tachyonico tech and business
A full spectrum of trivial to thrilling intellectual adventures (and mostly reminders to self)

Friday, November 11, 2005  

PRoceeding, SPIE Conference on Microfluidics and BioMEMS

Applications of Ink-Jet Printing Technology to BioMEMS and Microfluidic Systems, by

Patrick Cooley, David Wallace, Bogdan Antohe, MicroFab Technologies

posted by Jose | 6:58 PM

Technology Review: Jason Pontin's blog

posted by Jose | 6:57 PM

Saturday, November 05, 2005  

A History of Violence

posted by Jose | 6:11 PM

Winterfilm Collective made the movie "Winter Soldiers"Shown at the MFA

Also at the MFA Goodbye baby a doc on international adoption.

Also check out www.colorfilm.com for fresh ideas

Some more films that I want to see: Capote, and "have you heard?' also about truman capote

Also must go see "Good night and good luck"

The Boston Jewish Film Festival will start The 17th annual Boston Jewish Film Festival
November 2 - 13 (Nov. 15 & 17 in Arlington)

Also set in the Hamptons: G, a remake of the Great Gatsby
Also: Nine Lives
Prime (funny)
Wall: Documentary
The Greatest Game Ever Played

posted by Jose | 5:38 PM

posted by Jose | 5:34 PM


Evan Williams, founder of Odeo gives a brief intro on his vision for Odeo and how it started.

posted by Jose | 5:05 PM

Friday, October 21, 2005  

BusinessWeek's Stephen Baker talks about his article in businessweek on Podcasts 101. He mnetioned the New York Times's article in May or June...

The BusinessWeek article is http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2005/tc20050524_9688_tc_211.htm

and the New York times article is http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/12/technology/circuits/12basics.html?ex=1273550400&en=891857408fae7acc&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss
titled "BASICS; Now, Audio Blogs For Those Who Aspire To Be D.J.'s"

also useful is TECHNOLOGY; For a Start-Up, Visions of Profit in Podcasting; and Tired of TiVo? Beyond Blogs? Podcasts Are Here; and CIRCUITS; In One Stroke, Podcasting Hits Mainstream; http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/03/technology/techspecial3/03ethan.html?ex=1130040000&en=278f09f570320c0d&ei=5070

posted by Jose | 10:06 AM

Thursday, September 08, 2005  

I made a website for Matt at www.sebastianinlandharbor.com


posted by Jose | 5:19 PM

Monday, September 05, 2005  

Artist featured in Architectural Digest: Sol LeWitt

I first saw an article on LeWitt when Architectural Digest visited his home in the 90s. Excellent minimalist artwork, very good stuff.

Here is a link with a lot more info on the artist:

posted by Jose | 6:16 PM

Saturday, September 03, 2005  

DOwnhill Battle


posted by Jose | 9:58 PM

I saw this plane the other day. I think it's pretty neat

I think the name is hydroplane

posted by Jose | 4:14 PM

Tuesday, August 16, 2005  

For the coconut oil: can we invent an additive?

posted by Jose | 7:49 AM

Thursday, July 07, 2005  

Article on the fallacies of brodband over power lines

Issue 9.11 - Nov 2001

The Electric Kool-Aid Bandwidth Test

Luke Stewart boldly sold politicians, businesspeople, and financiers on his trillion-dollar idea: Use the electrical grid to carry data at speeds faster than we've ever seen. Never mind how.

By Evan Ratliff

Inventor William "Luke" Stewart is a genuine national treasure, the kind of person who comes along once, maybe twice, in a century. How do I know? Well, I heard it from business executives, congressmembers, academics, military leaders, journalists. These people met Luke Stewart, sized him up, and concluded that his scientific intellect was virtually unparalleled. His ideas, they said, could alter not only the future of the Internet but the fate of humanity itself.

But sometimes you have to go straight to the source. The real reason I know that Luke Stewart is a national treasure - and, I suspect, the reason that all those other people did, too - is that he told me so himself.

It was February 2000. He was sitting across from me, behind a huge mahogany desk flanked by US and Texas flags, in the top-floor office of his Dallas-based company Media Fusion. He said it very matter-of-factly - "I am a national treasure" - in the tone of someone who has employed the description often.

I had come to Stewart's offices to hear about his groundbreaking scientific discovery - US patent number 5,982,276, for conveying broadband data over electric power lines. The idea of sending information via the electrical grid, rather than over telephone copper or fiber-optic cable, has been around for decades. The field, known as power line communications, or PLC, is pockmarked with wasted investments and technical failures. Only within the past few months have several companies begun to deploy limited PLC ventures.

By piggybacking on the magnetic field instead of on the electricity itself, Media Fusion planned to operate at a billion-plus gigabits per second.

Stewart, however, had a much grander vision, based on what he considered to be a dramatic discovery: Data could hitch a ride on the magnetic field created by electric currents running through power line wires. By piggybacking on this magnetic field, instead of on the electricity itself, he could obtain almost limitless speeds of transmission.

In early 1998, Stewart founded Media Fusion with plans to bring this infinite-bandwidth technology, which he named advanced sub-carrier modulation (ASCM), to every home with an electrical outlet. His patent, issued in November 1999, brought Media Fusion's first wave of glowing press coverage. Gee-whiz reports spewed from ABC News: World News Tonight, The New Scientist, CNET, and The Wall Street Journal Europe. Most exuberant of all was Dallas' D Magazine, whose cover declared Stewart to be "Bill Gates' next nightmare." Stewart's technology, writer Richard Urban reported, had earned him a Nobel Prize nomination - and could be worth at least $1 trillion.

Media Fusion promised to deliver, within two years, bandwidth at speeds thousands of times faster than what's possible with fiber. Stewart was company chair, while the board of directors included government heavyweights such as former Speaker of the House Robert Livingston; Terry McAullife, a leading Democratic fund-raiser and close friend of then-President Clinton; and Admiral James Carey, former chair of the Federal Maritime Commission. The firm's Web site declared that the ASCM technology would "impact every facet of our life," and the computing power of the network would be "exponentially more powerful than any supercomputer to date."

All of this seemed like bold talk for a previously unknown startup. But these were heady times for the Internet, and everything I had read added up to a company that, if successful, would revolutionize communications. Before leaving to see Stewart, though, I called a Fortune 100 company executive who I'd heard had taken a look at Media Fusion's technology. At first mention of the company's name, he cut me off.

"Media Fusion is a quagmire," he said. "I don't want to wade into it." The technology, he told me, was "beyond science fiction."

When I tried to get him to elaborate on the record, he balked. "I never spoke with you," he said. If I ever told anyone about our conversation, he would deny it. "They have significant government figures on their board. These people have men who would die for them."

I told him I was leaving for Texas in a few days, to meet with company executives in person. Before he hung up, he offered one piece of advice: "Be careful."

On the morning I visited Media Fusion's posh 11th-floor offices in north Dallas, Stewart showed up an hour late. What he lacked in punctuality, though, he made up for with a mix of enthusiasm, humor, and arrogance about Media Fusion's prospects. I soon found myself dizzied by technical jargon and humanitarian fervor - laced with a dose of intrigue.

The chair and chief scientist of Media Fusion projected the kind of good-old-boy, back-slapping demeanor usually attributed to Texas politicians. Bouncing around his office from desk to whiteboard, clutching a handful of colored markers, he attempted to enlighten me about his company's future.

"What we are," he began, with a Texas twang, "is a bunch of computer geeks that figured out how to use the electric grid as a motherboard."

The basic setup of the ASCM network, as he explained it, was simple. Media Fusion's control centers, situated near power substations around the country, would load voice, email, and even high-definition video onto power lines and route the data to every home on the grid. Consumers, in turn, could connect their appliances to special "night-lights" plugged into any power outlet in the house. Each device would act like a modem, having the ability to extract the data pumping through the outlets. A user's total cost for the night-light and to get the service up and running: less than $60.

For that price, anyone with electricity running into their homes would have access to an almost unimaginable amount of bandwidth. Where available, a typical DSL line or cable modem can provide speeds up to about 8 Mbps. Even the fiber-optic trunk lines that move the data around the country do so at only up to 10 Gbps. Media Fusion was talking about a network that operated at exobits - more than 1 billion gigabits - per second. That would translate, the company said, into 2 Gbits right in your home: more bandwidth than you'd ever know what to do with. In a flash of Stewart's genius, Media Fusion had apparently solved the last-mile problem once and for all.

