Monday, July 26, 2010

My Dream Laptop - For Outdoor Use

One of the biggest paradoxes with laptops, notebooks, and netbooks (including the iPad) is that they are pretty much useless if you take them outside on a sunny day. Right now it's a sunny day here in Princeton Jct., NJ, and not too hot. I would love to move my work outside, but the thought of squinting in front of my laptop makes me stay right where I am, in front of my desktop.

OLED and Uni-Pixel's TMOS technology will probably give us portable color screens for use in full sunlight, but in the meantime, why hasn't anybody build a laptop/notebook/netbook as legible in sunlight as Amazon's Kindle? I would run out and buy one today. I don't need color to read and write outside. All I need is a screen that doesn't fade out!

That's my two cents....

Hans Sandberg

PS. If you read Swedish, you can read my 2001 reportage about OLED here!

The latest issue of Newsweek has a story about the Kindle vs. iPad. Read it here!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sweden Seen From a Pakistani Perspective

Google brought me a story that I - being born in Sweden - simply couldn't resist. It's written by Ahmad Rafay Alam, who writes for the Pakistani newspaper the Express Tribune, and bears the title:
Ball bearings: a pakistani’s view of sweden
What???
Then comes an opener that grabs you by the .... well, let's just say that it grabs your interest.

While landing at Sweden’s Arlanda airport, some 30 minutes outside its capital Stockholm, one can be forgiven for wondering where all the people are. Coming from Pakistan, where rare is the moment one’s line of sight is not interrupted by another human being, Sweden appears to the uninitiated as unpopulated; a vast swathe of pristine forest dotted every now and then with a cottage and the odd lake. The presence of nature is all encompassing — there’s forest everywhere — and it is one of the reasons Swedes have a deep connection with their environment. But one would be quite mistaken to think, what with nearly eight months of darkness, that Sweden is a land where nothing goes on.
Half way down the article, the author offers this sharp summary of Swedish history:
"Sweden, the land of Vikings, Ikea, Bjorn Borg, ABBA and the sauna, didn’t really coalesce into a nation until 1521, when King Gustav Vasa unified the many other tribes of hunter gatherers and races that had collected on the Baltic archipelago. A generation later, Sweden had broken with the Pope and by the end of that century, the country officially became Lutheran Christian. By this time, a hereditary monarchy had been introduced (it still continues, with the marriage of Crown Princess Victoria to her former gym trainer and “commoner” boyfriend taking place last month) and King Gustav had broken the back of the Hanseatic League, a collection of merchant-gangsters who ensured safe passage through the Baltic Sea at an appropriate cost. With the League’s monopoly over sea routes broken, money began to flow into Sweden’s coffers like never before and the country saw its golden era. Fast forward 500 years, and you’ve got Sweden, so to speak."
Not bad at all! Sometimes the distance makes you see things more clear.
But what about the ball bearings?
Well, here they are:
"During our tour, we were informed that Swedes had invented things as common as the zipper, the three-point seat belt and ball-bearings. Ball-bearings seem to me a perfectly apt metaphor of what Sweden and Swedish people are like. Strong willed, efficient and not meant to be noticeable."
The invisible Swede? Ouch! That hurts, but on the other hand, they do say a lot trough their work, for who hasn't heard of Ericsson, Ikea, H&M, and SKF (the maker of the ball bearings)?

And let's not forget Stieg Larsson.

Hans Sandberg

Sweden as Seen from Pakistan: "The Land of Problems Solved"

Google brought me a story that I - being born in Sweden - simply couldn't resist. It's written by Ahmad Rafay Alam, who writes for the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune, and bears the title:

Ball bearings: a Pakistani’s view of Sweden

What???

Then comes an opener that grabs you by the .... well, let's just say that it grabs your interest.

"While landing at Sweden’s Arlanda airport, some 30 minutes outside its capital Stockholm, one can be forgiven for wondering where all the people are. Coming from Pakistan, where rare is the moment one’s line of sight is not interrupted by another human being, Sweden appears to the uninitiated as unpopulated; a vast swathe of pristine forest dotted every now and then with a cottage and the odd lake. The presence of nature is all encompassing — there’s forest everywhere — and it is one of the reasons Swedes have a deep connection with their environment. But one would be quite mistaken to think, what with nearly eight months of darkness, that Sweden is a land where nothing goes on."
Half way down the article, the author offers this sharp summary of Swedish history:

"Sweden, the land of Vikings, Ikea, Bjorn Borg, ABBA and the sauna, didn’t really coalesce into a nation until 1521, when King Gustav Vasa unified the many other tribes of hunter gatherers and races that had collected on the Baltic archipelago. A generation later, Sweden had broken with the Pope and by the end of that century, the country officially became Lutheran Christian. By this time, a hereditary monarchy had been introduced (it still continues, with the marriage of Crown Princess Victoria to her former gym trainer and “commoner” boyfriend taking place last month) and King Gustav had broken the back of the Hanseatic League, a collection of merchant-gangsters who ensured safe passage through the Baltic Sea at an appropriate cost. With the League’s monopoly over sea routes broken, money began to flow into Sweden’s coffers like never before and the country saw its golden era. Fast forward 500 years, and you’ve got Sweden, so to speak."
Not bad at all! Sometimes the distance makes you see things more clear. And sometimes it may even make the surfacea smoother than it is.....

