JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 35 : March 2, 2001

Business, marketing & futures commentary.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
Stay e-tuned....


  • Tech Review : Data Mining, Knowledge Discovery
  • Fabber - the 3-dimensional copier or fax
  • Software - Buy or Rent ?
  • Claude Shannon Dies at 84
  • Extropy 5 Conference - July 2001
  • eFeedback
    • Bertelsmann Testing Napster Clone
    • Distributed Computing
    • More on GAAP-goop

Tech Review: Data Mining - Knowledge Discovery

The Jan/Feb 2001 MIT Review Technology Trends listed their selection of the 10 most important technology trends:

Click MIT Tech Review 10

When you sign on to Amazon.com, you usually see some recommendations for books or other items they think you'd like. Welcome to data mining, also known as knowledge discovery in databases (KDD): the rapidly emerging technology that lies behind the personalized Web. Data mining technology is used to develop algorithms that search very large databases. There are surprisingly broad applications : automatically determining which of some two billion observed celestial objects are stars and which are galaxies; finding volcanoes on Venus from the huge number of radar images being transmitted from space probes; automatic searches of medical radiology images. With the Internet gushing information onto everyone's desktop, the urgency for data mining is evident.

One very hot area is "text data mining": extracting unexpected relationships from huge collections of free-form text documents, using natural-language processing, statistical word counts and other techniques. At Berkeley, data mining has already been used to help geneticists search the biomedical literature and produce reasonable hypotheses for the functions of newly discovered genes. Another hot area is "video mining": using a combination of speech recognition, image understanding and natural-language processing techniques to open up the world's vast video archives to efficient computer searching.

The techniques of data mining are quickly becoming integrated into standard database systems. New companies like Digimine uncover valuable business intelligence and enable immediate action to be taken by delivering advanced analytics and personalization tools. They provide intuitive reports that have key metrics on customer behavior, site performance, product sales, content consumption, marketing campaign effectiveness, browser to buyer conversion, customer segment identification and more. Data mining services deliver predictive applications that give the ability to personalize web content, cross-sell and up-sell. Which is how Amazon does it.

Click MIT-tech Review item on Data Mining :

Click Visit San Diego, CA. based Mohomine

Click Digimine's website

Click Good Knowledge Discovery, Data Mining, Web Mining website

The Fabber - 3-D Copier

A fabber (short for "digital fabricator") is a "factory in a box" that makes things automatically from digital data. Fabbers generate three-dimensional, solid objects you can hold in your hands, submit to testing, or assemble into working mechanisms. They are used by manufacturers around the world for low-volume production, prototyping, and mold mastering. They are also used by scientists and surgeons for solid imaging, and by a few modern artists for innovative computerized sculpture. Manufacturers report enormous productivity gains from using fabbers.

Some people have described fabber machines as 3-dimensional Xerox machines, or 3-D faxes. Indeed, both duplication and remote transmission of 3-dimensional geometries have been demonstrated using currently available machines.

The applications of fabbers fall into five basic categories:

  • Direct, low-volume production of products or parts;
  • Industrial models and prototypes;
  • Copy tooling, such as molds and mold patterns;
  • Imaging of scientific, statistical, medical and other 3-D data;
  • Computer sculpture

Click 3-D printers, or Fabbers - first glimpse

Click Go to the Fabber website

Click Review the uses of Fabbers

Software - buy or rent?

Do you buy your software in a shrink-wrapped package? And then, when upgrades and changes inevitably come up, do you simply hold out as long as possible, and then eventually relent and buy the next package? Do you want to own your software or pay-as-you-go?

There have been a lot of big moves recently towards "software as a service". Just last week Sun Microsystems announced its Sun ONE plan, on the heels of Microsoft's .Net initiative and Oracle's "Dynamic Web Services" scheme. This week Hewlett-Packard is slated to join the pack with its own software-as-a-service vision. And there are lots of other companies moving in the same direction.

There are two, somewhat similar, moves afoot : sell access to software as a service; or sell software as an annual subscription. Both are intended to give software companies what they want most -predictable and ongoing revenue streams.

Renting hardware and software powered the IBM colossus in the 1960s and '70s. Mainframe software is still sold this way, with a mandatory annual fee for service, support, and upgrades. By contrast, desktop and small business software still tends to be sold on a per-product or per-user basis.

The Internet presents a chance for software makers to change this. While we've become familiar with online delivery of downloadable applications, Internet providers and software companies also want to get into the application hosting business. With this, all your software - database, e-mail server, accounting packages etc. - are all remote, and accessed over the Internet. The service-provided maintains and customizes the application, plus houses and backs up your data. This will allow some companies to dramatically reduce the size of their corporate IS departments.

