Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More clouds in the heavens!

Everyone wants a place in line at Heaven's Gates! HP, Intel, Yahoo just created their own cloud in the skies. There have already been players in this space - Amazon's been doing this with their Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) framework and their Simple Storage Service (S3). Unfortunately, in recent months, the Amazon offering has been beset with some stability challenges. IBM and Google had already made their foray into this space, and Microsoft is also headed that way.

IBM had pushed for the network computer in the 90s - it was the right idea, but it was a few years too early. Now is the right time. I presume that networking companies are going to try to put more into the network routers - or at least take credit. But Cisco's thrust into messaging the Human Network is admirable, although, I guess Telepresence does stand out.

I see many Google engineers with a sticker on their laptop that says "My other computer is a data center".

Monday, July 28, 2008

Blurring the Human-Machine line

The industrial revolution clearly established machines superior to humans on a physical basis. Now, the intellectual assault is on.

As new techniques are invented where machines are beginning to outperform humans, and as more realistic humanoid and other intelligent robots take stage, the blurring of the line between human and machine is happening as we speak.

As machines can search better, churn through numbers faster and play better chess, interesting applications for machines is all it takes. Check out how BigDog can not just move across rough terrain, but actually regain its balance after a pretty large and sudden replacement (don't miss the comedy version - it is a classic!)

What would you do if you could clone yourself (at least physically and behaviorally, if not mentally) with an Android? How would autonomous Androids interact with each other?

There's discussion around micro- and nano- applications to health, which is a different way of looking at the problem - the android is the human in this case -

Human systems are first being aided, then being mended by chips and nano-devices. Genetic engineering and personalized medicine is where the assimilation will be complete.

Your heart just got fixed! Is your heart in the right place?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Web-TV or TV-Web?

A simple choice of combination - do you want to browse the web on your TV, or do you want to relate from the TV to the Web. WebTV from Microsoft struggled its way forward (not really sure how it is doing - seems still alive :-) - but this brilliant move from TiVo takes it to the next level. Not sure how much time it will take for people to start doing purchases this way, but the possibilities are phenomenal.

Couch potatoes with money and impulse - shopping from the couch without even picking up the phone - just click on the remote!

The real next step on this is mobile - are you really on your couch all the time?

Maybe the Amazon is really the greenest place on earth?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Death Valley, California!

Hey! With the closure of 600 Starbucks stores, we're going to have a virtual fit in the Valley, especially with coffee supposedly being good for the heart and all...Here's a list of all the stores closing...but look closer, and no fear! ... you'll only have to walk a few more feet to get to the mirage that is Starbucks.

The palms in the desert, as the life seeps out of your veins from caffeine-lust, are only a block away! Check out the density of stores near Moscone center in San Francisco!!

I always thought Starbucks coffee was overrated - too acidic :-)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dead Mouse walking?

A recent analyst claimed that the days of the ubiquitous mouse are numbered. 40 years old is too old, as newer gesture-based devices, touch-screens, and other paradigms, such as Surface Computing emerge.

We are already beginning to touch our phones, gesture to our games, jump on mats, and pretend-play musical instruments. I do believe that things will change, but I don't expect the mouse to disappear for at least another ten years. Several years ago, I had a bet with a friend that voice interfaces will be ubiquitous by 2010 ... I was wrong. Things move slower than they could.

But...mice seem to have it bad - both in the lab and in the real world!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Counting chickens too early :-)

I played the Google table tennis finals on July 10. Here's the game split into 8 video clips! Great game...wonderful opponent (Jingbin Wang). I took a game that was in my pocket and handed it over to Jingbin on a silver platter. Check out the ironic turning point in the match (5th clip) - I was leading 2-0 and it was 8-8 in the 3rd game (3 points from victory) when the scoreboard arrives, and I say "Just in time". A momentary lapse of concentration is all it takes - 3 quick errors later it is all different! I eventually lost 3-2!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Device and technology confluence

My first personal organizer was an electronic Rolodex from Radio Shack. It was cheap and also very thin. When people were carrying pagers plus cell phones plus Yepps plus Palms, I rejected that, claiming that all these devices should be squished into one! (and enabled with Personal Area Network (PAN) technology so you would not have to also carry business cards!)

We'll - that's here and now with the iPhone - digital camera plus phone plus personal organizer plusmusic plus email plus web. In Japan, you can pay with your phone too.

Now, technology confluence leads online streaming to the home entertainment console in a real way with Netflix on XBOX. I still remember when we were trying to do karaoke and video-on-demand at IBM in the 90's - technology way ahead of its time - it was too expensive to deploy :-)

Divergence to stand-alone devices....but soon back to the basics - my phone, my tv!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Karoshi - Death due to overwork!

You learn something new every day. I learned a new word today - "karoshi" - death due to overwork (Japan). I assume Silicon Valley has its share of karoshi. I can't say I'm overworked, but there are times when I've coupled my day job with personal projects, and gotten really involved ... and stressed out! Time to cut back and smell the roses, I guess...

If only the gardener didn't chop off all the roses during his weekly visits ... :-)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Let's play the cancer card!

No, no! I'm not referring to assigning people their careers or discriminating against them on the basis of their cells, as in one of my favorite movies, Gattaca. If you haven't seen it, you must!

When cancer is on the run (metastasis - spreading to other organs, finally causing death), let's play the cancer card! A new business-card-size silicon chip dotted with 80,000 microscopic posts, the posts covered by special molecules that capture malignant cells, seems to offer an inexpensive way to track cancer, count it, and treat it on an individual basis. Microfluidics? Wow!

Personalized medicine is here!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tesla - the new Green sports car!

Red, you say? You're colorblind??? Tesla just announced that they are going to be building their all-electric Roadster sports car that whizzes from 0 - 60 mph in 3.9 seconds right here in California. Arnold Schwarzenegger was really happy that Tesla could say "I am back" in California after working out attractive tax breaks! California is blazing the way!

Tesla also announced future $60K sedans and possibly cheaper cars for the masses down the road. That's when things get interesting for the environment. A real non-gas solution. Tesla also announced supplying lithium-ion batteries to Mercedes. Ironic timing - GM, behemoth of the auto industry just hit a multi-decade low today ($10) - here's a clear strategy forward for GM or Ford - acquire Tesla now!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hands-free - it's the law!

I remember bumping my new Lexus into a car in front at a traffic light on Christmas eve a couple of years back...I was coming to a stop, but looked down for a second to pick up a credit card that I'd dropped next to the car seat...and hey! I was stopping...only a little bump that caused the hood to telescope out and cost me a pretty penny, made my insurance go up! (noone was hurt)

Therefore, I do think there's merit to California's new law - hands-free calling is better than no-hands-on-wheel, especially on the freeways!

Now, if only Apple created a pair of earphones that work with my iPhone and actually stay in my ears!!