The pursuit of energy dense batteries to increase range may take a left turn, however, due to cost. You see, the batteries used by all the EV car manufacturers today use cobalt in the batteries (Tesla uses Li-NCA — most others use Li-NMC), and cobalt is costly. So Tesla is now considering a less energy dense LFP (lithium iron phosphate) battery manufactured by Contemporary Amperex Technology Company (CATC, Fujian Province, China) for their Chinese Tesla EVs that does not require cobalt. In addition, instead of the current module packaging strategy, the cells would be bundled tightly directly, which CATC claims will result in an energy-dense battery pack comparable to current module-based battery packs using cobalt. This will take the battle of the batteries to a whole new level.
Pantone, in it’s usual grandiose fashion, has decreed the new color of the year — classic blue — which looks just like a blue suitcase from the 1950s covered with a layer of dust.
For those rightly unexcited by this dull selection, you need not fear. Berkeley has created a blue just for you: Quantum Blue, a “pure, radiant blue like one might see at dusk” using nanoparticles where “phosphor absorb UV light and convert it to a different wavelength (or fluoresce)”. The creation of this color was done as an attempt to capture the beauty of the natural world. Please enjoy it in like kind.
In a different mode, we now know why we slip on ice when it seemed fine to walk on. While the simple answer — a thin layer of water — might seem intuitively obvious, measuring the properties of the water layer is not. By literally “tuning” into the minute frictional forces of ice and the water layer using something akin to an old-fashioned tuning fork, researchers at Sorbonne and Ecole polytechnique were able to demonstrate that 1) friction does create a thin layer of water on ice, 2) it’s very thin (less than 200 nm to one micron), and 3) the water is viscous, a state between ice and liquid water. It’s definitely cool.
When I worked with the University of California at Berkeley Physics Department, my alma mater, to enhance their fundraising efforts, I developed and field tested with them an instant video production system for alumni. The idea was to not just ask for money, but to ask for experiences, like what was their favorite experiment in 111 Laboratory. These experiences in video were then emailed to a server array which instantly provided correction (sound, video, format, etc) and encased the video into a custom designed template with music and background reflecting the Cal Physics environment. The completed video was then emailed to the Director for approval. All she had to do was say yes, no, or maybe something else. If she liked it, it was automatically posted to a website dedicated to Berkeley Physics. It was cool. I even wrote a paper on the results for the ACM.
At the same time, the Haas Business School launched a business plan competition for Berkeley students, faculty and alumni. So I decided to enter it. This wasn’t my first BBQ, so to speak — I had gotten funding for InterProphet some years earlier, and that was a harder sell given how VCs gave up on hardware investments in the early 2000s and moved to Internet companies. But this *was* an Internet company — a fully developed video production system and mechanism where no one had to learn editing software to make a production-quality video.
Yes, folks said I was ahead of my time. Yes, investors quibbled over why was I doing this with software and not, say, with Chinese or Indian workers manually handling production — they had a massive obsession with using folks instead of using automation then. They questioned whether video would ever become popular on the Internet given latency issues (I was an expert on this BTW, since InterProphet was all about low-latency). This was before YouTube, so it was hard for old-style VCs to get their heads around video on the web.
But the most insulting response I received was not from VCs or angels, but from the Haas Business School at Berkeley. For a university known for progressive insight, the worst response to my business plan was not about TAM or competitive advantage or technology or experience — it was about how the anonymous reviewer would “NEVER” invest in a husband-wife company, as they had been burned once before. It was bigoted. It was unfair. It was vile. And he killed any prospects of working with Berkeley.
Needless to say, this was also offensive to the Berkeley physics Department as well. I was one of their alumni and they worked with me. It was a validated concept. But that Haas Business School reviewer poisoned the waters in the larger investment community, and the company I had labored to move from Zero to One was dead in the water. Silicon Valley is a small community — or at least was small back in 2004.
I’m pleased to see the times they are a-changin’. I hope my struggles paved the way for a new generation of young people to be considered for investment based on their ideas, creativity, perseverance, and character — instead of their gender or race or friendships or “comfort level” (a catch-all for “I don’t like you because your different”). Meritocracy is a lie when it demands you look exactly like the person who backs you. And the last thing we need right now is more lies.
AMD, the long neglected stepsister to Intel, has done marvelously well in recent years, primarily due to Intel’s “meltdown” of trust in their flagship processor products and Intel’s delays in shipping new competitive 10nm chips. Coupled with ineffectual senior management and poor board control, Intel, the darling of the Wall Street set, sat wallowing in management paralysis and a moribund stock price until recently.
Meanwhile AMD’s CEO Dr. Lisa Su has been instrumental in moving AMD from its Eeyore approach to life to that of a first-rate competitor in the chip space with its Ryzen, Radeon and Epyc product lines. Dr. Su has not only changed AMD’s attitude – she’s also changed the entire competitive landscape with bold technology moves and strategic partnerships with companies such as Microsoft. Having dealt with the earlier AMD in the 1990’s, where no one would make a decision and the C-suite was filled with ineffectual do-nothings, it has been refreshing to see capable management drive good engineering and product management.
