JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 27 : December 28, 2000

A new-age newsletter, published irreverently and irregularly by Jim Pinto.
Business, marketing & futures commentary.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
Stay e-tuned....

Notice :
This is the final issue of JimPinto.com eNews
for the old year, century, decade, millennium.
We will resume in the new era!

Happy New Year!

  • New Browser for P2P Computing
  • P2P - In the enterprise
  • Scarcity & Abundance - The Inflection Point
  • The Myth of High Electricity Usage
  • Wearable Computers - "My Jacket is Ringing"
  • 1.5 Giga Hz Pentium + 180 gigabytes hard-drive
  • Fortune names Rockwell "Takeover Bait"
  • eFeedback - Rockwell/Allen-Bradley, Entropy & Extropy, etc.

New browser for P2P computing

Napster started music sharing. Now, a new browser from Groove, a Massachusetts start-up: Click http://www.groove.net/ is taking peer-to-peer (P2P) computing to a new level, just as Netscape did with the World Wide Web just a few years ago. Groove "Transceiver" software includes all the tools a small group needs to interact: it allows users to communicate via text and voice, to share all kinds of files and to collaborate on the editing of documents.

Users create a shared, secure environment in which they invite other Groove users to carry on business or to conduct personal conversations. All of the information created in that space is stored on each users computer. When one changes something, the change is automatically made on the others machines. And if a user happens to be offline, Groove ensures that his files are updated once he reconnects.

P2P is indeed a revolutionary phenomenon you'll be hearing a lot about soon. According to Newsweek (August 14, 2000) : "The simple idea at its core - easy-to-use peer-to-peer computing - already has unleashed an intellectual storm that stands to change how digital bits, the lifeblood of the New Economy, are delivered, stored, and valued."

Are there peer applications for business and personal use that go beyond file sharing and searching? Will peer computing become the next generation of computing? Download the preview edition of Transceiver and see for yourself.

Click Download Groove Transceiver

Click A good Introduction to P2P computing

P2P in the enterprise

If computers on the Internet can talk to one another directly (rather than via a server) it would mean that a vast amount of unused computing could finally be harnessed to revolutionize significant enterprise processes. Examples: the real-time collaboration provided by Groove/Transceiver; capturing bandwidth-intensive forms of communication such as telephone conversations and aggregate them with other forms of content; vast improvement in power and depth for search-engines; self-organizing and complex adaptive systems. There are lots more new and revolutionary applications being developed today.

Click Read this article on Enterprise P2P

Scarcity & abundance - the inflection point

My new article : Scarcity & Abundance - The Inflection Point was published in Industrial Controls Intelligence & Plant Systems Report, December 2000.

My previous topics :

Click Automation in Decline

Click Companies in Trouble

generated a lot of debate and discussion. On that theme, rather than simply being the reporter of recession, I would prefer to present a path to renewed industrial automation success. This new article reviews the possibilities within a larger perspective.

Abundances and scarcities play out in a spiral of reciprocity, with each producing its opposite in the cycles of economic advance. The inflection point is where significant growth and wealth is generated for leaders who utilizes knowledge and creativity to manipulate the future abundance while it is still a scarcity.

For industrial automation, several new inflection points will arrive in the next couple of decades. Here, I suggest my favorite possibilities. Please take a look. I'll appreciate your comments and feedback, and perhaps some good, stimulating discussion!

Click Scarcity & Abundance - the Inflection Point

High Electricity Usage

In Scarcity & Abundance I wrote:
    "A typical PC uses about a thousand kW hours per year. The billion computers which are expected to be connected to the Internet over the next five years, together with peripherals and hundreds of billions of embedded chips, will consume as much electricity as the entire US economy does today. So, power - once an “abundance” - will become a “scarcity”.

My article was based on ideas expounded in George Gilders book: Telecosm. Gilder and his sources, Mills & Huber, are wrong, according to Dr. Joseph Romm (jromm@getf.org), former acting assistant secretary of energy, who responded as follows :

    "A typical PC (and peripherals) today uses 200 W, and that is a conservative (i.e. high) estimate. The most credible source on this is Lawrence Berkeley national laboratory.

