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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Businessweek.com had done an indepth feature on former PepsiCo and Apple President John Sculley, who was the last man to manage Steve Jobs! It's one of the more insighful stories i have read about the duo. I posted some insights that John Sculley had about working with and managing Steve Jobs below.
Jobs and Sculley in New York City, 1984 DIANA WALKER/CONTOUR/GETTY IMAGES
Steve Jobs was 28 years old in 1983 and already recognized as one of the most innovative thinkers in Silicon Valley. The Apple (AAPL) board, though, was not ready to anoint him chief executive officer and picked PepsiCo (PEP) President John Sculley, famous for creating the Pepsi Challenge, to lead the company. Sculley helped increase Apple's sales from $800 million to $8 billion annually during his decade as CEO, but he also presided over Jobs' departure, which sent Apple into what Sculley calls its "near-death experience." In his first extensive interview on the subject, Sculley tells Cultofmac.com editor Leander Kahney how his partnership with Jobs came to be, how design ruled—and still rules—everything at Apple, and why he never should have been CEO in the first place.
Sculley reminisces about his experience:
What makes Steve's methodology different from everyone else's is that he always believed the most important decisions you make are not the things you do, but the things you decide not to do. He's a minimalist. I remember going into Steve's house, and he had almost no furniture in it. He just had a picture of Einstein, whom he admired greatly, and he had a Tiffany lamp and a chair and a bed. He just didn't believe in having lots of things around, but he was incredibly careful in what he selected.
Everything at Apple can be best understood through the lens of designing. Whether it's designing the look and feel of the user experience, or the industrial design, or the system design, and even things like how the boards were laid out. The boards had to be beautiful in Steve's eyes when you looked at them, even though when he created the Macintosh he made it impossible for a consumer to get in the box, because he didn't want people tampering with anything.
Apple is famous for the same kind of lifestyle advertising now. It shows people living an enviable lifestyle, courtesy of Apple's products. Hip young people grooving to iPods.
I don't take any credit for it. Steve's brilliance is his ability to see something and then understand it and then figure out how to put it into the context of his design methodology—everything is design.
An anecdotal story: A friend of mine was at meetings at Apple and Microsoft on the same day. And this was in the last year, so this was recently. He went into the Apple meeting (he's a vendor for Apple), and as soon as the designers walked in the room, everyone stopped talking, because the designers are the most respected people in the organization. Everyone knows the designers speak for Steve because they have direct reporting to him. It is only at Apple where design reports directly to the CEO.
Later in the day he was at Microsoft. When he went into the Microsoft meeting, everybody was talking and then the meeting starts and no designers ever walk into the room. All the technical people are sitting there trying to add their ideas of what ought to be in the design. That's a recipe for disaster.
Everyone around him knows he beats to a different drummer. He sets standards that are entirely different than any other CEO would set.
He's a minimalist and constantly reducing things to their simplest level. It's not simplistic. It's simplified. Steve is a systems designer. He simplifies complexity.
The reason why I said it was a mistake to have hired me as CEO was Steve always wanted to be CEO. It would have been much more honest if the board had said, "Let's figure out a way for him to be CEO. You could focus on the stuff that you bring, and he focuses on the stuff he brings."
I'm actually convinced that if Steve hadn't come back when he did—if they had waited another six months—Apple would have been history. It would have been gone, absolutely gone.
Continue reading here.
Big Think Editors @ bigthink.com
New York University economics professor Nouriel Roubini famously predicted the most recent global financial crisis well before most of his peers did. He says he did this simply by looking at the data and considering it in the context of past bubbles. Roubini recently spoke with Big Think about how to see what’s really happening—even when most people don't agree with you.
The economic bubble (and burst) can be a lesson in avoiding group think, explains Roubini. “The issue is not why myself or a few others got them, but why most the people, not just economists, don’t see them coming,” he says of the data of a looming economic collapse that should have set off more alarms. The key problem, he says, is when there is a an economic bubble, “everybody lives in a bubble ... They don’t live in reality and they delude themselves.”
