JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 106 : December 22, 2002


Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.

Contents:
  • Seasons greetings - poem: my email Christmas
  • Nanotechnology is closer than you think
  • Faster business response in an uncertain future
  • Try the Google-Viewer
  • JimPinto.com weblogs - read, respond or start a new weblog
  • eFeedback:
    • If the world was a village of 1,000 people
    • Possibilities for ad-hoc wearable wireless communities
    • CEOs of ABB, Chrysler, GE - and Microsoft

Season's Greetings - Poem: My eMail Christmas

The Christmas season is upon us!
On behalf of me and mine,
I wish you and yours a happy Holiday Season!
My poem "My email Christmas" was first written on Christmas Eve, 1975. It has been published in several webzines and sent via email countless times - some of my friends actually email back it to me, not realizing that I wrote it.

It starts like this:

    'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
    Not a creature was stirring, except for my mouse
    My wife she awoke to ask what was the matter
    'Twas not Santa Claus, 'twas my keyboard clatter
And ends like this:
    But please eNews friends, donít email too much
    Don't just have a virtual Christmas - go touch!
    I wish you all a good time and good cheer
    To all a good Christmas! And a Happy New Year!

Click My eMail Christmas 2002

Nanotechnology is closer than you think

We all know the sign engraved on the rear-view mirror of our cars: "Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear". While the world waits for old business to come up out of the slump, new business is brewing that can generate a revolution beyond what we may imagine. Nanotechnology is closer than it appears.

Awareness of Nanotechnology has been rapidly growing in scientific, business, and government circles over the past few years, and is now spreading to popular culture. A cover story appeared in the Nov. 24, 2002 issue of Parade magazine, the nearly universal supplement to Sunday papers across the US: "How nanotechnology is changing our world" by Michael Crichton. The inside title was "Could Tiny Machines Rule the World?" with the introductory blurb "Today's era of technological power offers enormous promise for the future". But, as the best selling author of The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park reminded us, enormous dangers also may lie ahead.

The Parade article presents an insightful and balanced introduction to nanotechnology, and prominently cites the views of Eric Drexler and the Foresight Institute. The article also heralded the release of Crichton's new novel "Prey", a techno-thriller portraying development of nanotechnology gone awry. In the novel, nanotechnology is implemented without regard to the safety principles preached by Foresight, and the results are disastrous.

Whether the specific portrayal in the novel of self-replicating, evolving nanobots is well grounded in technical reality is another question. Even if Crichton did not get all of the details correct, his message has been Foresight's message since 1986: careless and irresponsible development of nanotechnology can lead to very bad outcomes.

Crichton's scenario is likely to get even greater exposure as the novel becomes a movie. The debate about what nanotechnology is, what it will mean, and what policies to regulate it will be necessary and desirable, is likely to intensify during the coming months and years.

Click Nanotechnology in Parade magazine

Click The Foresight Institute website

Click Business Week on the Crichton novel

Keeping pace with business in an uncertain future

Futurists (the avocation I aspire to these days) do not predict the future - they observe the trends and make reasonable extrapolations to shine the headlights a little further down the road. With technology accelerating as fast as it is, the business world down in the dumps and the world facing an uncertain future, how do the best businesses do their planning? The trends show the way. The choice is to let things happen, or ride the front of the wave.

The major trend in business today is speed. The increasing connectedness of the economy has a major impact on how companies are organized, operated and managed. Acceleration is a fact of economic life and the "real-time" enterprise is unavoidable.

Companies like Dell, Cisco and FedEx strive for real-time as a primary aspiration, and they are taking active steps to get there. Time-control is like quality control - every time you encounter a lag in a process you do something about it.

Connectivity and speed also introduce volatility. Consider the recent increase in business failures, stock market gyrations and unpredictable corporate results. To survive, companies must learn to adapt and evolve amid uncertainty.

Companies must sense and respond faster than changes in relevant features of the environment. Businesses can become more connected and more responsive through autonomous-agents software that senses events and makes decisions in response. Agents don't have to be fancy; a thermostat, for example, is an autonomous agent. Identify the right "agents" and strive to make the time between the signals and the responses shorter and shorter.

Does a true real-time corporation exist today? No. But more and more companies are generating success through doing more and more in "real-time". Your job is to think about the key events and signals in your business, and work to improve your business-reaction time.

Click Keeping Pace with the Accelerating Enterprise

Click Gartner: The real time enterprise

Click Dawn of the real time enterprise

The Google Viewer

Most people know that Google is by far the most popular search engine available today. Surfers like it because of the highly relevant results it gives, and the speed at which it delivers them. These days, I tend to NOT use any bookmarks, or telephone white or yellow pages to look up phone numbers, or a whole host of other old habits. I just go to Google and type in what I need. It's faster.

