Recent stories about the NCSA cluster computer built out of Sony PS2's mention that the physical modeling "emotion engine" specs out at 6.5 gips. The polygon/rendering chip in the same consumer product comes in around 50gips, albeit rather special purpose instructions. That's what the market will bear to support the output side of a man/machine control loop through the visual sense.
Meanwhile, algorithms to support voice input by cleaning up noise and separating speakers spec out (PDF) in the mid tens of mips, as much as three orders of magnitude difference. That's a stunning difference in willingness to pay for this sense compared to vision. Is this an anomoly to be rectified in due course, or a true reflection of actual or perceived value in the man/machine interface?
Update: See Kokoro's dissection of the architecture of the next generation PlayStation core chip.
In the Gulf War, equipment, fuel, and food poured slowly into Kuwait. It took 25 to 30 days for an item, once ordered, to arrive. Now it takes little more than a week. When soldiers in Afghanistan said they needed saddles, they were delivered in four days. In Iraq, each shipped item had a radio transmitter tag rather than a bar code. It could instantly be determined exactly where the item was and how soon it would arrive. Major General Dennis Jackson, Centcom's logistics boss, is a fan of Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO who established a state-of-the-art distribution system. Jackson may have gone Bezos one step better. During the war, he told Franks the military now has the capability to feed its troops in the field forever.
New tech analysis and gadget fetish blog from Japan
Check out Kokoro, from Yuichi Kawasaki. Good chewy stuff for those watching the mobile scene in Japan. Check out the cool toys that most of us can't have because we live in the wrong place! Next best thing to trolling through Akihabara -this one is going on the blogroll. Check out the avatar based chat and 3D games, both on mobiles.
Two more interesting pieces on infrastructure to support micro-publishing (or other small transactions):
Andrew Odlyzko - one of this blog's Analysts of Note - explains why micropayments will never take off. I can provide first-hand corroboration for one of his points: "consumers are willing to pay more for flat-rate plans than for metered ones" - this turned up clearly in usage vs. revenue analysis when I was running Sprynet for CompuServe. Read section 6 for the priceless story of an AOL customer convinced she was being cheated by paying less.
I do so love it when my respected sources agree. Heh! Actually, they're not that far apart. Odlyzko is talking down the purist form of atomic, immediate microtransactions, and Scott is noticing some clever tricks that Apple may be using to aggregate its transactions into the conventional payment systems. They may both being saying 'evolution not revolution.'
Lessig blogs and ignites discussion of a story that comes around periodically: efforts by retailers and other venues to curtail customer use of cameras on premises. They're within their rights - it's private property. But is there any question how this one will eventually end? Lessee:
WiFi spots popping up at coffee shops, especially Starbux. Soon to be competitively necessary amenity for any hangout location.
Digicam enabled 'sha-mail' mobiles soon 100% share of selling edge in Japan and Korea. Coming eventually to a carrier near you, no matter how clue challenged. Showing up first with the high-spending young adults that - um - every retailer wants.
Dual moding WiFi mobiles not too much further away. VoIP adds more possible value to hotspots (tariff avoidance).
Image sensor costs dropping like a rock, ditto WiFi PHY/MAC chips. Coming to a PDA/iPOD/laptop/digicam/whoknows mutant device near you soon.
And they're going to continue keeping this out of venues how??? Jammers? Time to get ahead of the issue before it becomes a bigger embarrassment. And if a merchandising strategy is really based on some expectation of privacy against customers, take it out to the junkheap along with the fools who are still clutching that straw.
Update: Cory has more on the story at BoingBoing. Flacks claiming there is 'no policy' for non-media photo taking, which may mean it's effectively in store managers' hands. And exactly how do you sort out the media from the bloggers from the just-plain-folks?
Want to know why early stage VCs pale at the phrase 'pay to play' and founding entrepreneurs twitch when they hear 'liquidation preference'? Check out this great explanation of VC jargon at VentureBlog. Learn to talk like a VC, and bore your friends just like we do!
A bemusing first a few days ago: an e-mail to the blog address, recommending a VC related story on a business oriented web site (I didn't bite). Return address at a New York PR agency. Not a spam, a low-key, professional message from someone who obviously knew at least the topical area of this blog. Considering that I've yet to become even an Insignificant Microbe in the blogosphere, someone had been doing their homework, and evidently thinks adding the 'tail of the power law curve' to the media contacts list is worthwhile. Very interesting. Anyone else seeing this, outside of those like Doc and Howard who are known routes into print?