JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 52 : July 20, 2001
Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
- Final Fantasy - the movie
- Napster alternatives - Gnutella P2P
- Invensys decline continues
- Honeywell background: Bonsignore Bossidy Bust-up
- Robo-pups for sale
- eFeedback :
- Reading eNews on a PDA
- A.I. - the movie
Final Fantasy - the movie
The first film with photo realistic animated actors, opened in July in US
theaters. It has successfully simulated human emotions and movements
through computer graphics animation. This is NOT a cartoon, like ANTZ or
TOY STORY! Judge for yourself - go see it.
Question: Once "virtual" movie actors become popular, who will need
high-paid human movie stars? (BTW: I did not come up with that question - a
highly paid human movie star did....)
Final Fantasy's hyper-real animation used Maya for animation and RenderMan
for rendering. Four Silicon Graphics M 2000 series servers, four Silicon
Graphics Onyx2 visualization systems and 167 Octane workstations were used
for "production". My son, Chris (who is in his final year at Academy of
Arts College in San Francisco, studying digital animation) is crazy about
this kind of stuff! He is spending his summer vacation playing with Maya
- the software, not a young lady....
Special challenges - realistic flowing hair and follicles, the physics of
how cloth wrinkles and drapes as the body wearing the fabric moves, the
fluidity of human movement, and facial movement.
Set in an Armageddon-like year 2065, the film stars a female scientist
named Aki, one of the few survivors following an invasion of phantom-like
aliens that have killed most of the world's population. The story is OK -
the "virtual reality" technology for a major-release movie is a
Before you see the movie, visit the FinalFantasy website - it's awesome
(especially if you have a high-speed web-connection)! You can view a
trailer (with full graphics and sound), see a gallery of amazing pictures,
and select several sequences and sounds to "make your own movie". If you
spend less than an hour playing on that website, let me know - I dare you!
Kurzweil.net links to the making of FinalFantasy
Napster Alternatives - P2P
Remember our discussions about peer-to-peer (P2P) and distributed
If the recording industry thought Napster was a headache, it's going to get
a genuine migraine from GNUCLEUS, a free open source software program for
GNUTELLA file-sharing networks.
Gnucleus software is one of several clients (such as LimeWire and
BearShare) that run on the Internet's self-organizing Gnutella network. The
software programs combine the shared contents of constantly shifting
clusters of about 10,000 or so linked personal computers into searchable
Gnucleus can't be put out of business by the record industry or the
government, because it's not a business. It's just a piece of free
software. The programmer behind Gnucleus has no commercial aspirations.
Instead, he says that all he has done is create a new tool for sharing
files, one that works without its author exerting any control over it and
without him having any knowledge about which files are being shared.
Ironically, the recording industry has done the most to help push users
toward the legally invulnerable Gnutella network.
Read about the Napster alternatives
Why the proposed Napster settlement won't fly
Honeywell background : Bonsignore Bossidy bust-up
In the aftermath of the GE-Honeywell merger bust, The Wall Street Journal
carried this story on July 18, 2001 (summarized here):
Michael Bonsignore, CEO of Honeywell was rattled. Honeywell was reeling
from merger-related woes, and a discreet search was on for a possible
successor. Worst of all, Bonsignore had learned from allies on his board
that Larry Bossidy, his predecessor and the former chief of AlliedSignal,
had privately told directors that Bonsignore wasn't capable of running the
$25 billion conglomerate created by the 1999 merger of Honeywell and
So Mr. Bonsignore pulled the board of Honeywell into a confidential
executive session to confront them. "Either you're with me, or kick me the
hell out now," he said.
Remarkably, this tussle didn't take place recently but on May 26, 2000 -
more than one year before the Honeywell sale to GE unraveled, leading to
Bonsignore's forced retirement at 60, and the rehiring of Bossidy, 66.
