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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "The start-up Lightfleet has developed an unusual way to use lasers to speed the flow of data inside a computer, hoping to break a bottleneck that can hamper machines using many microprocessors, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: ' "You don't have traffic issues and messages colliding," said Jeffrey Hewitt, an analyst at the research firm Gartner Inc. "I think it is very interesting." Convincing the market about an unfamiliar technology is a tall order, Mr. Hewitt said; fully exploiting Lightfleet's technology could require rewriting programs.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "A Hong Kong health club is hoping that a car battery, some StairMasters and dozens of gym rats can help ease the world's energy problems. It is just one of a wave of projects that are trying to tap the power of the human body, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: 'The human power project at California Fitness was set in motion by Doug Woodring, a 41-year-old extreme-sports fanatic and renewable-energy entrepreneur, who pitched the experiment to the gym's management last May. "I've trained my whole life, and many megawatts have been wasted," says Mr. Woodring, who has worked out at the Hong Kong gym for years. "I wanted to do something with all that sweat." '"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "The job of CIO is being transformed from technology manager to corporate strategist, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: 'As the longtime chief information officer for Northrop Grumman Corp., Tom Shelman's duties mainly consisted of managing the defense contractor's vast network of computer systems. So he was shocked when the company suddenly changed his job description several years ago. Mr. Shelman was asked to be more "strategic" and "transformational." He was told he would be expected to meet with customers, use technology in new ways and help win new business — in short, to help the Los Angeles-based company grow. "I had to sit down and do some soul-searching," says Mr. Shelman, 48 years old. "It was a significant change; it sounded exciting, but it also scared the hell out of me." '"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Apple bucked the rules of the cellphone industry when creating the iPhone by wresting control away from normally powerful wireless carriers, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: 'Only three executives at the carrier, which is now the wireless unit of AT&T Inc., got to see the iPhone before it was announced. Cingular agreed to leave its brand off the body of the phone. Upsetting some Cingular insiders, it also abandoned its usual insistence that phone makers carry its software for Web surfing, ringtones and other services. ... Mr. Jobs once referred to telecom operators as "orifices" that other companies, including phone makers, must go through to reach consumers. While meeting with Cingular and other wireless operators he often reminded them of his view, dismissing them as commodities and telling them that they would never understand the Web and entertainment industry the way Apple did, a person familiar with the talks says.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "IBM researchers are claiming a breakthrough in developing circuitry to store data on future microprocessor chips, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: 'Exploiting a manufacturing technology called silicon-on-insulator, the company has developed unusually fast DRAM circuitry for use as cache memory. Subramanian Iyer, a director of IBM's manufacturing-process development, estimates it takes 1.5 nanoseconds — or billionths of a second — to fetch data from its enhanced DRAM technology, compared with 10 to 12 nanoseconds for conventional DRAMs and 0.8 to 1 nanoseconds for SRAMs. Mr. Iyer said three times more data can be stored in the same amount of space by switching from SRAM to DRAM circuitry; he expects the technology to be incorporated on microprocessors that will be manufactured next year using a new production process.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Intel has developed a prototype chip with the equivalent of 80 electronic brains, the latest sign of a design shift sweeping the semiconductor industry, the Wall Street Journal reports. The teraflop chip draws just 62 watts of power. From the article: 'Some jobs, like identifying and processing images, are ideal for multibrained machines. Video-security systems might quickly scan and pick out a face in a crowd, for example, or a PC might automatically create video highlights of a single player in a football game, said Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer. Mr. Rattner said cameras on future videogame systems could track users' motions — eliminating the need for the kind of hand-held controller offered with Nintendo Co.'s Wii console. Realistic three-dimensional models of users could be transferred into videogames, or programs like a digital dance lesson. "Then you could put the model for your partner in there," Mr. Rattner says. "If you step on their toes, it's not a big deal." '"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "One of the chief complaints about online newspapers is they don't offer "serendipity" as readers scan pages and find interesting stories they wouldn't normally read. But WSJ.com columnist Jason Fry argues that reading news online offers as much, or more, potential for serendipity thanks to Most Popular lists on news websites. From the article: 'Where print serendipity is derived from top-down decisions, electronic serendipity is bottom-up. It comes not from editors but from readers, who "vote" by reading stories, emailing them and blogging about them. That in itself doesn't make it better or preferable — popularity is no guarantee that something's worthwhile (or, for that matter, that it isn't), and the ceaseless flood of information on the Net has made filters and editors more valuable, rather than less. But Most Popular stems this tide by narrowing the selection to a single newspaper's recent stories, as chosen by readers of that paper — a group that readers, presumably, identify with and regard with at least some degree of trust.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Wall Street Journal columnist Walter S. Mossberg reviews Netvibes, which allows users to create personalized pages with modules that gather headlines, email, weather and other data from all over the Web, and 'combines some of the best features of My Yahoo and [Apple's] Dashboard,' Mossberg writes. More from the article: 'Among the modules you can add to your Netvibes page right from this menu, without navigating to any setup page, are weather forecasts, a notepad, a to-do list and calendar, and modules that perform searches for Web pages, blogs, pictures, videos and podcasts. There are also email modules that will display your new messages from Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, AOL Mail or any regular old email account you configure. Others display content from eBay, MySpace, Fox Sports and more.' In an accompanying video, Mossberg demonstrates Netvibes."