Equally amazing was Stewart's claim that the night-lights would obviate the need for routers. "I always get a kick out of talking to telecom engineers," he laughed. "'Well, our photons are as fast as your electrons.' Yeah, until it hits the router. Ha! And then it just eats crap!"

Up to that point, the largest PLC project had been a joint venture between Nortel and British company United Utilities. Known as Nor.Web, the combined entity conducted trials of a power line system in England. After three years of testing, the companies determined that it was in fact possible to send data over power lines, just not economically viable. They abandoned the venture in 1999.

At least a dozen companies in the US and Europe are now attempting to succeed where Nor.Web failed. In July, German utility RWE flipped the switch on a 2-Mbit trial system. A US company called Ambient, working with Cisco, has conducted successful alpha tests with utility Con Edison in New York.

Triumphantly, Stewart would deliver the Net and all that came with it to the rural backwaters of the world. And in the process, he'd make trillions.

The greatest obstacle to power line communications involves preserving the data when the electricity travels through a transformer. As the voltage is stepped down from long distance lines to be sent to individual homes, the data signal is stripped off the wire. Small, bridgelike devices are therefore required to link each transformer. In the US, one transformer serves only about 10 houses, creating the need for hundreds of thousands of these new devices.

Stewart's patented discovery promised to get around the problem. Researching in the MIT library one day, he overheard a couple of ham radio operators discussing how lightning strikes in Africa had interfered with their transmissions. The implication, he said, was that "electrons travel thousands of miles without any signal loss." And then it hit him: The magnetic field surrounding an electrical wire, a well-known but little-used property of physics, could be employed to send data.

"That was an epiphany for me," he recalled. "Obviously we can't use lightning to call Mom - too dangerous. So what can we do? We can look at what happens when high voltage flows. What happens to the material around the conductor? Is there anything that happens while the voltage flows back and forth that can be captured, extracted, and identified at a later time so that you can make sense out of it?"

His answer: Use a maser - the microwave equivalent of a laser - to fuse the data onto the magnetic field surrounding the wire. Once the data was in the field, quantum switches would shove it down the wire "at damn near light speed," said Stewart, right to your wall outlet. Riding on the magnetic field, the analog signal would shoot through the transformer without so much as a hiccup.

Stewart seemed aware of the fact - alluded to by the anxious executive I had spoken with - that many scientists weren't buying his theory. The patent, according to some physicists who examined it, couldn't be translated into a working system. No masers or Q switches have been proven capable of adding and removing data in a magnetic field. Stewart's invention would require a wholesale rethinking of modern physics. "Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, one of the most robust deductive creations of human intelligence, simply doesn't describe how to use a field as a waveguide," said Paul Grant, a condensed matter physicist and a science fellow at the Electric Power Research Institute, "not to me or any physicist I've consulted with."

Revolutionary developments in science, Stewart countered, require a paradigm shift, often led by a Copernicus-like renegade. Physicists were locked into preconceived notions when it came to ASCM. "Whenever you are solving a science problem," he said, "when you come in with a prejudice, then you lose the ability to think freely."

Besides, all skepticism and disbelief would fade, he reasoned, when Media Fusion demonstrated the technology via a dramatic broadband test, sending HDTV across the grid for the public to see. According to Stewart, the company had negotiated with Dallas media giant Belo to provide the signal for the test, which had been delayed several times but was now scheduled for March 15, 2000.

Stewart believed the demo would do more than show the world the working technology; it would create a chain reaction of massive investment, industry upheaval, and government support. Triumphantly, he would deliver the Internet, and all the development and education that came with it, to the rural backwaters of the world. And in the process, he'd make trillions.

It all sounded too good to be true, and Stewart seemed to sense my lingering doubts. As I climbed into my car at the end of the day, he shook my hand firmly and looked me squarely in the eye. "We will succeed," he said. "It's just a matter of time. We're not afraid of anything."

And why should he have been? In February 2000, Stewart held a US patent; the broadband test was only weeks away; and he counted some very powerful people among his allies. In Washington, Media Fusion had clearly struck a nerve with the notion of bringing bandwidth to rural America. In the tech industry, the line for the Media Fusion bandwagon stretched around the block.

A retired Navy rear admiral named James Carey, then Media Fusion's director of government relations, opened doors on Capitol Hill for Stewart. It was Carey, the former chair of the Federal Maritime Commission, who recruited McAullife and Livingston onto the board. The technology, Carey said, was for real - even if he didn't quite understand it. "I know enough to know if something makes common sense or not," he said. "As near as I can tell, the things that needed to be done to have technical people in the process have been done."

With Carey's help, Stewart introduced the technology to half a dozen members of Congress - as well as high-level officials at the State Department and the FCC - and presented his ideas about why it should be funded (but not regulated) by the government. The result: a $10 million Department of Defense expenditure for Media Fusion in the 2000 federal budget, for "undersea warfare applications" using ASCM. The provision was eventually dropped, but it served notice of the nascent company's unusual influence in Washington.

When Media Fusion moved into its Dallas offices, US Representative Dick Armey (R-Texas) showed up for a ribbon-cutting photo-op. In March 2000, Stewart was invited to the St. Patrick's Day party at the White House. At one point in the evening, he ended up with five minutes of chat time with President Clinton. The company then set up a political action committee, giving thousands to various political campaigns, including Senator Hillary Clinton's.

Representative Billy Tauzin (R-Louisiana) was particularly enthralled with Media Fusion's prospects. After a briefing by Stewart, Tauzin, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, lauded the technology in a speech to telecom and Internet executives, trumpeting its "huge implications" for the cable and fiber-optic telecommunications industries.

As Media Fusion's reputation grew, avenues once closed to Stewart began to open. Over a period of eight months, beginning in fall 1999, he pitched the Media Fusion future to executives at Sun Microsystems, Enron, SGI, Computer Associates International, AT&T, the FBI, the CIA, the Coast Guard, and dozens of other organizations. According to former Media Fusion employees, Stewart and CEO Edwin Blair, a former oil and gas exec, were offered investments of $20 million or more on at least three occasions. But Stewart and Blair, who together owned more than 80 percent of Media Fusion's stock, refused to cede control, and so passed on deal after deal.

After a briefing by Stewart, the chair of the House Energy Committee trumpeted the tech's "huge implications" for cable and fiber industries.

Blair told me that the company had nonetheless raised between $8 million and $10 million, largely from individual investors. The company also professed to have secured $5 billion from mostly unspecified "licensees," including a $1 billion agreement from a group of US rural electric cooperatives known collectively as Integrated Opportunities.

Stewart "has an uncanny, intuitive ability to use technology," said Garen Ewbank, Integrated Opportunities' founder and the architect for the licensing deal. "I put him in the category with the Gutenbergs, and the Edisons, and the Bells, and the Einsteins."

Experts in the power line communications industry, though, were quietly doubtful. "Their approach is that you're too stupid to understand our technology," said Bill Moroney, president of the United Telecom Council, an information technology consortium of electric utilities. "I'm not going to say it doesn't work," he said, but his encounters with the company had left him with an "odd taste." Fearing legal action, UTC members were reluctant to speak out about Media Fusion. And who could say that ASCM was impossible? "You never know," he said. "They thought the Wright brothers were nuts."

I called Robert Kent, deputy director of Carnegie Mellon's Information Technology Development Center, hoping for a more definitive take. Stewart had told me Kent was leading Media Fusion's research and testing efforts at the university. "He's apparently a really brilliant guy," Kent said of Stewart. "There is a certain lack of formality in this work, which he admits to." But after Carnegie Mellon physicists had met with Stewart, and heard that he had conducted several successful experiments, "the consensus was that maybe there was something there."

Most of the money raised, according to CEO Blair, was being poured back into equipment, patents, and research. He didn't know how many engineers or scientists the company had hired already, but referred vaguely to "software gurus" working in the office. I asked him what kind of technical work these gurus were undertaking.

"Gosh, I don't really know," he said. "I know they were working on one deal for Luke on the big bang theory as it relates to the electric grid."