To see a bubble from the inside, Roubini adds, it’s important not to get blinded by your own incentive. "It’s very hard to be independent and speak the truth, even if you can be very smart," he says, if your pay is tied to the results you are expected to produce. Independence from the results provides a clearer picture, he notes.
Continue reading here.
Kevin Bullis @ technologyreview.com states that new solid-state power-management devices will charge cars fast and make the power grid more flexible and efficient.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Lauren Gravitz @ technologyreview.com posts about a new way to create and interpret real-time brain scans could help addicts control their cravings.
Technology might not be advanced enough yet to let people read someone else's mind, but researchers are at least inching closer to helping people to read and control their own. In a study presented last week at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, scientists used a combination of brain-scanning and feedback techniques to train subjects to move a cursor up and down with their thoughts. The subjects could perform this task after just five minutes of training.
The scientists hope to use this information to help addicts learn to control their own brain states and, consequently, their cravings.
Scientists have previously shown that people can learn to consciously control their brain activity if they're shown their brain activity data in real time—a technique called real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Researchers have used this technology effectively to teach people to control chronic pain and depression. They've been pursuing similar feedback methods to help drug users kick their addictions.
But these efforts have been difficult to put into practice. Part of the problem is that scientists have had to choose which part of the brain to focus on, based on existing knowledge of neuroscience. But that approach may miss out on areas that are also important for the particular function under study.
In addition, focusing on a limited region adds extra noise to the system—much like looking too closely at just one swatch of a Pointillist painting—the mix of odd colors doesn't make sense until you step back and see how the dots fit together. Psychologist Anna Rose Childress, Jeremy Magland, and their colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania have overcome this issue by designing a new system of whole-brain imaging and pairing it with an algorithm that let them determine which regions of the brain are most centrally involved in a certain thought process.
Continue reading here.
I came across one of Steve Jobs' lesser known excerpts / Quotes, it gives real insight into his outlook on life at least in his younger years. The following is excerpted from a piece Joe Nocera wrote about Steve Jobs for Esquire in 1986, when Steve Jobs was 31, he had just resigned from Apple and was starting his new company NeXT.
“Whenever you do any one thing intensely over a period of time,” he says, “you have to give up other lives you could be living.” He gives a shrug that implies that this is a small price. “You have to have a real single-minded kind of tunnel vision if you want to get anything significant accomplished,” Again, the same it’s- worth- it shrug. “Especially if the desire is not to be a businessman, but to be a creative person...
But isn’t he a businessman?
“My self- identity does not revolve around being a businessman, though I recognize that is what I do. I think of myself more as a person who builds neat things. I like building neat things. I like making tools that are useful to people. I like working with very bright people. I like interacting in the world of ideas, though somehow those ideas have to be tied to some physical reality. One of the things I like the most is dropping a new idea on a bunch of incredibly smart and talented people and then letting them work it out themselves. I like all of that very, very much.” There is a note of excitement in his voice. “I’ve had lots of girlfriends,” he adds. “But the greatest high in my life was the day we introduced the Macintosh.”
“Apple,” he says slowly, searching for the right analogy, “Apple is like an intense love affair with a girl you really, really like, and then she decides to drop you and go out with someone who’s not so neat.” Lewin, who is sitting next to Jobs, immediately chuckles at the seeming absurdity of the comparison, and that makes Jobs chuckle too. But Jobs truly did love Apple; in a weird way it seems right that he should compare it to a passionate affair.
Mostly he speaks about Apple with more sorrow than anger. There was a time when he thought he would always be connected to it— taking sabbaticals from time to time, but always coming back. Coming home. He clearly regrets that that possibility no longer exists.
He will not say anything at all about Sculley, nor will Sculley speak publicly about Jobs; not long ago the Apple president, under contract to write his autobiography, simply could not bring himself to “tell all” about how he bested Jobs. But both men are obviously saddened by their falling out.
