Sunday, December 30, 2007
The above implies that, these days, developing good code is the result of a highly disciplined effort. From an architectural point of view most new applications are structured along three tiers, the UI, the Logic and the Data. To this end new applications are developed as highly modularized and are using heavily the established standard protocols depending under which framework they are being coded (for instance, under Windows, new developed applications use extensively the so-called web services protocols, whereas with Open Source and Java, similar objectives are achieved with EJBs, etc...).
Manual code development methods, as opposed to CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering), where code is automatically generated based on a database (encyclopedia) of cross validated specifications, face a serious problem with development discipline. Developers jump too early into coding, especially with approaches like Agile Development and Extreme Programming; they don't properly plan the application design and testing and, even under the current modern development frameworks, they still end-up creating uncommon and complex (spaghetti) code as they used to do with unstructured Cobol in the 70ies. This code, often poorly documented, is extremely difficult to maintain in terms of bug-fixing and functional enhancements. On top of this, such code suffers heavily from regression problems.The only strategy to improve developer productivity and quality of their code is thru what is known as 'enforced discipline'. This has been attempted in the last 30 years via CASE technology. We are currently operating in the third wave of that initiative, albeit this time we seem to have moved backwards, away from classic CASE into rather 4GL and 3GL, non-withstanding the availability of frameworks, standards, protocols, libraries, and SDKs.
From the above description it becomes obvious that modern IT managers, facing the challenge of their current applications legacy that has to be maintained and gradually replaced by a new legacy, are very sensitive to and receptive of commercial offerings that seem to resolve part or the whole of their development issues. This also explains the success of SAP that, despite the high implementation cost and its generally primitive code and methods by which this was created, offers the sense of a safety net against the challenges of future functionality and ability to scale. Sort of 'never get fired for selecting IBM in the 70ies and 80ies' thing. By supporting the vast majority of enterprise applications, SAP took away many of the headaches of the community of contemporary CIO’s...
PS. I found this 'excerpt' in a white paper that I wrote some time ago to guide some people into evaluating a young company that came up with a wonder product used to develop commercial web sites. I don't believe in wonders and miracles, especially in software development. It's all about management discipline and applying the protocols and best practices. Years ago the software Industry killed CASE, almost in its cradle, as the latter promised to steal away programmer flexibility and freedom of choice (the 'artistic' aspect of 'programming' per many, their element of creativity... let me laugh). Consequently, we ended up in the software development pre-history, run by bunches of amateur 'pros', albeit with modern tools. I am curious to see what the distant future will eventually bring about.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
If you consider yourself a media fan who wants to know about the latest in music, film and TV shows, check this article of Wired Magazine about the top P2P internet downloads in 2007. The usual suspects, really, but still fun to read.
(click on picture for a sharper shot)
Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
So, we smart asses from the west thought that the manufacturing powerhouses in Asia, with China on top, are no real threat to us, because those 'monkeys' can only handle low-tech, the stuff we geniuses over here consider too boring to deal with. Thank God, we have our super-brains to rely on and keep one step ahead of the Chinese or Koreans and Japanese for that matter (not to forget the Indians) as we move ahead towards our welfare futures. That's what we think and that's what the EU Mandarins think too as they launch initiatives like 'Manufuture'. Little we all know.
The one thing that can save our European ass in the future is the consumption lust of the New Europeans and their drive to make-up for lost opportunity and move faster than the classic West. There is some fresh blood and energy to be found there. This makes the current Europe a monolithic consumption market of immense proportions (half a billion people and growing). However, if supply to this consumption pond gets increasingly dependent on the Chinese production powerhouses, based on the premise that they can only supply low-tech, then we are up for some cute surprises. If, already today, Chinese manufacturers reached a capability state for the production of sub 45 nm semiconductor wafers by simply licensing the (IBM) technology for that matter (could be anything else from anyone else in the future) then kiss our future welfare and the low-tech myths good-bye.
Makes you think... faking an orgasm...
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shoppers got a Christmas Eve surprise on Monday when a pair of brothers handed out $100 (50 pound) bills at a mall on Long Island, New York. Police responded to a call from security staff at the Sunrise Mall in the town of Massapequa, concerned that the give-away might create a scene or involve counterfeit bills. Instead, officers found a simple case of Christmas charity where calm prevailed as the businessmen, aged 45 and 41, gave out the money at the entrance to the shopping centre, police said. "These two brothers say they do this every year. They say they've been blessed and just want to give something back," Detective Sergeant Anthony Repalone said. "They gave it to people who they thought needed it. The people were very appreciative." Police declined to identify the brothers, respecting their wish to remain anonymous.
How about you?
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The latest news is that Apple seems to jump in bed even closer with Intel especially on chip architectures centered around Silverthome, a 45 nm low energy micro-processor chip which promises great goodies.
It always starts with the microprocessor. It's size, energy consumption and the size of the motherboard it sits on, together with it's offered functionality are the elements that will define 'what' will dress the internal chips with. 'What' is meant here the type of slick device (a phone, iPod, or slim palmtop full scale computer, in new colors and flavors) that is gonna be built around the mP and its motherboard.
The current Apple rumors cover normal evolution of the iPhone with more disk capacity and 3G functionality for two-way video comms, but also people are talking about slick full scale computers with no hard disks but flash storage, and touch screen capabilities as the iPhone and the Touch iPod.
Are we going to see any of that in the coming MacWorld? I think it's still too early for that, but maybe some clues and glimpses will appear to keep the crowds excited. Whether they'll eventually be there is as sure as the earth is spherical. The timing is only a matter of his Jobness and readiness of his troops. In the meantime, Apple is overtaking Cisco in market cap. A few breaths away from 200 bucks a share.
Read more details about Silverthome here.
They addressed the subject of happiness by simply asking 'in a scale of one to ten, where do you rate your state of satisfaction in your current lifestyle and experience'.
There are some interesting but not surprising conclusions they have scentifically drawn, nonwithstanding.
For instance, life satisfaction increases with income but there is a point beyond which this trend reverses... too much money does not necessarily make you happier.