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Microsoft beat out Johnson & Johnson for the top spot in the annual Wall Street Journal survey of the reputations of U.S. companies. Bill Gates's personal philanthropy boosted the public's opinion of Microsoft, helping to end J&J's seven-year run at No. 1. From the article: 'Mr. Gates demonstrates how much the reputation of a corporate leader can rub off on his company. Formerly chief executive officer and now chairman of Microsoft, he contributed to a marked improvement in the company's emotional appeal. Jeanie Cummins, a survey respondent and homemaker in Olive Hill, Ky., says Mr. Gates's philanthropy made her a much bigger fan of Microsoft. "He showed he cared more for people than all the money he made building Microsoft from the ground up," she says. "I wish all the other big shots could do something like this." To be sure, some respondents still complain that Microsoft bullies its competitors and unfairly monopolizes the software business. But such criticism is less biting and less pervasive than it was just a few years ago.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "More companies are forgoing desktop and laptop computers for dumb terminals — reversing a trend toward powerful individual machines that has been in motion for two decades, the Wall Street Journal reports. 'Because the terminals have no moving parts such as fans or hard drives that can break, the machines typically require less maintenance and last longer than PCs. Mark Margevicius, an analyst at research firm Gartner Inc., estimates companies can save 10% to 40% in computer-management costs when switching to terminals from desktops. In addition, the basic terminals appear to offer improved security. Because the systems are designed to keep data on a server, sensitive information isn't lost if a terminal gets lost, stolen or damaged. And if security programs or other applications need to be updated, the new software is installed on only the central servers, rather than on all the individual PCs scattered throughout a network.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "The Wall Street Journal's David Wessel assesses the impact on innovation of the increasing number of prizes, such as the X Prize, that reward solvers of intractable problems. From the column: 'Prizes prompt a lot of effort, far more than any sponsor could devote itself, but they generally pay only for success. That's "an important piece of shifting risk from inside the walls of the company and moving it out to the solver community," says Jill Panetta, InnoCentive's chief scientific officer. Competitors for the $10 million prize for the space vehicle spent 10 times that amount trying to win it. Contests also are a mechanism to tap scientific knowledge that's widely dispersed geographically, and not always in obvious places. Since posting its algorithm bounty in October, Netflix has drawn 15,000 entrants from 126 countries. The leading team is from Budapest University of Technology and Economics.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "A Tel Aviv-based startup called Pray Over IP is using Webcams to transmit prayers to and from holy sites such as the Western Wall — for a fee. But some religious leaders believe the technology has no business near such holy places, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: 'The 40-year-old Mr. Neumann [Avshalom Neumann, POIP's co-founder and CEO,], who has worked for several high-tech start-ups in Israel and admits he rarely goes to synagogue, says he got the idea for the company visiting the Western Wall about 18 months ago. He noticed people dialing their cellphones after praying, then holding their cellphones up to the Wall for the people on the line to pray. To begin spreading word of the company, Mr. Neumann in September traveled through the Bible Belt in the southern part of the U.S., meeting with various heads of megachurches. He wants his cards placed in their gift stores, next to the piles of CDs, books and other religious materials. Now, they can be found at 7-Eleven convenience stores around the region.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "So-called cyberbullying is a growing problem for school administrators, the Wall Street Journal reports. What may once have been snickers in the hallway can now be an excruciatingly public humiliation spread via email, text messaging and online teen forums. From the article: ' "There's always the legal discussion of 'if it doesn't happen at school, can a district take action?'" says Joe Wehrli, policy-services director for the Oregon School Boards Association. "If a student is harassed for three hours at night on the Web and they come to school and have to sit in the same classroom with the student that's the bully, there is an effect on education, and in that way, there is a direct link to schools," he argues.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "The adult-entertainment industry could play a big role in deciding whether Blu-ray or HD DVD wins the battle of the high-definition DVD formats, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: 'Replicators — the companies that stamp out DVDs — lie at the heart of the matter. Setting up shop to manufacture HD DVDs, which run on very similar production lines to regular DVDs, is easy and inexpensive. Blu-ray requires significant investments in new equipment, and the individual discs in that format cost more to make. Because manufacturing adult-entertainment DVDs isn't as lucrative overall as stamping out titles for mainstream studios, the specialty companies that replicate for adult-entertainment companies don't always have the same resources to gear up for Blu-ray.