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I wasn’t in Boston over the weekend, so I wasn’t there to see Neil Diamond sing “Sweet Caroline” live and in person at Fenway Park.
But I was introduced to the tradition during my own first visit to Fenway a year ago this May, and I can’t think of a more fitting way to kick away the dust of fear and horror last week than something as American as having Neil Diamond show up at the ball park to sing “Sweet Caroline”!
If you’ve never experienced it firsthand, basically here’s how it goes: In the middle of the eighth inning, since 2002, “Sweet Caroline” is played over the loudspeakers at Fenway, and the great citizens of Bostons (and Red Sox fans everywhere) do a little audience participation. It’s not quite a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” level of audience participation, but then again, this is baseball and we’re between innings people!
Go find some of the video recaps to see for yourself, but if you did see Diamond out there on the diamond doing it live this weekend, amd if that didn’t send a couple of tears to your eyes, you’d better check to make sure the drones from Tom Cruise’s new movie “Oblivion” (and which I saw this weekeend…two thumbs up!) haven’t taken over.
Of course, I guess if you didn’t want anyone to see you cry you could invest in some of these new techno glasses, Google’s or otherwise.
According to The New York Times, Oakley’s also getting into the act, working to introduce goggles that can display incoming text messages, have embedded GPS, Bluetooth, and video cameras.
Skiers, please, keep your eyes on the slopes at all times!
That goes for you cyclists looking to check your heartbeat in your newfangled high tech cycling glasses every five seconds.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for having performance biometrics, even in real-time, but I think we have to think very carefully about how that information is presented back to athletes, especially those mid-mountain or mid-peloton.
If you’ve ever nearly been run over by someone who was texting while driving, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I texted while driving for a time. But about the fourth time I nearly rear-ended someone, it dawned on me that texting while driving was a bad idea. Very bad. And this was well before any of those anti-texting public ad campaigns had emerged.
These days, I find myself constantly scanning my rear-view mirror in fear of some other idiot not having come around to a similar conclusion, which is its own kind of dangerous distraction.
So what’s going to happen on the ski mountains across the globe when folks are too busy checking their optimum heart rate to see those trees racing up towards their performance glasses?
There will be an inordinate demand for well trained ski patrol professionals, that’s what!
I was sitting here at JFK waitin’ on a plane and IBM’s 1Q 2013 earnings came across the wire, so here goes:
- Diluted EPS: GAAP: $2.70, up 3 percent; Operating (non-GAAP): $3.00, up 8 percent
- Net income: GAAP: $3.0 billion, down 1 percent; Operating (non-GAAP): $3.4 billion, up 3 percent
- Gross profit margin: GAAP: 45.6 percent, up 0.6 points; Operating (non-GAAP): 46.7 percent, up 1.0 points
- Revenue: $23.4 billion, down 5 percent, down 3 percent adjusting for currency
- Free cash flow of $1.7 billion, down $0.2 billion
- Software revenue flat, up 1 percent adjusting for currency; Pre-tax: income up 4 percent; margin up 1.2 points
- Services revenue down 4 percent, down 1 percent adjusting for currency; Pre-tax: income up 10 percent; margin up 2.0 points
- Services backlog of $141 billion, up 1 percent, up 5 percent adjusting for currency; Closed 22 deals of more than $100 million in the quarter
- Systems and Technology revenue down 17 percent, down 16 percent adjusting for currency
- Growth markets revenue down 1 percent, up 1 percent adjusting for currency
- Business analytics revenue up 7 percent; Smarter Planet revenue up more than 25 percent; Cloud revenue up more than 70 percent
- Reiterating full-year 2013 operating (non-GAAP) EPS expectation of at least $16.70.
IBM announced first-quarter 2013 diluted earnings of $2.70 per share, a year-to-year increase of 3 percent. Operating (non-GAAP) diluted earnings were $3.00 per share, compared with operating diluted earnings of $2.78 per share in the first quarter of 2012, an increase of 8 percent.
First-quarter net income was $3.0 billion, down 1 percent year-to-year. Operating (non-GAAP) net income was $3.4 billion compared with $3.3 billion in the first quarter of 2012, an increase of 3 percent. Total revenues for the first quarter of 2013 of $23.4 billion were down 5 percent (down 3 percent, adjusting for currency) from the first quarter of 2012.
“In the first quarter, we grew operating net income, earnings per share and expanded operating margins but we did not achieve all of our goals in the period. Despite a solid start and good client demand we did not close a number of software and mainframe transactions that have moved into the second quarter. The services business performed as expected with strong profit growth and significant new business in the quarter,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer.
“Looking ahead, in addition to closing those transactions, we expect to benefit from investments we are making in our growth initiatives and from the actions we are taking to improve under-performing parts of the business. We remain confident in this model of continuous transformation and in our ability to deliver our full-year 2013 operating earnings per share expectation of at least $16.70.”
