Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Artists are born as such...

C. and L. are two 5 year old adorable twins who attend the kindergarden at a tiny little village in East Flanders, Belgium, with a wee little kindergarden for a dozen or so toddlers.

Yesterday, Feb 25th, was Rita's birthday (my celeb spouse you already heard of in earlier blogs) and, when she arrived at her desk this morning, the twins surprised her with two beautiful cards they designed themselves.

I like both cards equally, but the one shown here is quite funny with all objects in the classroom shown in a typical for young kids perspective-less space. Rita in olive green jacket and blue skirt (I didn't know she had those), the table where the toddlers eat at noon with a tablecloth with pets on, a file cabinet against the wall with Rita's admin files, a dozen light blue midget chairs, black tiles covering the floor, a clock on the wall, etc...

Beautiful compositions from two kids that promise to become serious artists one day... who knows how prophetic this statement of mine can (will) be?!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Too good to let go...

I know... it's not fair to make a fool of the Clintstones, especially now that they are losing the election battle... but this photoshopped shot was too good to let go...

I wonder whether Fidel will get to read my blog... I wish!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I owned one of these for some time but I gotta tell you, I haven't used it much. And because it can get really hot on top (you can bake an egg on a hot day) I usually pull out its power cable, especially after one day my spouse rushed to me in panic afraid that the thing would blow up in her face. I don't know why Apple doesn't fix this. We are not used of their products getting at such high temps; I mean, compared to Vaio, Apple laptops are icebergs.

Anyways, yesterday Apple released version 2.0 of their AppleTV software. Let me tell you! This promises to bring them over the tipping point to another iPod look-alike in terms of success.

The seemlessness by which things happen with this new update is stunning. Let's talk about pictures first. Mac geeks with .Mac accounts post their shots on .Mac galleries. The rest of us probably use Flickr. So, you go out there on a shooting spree and come back with dozens of shots and you die to show the world (family and friends) what you done. If any of your targets owns an AppleTV (your mom for instance) then all it takes is turn on her TV set and the AppleTV set-top and enjoy a slideshow of your shots in HD (from Flickr or .Mac galleries).

As for your digital video creations, if you wanna show-off your Spielberg talents to your friends and family, all it takes is post those on your YouTube account and then again, your mom, dad and the rest of the family and friends can enjoy your masterpieces by pointing their AppleTV box to your account at YouTube.

A third amazing pandora's box AppleTV opened up are the thousands of podcasts, especially videocasts from all around the world. Especially if you point your store to the US, you will be overwhelmed by the vast content folks already provide in the form of pod- and videocasting. Wanna see the ABC LATE NIGHT NEWS? Piece of cake. Prefer CBS? or MSNBC? Whatever! You name it, they got it. Download speed? Phenomenal. Just a few secs for lengths of casts up to 10 minutes. Quality? Better than SD, sometimes better than DVD. Not HD though, unless you want to watch HD clips. Beware of your bandwidth and download storage being consumed in the process though. HDs are fun but still need GBs where other resolutions need MB's. But, let's be serious; it's the content that counts, not so much the quality, as long as it's still on SD or DVD quality and it's not a National Geo documentary, that is.

As for the rest, you can buy music, TV shows, movies, etc directly via wireless connection to your router (no need for any other PC to be on for that purpose) and you can also channel your laptop's music to the set-top as it's often connected to a better set of active loudspeakers than the laptop.

You can even download (via syncing with any PC or Mac) any content of your liking (audio and video) for permanent storage on AppleTV's hard disk and play it back when you're lying in your sofa or bed (as in my case, since the box is connected to my bedroom TV). So, you don't need to stream that same content from live PCs/Macs (which seems to often be the problem with the media managers of the competition). On the other hand, if you prefer streaming, that's fine too, unless your kids are making heavy use of the wireless network at the same time which might introduce some hick-ups to your streaming.

In conclusion, AppleTV 2.0 provides an intelligent box for all sorts of media display, own or third party buys or rents, from music and slideshows to motion pictures and TV shows or your own HD or SD productions. I am sure this whole thing is going to start an avalance of success eventually. I don't even mind the high temperature or the panicking spouse any more...

