Archive for March 2009

Opening Qualifying In San Luis Obispo



Opening Qualifying In San Luis Obispo

Originally uploaded by ElroyJetson


Cisco Take On Apple? Please. – BusinessWeek

There’s a lot to admire about Cisco. It just might have the deepest bench of executive talent in all of tech. It’s got a fast-moving, egalitarian culture. It’s got one of the most innovative CEOs around, and it’s got over $30 billion in cold hard cash tucked away. Most of all, I can’t think of another company that has so successfully entered so many new markets—from data center servers to telepresence.

But consumer products? I can understand the company selling home networking gear, such as Linksys home routers and Scientific Atlanta cable boxes. What better way to boost Net traffic and thereby router sales.

via Cisco Take On Apple? Please. – BusinessWeek.

The argument here is somewhat meandering but if I understand it, the high points are:

1. Cisco isn’t Apple
2. Therefore, Cisco will ruin Pure.

The same depth of executive leadership that the article extols is the same leadership that has a strategy for penetrating multiple markets to bring growth to the company. Larry Ellison said several years ago that M&As were Oracle’s only real growth strategy. Cisco has an approach that involves, yet is more than, M&As.

Cisco owns the enterprise infrastructure. The next sensible markets are SMB and Consumer. Many other large tech companies also eye SMB & Consumer as rich veins to tap. It’s a legitimate strategy.

Cisco isn’t trying to be Apple. Cisco is trying to generate consumer demand for bandwidth. Consequently, the strategy seems to be to drive bandwidth demands up by creating consumer demand for bandwidth. This is done by bringing media – especially video — into the hands of consumers in an easy way. That means media servers, video cams that are much like Cisco TelePresence, high quality VOIP, etc. As consumers demand bandwidth, ISPs will need more Cisco network gear.

Cisco has demonstrated a consistent ability to execute, especially during downturns. Apple doesnt have the vision for a multiple market strategy; they are more product-driven. Each has a place in the consumer market.

Furthermore, Apple may be the vanguard of consumer electronics but it is not the totality of the market. There are plenty of successful competitors who make money in the consumer space. That their designs are not as innovative and do not tap the zeitgeist does not mean they are deficient products. They make money but just aren’t as cool while they’re doing so. The author equates Apple with the consumer market because of Apple’s design leadership.  It’s a faulty association.

It would be a mistake to conclude that Cisco will fail and will ruin its acquisitions simply because it’s not like Apple. It would be a mistake because it’s faulty reasoning.

Reasons to have regular tires on your BMW – Part II

I like the idea of run flats but I do not like the reality of them for one simple reason: they are crazy freaking expensive.  About six months after getting my car last year, I ran over a screw.  A single run flat tire cost me $330.

I have a somewhat cynical take on BMW’s use of run-flats: it saves them the cost of a 5th wheel in the trunk as well as the contribution of the wheel to total vehicle weight.

I agree with the article that owners should be able to choose whether they want run flats or not but that would probably lead to typical BMW pricing: exorbitant (e.g. $2500 for navigation, which amounts to 6% of the cost of a $40,000 328i).

I have been planning on swapping out my run flats for normal tires but after reading this article, I’m not sure I want to be nagged by the on-board computer that it doesn’t like my tires.

Last week, our article on why should you have run-flat tires on your BMW stirred controversy among the bimmer fans and owners. As promised, I am back with the second part of the article in which we will expose the advantages of having REGULAR tires on your BMW. Together with Randy and Lance, two of our readers, we put together an interesting list of why one shouldn’t get the run-flat tires and the reasoning behind it.

via Reasons to have regular tires on your BMW – Part II.

View from Cafeteria



View from Cafeteria

Originally uploaded by ElroyJetson


Technical Talk: Push the button – Yahoo! Eurosport

The KERS button can give a driver an extra 80 horsepower (10 per cent more than normal top power) every time he presses it – but only for around seven seconds per lap. That equates to a maximum of three tenths of a second per lap but, crucially, it gives drivers the chance to select the exact moment they need extra power – and either use it to attack the car in front, with one full boost, or defend position, using short bursts throughout the lap.

via Technical Talk: Push the button – Yahoo! Eurosport UK.

Driver With Most Wins Takes Championship

Formula One racing’s governing body, the FIA, has approved a change to the points systems for this year’s drivers’ championship, which will see the title awarded to the driver with the most race wins. The rest of the standings, from second to last place, will be decided by the current points system.

If two or more drivers finish the season with the same number of wins, the title will be awarded to the driver with the most points, the allocation of points being based on the existing 10, 8, 6 etc. structure. The constructors’ championship is unaffected.

via The Official Formula 1 Website.

2009 could quite possibly be the season with the most significant rule changes since I have been a fan (started in 2000).  New aero rules have significantly changed the design and appearance of cars: gone is much of the rear downforce, achieved through smaller rear wings, with a downforce bias toward the front.  The idea is to limit the value of straight-line speed and give drivers more turning power in curves so that there is more passing.