One mutual friend recently bumped into a limo driver who occasionally drives both men. “Whenever Sculley or his wife gets in the car,” the driver said, “the first thing they ask is, ‘How’s Steve?’ ”We have almost arrived in San Francisco. “I think I have five more great products in me,” Jobs says, and then goes off on a long, rambling discourse on the joys of working on computers at this particular moment in history. He compares it to what it must have been like to work for Henry Ford when the automobile was still in its infancy and the technological boundaries were there to be broken. “It must have been the most incredible feeling,” he says, “to know that this was going to change America. And it did!” He grins suddenly. “If we can create the kind of company I think we can, it will give me an extreme amount of pleasure.”
The Price of Progress
Now: Sealed Wheel Bearing Set
Cost: $150Sealed tapered roller bearings are not only structurally stronger, they also don't require periodic greasing or fussy clearance adjustments. And they allow the manufacturer to streamline the production—no mess or adjusting, just slap the cartridge onto the spindle in seconds. Upside for the consumer: They generally last the life of the car.
Now: Key Fob
Cost: $299 and upThe compelling reason for high-end key fobs is antitheft. The better fobs use a rolling code with millions of passwords that change with every start. Remote and proximity unlocking are just gravy. Seeing as how it's considered a luxury item, you pay through the nose. Work-around: Look in the aftermarket or on eBay for replacements, although you may still require the dealer to program it.
Now: Synthetic ATF +5
Cost: $7.99/qtHigher underhood temperatures, locking torque converters with more heat-producing friction and the lowered maintenance expectations of consumers make car manufacturers specify synthetic fluid for use in their automatic transmissions. And many vehicles use as much as 12 to 14 quarts. Upside: The expensive stuff is supposed to last for the life of the vehicle.
Now: ABS Controller
Cost: $600 and upABS controllers contain not only a lot of complicated electronics, but delicate high-pressure pumps to cycle the brakes off and on and eliminate locked wheels under braking. Rarely, a skillful driver can match the ABS's prowess, but who has that presence of mind in a panic stop? Aside from the controller, there are tone wheels and sensors that also need occasional replacement.
Now: Composite HID Lamp
Cost: $300 and upOddly enough, sealed-beam headlights were mandated in the 1940s to ensure that the reflectors didn't corrode and reduce lighting efficiency. Modern composite headlamps are generally much brighter and far less likely to be broken by a stone and usually integrate the turn signals. But they're very expensive to replace and can collect condensation and eventually haze over, requiring periodic polishing.
Physics Arxiv Blog @ MIT
The idea that life boils down to chemistry is being usurped by a much more ambitious idea, says two of the world's leading biophysicists.
Nigel Goldenfeld and Carl Woese at the University of Illinois suggest that biologists need to think about their field in a radical new way: as a branch of condensed matter physics. Their basic conjecture is that life is an emergent phenomena that occurs in systems that are far out of equilibrium. If you accept this premise, then two questions immediately arise: what laws describe such systems and how are we to get at them.
Goldenfeld and Woese say that biologists' closed way of thinking on this topic is embodied by the phrase: all life is chemistry. Nothing could be further from the truth, they say.
They have an interesting analogy to help press their case: the example of superconductivity. It would be easy to look at superconductivity and imagine that it can be fully explained by the properties of electrons as they transfer in and out of the outer atomic orbitals. You might go further and say that superconductivity is all atoms and chemistry.
And yet the real explanation is much more interesting and profound. It turns out that many of the problems of superconductivity are explained by a theory which describes the relationship between electromagnetic fields and long range order. When the symmetry in this relationship breaks down, the result is superconductivity.
And it doesn't just happen in materials on Earth. This kind of symmetry breaking emerges in other exotic places such as the cores of quark stars. Superconductivity is an emergent phenomenon and has little to do with the behaviour of atoms. A chemist would be flabbergasted.