Monday, February 11, 2008

We want more! We want more! We want more!

Cool. Yahoo wants more dough to sell its skin. How much more? We'll have to wait and see. Rumor has it that Microsoft is prepared to move to 35 or 36 bucks a share from its original bid of 31. In the meantime, MSFT shares lost the best part of 15% off their market cap since the takeover bid was announced. And they are still heading south. If the deal gets thru it's gonna be tough on Microsoft, not only in terms of the challenges associated to joining the two monsters into one organization but also in terms of how much cash is gonna be left in monkey Boy's pockets as well.

Very likely that the whole thing was really a scum, as was reported earlier. I wonder. Watch this space.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Learning from the other Steve...

Arik Hesseldahl is a technology writer for BusinessWeek.com. In addition, he writes the Byte of the Apple column. Previously, Hesseldahl was a senior editor and technology columnist at Forbes.com. Before that, he was senior editor at Electronic News, a contributor to Electronic Business Asia, and a reporter, columnist, and business editor at Idaho State Journal. Hesseldahl is a graduate of the University of Oregon and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Good ol' Arik wrote an open letter to Monkey boy. Go read the whole article at BusinessWeek. Here's a taste (a part where he tells Ballmer to focus like the other Steve in California does... the one who invented the iPod):

"So who has focus? That other Steve. You know, the turtle-necked guy in California who keeps annoying you by selling iPods and computers that typically don't run on Windows. You could learn a lot from him. Focus saved his company from oblivion. Apple (AAPL) does what it's good at, and it expands into new areas carefully. (Examples: iPod, iTunes music store, Apple retail store, iPhone.) Consider this: With sales data showing that Mac computers are growing more popular than ever among consumers, you might think it's a perfect time for Apple to ride that momentum and go after corporate computing. But it won't. Why? Apple knows it wouldn't work because you have the corporate market all tied up with your pals Dell (DELL) and HP."


Thursday, February 7, 2008

MicroHoo a ploy?

I'll be damned... when I read some of the analyst articles on the proposed merger a week ago, especially J.C.Dvorak's take on the issue, as well as FSJ's, I thought to myself... Imagine they did that knowing that it will fall through anyway but in the meantime it's gonna shake and stop a few other initiatives... I had no clues what other initiatives these would then be... but look at what came up in the press today... is that an answer to my gutfeel?

"As the world awaits Yahoo Inc.'s (YHOO) response to Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) bold bid to buy the Internet giant, one analyst has come out with an intriguing take on the proposed marriage: It is probably a ploy. Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research speculated Thursday that Microsoft made the stunning $44.6 billion merger proposal as a way to block a possible alliance between Yahoo and another Internet behemoth, Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN). Chowdry also believes the Microsoft-Yahoo merger won't pass muster with regulators, even if Yahoo accepts the bid. That analysis runs counter to the predominant view of financial and industry analysts who believe that, while the deal faces many challenges, Microsoft's plan to gobble up Yahoo will likely succeed. But Chowdhry said he believes Microsoft made an astoundingly high offer that it knows can't be matched by other potential buyers and will likely be rejected by U.S. and European regulators. In his view, Microsoft's gambit puts Yahoo in a tough bind. "I call it strategic deception," he said in an interview. "Now, Yahoo is in limbo...If they accept, DOJ will reject it. If they reject it, shareholders will say, 'What are you doing?'" In his research note, he speculated that "Microsoft's offer to acquire Yahoo was probably a preemptive move to block a potential Amazon.com and Yahoo merger."

Cont'd here...

Monkey boy, you cunning sonovabitch...

Downgrading from Vista...

