Social media? Bob needs a social mediaTOR

socialmediaOkay, I’m back, still without cataract surgery but I have the fonts cranked-up on this notebook and my one working eye is still, well, working so I am, too. My next column will be about last week’s Internet DNS failure but right now I want to write about all these folks who have been asking to connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media. I’ll bet you have the same problems that I do.

Once you have enough connections (I have 2785 Facebook “friends” and 2552 “connections” on LinkedIn) you become a target for people trying to build their networks. In the beginning my philosophy about these things was to […]

Losing sight of the news

moodyMaybe you noticed it has been a couple weeks since I’ve written anything here. Readers are starting to wonder so I thought I’d post an update. It’s a funny thing about writing, that — for me at least — it really helps to be able to see and that’s something I’m not so good at lately. Over the last few months I’ve lost usable vision in one eye and the other is headed the same way.

It’s nothing serious. No glaucoma or macular degeneration, just cataracts — a result, I’m told, of my lifelong habit of not wearing sunglasses when I should have. I never liked carrying two pairs of glasses […]

Fifteen years after 9-11 threats have evolved, too

Fifteen years after 9-11 it’s interesting to reflect on how much our lives have — and haven’t — changed as a result of that attack. One very obvious change for all of us since 9-11 is how much more connected we are to the world and to each other than we were back then. Politico has a great post quoting many of the people flying on Air Force One that day with President George W. Bush as his administration reacted to the unfolding events. Reading the story one thing that struck me was the lack of immediate information about the attacks available to the airborne White House. They had televisions with rabbit ear antennas and […]

What Carrie Underwood’s success teaches us about IBM’s Watson failure

underwood (1)I have a TV producer friend I worked with years ago who at some point landed as one of the many producers of American Idol when that singing show was a monster hit dominating U.S. television. She later told me an interesting story about Carrie Underwood, the country-western singer who won American Idol Season 4. That story can stand as a lesson applicable to far more than just TV talent shows. It’s especially useful for the purposes of this column for explaining IBM’s Watson technology and associated products. You see the producers of American Idol Season 4 knew before the season was half over that Underwood would win. And, by the same token, […]

John Ellenby dies at 75

ellenbyI wouldn’t normally be writing a column early on a Saturday morning but I just read that John Ellenby died and I think that’s really worth mentioning because Ellenby changed all our lives and especially mine.

If you don’t recognize his name, John Ellenby was a British computer engineer who came to Xerox PARC in the 1970s to manufacture the Xerox Alto, the first graphical workstation. He left Xerox in the late 1980s to found Grid Systems, makers of the Compass — the first full-service laptop computer. In the 1990s he founded Agilis, which made arguably the first handheld mobile phone that wasn’t the size of a brick. Finally he […]