According to Goldenfeld and Woese, life is like superconductivity. It is an emergent phenomenon and we need to understand the fundamental laws of physics that govern its behaviour. Consequently, only a discipline akin to physics can reveal such laws and biology as it is practised today does not fall into this category.
continue reading here.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
There are 10 tell-tale signs that a bubble is being blown:■ 1. The arrival of a "New Thing" that cannot be valued in the old way. Dumb-money companies start paying over the odds for New Thing acquisitions.■ 2. Smart people identify the start of a bubble; New Thing apostles make ever more glowing claims.■ 3. Startups with founders deemed to have "pedigree" (for example, former employees of New Thing companies) get funded at eye-watering valuations for next to no reason.■ 4. There is a flurry of new investment funds catering for startups.■ 5. Companies start getting funded "off the slide deck" (that is, purely on the basis of their PowerPoint presentations) without actually having a product.■ 6. MBAs leave banks to start up firms.■ 7. The "big flotation" happens.■ 8. Banks make a market in the New Thing, investing pension money.■ 9. Taxi drivers start giving you advice on what stock to buy.■ 10. A New Thing darling buys an old-world company for stupid money. The end is nigh.
Ben Hardwidge @ bit-tech.net
A single graphene sheet measures just one atom-thick, potentially paving the way tiny transistors.
IBM has revealed that graphene can't yet fully replace silicon inside CPUs, as a graphene transistor can't actually be completely switched off.
In an interview for a forthcoming Custom PC feature about chip-building materials, Yu-Ming Lin from IBM Research - Nanometer Scale Science and Technology told us that 'graphene as it is will not replace the role of silicon in the digital computing regime.'
continue reading here.
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new device that represents a significant advance for computer memory, making large-scale “server farms” more energy efficient and allowing computers to start more quickly.
Traditionally, there are two types of computer memory devices. Slow memory devices are used in persistent data storage technologies such as flash drives. They allow us to save information for extended periods of time, and are therefore called nonvolatile devices. Fast memory devices allow our computers to operate quickly, but aren’t able to save data when the computers are turned off. The necessity for a constant source of power makes them volatile devices.
But now a research team from NC State has developed a single “unified” device that can perform both volatile and nonvolatile memory operation and may be used in the main memory.
Continue reading here.
“Computing with Novel Floating-Gate Devices”
Authors: Daniel Schinke, Neil Di Spigna, Mihir Shiveshwarkar and Paul Franzon, North Carolina State University
Published: Feb. 10, IEEE’s Computer
Abstract: The authors report on the design, operation, and architectural implications of single and double floating-gate devices for non-traditional applications enabling low-power FPGAs and analog-to-digital converters, and propose a unified nonvolatile/volatile memory device.
From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever. http://storyofstuff.org
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Professor Roy F. Baumeister gave this interesting talk way back in 2007. Prof. Baumeister mentions Larry Summer and his comments about the Lack of female Physics Professors at Harvard:
Stereotypes at Harvard
I said that today most people hold more favorable stereotypes of women than men. It was not always thus. Up until about the 1960s, psychology (like society) tended to see men as the norm and women as the slightly inferior version. During the 1970s, there was a brief period of saying there were no real differences, just stereotypes. Only since about 1980 has the dominant view been that women are better and men are the inferior version.
The surprising thing to me is that it took little more than a decade to go from one view to its opposite, that is, from thinking men are better than women to thinking women are better than men. How is this possible?
I’m sure you’re expecting me to talk about Larry Summers at some point, so let’s get it over with! You recall, he was the president of Harvard. As summarized in The Economist, “Mr Summers infuriated the feminist establishment by wondering out loud whether the prejudice alone could explain the shortage of women at the top of science.” After initially saying, it’s possible that maybe there aren’t as many women physics professors at Harvard because there aren’t as many women as men with that high innate ability, just one possible explanation among others, he had to apologize, retract, promise huge sums of money, and not long afterward he resigned.