When I read this I thought I was dreaming. I wasn't. And it's not a joke either. Read further:

"The Japanese computer supplier NEC has officially launched a product to let network administrators downgrade machines running Windows Vista to XP. The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) first made the product, NEC FlexLoad, available to customers on 25 January. However, the product was officially launched on Tuesday. Customers with a Vista licence can purchase the two-DVD pack for £7, according to David Newbould, NEC UK's product marketing manager. The first DVD sets up a partition on the hard drive and installs core XP files and drivers, while the second DVD installs the remaining XP files in the partition, said Newbould. NEC recommends that customers burn a Vista recovery CD before installing the XP partition. From June, OEMs can no longer supply machines with XP as the operating system, said Newbould, yet customers still want to buy machines running XP. "From June on, we can only ship Vista, but the market requires XP" said Newbould. "A lot of [larger] customers want to stay with XP for now, as it's a difficult task to migrate [a lot of machines]." Newbould added that a percentage of customers see no need to move to Vista, as XP serves their needs adequately, and XP will be supported on the current Microsoft roadmap until 2012."

continue reading...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Now that we are talking about quality music... how many of you know this guy? Jasper Steverlinck of the Belgian group Arid. If the kid was born some place in the US or UK he'd be praised as one of the planet's greatest...

Have a look at their latest album All things come in waves...

Father and son(s)

From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Change is the new buzz... nooot???

Tell me something I don't know...

Happened in the London Tube...

I rather have that than some self-exploding dudes entering the subway wagon.

Microsoft goes after Yahoo...

By now you must know at least two things... that 1) Microsoft discovered a way to spend its immense cash reserves in trying to acquire Yahoo and 2) that Daniel Lyons (aka Fake Steve Jobs or FSJ) is one of my favorite bloggers... with a link to his page right here on this blog (see left under my profile pic).

The reason I like Daniel's writing, pretending to be Steve Jobs, is that he's got a unique way to talk about things that I haven't seen before. Not all his postings are fun but quite a few among them (almost all about Billary or the Clintstones sure do) are just classics. Go visit his latest posting on the proposed deal Microsoft/Yahoo. It's one of his best. Plenty of humor but lots of truth as well. Here's an appetizer:

"...The Borg-Yahoo merger won't work. Here's why. It's like taking the two guys who finished second and third in a 100-yard dash and tying their legs together and asking for a rematch, believing that now they'll run faster.

Here's the weird thing: I first heard that line about the 100-yard dash from Ballmer himself, maybe a decade ago.
See, the biggest mistake people make about Monkey Boy is thinking he's dumb. Trust me, he's not dumb. I've known him for years and he's really, really smart. Like scary smart, freako IQ, way high on standardized tests all his life. He remembers everyone he's ever met. He remembers every detail of every meeting and loves to freak out little junior Borgsters by recalling everything that happened at some random one-off from months or even years before. Total photographic memory.

The problem is not that he lacks IQ. Sure he's Rain Man when it comes to remembering things. The problem is he has no vision, and no imagination. He's all left brain. Hence this Yahoo offer. All he can see is that Google keeps beating the snot out of Microsoft and after all these years his coders still can't create a search engine that works as well as Google's and no matter what Microsoft does they can't catch up. He's tired of banging his head against the wall, so finally he just says, To hell with it, let's buy someone and see what happens. His board is just as tired and bereft of ideas so they say, Sure, whatever, go for it..."

Continue reading...

Physics teasers and more...

Don't bother asking me how I fell on this article (1995) by John Walker*. I just did. I thought it was funny enough to borrow it in this blog for my friends and family.

Here's an excerpt:

"...Einstein, Heisenberg, and Tipler, after equal invariant intervals in purgatory, find themselves before the Throne of God.

As a man, they exclaim, “What did I do to merit an eternity down (brrrrr) there”?

God thought for a moment; when you're omnipresent in spacetime there's no need for haste. He turned first to Einstein.

“Albert,” he said, “you showed your species My creation in its most elegant form, law without Law. Then, inflamed by wartime passion, you urged the transformation of your discovery into a weapon of mass destruction.”

Einstein shuffled his feet and nodded subtly. He resisted the temptation to stick his tongue out. God turned His omniscient Eyes toward Heisenberg.

“Werner, you discovered that I do play dice, and you glimpsed that I have to if anything interesting's going to happen—your last words were, ‘I will ask Him why there is turbulence’. I will answer you, ‘So there can be Heisenberg’. But you stayed in Germany, Werner! You worked on a reactor for Hitler; you taught physics to brown-shirted Nazi thugs. You'll recall that my Son is Jewish.”

