Friday, February 28, 2014

Pausing for the Week (3)

(image credit)

This week is my pause from blogging here, in order to focus more on my other work: Theory of Algorithms and The Core Algorithm.

What do you pause for, and how often do you do so?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pausing for the Week (2)

(image credit)

This week is my pause from blogging here, in order to focus more on my other work: Theory of Algorithms and The Core Algorithm.

What do you pause for, and how often do you do so?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pausing for the Week (1)

(image credit)

This week is my pause from blogging here, in order to focus more on my other work: Theory of Algorithms and The Core Algorithm.  

What do you pause for, and how often do you do so? 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Endless Possibilities of Drones

Businesses can't wait for drone rules to be issued by the FAA. They really can't. Estimates on business drone usage are in the tens of thousands, and they're overwhelming the FAA, which is still trying to come up with rules for flying them. Megan Hughes has more on the unregulated drone boom.
On the one hand, we can imagine a free-for-all in the air, such as drones interfering with helicopters and causing crashes.  On the other hand, we can imagine their endless use in business (rf. Amazon deliveries), entertainment (e.g., panoramic videos), and surveillance (e.g., espionage, military).  As an aspiring filmmaker, for instance, I play with low-angle and high-angle shots and with panning that adds punch to a scene.

I'd love to have one of these puppies.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

States, Sounds and Fire by Glass

From Fairbanks to Fargo, Houston to Honolulu, Glass Explorers across the country have been doing amazing things. Join us on a quick tour of some of our Explorers' favorite places across the US.
I've been to 35 of the 50 states, but I'd love to cover them all again and complete the journey throughout the US.  Perhaps have a medium, such as photos and videos only with my Samsung Galaxy Note II and posts on both the traditional and up-and-coming social media, like Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat.

Meet Young Guru. He's a Glass Explorer, acclaimed DJ, producer and audio engineer who has helped shape the sound of music legends including Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Beyoncé. Join him as he explores the Los Angeles soundscape on the hunt for inspiration to create a new track.
So Glass isn't just about sights, but also about sounds.  Young Guru is a geek and consummate explorer.

Meet Patrick Jackson. He's a Google Glass Explorer, developer and firefighter from Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Patrick is building Glassware that he hopes could one day help firefighters everywhere by providing hands-free access to the information they need, when they need it. Join him as he tests his Glassware in the field.
I love this.  This is Patrick Jackson: firefighter, developer, and fearless explorer.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Monday, February 17, 2014

Comcast-Time Warner in Blockbuster Deal

Comcast has always had better technology than Time-Warner Cable, better UI, faster internet speed, better TV-everywhere product. Will regulators allow them to buy everything? John Malone (TWC) was pushing the consolidation narrative, but must now concede to Brian Roberts (Comcast). This new entity will now have bargaining power with programmers (i.e., content providers).

TV wasn’t a top priority for Apple, but it is now apparently. Still there is a long lead time before they can roll out this “hockey puck” (Apple TV). Now Comcast can do everything. Apple was trying to debundle TV, like it did with music through iTunes. But that’s no longer going to work.

#1 and #2 hooking up, and it raises the flag with regulators. Difficult process, not a done deal. It will probably get done, but it’ll rake Comcast through the coals. People will have a better TV experience. Big players like this can inhibit innovation. Apple doesn’t have content. Steve Jobs thought Comcast stuff sucked. Comcast (Brian Roberts) owns NBC, Disney (Bob Iger) owns ABC. Comcast-TWC is a (very) important wrinkle in the mix. No breakup fee in this deal. It blocks out Charter. 

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Friday, February 14, 2014

Poetic Justice in Reading `Mean Tweets

`Mean Tweets has easily become one of the popular segments on Jimmy Kimmel Live.  All of the videos have gone viral with well over one million views.  These tweets are so mean-spirited, anyone of us could end up slinking to the bed and staying under the sheets forever.  Alternatively anyone of us could respond in hateful kind and spew venom right back to where it came from.  

So why are these `Mean Tweets so hilarious at the same time?  Because they're ludicrous, they're nonsense, they're so in left field that we just end up shaking our head and chuckling out loud.  The way some of these celebrities recite them is also funny.  

Still they're not entirely funny, either.  These videos humanize the insular world of Twitter, not just by putting a face to the targets of such hatred, but also by bringing them wholly in person.  We are then privy to how they react to it all.  Some are definitely hurt and befuddled by these mean tweets.  

These videos serves to inoculate us all from rampant meanness in social media.  I don't think people in general are necessarily more despicable than ever before.  Rather, it's about ubiquitous channels or forums that people, who are despicable to begin with, can enter online, then stew and spew.  Clearly there is a place in the world for all kinds of people, including their kind, and the rest have to build up thicker skin.

Not just inoculation, but also diffusion.  `Mean Tweets absorb the blow, in way a T'ai Chi master will connect with an opponent, roll back to deflect the force, channel it to his root on the ground, and ultimately empty it of its negativity.     