What was his crime? Nobody accused him of actually discriminating against women. His misdeed was to think thoughts that are not allowed to be thought, namely that there might be more men with high ability. The only permissible explanation for the lack of top women scientists is patriarchy — that men are conspiring to keep women down. It can’t be ability. Actually, there is some evidence that men on average are a little better at math, but let’s assume Summers was talking about general intelligence. People can point to plenty of data that the average IQ of adult men is about the same as the average for women. So to suggest that men are smarter than women is wrong. No wonder some women were offended.
But that’s not what he said. He said there were more men at the top levels of ability. That could still be true despite the average being the same — if there are also more men at the bottom of the distribution, more really stupid men than women. During the controversy about his remarks, I didn’t see anybody raise this question, but the data are there, indeed abundant, and they are indisputable. There are more males than females with really low IQs. Indeed, the pattern with mental retardation is the same as with genius, namely that as you go from mild to medium to extreme, the preponderance of males gets bigger.
All those retarded boys are not the handiwork of patriarchy. Men are not conspiring together to make each other’s sons mentally retarded.
Almost certainly, it is something biological and genetic. And my guess is that the greater proportion of men at both extremes of the IQ distribution is part of the same pattern. Nature rolls the dice with men more than women. Men go to extremes more than women. It’s true not just with IQ but also with other things, even height: The male distribution of height is flatter, with more really tall and really short men.
Again, there is a reason for this, to which I shall return.
For now, the point is that it explains how we can have opposite stereotypes. Men go to extremes more than women. Stereotypes are sustained by confirmation bias. Want to think men are better than women? Then look at the top, the heroes, the inventors, the philanthropists, and so on. Want to think women are better than men? Then look at the bottom, the criminals, the junkies, the losers.
In an important sense, men really are better AND worse than women.
Continue reading here.
A visualization of how many tweets were sent on New Year's Eve 2010 in the United States.
Twitter's Biz Stone On Starting A Revolution:
On his reaction when the Internet was blocked during the recent Egypt protests
"Sadly, we've seen this happen. We've seen our services shut down before, but it was shocking to see the entire Internet shut down [in Egypt]. We'd talked about this before privately amongst ourselves. You can shut down a service and yet people will find ways to communicate. But we joked amongst ourselves [that] you'd have to shut down the entire Internet, you'd have to shut down the entire mobile phone structure if you really wanted to stop people from communicating. And then suddenly, we have news that the Internet is being shut down. And that was just an amazing thing to think about. Because you're not just shutting down communication between people who may or may not be opposing your regime, you're shutting down everything — commerce, all communication among individuals, emergency communication, everything. That's just mind-blowing to me."
"How a revolution comes to be is a mystery to me," he says. "It's important to credit the brave people that take chances to stand up to regimes. They're the star. What I like to think of services like Twitter and other services is that it's kind of a supporting role. We're there to facilitate and to foster and to accelerate those folks' missions."
Continue reading here.
Logan Ward | theatlantic.com
From his childhood in segregated Mobile, Alabama, to his run-ins with a nay-saying scientific establishment, the engineer Lonnie Johnson has never paid much heed to those who told him what he could and couldn’t accomplish. Best known for creating the state-of-the-art Super Soaker squirt gun, Johnson believes he now holds the key to affordable solar power.
In March 2003, the independent inventor Lonnie Johnson faced a roomful of high-level military scientists at the Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Virginia. Johnson had traveled there from his home in Atlanta, seeking research funding for an advanced heat engine he calls the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter, or JTEC (pronounced “jay-tek”). At the time, the JTEC was only a set of mathematical equations and the beginnings of a prototype, but Johnson had made the tantalizing claim that his device would be able to turn solar heat into electricity with twice the efficiency of a photovoltaic cell, and the Office of Naval Research wanted to hear more.
Continue reading here.
Frontline (PBS) documentary highlighting Facilitated Communication (FC) is not effective with patients with autism, cerebral palsy and other disorders
|facilitated communication art... 8480 (Photo credit: korafotomorgana)|
ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE, "Prisoners of Silence." Full Transcript
Matt Taibbi @ nypress.com [Jun 2005] had an "interesting" take on Tom Friedman's book "The World Is Flat".