To outsiders, Bonsignore's downfall seemed abrupt. But Bonsignore's
troubles started well before the GE deal was inked. Apparently, he was done
in not only by his leadership failures but also by his strained
relationship with Bossidy.
We should recognize here that Bossidy is ex-GE, and reported to be a good
friend and confidante of Jack Welch.
Complete WSJ story on Bonsignore-Bossidy Bust-up
Invensys decline continues
On Thursday 19 July '01 (as we go to ePress), Invensys shares closed on the
London exchange at 102.95, with a low during the day of 101.25. Compare
this with a price of about 400 when Wonderware and Eurotherm were acquired,
before the BTR acquisition. It seems likely that a drop to two-digit-p will
The UK Guardian newspaper wrote this on July 12, 2001 (summarized here):
"Invensys came under fresh attack yesterday amid fears that management will
be forced to revise earnings guidance and scrap plans to float its power
systems division. A profits warning from US rival Emerson Electric was the
catalyst for the latest speculation, which left Invensys shares down 11.25p
at 115p. Over the past month they have fallen by 25%.
Traders were said to be advising clients that Invensys shares were heading
for 100p and profit forecasts were too high in the light of recent poor
news from the industry."
Guardian (UK) - July 12, ‘01: Electric shock for Invensys
Following previous Invensys coverage in eNews, I received a flood of
support and appreciation - for news and views that no one seemed to be
willing to report. A group of Invensys managers in Europe sent me this
"The focus at Invensys is profit and cash. Everyday we receive messages
like this :
A senior manager at Invensys in Europe, after reading this lengthy
diatribe, responded supportively :
- Suspend payment to suppliers;
- Avoid business travel;
- Suspended all salary increases;
- Suspend all new investments.
Mr. Yurko seems like an Emperor surrounded by "yes men". The divisional
chiefs spend all their time finding ways to present information to him,
fearing his negative reactions. Yurko imposes an order just one millisecond
after the answer is "yes". These so-called "senior-managers" then come back
and present the decision saying, "We are sorry, but it is impossible to say
NO in front of Yurko."
Morale practically does not exist. Every one seems to be looking for a new
job, because they know that sooner or later they will be fired. The only
Yurko strategy that anyone understands is to make a profit by reducing
Everybody has heard about Project UNITY. The question arises: Does this man
know what he is saying? How is it possible to realize a project like this
when BAAN is losing people every day and the software is practically a
disaster? Project Unity mentions Deloitte & Touche - and everyone knows
that the real target is to outsource accounting."
"Invensys may be teetering, but so are a number of others in the sector. We
are not isolated from a declining market.
"I don't think Yurko has swung from "good" to "bad" in the course of a
year. He has reacted, perhaps too quickly, to a series of pressures and
has obviously upset some people, not for the first time. But his
perspectives and vision remain valid in a number of ways. Particularly the
integration of software and hardware offerings is, in my opinion,
I (Jim Pinto) had previously suggested that Allen Yurko was an excellent
manager. Someone recently asked whether I had changed my mind. This
feedback from Dave Hillquist, Plant Engineer, Inland Paperboard &
Packaging, Ontario, California, changed my perspective:
"It is interesting that you describe the calamitous misadventures of
Invensys and then call CEO Allen Yurko an excellent manager. Is there any
meaningful way to judge a manager's competence or effectiveness, other than
by the results he or she achieves?
Read the complete Invensys in Decline - with updates
"Yurko has all the resources at his direction, and, certainly, determining
whose advice to follow is a fundamental part of his responsibility. I think
the evidence shows Yurko to be a poor manager who has made bad decisions.
Yurko may be able to explain his failures; he may be able to convince some
that he is not responsible for them; but he really has no excuse. In this
age of elaborate explanations it would do many people good to consider the
difference between explanations and excuses. Yurko cannot escape his
responsibilities by offering explanations.
