JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 19 : October 4, 2000
- Time for a webcam
- Read an eBook
- Telecosm - George Gilders new book
- Funpad while you wait
- Roxboro - staying public after all
- eFeedback - Automation in decline
Reach out and SEE someone!
You know, yesterday I bought a small digital camera which looks like a
pen - for $80.00. I can whip it out and take a picture anytime - makes me
feel like Jimmy Bond. To see the pictures, I connect it to my PC via the
USB port. And, when connected, it serves as a "webcam" - to show live
pictures on the web.
Predictions are for webcam sales to jump from 3.5 million units in '99 to
35 million units in 2004. That dramatic increase is for good reason -
webcams continue to get cheaper and better. Today, you can pick one up for
less than $100.
With broadband rolling out across the country and webcams cheaper than
ever, now might be the right time for you to buy one. They provide a means
of greater interaction with friends and family; instead of telling mom
about your new home, give her an online tour. Grandpa wants to see the
baby? Hold the little tyke up to the PC.
Take a look at the best webcams on the market and check out the downloads
that let you capture video and post them online.
Look at PC Magazine webcams Editor's Choice
Take a look at the Pen-cam Trio I bought the other day
Read an eBook
I used to take a good book with me on my long trips to Europe. But, I
couldn't take more than one or two, and after I'd finished, I used to lug
it back home (cheap-skate). These days, I've been reading more and more
e-books while I travel. It takes some getting used to, but I can even curl
up with one in bed. You can find everything from the latest mystery
thriller to technology books and academic tomes.
Thinkaboutit - a publisher prepares a copy of a book, using a press to
print on paper cut from a tree, binds it in book-format, stores it in a
warehouse and then sends it to a bookstore for you to buy and keep till you
get to read it. Why not simply send it to you electronically in a few
seconds, to read in a format of your choice?
The popularity of e-books clearly is growing, but it remains to be seen
just how viable the medium is. Writer Stephen King recently released a book
online and publishing house Simon & Schuster, which has been an early
adopter of electronic publishing, just last week announced its first full
season of original e-books, to be published soon.
Amazon.com has selected Microsoft Reader™ software as the preferred format
for its planned e-book store. You can purchase and download e-book titles
directly and read them in this format. The reader includes ClearType™
display technology that improves font resolution on LCD screens for users
of desktop or laptop PCs. Competitors include Glassbook, Gemstar's Rocket
eBook and Softbook, among others. BarnesandNoble.com already has an e-book
store online and offers readers their choice of a variety of formats.
The Microsoft Reader offers the pleasure of reading enhanced by electronic
reading software with ClearType technology, which is supposed to provide an
enjoyable on-screen reading experience.
Download Microsoft Reader
Microsoft Reader eBook titles
Free software to read eBooks on your Palm or Windows CE PDA
The Rocket eBook - and some available titles
Telecosm - Gilder's new book
This long-awaited, new (Sept. 2000) book is a bible of the new age of
communications. To seek the key to the future, look to communication power,
or bandwidth, which is exploding; its abundance is the most important fact
of our time. One of the great technological visionaries of this age,
Gilder's track record of futurist predictions is one of the best.
The book starts like this:
"The computer age is over.
After a cataclysmic
global run of thirty years, it has given birth to the age of the telecosm -
the world enabled and defined by new communications technology. Chips and
software will continue to make great contributions to our lives, but the
action is elsewhere. To seek the key to great wealth and to understand the
bewildering ways that high tech is restructuring our lives, look not to
chip speed but to communication power, or bandwidth. Bandwidth is
exploding, and its abundance is the most important social and economic fact
of our time. "
Equal parts science story, business history, social analysis and
prediction, this book makes sense of the titanic changes underway. It is
difficult to read - but read it!
Look at George Gilder's Telecosm
Funpad - while you wait
While you wait for a table in the restaurant, you can have a computer with
an 8-inch color, touch-sensitive LCD screen, a Pentium CPU, Windows, 128
Mbytes of memory, 1 gigabyte of disk storage and stereo audio, with
wireless networking. It will display the seating arrangements available, so
that you can make an immediate selection or choose to wait; it will show
you the menu and take your order; you can check your email and the latest
stock market gyrations; and if there is still time, you can entertain
yourself with a video-game or play backgammon.....
Too expensive for the restaurant? Not really - the cost is subsidized by
on-screen advertising - and of course it makes the restaurant more
efficient. Apparently, restaurants like TGI Friday's and Denny’s are
already testing out the concept.
Take a look at FunPad
Roxboro - Staying Public
I had previously reported (eNews, July 3, 2000) that Roxboro, the UK
Company, was "going private". The company was working with Schroder, a
venture-capital firm, to fund an exit from what seemed to be a relatively
poor valuation in the stock market.
Read the original Roxboro going private story
Now, with higher profits, news comes that Roxboro has pulled out of talks
with the VCs and has made a decision to remain public. When the buy-out
talks were first revealed in June, Roxboro's shares were trading at 267
1/2p. Yesterday they fell 14 1/2p to 296 1/2p. Not a big difference, and
one wonders how strong that price is, given the present fragile market
There continues to be pressure on companies in unfashionable sectors such
as construction, property and engineering to find ways of boosting their
share price and increasing shareholder value. Boards of almost any company
in the automation business have had discussions about a buy-out. But for
some companies good news - or bad - can mean that a buy-out/buy-in is no
longer appropriate. If business improves, it is more viable for a company
to remain public, and if it worsens, an alternative means of rescue must be
Harry Tee, CEO of Roxboro commented:
"Venture capitalists are not
interested in the value of the company now, but in what they can extract in
three years' time. They want deals that will provide an internal rate of
return of 30 per cent plus a safety margin in the price. We were not under
performing and we felt we would have been selling out cheaply."
Harry sent me this hot- link to the Roxboro website, with the comment:
"Sometimes a business is doing too well to take private."
Link to the Roxboro website, with their latest news
Take a look at the Financial Times story (Sep 20, 2000)
There was a lotttt of discussion on the Automation List, about my article :
Q&A session - Automation in Decline
Review Automation in Decline
Check The Automation List, see discussion transcripts & sign-up
Michel A. Levesque, Directeur Bureau Montreal, AIA Inc.
"Perhaps the global market is not
declining - maybe just the major market (North America) but not worldwide.
If the entire industry is on the decline, then why are we not out looking
for other jobs?"
Jim Pinto response: Ah! But, many in the industry are laid off and
looking for new jobs. Take a look around you. The consolidations among the
majors are causing a lot of divestitures and cutbacks.
This reminds me of a joke-truism:
When someone else is laid off, it's a Recession.
When you are laid off, it a Depression".
"The industry is
overcrowded; there are too many manufacturers. Just look at any of the
instrumentation and control magazines - dozens and dozens of boring ads
hawking the same, tired equipment. You only need so many sensors,
controllers, PLCs, HMIs, etc., etc., etc."
Jim Pinto comments: Whew! Isn't that the truth! They advertise commodities,
with a variety of flavors. Perhaps this is why the magazines do NOT talk
about Automation in decline. They don't wish to scare off their
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