Pre-tax income decreased 6 percent to $3.6 billion. Pre-tax margin decreased 0.1 points to 15.4 percent. Operating (non-GAAP) pre-tax income decreased 1 percent to $4.1 billion and pre-tax margin was 17.4 percent, up 0.8 points.
IBM’s tax rate was 15.9 percent, down 4.1 points year over year; operating (non-GAAP) tax rate was 17.3 percent, down 3.2 points compared to the year-ago period. The lower tax rate is primarily due to benefits recorded to reflect changes in tax laws enacted during the quarter, including the reinstatement of the U.S. Research and Development Tax Credit.
Net income margin increased 0.5 points to 13.0 percent. Total operating (non-GAAP) net income margin increased 1.2 points to 14.4 percent.
The weighted-average number of diluted common shares outstanding in the first-quarter 2013 was 1.12 billion compared with 1.17 billion shares in the same period of 2012. As of March 31, 2013, there were 1.11 billion basic common shares outstanding.
Debt, including Global Financing, totaled $33.4 billion, compared with $33.3 billion at year-end 2012. From a management segment view, Global Financing debt totaled $25.2 billion versus $24.5 billion at year-end 2012, resulting in a debt-to-equity ratio of 7.2 to 1. Non-global financing debt totaled $8.2 billion, a decrease of $0.6 billion since year-end 2012, resulting in a debt-to-capitalization ratio of 34.3 percent from 36.1 percent.
IBM ended the first-quarter 2013 with $12.0 billion of cash on hand and generated free cash flow of $1.7 billion, excluding Global Financing receivables, down approximately $0.2 billion year over year. The company returned $3.5 billion to shareholders through $0.9 billion in dividends and $2.6 billion of gross share repurchases. The balance sheet remains strong, and the company is well positioned to support the business over the long term.
Anybody watch that little ol’ college basketball game last night between Louisville and Michigan?
Whoa. Talk about saving the best for last. “The end of the road,” indeed.
Hats off to Louisville to reaching and staying number one, especially after the first half of the final, when I thought Michigan might be running away with the show!
Now that the Final Four is over, I can give my undivided attention to my favorite sport, the game of golf.
For the longest time, golf has been a sport that has exalted in its traditions and basked in its conservatism, technological and otherwise.
But in order to keep the sport vibrant, everyone from golfing bodies to entrepreneurs are finding new ways of introducing, bolstering, and sharing information about the sport.
Yesterday in Augusta, chairman Billy Payne inaugurated a new “Drive, Chip and Putt Championship” for youngsters ages 7-15, which will hold its first finals at Augusta National just prior to next year’s Masters.
And though we’ve seen remarkable technology evolution with regards to playing equipment on the golf course, I think we’re just getting going in terms of using data and analytics to help the amateur golfer.
I’ve been using a product called “GolfshotGPS” for some time now to help me conduct some basic analysis of my golf game, but let’s face it, having to do data entry on the golf course takes time away from playing and enjoying the scenery.
Enter “GAME GOLF,” an outfit that originated in Galway, Ireland and who are working to bring more sophisticated analytics more easily to the game of golf, and doing so in a way where we mere amateurs will be able to “compete with the likes of PGA veterans like Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood (two pros who have done early prototype development of GAME GOLF’s technology.)
The idea is simple: Using GAME GOLF’s small wireless hub and a set of golf club “tags,” one for each club in a golfer’s bag, GAME will analyze all the critical elements of one’s golf game. Think of it as having RFID tags on every one of your golf clubs.
GAME records every club used, every swing made, every yard covered in each round, WITHOUT pausing play to enter info into your Android device.
Then, GAME calculates key statistics: Scoring, number of putts, greens in regulation, driving accuracy, and so forth.
But GAME doesn’t just give YOU, the golfer, data. Golf is at its essence a competitive sport you play against yourself and others, so GAME will also share your performance with friends on social networks, and also help connect you with other golfers on GAME’s network.
I can tell you from having analyzed my own game with the limited data I’ve had access to, I’ve been able to improve my game (although improving my “mechanics” was where I saw my biggest improvement).
Golf is an iterative game when it comes to improving, but the smallest of tweeks can have relatively big payoffs (Steve Stricker’s recent putting advice for Tiger Woods, by way of example).
If you know you’re 3 putting 60% of the holes you play…well, I hate to tell you, but you probably ought to head out right now and spend some significant time on the putting green.
But it’s the “fantasy” aspect of GAME that serves up the most intrigue for me. What if Tiger and Brent and Bubba and others also started using GAME during their Tour events, and now suddenly I and my fantasy golf friends could start competing directly with the pros in “virtual” matches.
First, yes, me and my amateur friends, we’d lose, and big time.
But, with the proper handicap adjustments, suddenly we find ourselves on the first tee at Augusta the first Thursday of April with Tiger and Phil, shaking in our boots and hoping we don’t kill someone in the fairway with our first drive.