On the other hand, too much education and involvement in state afairs and national politics (albeit from interest) does not necessarily contribute positively in you state of happiness. Reminds me of the Biblical saying "happy are those with poor spirits (or something like that)". The smarter you are the more likely you can't find fulfillment and happiness. Sounds fair.
Finally, there is a human endeavor that seems not to tail off the better it becomes... in other words, the level of happiness achieved increases proportionally with the factor itself. This is about personal relationships between partners. There is no level above which happiness decreases in an ever improving relationship. Again, not too abnormal to assume.
The article is more concerned about the so called optimal level of happiness, and how to achieve it. Like, a perfect partner relationship, not too much money and not too concerned with those monkeys running government in the countries we live in...
If you manage to read the article, take a look at some of the reader comments as well. Very valuable contributions if you ask me.
So, how about you? Do you consider yourself to be somewhat happy, quite happy, unhappy, or the happiest of men? To be or not to be (happy). That is the question...
Monday, December 24, 2007
This is a well known YouTube clip about a blonde with a cool voice and an empty skull (O. Simpson-like), that has been already watched millions of times. Priceless! Take a look and then tell me whether you are surprised about the marvels of the US Educational system. What do some people really carry in their skull instead of grey matter? Wheat?
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I compiled this list of my favorite Nasdaq and NYSE quoted companies. Market cap expressed in Billion USD (what else?)
Microsoft : 337
Google: 218 (Wow!)
Apple: 170 (Wow!)
Computer Associates: 13
Interesting ranking. Especially for Apple that in 2007 alone has overtaken the likes of IBM, Intel and HP. Don't even mention Dell. Michael is busy sorting it out after the mess it got into a year ago or so. Elisson's Oracle solid with 116B, visibly the second largest ISV behind Microsoft. Not bad for SAP either.
As for my previous employer, CA, one word: shambles!
Friday, December 21, 2007
BRUSSELS — Belgian authorities detained 14 people they described as Islamic extremists on Friday, saying they had uncovered a plot to use explosives to free an Al Qaeda sympathizer jailed for planning to attack an American air base.
The Belgian prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, said in a statement, “Other acts of violence are not ruled out.”
The authorities put the capital, Brussels, on a high state of alert, increasing security at main train stations, the airport and major public places where people were gathering to do their Christmas shopping.
The arrests came after the police raided 15 locations, most of them in Brussels, seizing explosives and arms.
Those detained were suspected of planning to try to break into a prison to free Nizar Trabelsi, a Tunisian former pro soccer player who was arrested days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, in connection with a plot to drive a car bomb into an American air base in northeast Belgium. Mr. Trabelsi was convicted in 2003 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The authorities did not offer any evidence or details about their suspicions, or name the prison where Mr. Trabelsi was being held. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Peter Mertens, said the convict was “moved regularly.”
Europe is already on a state of alert because of the Christmas holidays, and the Algerian bombings last week, which killed dozens in the capital, Algiers. France and Belgium share concerns of terrorist threats from extremists among their Muslim populations.
On Thursday, the French police said they were holding five men believed to be members of a logistical support cell for Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Agence France-Presse reported. That group is a longstanding terrorist network, previously called the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which changed its name after affiliating with Osama bin Laden’s network this year.
First time I heard about the Negroponte PC for the poor, I thought of it as a noble initiative. It may still be... the thing I didn't know though is that this wicked piece of hardware would run yet another version of its own windows -like OS and look like shit! I mean, it's not because you want to ship these things to Africa to the poor and needy you also need to assume that your target audience is stupid. The entire world runs on Windows and the other half on Linux... make something that looks like them, for crying out loud! Watch the YouTube clip and see what I mean. My heart bleeds at the idea that young, hungry to learn, African boys and girls are made to believe they will learn to use the internet with garbage gear like this. Mighty Moses, have Mercy on us. Sorry Nicolas, this just sucks!
The new blood test uses microchip technology to sift blood to search for circulating tumor cells (CTCs), which come from solid tumors and roam through the blood.
The developers of the test call it a "new and effective tool" that has "broad implications" for cancer research, detection, diagnosis, and management.
"While much work remains to be done, this approach raises the possibility of rapidly and noninvasively monitoring tumor response to treatment, allowing changes if the treatment is not effective, and the potential of early detection screening in people at increased risk for cancer," Daniel Haber, MD, says in a news release.
Haber directs the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. He worked on the study with researchers including Sunitha Nagrath, PhD, and Mehmet Toner, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital.
PS. Identifying cancerous activity thru blood-tests is nothing new... however, current methods might be too little too late in a large number of cases. The new method promises to provide much earlier warnings about malignant cancerous activity. The earlier one knows the greater chance for cure and survival.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
"...She came out of nowhere, and in a flash she was gone.And nearly four decades later the surprise encounter between a little girl and Sen. Robert Kennedy still haunts Howard Bingham.The 1968 California presidential primary election was days away, and Kennedy was campaigning in Watts. Bingham, a photographer best known for chronicling the career of boxing champion Muhammad Ali, was documenting the presidential hopeful's visit to the area, which three years before had been ravaged by rioting.Kennedy was in a slow-moving convertible with then-state Sen. Mervyn Dymally, labor leader Ted Watkins and several others. The motorcade was near the corner of 103rd Street and Central Avenue when the girl ran toward it.Bingham raised his camera and snapped a series of pictures as she sprinted eagerly toward the car, her pigtails flying.She was about 9 or 10 years old. She had a Kennedy-for-president bumper sticker stuck to her red dress and light blue sweater.The sequence of six photos shows her running about a block to catch up with motorcade. In the final frame, she is wearing a huge grin when she shakes Kennedy's hand.The girl turned and ran back to the sidewalk as Kennedy's car continued on its way.The photos were never published. But Bingham never forgot the little girl with the happy grin.Bingham photographed Kennedy extensively, but it is Kodak Ektachrome images of the senator and the girl in the pigtails that have stayed with him for 39 years.Who is she? What kind of person did she grow up to be? How did Kennedy's murder affect her? How would her life have been different if her hero had not been gunned down and had gone on to win the presidency?..."
