San Jose State University School of Business Neat Ideas Fair

If you’re just plain tired of seeing slick pitches from con men and want to see a little genuine business enthusiasm and love of technology, check out the Neat Ideas Fair video invitation from Chris Surdi, student President of the San Jose State University School of Business Entrepreneur’s Society.

I’ve already heard today from one due diligence guy who said he was going to stop in after he received the invitation playing in email. “I really liked his pitch to come and see the students”. He also told me he cancelled another more elaborate “venture showcase”, because it’s “always the same”, but the student fair looked interesting because “you never know if you’ll spot a diamond in the rough”.

The Neat Ideas Fair runs today and tomorrow. Hope you all can make it – it’s good for Silicon Valley professionals to support our schools and entrepreneurs of the future.

The Power of an Automated Internet Content Delivery Mechanism

Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group (formerly Forrester) often has some very interesting stories to tell – not surprising, really, because he’s been watching the industry for quite a while. I used to read his comments on the semi and systems side when he was at Giga (and prior at Dataquest). I’ve always found his comments good food for thought (even if we don’t always agree)…

In chatting about media-ready devices, we got onto the subject of the difficulty of creating content. We both agree that building a set-top device is pretty easy given some of the new hardware coming along, but making an interesting service without having good premade content (like getting a Hollywood deal, and that’s hard to get when the studios already have their content delivery channels) is hard. He thinks education is the first target – I think journalism – but content is the key to all.

Interesting about education content. I did a paper on that topic – video serving educational content per a test run in a local school district. Short creative works by kids on California Missions, etc. Webinars for teachers per school district. All automated, secure, simple, centralized. Content trackable / licensable. Focus on project basis – not process. But education is very conservative – while it was fun, it definitely was not first mover from my perspective.

Do Patents Matter? Lynne Jolitz Says “There’s Gold in those parchments”

Ever since the Internet bubble burst, I’ve heard the same old refrain “Why file a patent? It’s costly – patent attorneys and research alone may cost up to a quarter of a million dollars. It’s slow – grants typically take 3-5 years, assuming you pass muster. And it’s useless – you’ve got to defend patents, and you get precious little for licensing them.

In my career, I’ve filed, fought for, and received patents, alone and with others. There’s no bigger rush than getting that parchment with the gold seal and red ribbon with your name on it. It is cool.

Recently an inventor of a granted patent, upon hearing of my latest grant and frustrated by his own lack of recognition, lashed out at me, saying “but what chance do you actually have of defending the patent?” Which got me thinking – Do Patents matter anymore?

Think this area is mined out. Hardly. Recent trends in patent litigation are proving very profitable to lawyers, entrepreneurs, and technologists. So dust off those patent portfolios and join Lynne Jolitz as I discuss Do Patents Matter?, a special In the DataCenter production.

All Aboard for the Video Train

According to this indepth Cnet article “2004 is the last year when people consider video an exotic application for broadband,” (Peter Barrett, CTO Microsoft TV).

So the Baby Bells are spending billions to become TV providers. “Voice is a dying business” and the bites from cable are costly. “If we are going to build the IP (Internet Protocol) pipe, we want all the revenue streams. The great thing is that several technologies are coming together now. We’re very happy about that” (Ralph Ballart, VP Broadband, SBC Laboratories).

The key is services, since most customers already have cable or satellite and are unlikely to change unless service offerings are more compelling. And bandwidth constipation is a real issue when dealing with poorly compressed poorly produced Internet video. “Digital video technology is in flux as technology providers develop potential replacements for the current standard, known as MPEG-2, which would require substantially less bandwidth to transmit video without loss of picture quality. A new standard, known as MPEG-4, would slash bandwidth requirements by about 75 percent, giving TV providers room for additional channels and high-definition transmissions, but it is still largely a work in progress”.

It’s not a “work in progress” at ExecProducer – we’ve been producing media of the Internet, by the Internet, and for the Internet for years, and continue to innovate on end-to-end quality, bandwidth resource allocation, and TCP/IP infrastructure issues along with production issues. So I suppose it’s just a “catch-up game” for those other guys. All aboard!

Fun Friday: We’re Just Collecting a Little Marketing Info, Please Just Don’t Move…

I’ve chatted on occasion about consumer issues like the built-in failure mode design of the non-titanium vaio (see Remember when “design” meant “reliable”). But these are primarily good tech designs gone bad for cost / supply reasons. What about when we make good tech go bad because we want it bad? Well, marketing people are exceptional at this, except when they get caught – then they yell and complain and say they didn’t understand the tech. Well, should we believe them? If you do, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.

Well, got another one for you. Speedstick is running a “win a roadtrip” contest. If you purchase a product, you have a pull-off sticker with a code. You go to the site, input your contest code under the peel-off label, and enter your personal info. So just to see how they run this little “contest”, I decided to visit the site and play exactly by the rules to see if they do. And would the answer surprise you? Maybe not…

Fun Friday: Bandwidth, Bandwidth, Not Enough Bandwidth

According to JupiterResearch, bandwidth requirements for homes with wireless networks will increase from an average of 3 Mbps to 57 Mbps in 2009 (tech-heavy users like me will supposedly use more – 84 Mbps on average). The number of homes with wireless networks will also increase from 7.5 million this year to 34.3 million in 2009.

This increase, according to the study, is driven by an “expected upsurge in streaming digital media brought into the home”, requiring “centralized storage, management and synchronization of that media”. This seems an enormous business opportunity as we start moving towards a real global EtherSAN and Storage Networks universe.

“Consumers are beginning to shift their paradigms for Internet access, home networking and digital content management,” Julie Ask, a research director at JupiterResearch, said in a statement. “The number of consumer electronics devices using a wireless network in the home could explode over the next five years”.

A Wandering through the Vintage Computer Faire

The Vintage Computer Faire was held last weekend at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View last weekend. Sellam Ismail, VCF Coordinator and vintage computer collector, was kind enough to send me a couple of passes. Unlike the cozy NASA-Ames location of several years ago, the Vintage Computer Faire, typically home of games, small computers like the Amiga, and the like, has begun to nicely complement the “Big Brothers” collection of DEC, IBM, and other gargantuans in the museum’s permanent collection. What better place to talk about the good old days but in a place surrounded by a VCF buff’s beloved machines.

Last year we did a presentation at VCF 2003 entitled Before 386BSD: The Symmetric 375 & Berkeley Unix (see the mention in Talk About Legacy Machines). Symmetric Computer Systems, a venture-funded company founded in 1982 by William Jolitz, was a contender in the hot race to produce a personal BSD Unix system. The Symmetric 375 was the first system out the door with hardware floating point and virtual memory, beating Sun by years. It was the first system with open source supplied, integrated, and tested, from EMACS to SPICE for use in scientific and engineering work. And it was the first to ship systems with all software fully installed and tested, ready for use immediately. William and Lynne Jolitz discussed the design and development of the 375 computer and its influence on 386BSD – the first open source BSD system for the X86 released a decade later. That was a fun talk!

The year before that, when the VCF was still at NASA-Ames, we put together a poster entitled Symmetric Computer Systems – The Story of a Systems Startup. And that was a lot of fun, let me tell you. Ever try to get an all-wirewrap handcrafted system running? We did…