The big bang? This company did everything big. It was all part of Luke Stewart's master plan, and Blair hit on the fundamental premise underlying it all: "The way we've looked at it from the beginning is that God has given Luke a gift," he said. "And we want to give it to the world."

The Lord works in mysterious ways, they say, and if he's working through Luke Stewart, his methods are peculiar indeed. While the 47-year-old Stewart's corporate bio catalogs a lifetime of technological accomplishments and highly sensitive government work, a thorough dig into his background turns up a raft of pissed-off investors and disillusioned business partners. Media Fusion, it seems, wasn't Stewart's first attempt at saving the world through technology.

An early technical proficiency, he said, led him not to college but to the Navy, where he served three years and was trained in nuclear propulsion and special operations. (Stewart's available military records show only that he was trained as a machinist's mate.) Stewart's post-Navy achievements were nothing short of remarkable. He worked variously as an independent software developer for Microsoft in the 1980s; a leader of a team at Salomon Brothers that designed a secure financial transaction system for Alan Greenspan; a consultant on "advanced physical and technical security measures and countermeasures programs" for a company called Best Systems; and "director of defense imaging and information systems autonetics" for Orincon, a defense think tank.

By its nature, this kind of sensitive work and independent contracting is difficult to verify. A Microsoft spokesperson would confirm only that Stewart is a "former employee," although at Media Fusion's offices I saw a small Microsoft plaque commemorating his Excel macro-writing. Salomon Brothers, merged twice over the past half-decade, could find no trace of his employment. Orincon confirmed that Stewart consulted for the company but said he never held any title. I couldn't find any trace of San Diego-based Best Systems, but on his old résumé the company was listed at the same address as "Stewart Consulting." All in all, there was little to prove or disprove his remarkable claims.

In the basement of the San Diego County Courthouse, however, I discovered a small window into Stewart's past. There I found a record of his first company, a venture called Claritek, which he founded in 1989. The idea behind it was essentially what is known today as telemedicine: The company would create technology to send cardiology images over the telephone lines, enabling hospitals to get real-time advice from heart specialists thousands of miles away.

Stewart intended to use a public demonstration to prove the technology worked - the same game plan he would later adopt to plug Media Fusion - and met with several top cardiologists and radiologists. "Everything he talked about seemed really neat," remembers Eric Hoffman, a professor of radiology at the University of Iowa. "It was vague and far-out enough that neither I nor my computer experts could figure out if it was real. At the same time, we couldn't say it wasn't real. When we tried to say, 'Let's go ahead with this, let's get some money in this,' we never heard from him again."

Symbolics, a hardware manufacturer that shipped Stewart more than $500,000 in workstations, found him similarly elusive. According to court documents from a breach-of-contract suit filed by Symbolics against Claritek in 1990, Stewart simply disappeared when the company tried to collect its money or its equipment. "Claritek is and at all times was a sham," one filing reads, "and was used by defendant Stewart as a device to avoid individual liability for the purpose of substituting a financially insolvent corporation in his place."

When a Symbolics employee showed up at a San Diego hospital to repossess some of the machines, they had been removed. After a city marshal tracked down most of the equipment at a storage facility, Symbolics dropped the suit.

Stewart's sales pitch mixed a barrage of technical jargon with tales of top secret intrigue, including hush-hush technology work for the World Bank.

I contacted Atle Steen, a San Diego-based engineer who knew Stewart at the time, to ask what he remembered about Claritek. His reply: "I sincerely don't believe Luke was a scam artist," he wrote in an email. "But like many who are promoting a new concept and seeking venture capital, I expect he would emphasize the positive and downplay the negative."

Still, Stewart's ventures for the seven years after Claritek - some of which were missing from his official story - repeated the same pattern. In San Diego, Las Vegas, and Washington, DC, he moved among a hazy network of small-businesspeople, gambling executives, and high tech vaporware peddlers. Interviews with nearly a dozen sources paint a picture of a fast-living pitchman seeking money for one idea after another, a man who could alternately bewilder and intimidate potential investors with a barrage of technical jargon and tales of top secret intrigue.

Al Meranto, a federal grant writer and night club developer in Las Vegas, was a friend and business partner of Stewart's for more than a decade. "I watched him over the years bring certain beautiful ideas and inventions and thoughts that could change the entire world's application on things," he said. "But it seems that every time, he would start something, get to a certain level, and then literally disappear."

Many of Stewart's ventures, including an online gambling proposal called GOLD, operated under a limited liability corporation called Texas Information Development Commission, which he claimed was created to conduct secret technology work for the World Bank. Nancy Lee-Rohm, a former employee of TIDC, said she loaned him $50,000 to get the company off the ground. She said Stewart also ran up a $50,000-plus bill on a TIDC corporate credit card she had signed off on. Then he came to her asking for more. When she refused, he cleaned out the office and vanished, leaving her with more than $100,000 of debt. "He ruined my life," she said. "And he ruined my marriage due to what he put us through."

Many former partners and investors tell similar tales, saying that Stewart lived extravagantly, traveling by limo and spending thousands on lavish dinners and hotel suites. Often, he was living on other people's dime - two people I spoke with claimed to have lost tens of thousands in hotel credit card charges by Stewart. "He'd take anything from anybody," said Meranto. "Nothing was sacred."

SEC documents reveal that in 1997, Stewart persuaded a company called Las Vegas Entertainment Networks to sign a $1.5 million contract for him to test ASCM at the El Rancho Hotel, and deploy it in Guatemala. According to the documents and a former partner, more than $1 million was paid out for equipment and expenses, but the technology was never tested.

None of this was known to Edwin Blair, when in 1997 he stepped up to order a drink at a Dallas restaurant and started chatting with a man shuffling papers at the bar. It was Stewart, who proceeded to describe his magnetic wave discoveries and the potential of ASCM. Within weeks, the two were partners in Media Fusion, and Blair's connections started bringing in investments.

As Media Fusion's stature grew, those who had lost money to Stewart were baffled by his newfound success. "He's got more balls than a slaughterhouse," said Henry Drexler, a retired doctor who says he invested and lost money on Stewart's Las Vegas ventures. "If bullshit was music, he'd be a hundred-piece symphony orchestra."

By spring 2000, few people knew that Luke Stewart's Media Fusion symphony was already in its final movement. Publicly, the company was still charging ahead, meeting with potential partners, reporters, and congresspeople. Positive stories, with just a hint of skepticism, appeared in Business 2.0, BusinessWeek, Forbes.com, and Popular Science. Behind the scenes, though, the business was beginning to crumble.

That February, Media Fusion brought in an outside accountant to organize its finances. What he found, say several employees, was shocking. Stewart and Blair were each pulling in more than $1 million per year in salary and expenses. Stewart had resumed his spending habits, traveling by limo and dropping tens of thousands over the year on liquor and dinners. Soon after the accountant started asking questions, he was summarily dismissed.

The broadband test scheduled for March 15 was delayed month after month. Later, I discovered that Belo had never agreed to provide Stewart with HDTV. And with the stock market decline in April 2000, partners soon became scarce. Investors started looking for answers. "The money slowed down when the dotcom crisis hit," says Steven Yoder, a Tyler, Texas, doctor who was one of the company's first investors. "So the investors and the board members started looking at where did this money go?" In July, the board of directors reorganized the company and capped expense accounts.

Even by the standards of the dotcom boom, the founders' spending habits had been extraordinary. Stewart often flew by private jet and would commonly offer prospective employees double the salaries they requested. Corporate checks, wire transfers, and credit card records show that Stewart spent $350,000-plus on jewelry and more than $50,000 on sound equipment. But the "software gurus" described to me by Blair had never been hired. Over three years, in fact, Media Fusion employed only one engineer besides Stewart.

The negotiations with Carnegie Mellon, too, had collapsed when the university asked for access to the company's intellectual property. "At the end of the day, we decided that he did not know what he was talking about," said Robert Kent. "In our dealings with Mr. Stewart face-to-face, he was not able to explain the physics of what was going on."

Stewart, meanwhile, often failed to show up for work at Media Fusion. Much of his time was spent renting thousands a month in music studio time to record a hodgepodge of local bands for his side project, a record label called Big G Records.