There is poetic justice in that, I kept thinking.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bill Gates Spotlight (5) 2014 and Looking Beyond

Bill Gates
Gates said he will closely advise new Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella on the potential of a growing ecosystem of connected devices. He also indicated that Microsoft software will work more smoothly across devices than it does right now. 
“I am excited about how the cloud and new devices can help us communicate and collaborate in new ways,” Gates said on the site. “The OS won’t just be on one device and the information won’t just be files — it will be your history including being able to review memories of things like kids growing up. I was thrilled Satya asked me to pitch in to make sure Microsoft is ambitious with its innovation. Even in Office there is a lot more than can be done.” 
The answer is still a little vague, but it seems fairly clear that Gates will provide a stronger guiding hand as the company evolves its products for the mobile era.

The question isn't so much what Bill Gates will do - because he may not be entirely and exactly sure, at the moment - but how committed is he to helping Microsoft become a truly relevant, innovative company again.  

Since he stepped down as CEO more than a decade ago, Gates had become increasingly occupied with his Foundation.  In fact, just before announcing Satya Nadella as the new CEO, he reassured viewers, or at least tried to reassure them, that he'd remain full-time with his philanthropic efforts.  Yet, this is no part-time job that Gates gave himself at Microsoft.  

Besides being vague, for example, his stated agenda is positively staid.  Nothing suggestive of innovation, really.  It's like Tim Cook assuming the helm and promoting endless tweaks to the iPhone.  So besides commitment, Does Gates even have the technical capability and business ferocity that made Microsoft so beastly successful?

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think?

Ron Villejo, PhD

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bill Gates Spotlight (4) 1998 on A&E Biography

Bill Gates Biography. Documentary on the legendary Bill Gates - founder of Microsoft, one of the most powerful and richest companies in the world.

William Henry "Bill" Gates III (born October 28, 1955) is an American business magnate, investor, programmer, inventor and philanthropist. Gates is the former chief executive and current chairman of Microsoft, the world's largest personal-computer software company, which he co-founded with Paul Allen. 
He is consistently ranked among the world's wealthiest people and was the wealthiest overall from 1995 to 2009, excluding 2008, when he was ranked third; in 2011 he was the wealthiest American and the second wealthiest person. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of CEO and chief software architect, and remains the largest individual shareholder, with 6.4 percent of the common stock. He has also authored and co-authored several books.
Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. Gates has been criticized for his business tactics, which have been considered anti-competitive, an opinion which has in some cases been upheld by the courts. In the later stages of his career, Gates has pursued a number of philanthropic endeavors, donating large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, established in 2000. 
Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in January 2000. He remained as chairman and created the position of chief software architect. In June 2006, Gates announced that he would be transitioning from full-time work at Microsoft to part-time work, and full-time work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He gradually transferred his duties to Ray Ozzie, chief software architect, and Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer. Gates's last full-time day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008. He remains at Microsoft as non-executive chairman.
Reference: Bill Gates Biography - Documentary.
Bill Gates: Sultan Of Software. A&E Biography originally broadcast Sep 29th, 1998. Covers the period from birth to the start of the war on Netscape, but doesn't cover what he's done since then, which is to save the world from malaria and polio and other philanthropic efforts.

As a child, Bill Gates was extremely curious -- devoured encyclopedias as a kid -- and ultra-competitive -- relished competitive games against siblings on vacation. Was put in Lakeside private school because public school was too boring and easy. Computers were huge and expensive and filled rooms, but Gates got access to a computer because Lakeside arranged for access to a remote computer using a teletype. Bill Gates started spending all his nights and spare time in the computer room. Bill and his friend Paul Allen got very competitive writing software. The two founded Traf-O-Data together. Bill learned the value of contracts and had a contract with his older sister for use of her baseball mitt, which was a complete valid legal contract. He was accepted at Harvard and coasted, spending all his time at the Harvard Computer Center, having no social life. "What did you score on your SAT test?" [This was the question he'd ask a prospective date.]  He decided not to major in math because he couldn't be the #1 math major at Harvard (he was very competitive). Paul had moved to Boston and saw the announcement of the Altair 8800. Bill wrote BASIC for the Altair. Bill dropped out of Harvard and moved to Albuquerque where Altair was located and founded Microsoft. He wrote an open letter to computer hackers telling people not to copy software. He started suing people for copying software, and winning. Gates' well-connected mother played a pivotal role in getting Gates the IBM contract. The rest of the story, you all probably know. Gates bought an operating system for $50,000 and adapted it for IBM. IBM wanted to buy the source code, but Gates refused. IBM had to pay Microsoft a licensing fee, and other companies could license MS-DOS, too. Paul was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, and Bill took over as the singular face of Microsoft. Gates's management style was like math camp and very demanding. Gates told Steve Jobs Apple should license their software, but he refused, so Gates took knowledge of the Macintosh shared by Apple so Microsoft could develop apps for the platform, and developed Windows 1.0 to compete against the Macintosh. Gates is the only person to compete directly against Steve Jobs and win. Microsoft went public in 1986 and Gates became a billionaire at 31. IBM decided to take control of PCs away from Microsoft and started OS/2. Microsoft decided to lose IBM as a customer and continue to improve Windows. OS/2 failed in the marketplace and Gates won. The DOJ started its "monopoly" investigation; Gates said he was making better software at lower prices. Ads, Spock, Microgames. Married Melinda French. His mother died shortly afterward. Then Gates launched Windows 95 -- so easy to use, even a talk show host can figure it out. Saw the world, had a daughter, built a giant high-tech palace house, and committed himself to giving away the bulk of his fortune. Was falling behind Netscape, and bought Internet Explorer to catch up. Bill Gates is going to go down in history as the best businessman of the 20th century and Microsoft as one of the best companies of the 20th century.
Reference: Wayne Radinsky.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Bills Gates Spotlight (3) 1998 with Warren Buffet

