Monday, January 28, 2008

Cloud Computing at Google

The Dec 13 '07 cover story from BusinessWeek provides a fascinating look at a small, but incredibly ambitious initiative within the company called "Cloud Computing" (I first bounced around a few catchy titles for this post, but none of them rivaled the actual BW headline... "Google and the Wisdom of the Clouds)."

The idea was hatched by a 20-something Google engineer and in short, it provides access for outsiders (i.e. Universities and other companies) to Google's computing power. As is detailed in the article, there are only a few companies around (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon) with the raw computing power to do something like this and it's fascinating to see what will become of it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Magazine reading notes 8: 2007 Jul-Dec

BusinessWeek – August 13
Mention of where you can compare your salary with those in similar professions

Esquire – September
Profile of Sean Penn by writer Scott Raab… following the release of Penn’s move “Into the Wild”:

Mention of Conn Iggulden’s book “The Dangerous Book for Boys”

Time – August 20
Excerpt from “The Preacher & the Presidents” about Pastor Billy Graham and his interactions with various US Presidents… by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy:,9171,1651625,00.html

BusinessWeek – August 20
Short piece on the vulnerability of the levee systems around the Sacrameno-San Joaquin Delta area:

Personal branding piece about how to define yourself so it’s done for you by others:

BusinessWeek – July 23
Piece on widgets being used in social networking sites… most well known are those in the fairly recently opened to 3rd party applications

Mention of An online marketplace for handmade goods

BusinessWeek – August 6
Ranking of best global brands with sub-feature on HP and the “Computer is personal again” campaign

Time – August 6
Cover story about how boys in today’s society are both fine (as opposed to the fatalistic view held by many) and are doing many outdoorsy, boy type things from yesterday:,9171,1647452,00.html

BusinessWeek – July 30
Short story on new “person-looking” search engines, &

Website special report on switching careers

Addison Avenue Magazine – Summer
Article on raising money-smart kids. Includes: open a savings acct and then manage the use of that

Profile piece on Erin Gruwell the teacher behind “The Freedom Writers Diary”

USAA Magazine – Summer
Mention of where people can get rid of and acquire unwanted items

Sierra Club Magazine – July/August
Profile of Michelle Kaufmann who designs the “glidehouse” prefab home:

The Wave Magazine – July
Mention of Sunnyvale DIY shop

Time – September 17
Article about the high levels of lead exposure for many young children. Can purchase lead-testing kits and have blood tests screen for exposure:,9171,1659704,00.html

BusinessWeek – September 17
Review of many of HP’s new Blackberry-competing smartphones:

BusinessWeek – September 24
Book review of “The Billionaire Who Wasn’t” by Conor O’Clery about Chuck Feeney, the founder of Duty Free Shoppers:

Article about the workplace culture at Netflix:

BusinessWeek – September 10
Profile of Microsoft HR head and the people management (aimed at employee happiness & retention) done at the corporation:

BusinessWeek – September
Inside Innovation section:

Time – September 10
Cover story on national service and what’s occurring across the country:,9171,1657799,00.html

Time – October 22
Joe Klein commentary on Merle Haggard and his returning the Democratic side:,9171,1670520,00.html

Piece on Copenhagen’s program to give father’s paid time off after the birth of a child:,9171,1670507,00.html

Time – October 29
Piece on Time’s “America: An Illustrated History” picture book

Review of “The Four Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss

Esquire – October
Profile of Benicio Del Toro by writer Chris Jones:

Mention of band The Weakerthans by writer Chris Jones

Time – November 5
Time’s new political website:

Piece on the resurgence of kayaking as a pastime:,9171,1675598,00.html

BusinessWeek – October 15
Special report on solar power being provided by Silicon Valley company Ausra:

BusinessWeek – October 22
Profile on Michelle Hernandez… former Ivy League admissions counselor who is now a college application coach:

Piece on healthcare advocates:

Fast Company – September
Piece by Robert Scoble on and its impact as a communication medium

Cover story on Adam Werbach, former young head of the Sierra Club… now runs an environmental consulting company with Wal-Mart as its largest client:

Story on founder behind, a search engine with hand-built results to various search queries

Profile of Ashley Qualls, a 17 year-old who has built a million $ business selling MySpace design templates at

Time – various issues
Political blog:

Fast Company – October
Profile of HP VP Design Sam Lucente and his impact on and role in the company:

Time – October 15
Piece on Nike’s new Nike Plus running shoe concept which melds music and an online experience into jogging:,9171,1668469,00.html

Article on the new definition of fatherhood with many more Dads staying home to care for the kids whilst Mom works:,9171,1668449,00.html

BusinessWeek – November 5
Piece on Bang & Olufsen and how its designers create new products for the company w/o much focus group input:

Time – November 12
Tech buying guide items: glo pillow at

Time – December 17
Profile of young evangelical pastor Rob Bell and his appeal:,9171,1692051,00.html

Esquire – December
Book recommendations from Esquire writers: “Grey Area” by Will Self; “The Mezzanine” by Nicholson Baker; “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin; “Plainsong” by Kent Haruf; “Far Afield” by S.L. Price; “The Blade Itself” by Marcus Sakey

Profile on David Vann’s attempt to sail nonstop around the world… progress updates at

BusinessWeek – December 3

BusinessWeek – November 15
Piece on the HP Innovation Office led by Seth McKinney and the efforts around the VooDoo PC:

BusinessWeek – December 24
Cover story on Google and the concept of cloud computing:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Freaks & Geeks" Review

There’s a social construct (one easy to find and quick to be acquired) that popular culture is vapid and hollow. The feeling is if it’ being produced for the blinking tube or the stretched-out screen, it can’t be anything of great heft or import. The construct will have you that the great ideas must be snatched out of the olden, out of Shakespeare, Emerson or Thoreau. What you see being proclaimed by the culture critics is that if it’s not book-group fodder, it’s just candy.However, a counter-punch deserves to be thrown at this argument. Not to say that television is going to always fill our pallet with something of fiber and texture, but it can.

An example of this "texturous television" was the series “Freaks & Geeks” late of ABC, circa 1999-2001. Directed by Paul Feig and produced by Judd Apatow it does give the viewer something to chew on.Set in a suburban high school in 1980, it follows the travails of Sam, Neil and Bill as they try to navigate their way through the often banal, sometimes terrifying and frequently asinine experience of youth. Additionally, the series looks in on Sam’s sister Lindsey as she attempts to cross the gap between being the school's champion "Mathelete" to being the newest member of the “burner” clique, while still being… Lindsey.The characters of Sam, Neil and Bill in particular, though, show the difficulty of the youth as each attempts to acquire, and then assimilate, knowledge.

This difficulty of this assimilation as a goal is brought home to Neil at the beginning of the 3rd season.After learning from his friends Sam and Bill of potential marital shenanigans in his family, Neil follows his Dad and learns the hard to know truth; that his Mom is being cheated on. Confronted with this oaken door of knowledge, Neil must decide what to do next. Does he “let sleeping dogs continue sleeping around” or does he go through the door and tell his Mom what he knows?Neil then tells his mother she’s being cheated on and is shocked to learn that she already knows. It may not be a happy lesson, but it’s a big one for Neil as he of the complexity of relationships and how much more there can be than meets the eye.Storylines and shows like this show how the “culture critics” can be wrong.

There’s great learning in the great works, but also is the entertainment works. Basic principle that can be taken is that you never know where you might learn something. Ferris Bueller might have said it best with “life goes by pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around, you might miss it.”