Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Reserve Bank's virtual museum

Well it's an interesting diversion from working on spreadsheets. Check it out here. It's pretty cool in a central-bankish sort of way.

The description: "A virtual tour of the Reserve Bank of Australia's Museum of Australian Currency Notes is now available. The interactive features of the tour include zoomable images, 360° panoramas and streaming video."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Not sure this is a good idea but here it is...

I'm not sure that Forbes intends to bring anything remotely resembling positive attention to the evil and corrupted forces behind email scams, but they have made it mildly amusing:"making his Fictional 15 debut: spam entrepreneur Prince Abakaliki of Nigeria. Abakaliki is notable for being the only fictional character on our list who regularly e-mails real people, usually begging for assistance in recovering large sums of money. We estimate Abakaliki to be worth more than $2.8 billion."

The Forbes Fictional 15 here (includes oil billionaire Jed Clampett, by the way).

Thursday, November 16, 2006

War between the formats hurts uptake

Well price hurts uptake too. Why don't you toss a coin and pick between Blu-ray and HD-DVD? (Wharton's excellent article here.)I suspect that the cashed up early adopters will buy both and the less affluent will go with what looks coolest, spec-wise. So we'll see sales of both for a while until content kicks in... since you can't as yet record to either format content will be king. Which looks like a Blu-ray win to me, at this stage. But is it so?

History tells us that the 'better' Beta lost to VHS because of content - but the proliferation of VHS machines played a part, too. The lower cost machine built up more content and it all snowballed. What will make Blu-ray snowball? Games consoles? Content? It's a maybe on both counts. What could stop Blu-ray domination? Well history also tells us that what was a mess of CD, CD-R, CD-RW and other combinations of plus and minus got sorted out - to a large extent - by machines able to cope with multiple formats. Maybe that will happen again?

It's fun to watch, anyway. The fight between formats, I mean, not necessarily the content ;-)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

IBM on InnovationJam and Thinkplace

IBM recently showcased the top 10 ideas generated by its employee and client online "jam". In essence the company opened up a site that allowed access to its staff as well as clients in an effort to get a wide-ranging conversation - a brainstorming - happening on future needs and possible solutions. It's mostly worthy stuff as well as potentially profitable, if the research department can make it workable. I like the "jam" idea but it does get a bit hard to see what's happening when 150,000 people are simultaneously involved. Hey, I work for IBM and I participated - but these are my opinions and not necessarily those of the corporation. It was crowded in there.

Anyway, it's come up with some good ideas - check it out at InfoWorld.

Friday, November 10, 2006

GM, hydrogen and sustainability.

Read this (from Carsguide.com.au) and have a laugh. Firstly: "The eco-friendly cars hold the potential of zero emissions and a sustainable source of energy produced when hydrogen and oxygen are mixed." How can a car be eco-friendly? It takes energy and resources to make it, distribute it and service it. It takes energy to melt it down and recycle it. It requires roads, which tar over the soil that would otherwise support plants and animals. Need I go on? It's not 'eco' friendly at all. And what the heck is 'a sustainable source of energy when hydrogen and oxygen are mixed'? Where does this 'sustainable' energy come from? By using energy to break water into hydrogen and oxygen? Where did that energy come from? Thin air?

It gets better - or worse, if you like: "Car makers claim they need help from governments in developing the infrastructure for hydrogen fuelling, he (Rick Wagoner of GM) said. 'Developing new technologies is really a team sport that requires business and governments to work together,' he said. 'It's doable, it's not that expensive, but it's going to require some work.'

It's not enough that car companies can wreak havoc on the environment and expect communities to fork out billions for road infrastructure, they also expect a subsidy for being such nice people. Please, please - catch a train instead. I love cars but I don't expect them to subsidised to the hilt. If they are worth having - and they are - they should be priced to cover the real cost - the opportunity cost - of what we lose as well as gain. And they should bear the full cost of the infrastructure. Only then will we appreciate how much it really costs when we jump in the car to go a kilometre down the road to buy some bread or milk.

These market distortions - call them externals if you like - are hiding the real cost of what we are doing to this planet. Wake up. Get a bike instead!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Another view of powerhouse India

Another view of the problems and successes of powerhouse India, from Forbes mag. A good , balanced review of the outsourcing issue plus a few anecdotes and examples of rising fortunes in IT manufacturing and the price to be paid for success. The upshot? As India rises, so do the expectations. It'll level out in the end and jobs will change but - yes - there will still be jobs.