The year is 1998, and the venue is the University of Washington Business School.  Imagine it: The two gentlemen sitting casually on the stage table had a net worth that marched north to $100 billion.  Their wealth is ostensibly the anvil on which their unlikely friendship is forged.  Bill Gates is 26 years the junior (b. October 28th 1955), to Warren Buffet (August 30th 1930).  One is all about high tech, while the other eschews anything high tech.  

My notes

Smart people sometimes falter.  It gets into habits, manner and character. It’s because you get in your own way. 

Information Age, magnifying your brain power, not just your muscle power.

How do you [Buffet] define success? I can define happiness. Success is getting what you want, and happiness is wanting what you get. [Buffet is clearly both.]  Get right into what you enjoy. I don’t regard what I do as the most important thing in the world, but it’s right for me. 

For me [Gates], it’s working with smart people. Biotechnology is a good field, because it’s changing the world of medicine.

What’s your definition of innovation? My job is to allocate capital. Technology has a lot of twists and turns. IBM missed a few key turns on the road. Speech recognition, AI.

Gates acknowledged, very discreetly, that Microsoft misjudged the importance of the internet at first.

Gates has done a lot to improve the world’s perception of the US. Buffet demures about how well suited he is for just a particular aspect of Western society. Outside of that aspect, he’d be someone else’s lunch. He takes a fundamental, practical view of business, e.g., Can he see what it will look like in 10 years (rf. Wrigley’s, Coca Cola)?

Best business decision? Just jumping in the pool. 

Picking people (e.g., partnering with Paul Allen, hiring Steve Ballmer).

Buffet losing all of his money wouldn’t bother him at all, but if he ended up taking others down with him, that would kill him. 

Getting a fresh start has a lot of attraction for Gates. I’d have a lot of blast starting a new company.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bill Gates Spotlight (2) 2007 with Steve Jobs

The year is 2007, and the event is the All Things Digital (D5) conference.  The old guard, if you consider early 50s old, on stage together as two of the well-known tech titans.  Besides their nearly identical age, they founded their companies at about the same time, too.  Bill Gates (b. October 28th 1955), Microsoft (f. April 4th 1975).  Steve Jobs (b. February 24th 1955, d. October 5th 2011), Apple (April 1st 1976).  Software and hardware, complements in a revolutionary industry.

My notes

Apple lives in an ecosystem, and it needs help from other partners. Relationships that are destructive don’t help anybody. Apple didn’t need to beat Microsoft, in order to win.
Apple is like a ship with a hole in the bottom, leaking water, and my job is to get the ship pointed in the right direction.
Reference: Gil Amelio.

We are where we are. Stop looking backwards. It’s all about what happens tomorrow. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday.

2007 was a healthy period for computing. There are a lot of inventions. There are a lot of things that are risky, which is a good thing.

5 years from now [i.e., 2012]:  I don’t think you’ll have one device.  Evolution of the portable machine, and evolution of the phone. At home you’ll have your 10-foot experience. You’ll have something like what you have on your desk at work.  

PC is remarkably resilient. Post-PC devices focus on specific functions, and will continue to be innovative, e.g., iPod. How does a consumer use such a device, whether or not it has a computer in it?

People invent things constantly [so you need an editing, collating or aggregating function]. They’re primarily communication devices [but also computing, social and entertainment]. There are a zillion things going on in the internet.

Apple wants to be that device that offers consumers the right experience around things that they want and need, such as search and maps.

Entertainment? The delivery platform is the internet. Microsoft is a platform. 3D is a way of organizing things. There is an evolution of things. How much of the really revolutionary things will happen on the PC and on the post-PC devices? 

In some cases you augment what’s there, and in some cases you replace things. But a lot of radical things will happen on the post-PC devices.
You and I have memories
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead
Reference: Two of Us, by the Beatles.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bill Gates Spotlight (1) 2014 with Satya Nadella

Where we begin is in the present: Bill Gates in the spotlight, speaking ahead of Microsoft announcing its new CEO.

Can Bill Gates (re-)involve himself with Microsoft, while allowing the new CEO leeway to be his own leader?

Topmost changes at Microsoft, besides new CEO: Bill Gates, now Technology Adviser; John Thompson, now Chair.

Bill Gates said recently he'd remain full-time with the Foundation. But here he said he'd spend 1/3rd of it with Microsoft.  Perhaps this is a temporary reallocation of his time, undoubtedly to coach and mentor the new CEO.

Congratulations to Satya Nadella! His focus echoes what Bill Gates emphasized: mobile and cloud.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD