Posts

Showing posts from 2009

The End of the Web as We Know It?

We know it as a platform where: website or other on-line source (any web site or media store like iTunes), media (e.g. MP3), local software or client (e.g. Media Player) and device (PC, Mac, Phone, Flash Drive, Netbook ...) are not coupled with each other. Many competing companies are providing products or services for each of the components. This open model resulted in huge innovation over the last two decades, and spawned a lot of competition in creating the websites, media formats, software and the devices, driving the price down and quality up. All this possibly at the expense of the content providers who have huge problems protecting their content, because, to be universally playable, all parts of the system need to be well documented and interoperable, with any kind of security and copy protection clumsily pasted on top of it all. Apple Closing the Web? Kindle, Nook and much of the Apple Store stuff signal a possible end of this model. But with music and videos is it a lot like p

Wishlist for a Perfect Twitter Client

From time to time I get unhappy with my twitter experience and join the install party, trying out new clients. So far I did not find a perfect one. This is what I want: handle multiple accounts allow me to define groups of people I follow allow the "join" and "filter" operations over streams of tweets (sounds complicated but it is in fact an enable of so many features. Think of filter like Gmail's labels and think of join like Google Reader's folder). example of a "join" would be to show a single stream of all friends' tweets across all my accounts examples of a "filter" operation would be to split a stream into groups, mentions, directs ... notifications should be based on configurable filters too show one stream (per account or not) of all directs, sents and mentions (it is a join). sort messages with new on top OR old on top (I like reading from old to new, top to bottom) display whole discussion thread at a click of a button

Apple solves the magnetic MacBook lid problem

Image
One simply has to love some features of the aluminum unibody MacBooks. Like the magnetic lid "lock". Not only it keeps the lid closed, the magnet has no moving parts, so there is nothing that could break. The design is clean. The magnet is also radiating magnetic energy, bending properly the cosmic waves and preventing the carpal tunnel syndrome. And if you keep the MacBook on your lap, as a laptop, the magnet is well positioned to heel your body. But many users are reporting problems with the magnetic lid lock. Mac simply would not stay shut. If I put it vertically in my trusty Tumi bag, for example, it springs opens for about 5 millimeters. Like on the picture below: This is quite annoying, because you don't know what will happen in the bag. If it opens some more it would wake Mac up from sleep mode. It happened to me a few times, even if it was bumped closed again it stayed on, drained the battery, got hot, very hot ... Not very pleasant at all, because in the bag

Yes we can! Give an award.

Awarding president Obama the Nobel Prize for peace shows how desperate the West is for leadership out of the economic, social and environmental crisis; for leadership in the times when it is worried about its decline. It demonstrates how clueless it is about matters of the future. Instead, the bubbly economy and the virtual media society could use a reminder that deeds, not words matter. The news about Obama’s Nobel was broken to me on Friday morning via Twitter. In deep mistrust I followed the link to a page which looked quite professional, and had a link to a video from a news conference; live from Oslo, it said. An elderly man in a small room with a couple of reporters. Could be a hoax. Well done. But not impossible, given the trick they tried to pull. Then the news started to come in from major agencies and news sites but I still could not believe it. With all due respect to the energy, passion and hope that president Obama brought into the global politics, where was the achievemen

Carbon Tax: Fiscal Exit Strategy of the Crisis

In the summer of 2008, when the fuel prices were at their highest, I published an  op-ed in the European Voice . I supported the idea that president Sarkozy had at the time, namely, to reduce the VAT and excise duties on petrol, to make it cheaper. The argument was that if the CO2 is indeed the enemy then it should have a price, and this price needs to be the same regardless if CO2 is emitted by a car, a powerplant or a production of a steak. In  January on this blog  I criticized the idea of NASA’s Jim Hanson to tax carbon at the port of entry. Not only it would create trade wars and will be seen as an excuse for protectionism, it will make the economies of countries with such tax less competitive to economies without the tax. Exactly the same is the problem with carbon caps and emission trading schemes. Carbon intensive industries are “leaked” to countries where such measures do not exist. Today I am reading about president  Sarkozy’s proposal for a carbon tax.  This is a step in the

Fly me to the moon!

July 20 1969 is one of those dates that many of us remember. I was 7 then. We had a black and white TV with a cherry wood casing and yellowish buttons and dials. There was only one TV channel and most of the time it was airing not Slovenian but Yugoslav programs. However, TV Ljubljana was perhaps the only TV station from behind the iron curtain that had a live transmission of the moon landing. One of the commentators was an engineer, a colleague of my father, otherwise specializing in geology and earthquakes. Yes, it was a big step for mankind. Are we still making steps or do we prefer sitting in the pub? In June I visited the Smithsonian in Washington DC. Hollywood has this ability to show space travel, rockets, and shiny equipment as if they were out of this world. But in a museum you see the real stuff. A computer that has less capacity than the processor in my microwave. The knobs, the buttons, the wiring, the clothing and zippers, primitive even compered to my skiing outfit. It al

Courts Unfit for Digital Society

France passed a law on digital piracy.  FT reports : Internet users who download films and music without paying for them would get three warnings before being cut off for up to a year. Until now action against illegal file sharing has been a matter for the French courts. The debate in Europe is not if Internet piracy is legal or not, but whether we uphold the rule of law and make sure that a court has to decide to block a person off the internet, or this can be done by some other authority. Imagine that the highway toll collectors could ban people from using the highways if they though they are transporting fake Gucci bags: Lawyers say France’s move to cut the courts out of the issue of internet access may contravene the European Convention of Human Rights and could spark conflict with Brussels. Long awaited reform of EU telecoms regulation has been held up by disagreements over whether the courts should be involved. The bigger issue at stake here is   are courts fit for the speed of t

You can’t stop the game

  Speaking of Global Governance and ideas on how new financial regulation will make future crises impossible, a quote from the movie “ Other People’s Money ” comes to mind: Kate Sullivan : Someday, we’ll smarten up, change some laws, and put you  out of business . Lawrence Garfield : You can change all the laws you want.  You can’t stop the game . I’ll still be here. I adapt.

How the Internet is Changing Government Agendas

The world is in a transition from industrial and information economy into conceptual economy. Value is in meaning, not in function. The resource of this economy are talents. They are empowered by information and communication technologies.  The game is how to make use of all this talent. Businesses do open innovation, governments should do open government. It does not end with transparency, it is about how decision-making in a society would rely on as many good brains as possible. You do this by (a) letting people, individuals, not governments decide and (b) when government has to make decisions, it should do it in an open way – provide a platform for reaching decisions and agreements among stakegolders. Governments must take steps to support this conceptual economy. They should (a) create, attract, retain and empower talent, (b) provide technical infrastructure (internet for all) such that does not stifle innovation and competition and (c) think what kind of intellectual property righ

Optimism Gap in the EU too

Image
  On his blog,   Daniel Pink is writing   about the   CNN poll   that is finding, that people have a much more positive view on their personal situation than on the state of economy in general. And concludes: If enough people think everyone else is doomed, eventually they’ll doom themselves. How true. A Eurobarometer study reports the same story as the CNN survey. Note the huge discrepancy between the perceived financial situation of a household (64% at least rather good) and that of the economic situation in the World (only 20%), the EU (33%) and the home country (29% very good or rather good). This crisis is a result of many different factors and it will not be resolved by a single silver bullet. Many things will have to be addressed, in a coordinated way. The general fear and pessimism is one of them.

Nanny, please turn down the volume

Since the young in the West take peace between Germany and France for granted, and the young in the East got used to democracy without a fear of communism, the European Union and its institutions seems to be running out heroic missions. To be relevant to the “citizen” the EU needs to provide useful services that are making life easier for the businesses and improving the quality of life the people rather than make history. The European institutions are permanently looking for ways to present themselves useful and relevant to the citizen, so that he or she would eventually improve its attitude towards the European project and look up to Brussels with a similar admiration as when the idea of a common market helped the continent out of the ashes. And there are plenty of ways being offered by all kinds of NGOs, pressure groups and lobbysts. A few days ago  Euractiv reported  on dangers of iPods: Consumer groups have asked the Commission to “revise existing safety standards” to protect user

Tax carbon, but not Hanson's way

In a  letter to Michelle and Barack Obama, NASA’s Jim Hanson  makes some valid critique of the “cap and trade” approach to the reduction of CO2 emissions that we also embraced in Europe: Policies being discussed in national and international circles now, which focus on ‘goals’ for emission reduction and ‘cap and trade,’ have the same basic approach as the Kyoto Protocol. This approach is ineffectual and not commensurate with the climate threat. It could waste another decade, locking in disastrous consequences for our planet and humanity. “Cap and trade” generates special interests, lobbyists, and trading schemes, yielding non productive millionaires, all at public expense. The public is fed up with such business. The physics of the matter, together with empirical data, also define the need for a carbon tax. Alternatives such as emission reduction targets, cap and trade, cap and dividend, do not work, as proven by honest efforts of the ‘greenest’ countries to comply with the Kyoto Proto

Tax carbon, but not Hanson's way

In a letter to Michelle and Barack Obama, NASA’s Jim Hanson makes some valid critique of the “cap and trade” approach to the reduction of CO2 emissions that we also embraced in Europe: Policies being discussed in national and international circles now, which focus on ‘goals’ for emission reduction and ‘cap and trade,’ have the same basic approach as the Kyoto Protocol. This approach is ineffectual and not commensurate with the climate threat. It could waste another decade, locking in disastrous consequences for our planet and humanity. “Cap and trade” generates special interests, lobbyists, and trading schemes, yielding non productive millionaires, all at public expense. The public is fed up with such business. The physics of the matter, together with empirical data, also define the need for a carbon tax. Alternatives such as emission reduction targets, cap and trade, cap and dividend, do not work, as proven by honest efforts of the ‘greenest’ countries to comply with the Kyoto Pro