“Frank, Frank, Frank,” God continued, “didn't you read my book? I read yours, you know. Does the phrase `Thou shalt have no other gods before me' ring a bell? How about `I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending'? You not only wanted to have another God before Me, you wanted to be Him. And the money, Frank…do you know how piddling an advance I got for the Bible? And you assumed causality—you Frank! You should know me better than that.”

Tipler, almost defiant, raised his head and fixed God with a cold stare. “Why are there singularities in Your universe?”

“Because there are things I don't want you to know,” God responded calmly..."

Continue reading...

*Founder of Autodesk and co-author of AutoCAD!.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Gartner Group's crystal ball on IT

The Rolls Royce of IT analysts came up yesterday with their 2008 predictions about the next so many years of ICT future. I'll open up your appetite by copying a short excerpt of their publication but you got to navigate to their whole article for more.

Here we go:

Egham, UK, January 31, 2008 — Gartner, Inc. has highlighted 10 key predictions of events and developments that will affect IT and business in 2008 and beyond.

The predictions highlight areas where executives and IT professionals need to take action in 2008. The full impact of these trends may not appear this year, but executives need to act now so that they can exploit the trends for their competitive advantage.

"Selected from across our research areas as the most compelling and critical predictions, the trends and topics they address this year indicate a strong focus on individuals, the environment, and alternative ways of buying and selling IT services and technologies," said Daryl Plummer, managing vice president and Gartner Fellow. "These areas of focus imply a significant groundswell of change that may in turn change the entire industry."

These predictions are selected from more than 100 predictions that Gartner presents and reviews every year. These predictions focus on general technology areas rather than on specific industries or roles. This year's predictions include:

By 2011, Apple will double its U.S. and Western Europe unit market share in Computers. Apple's gains in computer market share reflect as much on the failures of the rest of the industry as on Apple's success. Apple is challenging its competitors with software integration that provides ease of use and flexibility; continuous and more frequent innovation in hardware and software; and an ecosystem that focuses on interoperability across multiple devices (such as iPod and iMac cross-selling)...

PS. the Bolding of the Apple paragraph comes from me... :-)

The meaning of Medicare in Belgium...

Belgium is one of these countries where healthcare is of the highest possible technical quality and at the same time it doesn't seem to cost much to the individuals in need. To arrive at this social advantage though, I have known, ever since I immigrated to this country, that the price to pay is a huge charge to employers (more than 35% standard on any employee's gross salary) and employees (more than 12% of a person's gross, before any tax deductions applied). In other words, almost 50% of a person's gross salary is getting paid in the form of Social Security contributions. For this kind of money of course you expect something in return.

I never knew for a fact how important this was until I recently got 'involved' personally in a serious bowel cancer operation. Got diagnosed in the weeks following November 13th 2007, went thru numerous tests and got hospitalized and operated on November 29th. Released from hospital two weeks later and got nurses attending me daily at home (!) for a minor open wound from a removed catheter until it got cured by December 31st.

Preliminary tests cost me a total of no more than 200 euros of which we recovered the best part from Medicare . Hospitalization (at a single person's room), the operation itself and related tests, scans, radiology, medicines and post operation healthcare cost more than 6500 euros of which 4500 was charged to Medicare and the rest to DKV, a private German Medicare Insurance company that costs me a few hundred euros annually for complementary coverage of the entire family (myself, the spouse and the two boys - my daughter is covered by her own employer's systems). What was presented to me as the only thing I had to pay was a staggering... eight (8) euros (say ten bucks and change). I've been teasing my wife the other day about the size of our contribution to which she responded : Don't you worry, we'll get this back as well!

I was told Canada is even better. I wonder...

To die for...

Is this shot not to die for? Taken in Jordan where snow falls in buckets and turns the dessert sands into white blankets. I rather see those towelheads enjoying themselves in the snow than blowing up themselves for politics. Don't you just agree with me?

(Picture published originally by Reuters)