$50,000 on sound equipment, $350,000-plus on jewelry: Even by the standards of the dotcom boom, his spending habits were extraordinary.

While Stewart was dabbling in the music industry, Media Fusion continued its slide. Salaries stopped being paid in December. Finally, the company was forced to take out a $275,000 loan, with a lien on the patent as collateral, to keep the lights on.

As the company began to collapse, its champions in the government quickly ran for the exits. Terry McAullife left the board sometime in the summer of 2000. Now chair of the Democratic National Committee, he didn't answer repeated requests to comment for this story. Neither did Representative Tauzin, who had lauded the company's potential impact a year before. Admiral Carey says he left in September, although his signature appears on Media Fusion PAC documents through December. Bob Livingston said only that "I was on the board; I did not have anything to do with day-to-day operations. And when, a few months ago, I saw things that I didn't like, I got off."

Stewart had enough clout left to earn an invitation to testify before Congress in October 2000, declaring that Media Fusion would "start an unprecedented era of social economic empowerment." By December, he was again empowering himself, obtaining a corporate credit card despite new expense restrictions at Media Fusion. He went on a lavish spending spree, charging jewelry, liquor, and more limousines.

Finally, the directors had seen enough and voted to fire him as an employee in December. In January 2001, they removed him as chair. Ed Blair stayed on the board for a couple more months as a part-time consultant. On February 14, 2001, Media Fusion's Web site was replaced by a single page announcing Stewart's dismissal.

All told, Stewart, Blair, and the company had burned through $16 million since its inception. For all of that money, Media Fusion had never conducted a single lab test. And outside the company, no research institution in the world even bothered to try to verify the results of Stewart's supposed breakthroughs. Stewart's Nobel Prize, needless to say, never materialized.

"The whole idea is basically preposterous," said Robert Park, physicist and author of Voodoo Science: The Road From Foolishness to Fraud. "There were a bunch of warning lights. Probably the most significant is, it had absolutely no way of getting the signal through transformers. It doesn't work that simply, and in fact, there is absolutely no way to send the magnetic field, and not the electric field."

Park, like many scientists, doesn't feel like dwelling on the company. "I'm really not interested in beating up on Media Fusion," he says, "because they are not going anywhere. I think it's about over for Media Fusion. Rest in peace."

Park may have left Media Fusion for dead, but I wasn't so sure. There were rumbles from members of the company's new management team that they were seeking further funding. And somehow, I doubted that Stewart would go quietly. I traveled to Dallas once more, to hear his side of the story - and what he planned to do next.

At his latest residence, a cookie-cutter apartment complex in north Dallas, I stopped by one afternoon and left a note. To my surprise, he called me a few hours later, saying he'd love to get together and "talk about old times." That evening, after dropping off his black BMW convertible with the hotel valet, we sat at a small table and talked for two hours. I was struck by what little impact his firing had on him.

"Media Fusion has great potential," he said cheerfully. "I have tremendous excitement when I consider the opportunity." He was moving forward with the development, he said, and still owned the rights to the patent and a majority interest in the company - facts the company's new management disputes. He said that both Integrated Opportunities and a typically obscure Korean outfit called PowerKorea 21 had licenses with him.

Stewart danced around questions about his past and spending habits. Did he spend extravagantly? I asked. "What is extravagant?" he countered. Did he ride around in limos all the time, fly by private jet? "What is all the time?" Did he feel that funding his record label was irresponsible? No, it was a "service to the community" and a "content bucket" for the company. Besides, he said, Ed Blair had signed his checks.

His history, he said, was full of hangers-on looking to cash in on his ideas. He maintained that he had sold Claritek to "people in the health care industry," and that he countersued Symbolics and won. TIDC had never pitched an online gambling venture, he said - he was opposed to online gambling and had been lobbying against it. Las Vegas Entertainment Networks, he said, had never paid him a dime for ASCM development. He claimed he had never heard of Nancy Lee-Rohm, the woman buried under $100,000 of debt, and wouldn't comment on the thousands in credit card charges he was accused of running up.

"People are always trying to steal something for nothing," he said. "I think inventors run across that all the time."

Stewart's answers were, at best, half-truths. There's no record of a countersuit against Symbolics, nor do either Stewart's or Symbolics' former lawyers recall any such suit. A videotape of a presentation by Stewart and his TIDC partners shows him promising "a thousand-, a million-fold" increase in revenue via TIDC's secure system for online gaming. His explanation of LVEN ran counter to both the SEC documents and what others had told me.

But there wasn't much point in arguing. Even when I told him flat-out about the documented evidence of his online gambling venture, he continued his blanket denials. It was all part of the persona he had fashioned for himself. "If you can't take criticism as a scientist, you ought to get out of the business," he said. "Galileo didn't have a good time, either."

Stewart's persistence - capped by a July 5 press release announcing his "re-election" as the company's chair, sent out by his new PR rep, former D Magazine writer Richard Urban - has created a strange two-headed Media Fusion. Each side claims control of the name and the patent. The dispute appears headed for court. Both sides, meanwhile, talk of new deals just around the corner and unnamed research institutes awaiting the go-ahead to test ASCM. The original investors aren't holding their breath, and some are quietly hoping another PLC company will hit it big and somehow infringe the patent. While there has been talk among shareholders of suing, many have simply chalked up their losses to a bad market and moved on. (Stewart himself has also launched a company called Transcendent Technologies to develop grid-management software.)

Could Stewart's product work? Who wants to disprove an idea that can change the world and fatten your bank account at the same time?

Media Fusion, as Luke Stewart spun it, was about helping the world through technology and getting rich doing it. Stewart didn't create the demand for his product, he just gave the market what it wanted. People like Terry McAullife, Bob Livingston, and Billy Tauzin, investors, and journalists were already out there, seeking the next big thing. Without a physics degree, advanced sub-carrier modulation is difficult to understand, much less disprove. And who wants to disprove an idea that can change the world and fatten your bank account at the same time?

The last time I saw him, Stewart was heading out of the Hotel Inter-Continental as the daylight faded over north Dallas. He seemed upbeat that our conversation had gone so well, and it left him a little reflective. "Everything's coming together," he said. "It's been a long haul, and it's probably going to be a little bit longer. People have misunderstandings, it happens all the time. It doesn't deter me from my pursuit of excellence. It makes me more careful."

He smiled and shook his head as he turned away. "Entrepreneurs 101: It's a heck of an education, heck of an opportunity."

So Luke Stewart - self-proclaimed national treasure - carries on. Chances are, we haven't heard the last of him, because Stewart sold his vision best to the one person who will never pull the plug: himself. Once you become a man with a Big Idea, the mundane details of the scientific method can never match the thrill of changing the world with a sweep of your hand.


posted by Jose | 11:22 AM

Monday, June 13, 2005  

HE ARTS/CULTURAL DESK | May 28, 2005, Saturday

With Irreverence and an iPod, Recreating the Museum Tour

By RANDY KENNEDY (NYT) 1542 words
Late Edition - Final , Section A , Page 1 , Column 5
NEW YORK--If you soak up the Jackson Pollocks at the Museum of Modern Art while listening to the museum's official rented $5 audio guide, you will hear informative but slightly dry quotations from the artist and commentary from a renowned curator. ("The grand scale and apparently reckless approach seem wholly American.")

But the other day, a college student, Malena Negrao, stood in front of Pollock's "Echo Number 25," and her audio guide featured something a little more lively. "Now, let's talk about this painting sexually," a man's deep voice said. "What do you see in this painting?"

A woman, giggling, responded on the audio track: "Oh my God! You're such a pervert. I can't even say what that--am I allowed to say what that looks like?"

The exchange sounded a lot more like MTV than Modern Art 101, but for Ms. Negrao, it had a few things to recommend it. It was free. It didn't involve the museum's audio device, which resembles a cell phone crossed with a nightstick. And best of all, it was slightly subversive: an unofficial, homemade and thoroughly irreverent audio guide to MoMA, downloaded onto her own iPod.

The creators of this guide, David Gilbert, a professor of communication at Marymount Manhattan College, and a group of his students, describe it on their Web site as a way to "hack the gallery experience" or "remix MoMa," which they do with a distinctly collegiate blend of irony, pop music and heavy breathing. It is one of the newest adaptations in the world of podcasting--downloading radio shows, music and kitchen-sink audio to an MP3 player.