In the last few years, AMD and Intel have swapped places. AMD, the driver in specialist processors, has gone full-bore into the vacuum left by Intel’s strategic blunders and broadened into general processors . Intel, in contrast, has made an old Intel revenue-enhancement approach “new again”, by taking their general processors and specializing them for specific markets.
The challenge of creating seamless video experiences on demand has been a long-sought and long-fought dream. FaceBook video@scale brings specialists together to wrestle with the complexity of end-to-end technical tricks and user level satisfaction often at odds.
The morning was a blitz of corner cases and tightly wound insights. Minutia of transmission of video and complexity, issues of detection of dropped frames in various browser decode, up/down scaling of video quality on-the-fly, issues in CODEC switching, video stream sizing, I-frame synchronization between different video codecs, which codec to use, network versus browser issues (often appear the same), and getting around browser video correction.
But the two items I am going to focus on are the old hard chestnuts: power and packet drops.
Many years ago, Jim Gray was conducting a talk at Stanford I attended, whereby he outlined the challenges in processing the huge datasets accumulated in scientific fields like astronomy, cosmology and medicine.
In those days, the greatest concerns were: 1) cleaning the data sets and 2) transporting the data sets. The processing of these data sets, surprisingly, was of little concern. Data manipulation was processor-limited and modeling tools were few. Hence, success was dependent on the skill of the researchers to delve through the results for meaning.
Jim lived in a world of specialized expensive hardware platforms for stylized processing, painstaking manual cleaning of data, and elaborate databases to manipulate and store information. As such, large academic projects were beholden to the generosity of a few large corporations. This, to say the least, meant that any research project requiring large resources would likely languish.
In the decades since Jim first broached the huge data set problem (and twelve years after his passing), the open source disruption that started with operating systems (of which I was a part) and new languages spawned in turn the creation of data tools, processing technologies and methods that Jim, a corporate enterprise technologist, could not have imagined. Beginning with open source projects like Hadoop and Spark (originally from UC Berkeley, just like 386BSD), on demand databases and tools can provide (relatively speaking) economical and efficient capabilities. And one of the biggest of big data projects ever recently demonstrated that success.
Today the US Patent and Trademark Office issued its ten millionth patent! The extraordinary Patent No. US 10,000,000 entitled “Coherent Ladar Using Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection” was assigned to Raytheon Company by inventor Joseph Marron of Manhattan Beach, California.
As the winner of this sweepstakes, Raytheon has been granted a lovely 20 year monopoly from the filing date (10 March 2015) for a new and unique invention that uses comparisons between a target and sample frequencies in a clocked processor to determine the phase difference for navigation. You can also, it notes, use it for holography assuming your target and you are both stationary, but that’s unlikely to happen unless you’re driving a Chevy Malibu.
As a token of esteem, Raytheon has been provided this lovely new patent cover page to swaddle their new baby patent Figures and Claims. We have no doubt Raytheon’s patent counsel shall commence to commit it to the deep, to be turned into corruption, looking for the resurrection of the body when the sea shall give up her dead.
I congratulate Raytheon for winning the 10 Million US Patent Sweepstakes, beating out ever-industrious rivals IBM, Samsung, Canon, Qualcomm, Toshiba, Sony, LG, Intel, Microsoft and most particularly, Google, which has missed out on yet another self-driving navigation patent.
The next milestone sweepstakes, the 20 Million US Patent Sweepstakes, should be starting right about…now. Inventors: Start your engines.
Jon Swartz’s recent piece in Barrons asks “Is This the Year Tech IPOs Stage a Comeback?” Prior year IPOs did not meet expectations, with consumer companies like Snap and Blue Apron the poster children for a miserable performance.
But the speculation among the smart money is that 2018 tech IPOs will surge, and they’ll be driven by enterprise companies.
So, is enterprise the game changer for tech IPOs in 2018?
Recently, a FaceBook friend lamented that he could not access his icloud mail from a device bound to his wife’s icloud access. He also expressed frustration with the security mechanism Apple uses to control access to devices – in particular, two-factor authentication. His annoyance was honest and palpable, but the path to redemption unclear.
Tech people are often blind to the blockers that non-technical people face because we’re used to getting around the problem. Some of these blockers are poorly architected solutions. Others are poorly communicated solutions. All in all, the security frustrations of Apple’s “personal” personal computer are compelling, real and significant. And do merit discussion.
Beware the Apple Store “bait and switch” iPhone battery gambit. We faced this yesterday in Los Gatos, CA where they tried to claim a working iPhone 6s with a good screen / original owner was not eligible for their $29 battery replacement at the appointment because it had a slight bow in the frame.
Now, by this point everyone likely has some flaw in their old iPhone, whether it is a slightly dinged frame from being dropped to a minute crack or scratch under the frame. It’s normal wear and tear. And they likely didn’t have a problem replacing the battery before the discount was announced and replacements were more costly and infrequent. But now, it’s an issue.
They did offer to sell an iPhone 6s for close to $300! This is a terrible price. Don’t go for it. This is what they mean by bait and switch.