Just Take Advantage of It

As something of a follow-up to Friday’s piece on companies like Netflix moving towards content creation and apps on newer, third-party devices, I noted my employer’s CEO being quoted in a Engineering News Record piece on Bentley’s recent announcements (emphasis added):

[Greg] Bentley credited the rapid proliferation and repurposing of consumer products, such as the iPad, into wirelessly connected field tools for construction as accelerants to the development of new processes for the collection and exchange of project and asset information. He says it is a “tremendous” moment for software developers, who no longer have to struggle to find hardware capable of supporting innovations. “Thank goodness we don’t have to invent it, just take advantage of it,” he said.

Bentley doesn’t make any hardware and their acquisitions that once did (such as Intergraph) now exclusively support third-party hardware. Taking advantage of hardware on third-party devices to move them into new and creative markets benefits everyone in that three-party arrangement. (via Rick Stavanja)

Space Dog

I have read numerous times how Gene Roddenberry—the creator of Star Trek—preferred the eyes and mouth of an actor playing some alien not be obscured by makeup. The theory goes that this allows the actor to actually, well, act and the audience better empathize with the character. This makes good sense on a series like Star Trek, where the interaction with aliens is often less shoot ’em up and more diplomacy and moral drama. However, I had never considered this point extending to dogs.

Early 3D Rendered Animation

Great post, video, and comment discussion regarding Ed Catmull’s graduate research film which involves one of the earliest (if not the first) 3D rendered computer animation. Catmull would go on to form Pixar in the following decade. Many of the concepts and technologies used in this short film are used today in infrastructure to digitize roadways, buildings, bridges, etc. into point clouds. (via Kottke)

Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor

I’ve been a fan of fantasy pretty much my entire life. No matter how much I got a certain amount of enjoyment of the scantily clad women warriors from artists like Frazetta or Larry Elmore, much of the—uh, armor?— that some women wore didn’t seem like it would be of much help in a sword fight. Or keep them from freezing to death in a cool breeze. Or even just stay on them, for that matter.

Someone has created a handy Tumblr blog so we can all enjoy knowing that there are plenty of sensible women in the make-believe worlds of fantasy. Enjoy some of the great art at Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor.

I may even make some self-rescuing princess art for my daughter from some of these.

Void in US Manufacturing

I often hear from others and even find myself saying "I’d pay more for a version of product X if it were made in the U.S." According to this Forbes piece by Steve Denning, most companies couldn’t manufacture or even design a lot products here, even if they wanted to. The facilities and know-how all got shipped overseas along with the jobs and money.

One example that struck me:

The lithium battery for GM’s [GM] Chevy Volt is being manufactured in South Korea. Making it in the U.S. wasn’t feasible: rechargeable battery manufacturing left the US long ago.

Some efforts are being made to resurrect rechargeable battery manufacture in the U.S., such as the GE-backed [GE] A123Systems, but it’s difficult to go it alone when much of the expertise is now in Asia.

Interesting, given that my neighbor here in Franklin, TN—Nissan—will be manufacturing the batteries for the Leaf in near-by Symrna, TN (one of their larger plants in N.A.) by next year. I think it is far too early to make any claims as to the viability of one choice over the other, as both cars just hit the market and production lines have probably yet to even hit any sort of regularity. However, that seems to be a glaring hole in the argument that batteries, at least, cannot be made in the states.

Or, on the other hand, it may soon serve to prove that point. Only time will tell. I, for one, am rooting on Nissan to make it work.

On Jobs’ Retirement as CEO of Apple

I’m an Apple fan and as much as I’d like to write something on Steve Jobs’ retirement, the Internet is pretty much already filled to the brim with ruminations on the topic. If you do choose to read a piece on this, I suggest MG Seigler’s piece at TechCrunch. It summarizes why Jobs’ leaving is broader than just a tech news piece and delves into what is next for Apple.

I will summarize why this matters to me: Apple was formed a few months before I was born and Jobs retired on my 35th birthday. I have grown up with Apple in a very real sense. From playing "Oregon Trail" on an Apple ][ to carrying a device ripped from a science fiction novel as my phone, these devices have really mattered to me. The attention to detail in them and the amount of vision it took to get them in my hands has always been phenomenal. The fact that so many others are taking note of this change in leadership means that they meant a lot to all of us, regardless of what computer of phone we use. It was always so much more than just that.

Brave New World for Entrepreneurs

The story of how a couple of guys used Kickstarter to raise the funds to produce a great product idea.

On July 11th, 2010, Tom Gerhardt and I had an idea for an iPhone accessory: a tripod mount that doubled as a stand. Five months later, customers began to receive our product, the Glif, in the mail. This turnaround, from idea to market in five months by two guys with no retail or manufacturing experience, signifies a shift in the way products are made and sold — a shift only made possible in the last couple years.

This is has become a darling example of how a great idea and some smart execution can leverage a flat world to make some money, and rightly so. (via Gruber)