JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 33 : February 14, 2001
Business, marketing & futures commentary.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
- Napster closing down??
- MIT Tech Review : Digital Rights Management
- Quantum Computers & the One photon Light Source
- Schneider, Steeplechase & Think&Do Software = Entivity
- Industrial Automation Outlook : 2001
- eFeedback - Praising & Suing Gates, Stopping Light
Napster - can they close it down??
In the last couple of eNews issues, we had discussed Napster with a lot of
feedback. On Monday 12 February '01, while many millions continued to
download music feverishly, the proprietary protagonists in the music
industry looked like they were winning a legal battle to close down
Read the Bloomberg story (Feb. 12 2001)
Read the UPSIDE discussion (Feb. 13 2001)
So, now what? What will happen to Napster, and the many others who are
offering different blends of peer-to-peer file-sharing? Can the music
merchants enforce a ban on copying via the Internet? How can they enforce
it? This bring us to our topical Technology Review item for this week -
Digital Rights Management.
MIT Tech review : Digital Rights Management
The Jan/Feb 2001 MIT Review Technology Trends listed their
selection of the 10 most important technology trends:
MIT Tech Review 10
Napster is just one of the many battles that will shape the Internet during
the 21st century's initial decade. The battle lines are sharply drawn. On
one side are owners of intellectual property, or content: books, music,
video, photographic images and more. On the other are Internet users who
want content to be freely distributed. The Internet changes everything - it
allows perfect reproduction of digital content and totally frictionless
distribution. A few mouse clicks sends a work to millions of users, but the
creators and owners of the content won't necessarily collect one dime.
ContentGuard, spun out of research at Xerox PARC, is one of the new
companies that is developing content protection - Digital Rights Management
(DRM) - which allows content-owners to see who is passing content to whom,
allow much wider and deeper distribution than ever before.
DRM amounts to an encryption scheme with a built-in e-business cash
register. Content is encoded and to get the key a user needs to do
something - typically pay, but perhaps providing an e-mail address.
ContentGuard uses a "multiple key" approach to content protection; anyone
who received bootleg content would have to crack into it all over again.
Thus, even hackers who crack into a piece of content cannot distribute it.
DRM isn't already everywhere because: a/ Content owners are in the midst of
a hard rethink about both pricing and distribution. Suddenly they are
wrestling with issues of how to price three listens to a song, say, or a
download of a low-resolution image that cannot be forwarded to others.
Different economic models for valuing content are just now being evaluated
and DRM opens many possibilities. b/ No one wants to annoy the user - the
complexity of the protection technology must be hidden, allowing users to
buy the content they want without being put through obstacles - Annoyed
users will simply go elsewhere to find what they need.
Captivating as the possibilities of DRM are, it is still in its infancy -
probably a year or so away from seeing broad adoption.
Some people are still not convinced that content can be protected in the
Internet era. For example, even if Napster is put out of business by the
courts, the frictionless distribution of digital content among millions of
Internet users will continue.
MIT Tech-10 review on DRM
Take a look at the ContentGuard website
Quantum Computers & the one-photon light-source
Quantum computers are no longer seen as weird curiosities but as the
powerful future of the computer industry. The debate is shifting from
whether they will ever become a reality to when they will become practical.
The excitement is not due to their power, although they undoubtedly will be
more powerful than today's most powerful computers. The big point is that
they can solve problems and carry out simulations that are basically
impossible on conventional computers.
Quantum computers rely on the tiniest objects and smallest interactions in
the universe. Scientists measure the atomic spin of molecules and
manipulate atoms to make these still experimental computers. Such computers
may be the first quantum machines that can talk to each other, and even
conceivably bring about "teleportation".
Pierre Petroff, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and
material science at the University of California at Santa Barbara headed up
the team that created the world's dimmest light source - a tiny,
mushroom-shaped semiconductor that would spit out a single photon, or basic
particle of light, on command. Applied physicists at Stanford University
have produced the first device that can create a beam of light made up of a
steady stream of photons. Normal light sources, even lasers, generate
photons at random intervals. Finding a way to produce photons one by one at
a regular interval has been a long-standing research goal. This work may
someday allow the development of quantum computers that are based on light
particles rather than the movement of atoms.
January 11 NY Times item (you might need a free sign-up)
Stanford Report on one-photon light source
IEEE - The Topsy Turvy World of Quantum Computing
Schneider, Steeplechase & Think&Do = Entivity
After recently acquiring Steeplechase, Schneider was looking to expand it's
presence in e-manufacturing software. Think & Do was headed in a direction
that complemented their approach. Credit must be given to Ken Spenser at
Think & Do, and Alain Marbach, President of Schneider's Automation
Business, for being flexible enough to consider forming a strong and
independent, yet linked, combination.