“About 900,” the instructor replied.
My husband and I rolled our eyes. We looked around the room. Most people had hardly broken a sweat. I did a quick calculation in my head.
We were cycling for 45 minutes. Suppose someone was running and that the rule of thumb, 100 calories a mile, was correct.
To burn 900 calories, we would have had to work as hard as someone who ran a five-minute mile for the entire distance of nine miles.
Exercise physiologists say there is little in the world of exercise as wildly exaggerated as people’s estimates of the number of calories they burn.
Despite the displays on machines at gyms, with their precise-looking calorie counts, and despite the official-looking published charts of exercise and calories, it can be all but impossible to accurately estimate of the number of calories you burn.
You can use your heart rate to gauge your effort, and from that you can plan routines that are as challenging as you want. But, researchers say, heart rate does not translate easily into calories. And you may be in for a rude surprise if you try to count the calories you think you used during exercise and then reward yourself with extra food.
One reason for the calorie-count skepticism is that two individuals of the same age, gender, height, weight and even the same level of fitness can burn a different amount of calories at the same level of exertion.
Claude Bouchard, an obesity and exercise researcher who directs the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., found that if, for example, the average number of calories burned with an exercise is 100, individuals will burn anywhere from 70 to 130 calories...."
I would have forgotten the incident and have cataloged it as another acquired experience if it wasn't for this NYT article that my eyes fell upon earlier today. Read an excerpt here and follow the link if you are interested in the remaining of the article. Unbelievable!
"... In most businesses, customers don’t pay for a vendor’s mistakes. But when hospitals make errors, they charge patients additional money to fix the problem. The perverse economics of hospital charges were outlined yesterday in a fascinating article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The story focused on one common but largely preventable medical error: urinary tract infections associated with the use of a catheter. It showed how in some ways, the medical system has built-in financial incentives for bad care. Hospitals use urinary catheters more than almost any other medical device, and they account for 40 percent of all hospital-acquired infections — about one million annually. A urinary tract infection can add a day to a hospital stay; sometimes it can lead to a more serious infection, even death. At one Colorado hospital, the article noted, Medicare would pay $5,436.66 for the care of a heart attack patient who recovered without complications. But if the patient developed a urinary tract infection related to use of a catheter, the hospital would receive $6,721.44. If the patient developed a more serious infection after a catheter was used, the hospital collected $8,905.43. That means the hospital would earn 63 percent more by providing inferior care. Hospital-acquired urinary tract infections cost the health care system more than $400 million every year. But they are largely preventable, occurring most often because a catheter is left in too long. The risk of infection rises dramatically 48 hours after insertion. Most patients don’t need a catheter for nearly that long, but when nurses and other hospital staff are overstretched, or when record-keeping is lax, catheters may not be removed quickly enough. The reimbursement system “tolerates and even financially rewards poor performance by hospitals that fail to prevent hospital-acquired complications,'’ write the report’s authors, Dr. Heidi Wald and Dr. Andrew Kramer, health care policy researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver...."
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Drug traffickers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, have opened fire on a helicopter carrying a Santa Claus to one of the city's shanty towns.
No one was hurt and it is thought the gunmen believed the helicopter belonged to the police.
The helicopter was taking an actor dressed as Santa Claus to a Christmas party in the favela of Nova Mare when it came under fire.
Two bullet holes were found in the fuselage when it returned to base.
The police said it was only a matter of luck that no one was hurt.
The helicopter was flying over the shanty town of Vila do Joao when the attack happened and it is believed the drug traffickers mistook it for a police helicopter.
The Santa later returned to Nova Mare by car to deliver his presents, where more than 1,000 children and parents were still waiting for his arrival.
The actor told Brazil's TV Globo that he feared there was going to be a crash, but when he saw that the pilot remained calm and that the helicopter was flying normally, he stopped worrying.
The president of the local residents' association said the children were very sad as they had expected Santa to arrive by helicopter.
There are more than 700 favelas in Rio Janeiro, most of which are controlled by drug gangs.
Earlier this year, a police officer was shot and killed as he travelled in a helicopter over one of the city's shanty towns.
"... I finally read oPtion$. Though I'm a couple of weeks late to the book club, thought I’d add a few thoughts that I didn’t see over at Prawfs. Spoilers alert. At one point in this hilarious satire, Steve Jobs’ lawyer Bobby DiMarco says that Jobs, like all CEOs, is a sociopath. By this time in the book this is not news to the reader. The question we have to face is, so what? It’s the Tony Soprano gambit: Soprano was a metaphor for American society. He was bad, but the so-called good guys (lawyers, politicians, FBI agents) weren’t much, if any, better. At least Soprano had a sort of integrity. Jobs is a lot like Tony. They both run businesses, they both have shrinks, and they’re both being hounded by the cops, their business associates, and just about everybody else. Jobs may be no gem, but consider his world: supine directors, crazy investors, the US attorney who’s using Jobs’ scalp to run for governor, his assistant who later cashes in to do white collar defense, Jobs’ only friend, Larry Ellison, complete with kimono and bong, Bono [“the only person I know who’s more self-absorbed than I am”]; Steven Spielberg [the hilarious game of phone-tag between Spielberg and Jobs is worth the price of the book], etc. Like Soprano, Jobs has a saving grace that sets him above this crowd: he’s a genius at selling stuff. And that’s no small thing, since a big part of modern capitalism is getting people to buy stuff they didn’t know they needed. The instruments of mass production would have been useless without advertising to create demand. So Jobs takes a shiny bit of plastic, puts some mundane electronics inside, and turns a commodity into something everybody has to have. What makes Apple different, as the Jobs character says, is how far it’s taken the art of selling, with his help: [W]e don’t start with the product itself. We start with the ads. We’ll spend months on advertisements alone. This is the reverse of how most companies do it. Everybody else starts with the product, and only when it’s done do they go, “Oh, wait, we need some ads, don’t we?” Which is why most advertising sucks, because it’s an afterthought. Not here. At Apple, advertising is a prethought. If we can’t come up with a good ad, we probably won’t do the product.”