"On an ideological level, Friedman's new book is the worst, most boring kind of middlebrow horseshit. If its literary peculiarities could somehow be removed from the equation, The World Is Flat would appear as no more than an unusually long pamphlet replete with the kind of plug-filled, free-trader leg-humping that passes for thought in this country. It is a tale of a man who walks 10 feet in front of his house armed with a late-model Blackberry and comes back home five minutes later to gush to his wife that hospitals now use the internet to outsource the reading of CAT scans. Man flies on planes, observes the wonders of capitalism, says we're not in Kansas anymore. (He actually says we're not in Kansas anymore.) That's the whole plot right there. If the underlying message is all that interests you, read no further, because that's all there is."
Continue reading here.
David Gorski @ sciencebasedmedicine.org takes a detailed look at the genetics of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). He elaborates that:Autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) actually represent a rather large continuum of conditions that range from very severe neurodevelopmental delay and abnormalities to the relatively mild. In severe cases, the child is nonverbal and displays a fairly well-characterized set of behaviors, including repetitive behaviors such as “stimming” (for example, hand flapping, making sounds, head rolling, and body rocking.), restricted behavior and focus, ritualistic behavior, and compulsive behaviors. In more mild cases, less severe compulsion, restriction of behavior and focus, and ritualistic behaviors do not necessarily preclude functioning independently in society, but such children and adults may have significant difficulties with social interactions and communication. Because ASDs represent a wide spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders whose symptoms typically first manifest themselves to parents between the ages of two and three, the idea that vaccines cause autism and ASDs has been startlingly difficult to dislodge and has fueled an anti-vaccine movement, both here in the U.S. and in other developed nations, particularly the U.K. and Australia. This movement has been stubbornly resistant to multiple scientific studies that have failed to find any link between vaccines in autism or the other favorite bogeyman of the anti-vaccine movement, the mercury-containing thimerosal preservative that used to be in many childhood vaccines in the U.S. until the end of 2001. Add to that the rising apparent prevalence of ASDs, and, confusing correlation with causation, the anti-vaccine movement concludes that vaccines must be the reason for the “autism epidemic.” Continue reading here.
By Beryl Lieff Benderly | Miller-McCune magazineIt’s not insufficient schooling or a shortage of scientists. It’s a lack of job opportunities. Americans need the reasonable hope that spending their youth preparing to do science will provide a satisfactory career.
For many decades, and especially since the United States attained undisputed pre-eminence in science during World War II, a parade of cutting-edge technologies has accounted for much of America’s economic growth. Countless good jobs now ride on whether the Next Big Thing — and the several things after that — will be developed in America and not, as many fear, in China, India, the European Union, Japan, Korea or another of the powers now producing large numbers of scientists and engineers.
Continue reading here.
How's about the big bang or the lack thereof for a start!Lisa Zyga @ PhysOrg.com points out an interesting idea,
By suggesting that mass, time, and length can be converted into one another as the universe evolves, Wun-Yi Shu has proposed a new class of cosmological models that may fit observations of the universe better than the current big bang model. What this means specifically is that the new models might explain the increasing acceleration of the universe without relying on a cosmological constant such as dark energy, as well as solve or eliminate other cosmological dilemmas such as the flatness problem and the horizon problem. Continue reading here.
More information: Wun-Yi Shu. "Cosmological Models with No Big Bang." arXiv:1007.1750v1
via: The Physics ArXiv Blog
There are so many interesting articles that are posted online these days and it’s really hard to keep track of them and save them in an efficient manner. I always forget some detail or want to look up that one interesting article I read like a week ago but I have no idea where I found it. So my blog serves the purpose of sharing links that I find interesting and it may also help others like me or it may even become a medium of discovery. I can hopefully update/maintain it.