Sunday, June 25, 2006

The most amazing soccer skills I have ever seen

It takes a few moments... the guy warms up then... magic.
laird and teaupoo

Yes.. it includes THE wave of the decade...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Robert Cringely.. opinion squared

One of the most entertaining commentators on the computer industry and so often on point, but in the case of his latest article regarding Microsoft:

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20060615.html

I have to disagree. When you look at Bill Gates' background for example in excellent books like
Hard Drive, it is easy to see that internal innovation IS NOT part of the master plan. From buying in DOS and loaning the Mac Interface, the talent always has been in seeing what customers will want and moving quickly to deliver a finished product to the customer as quickly as possible at minimal cost... even if that means not paying some people who should really and legally be paid!

To say, as he does, that Mr Gates is getting in the way of innovation at MS is to say you do not understand how the whole business operates..

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The power of IT

How irritating, just spent 1/2 an hour trying to find the book where I got this great idea... so you all know I'm not pulling this out of the ether. Not one listing on Google... how weird... anyway the basic message is this... how to present a position is as follows:

1. What is the problem? (KISS)
2. What is needed to solve the problem
3. IT- present the idea in tangible form
4. Pros/ Cons/ options
5. Next Steps

I've had many a standup argument that documentation far surpasses mockups and what many call smoke and mirrors, but the bottom line is paperwork never captures the imagination, but something that a person could relate to as being a real working prototype will always do a better job... its the epitome of suspension of belief, helping a person jump the gap between what is and what could be.

So on this note, I vow to do a working mockup whenever I can afford the time to do one.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Blog/ Promotion Aggregator

Just toying with the idea of using GoogleGroups as Blog and Mailing list agregator... the basic idea is send to a google group and enter blog submission email addresses (both internal and external) as subscribers.

The Result.... Enter one place and remail multiple places and enter from anywhere. Ill report how this works out in a week or so...

The 10 step process

An old friend once outlined this process to me and it has been pretty fundamental for over two decades for me now... although it really works for smaller and consumer oriented products the idea seems to be relatively similar to running out much larger projects:

1. Concept on paper
2. Rough prototype
3. Legal - trademark, patent prov
4. Working model
5. Promotion/ user assessment
6. Small direct retail selling
7. Local promotion/ trade show
8. Distribution
9. Regional promotion
10. Exit - sell

My personal business process has grown a lot more then this, but the basic steps are consistent across much more applications than an inventor/ entrepreneur like myself.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Started work on the Universal Database

The beginnings of a little database project is now taking form at the lab...
we are calling it the Universal Database. The idea is that you can set the
database field name to whatever you want and collect any information you
want in it and basically send to it from anywhere... on top of that it sends
a copy of the record to you via email... its an open data collection tool
that can be used by anyone from anywhere with the aim of making it easy for
people to collect information and have it sent to them without having to go
thru the pain of setting up a database or running your own server database
application....

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Logarex progress

Last night I set my PC working on an algorithm to find all the logs for numbers between 10 to the power of 15 and 10 to the power of 16... and it was still running this morning... this is the latest in a drive to get the Logarex prototype site up for visitors to play with... I hope within a week or so to have a web site/ lab project up to allow anyone to submit any 16 digit number to see how much the Logarex algorithm will compress the number... will update in a few more days.

The noble spirit behind patent laws

Patents... legal jousting and intellectual corporate power plays are what comes to mind but... whatever happened to the original ideal... namely a guy/ girl comes up with a valid new idea and the government does the right thing in protecting their right to make a living from the invention without letting all comers just steal the idea and leave them in the dust... especially is this the case when the one wanting the idea for their own is a corporation with consolidated funds and manpower of thousands of investor and employees...

The other fly in the ointment is that the idea of an inventor taking their invention from concept to mass sale is increasingly unrealistic... with the specialized skills and large resources needed to be competitive in any of today's markets, the inventor can at best expect to get the idea into a commercial product and either sell it to a distribution or roll out partner and stand aside while hopefully retaining some equity in the products future success....

Somewhere in all this there is a simple guiding principle... inventors should not use the government to enforce a monopoly that can dictate any price it wants on industry and  consumers (assuming the invention is just that indispensable)... on the other hand if someone or a corporation intentionally ignores patent protection, then they ought to be treated as criminals as bad a gang that breaks into a jewel shop to steal diamonds... unfortunately today such behavior is seen as a commercial decision not as a moral one... I promise to get off my soap box for the next contribution :-)

Monday, June 5, 2006

Vendor liability for ignoring patents... who should pay?

Wired makes this point:

"http://wired.com/news/columns/0,71032-0.html?tw=wn_index_23

Make Vendors Liable for Bugs Security Matters " Security is at its best when those with the capability to fix security holes are also the ones who get hurt by them. Surprisingly, this isn't the way it works now. Commentary by Bruce Schneier."

But why stop there... what about legal liability? What if the vendor is knowingly abusing a patent protected technology. Can customers of such a vendor take out a class action suit? Should end users really be expected to find out if the product they are using is infringing a patent?
Any comments?

Saturday, June 3, 2006

From the Lab... still on the drawing board

Following are ideas that have become full blown projects but are not ready for prime time. Please feel free to browse them and paly with the prototypes that we are developing for each project as the become available.


