Archive for ◊ February, 2006 ◊

Department of Perpetual Hype
Tuesday, February 28th, 2006 | Author:

A recent issue of CIO magazine had an interesting article about the perpetual hyping of video conferencing.  It highlights approximately fifteen quotes from various pundits over the last 20 years.  An excerpt of some of the prognostications:

Sep. 1987 [PC Week] – “Videoconferencing hardware will build slowly over the next five years”. 

Nov. 1996 [Communications] – “Videoconferencing is poised for takeoff”.

May  1998 [Works Management] – “Video to kill face-to-face meetings?”

Jan. 2006 [Wisconsin State Journal] – “…nothing gets the job done better than sitting across the desk from key players”.

It just goes to show you that “you never can tell”…

Note: At my place of business we have an expensive, high-end Polycom videoconferencing system that we hardly ever use.

Category: Engineering  | One Comment
Hunting for Lawyers
Monday, February 27th, 2006 | Author:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A White House source stated that Congress is considering awarding Vice-President Dick Cheney the Medal of Freedom, the national highest civilian commendation, for his act of bravery in shooting an attorney. The source was quoted to say “All Americans have wanted to shoot a lawyer at one time or another and Cheney actually had the balls to do it”. 

In a related story, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which issues hunting licenses, said that it will start requiring hunters, wishing to bag a lawyer, to have the new “lawyer’s stamp” on their hunting license. Currently Texas hunters are required to carry stamps for hunting birds, deer, and bear, at a cost of $7 annually. The new “lawyers stamp” will cost $100, but open season will be all year long. The department further stated that although the “lawyers stamp” comes at hefty price, sales have been brisk and it is believe it will generate annual revenues in excess of $3 billion dollars the first year. Other states are considering similar hunting stamps. 

Category: Humor  | Leave a Comment
More on the Chinese Economic Engine
Monday, February 27th, 2006 | Author:

Could this all just be jealousy of the economic engine known as China?

I recently described the cyber war actively led by the Chinese government… I’ve talked about the Chinese buying up automotive technology and transporting it back to their mainland… I‘ve also posted to describe how the Chinese have stolen technology from Boeing.
Now, even the Germans are calling out the Chinese for the questionable practices. “Fully 70% of all illegal copycat products come from Asia, and most of that comes from China, in what has mushroomed into a $300 billion market,” says Spiegel.  “More than half of the companies affected by patent theft have had these experiences in China,” Heiko Beploat, of the German Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing Association, tells Spiegel.

Judith Klinghoffer, senior associate scholar at the Political Science department at Rutgers University, describes “Why China Has to Steal Technology”.  She explains, “…because Communist China, like its Soviet predecessor, has hit the innovation roadblock.”

Directed Energy Weapons
Sunday, February 26th, 2006 | Author:

Directed energy weapons are a new category of non-lethal devices developed by the military (e.g., a military vehicle that projects a sonic blast to disperse rioting crowds).  This article in National Defense magazine provides a nice explanation about their operation and application.

Category: Engineering  | Leave a Comment
How the Israel-Palestine Problem Came to Pass
Sunday, February 26th, 2006 | Author:

History doesn’t solve problems, but it explains them, including the evolution of the intractable Israel-Palestine problem.  For Jews, the notion of revived sovereignty in their ancient homeland has existed for millennia.

For those of you not familiar with the factual history, Edward Bernard Glick provides an excellent summary in this article.

Category: Politics  | Leave a Comment
Consumer-driven Health Care
Saturday, February 25th, 2006 | Author:

At our place of business, we’ve been hit with a major increase in our medical premium rates.  Of course, what makes this even more aggravating is that the insurance carriers do not really offer any valid justification for the major rate increase. In the Dayton area there are essentially two major carriers that have the market locked-up: Anthem and United.   Thus, there’s not much of an opportunity to shop around.

Since I’ve spent the majority of my life being an entrepreneur running small businesses, I have a bias toward allowing the individuals to act as a consumer and determine their personalized cost/benefit in every decision they make. Unfortunately, most people in the US view comprehensive health care as an entitlement as basic as free speech… The reality is that our economy cannot afford to offer everyone the opportunity for unlimited medical treatment that is covered by a third party.  Thus, we will need health care where the consumer decides how much he is willing to spend.  The emergence of Health Savings Accounts (HSA) is getting us closer to this eventual reality.  This article in the American Spectator does a decent job of discussing some of the business and political implications of the HSA.

Category: Business  | Leave a Comment
Information Technology Humor
Friday, February 24th, 2006 | Author:

This one was sent to me by Robert Jones…

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts: “Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?” The man below says: “Yes. You’re in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field.”
“You must work in Information Technology”, says the balloonist.
“I do” replies the man. “How did you know?”
“Well”, says the balloonist, “Everything you have told me is technically correct, but it’s no use to anyone.”
The man below says, “You must work in business.”
“I do”, replies the balloonist, “but how did you know?”
“Well,” says the man, “You don’t know where you are, or where you’re going, but you expect me to be able to help. You’re in the same position you were before we met, but now it’s my fault.”


Category: Humor  | Leave a Comment
Not Revenge, Prevention
Friday, February 24th, 2006 | Author:

As an interesting follow-up to my earlier posting on the film Munich, comes an article in the Jerusalem Post that contains comments from the actual leaders of the Mossad. “For the first time in the history of the Mossad, one of its former chiefs, Zvi Zamir, has admitted that his organization eliminated Palestinian terrorists …The danger to the existence of the Jewish state does not come from a film – it comes from reality itself. Jewish tradition demands that ‘He who rises up to kill you, rise up and kill him first’.”

Category: Politics  | Leave a Comment
US Government .vs. Big Business – Which is More Agile?
Thursday, February 23rd, 2006 | Author:

In my working life, I’ve been involved in delivering professional services to both large aerospace & automotive companies as well as major organizations of the US Department of Defense.  I used to subscribe to the notion that underachievers chose to make a career in government organizations just waiting for retirement, while the goal-driven folks worked in private industry…  The reality is quite different.  Over the past few years, I’ve seen the agility of many goverment organizations surpass their counterparts in big businesses. 

It appears that many big businesses have ossified to the point that they can’t even consider innovative ways to get things done.  They say they embrace “lean” manufacturing or “six sigma” product development, but so much of it is a smoke screen.  I believe that this is a result of many big companies spending all of their energies reducing cost by “off-shoring” as much as possible to “emerging markets” (do you like my use of corporate euphemisms?).   The efforts to move engineering and production to places such as Mexico, India, or China is no small task.  However, the next stage of growth for these companies is going to require them to really embrace innovative ways to reduce the time to develop products…

Category: Business  | Leave a Comment
The Russian Gambit
Thursday, February 23rd, 2006 | Author:

I originally wrote in late January about “From Russia without Love“, where Putin and company are trying to reassert themselves “on the world stage”.  It appears that others are starting to take notice.  An article in the Christian Science Monitor exclaims, “Russian overtures toward Hamas and Iran indicate that it is struggling for a status equal to the US in the Middle East, and is willing to claw such a status at a price of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian victims.”

Category: Politics  | Leave a Comment