"In many ways, Sweden is the land of problems solved."
But what about the ball bearings?

Well, here they are:
"During our tour, we were informed that Swedes had invented things as common as the zipper, the three-point seat belt and ball-bearings. Ball-bearings seem to me a perfectly apt metaphor of what Sweden and Swedish people are like. Strong willed, efficient and not meant to be noticeable."
The invisible Swede? Ouch! That hurts, but on the other hand, they do say a lot trough their work, for who hasn't heard of Ericsson, Ikea, H&M, and SKF (the maker of the ball bearings)?

And lets not forget Stieg Larsson.

Hans Sandberg

Lost in a Cloud of Words

Welcome to the wordcloud. I just got a press release from Microsoft about their big partner conference in Washington, D.C. People from all over the world have gathered there to "seize new opportunities in the cloud" and help consumers "tap into the cloud through all the screens in their lives."

Lost in translation? No, Microsoft is not Volkswagen having fun with words like fahrvergnügen or Ikea being cute with Swedish names. Microsoft is from Redmond, WA.

"WASHINGTON — July 13, 2010 — Today at the annual Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, Jon Roskill, Microsoft Corp.’s new channel chief, addressed the Microsoft partner community for the first time, unveiling business strategies and resources to help partners of all types seize new opportunities in the cloud. The company also detailed new products and services to help consumers tap into the cloud through all the screens in their lives — from the largest screen in the living room to the smallest screen in one’s pocket."
I know what they mean, but isn't there a fundamental communication disconnect here?

The digital era has given us many new words, and a whole new way to view the world. We have learned to understand expressions like the world wide web, and reinterpret others, like computer (which used to be a person who calculates) and surfing (no board needed these days). I have no problem with that, but then we have the Globalyst stuff. No, it's not something from Harry Potter. It was a new PC-series launched by AT&T in 1994 after the company had bought NCR and renamed it Global Information Services. I remember the press conference when the Globalyst PC was introduced, featuring a communications program called Vistium. I asked one of the marketing guys about the weird name. He shook his head and said that all the good names were already taken.

Fast forward to July 2010:
“The industry is at an inflection point....and we are committed to helping our partners adapt and find the right cloud opportunities....,” said Jon Roskill.
Well, the cloud makes sense as a concept and is okay on a powerpoint slide, but beyond that I'd like my clouds in the sky. Leave it to the true believers to seek opportunities in the cloud.

Hans Sandberg

Saturday, July 10, 2010

IEA Report: A Global Energy Technology Revolution Is Underway

"International Energy Agency says a global energy technology revolution is underway. According to a new report by the International Energy Agency, global investment in renewable electricity generation, led by wind and solar, reached an all-time high of $112 billion in 2008 and remained broadly stable in 2009 despite the economic recession. In OECD countries, the rate of energy efficiency improvement has increased to almost two percent per year, more than double the rate seen in the 1990s. And funding for low-carbon research, development and deployment has increased by one third between 2005 and 2008. However, the report, Energy Technology Perspectives 2010, also finds that without new policies to rapidly deploy low-carbon technologies on a large scale, energy-related CO2 emissions will almost double by 2050."


(Source: Apollo Alliance Weekly Update July 7, 2010)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Does the Internet make squirrels out of us? (Niccolas Carr's "The Shallows")

I'm sitting in my backyard watching the squirrels in their non-stop nervous search for something hidden underground. They rarely ever sit still and any distraction will set them off in a new direction. It used to be that way for humans too, the author Nicholas Carr says in a CNET News interview. If they didn't, they would be eaten, but there was an era where you could allow yourself to focus, to read a book, to think long and deep, instead of browsing for nuggets of information.

I think he is on to something very important, even if you consider the counter argument that we now can absorb so much more information from so many more sources. Carr is however not telling us to abandon our inner squirrel, but rather to try to preserve and grow out counter-instinctual habit of digging deep. You need systematic education and extensive reading in order to build an intellectual framework, to form an independent mind that can allow you to navigate the Internet instead of only jumping around like a squirrel.

Hans Sandberg

Hubble Telescope Images