    Click Download the (pdf file) Berkeley Report on Electricity Usage

    "Perhaps equally important to any calculation of what a 1-billion PC future means, new PCs are increasingly more efficient. Laptops use under 100 watts, many use under 50 watts (Flat panel displays use 1/4 the power of regular monitors). Because of battery life issues (and environmental concerns), companies have been scrambling to cut the energy consumption and improve the power management. Intel's Instantly Available Personal Computer is designed to improve the capacity of a PC to stay connected to information networks while providing much more effective management of PC energy use and reducing the lengthy boot-up times PCs currently need. It consumes less than 5 watts of power while maintaining connections to the outside world. The energy consumed by individual embedded chips is also dropping sharply.

    "The electric intensity (electricity consumed per dollar of GDP) of the U.S. has dropped sharply since the advent of the Internet (i.e. 1996). The conclusion [power - once an “abundance” - will become a “scarcity”] is incorrect. Stupid deregulation in California and elsewhere, some clever gaming by utilities under the new flawed rules, and very hot summers should not be confused with genuine supply problems. Indeed the annual growth in the nation's total energy demand has slowed dramatically in the last 4 years, even though GDP growth has grown sharply.

    "You have been taken in by the same disinformation that so many others have--Mark Mills and Peter Huber's laughably inaccurate analyses, which the above critique demolishes. Also, Mills & Huber never bothered to ask whether networked PCs save energy (by reducing inventories, allowing people work at home, etc), which is the thrust of my analysis at www.cool-companies.org.

    "I spend a lot of time debunking Mills and Huber. Feel free to contact me :(jromm@getf.org)."

Read Dr. Romm's excellent book: "Cool Companies: Cutting Pollution and Saving Money with Clean, Efficient Energy Technology”.

Click Romm's book : Cool Companies

More on wearable computers - "My jacket is ringing...!"

Dutch electronics giant Philips and US apparel maker Levi Strauss & Co. have teamed up to create a jacket with electronic gadgetry built in. The two companies are betting that traditional pockets, bulging with portable handheld devices, have reached their limit. Their $900 water-resistant outdoor jacket branded ICD+, for Industrial Clothing Division Plus comes equipped with an MP3 player for playing music downloaded from the Web, a cellular phone, a headset and a small remote control device. To make a call, just flip up your collar; for some music, reach for your pocket; if the volume is too loud, just touch a few buttons on your sleeve.

If this jacket sounds like something only James Bond would use, look again - it is being launched commercially this month in 40 of Levi Strauss's high-end fashion boutiques in Paris, London and Milan. The companies say they don't plan to introduce the jacket in the United States anytime soon because the cell phone runs on the GSM standard which is widely used in Europe but only in some segments of the US.

Click News item: Our jacket is ringing

Other clothing companies are jumping on the e-wagon. Nike has already integrated a round, miniature MP3 player into its running clothes. For women, the MP3 player can be attached to a pocket in the back of running shorts ($40), to provide an unwired look.

Wearable electronics is being taken seriously by a growing number of clothing and electronics makers. They are introducing fabrics that conduct electricity and connect audio equipment and pocket computers. E-jewelry is also hot. Swatch will introduce a $250 watch/cell phone in late 2001.

Get your new 1.5 GHz Pentium
with 180 gigabytes hard-drive

Intel has released its new 1.5 GHz Pentium 4:

Click Pentium 4 Intro

and Seagate just announced the Barracuda-180 which provides 180 gigabytes of storage in a single drive (that's the text on a stack of paper three times the height of the Empire State Building.)

Click Seagate Barracuda

Moore's Law marches on, and on......

Rockwell is "takeover bait"

The Investor Guide in Fortune Magazine, Dec 18, 2000 had an interesting article entitled: Riding the Buyout Wave - Fortune's first-ever list of takeover candidates for the coming year. The section on Industrials mentioned the GE takeover of Honeywell, with "experts predicting a flurry of similar deals". Rockwell was listed as a candidate for "Takeover Bait" - as follows:

    "Who's next? We like Rockwell International. The $7.5 billion Milwaukee Company makes an array of advanced equipment, including communications and navigation systems for aircraft manufacturers. Its avionics and communications business, which primarily serves Boeing and Airbus, is clearly the company's best performer. Revenues grew 21% in fiscal 1999, accounting for about a third of overall sales. Thanks to an Asian rebound and strong demand for Rockwell's cockpit controls and in-flight entertainment systems, analysts expect strong sales growth through next year."