Google is known for the wide range of features it offers, such as cached links that let you "resurrect" dead pages or see older versions of recently changed ones. It offers excellent spell checking, easy access to dictionary definitions, integration of stock quotes, street maps, telephone numbers and more. See Google's help page for an entire rundown on some of these features. The Google Toolbar has also won a popular following for the easy access it provides to Google and its features directly from the Internet Explorer browser.

With the growth and depth of the JimPinto.com website, it is probably easiest to use the local Google search to find any eNews items, or topics. Just go to the bottom of the JimPinto.com homepage to Google, and use the local-search button.

Google Labs has just released the Google Viewer and has asked folks to kick its tires and report back. The viewer displays the pages found as a result of your Google search as a continuous scrolling slide show. You can view your search results without using your keyboard or mouse and you can adjust the speed with which the images move across your screen. Each image of a page's contents is accompanied by a short "snippet" describing that page.

Click Check out the Google Viewer

Click JimPinto.com local website search

JimPinto.com weblogs

Traffic on the JimPinto.com weblogs is growing fast! Many people just go to the weblogs to find out the latest scuttlebutt on the companies they are interested in, without leaving any blogs. Also, I must mention that the blogs are sometimes just a platform for complaints by malcontents. This reflects that sad fact that many people simply do not have any avenues to voice their legitimate concerns within their own company.

At the very least suggest to your management, or HR people, that they should browse the JimPinto.com blogs. Positive inputs and commentary from management is usually published and always appreciated.

Several people have asked why we do not have weblogs on other Automation companies, such as Emerson, or Groupe Schneider. Let me remind them that they should feel free to send (email) on those (or other) companies. If there is sufficient accumulation of interest on any company, or topic, a weblog will be forthcoming.

Please note that thought my previous background is automation and I still have personal links with many people in the automation business, I have no direct investments or affiliations with any of the companies discussed. There is NO bias or hidden agenda.

Note too, that the JimPinto.com website is NOT specifically focused on the automation-industry. There are many other interesting and enjoyable topics. Your regular commentary and feedback is very much appreciated!

Click JimPinto.com weblog Index

eFeedback

Regarding the "if the world was a village of 100 people" statistics, Joe Fortier [jfortier@imagic-inc.com] wrote:
    "Many people believe that these numbers are inaccurate. The real numbers, though not as stark as the ones in your Thanksgiving essay, are also a cause for the same concerns. The link below is to a page at Philadelphia Universities web site. It contains an updated set of statistics assuming that the world was a village of 1000.

Click The world as a Village of 1,000 people

In response to the item on wearable computers and ad-hoc wireless communities, Allen Nelson [ajnelson83@hotmail.com] sent this:

    "Computers embedded in clothing could form networks on the fly.
    HEY, YOUR FLY IS DOWN! ER - I MEAN YOUR NETWORK IS DOWN!

    "Software embedded in the clothing would have to be compatible.
    YOU KNOW, THAT SHIRT REALLY DOESN'T GO WITH THOSE PANTS!

    "The expression "BOOT UP" may take on new meaning.

    "What you would or could do with a 'browser'?
    HONEY - QUIT BROWSING THAT WOMAN'S BLOUSE!

    "Sign in a movie theater:
    PLEASE TURN OFF ALL CELL PHONES, PAGERS, AND LOUD TIES.

    "You download MP3 music from friends as you walk around the mall.
    IF YOU DO THAT IN A SAM GOODY, WOULD IT BE CONSIDERED SHOPLIFTING?

    "If you live in a big city for instance, there are many people who might want to buy an item you're trying to sell.
    WHAT WOULD THIS DO FOR PROSTITUTION?
    WOULD MY PANTS INFORM ME OF WHAT SHE IS SELLING?
    WOULD MY PANTS RECEIVE AN EMAIL FROM MY WIFE WHO IS ALSO NETWORKED?
    PERHAPS MY PANTS WOULD EMAIL HER! (IT DIDN'T HAPPEN - SOMEONE MUST HAVE HACKED INTO MY PANTS...!)"

An industry analyst and observer wrote :
    "Linked to the current ABB fiasco is the news report about 6 months ago, in which the (then) two top executives were retiring with a combined package of $250 million. Coincidence: the company had just announced a loss of $450 million. Does two plus two equal four? Of course the company is having difficulties. No company can easily survive such plunder.

    "A few weeks ago I wrote to you about the grossly undeserved adulation of Jack Welch of GE, and drew a parallel to Lee Iacocca (late of Chrysler), both credited for single handedly "making" their respective companies. The media fantasies chose to ignore the thousands of dedicated, disciplined and highly skilled workers of these companies. This is particularly true of Chrysler. The early 1990s turnaround took place due to the workers putting up $1 billion, (all their pension funds, many sold their houses and put all their savings as well) to float the company, so that Iacocca could wallow in the glory. So much for the Superman theory.

    "Note that Bill Gates never pretends to be the only brain in Microsoft: at every opportunity he seems to praise the extraordinary people around him, most of them very wealthy too."

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