RIP, Sir Arthur C. Clarke. I was in a seventh grade reading class, and had run through all the required in-classroom assignments, when my teacher reached into her desk drawer and came up with something to keep me amused. The first book in the stack wasn't by Clarke, it was Asimov's Pebble in the Sky, but the second or third was Clarke's 'The Wind from the Sun'. As Bruce Webster said in his great obit, that was two of the big three of the time right there (I came to Heinlein later). I'd been introduced to Tolkien's work the year before, and the combination of greats produced a fascination, if not sometime addiction, to speculative fiction and fantasy. My copies of Clarke's later works have since gone off to war, but I was unable to part with his early stories: Winds, 'Against The Fall of Night' and 'Tales from the White Hart' are still right here. Thank you for a life-long pleasure, Sir Arthur.
Trouble on the Network Line. The wireless network at the home office has been up and down all week for causes still not completely diagnosed. A bad combination with limited mobility. It did get me over my case of procrastination in replacing an aged 'Snow' version Apple Airport, so there's a brand new Airport Extreme sitting here for installation over the weekend. Blogging will become more frequent when I don't have to crutch my way up and down stairs to get at the network.
The Second Act Begins. The surgeon likes the progress on my leg's healing, so now I'm up to 50% weight bearing, and on crutches rather than a walker. And my physical therapist proved to me this morning that 50% is actually more than that ankle really want to hold up just yet. A tib-fib break this bad dumps lots of coagulated blood and other junk into the ankle and even knee joint. I'll probably be back to being able to carry full weight well before I have the flexibility to fully use it. Next milestone: Enough ankle flex to run the accelerator and brake!
Morita-san Must Be Spinning In His Grave. It took Sony decades to build up from exporting cheap transistor radios to having a brand that could command a premium price for its Trinitrons and other audio and video components. It appears all that brand equity is being frittered away over about the same period. Sony entirely lost its Walkman position in the transition to MP3, compromised by its content investments. It's an also-ran in flat panel TV - the Koreans are duking it out for the lead position. Then the root kit fiasco, again propelled by its content bias. Now the company wants to charge customers $49 for removing the pre-installed bloatware on its Vaio laptops. And then backed down under pressure within 24 hours - of course leaving the Web debris to come up on any future searches about the Vaio. I suppose I can in some sense understand the reasoning - I'm sure there are bounties from signups and upgrades from the preloads that are figured into the product's P&L - but a few clues by the relevant product managers would have told them the downside was much worse. Sony seems to have lost its way in the network age, and I'm guessing it's not going to find it until the shareholders unsheathe their kitanas and take a few management heads. This kind of tin ear tends to start at the top.
Telling The Story, Missing The Point. Via the Blogfather, Popular Mechanics touts Konarka's Power Plastic polymer solar cells and substrate. The company is going after roll-to-roll processing to drastically reduce the costs of solar power. Good so far, but the magazine then fails completely to ask or research the questions that determine whether it's of any use: What's the efficiency? How does that substrate hold up under the sun it's meant to capture? And why is this product still in vapor three years after it was given an innovation award? That's the kind of thing customers or investors might like to know, not a few quotes wrapped around a press release.