Password Packing
With key loggers and Trojans waiting to snatch your banking password something is needed to make their life a bit harder. Password Packing is a technique that adds nonsense characters to your password making it harder for a hacker to know what your password is yet no harder for you to remember.

Site Triage
A simplified password system for people who want privacy but do not want their visitors to sign up for anything.

Personal Server
Automates collection of important information on your home computer and gets it to you over the web or on your cell or pda.

Digital Furnace
One computer for the whole household, a new multi-user approach to household computing.

Wireless Repeater
Uses light sockets to power wireless internet connections around the home and around the world.

Push payment system
Provides web buyers with a way to pay people over the web without using sellers shopping cart.

MicroPMT
Want to pay 2 cents to see an important page on the web...

Pop Central
An experiment using push technology to flash information to the user without interrupting their workflow. 5/25/04

Cell Redirector
Centralize your phone calls at home or on the move with automatic call cost optimization between your cell and home phone line accounts.2/23/04

Cell2Cell2World
Use two cell phones to make all your calls from a landline while on the move. 2/23/04

Password Packing - more secure ATMs and...

Password Packing is an idea we came up with make the smaller simpler passwords we all find so easy to remember much safer. For example ATM passwords are only 4 digits long which means we can only stop someone from guessing our passwords if they cant get access to a system to try the 10 to the power of 4 possible combinations ie 10000 different numbers.
The general idea is that the terminal works with you to hide your four digit number so that anyone watching or any digital eavesdropping technology is dealing with a number much longer and without nowing which part of the number you type in is actually your password.
For example an ATM could say to you:

  • Please type 376 - you type 376
  • Please type the first digit of your password - you type it
  • Please type 1 - you type 1
  • Please type the next two numbers of your password - you type them
  • Please type 21 - you type 21
  • Please type the last number of your password - you type it
  • Now type 4 - you type 4
The above could be made a lot simpler but typing 376x1xx21x4 makes a hackers life a real headache...
Things can also be a lot simpler too.. the user could select a password pattern for their account and use any number of random numbers between their actual password numbers as long as they are in the right sequence and the ATM could work out which numbers were the password and whichg weren't... we are in the process of making a simulator for this but we'd like to hear what you think so make a comment here. Wed love to hear from you.

Download music sales exceed pirate downloads

According to Wired magazine May06 edition pg 058 (not on their website for some reason) Matt Honan reports that 11+ million users now download songs that are sold and only 10 million frequent song download networks yet the music industry is just as sick as ever.

The problem: The download sites mainly sell 99 cent singles.

As a musician and a former member of the music industry myself I know the value of the album format. How many people would have known about "Levee breaks" or "Going to California" if "Stairway to Heaven" was available as a single?

Simple solution: Sell the album for $8 (15$ less shipping and packaging and storage costs) by allowing punters to unlock all the other tracks in an album when they buy one track.

For a bit of a reality check:

  1. Allowing their songs to be included in compilations are the artists choice and it's the same as batch buying singles anyway.
  2. The album format is not necessarily a conspiracy by the record companies to get you to pay for music you don't want.
  3. Most musicians, myself included tend to write in batches with an album representing a stage, a snapshot in the artists journey so maybe its time for the record companies to deliver a discounted online album price and for the punters to open up to the idea of an album experience rather than a smorgasbord of only the most popular tracks from each album.

Time to get off the soapbox...

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Protecting Games before they hit the street

According to this BBC article some 50,000 copies (or about $3 million worth) of the game were being downloaded at one point on Sunday, August 1st, two days before it was scheduled to appear on store shelves.

Something is needed to protect this intellectual property even during the development cycle not just after it’s boxed and being placed on shelves. One technique we are looking into at Uniloc is investigating how to do polite machine activation that puts the brakes on mass distribution without the strict “one license – one machine” mantra that is seen on so many of the consumer software publishers activation systems.

Polite activation’s psychology is to capture every copy of a game on every machine (ie know where they are) but don’t police the copies until the copy count gets really stupid. Its pretty easy to see the difference from a gamer who owns his own in home multi-player network and a posting on a P2P network… and then just turn the offending serial number off…. The bottom line is to not confuse fair use with an excuse to force every punter out their to pay for a copy of a game for every machine they own or want to show off to a family member.

What say you… are we off our rockers? Please comment we’d love to hear what you say about this…

Passmark a bargain for RSA?

I may be a bit behind the news but could not resist the temptation to comment on RSA's recent acquisition of PassMark Security. Articles like this RSA not content to grow slowly see RSA's moves as aggressive but think about the economics of the deal.

Here is PassMark, with an Intuit heavyweight opening doors for them and having bagged the 800 pound gorilla of the online banking community Bank of America and all the press you can poke a stick at when... they get bought out for $50 million.

$50 million?

All that traction and hype for $50 mill... it is this humble bloggers opinion that the BofA deal was, and is a love job... which leads me to the validity of their colorful image based security system and their browser locking technologies... are they really legitimate? Can they really be counted as a legitimate second factor in a multi factor security system? Maybe not... maybe we have a little further to go to.