It's a Sony

The machine pictured here is a Sony XDCAM EX, a 1080p tapeless HD camcorder.  It is a so-called “prosumer” model that lists for $7800.  I bought a pair of these cameras (new in the box) at the beginning of July to use for shooting this summer’s Startup Tour.  Many video professionals think these are the best HD camcorders you can buy for under $20,000.  The video is stunning — clearly network-quality or, indeed, feature film-quality.

If only they both worked.

The cameras came from  Abel Cinetech in New York City and we paid about $14,000 for the pair. The cameras worked fine for a few weeks until one froze-up in Boulder, CO.  We couldn’t get the camera […]

By |August 31st, 2010|2010|177 Comments

Trolling for Dollars

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen filed suit this week against a litany of Internet companies claiming they had violated patents awarded years ago to Allen’s now-defunct Interval Research. Many writers, including one passing himself off as me, claimed this made Allen a so-called “patent troll. ”

I don’t think that is the case.

Patent trolls are individuals or companies that habitually sue others over obscure patents. While the Interval patents generally are obscure, that doesn’t make them invalid. And the fact that Allen and then-partner Dave Liddle paid $100 million for the basic research behind those patents, well that hardly sounds like troll behavior.

If Paul Allen actually were a patent troll. he would have sued in […]

By |August 31st, 2010|2010|28 Comments

When IT Fails

A friend of mine has been in an epic struggle with his mortgage processor and his experience tells us a lot about the state of IT. It started in October of last year when my friend met with his loan processor (Bank of America) to inquire about a loan modification. The loan is actually owned by Freddie Mac. He turned-in all the required paperwork and followed up with an income statement when requested two weeks later.  The meeting took many hours mainly because all of the original documents were imaged and put into his electronic file. In late December he was told that his modification was completed, given a new mortgage payment and told to […]

By |August 30th, 2010|2010|69 Comments

Little Geeks on the Prairie

A maverick is an un-branded range cow or steer. It is also the name used for sports teams at Minnesota State University — Mankato. That’s where the Cringely Startup Tour stopped recently to visit Maverick Software Consulting and find out where’s the beef. This Maverick (the consulting company) has come up with an amazing business model for software consulting services — one that employs American programmers yet meets or beats the cost of using programmers in India or China. But it is much more than just a price-competitive service: Maverick Software Consulting also gives prospective technical employers a newer and better way to directly recruit good programmers.

Maverick was founded by Martin Hebig and Chuck Sherwood, […]

By |August 24th, 2010|2010|76 Comments

Too Big to Fail

I wrote a few days ago about the Intel anti-trust settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. Those words stand unchanged but some readers have asked for more so I have given the deal further thought and have what might be a better context in which to place it — Too Big to Fail. This isn’t “too big to fail” in the Bush/Obama big bank context in which failing and stupid institutions are saved at any cost to the public. Intel, in contrast, literally is too big to fail, at least right now.

Everything about the Intel/FTC settlement screams of one thing — Microsoft. Redmond’s multi-year nightmare with the FTC, DoJ, and the attorneys-general of several dozen […]

By |August 12th, 2010|2010|72 Comments