In addition to front-bias downforce, cars are now running slicks. Downforce plus larger contact patches should equal more passing. There is potential though for more oversteer with lighter back ends and stickier front ends. That’s generally good but without traction control, we may see a lot of back ends breaking traction, especially if cars go hot into turns.

KERS is a silly green-motivated design requirement that directs kinetic energy (i.e. braking) into power storage for drivers to use as a burst of power when wanted. It’s silly because trying to pitch auto racing as a green activity is just absurd. Racing is about ego, power, noise, shameless consumption and money.  It’s both noble and profane. But hardly green.

It will be very interesting to see how the “gold medal” concept works out.  One  possible scenario that can play out is that the season could be decided much earlier than with a points system. Theoretically, the season could be settled by race 9 in a gold meal system but with a points system, there would be less certainty. If one driver won the first 9 races and another driver placed second in the same 9 races, the second driver would only be behind by 18 points. With 8 more races remaining, the second driver would easily have time to make those 18 points up. Obviously, it is improbable that a driver would win the first 9 races so my argument is only valuable in relation to how things could work theoretically.

I can’t see how this change will make F1 more exciting. It’s hard to imagine a more exciting finish to the season than Lewis Hamilton clinching 5th place in the last 20 seconds of the final race of the championship to win by 1 point. That last lap was the most amazing, heart-breaking, agonizing and then suddenly glorious lap I have ever witnessed. Utterly fantastic. Some lame gold medal brainstorm from Bernie isn’t going to improve on that.  F1 got exciting again when Michael Schumacher retired.  Perhaps in 4 seasons, after Hamilton has won 3 of 4 championships, it will get boring again. Until then, quit tweaking so much with the sport.

Pope Benedict Rejects Condoms as Solution to Africa’s AIDS Crisis – WSJ.com

This is flat-out irresponsible. The Catholic church advocates the rhythm method as a form of birth control yet condoms are against God’s will? Both involve the effort and will of a man and woman to decide whether to have children so how can one be acceptable and the other a violation of God’s intent? Completely illogical.

In Africa, men often travel to other regions for work and send money back home. They screw around unprotected while working and then bring disease back home. So, this inane policy of the church actually victimizes women and children. Way to go, Catholic church.

Oh and guess what Mr. Pope? People have sex because they enjoy it. Does that mean they should have to risk another kid?

Basically, this policy is a growth strategy for the Catholic church: gotta keep those indoctrinated families coming generation after generation!

Pope Benedict XVI said on his way to Africa Tuesday that condoms weren’t the answer in the continent’s fight against HIV, his first explicit statement on an issue that has divided even clergy working with AIDS patients.

Pope Benedict had never directly addressed condom use. He has said that the Roman Catholic Church is in the forefront of the battle against AIDS. The Vatican encourages sexual abstinence to fight the spread of the disease.

“You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms,” the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane headed to Yaounde, Cameroon, where he will begin a seven-day pilgrimage on the continent. “On the contrary, it increases the problem.”

Some priests and nuns working with those living with HIV/AIDS question the church’s opposition to condoms amid the pandemic ravaging Africa.

via Pope Benedict Rejects Condoms as Solution to Africa’s AIDS Crisis – WSJ.com.

My Loyal Buddy Hangs With Me



My Loyal Buddy Hangs With Me

Originally uploaded by ElroyJetson


Dentyne

Saw this ad after RSVP’ing to an evite.  Apparently, if I chew Dentyne, I can have a five way.

F1’s Bernie Ecclestone Sets World Record With £1Billion Divorce Settlement | Motorsports Entertainment | Auto Racing Daily

Couldn’t happen to a more deserving man. I bet he is a loon.

The settlement could become the most expensive in legal history as a large portion of the racing boss’s money was transferred to offshore accounts in his wife’s name.

Mrs Ecclestone, 50, was granted a decree nisi in a 58-second hearing in the High Court Family Division on the grounds that the 24-year marriage had “irretrievably” broken down because of her 78-year-old husband’s “unreasonable behaviour.”

via F1’s Bernie Ecclestone Sets World Record With £1Billion Divorce Settlement | Motorsports Entertainment | Auto Racing Daily.

Today’s Speed Test of Our Inet

Speedtest.net – The Global Broadband Speed Test.

photo.jpg



photo.jpg

Originally uploaded by ElroyJetson


Walking in the hood



Walking in the hood

Originally uploaded by ElroyJetson


Does Anyone Read My Blog Anymore?

If you do, leave me a comment on this post.  I need to decide whether to continue writing here or on FaceBook.

VOA News – Obama, Biden Warn States to Spend Stimulus Money Wisely 

This is ironic considering the amount of pork in the stimulus. Ironic and politics-as-usual.

U.S. President Barack Obama has told representatives of U.S. states that they have a chance to make significant contributions and move the country in a better direction.

The state representatives gathered in Washington Thursday for a day-long conference on how to apply for and use funds allocated to the 50 states in a $787 billion economic stimulus package that was approved by Congress.

via VOA News – Obama, Biden Warn States to Spend Stimulus Money Wisely .

