political events.' Only Chile, who dropped from 33 to 80, joined the U.S. in falling over 100% of their previous ranking. Similarly, Chile was downgraded for 'freedom of information violations committed by the security forces during student protests.'"…

Apple, Evil Badass

I've got to hand it to Apple. 

 They've taken this we're gonna be the most evil badass you've seen since Gates version of Microsoft in the 90's really seriously.

Love the timeline:

January 2005 – Pixar senior executives (which include Steve Jobs) draft written terms for a no-poach agreement and send them to Lucasfilm
May 2005 – Apple and Adobe make agreements
2006 – Apple and Google make agreements shortly after Eric Schmidt joined Apple’s board of directors
April 2007 – Apple and Pixar make agreements
June and September 2007 – Google enters into agreements with Intuit and Intel that are identical to the agreements between Apple and Google, Apple and Adobe, and Apple and Pixar

I'm trying to figure out why a company with $100 Billion in cash would want to cheat the employees that made that cash pile possible.  And it wasn't some low level HR person doing this.  It was Steve Jobs.  He started it, personally.

Major alien puke on the 'do no evil' company as well…
Look ma... I'm a QR code!