PS. The red type on the quote about capitalism above comes from me. How true! I got 15 iPods, for crying out loud! Almost too shameless to admit... and about 5 or 6 DSLRs with dozens of lenses. You only need one of each...
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
PRODUCT Red, the brand founded by U2 frontman Bono, has raised $50 million to help fight Porsche shortages among executives at Apple, Armani, Motorola, Gap and Hallmark.
Around half the profits from Product Red products goes straight into the bank accounts of executives at enormous corporations, who use it to alleviate chronic luxury car famines.
Lizzie Matumba, of Ivory Coast, said: “The knowledge that Steve Jobs arrives at Product Red press conferences in a brand new Aston Martin has made the death of my entire village much easier to bear.”
Robert Otengwe said: “I am most happy you have bought a nice new red mobile phone. It shows you care. And the pink one you bought last year looks very dated.”
Matumba added: “Some may ask why these gigantic corporations didn't just stump up $10 million each instead of guilt-tripping shallow fucknuts into buying yet more useless shit that'll be in the bin this time next year.
“But these people fail to understand the power of marketing. And bonuses. They fail to understand bonuses too.”
Wayne Hayes, head of research at the Institute for Greed, said Product Red had revolutionised the way rich westerners made themselves feel better about hellish Third World poverty.
“Most of us only ever felt guilty for a second about buying a fourth iPod while half the world starved, but it could still take some of the fun out of buying new gadgets.
“Now I can buy another Armani watch and a pair of Converse without having to worry about some African child with no shoes at all. It’s worth it just for that.”
Good for Tony. I'd do the same if I could get enough brain-dead around dripping to listen to what I don't have to say... because... what do I really have to say to the world other than how to kiss ass graciously and get a brown ring around my tongue? It's a sad story that all this is happening to a left-wing liberal too. A fighter for the rights of the weak and the poor... my ass!
Anyways... history will eventually know better. The one time hope for a better UK, following years of Torry rule, turned into a clown of immense proportions. Give me Maggie ten times over. At least the lady had balls the size of melons...
Monday, December 17, 2007
The world's first transistor was built by three physicists; namely, William Shockley, John Bardeen, and William Brattain at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey.
A transistor is a small electronic switch capable of amplifying electric current. The first transistor was rigged using a paper clip, Germanium, and Gold foil, and it boosted electrical current a hundredfold.
In 1952, a hearing aid became the first commercial product to use transistors, which was followed by a transistor radio costing $49.95 (equivalent to $380 today) developed by Texas Instruments (TI) in 1954.
In 1958, Jack Kilby from Texas Instruments successfully built the first integrated circuit combining a number of transistors on a Silicon chip.
Since then, the Silicon chip has seen a constant decrease in size, and a constant increase in potential usage in electronic products.
By the end of the 1960s, the microprocessor -- the computer on chip, was invented, and was brought to market by Intel in 1971. The mid-1970s saw the idea of a PC catching on among common people.
Today, the number of transistors on microprocessors has reached nearly a billion from the several thousands in the 1970s.
A single advanced microprocessor today is capable of holding 1.7 billion transistors, with each of the transistors as small as 200 billionth of a meter. These are the same chips that have permeated ever aspect of our lives today.
Sixty years completed by the transistor have also seen the birth of mobile phones, PCs, laptops, MP3 players, changing the way in which we live, work, and play.
In the meantime, as an illustration, I have three simple examples to describe.
1. Pretreatment diagnostic tests. I have been thru the full Monty with multiple doctors in two hospitals: Ultrasounds, CT scan, Pet Scan, X-Rays, Colonscopy (twice, with biopsy), Cardiology tests, ECGs, countless blood tests, urine test, etc... I believe it all came down to an own personal contribution of no more than 50 euros.
2. Consultation cost with the Professor surgeon who operated my colon cancer (Prof Dr. Piet Pattyn at the UZ Gent). I visited him twice on a consultation basis at 20.32 euro each!... of this amount I'll probably recover 90% plus from the State HC system. Can you figure that? The guy is a celebrity, he saves lives for a living, a notorious medical hero, available 14 hours a day and all he asks is the regular social tariff that the system defines... no more than what my home doctor charges!
3. Post operational treatment. Since I left hospital last week, I have a nurse visiting daily (including weekends) to take care of some open wounds that need healing (catheters etc). It takes her no more than a few seconds to complete the task but nevertheless, the system will pay her the time to travel to my place and do the job. Total cost to me personally? Nada!
In this God-Forgotten country called Belgium, where politicians are not capable to agree on a central government, home to the EU and the NATO, Healthcare is one of the hidden marvels of the system. Of course it costs a lot to the employed and employers thru salary contributions and taxes. I haven't heard anyone screaming though when they end up needing to use the system.
Too good to be true? No wonder Belgium is attraction pole Number 1 for aspirant immigrants of all sizes and colors...
PS. By the way, there is no treatment known to mankind that is not available to almost all large hospitals in the country. Down the hall on my floor we had people recovering from organ transplants on one side and two French travesties who had just undergone a sex-change operation, for kicks! Last, our hospitals are packed with the Dutch. Why? Because, as one woman I met at the hospital put it, if she had to wait for the waiting list in Holland to get her turn, she'd be eventually dead. Whereas in Belgium she can enjoy outstanding treatment in the shortest possible waiting times. Did you hear that Harry Potter?
Saturday, December 15, 2007
A man in the village of Zarinkhel waited with his daughter to see the American medics. "The Taliban has made it abundantly clear that no outside doctors, no outside medical help, can work in this district," an American captain said.
WTF is that Taliban movement trying to do, after all? How thick can a humanoid scull be? Are we nuts to sacrifice our military youth in those morons? Hopefully not.
And because Afghanistan is not the only place God has forgotten for good, here's a similar nutcase situation building up slowly in Congo, Africa.
Nyangira held her 2-month-old daughter Dieu Merci in a therapeutic feeding center in Goma. The humanitarian condition in Congo has reached its most desperate in years. "This situation now is the worst we have had" since the end of the war, said a senior United Nations emergency aid official in Goma. "And it is going to get much, much worse."
