JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 74 : January 11, 2002
Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
- Interview with God
- Earth lights
- Nano-tech - Drexler's six lessons
- Napster is dead - long live P2P
- Invensys update
- Soft Solutions commentary
- Segway alternatives - the bicycle
- Robot factories, distributed intelligence
Interview with God
Happy New Year!
To help with your New Year new thinking, you might like to watch this
beautiful and powerful presentation!
Interview with God
Take a look at this awesome piece of photography! It's a panoramic picture
of the Earth taken from the Boeing built Space Station on a perfect night.
The lights clearly indicate populated areas.
It is interesting to note that Canada's population is almost exclusively
along the U.S. border. In Europe there is a high population concentration
along the Mediterranean Coast. It's easy to spot London, Paris, Stockholm
and Vienna. Look at the development of Israel compared to that of the Arab
Note the Nile River and the rest of Africa - after the Nile, the lights
don't come on again until Johannesburg. Look at the Australian Outback and
the Trans-Siberian Rail Route. Look at the density of Japan and note the
difference between North and South Korea.
Just sit back and look at this picture - it's beautiful!
Earth - Lights at Night
Nanotech - six lessons
Nanotechnology - products are built atom-by-atom, assembly machines much
smaller even than living cells, tiny devices that can travel along
capillaries to enter and repair living cells. Many think that this will be
one of the major revolutions of the new century.
The "nanotechnology boom" is beginning - already private investment in
nanotech outstrips government funding. A lot is being focused on molecular
manufacturing, with its mind-boggling benefits for medicine, the economy,
and the environment. And too, there is a lot of downside - potential for
mishandling and abuse.
The Foresight Institute works to spread the benefits and reduce the
downsides of nanotechnology. Eric Drexler is generally recognized as the
father of Nanotech, with his groundbreaking 1986 book "Engines of
Eric Drexler has just published these key insights -
Nanotechnology - six lessons from September 11
Eric Drexler's book - Engines of Creation
Napster is dead - long live P2P
If you try to log on to Napster now, you'll get a message telling you that
Napster file sharing has been suspended. The music industry has succeeded
in shutting it down - though Napster is still trying to recover as a
Napster allowed you to download music from other computers (peer-to-peer),
but it was still a central index that organized and controlled the
connections. Now a Dutch/Swedish company called FastTrack has developed
technology that allows truly peer-to-peer operation, with no centralized
index. Based on FastTrack, three software download sites have already
achieved significance: Morpheus, KaZaA and Grokster - they are now handling
more than double the traffic that Napster carried during its peak in Feb.
2001. Morpheus is now the most popular software download on the Internet
and the site attracts more than 1,000,000 visitors per day.
Today, people download 150 million songs free over the Internet every day -
which means 50 billion songs a year, the equivalent of three billion CDs of
music or more than three times the 850 million copyrighted CDs sold
annually. The 'Napster-effect' has quadrupled the number of songs used in
a year, expanded dramatically the range of music heard, and potentially
enlarged the industry. The challenge now is to make it into a viable
The irrepressible George Gilder exclaims:
"When your product is stolen by
thieves, you have a police problem. When it is stolen by 150 million
honest customers, you have a marketing problem."
Music lawyers are trying to follow up their victory against Napster with
further campaigns against the sharing of content across the Net. But, they
are clearly doomed to fail. The new peer-to-peer file sharing systems are
simply versions of ordinary file transfer software that the music industry
Unlike Napster, Morpheus isn't limited to just MP3 music - you can download
video, images, documents and software and they are as easy to find as MP3
files. Frankly, when I searched for several different specific software
packages by name, I was amazed at the number of sites that had them
available for me to copy. As Time Magazine-On-Line comments: "It's like the
proverbial genie loosed upon the Internet!"
Download Morpehus and try it yourself
FastTrack, developer of the peer-to-peer network stack
Morpheus out of the underworld
Napster Shutdown Feeds Dutch Peer-To-Peer Startup
Interesting sidelight: P2P technology is also proving useful in swapping
shares of stock. The pressure to provide investors with full disclosure and
equal access has never been greater. The point here is to keep
stock-trading quiet - P2P fulfills a desire among institutional investors
NY Times: To make more money, cut the noise
After a spate of Invensys-bashing, I thought I'd be fair by reporting that
Invensys seems to be doing well recently, with it stock trading at about
130p in early January, almost five times higher when Allen Yurko departed.
(Does anyone know whether he has surfaced at some hapless company yet?)
A financial analyst who follows Invensys closely reported: "What we are
currently seeing is a surge of interest in cyclical stocks, especially
those with high US exposure - Invensys is benefiting from this trend.
Haythornthwaite appears to have gone down well with investors. His longer
term challenges will be to sort out the core business and to return the
overall company to a growth path."
