Oh Vern, where art thou?

I’ve been trying to get in touch with Vern Raburn. You remember Vern, who was an early employee at Microsoft, Lotus, and Symantec. Vern was very involved in pen computing, ran Paul Allen’s investments, created the first Very Light Jet — the Eclipse 500 — and most recently sold Titan Aerospace to Google. That’s a busy career. Well I’ve been trying to get in touch with so far no success.

I contacted a couple old mutual friends, but they’d lost touch with Vern, too. I saw he was on LinkedIn so I tried to connect. No luck. Then I upgraded my LinkedIn account so I could send Vern e-mail, to which he didn’t reply.

Oh Vern, where art thou?

An economist walks into a bar…

defendingDid you ever see the 1991 Albert Brooks movie Defending Your Life? A movie that clearly could not be made today because it includes neither super heroes nor special effects and isn’t a sequel, it’s about a schmo (Brooks) who dies only to find heaven has an entrance exam of sorts in which you literally defend your life. Well the other day I watched a very good TED talk by my friend Bob Litan in which he defended his entire profession — economics. I know no braver man.

Few of us would defend our professions. I’m a journalist — what is there to say about that except that being a Congressman […]

Home Depot and the smoking zip-zap machine

VigodaI was at Home Depot on Sunday, buying flower pots and some lumber to repair the fence where Sadie the Dog has been plotting her escape. Checking-out of the Garden Department I handed my credit card to the cashier, who promptly dragged out an old zip-zap machine (that’s the technical term coined by BankAmeriCard 50 years ago) and took an impression of my card.

“You’ve been hacked,” I said.

“No, it’s just that my terminal is down so I have to do it the old fashion way,” said the cheery cashier.

“Don’t give me that, you’ve been hacked,” I said.

The lady behind me with fertilizer and a Jack Russell Terrier began to […]

Refresh mobile hits the desktop

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 1.16.26 PMI’ve been away on a secret mission, which must remain secret for awhile longer.

Somehow this summer my so-called career had a revival of sorts. My earnest and heartfelt book, The Decline and Fall of IBM, is doing well and will shortly appear in a number of foreign language editions coming from actual book publishers. In a week or two I’ll publish here a general IBM update that’s mainly material to bring those foreign editions up to the present. The short version is it still sucks being Big Blue.

But wait, there’s more! Suddenly I have four (four!) television projects in the works, two of them literally back […]

For future computing, look (as always) to Star Trek

retinal scan“The step after ubiquity is invisibility,” Al Mandel used to say and it’s true. To see what might be The Next Big Thing in personal computing technology, then, let’s try applying that idea to mobile. How do we make mobile technology invisible?

Google is invisible and while the mobile Internet consists of far more than Google it’s a pretty good proxy for back-end processing and data services in general. Google would love for us all to interface completely through their servers for everything. That’s their goal. Given their determination and deep pockets, I’d say Google — or something like it — will be a major part of the invisible mobile Internet.

The […]