For years, Apple Computer (AAPL ) CEO Steven P. Jobs has tried working with retailers to make shopping for Apple's stylish products as appealing as using them--everything from setting up kiosks to special sections adorned with Apple's Think Different posters. Still, the computer maker's share has fallen, and Jobs figures he knows why. "Buying a car is no longer the worst purchasing experience. Buying a computer is now No. 1," he griped at the MacWorld trade show in January.
Now, he's taking matters into his own hands. On May 19, Apple will open a swanky new retail store--the first of as many 110 nationwide--at Tyson's Corner Galleria mall outside Washington. While Apple execs won't comment on their plans, the idea seems clear: Well-trained Apple salespeople in posh Apple stores can convince would-be buyers of the Mac's unique advantages, including its well-regarded iMovie software for making home videos and its iTunes program for burning custom CDs.
"CAVIAR." With its top-notch brand and proven marketing panache, Apple should have a shot at improving on the Gateway Country Store model. And it will give Apple fresh outlets to sell its own products such as the titanium PowerBook and other companies' consumer gadgets such as Handspring Inc.'s Visor handheld line. The company would gain new revenue as a reseller of other electronic goodies and have more control over marketing and servicing of its products. What's more, Apple could boost margins by cutting out middlemen and wooing buyers to higher-priced models.
The way Jobs sees it, the stores look to be a sure thing. But even if they attain a measure of success, few outsiders think new stores, no matter how well-conceived, will get Apple back on the hot-growth path. Jobs's focus on selling just a few consumer Macs has helped boost profits, but it is keeping Apple from exploring potential new markets. And his perfectionist attention to aesthetics has resulted in beautiful but pricey products with limited appeal outside the faithful: Apple's market share is a measly 2.8%. "Apple's problem is it still believes the way to grow is serving caviar in a world that seems pretty content with cheese and crackers," gripes former Chief Financial Officer Joseph Graziano.
Rather than unveil a Velveeta Mac, Jobs thinks he can do a better job than experienced retailers at moving the beluga. Problem is, the numbers don't add up. Given the decision to set up shop in high-rent districts in Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, and Jobs's hometown of Palo Alto, Calif., the leases for Apple's stores could cost $1.2 million a year each, says David A. Goldstein, president of researcher Channel Marketing Corp. Since PC retailing gross margins are normally 10% or less, Apple would have to sell $12 million a year per store to pay for the space. Gateway does about $8 million annually at each of its Country Stores. Then there's the cost of construction, hiring experienced staff. "I give them two years before they're turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake," says Goldstein.
Harsh words. Still, Job's instinct that Apple has to take some dramatic steps is on target. In recent years, Apple has succeeded mainly by getting its 25 million-strong customer base to upgrade to pricier machines with higher margins. But only 12 million of them are due for upgrades in the next couple of years, analysts estimate. Meantime, Dell Computer Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. have been stealing share from Apple in the key education market.
What's more, Apple's retail thrust could be one step forward, two steps back in terms of getting Macs in front of customers. Since most Mac fans already know where to buy, much of the sales from Apple's stores could come out of the hides of existing Mac dealers. That would bring its already damaged relations with partners to new lows. In early 1999, Best Buy Co. (BBY ) dropped the iMac line after refusing a Jobs edict that it stock all eight colors. Sears, Roebuck & Co. (S ) late last year dumped Apple, sources say, after concluding that sales were too hit or miss. And in recent weeks, Mac-only chains such as The Computer Store and ComputerWare have closed down, citing weak margins. Now, faced with competition from Apple, others may cut back. "When you choose to compete with your retailers, clearly that's not a comfortable situation," says CompUSA Chief Operating Officer Lawrence N. Mondry.
Indeed, rather than taking on the retailers who ought to be its partners, Apple would do better improving how it works with them. A good step would be to end the "think secret" approach that shrouds every new-product announcement. Covert operations worked beautifully when Jobs first arrived on the scene; his charismatic stage presence and Apple's eye-popping designs created priceless buzz. Now, retailers complain that the secrecy prevents them from doing advance advertising to hype sales and clear out inventory. "They are the most secretive company I've ever done business with," says one top retailer. "They should let the news leak out, to convince the world how exciting their stuff is. That's how everyone else does it." Maybe it's time Steve Jobs stopped thinking quite so differently.
Only time will show... and it did. El Jobso never attended plain vanilla Biz schools. He just knows. BTW, their online store execution improves by the minute. In Europe, just yesterday, I ordered an iPod Classic for my kid, engraved and all and was delivered UPS to my door less than 24 hours later. Go buy some Apple stock folks as long as you can still do that...
Friday, December 14, 2007
I mean, when we lead regular lives we are actually programmed to live as by a protocol. Wake up in the morning, breakfasting, to school or work, back home, dinner, TV, sleep to start all over again. Waiting for the weekend and some bank holiday to get the time pressure off our system. When you are functioning under this self progressing disciplined state of affairs, there is little freedom of movement to put any significant variance in the segments of activity that constitute your life and that of your family. You'll have to put up with living within those constraints. Few people achieve better control of their time than what I described above.
Who are these folks then? Potentially all who have plenty of time for anything and no pressure by anyone else to comply to time-lines, deadlines and target dates. Retirees, prisoners, homeless, people who recover from medical situations... in general, all those who are not adding any value to the system but live at the cost of the system.
I woke up at 3 am yesterday and stared at the ceiling, sleepless. The laser clock showed exactly 3 am in red digital characters projected on that same ceiling. What do I do? Go back to sleep is the only option if the regular program a few hours later would be for me to travel 2 hours in a traffic jam and be at the office for a 9 o'clock meeting. Not now, though. So what do I do. Leave the bed and walk to my SOHO. Played with a brand new Dell Vostro for an hour until my eyes close down and walk back to bed for another few hour sleep. Eventually, when I wake up at past 9:30 am, the radio was reporting jams and I felt just in heaven. This is what I mean with full control of time and destiny. Time will not rule me and tell me what to do... I'll just do what I want to do and time will have to accept this. In a sense, if you live like this, time doesn't even exist in your mind.
It would be 'nice' to live like this... but as I said, only the 'achthos arouris' (Homer, ballast of the earth) can afford it and if everybody on the planet did that, we'd still live in caves and die of flu. But if you found an opportunity for a short time to just do that, and for longer after you paid your dues and retire to a happy retirement, then just do it. And deeply enjoy it! I am enjoying every bit of it!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Belly still aches, and I still need to get my bowel trained to accepting normal food, a quite painful experience at times. I actually don't lust much food nowadays...nauseates me. When under stress and emotion I also get hiccups. Therefore I still try to avoid conversations with friends and family who are anxious to talk to me. There is still some way to go until full recovery but at least my family will enjoy year-end holidays.
The greatest news is that there was no further extension of the disease and I won't even be needing chemo or radiation. All done, right here, right now. Sort of. It was a T3N0 (T three N zero) tumor, proves out. I am one LUCKY Bastard!
I'd like to tell you how much I appreciate the interest, prayers, wishes, concerns of each one of you, my friends. I am aware of all your calls, mails, voice messages, cards, flowers, and I will come back to you in the weeks ahead to chat with you individually. Here, I only want to tell you that I love y'al from the deepest of my heart (that still beats and pumps excess fluids out of my operated body as we speak).
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I remembered the story in a flash this morning about 3 am when during my now regular insomnia I have been checking SMSs and voice mails to catch on.
It was the news from one of her two daughters that their beloved mother had just passed away, at 59. She suffered for a year now from a terminal form of the disease of our times and has been living under cancer statistics and hope for a miracle ever since.
We all feared the inevitable was likely to happen one day but the shock was still devastating. It is the feeling of death when a loved one ceases to exist among the rest of us and disappears for ever. I can hardly grasp what this might have brought about in pain to her family and kids.
I wasn’t too closed with my sis. We had a large age gap between us and in adult life when she got married to my wife’s uncle, a Bell Telephone Engineer, they traveled the world for years, Greece, Indonesia, Nigeria. When they eventually settled in Antwerp the last 20 years it was the time that I was traveling for business. Long story short, we were Living Apart Together.
Nevertheless, she never stopped to secretly love and admire me for what I have been doing, although, as a big sis, she would never miss the opportunity to tease me and instruct me as her kid brother on trivialities even at times I was 'rather important' managing hundreds of people spread in multi-country orgs. :-)
Confined to my room at a hospital, I won’t be able to attend her funeral on Friday. It was also her last wish to keep it close to her family with no-one else attending. What a brave soul! Elda, her eldest daughter and a rising star psychiatrist in the country, I dare believe, told me she would be cremated following a Greek-Orthodox ceremony and buried on Saturday at the Cemetery in Ekeren, nearby Antwerp.
Rest in peace, big sis. Your memory will live with me for ever, regardless how little quality time we have spent together...
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Some days it was the associated pain that even pain-killers were no capable fighting against. Some other nights I had panic attacks. Only when I turned out exhausted and the feeling that a family member was in the room I could let go and get some sleep. That was also no longer than a few minutes here and there.
There is no worse than insomnia. I feel real empathy for those who suffer from it. I remember Pacino and Williams from the same title film of a murder case in Alaska during summer where even at night the light was omnipresent. Pacino looked like shit. His usual look is no more different but yet. I look multiples worse.
The worst enemy during insomnia is time. Look at the watch... say 1.33 am. You turn-on the TV, watch some trivial program and hope that time advanced a few hours... watch still shows 1,45 am. True story.
Your best friends are the nurses. They know your issue and when you call them for some assistance on something, they take the time to empathize with you and encourage you. Holly people these nurses, coming in all shapes, looks, age classes and skills. God bless you folks.
(Alex, my talking clock just announced 3.30a)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The burden is huge... but the amount of sympathy and encouragement thru mails, phone calls, personal visits I had from dozens of friends and family, people I haven't heard from for a long time, has been overwhelming. Many decide to be secretive about problems as mine. I don't mind sharing. I am glad I did.
I am not too religious in the strict 'symbolic' sense of the known world religions but I strongly believe that there is a separation of 'mind & soul' and the body in which they live-in during the finite years of a person's life. I also believe in the collective power that emerges from a large number of minds and souls carrying a subject like mine in their thoughts.
I strongly believe that the evil initially emerged in my body during a period of 'lows' when my immune system was weakened as a result of negative thoughts, and when cancerous cells found the chance to take the upper hand inside my bowel. However, I believe that the dozens of minds and souls carrying me in their thoughts during the last couple of weeks and in the next few days have generated an invisible but very present healing force that will help me overwin the evil. I already witnessed the effects of such a force ever since I first spoke about my medical situation: The final diagnose proved much less severe than initial tests suggested.
It's impossible to prove the truth of my arguments above. It's also impossible to prove the opposite as well. There is no way to measure spiritual matters with physical material tools. The connection between matter and spirit is subtle and not too deterministic to withstand a scientific evidence test. That's because this is the way nature decided to function ever since the big-bang. It's a matter that you can only grasp with your own mind and soul. Even atheists believe in that... that the thoughts, not necessarily the prayers, are quite strong and can actually help. As my ex-colleague and dear friend Hans, from Holland wrote me in a mail. It's curious but I believe it to be true.
A long time assistant of mine with a razor sharp mind, who followed me in my professional career thru three different employers, sent me this (I had no idea she could even do this, but as I always say, strong brains are capable of many talents) :
Hello, my friend; You’re on my mind,
Because you're somehow ailing,
But your response to any challenge
Has always been unfailing....
So I’m confident you’ll win again;
Hang in there, and you’ll see;
You’ll be back on top in no time,
Tackling life courageously...
Thanks a mille, my dear friend...
Monday, November 26, 2007
...In tech circles, the unlocking of the Apple, Inc. iPhone has been a constant challenge since the cellphone/iPod combo was released at the end of June. Apple's stronghold over the iPhone meant that, officially, the unit could not be used in the U.S. with any other wireless company outside of AT&T, Inc.