In a letter to employees, Leo Quinn (now there 10 weeks) wrote (summarized
here): "Invensys is now in the midst of a strategic review process, with
nine teams working on recommendations for the major vertical markets and
business areas. As the review reaches its conclusion, change will no doubt
be required throughout Invensys. The outcome will be communicated to all
employees in February."
Being an Invensys employee has been pretty grim over the last 2-3 years and
I continue to hear unhappy noises. Some of this comes from crybabies, who
really should have left years ago, rather than stick around to sulk. But
others have legitimate beefs when their own good contributions are ignored
while brown-nosing bosses bolster their own behinds by sucking up to the
Several people have reported sending email to
Leo Quinn [firstname.lastname@example.org]
and Rick Haythornthwaite [email@example.com]
and getting nothing but sweet-nothings from some
recently hired intermediary Marcom lackey.
Earlier this week, there was a flurry of excitement as Wonderware reported
that "good news" would be announced on Friday, 11 January 2002 (today). It
turns out that the news wasn't worth the advance-hype: If good sales
numbers are achieved (up 10% from the same quarter last year) there will be
a party/ribbon cutting ceremony at the new building on March 1. Whoopee !
One wonders who will own Wonderware by that time....
The $50 million Profit and Cash Challenge begun in Nov. 01 resulted in some
immediate layoffs, with a clear threat for more to come unless profit goals
are achieved. The new leadership is certainly demonstrating the will to
win. What remains to be seen is whether they have the stamina to achieve
In the meantime, bunches of buyers continue to review the possibilities for
acquiring juicy pieces. Stay tuned....
UK FT: Deutsche Bank likes the look of Invensys
For Automation techies
Are you an "automation techie"? If you are, visit AutomationTechies.com to
find lots of interesting stuff - a community website focused on the factory
automation, process control, and instrumentation industry with product
information, job search, industry promotions, application notes, directory
of manufacturers and systems integrators, press releases, news and more.
During the past two years, we've seen something like 30,000 layoffs in the
automation industry - not a pretty picture. Many people were fired in spite
of excellent performance at their jobs. The short-term needs (and sometimes
the shortcomings) of their former employers demanded termination of their
employment. Walt Boyes warns of the stark consequences for shortsighted
employers. If you're an industrial automation employer (manager, executive,
chief-honcho) Walt's latest article is worth reading.
Walt Boyes: Keeping Faith - for the employer
Industrial automation business is in a general decline - many products have
become commodities. Growth and success will result for leaders who
recognize the advantages that new technology brings, and for those who have
the ability to provide new products and advances for old and new markets.
Read my new article at automationtechies.com.
Jim Pinto: New Growth in old markets
Bob Peterson [PETERSONRA@aol.com] commented on some of the "soft solutions"
I had previously suggested:
"The problem is not about rich versus poor. The disparity is just a
symptom of what's really wrong. Governments continue to increase their own
power, while reducing liberty and freedom for all of us. Isn't it obvious
by now that the cause of most of the poverty in this world is government?
We do not need government wealth redistribution programs. We need less
My friend, Ray Zack [ZaxFax@aol.com] is a central hub for Kamen de-bunkers.
Regarding the availability of Segway alternatives, Ray wrote:
"The US has fed much of the third world for many years. It has done little
to alleviate their situation. More resources down that rat hole will not
help anyone. It is time to realize that the ONLY thing that helps people
long term is more liberty. And that requires less government.
"Central planning has failed everywhere it has been tried. Economic
democracy, communism, socialism, fascism, or whatever name you want to give
it is not the answer. History has shown time and again that government has
failed massively at bringing about economic prosperity. Leave people to
their own devices, protect them from external and internal violence, and
they will prosper on their own, beyond belief."
"The gasoline powered scooter is also available with electric-drive - costs
$110 more ($459) and adds 18 pounds to the weight (42 pounds). As for
lateral/longitudinal stability, man solved this problem when he learned to
walk & stand upright - hence the bicycle. Did you ever think of how much
fun it would be to ride a bicycle with the wheels side by side, instead of
fore and aft??"
Robert Unseld [firstname.lastname@example.org] the Editor of "elektronik" magazine
in Germany wrote regarding our discussions on robotized factories and
distributed processing technologies:
"Although one does think of "big brother", it seems to be a basic thing for
"virtual factories" where maintenance staffers with CAR (computer augmented
reality) lenses to see the factory in two ways: Reality - and (in the
lenses) the condition of machinery or the process inside the system. The
thing about those systems is, that they are self-sufficient, powered by
solar cells or other even more sophisticated techniques (energy for sensing
process delivered by data-request).
In automation technology there's a vast discussion on centralized vs.
decentralized. In a recent meeting with key leaders in Germany, it was
quite interesting to note how different (opposite) their convictions were.
I don't really doubt that distributed intelligence will be the way field
devices will develop in the future. But on the other hand, computers are
getting more and more powerful, so one can't be sure how things will go.
Predictions and prognostications aren't that easy somehow (smile)."
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