Blackberry Controls F1 Car… Sorta

Will McLaren Be Competitive

Every year, the press trumps up the performance issues of cars during the closing weeks of winter testing. They try to make predictions about the relative competitiveness of cars based on what they see.  But on race day, it’s usually a different scenario.

An unmentioned factor too is the driver. Guys like Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica and  Lewis Hamilton have the ability to wring performance out of a car that their team mates cannot match. So even if the McLaren lacks pace relative to other cars, you can expect Lewis to drive the car more effectively than Heiki.

Despite protestations from McLaren chairman Ron Dennis that the MP4-24 “will be fighting for the world championship” this season, Lewis Hamilton’s car once again brought up the rear during Wednesday’s practice session in Barcelona.

Perhaps just as surprising, it was Jenson Button’s Brawn GP machine – on only its third official outing – that ended the day on top.

Those two facts should tell you all you need to know about the reliability of winter testing as an indicator of form going into the season.

via Lewis Hamilton reverses F1 fortunes as Jenson Button finishes top – Telegraph.

Today’s Speed Test

Just a bit slower than yesterday.

Religion: Biological Accident, Adaptation — or Both | Wired Science from Wired.com

The question of why humans across history and cultures have believed in various forms of deities has interested me for many years.  It amazes me when people come up with explanations for religious thoughts and desires like in this Wired article when a much simpler explanation makes more sense:

God exists.

Getting to that point is the easy part. The difficulty comes when people try to understand who or what God is. That is where  billions of variations branch off of the idea that God exists.  We each have different ideas of who/what God is, whether he cares, whether he is involved, whether he is a he or an it or a she.

I believe in God but I’ve spent the last 7 years working to separate religion from what I believe. I’ve tried to examine what it is I believe at emotional and intellectual levels and to make sure that what I believe is mine. This ends up making my faith a bit messy sometimes because I can’t always wrap my ideas up in nice tidy packages of doctrine and theology. This approach means that I am forever inconsistent in what I believe and what I actually do. Sometimes, I hate how inconsistent I am. What I love about my faith though is that it is all mine. I believe what I believe not because someone has told me to believe something but because I’ve challenged it and found it to fit for me. Sometimes, I end up believing what I was told to believe but the difference is that I have come to own it.

And a weird thing has happened: when I got to a place where I owned my faith, I felt less of a compulsion to persuade others to my point of view. I lost my desire to tell people their view of God was wrong simply because it diverged from my own view of God.

I can’t say for sure that my experience of God is the same for other people. I can’t prove all that I believe, think and feel. And I’m ok with that. I don’t need to prove it to anyone other than me. What I do know is that since I was 6 years old, I have had constant thoughts and longings for God. Along the way I’ve confused those thoughts and longings with being the same as politics and morality. And since I was 21, I’ve had interactions with God that have lit up my brain, my heart and my soul. If that is a social construct that has somehow lingered through evolution, then I’m okay with that.

I’m ok with it for two reasons: it makes my life better while I am alive and since I have no control over what happens after I die, I don’t need to be wound up about whether it is true or not then. I’ll be dead and there will either be something or there won’t. I think there is something but if I’m wrong, will I know or care?

Whether or not God exists, thinking about Him or Her doesn’t require divinely dedicated neurological wiring.

Instead, religious thoughts run on brain systems used to figure out what other people are thinking and feeling.

The findings, based on brain scans of people contemplating God, don’t explain whether a propensity for religion is a neurobiological accident. But at least they give researchers a solid framework for exploring the question.

“In a way, this is a very cold look at religious belief,” said National Institutes of Health cognitive scientist Jordan Grafman, co-author of a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We’re only trying to understand where in the brain religious beliefs seem to be modulated.”

Though scientific debate about God’s existence has transfixed the public, Grafman’s findings fit into a lesser known argument over why religion exists.

Some scientists think it’s just an accidental byproduct of social cognition. They say humans evolved to imagine what other people are feeling, even people who aren’t present — and from there it was a short step to positing supernatural beings.

Others argue that religion is too pervasive to be just a byproduct. Historically, at least, it must have provided believers and their communities some sort of advantage, or else it would have disappeared.

The argument breaks down into the so-called byproduct and adaptation camps. Of course, they might both be right.

via Religion: Biological Accident, Adaptation — or Both | Wired Science from Wired.com.

I Want Obama To Succeed At This

If he really means this and it isnt some veiled ploy to get even more money into education than he snuck in with his bailout package, then I will finally stand up and say, Barack Obama is here to make change happen.

But to do this, he will oppose the entitlement mentality of the NEA and teachers who hide behind the union to keep their jobs when their students perform poorly. No Child Left Behind had some unintended consequences so let’s see if Obama can bring accountability.

“We have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short and other nations outpace us,” Obama said in an address to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “The time for finger-pointing is over. The time for holding ourselves accountable is here.”

“The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, unsustainable for our democracy and unacceptable for our children, and we cannot afford to let it continue,” he said.

via Obama wants to overhaul education system from ‘cradle to career’ – CNN.com.