That all changed recently when T-Mobile Germany said it would sell unlocked iPhones in Europe, which could then then be used with any GSM wireless carrier in the world.
Well, if you're a U.S.-based customer who has been seething with anticipation over buying an iPhone but frowning at the prospect of signing a lengthy two-year contract with AT&T, you'll be glad to know that Apple's own iTunes software can unlock your iPhone in a few seconds -- provided it was purchased at a T-Mobile Germany outlet. The cost: a touch under $1,500...
Friday, November 23, 2007
"Every person has cancerous cells in his body. These cells don't show-up in usual tests as
long as they have not been multiplied into several billions. When a doctor confirms that
there are no cancerous cells in a person's body after a therapy, this means that tracing of
such cells during tests is impossible as their number is not above a traceable amount.
Cancerous cells appear between 6 and 10 times in a person's life.
When a person possesses a strong immune system, cancerous cells get destroyed and
their multiplication (and therefore the formation of tumors) is avoided.
A person suffering from cancer suggests that the person's nutritional state shows
multiple deficiencies. Something like this can be due to genetic, environmental
and nutritional factors as well as a person's lifestyle.
To remedy multiple nutritional deficiencies a person's nutritional habits need to change and
enriched with supplements that will reinforce the person's immune system.
Chemotherapy is a toxic against fast growing cancerous cells, but also against fast
growing healthy cells in the marrow, in the bowel, etc and can cause organic damages to
the lever, kidneys, heart and lungs.
Radiation kills cancerous cells and in parallel it also damages healthy cells, tissue and
Initial chemotherapy and radiation reduces the size of tumors. However, extended use of
chemo-therapy and radiation does not result to further elimination of tumors.
When a body carries a high charge of chemotherapy and radiation, the immune system
may be severely damaged and the person can succumb as result of infections and
Chemo-therapy and radiation may cause the mutation of cancerous cells, so they can
become more resistant and difficult to destroy.
Effective manner of fighting against cancer is the weakening of cancerous cells by not
providing the nutrition that they need to multiply.
Cancerous cells are being fed: Sugar feeds cancer. Reducing sugar from nutrition takes
away a significant source of energy for cancerous cells. Sugar substitutes like Canderel,
NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc, are derivatives of aspartam, a bad substance. A better
natural substitute is the Manuka honey but only in small quantities. Cooking salt also has
additives that help it acquire the white color. Better alternative are herbs of the type
Bragg's aminos or sea salt.
Milk causes the body to produce mucus especially in the bowel. Cancer is being fed by
mucus. Replacing milk with soya milk without sweetener additives cause cancerous cells
Cancerous cells grow in acid environments. Nutrition based on meat is acid. It's better to
eat fish and some chicken instead of veal or pork meat. Meat also contains antibiotics,
growth hormones, and parasites that are damaging, especially to cancer patients.
Nutrition that consists for 80% by fresh juice and vegetables, full grain, dry nuts and some
fruit helps create an acid environment in the body. 20% can contain cooked meals that
also contain beans. Juices from fresh vegetables provide fresh enzymes that are easily
absorbed and reach living cells within 15 minutes, while feeding and enforce the
development of new cells. For the reception of fresh enzymes and creation of new cells try
to drink juice of fresh vegetables (from most vegetables incl. bean ...) and eat raw
vegetables 2 to 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures above 40 Celsius
Avoid coffee, tea and chocolate that contain caffeine. Green tea is the best alternative and
has anticancer properties. Water should better be cleaned and filtered, to avoid toxins and
heavy metals that are found in tap water. Distilled water is acid and must be avoided.
Meat proteins are not easily digestive and requires many digestive enzymes. Undigested
meat remains in the bowel, decomposes and results to an accumulation of toxic
The walls of cancerous cells consist of a hard layer of proteins. Avoiding or reducing meat
consumption releases more enzymes that attack protein layers of cancerous cells and are
capable of destroying them.
Certain substitutes reinforce our immune system (IP6, Florssence, Essiac, anti-acids,
vitamins, metallic elements, significant fat acids, etc). Other substitutes like vitamin E are
known that cause withdrawal or programmed cellular death, the natural method of the
body to get rid of destroyed and useless cells.
Cancer is an illness of the mind, the body and the soul. Active and positive mind will help
the cancer fighter to survive. Anger, bitterness and negative feelings place the body in a
stressful and acid environment. Teach yourself to love and forgive. Learn to relax and
Cancerous cells can not flourish in oxygen rich environments. Daily exercise and deep
breathing help carry more oxygen into the cells. Oxygen therapy is another method that is
used to fight against cancerous cells.
Don't place plastic containers in microwaves.
Do not put water containers in deep freezers
Don't put plastic foils in microwaves."
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Anyways, I was prepared for the worst, having undergone a CT Scan earlier in the week. In CT scans they make you drink an aperitif (tastes like ouzo low solution), an entire liter of the darn thing, and then inject some colorant in your blood that makes your arteries larger (?) - so they told me. That's not too bad and no physical pain involved. But then, a bit uncomfortable for non-gay men, you get some nurse pumping air in your thick bowel sticking a pump outlet pipe up your ars! Still not much of a serious physical pain other than the associated embarrassment.
None of this with PETs though. You are even scanned with a Four-Seasons bath robe on. No physical pains other than getting claustrophobic moving up and down the scanner ring. So be it.
I used to be death terrified with those things before. The experience proved to be just trivial. In both cases. CTs and PETs. Only problem, I couldn't get close to pregnant women and young children for a few hours afterwards. In my age, I wouldn't even know why should I!
Is it worth it? Hell no! I mean, I love Apple to death but this is too much of an attitude. Rather buy three Zunes, and bore me to death, than one 1,000 euro iPhone. I am pretty pleased with my Nokia N95 that does twice as much, and my Touch iPod does all I need a portable device to do. In a WiFi area I can browse the Internet to my heart's desire. Even my Nokia is able to do all a mobile user needs to do. OK, with less sexy interface, but who cares? I never do extensive mails with such devices anyways, and never been a Berry fan as well.