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walter S. Mossberg says Vista is the best version of Windows yet, but doesn't represent a major step forward: 'Overall, it works pretty much the same way as Windows XP.' More from the review: 'Nearly all of the major, visible new features in Vista are already available in Apple's operating system, called Mac OS X, which came out in 2001 and received its last major upgrade in 2005. ... in my tests, some elements of Vista could be maddeningly slow even on new, well-configured computers. Also, despite Vista's claimed security improvements, you will still have to run, and keep updating, security programs, which can be annoying and burdensome. Microsoft has thrown in one such program free, but you will have to buy at least one more. That means that, while Vista has eased some of the burden on users imposed by the Windows security crisis, it will still force you to spend more time managing the computer than I believe people should have to devote.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Tech pioneer John Draper, a legendary, eccentric figure in Silicon Valley better known as Cap'n Crunch, has slipped to the margins while his peers became rich, the Wall Street Journal writes in a profile. Draper was a 'phone phreak' and helped develop the technology for word processing and voice-activated telephone menus; meanwhile, he eluded the mainstream by tampering with the phone system, frequenting the rave scene and shouting at anyone smoking anywhere near him. 'Once tolerated, even embraced, for his eccentricities, Mr. Draper now lives on the margins of this affluent world, still striving to carve out a role in the business mainstream,' says the WSJ. More from the article: 'Contemporaries who've gone on to riches and fame say they've tried to help Mr. Draper over the years. Mr. Wozniak, who now invests in high-tech companies and is involved in computer education in schools, recently gave Mr. Draper a new Apple Powerbook computer. He has also helped out with Mr. Draper's legal bills. Mr. Wozniak says Mr. Draper's problem is that his skills lie in technology rather in making business deals or starting a company. "He didn't come from a business orientation," says Mr. Wozniak.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Your most trivial missteps are increasingly ripe for exposure online, reports the Wall Street Journal, thanks to cheap cameras and entrepreneurs hoping to profit from websites devoted to the exposure. From the article: 'The most trivial missteps by ordinary folks are increasingly ripe for exposure as well. There is a proliferation of new sites dedicated to condemning offenses ranging from bad parking (Caughtya.org) and leering (HollaBackNYC.com) to littering (LitterButt.com) and general bad behavior (RudePeople.com). One site documents locations where people have failed to pick up after their dogs. Capturing newspaper-stealing neighbors on video is also an emerging genre. Helping drive the exposés are a crop of entrepreneurs who hope to sell advertising and subscriptions.' But other factors are at work, including a return to shame as a check on social behavior, says an MIT professor."
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Office 2007, coming out Jan. 30, is a 'radical revision,' writes the Wall Street Journal's Walter S. Mossberg. 'The entire user interface, the way you do things in these familiar old programs, has been thrown out and replaced with something new. In Word, Excel and PowerPoint, all of the menus are gone — every one. None of the familiar toolbars have survived, either. In their place is a wide, tabbed band of icons at the top of the screen called the Ribbon. And there is no option to go back to the classic interface.' He adds, 'It has taken a good product and made it better and fresher. But there is a big downside to this gutsy redesign: It requires a steep learning curve that many people might rather avoid.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Two tech VCs, Todd Dagres and David Hornik, debate whether there is a bubble in so-called Web 2.0 companies looking to cash in on a resurgent online ad market. In the WSJ.com debate, Hornik writes: 'Venture capitalists will rationally stop investing in ideas that don't bear fruit. Those that do bear fruit will gain traction and either be acquired or go public. Those are the traits of a rational market in my mind.' Dagres responds: 'I think the Web 2.0 space will have a higher mortality rate than other segments of the overall media and technology industries. There are far too many MySpace and YouTube genetically challenged clones. All but a few will fail. The winners are generally the ones that get in early and out before the bubble bursts. There are rare examples of bubble companies making it through the bust and going on to become successful and valuable companies. By the way, the combined cash flow of Spot Runner, LinkedIn and Facebook is less than that of one Costco store.'"
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Carl Bialik from WSJ Carl Bialik from WSJ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Sun Microsystems is retraining its 17,000 sales and services people to focus more on customers' needs over the long term, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: 'Brian Orvis, a Sun sales executive since late 2000, says he and other salespeople used to make repeated calls to customers haphazardly. He would regurgitate geeky data about whichever Sun computer he was trying to sell, without focusing on what technology might help customers build their businesses. "The type of server [the customer] needed was determined before we got to the customer," he says. ... Sun now assigns one main salesperson to lead a company's account so customers no longer have to deal with several Sun salespeople at the same time. The company also has cut its number of standardized sales pitches delivered to customers to five from 31 and revamped sales commissions to emphasize a broader portfolio of products.'"

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