Click Bye-bye, buying. Why you'll 'rent' your software soon

Click Microsoft details software-for-rent strategy

Click Software for rent

Claude Shannon dies at 84

Claude Shannon died last weekend (23 Feb. 2001) at the age of 84. More than 50 years ago, he had an idea that changed the world forever. In 1948 he outlined a series of mathematical formulas to reduce communication processes to binary code-known as "bits". He calculated ways to send the maximum number of bits through phone lines, or other modes of communication.

It wasn't until the invention of integrated circuits years later that his formulas could be put to use. Now, they're at the core of the commonplace technologies as diverse as modems, magnetic storage, the Internet and satellite transmissions. Other impressive contributions in mathematics and cryptography followed.

A half-century before Deep Blue beat Russian master Garry Kasparov, Claude Shannon described how to build a chess-playing computer. A distant relative of Thomas Edison, he was perhaps best remembered within the scientific community for his wacky inventions, such as the rocket-powered Frisbee, motorized pogo sticks and a mechanical mouse-in-a-maze. His freewheeling antics included riding his unicycle while juggling.

Claude Shannon was a true original !

Click Biography of Claude Elwood Shannon

Click Collected Papers of Claude Shannon

Click The C-NET story on the passing of Claude Shannon

Extropy-5 Conference - Shaping Things to Come

Many JimPinto.com friends have expressed interest, and even excitement, about Extropy (positive Entropy) - the growth of harmony and order.

Since the first Extropy conference in 1994, there has been tremendous progress in many areas of science and technology. Many of the views of the future that seemed outlandish to some back then now look highly plausible and in some cases imminent. Biotechnology has exploded, with stem cells, telomerase, nuclear transfer, cloning technology and tissue engineering making numerous breakthroughs. Massive areas of the economy are being transformed by information technology.

These changes offer a multitude of benefits. Yet amidst all this we see a growing swell of opposition and fear, calling for restraints on research and open discussion, and promoting a philosophy of pessimism, cynicism and relinquishment. Some of this results from lack of knowledge of the benefits which will be brought about by biotechnologies and information technology in predominantly free market economies. The Extropy Institute promotes the values of progress, reason, science, and practical optimism for the new technologies that that could revitalize and extend lives, and rejuvenate the economy.

The Extro-5 Conference, subtitled "Shaping Things to Come," will take place from June 15th to 17th at the San Jose Hilton and Towers in San Jose, California. As well as having the usual mix of some of the nation's leading scientists, business executives, creative thinkers, and futurists, Extro-5 will also feature extensive discussion time, heightened interaction between attendees and speakers.

There will be 4 main themes :

  • Machine Intelligence-Threat or Opportunity?
  • Thriving in the Information Economy
  • Super longevity and Augmentation: Overcoming Resistance
  • Mastering the Information Explosion

Click Visit the EXTRO-5 CONFERENCE website

Click Go to the Extropy Institute Website


I've had lots of feedback on Napster's possible demise. Now it seems that Bertelsmann (the Publishing Giant and primary owner of Barnes & Noble) is secretly developing software that could be used as a backup, if partner Napster is ordered to shut down. The program, dubbed Snoopstar, is an easy-to-use interface that allows users to search for music, videos and other files downloaded from various file-sharing services that include Napster, Gnutella and iMesh.

The irrepressible Willy Smith [numatico@racsa.co.cr] sent me this link :

Click Bertelsmann testing secret Napster clone

Regarding distributed computing, Jeff Dean [jeffdean@execpc.com] e-wrote on the Automation List :

    "Russ Kinner [Russ.Kinner@avcacorp.com] asked about a business plan that would make money from highly distributed computing (similar to distributed.net or setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu).

    "Data Synapse (www.datasynapse.com) is a company that thinks they have a working model. Like distributed.net, you sign up for it, download their software, and run it all the time. They will send "work" for your computer to do every now and then and actually pay you (in some odd scheme) for the work that was done. The work they dole out will come from both non-profits and for-profit customers (though I have not yet learned of them getting any of those).

    "I ran it for about a week, but then went back to seti@home. I'd much rather find E.T. than help someone with their accounting system."

Andrew Bond [andrew@abpubs.demon.co.uk] (publisher of the UK-based Industrial Automation Insider) e-asked for more information on US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and why European companies like ABB and Siemens would stumble into "gaap-goop".

My response :

    "Explaining US GAAP is simply beyond my comprehensive capabilities. Here are some weblinks that will give you a taste of what GAAP is all about -

Click Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the United States

Click The World according to US GAAP

    "Why will Siemens and ABB fall into "GAAP-goop" ? Because their European systems for accounting for things like accruals and writing off profits and losses are deeply embedded within their companies, and cannot suddenly be re-done to comply with US GAAP. The US stock market analysts are very tuned to GAAP mis-steps and will be merciless with changeovers to US GAAP".

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