Category Archives: Out There

Ecosystem, or Curated Manure?

Okay, I’ve officially had it with this year’s buzzwords.  You know which ones.

Ecosystem

Curated.

At first ecosystem was kind of cute.  It sounded so green and organized.  Who could argue against anything prefixed with eco?  Continue reading

Self-Manufacturing: How Close Are We?

When I was a kid, the most exciting Christmas gift my parents got me was a green Honda QA50 mini-bike.  Until I was upgraded to a cooler Honda Z50 a few years later, I rode the hell out of that little thing.  Even stripped a great deal of skin off my 9-year-old body the first day riding– then got right back on, to my mother’s horror, and kept going.

But the most useful present was a Science Fair 100-in-1 electronics kit.

You can see it on the right side of this 1972 advertisement from Radio Shack.  It was a board loaded with electronics, including a meter and speaker, and used pre-cut wires and spring terminals to virtually assemble all sorts of cool projects.  I annoyed my family by creating a household radio station, harassed the pets with a sound synthesizer, and amused myself endlessly with a lot of trial-and-error spaghetti wirings before I really understood what was going on.  But in the process of doing so, and by scribbling notes all over the big manual’s pages, I developed the knowledge of electronics that eventually helped land my first professional job (with Texas Instruments) and cultivated a deep love for tinkering that has never died.  Continue reading

The Cells of Smart Power

When I last wrote about “smart power”, I was taking US business and especially political leaders to task for failing to craft comprehensive, forward-looking energy policy.  They seem to be more concerned with drilling for today’s dwindling oil than planning for tomorrow’s growing needs.  Meanwhile, citizens feel powerless to do much about it.

Part of the problem is one of scale.  Our energy dilemma is big and not easily solved.  There’s a great deal of economic inertia keeping us stuck in hydrocarbons.  As I said before, I believe it’s largely the role of government to help “unstick” us– to provide incentives, tax or whatever, in facilitating a transition from a polluting power paradigm to one more responsible and sustainable.

But that doesn’t mean the citizenry should sit back and wait for their tax dollars to be put to proper use.  There are moves we can make at local levels to get change underway… and set the stage for more expansive solutions.  Continue reading

The Nokia Phoenix

I wrote in May of last year asking, only partially rhetorically, if this would be a make-or-break year for consumer electronics giant Nokia.  And like many other pundits, I’ve offered my previous employer sound survival advice on more than one occasion [1][2][3] .  Based on recent financial reports, nobody listened.

All facetiousness aside, here around the halfway point of this year it makes sense to look at the company’s situation again and see if any of Nokia’s remaining strengths can lift it up and turn it around.   Continue reading

Nokia’s N9: Cool, Cruel and Unusual

Unlike many friends and former Nokia colleagues, I have not had the pleasure of fondling a sexy new N9 so this won’t be a product review as much as a process and philosophy review.  That means something a little less structured than usual and loaded with unabashed opinion, pontificating and ranting.

So buckle up, this should be a ride that would do Tomi Ahonen proud.   Continue reading

Texas Linux Fest 2011

The Texas Linux Fest is a new one-day technical conference, just in its second year.  I was not able to attend last year due to it being held at the same time as the 2010 Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, and this year it was looking questionable also– but thanks to Gabriel Beddingfield all obstacles were removed.  Gotta love the Linux community!

The conference was held at the downtown Hilton in Austin, Texas, a great central location for the state in general.  Attendance of over 550 looked to be on par with expectations, as the keynote room was full.

Delivering the keynote this year was Ken Starks of the HeliOS Project.  His subject was “How Desktop Linux is Shaping the Future.”  I enjoyed his talk but have to admit I didn’t see much of a link between the body and the title.  The talk was engaging, a bit rambling, and to me was more about improving the Linux experience for end users.   Continue reading

A Tech Ecosystem for the Rest of Us

The choice buzzword since the February 11 Nokia-Microsoft deal (satirically tagged on twitter as #NoWin) is ecosystem.  Stephen Elop’s vision apparently stops short of a Linux-powered mobile solution.  Either the newly-minted Nokia CEO can’t see how to monetize it or thinks it hasn’t happened fast enough for him– pick your choice of pundit assessments here.

The strategy that Nokia had originally described when migrating their Maemo efforts to the joint MeeGo venture with Intel was that the added value for their corporate bottom line would come from a combination of lower internal OS development costs along with a customized user experience on top of the MeeGo core… one that was promised at one point to “knock our socks off”.  Who could reasonably argue with such a concept?

Obviously, Nokia’s board of directors and their recent replacement for Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. Continue reading