Specifically, these museum guides are an outgrowth of a recent podcasting trend called "sound seeing," in which people record narrations of their travels--walking on the beach, wandering through the French Quarter--and upload them onto the Internet for others to enjoy. In that spirit, the creators of the unauthorized guides to the Modern have also invited anyone interested to submit his or her own tour for inclusion on the project's Web site, mod.blogs.com/art_mobs. (Instructions are on the Web site.)

In the museum world, where the popularity of audio tours has grown tremendously over the last decade, the use of commercial MP3 players seems to be catching on. Officials at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis have discussed putting their new audio guide material on the Web for downloading to portable players. Last year, the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo lent viewers iPods to use as audio guides for one exhibition, and Apple Computer has helped the Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley of France do the same thing, using the sonorous voice of the actor Michael Lonsdale.

But the rise of podcasting is now enabling museumgoers not simply to enjoy audio guides on a sleeker-looking device but also to concoct their own guides and tours. A New York art Web site, woostercollective.com, recently made a sound-seeing tour of the Jean-Michel Basquiat retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, which the Web site's creators made in hushed tones while wandering through the show, sometimes quoting from the museum's official audio guide, which they listened to as they chatted.

At Marymount, on the Upper East Side, Dr. Gilbert said he was partly inspired to create the unofficial guides after listening to the museum's audio tours for children, which he found much more entertaining and engaging than the new ones recently introduced for grown-ups.

But Dr. Gilbert said his larger point was to try to teach his students to stop being passive information consumers--whether through television, radio or an official audio guide--and to take more control, using as his model the guru of so-called remix culture, Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Stanford Law School.

"It's not incumbent on us to, you know, praise the art necessarily," Dr. Gilbert said recently at the museum, wearing neon-green sunglasses and leading a group of students through the underground tour. "That's part of the playfulness and fun of this project. If we want to say something irreverent or something scathing about the art, that can come out." (In the name of politeness, the project's Web site does tip its hat to the Modern: "Apologia: We love MoMA. Hackers hack a platform out of respect for it.")

Informed about the project last week, museum officials declined to reciprocate with their opinions, but also made no comments about instituting an iPod ban.

So far, the unofficial guides cover only a few of the museum's works--by artists like Pollock, Cindy Sherman, Francis Bacon, Picasso, Max Beckmann and Marc Chagall, whose well-known "I and the Village" comes in for a critical pummeling by Jason Rosenfeld, a Marymount professor of art history, who calls it "the worst, most reductive kind of art" and blames Chagall for all the "ugly menorahs" and tacky stained-glass windows in modern synagogues.

"It's the worst style that ever developed in the history of art," he declares.

A visceral Bacon painting called "Painting" (1946) gets an all-music treatment that sometimes sounds like Metallica. Beckmann receives a dark hip-hop soundtrack. ("If anybody cares/ I'll be in the basement slitting my throat/ Happy New Year.") And the Pollock guide, while mostly sex-obsessed, does include the owner of the deep voice, John Benton, another Marymount communication professor, talking about Pollock's calligraphic technique and his references to Roman art.

But lest any of this become boring, the discussion is also sprinkled with driving guitar riffs from the 1970's song "Peaches," by the Stranglers, along with echo effects and the sound of a woman moaning in pleasure.

"That's not me doing that," stressed Ms. Negrao, a Marymount junior who is one of the women's voices on the Pollock guide. "That's a sound effect."

Last week, as she and her fellow students Liza Pastore, Cheryl Stoever and Aubrey Strickland gathered in a semicircle in front of the Pollock, other museumgoers crowding by would slow down and stare, wondering why the women were laughing and what they were hearing through those familiar white iPod earphones.

Later, in front of Ms. Sherman's "Untitled No. 92," the group roped in a stranger, Ashkan Sahihi, and persuaded him to listen along on one of their iPods to a funny and sometimes silly recorded exchange between students and professors about the photograph, with the soundtrack from the movie "Kill Bill" blasting in the background. Mr. Sahihi smiled and bobbed his head to the beat and later pronounced the student production much better than the last audio guide he'd heard (and that was an official one narrated by David Bowie).

"Anybody who listens to those guides that you really get in museums," he said, "you get pretty tired because usually it's a very drawn-out explanation of why the museum was willing to pay so much money for a picture."

"This is not just some expensive name telling me about expensive art," he added. "Plus, it's funny."

posted by Jose | 7:09 PM

Friday, May 20, 2005  

Design move cuts Wi-Fi radio costs

MANHASSET, N.Y. — Using a tightly coupled, highly integrated RF and baseband design, Intersil Corp. has realized a working direct-conversion radio that promises to drastically reduce the cost and size of 802.11b (Wi-Fi) radios. Intersil's announcement last week comes at a time when pricing structures for 802.11b radios are facing extreme downward pressure, as traditional suppliers such as Intel and Agere face competition from low-cost, high-volume vendors like D-Link and Linksys.

According to a report by Cahners In-Stat Group, the competition has forced severe price cuts already and will continue to do so throughout 2001. But the report predicts end-use revenue growth by early 2002 as 5-GHz technologies are deployed. The report also predicts that wireless LAN (WLAN) technology will be immune to the current economic conditions and will increase its total enterprise WLAN end-use revenues to almost $4.6 billion by 2005.

All this is good news for Intersil, which has spent the past year developing its direct-conversion Prism 3 chip set to cement its standing as a leading provider of WLAN chip sets, a position it shares with Agere. While Agere develops its own baseband and media-access controller and relies on Philips for the RF front end, Intersil, on the other hand, has been doing both. That is what separates the two companies and gives Intersil the edge in direct conversion for 802.11b radios, said Larry Ciaccia, marketing manager at Intersil.

"We took a system-level approach that tightly couples the baseband to the RF front end," said Ciaccia. "This is essential if a fully optimized zero-IF (ZIF) radio is to be achieved." The tight coupling allows Intersil to apply complex, nonlinear signal acquisition algorithms to control the automatic gain control (AGC) and dc-offset loop closures, which is a particularly difficult task in a WLAN environment.

"Because of the short packet preamble you only have about 10 microseconds to close," said Doug Schultz, a designer on the Prism 3 team. "Otherwise, you don't get the data." While targeting the short-preamble IEEE specification is aggressive, it allows the radio to achieve maximum throughput of 11 Mbits/s.

Cellular applications have been inundated lately with direct-conversion solutions from the likes of Analog Devices, Conexant, Parkervision and Texas Instruments. "While it's been done before, it's not been done for this application," said Schultz. "Cellular applications are full duplex and don't face the same time limitations when it comes to converging."

Schultz said that while Philips has already released a direct-conversion radio for .11b, it suffers from the fact that the AGC and dc-offset loops are completely self-contained. "You can't fully optimize for cost and performance with that type of design," he said.

Much of the cost reduction in direct-conversion radios comes from the elimination of the intermediate-frequency stage between the RF front end and the baseband. That eliminates many components, most notably the expensive SAW filter. Along with lowering cost and saving space, the smaller component count also reduces inventory requirements, saves on assembly and test costs and improves overall reliability.

In Prism 3, the approach has allowed the complete radio to be reduced to four main components — the ISL3871 baseband processor and media-access controller (BBP/MAC), the ISL3684 RF front end, the ISL3984 power amplifier and the ISL3084 5-GHz voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO).

"Keeping these stages separate allowed us to use the best technology and process for each," said Ciaccia. The BBP/MAC is done in a 0.25-micron TSMC CMOS process, while the RF stage and VCO are in Intersil's own UHF-2 BiCMOS process and the power amp uses IBM's silicon-germanium process.

Due to the 15 patents pending for the Prism 3 design, implementation details are sketchy, limited to "proprietary algorithms" for the acquisition processing and "proprietary layout techniques" to minimize local-oscillator coupling (to reduce the dc offset). "We also minimize coupling through the use of the UHF-2 process, which features extra layers for junction isolation," said Ciaccia. "And the inputs are fully differential." For the transmit side, the design uses "highly linear circuit design" with patented techniques to maintain phase and amplitude balance and control of dc offset.

However, performance details at the receiver include adjacent-channel rejection of about 40 decibels (the IEEE spec is 35 dB) and an input IP2 range of between 14 dBm and 51 dBm, depending on the front-end gain state. The spectral regrowth on the transmit side is greater than 40 dB down at the first side lobe, at 30 dBc.

The device operates from 3.3 V and consumes 0.9 W in receive mode or 1 W in transmit. Standby consumption is 0.01 W.

Available later this year, the Prism 3 will enable a bill of materials of $35, compared with $52 for the Prism 2.5.


posted by Jose | 7:32 PM

Wednesday, April 20, 2005  

April 21, 2005
Innovation Moves From the Laboratory to the Bike Trail and the KitchenBy VIRGINIA POSTREL
HEN most people think about where new or improved products come from, they imagine two kinds of innovators: either engineers and marketers in big companies trying to "find a need and fill it" or garage entrepreneurs hoping to strike it rich by inventing the next big thing.
But a lot of significant innovations do not come from people trying to figure out what customers may want. They come from the users themselves, who know exactly what they want but cannot get it in existing products.
"A growing body of empirical work shows that users are the first to develop many, and perhaps most, new industrial and consumer products," Eric von Hippel, head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in "Democratizing Innovation," recently published by MIT Press. (The book can be downloaded at Professor von Hippel's Web site, http://web.mit.edu/evhippel/www/ .)
Innovation by users is not new, but it is growing. Thanks to low-cost computer-based design products, innovators do not have to work in a professional organization to have access to high-quality tools. Even home sewing machines have all sorts of computerized abilities. And once a new design is in digital form, the Internet allows users to share their ideas easily.
Because users are often quite different from each other, their innovation, by definition, accommodates variety. A survey of users of Apache Web server software found that different sites had different security needs: one size definitely did not fit all. Nineteen percent of the users surveyed had written new code to tailor the software to their specific purposes.
"Users are designing exactly what they want for themselves; they have only a market of one to serve," Professor von Hippel said in an interview. "Manufacturers are trying to fit their existing investments and existing solution types to the largest market possible."
Open-source software like Apache or Linux is an obvious example of users developing and sharing innovations, but it is not the only one. Many of the book's examples come from extreme sports like kite surfing and snowboarding, where enthusiasts often invent their own equipment. Mountain biking, Professor von Hippel noted, grew to about half a million participants before manufacturers started to make bicycles suited for wild rides on rough terrain.
Mountain bikers ride on different terrains and in different weather conditions, and they do different sorts of tricks. They also come from varied professional backgrounds, from orthopedic surgery to aerospace engineering, giving them different skills to draw on.
Not surprisingly, bikers have come up with a wide range of innovations. One biker developed his own armor and protective clothing. Another invented a way to carry his bike on steep mountains and dangle it over cliffs. Yet another added metal studs to his tires for biking on ice.
In order for companies to generate new ideas, Professor von Hippel urges them to pay more attention to "lead users" like these biking enthusiasts: people who stretch the limits of a technology and create their own innovative prototypes.
In a study at 3M, he and several colleagues found that product ideas from lead users generated eight times the sales of ideas generated internally - $146 million versus $18 million a year - in part because lead users were more likely to come up with ideas for entire new product lines rather than minor improvements.
The definition of "lead users" can become a bit circular, identifying anyone who innovates as a "lead user." But in some fields, it is not hard to spot the people whose need to lower costs or enhance performance is particularly great.
"The Disney animators or Pixar animators are ahead on video editing tools from the ordinary consumer," Professor von Hippel said. "Yet we know the stuff that these guys develop now ends up migrating downstream to the general people over time."
To get people exactly what they want, user innovation suggests an alternative to mass customization, the manufacturing process that seeks to tailor products to specific users while maintaining the economies of large-scale production. Mass customization generally entails mixing and matching pre-specified components, which significantly limits its flexibility.
When you order a Dell computer, for instance, "you can slot in any disk drive you want, but it's still a disk drive," Professor von Hippel said. Truly flexible manufacturing technologies, he suggested, would work more like photocopiers, which do not limit what sort of images they can reproduce.
The model is custom semiconductor design and manufacturing.
"For digital components, you can design anything you want, whether it's artificial life or a dishwasher controller, and just like you print characters on a piece of paper, you can print your design," he said. Users can design and test whatever they need and turn the design over to the chip maker's flexible manufacturing technology.
Custom chips are possible because chip makers, beginning with LSI in the early 1980's, developed "tool kits" that let customers design their own solutions without mastering the manufacturer's technical knowledge. That is a model other industries could follow, Professor von Hippel suggested.
In the book, for instance, he discusses the problems of creating recipes for restaurant chains. Traditionally, the restaurant chefs use regular kitchen ingredients to develop new recipes. For mass production, those recipes have to be translated into factory ingredients and processes, which do not have the same tastes and textures. To reproduce a new dish, then, food processors have to work from a chef's sample but reinvent the recipe. Getting the right formula often requires many iterations.
To help chefs create the final recipes themselves, Ernie Gum, director of food product development for the Nestlé FoodServices division of Nestlé USA, developed what Professor von Hippel called a "tool kit" of preprocessed food ingredients identical to those actually used in the factory - for example, a chili purée processed on industrial equipment. In field testing, Professor von Hippel found, the tool kit cut the time to develop new foods from 26 weeks to only 3.
Tool kits speed innovation by letting users and manufacturers apply their own specific knowledge. With a tool kit, the customer can turn a poorly articulated wish into a well-specified plan. "I can say," Professor von Hippel said, " 'I'll design my wish and then you make it.' "
Virginia Postrel (www.dynamist.com) is the author of "The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture and Consciousness."
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posted by Jose | 7:52 PM

Thursday, February 03, 2005  

Amazon's A9

a9.com (yellow pages section)

Let your fingers do the walking? That's just sooooo 2004.... Amazon subsidiary A9 this morning rolled out a new Yellow Pages service that allows users to view pictures of the storefronts and locations of businesses in 10 cities, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle and cities in the San Francisco Bay area. "We allow people from their computer to look at the street, to walk to the left, to walk to the right, to see the neighborhood, to see parking — it's virtually like you're there," A9 President Udi Manber told Search Engine Watch. "Pictures get you information faster than any other way. Very often you remember a place but not its name. This is a very easy way to find it." Indeed, search on "Biz Markie alarm clock," for instance, and the site returns a list of stores in your ZIP Code, a map showing where they are, and a photo panorama of the city block in which each of those businesses is located (pedestrians and all). Click on the photo and you can virtually stroll down that block, getting a feel for the neighborhood while thanking fate that you weren't one of those poor camera-equipped interns sent out to document the urban landscape. (Of course, if you're a user of France Telecom's Pages Jaunes, this is old hat.) So what's in this for Amazon? Right now, not much more than the satisfaction of stealing a march on Google, which owns its own digital mapping company, Keyhole, and is no doubt cooking up something that involves search, maps, pictures and ads. But one day, I imagine, it may take commission fees for referrals to bricks-and-mortar stores. Or it will begin charging for "Click to Call" -- a feature that lets customers phone a business at the click of a mouse, for free. Says John Battelle, who runs the widely read Searchblog: "This is one small step away from a pay-per-call model, which is one of the most sought-after features from businesses." Others see an untapped market for a mobile version. "This service should be formatted so that cell phones can access the service, not just computers, because the chance of using this on a cell phone will be much higher," Mark Anderson, the publisher of the tech newsletter Strategic News Service, told the Seattle Post Intelligencer. "I think we need the info, but I am not sure that it has been offered in a way that has been useful, such as in the right devices. I think these things are kind of spontaneous, because I am more likely to be in the streets when I want to know where the nearest Italian restaurant is."

posted by Jose | 1:32 PM

Friday, November 19, 2004  

They barrelled down our mountainside highway on wooden planks held togethor with wires, cheap ropes, shoe nail---all of it rolling on train of of spice cans leading a second life as wheels. These were the barefoot engineers of my childhood. My father commissioned one of their contraptions for me when I was five. Looking back, this was a first exposure to something resembling indigenous technology---at least, indigenous ingeniuty. I was too small and my parents too worried for me to take my box car outside. So I pursued the regular cycle that all my toys undergo: buy-play-dissamsemble-assemble-repeat.
In 1997, a year after graduating from high school, with honors in physics, and at the top of my class. I went on to pursue studies in engineering, stumbling into a senior level science technology and society class at Georgia Tech. I felt like a single-instrument musician who discovers the possilities of conducting an entire orchestra. International technology transfer, spillover effects, dual-use devices, indigenous and appropriate technology were great concepts to apply towards third world development.
And then came Mitch.
Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras so bad in 1998, that 70% of the infrastructure was wiped out, leaving _____ dead and many more homeless. My father's house was washed away into a swelling river. Financial burdens became greater and greater as my stepfather's and mother's business collapsed. My sister and I became holders of a Temporary Protected Status while in college: essentially refugees. After two years of struggling to make ends meet, we went to work full time, promising ourselves that we would go back to school as soon as we could afford it. The experience was a sobering test of resolve. In a way, I had become the barefoot engineer. Yes, I had shoes, but I lacked the resources to pursue the applied sciences I dreamed of. My best outlet was to keep up with the literature on STS and engineering design
conductor who I quickly found out that my interest for Engineering interest
STS Interest
Tech Transfer
Metrics to detect innovation

posted by Jose | 7:26 AM

Friday, August 27, 2004  

He is up 15 points this week. The street speech artist is mixed electronically by DJ (insert name)

posted by Jose | 11:39 AM

The Mercedez Benz rolls around the bend through the Reparto Avenue along the money wiring shop, liquor stores, and lottery outlets. It was like a German engineered blade slicing through a potpourri bouquet of lower class advertisement covered in the musky yet spicey smell of outdoor friers and broilers. For a second you can see the LOTTERY SEND MONEY ORDERS USED CLOTHES signs against the side impact airbag ladden doors. Half a second later Rodolfo Dickerman Fuñua's sun shades spell HABLAMOS ESPANOL.

German engineering and BAM!

The Volkswagen Brasilia behind Dickerman's 600S misfires a valve. The 600S roars to life as the driver guns the pedal.

Hijo de tu madre apurta! 2 seconds later after a thundering start that is faster than everyone's sensse coming to terms with the lack of a kidnap threat by the poor old in-line four. Dickerman removes his shares.

Porque te venistes por aqui?

I go the regular route don Rufo.

4 hours earlier Dickerman is standing in his kitchen floor having imaginary conversations with officials of the IMF and the World Bank. The officials are astounded by his clarity, surpassed only by the sheer knowledge coming out of his mouth.

posted by Jose | 11:32 AM

Tuesday, August 03, 2004  

ethyl tetra fluoro ethylene
This is the materials used in the Eden Project
The DomesIn the last section, we looked at the most basic greenhouse, a simple box made of transparent glass or plastic. Eden's designers decided not to use these traditional materials in their greenhouses -- they went with glazed ethyl tetra fluoro ethylene (ETFE) foil instead. ETFE foil is a perfect covering for a greenhouse because it is strong, transparent and lightweight. A piece of ETFE weighs less than 1 percent of a piece of glass with the same volume. It is also a better insulator than glass, and it is much more resistant to the weathering effects of sunlight.
Photo courtesy Apex Photo Agency, Photographer Marc HillWorkers installing ETFE foil panels in the dome ceiling
The Eden Project designers formed this ETFE material into extremely sturdy pillows, each made from three sheets of ETFE foil welded together along the sides, one on top of the other, with layers of air pumped in between them. The air layers provide increased insulation without decreasing the amount of sunlight that shines through. The coolest thing about these pillows is that they are adjustable: On a colder day, they can be pumped up with more air to provide better insulation; on a hotter day, they can be partially deflated to allow more cooling.
Eden's designers attached pillows together to form geodesic domes. In this sort of structure, many flat panels, formed into triangles, pentagons, hexagons or other polygons, are pieced together to form a curved surface. This design is remarkable because none of the individual pieces are curved at all, but they come together to form a rounded structure.
Photo courtesy Apex Photo Agency, Photographer Simon BurtEach ETFE pillow is secured in the steel framework.
In the Eden Project domes, these geometric panels are the ETFE pillows. Each pillow is attached to a web of interlocking steel tubes. Each dome actually has two web layers, one with hexagonal and pentagonal panels and one with triangular panels. The total Eden structure uses 625 hexagons, 16 pentagons and 190 triangles.
Like the steel grid in a skyscraper, the steel frame of the geodesic dome is incredibly strong relative to its weight. This weight (667 tons) is dispersed evenly throughout the entire structure so that the dome only needs support around its base, leaving lots of room for the plants inside. The edges of the dome rest on a sturdy foundation necklace, an underground concrete wall around the perimeter of the structure.
Photo courtesy Apex Photo Agency, Photographer Simon BurtWorkers assemble the steel framework of the greenhouses. The Eden Project crew broke the world record for largest free-standing scaffold.
Designing these sorts of domes is a mind-boggling exercise in geometry. You have to figure out exactly which shapes to use and how to fit them all together to form a perfectly curved structure. Eden's designers figured everything out using sophisticated computer software. The software generated precise 3-D computer models of the different domes, which the designers fed into an automated production-line computer. Using the 3-D models, this computer determined which pieces the construction crew would need and directed machines to cut steel beams to those exact specifications. When it came time to build the domes, the crew simply followed the instructions and put all of the pieces together.
One advantage of the geodesic dome shape is that it adapts easily to most ground surfaces. Eden's designers describe the domes as giant bubbles that can be set down just about anywhere. The designers built the domes along the side of the pit that faces south, since the Sun is in the southern part of the sky in Cornwall (click here to find out why). The slanted ground is perfectly positioned to absorb thermal energy all day long, heating the air even after the sun has gone down.
Photo courtesy Apex Photo Agency, Photographer Simon BurtPutting all the pieces of the dome together, in April 2000
Capturing light is only one part of maintaining a greenhouse, of course. For the plants to thrive, you also need to provide good soil and adequate water. In the next section, we'll see how this is done in the Eden Project biomes.

posted by Jose | 7:10 AM

Sunday, March 28, 2004  

Lo conozco de OU porque el me encontro la grabadora

posted by Jose | 4:29 PM

Blueprint Small

Also Lienhard, John

Mechanisms & Mechanical devices

Who is Fourier

posted by Jose | 4:27 PM

Stone Temple Pilots

posted by Jose | 4:26 PM

Sunday, August 24, 2003  

Cool song lyrics from Courtney Love
Doll Parts
Live Through This

I am doll eyes
Doll mouth
Doll legs
I am doll arms
Big veins
Dog bait
Yea they really want you
They really want you
They really do
Yea they really want you
They really want you
But I do too
I want to be the girl with the most cake
I love him so much he just turns to hate
I fake it so real I am beyond fake
And someday you will ache like I ache
Some day you will ache like I ache
I am doll parts
Bad skin
Doll heart
It stands for knife
For the rest of my life
Yea they really want you
They really want you
They really do
Yea they really want you
They really want you
But I do too
I want to be the girl with the most cake
He only loves those things because he loves to see them break
I fake it so real I am beyond fake
And some day you will ache like I ache
Some day you will ache like I ache
Some day you will ache like I ache
Some day you will ache like I ache
Some day you will ache like I ache
Some day you will ache like I ache
Some day you will ache like I ache
Some day you will ache like I ache
Some day you will ache like I ache
Some day you will ache like I ache
Some day you will ache like I ache

posted by Jose | 10:03 PM

Monday, July 07, 2003  

PBA 30 June 24, 2003
11:30 pm

Thomaston Project
Auburn University
Rural Studio program



Sanders-Dudley House
Sambo Mockbee

posted by Jose | 7:37 AM

Tuesday, May 27, 2003  

check out NYC the Remote Control lounge

posted by Jose | 8:44 PM

one of my favrite shows is Frontline on PBS

posted by Jose | 8:44 PM

architect Maya Lin

posted by Jose | 8:43 PM

Monday, May 26, 2003  

To learn more about Richard Florida’s work check out his website http://www.heinz.cmu.edu/~florida/. The Tech-Pole ratings are from America’s High-Tech Economy (Milken Institute, July 1999. (http://www.milken-inst.org/)

posted by Jose | 8:55 PM


Rainy city is UK's most creative

Sun-kissed San Francisco is similar to rainy Manchester, the report says
Visitors to Manchester could be forgiven for thinking they are in San Francisco - and it is not just the trams.
A report says the North West city is the UK's most creative, while its Californian counterpart wins the honour in the US.

Manchester's notoriously rainy climate is at odds with that of sun-kissed San Francisco.

But the Boho Britain creativity index said the cities were very similar when it came to attracting creative people.

The index was created by the US economic regeneration expert Richard Florida, who measured the appeal of cities to the new creative class which he says indicate a city's economic health.

Manchester's Mardi Gras gay festival is Europe's largest
The annual San Francisco Pride event is famous throughout the US
The world's first computer was built in Manchester
San Francisco and Silicon Valley is the heart of the US's computer industry
Manchester bands such as Oasis have achieved worldwide fame
San Francisco is famous for its Opera company
The three indicators are ethnic diversity, proportion of gay residents and the number of patent applications per head.

Both San Francisco's Castro area and Manchester's Canal Street are famous for their gay-friendliness with the latter featuring in the television series, Queer as Folk.

Europe's biggest gay and lesbian festival, EuroPride, is due to be held in the city later in 2003.

'Outside the norm'

Mr Florida said: "Most centres of technology-based business growth also have high concentrations of gay couples.

"What I have found is that straight men and women also look for a visibly gay community as an indication that a city is likely to be an exciting place to live.

"Creative, innovative and entrepreneurial activities tend to flourish in the same kinds of places that attract gays and others outside the norm.

"When people with varied backgrounds and attitudes collide, economic growth is likely."

Leicester and London shared second place in the UK while Bristol finished fifth, Liverpool in 17th and Newcastle/Gateshead 21st.

posted by Jose | 8:53 PM

Monday, May 19, 2003  

Charges $169: $500K+ homes, includes 2 360 views,
300K less is $89. no 360 views. If you want 360 views it costs $39 plus 20 dollars each additional view
Supershot scnes are $39 and you get 10 of those
The site lasts 150 days and then you renew it for $5 a month
There is an activity report

They do not use the parabolic method, but instead use the standard stitching method. They are waiting for video streaming until Windows Media Player releases their latest CODEC compression in about 2 weeks.

posted by Jose | 9:13 PM

J/GM Design Realty
Wrights Mills

Send via USPS to
55 Marchman Dr
ATL 30305

posted by Jose | 9:06 PM

Check out Argentian erector sets "meccano"

posted by Jose | 9:05 PM

Wednesday, May 14, 2003  

Things to do in NYC
the Whitney
Carnegie Mellon Tower (near Central Park)
Canal Street Shop
United Nations
Chrysler Building
Cooper Union
Pop Shop in 292 Lafayette Street
MOMA: Get the Perpetual Clock

posted by Jose | 10:08 PM

Monday, April 28, 2003  

India's Talented Research Pool Lures GE, Other Firms
WSJ by Joanna Slater

Bangalore, India
In a sinline la, a gorup of hemists hover a atruck sized model aof a GE plastics plant bsaed in Cartagena, SPain. Somwher ei the tangle of pipes and vents---a simulation of hte $600 Million Spanish plants---scientists hope to find the key to boosting output at hte facility by at least a quearter.

GE has lon gtakn advantage of Inida as aplced with low cost hiugh quality talent. The company was aleader in cultivvating India's strenagth in crucnhin gsoftware code, an dstaffing call centers for multinational companies Now its going a step further: snapping up India's scientist & engineers to work on GE's next generation refrigarators and ket engines. OTher companies such as GM and Honeywell International an dIntel are following suit.

GE has sunk mor ethan 80 in creating its largest research center outside the US where more than 1600 employees work on a rnage of projects. It's a move partly born of necessity. Th eindian R&D opretaion are part of a broader push by the CEO to use new tech to reinvigorate the company's falllging growth.

There are risks: GE an dother multi's were shaken last summer when India nad PAkistan nearly wen tto war. Another challege is keeping Indian researchers connected with the divisions and customer wthey're serving.

There was no lack of talent: Each year Karnataka state produces more than 36000 engineers.

GM has its own 21 million rserch center in angalore opeinign in Jue.

posted by Jose | 5:25 AM

Scandal factors into 'Pi' equation
By Deirdre Donahue, USA TODAY
Canadian writer Yann Martel's first novel, Self, "vanished quickly and quietly," he writes in the author's note to his second novel, Life of Pi (Harcourt, $25).
Not so with novel No. 2. The fantastical tale won Britain's prestigious Man Booker Prize and the accompanying $75,000. (The Booker Prize is open to authors from Britain, Ireland and Commonwealth countries. U.S. writers are not eligible.) The televised event was broadcast from the British Museum with bookies taking bets on the outcome. (Related item: Excerpt from Life of Pi)

The prize also has brought Martel scandal in the form of accusations that he lifted a key plot element from another writer. Martel's 319-page novel tells the story of an Indian boy set adrift on a lifeboat for 227 days with a group of zoo animals, including a 450-pound Bengal tiger. A 99-page novella by prominent Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar involves a Jewish boy escaping from Germany in the 1930s. He ends up on a dinghy with a jaguar on the way to Brazil.

In conversation and in the book's introduction, Martel openly credits Scliar with giving his tale the "spark of life."

Reached at his apartment in Berlin, where he is teaching at the Free University, Martel says he read a review of Scliar's novel and the shipwrecked plot element years before he started writing his own book. He insists that he has not read the Brazilian's 1981 novella, Max and the Cats. While Scliar's jaguar can be seen as a symbol of Nazism, Martel's novel explores the nature of imagination and storytelling with a focus on faith: the 16-year-old protagonist is a practicing Catholic, Hindu and Muslim.

The controversy has triggered passionate media coverage in both Brazil and Canada.

Brazilians have resented Martel referring to Scliar as a "lesser writer" in a Web essay.

In The Ottawa Citizen, Paul Gessell presents an examination of the books, having read both. His opener: "Listen up, Brazil, and take a Valium." He continues: "So, did Martel steal Scliar's book? No. Was Martel inspired to write a novel from an incident in Scliar's book? Yes. Did he insult Scliar, perhaps unintentionally, by calling him 'a lesser writer' without having ever read his book? Yes. Did Martel apologize? Yes. Is the insult what this is really all about? Possibly." Gessell also notes that there's this other tale called Noah's ark.

Lisa Jardine, the head of the Booker Prize committee that selected Life of Pi, vigorously defended the selection in the Toronto Star. Jardine describes Martel's novel as the best Booker winner since Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children.

According to the Associated Press, Ivan Pinheiro Machado, director of L&PM, which published Max and the Cats, called the controversy revolving around the Martel book a "minor literary scandal."

"Scliar is reading the book and said it is very well-written. The situation is exactly the same, but the context is completely different," Machado said. Harcourt's Jennifer Gilmore says Martel and Scliar have spoken and put the issue behind them.

Martel's novel has been a best seller and critical success in the USA, Canada and the U.K.

Although Canadian, Martel has lived abroad much of his life. Born in Spain, Martel moved to Portugal three days later with his parents. Because his father was a professor and then a diplomat, the family lived in Alaska, Costa Rica and Paris, among other places. (Martel makes his home in Montreal.) He spent 13 months in India researching Life of Pi.

Martel knows the plot of his next novel; it will deal with the Holocaust through the metaphor of a talking monkey and donkey. (Martel is not Jewish but he strongly feels that it is a subject that needs to be addressed in a new way.) He is not sure that he has more than two more good books in him. "I'm a slow writer," he says. (Life of Pi took four years to write.)

And Martel has a position he can't wait to begin: writer in residence at the public library in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, for nine months. "I've always wanted to live on the prairie," he says.

posted by Jose | 5:10 AM

Wednesday, April 16, 2003  

Richard Nelson of Columbia is an economist working on technology development issues. He has written some good books on the subject.
Also published in National Academy Press

posted by Jose | 8:18 PM

Friday, April 04, 2003  

how about a softawre that is amrt in managing patents and ideas? one that scours different sources to find attempts at patent violations or patent cloning, or advacnes that can threaten your own systems (patents, licenses)

posted by Jose | 6:03 AM