Android App Phones Play “One Seriously Crazy Game of Leapfrog”

DroidXphone2010-07-05.jpg

“The Droid X is the latest “best Android phone on the market.”” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. B1) You think technology moves too fast now? You think your camera, camcorder and computer become obsolete quickly?

Try buying an app phone. In this business, the state of the art changes as often as Lady Gaga changes outfits.
Suppose, for example, that you want one of the increasingly popular phones that run Google’s Android software.
Last November, you might have been tempted by the Motorola Droid, “the best Android phone on the market.” A month later, the HTC Hero was “the best Android phone on the market.” By January, “the best Android phone yet” was the Nexus One. In April, “the best Android device that you can purchase” was the HTC Incredible. In May, “the best Android phone on the market” was the Sprint Evo.
Either “the best Android phone on the market” is a tech critic’s tic, or we’re witnessing one seriously crazy game of leapfrog.
The latest buzz is about the Motorola Droid X, which Verizon will offer in mid-July for $200.
. . .
(p. B8) . . . , it’s thrilling to see the array of excellent app phones that the original iPhone begat. If you who crave power, speed, flexibility, dropless calls an almost-Imax screen and Verizon’s network (as opposed to Sprint and its similar Evo), the Droid X is a big, beautiful contender for the “best Android phone on the market” crown.
This month’s crown, anyway.

For the full story, see:

DAVID POGUE. “State of the Art; Big Phone, Big Screen, Big Pleasure.” The New York Times (Thurs., July 1, 2010): B1 & B8.

(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the article is dated June 30, 2010.)

Commodore, Atari, and Some Venture Capitalists, Refused to Fund Jobs and Wozniak

(p. 196) After Commodore turned us down, we went over to Al Alcorn’s house. He was one of the founders of Atari with Nolan Bushnell, and he was the one who’d hired Steve to do video games there two years before.

Now, I knew Al knew me. He knew I had designed Breakout, the one-player version of Pong. I remember that when we went to his house I was so impressed because he had one of the earliest color projection TVs. Man, in 1976, he would have been among the first people to have one. That was cool.
But he told us later that Atari was too busy with the video game market to do a computer project.
A few days after that, venture capitalists Steve had contacted started to come by. One of them was Don Valentine at Sequoia. He kind of pooh-poohed the way we talked about it.
He said, “What’s the market?”
“About a million,” I told him.
“How do you know?”
I told him the ham radio market had one million users, and this could be at least that big.
Well, he turned us down, but he did get us in touch with a guy named Mike Markkula. He was only thirty, he told us, but already retired from Intel. He was into gadgets, he told us. Maybe Mike would know what to do with us.

Source:
Wozniak, Steve, and Gina Smith. iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2006.

“We’re Spending at a Rate that’s Just Unsustainable”

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George Shultz, former Dean of the University of Chicago Business School, former Secretary of the Treasury, and former Secretary of State. Source of photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. 12) What do you make of the direction the Republican Party has taken since you served in Washington? Isn’t the Tea Party a corruption of the values you stood for?
From what I understand of it, it is a reaction, which I share, to the fact that our government seems to have gotten out of control. We’re spending at a rate that’s just unsustainable.
That’s a legacy of the Bush era, I guess.
Everybody is conveniently blaming everything on Bush, but he’s not responsible for what’s happened in the last year.
You’ll be 90 in December. How are you?
I’m terrific. Feeling great. I’m vertical, not horizontal. That’s a big thing.

For the full interview, see:

DEBORAH SOLOMON. “Questions for George Shultz; The Statesman.” The New York Times Magazine (Sun., July 4, 2010): 12.

(Note: bolding of interviewer questions was in original.)
(Note: the online version of the article is dated June 28, 2010.)

Defenders of Climategate Benefit from Global Warming Fears

(p. A15) Last November there was a world-wide outcry when a trove of emails were released suggesting some of the world’s leading climate scientists engaged in professional misconduct, data manipulation and jiggering of both the scientific literature and climatic data to paint what scientist Keith Briffa called “a nice, tidy story” of climate history. The scandal became known as Climategate.