"There is a pervasive crisis at the highest levels of business management,
which is illuminated by the situation of Invensys. It seems trite to say
that management has a fiduciary responsibility to guard the interests of
the stockholder, and yet this fundamental principle has been widely
betrayed. Upper-level management has become a self-serving clique of
insiders who each takes a turn at plundering the resources of the business.
They receive fantastic sums in pay and bonuses whether they achieve
positive results or not. In many prominent examples they leave serious
damage behind them but depart cordially with high praise and still more
exorbitant bonuses heaped upon them by the other insiders who wait in the
wings for their own turn at the plunder.
I think in most cases the actions in this deplorable scenario are motivated
not by cynicism but by ignorance, arrogance and naiveté."
Robo-pups for sale
Caring for a real dog can be expensive. The latest robo-pups cost about as
much as a real puppy, but with no further expenses for dogfood,
hairbrushes, veterinarian visits, etc.
Sony's AIBO (JimPinto.com eNews No.28, 1 January '01) now costs $1,500
(reduced from $2,500). i-Cybie will be available at major toy-stores in
August for only about $200. Equipped with 16 different motors,
sophisticated sensors and a remote control, i-Cybie walks on his own,
responds to voice and clap commands, and performs tricks like headstands
and push-ups. When it's time to tinkle, he lifts a back leg and makes a
musical sound - but leaves no mess.
There seems to be a definite market for these robotic pets. These are not
"toys" but entertainment robots with rudimentary artificial intelligence
and the ability to learn. Tech-savvy men and women ages 18 to 24 and baby
boomers (now 40-ish) are buying the new AIBO. This extends the core
demographic of male techies, 25 - 34 who snapped up the first AIBO at
$2,500 a pop in 1999.
Who will buy the new i-Cybie?
Reuters news story on Robo-pups
I will - to play with my (real, live) cat.....
Nick Taylor [Nick.Taylor@frco.com] sent me this interesting tidbit about
how he reads eNews :
Bob Holland [firstname.lastname@example.org] sent these thoughts after reading my article
"I enjoy your newsletter and look forward to it BUT I almost always don't
read it when it first arrives, preferring instead to catch up with the news
when I'm next stuck in a boring meeting. I have a Palm V synched with
e-mail and use it all the time. Colleagues think I'm making notes as I look
up from time to time & nod wisely; actually I just look up at random every
once in a while as I enjoy your latest news & views - isn't technology
"Too much rationalization going on in the charity essay. Basically, charity
is connected to civics - the understanding that communities are groups of
interconnected elements and that the non-profit elements are just as
important as the private and for-profit ones. It's connected to the concept
of generosity, of being thankful for having a good share of the good things
in life like health, education, experience and wealth and feeling that
sharing these with others is the right thing to do.
Cary S Hillebrand [email@example.com] wrote about A.I.:
"Most charity giving is in the form of volunteerism. It is not at all
cynical to learn that, especially thru volunteerism, you get back more than
you give. Of course a symphony orchestra or any other valid nonprofit
organization is worthy of charity. When I buy a painting or a CD or a piece
of jewelry or pottery from an artist, that's not charity, that's
commercialism. Anyway, I love to read essays to see people strive to put
their values on paper, but I felt that in certain small ways, your essay
"I enjoyed your discussion about Spielberg's latest movie A.I. The movie
started out strongly, dealing with the convoluted philosophical and ethical
issues that we may very well raise in the future. Unfortunately, about a
third of the way through the film, when the robot's "adoptive mother"
abandons him in the wilderness, the movie rapidly degenerated into
"The real question to be answered, and unfortunately Spielberg did not
attempt to even touch on this issue, is whether we will ever be able to
program consciousness. A robot can be programmed to "love" or "hate" or
play chess, but can he/it really be programmed with (for want of a better
word) a soul? If so, then complex questions of morality come into play. If
not, then, a robot, regardless of its sophistication and pseudo-human
characteristics, would have no demands on our emotions or moral
obligations. It would remain a tool, no more or less than the PC on my
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