Schneider decided to contribute Steeplechase Software and a minority equity
position in Think&Do to create the control software offering of a new
company - which will also have a collaboration and project management
offering called Automation ProjectNet and will soon introduce new Asset
Management products. These products, when combined, form the new and
independent software company called Entivity (the name comes from ENabling
The integration of the Steeplechase and Think&Do teams has been going on
for a couple of months and is reported to be going well. They will move
into a new facility at the end of March, in Ann Arbor, MI. The first
Entivity Global Sales meeting took place in Las Vegas this past weekend and
was reported to have gone very well. Both sales teams are seeing some
real advantages -Steeplechase and Think & Do have very good control
software and motion-product offerings. With the recent introduction of
Studio, a Visio-based product with integrated HMI, Control and productivity
analysis, Entivity has a solid foundation to move the product lines
forward. Both companies are leaders in their advocacy of flowchart
programming, which should force this programming language into
international standards. It looks like Entivity already has quite an
offering - for both OEMs and End Users.
Read the Steeplechase News
And the Think&Do news
2001: Industrial Automation Outlook
The industrial automation business is under pressure - growth and profit
are elusive, most products are commodities, global competition is reducing
prices and margins, innovation is scarce in an overcrowded market.
Large companies seem unable to generate organic growth, leading to mergers
and acquisitions in related areas with accompanying divestiture or
elimination of duplication. I have already forecasted that the industry
Big-10 will reduce to the Big-5 - this is the year in which that prediction
will be realized.
Who will survive? How will they thrive? In my new article (February 2001) I
present my outlook for industrial automation at the start of the new
millennium. This article was first published in Controls
Intelligence & Plant Systems Report, February 2001. You'll find it on the
2001 : Industrial Automation Outlook
Tom Anderson IV [email@example.com] was indignant about my praise
for the humanitarian Bill Gates :
"Jim, you write some good stuff but the item on Bill Gates is a sham. Did
he hire you as his publicist? Any true humanitarian does not have to
publicize their efforts. They do it for their own good and the good of
others. If they do it to influence public opinion, it is called
"publicity" and not "humanitarianism" It is easy to feel responsible for
one's wealth and what to do with it to make life better. OK, I am now off
my soap box!"
JimPinto response :
"Actually yes, Tom. The Bill & Melinda Gates
foundation paid me $1,750,000.58 for my "unbiased" praise of Bill Gates.
I gave $ 0.58 to my friend Bud Keyes, for his strong and unswerving
Perry Sink [firstname.lastname@example.org] e-wrote :
"I appreciate Bud Keyes' views on the Legal Mugging of Microsoft - and I
agree that it appears on the surface that Microsoft and Gates are simply
being penalized for being too successful. I'm a conservative, and I'm one
to err on the side of the government leaving business alone. But I read the
entire 70 page article in Wired Magazine : The Truth, The Whole Truth, And
Nothing But The Truth and this piece showed the issue to be quite a bit
more complex than a simple question of whether a browser can be included in
"The real point was that Microsoft was holding a gun to PC OEM's heads and
saying "Include IE or else." And the OEMs were so fearful of Microsoft
that they wouldn't even testify. It is precisely situations like this for
which anti-trust laws are written. Pure laissez-faire capitalism results
in dead bodies just as surely as communism; it must be regulated to some
The JimPinto response :
"Like you, I am a strong advocate for Government
staying OUT of business regulation. They sued IBM (at great expense to the
taxpayer, and IBM) - when IBM was already on a downslide. And now, they are
threatening Microsoft when PCs and Windows are melting into the vast,
connected peer-to-peer world of the Internet. It's like suing the
railroads for monopolistic practices when the airplane has already
About the recent story on stopping light, Dan Greenberg
[DGreenberg@mainspring.com] e-responded :
"Now here's a question -- what does this mean in relativistic terms? If
light has been slowed (or stopped), has time slowed or stopped for the
information carried in the beam? Note that this is a relativistic
effect, not a quantum effect. Presuming C is constant (and it's the speed
of light in the MEDIUM which has gone to zero), perhaps there is no effect.
If time has stopped, what does that mean for the medium (the gas holding
On the same subject, Gene Post, [Gene.Post@GEFALBANY.GE.com] e-wrote :
"Or another line of questions: there is a well known time dilation effect
in general relativity: if you accelerate, your time dilates. Thus, if you
accelerated to close to the speed of light, then decelerated, turned around
and returned, you would think significantly less time has passed than the
people on the place you started from. How does this work for the light in
the medium, which is decelerating? If I were riding that light beam, what
would be my perception of time as I decelerated and then re-accelerated?
Presumably, I'd think considerably less time had passed than outside
observers (since I was "stopped"). Hmm.... "
"I recently read an article on the slowing of light and then saw your
coverage. Star Wars it might not be, but there is another old (20 years
maybe) SciFi short story called Light of Other Days which is based on the
concept of 'slow glass'. The glass slows the passage of light through it
based on how thick the glass is, up to years worth. Glass farms exist that
let the windows overlook landscapes for a long time and are then sold to
people with no views. The story had a neat plot twist also. I wonder if
this could be some sort of inspiration for this research."
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