Will there be enough morons to count down 1,000 euros for the little marvel? I doubt it... although, may be, some will, for the status aspect of it, some will charge it to the company on the back of the shareholders' money, and some will probably sacrifice a romantic weekend with the partner in Paris just to be able to afford the little shite! (I reckon the iPhone is gonna be the killer lobbyist 'under the table gift' to many Government Mandarins - plenty of them in Brussels, local and International - who up till now prefered, from hear-say, top of the line Mont Blanc's, Nokia's and Sony-Ericsson's)
It won't be me though. No sir... I could buy a new MacBook with the same money. And stick to my Nokia instead. Which, BTW, talks fluently to my MacBook nowadays, without a hitch!
Monday, November 19, 2007
It all started with a trivial symptom. It soon exploded with routine blood test results. Tests upon tests following. It's not whether it's bad. That we already know for a fact! Numbers speak. The darn CEA factor skyrocketing. It's about how bad it will eventually prove to be. It's about how long your living life will still go on. Whether we shall all die one day is something that five year olds already know from the kindergarden. The question is about how long your life is still gonna be. One year? Three years? Ten? Six months?!?! Even less?!? How's that possible? Except for that little bleeding symptom, you otherwise feel just great! Other than some sudden fever... and some occasional night sweats, that is. But those... this is not the first time you had 'em, innit?
Every single morning we hear about traffic and other accidents that bring dozens of young people to their death. No-one among them, I am sure, thought of that, even remotely, when he/she sat at the driver's seat that morning to head for work. This is easy, though. It happens in a moment of misfortune, totally unprepared, and you (perhaps) see a flash and then, that's it! You're gone. Those you leave behind will have to swallow the pain... but you're gone. You had no chance to even think about it.
How about a slow process that might bring you to your death though? How about coping with a series of events that will define how bad you are, as I witnessed since last Monday? Were moments when I... fainted (my first time ever in 54 years) and moments I wanted to weep for my misfortune but had no tears left. Seeing faces of loved ones staring at you desperately is one of the heaviest burdens and pains you'll need to cope with. They all hope for the better... but they are all getting prepared... some pray and some are almost mourning. Light candles in churches and temples for your recovery. You suddenly feel guilty for the pain and distress you bring to all of them. You know that it's bad but when you are gone... you're gone... you feel nothing no more... but they stay behind with a lot of pain in their heart. You just feel guilty because you are actually doing this to people you care about.
Waiting for test outcomes, next. Painful and burdensome like nothing you know and ever experienced before. Long ago in your career, or maybe still now as we speak, you often felt distressed if you didn't manage to make your quarter, looking for excuses to your boss, right?Let me tell ya! Who f*cks a boss and all his quarters!!! This is your life we are talking about. No way of turning back. You can't just lose it and then time-travel to an earlier moment of your life, when it was still early to treat your evil and change the course of your destiny... This is no parallel worlds BS we are talking about!
How many tumors? Which organs? How vital? Is there therapy for this? For that? What do the stats say? One in two? Or, eight in ten? Where do you start looking to find the best experts to handle your case? What if someone did a fatal mistake and they forgot something vital? Happens, you know!
I have not been in hospitals before... never to that extent. Some check-ups from time to time... one broken arm three years ago, all in all, chicken-shit. A minor operation back in 1970 as a teenager, that's all. My view of hospitals treating cancer was still like 40 years ago... you walk in the hospital... you get out in your coffin. That's it.
During my tests I was set up for a big surprise. Young doctors, fully skilled with excellent people handling skills, telling you the truth directly as it stands and no bullshitting you, still handling you with a lot of humanity, nurses handling you as a real person, state-of-the-art medical equipment, my God, the world has changed in 40 years (please don't laugh, I know, I may be an uber-geek and know a gazilion stuff more than an average Joe about the Information Society... in terms of the health business, I am just... an aboriginal!)
Notwithstanding, it has been a good experience. I, so far, appear to be fortunate amidst my big misfortune. I appreciate that and I am more than grateful to all those helping me and standing by me from the deepest of my heart. Doctors and nurses in the first place.
Seems that my case makes good chances for recovery from what we know so far. One needs to learn to live day by day, conquering a wee bit of the hill every day that goes by. Many pass away. Even more survive it. Science progresses fast. Maybe in the era of our children, when they enter the risk age demographic, cancer is curable as a simple appendicitis. What's for sure is that we shall all parish eventually but we wish for more convenient times. Preferably, when nobody on this planet will still need us anymore, even our siblings. Pray to your God, Allah, Buddha, Zeus, whoever, for your own good and your families that it happens to you and your loved ones to live long and healthy lives...
PS. I am not giving up this blog. Maybe some gaps and less frequent posting in the coming weeks because of upcoming operation, but I hope they have wifi at the hospital; I'll be doing a lot of postings if I get that lucky with the WLAN.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
Some trivia that you can easily find out by reading the article. Prince Alwaleed, 'self-made' maverick investor, ranked #8 of the world's richest per the Forbes list with a net worth of 20B USD, owns 3.6% of Citigroup, being its largest single shareholder. He accumulated his position, he claims, at an average 2,75 USD per share. At the current Citigroup bearish position of 32,9 USD a share (yesterday's close), Alwaleed has already achieved a return of 9x on his investment. He made in other words something close to 5 Billion USD on his initial investment. And, as the largest shareholder, he can pull strings behind the CITI mgt curtains anyway he chooses. No wonder that top C executives know their way thru the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia backstreets better than their own native village backyards.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Microsoft has officially taken the beta moniker off the next generation of its Windows Live services, which it launched at events in New York and Los Angeles on Nov. 6.
This new generation of Windows Live will be available in 36 languages and 59 countries across the world, and is the first integrated release of the services, Brian Hall, general manager of Microsoft's Windows Live business group, told eWEEK.
read more ...
This post is done by Live Writer, one of these services. Not bad if you are a Windows user. If it works without glitches, that is. It seems it does...