Now a supposedly independent review of the evidence says, in effect, “nothing to see here.”
. . .
One of the panel’s four members, Prof. Geoffrey Boulton, was on the faculty of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences for 18 years. At the beginning of his tenure, the Climatic Research Unit (CRU)–the source of the Climategate emails–was established in Mr. Boulton’s school at East Anglia. Last December, Mr. Boulton signed a petition declaring that the scientists who established the global climate records at East Anglia “adhere to the highest levels of professional integrity.”
This purportedly independent review comes on the heels of two others–one by the University of East Anglia itself and the other by Penn State University, both completed in the spring, concerning its own employee, Prof. Michael Mann. Mr. Mann was one of the Climategate principals who proposed a plan, which was clearly laid out in emails whose veracity Mr. Mann has not challenged, to destroy a scientific journal that dared to publish three papers with which he and his East Anglia friends disagreed. These two reviews also saw no evil. For example, Penn State “determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community.”
Readers of both earlier reports need to know that both institutions receive tens of millions in federal global warming research funding (which can be confirmed by perusing the grant histories of Messrs. Jones or Mann, compiled from public sources, that are available online at freerepublic.com). Any admission of substantial scientific misbehavior would likely result in a significant loss of funding.
It’s impossible to find anything wrong if you really aren’t looking.

For the full commentary, see
PATRICK J. MICHAELS. “The Climategate Whitewash Continues; Global warming alarmists claim vindication after last year’s data manipulation scandal. Don’t believe the ‘independent’ reviews..” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., JULY 12, 2010): A15.
(Note: the online version of the article is dated JULY 10, 2010.)
(Note: ellipsis added.)

Why We Should Drill in Our Backyards

(p. A15) As oil continues to gush from BP’s Macondo well and politicians posture, it is time for us to ask why we are drilling in such risky places when there is oil available elsewhere. The answer lies in the mantra NIMBY–“not in my back yard.”
. . .
In early June there was a blowout in western Pennsylvania. Did you see it on the nightly news? No, because it was capped in 16 hours.
. . .
Drilling can be done with greater environmental sensitivity onshore. For many years the Audubon Society actually allowed oil companies to pump oil for its privately owned sanctuaries in Louisiana and Michigan, but did so with strict requirements on the oil companies so that they would not disturb the bird habitat.
. . .
When kids play baseball, there is a risk that windows will get broken. Playing on baseball fields rather than in sand lots, however, lowers the risk considerably. Putting so much onshore land off limits to oil and gas development is like closing baseball parks. More windows will be broken and more blowouts result where they are difficult to prevent and stop.

For the full commentary, see:
TERRY ANDERSON. “Why It’s Safer to Drill in the ‘Backyard’; Texas has had 102 oil and gas well blowouts since the start of 2006, without catastrophic consequences.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., June 25, 2010): A15.
(Note: ellipses added.)

HP Turns Down Wozniak Again

(p. 193) But I went to talk to the project manager, Kent Stockwell. Although I had done all these computer things with the Apple I and Apple II, I wanted to work on a computer at HP so bad I would have done anything. I would even be a measely printer interface engineer. Something tiny.

I told him, “My whole interest in life has been computers. Not calculators.”
(p. 194) After a few days, I was turned down again.
I still believe HP made a huge mistake by not letting me go to its computer project. I was so loyal to HP. I wanted to work there for life. When you have an employee who says he’s tired of calculators and is really productive in computers, you should put him where he’s productive. Where he’s happy. The only thing I can figure is there were managers and submanagers on this computer project who felt threatened. I had already done a whole computer. Maybe they bypassed me because I had done this single-handedly. I don’t know what they were thinking.
But they should’ve said to themselves, “How do we get Steve Wozniak on board? Just make him a little printer interface engineer.” I would’ve been so happy, but they didn’t bother to put me where I would’ve been happiest.

Source:
Wozniak, Steve, and Gina Smith. iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2006.

Federal Regulations Slow Oil Cleanup Innovation

CostnerKevinOilWaterSeparator2010-07-04.jpg“One promising device is an oil-water separator backed by the actor Kevin Costner, right.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A1) Two decades after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, cleanup technology has progressed so little that the biggest advancement in the Gulf of Mexico disaster — at least in the public’s mind — is an oil-water separator based on a 17-year-old patent and promoted by the movie star Kevin Costner.
. . .
(p. A20) Ms. Kinner [co-director of the Coastal Response Research Center at the University of New Hampshire] and others cite many . . . reasons why cleanup technologies lag.
In testimony this month before Congress, Mr. Costner told of years of woe trying to market his separator, a centrifuge originally developed and patented in 1993 by the Idaho National Laboratory, for use in oil spills. One obstacle, he said, was that although his machines are effective, the water they discharge is still more contaminated than environmental regulations allow. He could not get spill-response companies interested in his machines, he said, without a federal stamp of approval.

For the full story, see:
HENRY FOUNTAIN. “Since Exxon Valdez, Little Has Changed in Cleaning Oil Spills.” The New York Times (Fri., June 25, 2010): A1 & A20.
(Note: ellipses added; and bracketed words added from previous paragraph of article.)
(Note: the date of the online version of the article was June 24, 2010 and had the title “Advances in Oil Spill Cleanup Lag Since Valdez.”)