Click Fortune Feature Riding the Buyout Wave

Click The Fortune table with Rockwell as "Takeover Bait"

Pinto's Prognostications :
    Fortune evidently did not know (yet) of the Collins spin-off from Rockwell, which we think was done to separate Avionics from Industrial (Allen-Bradley). There are a couple of ways to look at the spin-off:

    a/ Allow Siemens (and others who don't wish to play with the Avionics piece) to make a clean and uncluttered offer for what is left - Allen-Bradley.
    b/ Separate Collins, to allow United Technologies (who don't want the industrial piece) to make an unclouded offer for the Avionics piece.

    In any case, observers feel that Don Davis (Rockwell CEO, ex-Allen-Bradley) is ready to sell off and "go home". Look for Rockwell (all or part) to be sold off early in the New Year. The Fortune article suggests a takeover price of $55.00. ROK closed on Wednesday 27 Dec. 2000 at $ 46 1/8 - I'll hold my stock (bought at $38.00) to see what happens.


Dave Hillquist [DHillqu@iccnet.com] Plant Engineer, Inland Paperboard & Packaging, Ontario, California e-wrote significant comments which I thought would be worth including here in their entirety:

    "Reading your remarks about Rockwell's troubles leads me to observe that there has long been a largely-unperceived precariousness about the success of their Allen-Bradley component which may finally be coming into play.

    "Allen-Bradley has been a bastion of obsolescence and obstructive complexity for many years. They have been remarkably successful in marketing and distribution, but many of their major products are technical dinosaurs in a field where technology is the essence. I have marveled at the prevalence of Allen-Bradley PLC's (programmable logic controllers), because I could always purchase better PLC's for a fraction of their price. Their PLC programming software has been a wonder of confusion and vast complexity, while much competitive software was characterized by simplicity and clarity.

    "Allen-Bradley variable speed drives are extremely expensive and so complex that an installation or a breakdown can be very challenging to deal with; each model is accompanied by a huge stack of obscurely written manuals in which useful information, if present at all, is very hard to find. In contrast, competitive drives, which I may purchase for a fraction of the price, come with one or two small manuals and are quite easy to configure or diagnose. The difference is not because of superior features in the Allen-Bradley products.

    "When I purchase automation products for small projects (about $10,000 to $75,000) I achieve substantial savings by soliciting competitive bids, but rarely is there any Allen-Bradley product on my final purchase list. Even their major competitors sell to me at much lower prices than theirs.

    "I see two factors that keep Allen-Bradley in business: first, much purchasing is done by agents who are hierarchically isolated from the technical end users, such as plant engineers and electricians, who can actually discern the relative utility of various devices; and second, many companies seem to keep specification lists, apparently carved in stone eons ago, which ensure that they will never be able to adopt innovative technology and will hardly be able to recognize when their specified devices become uncompetitive.

    "Also, the effects of the internet are slowly insinuating themselves into the automation products business. I can quickly direct my desktop PC into a world of bargain-priced high-quality products at automationdirect.com, asi-interconnect.com, thinkndo.com and other sites. Openness and truly competitive pricing may soon force Allen-Bradley and other major automation manufacturers to change or succumb."

On a different topic, regarding my item on extropy (increase of "order" - opposite of Entropy) Willy Smith [numatico@racsa.co.cr] e-asked:

    "The big question is, where does extropy come from? How are extropy and entropy possible in the same universe?"

My response:

    "Entropy relates to the physical universe - which is continually "winding down", towards minimum energy. Extropy relates to the non-physical universe - spiritual, intelligence - which is continually "winding upwards" towards maximum harmony. Spiritual drive, intelligence, technology are the driving forces in extropy."

Lots of people wrote with pleasure and excitement on recognizing the concept of Entropy. Your own comments, feedback and suggestions will be welcome.

Looking for news, Roger Grace [roggrace@attcanada.ca] e-wrote:

    "Have your grapevine sources perhaps picked up any information as to what they are up to after spending all that cash on acquiring ABB power turbines?"

Do you have any insights or information? Please let me know. I am currently reviewing ABB, and will bring up some "jewels" soon.....

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