Tom's sums up his excitement: "I feel like a kid in an idea candy store
when I'm out of the country, particularly when I'm in Asia. So much
going on! The planet is not just the U.S.A. and the Middle East!"
Tom's sums up his excitement: "I feel like a kid in an idea candy store when I'm out of the country, particularly when I'm in Asia. So much going on! The planet is not just the U.S.A. and the Middle East!"
Microsoft patents human skin as a network mediumIt seems like a joke, but it isn't. Microsoft has actually been awarded a patent to use the human body as a computer network. US Patent 6,754,472 issued to Microsoft in June 2004 is for a "method and apparatus for transmitting power and data using the human body".
Today many carry a variety of portable electronic gadgets, each with its own keypad, speaker, display, processor and power supply. The idea behind the patent is to get rid of some of these items. If these gadgets were networked, they could, for example, have just one keypad for all devices. And that keypad might even be the body, perhaps the wrist or arm.
The patent reads, "The physical resistance offered by the human body can be used in implementing a keypad or other input device, as well as estimating distances between devices and device locations. With the present invention, by varying the distance on the skin between the contacts corresponding to different keys, different signal values can be generated representing different inputs." So, you can type on your skin.
Microsoft also suggests using the body to generate power for the network. A "kinetic power converter" in a person's shoe, or wristwatch, could produce electricity in the same way that a self-winding watch extracts energy from normal movements.
People who want to use so-called personal area network (PAN) today have to link their mobile phones, pagers, PDAs and other gadgets using infra-red or radio signals like Bluetooth. Microsoft's patent points out that these have limitations - they typically use a lot of power and are prone to interference from others operating on similar frequencies. Also, people may be able to hack into them or listen in. Microsoft claims that its "intrabody network" doesn't suffer from these problems, and provides a secure transfer data between personal devices.
Actually, Microsoft is not the pioneer in this technology. The MIT Media Lab and IBM jointly developed the idea of using the human body as a personal network nearly a decade ago. The first prototype PAN was demonstrated at Comdex in 1996, showing how two people could transmit business-cards to each other via a handshake. But, little has been done since then, since most people seem satisfied with Bluetooth PANs.
Invensys stops company access to weblogsThe JimPinto.com Invensys weblog regularly gets about 1,000 visits per day. This is clearly a webplace where Invensys employees seem to congregate to discuss the status and future of their company.
The Invensys weblog is NOT intended to be negative. Indeed, a LOT of negative comments are edited out, and many totally negative messages are NOT weblogged. I publish only those comments which are sufficiently rational and represent (in my own opinion) the true status of Invensys.
I have invited Invensys management (many times, up to the highest levels) to be positive, and give their own positive views about their company. Apart from a few exceptions, there has been no response.
Well, the JimPinto.com Invensys weblog has finally achieved the dubious distinction of having access stopped within Invensys. One weblog on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 complained:
In the meantime, Invensys shareholders gave the board a rough ride at its annual meeting in London. The audience, largely individual shareholders (rather than representatives of institutions) were particularly vocal about the recent appointment of Ulf Henriksson to the new post of COO and the size of his pay packet. When he was recruited in April, Invensys paid Henriksson a "golden hello" worth more than £2m in cash plus shares. Shareholders raised the question of boardroom pay repeatedly, often provoking loud applause.
In spite of the recent BIG financing to reduce debt, Invensys stock has been dropping - it closed at 14.75p at the end of last week (June 13, 2004) with a market-cap of just £839m. On Monday, June 16 2004, Invensys announced that it has commenced a tender offer for a portion of outstanding 7-1/8% notes due 2007. Clearly it had nothing better to do with the money it recently raised. The stock ticked up just a bit in response this week, to 15.50p.
Marketing & Sales tips - use FABs, not FUDsMany people confuse Marketing with Marketing Communications, (usually called MARCOM) that is just part of the whole marketing function.
Marketing is the entire process of finding customers and filling their needs. It's important to have things that have been specifically requested by customers – not just features that are cute, or nice.
Good marketers keep stressing the FABS – features, advantages, benefits.
Once the Marketing has been done, Sales comes into play – approaching target customers and convincing them to buy the product over many other choices. Good Marketing is relatively useless without Sales drive.
Marketing may identify the type of customer – Sales has to find the customer, demonstrate the products, overcome objections and book sales. And that's not easy – a sale is not a sale till the customer is satisfied, pays the invoice and buys again.
Good Sales people use the FABS to sell. Not-so-good sales techniques include negative selling – called FUDS:
If you enjoy reading this kind of business advice, you might wish to read my June 2004 article in AutomationTechies.com. It provides advice to engineers and founders of startup companies.
I'll be doing more in this series in the next months. Stay tuned...
Presidential candidates' energy policiesIn 2004, the two main presidential candidates have different policies on important energy issues. Sadly, the energy policies of both campaigns are shaped heavily by politics - particularly the local and regional interests of the battleground states considered close in the coming election.
At the risk of over-simplifying, here is a summary. I have not included any partisan comments:
eFeedbackPaul Maurath [PRMaurath@netscape.net] points out that present-day hybrid vehicles are not based on the more advanced architecture I had suggested - totally electric drive, with the gasoline engine used primarily for charging the batteries.
"In the Toyota system, while the electric motor drives the car by itself at low speeds, the gasoline engine does drive the wheels directly at higher speeds along with the electric motor. It doesn't just produce electricity. And there is only one electric motor in the car.
"The Honda system differs in that at low speeds the gasoline engine continues to run and the electric motor provides 'boost' for acceleration and needed power. I'm sure you could check the websites of both companies to be sure. They have pretty good descriptions.
"Now, I actually like your idea better. I recall reading about a hybrid of that type in Popular Mechanics several years ago. It used a small gas turbine engine, which could be tuned to run very efficiently at one speed. That engine only generated electricity for the electric motor(s) that actually drove the car. In that scenario as well, the car could be plugged in to the grid for charging overnight too.
"Most of the time I don't drive over 50 miles a day and could use an all-electric car. But, on those days when I need to drive more, a hybrid like this would give me an on-board charging system which could dramatically extend my range. If someone could build one of these, I would buy it.
"I think you should also mention limited availability of hybrids today. The wife of a co-worker of mine ordered a Toyota Prius last November and has not received it yet. I checked with the dealer this weekend and they said that the wait to buy a new Prius at this point is about one year. Who knows how long the line will be for the Ford SUV which they are hyping now. It is based on Toyota's technology.
"I just checked with a local Ford dealer concerning the Escape Hybrid. Two weeks ago, I knew more than they did just by checking the web and through the promotional CD I received from Ford directly. This major Cincinnati Ford dealer told me they had been promised only 1 unit to sell this year, but they would be happy to put me on their list."
"Of course, the most telling scene was that of the President remaining, transfixed, in the classroom reading to kids, after he had been informed of the World Trade Center attacks.
"As has been said before, in a democracy the people get the government they deserve."
"Throughout our history you have always had political machines that were going out to get out the vote. Look at Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago, or the history of other voting machines in big cities. Power was and is still fueled by patronage jobs although it is far less blatant than in the past. The idea was to have one of your own immigrant group (i.e. Irish etc.) be elected and then give out jobs."
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