You can learn more about GAME GOLF in the video below. There’s currently a crowdsourcing fundraiser that has been extended to April 15th.
It’s too early to tell if this will be a golf GAME changer or not, but I think with golf, more information is always better than less.
GAME GOLF seems to provide just enough new information (without hassle in acquiring it) that has the potential to make me a better golfer, and to make the game that much more fun.
Who can argue with that?
Hello Monday, in my favorite week of the year.
Yes, it’s that time again, Masters Week, where the best golfers come together on a classic golf course down in Augusta to test for the best.
The history, the traditions, and such behind The Masters are all well and good, but for true and rabid golf fans like myself, it’s the actual competitive golf from Thursday through Sunday afternoon that we live and breathe for.
Though all eyes this week are on Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy’s new Nike clubs seemed to be warming up to him down here in the heart of Texas over the weekend.
Rory shot a 66 yesterday at the Valero Texas Open, catching some much needed momentum heading into Augusta and finishing second at -12, just two strokes back from winner Martin Laird.
If I were a handicapping man, I’d also be on the lookout this week for the likes of Brant Snedeker, whose hot putter will likely find lots of love at Augusta National; Freddie Jacobson, whose painter’s cap could very well point him in the right directions on Augusta’s undulating nightmare greens; Nicolas Colsaerts, the “Belgium Bomber” playing his first Masters, still one of the best putters in the world; Matt Kuchar, whose victory at WGC-Accenture showed he can hold up under the pressure and take it into the homestretch.
And let’s not forget last year’s winner, Bubba Watson, who might just be up for a repeat.
It’s a difficult tournament to handicap, which is what makes it so interesting to watch.
Speaking of golf, it’s a crazy game. I went out and played twice this weekend…on Saturday, I made three birdies and still shot a 90 (but I also had a 10 on one hole, where I had a Kevin Na-like moment as I tried to hack my way out of some woods).
On Sunday, I rediscovered my swing (especially for my driver), hitting a 350-yard drive on one par 4, and overshooting a 290-yard par 4 with a 3-wood (the wind was VERY much at my back on both holes). Both just gorgeous shots that I couldn’t believe came off of MY club.
I shot an 81, my low for the calendar year, and it was night and day, like I’d been playing two different games from Saturday to Sunday.
Then again, that’s golf!
The last time Tiger Woods was the number one ranked golfer in the world was October 2010. That’s a grand total of 29 months ago.
That all changed this week at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Invitational, which Tiger Woods won running away at -13. That’s Woods’ eighth time to win the same PGA tournament.
Justin Rose gave Woods his best, but faltered on Saturday before attempting a comeback on Monday’s round (after torrential storms in and around Orlando postponed play on Sunday), and Ricky Fowler tried to match Woods’ performance in the final grouping, but Woods’ irons were too much for Fowler and all the “chasers.”
And then there was Woods’ putting, which was nothing short of masterful. For the week, he made 19 of 28 putts between 7 and 20 feet. It was like the Tiger of old — the golf ball seemed to just follow a line from Woods’ putter to the middle of the hole, over and over and over again.
You could hear professional golfers around the globe simply deflate with each stroke of Tiger’s Nike Method putter.
So, Tiger has now won 77 PGA Tour wins, only 5 away from legend Sam Snead’s 82.
And then there’s The Masters coming up in Augusta in mid-April, the golfing equivalent of the Super Bowl.
You think a few odds makers in Vegas now have Tiger to win this year’s Masters?
Not that I would ever gamble on such a thing, but money does talk, and in this case, online casino Bovada already has Tiger at 11/4 odds to take this year’s green jacket.
But since this is a data driven, technology-oriented blog, let’s look at a few more numbers.
Bleacherreport’s Ryan Rudnansky observes that in 2010, Tiger ranked 109th in putting (strokes gained). 45th in 2011. 36th last year. And this year?
You got it? Numero uno.
At Doral, he recorded just 100 putts for the 72 holes, the lowest putting mark in his career.
Oh, yes, and he’s won three times this year in four stroke-play tournaments (we’ll disregard his nasty bit of business at the Accenture Match Play, where Charles Howell III ousted him in the first match).
Is Tiger’s taking the Master’s in two weeks a done deal?
Of course not.
Would I pick him over all the other players in the field?
What do you think?
They call it jumping the shark when a TV show reaches the end of its prime.
I’m not sure what they call a conference that does the same, but assuming I can co-opt the saying for events, methinks SXSW Interactive may be closer to the shark’s teeth than ever.
I first attended SXSW Interactive in 2000, while I was living in NYC. I had a speaking engagement on one of the panel discussions, and it was literally weeks before signs emerged that the dot com bubble was going to start to burst.
Headhunters were everywhere, jobs were abundant (particularly for developers), the parties were crazy. This, of course, was only weeks before the infamous Barron’s article appeared that announced all the dot com startups were running out of money.
It was a heady time, but little did we know the headwinds we were about to face.
Of course, this was at the dawn of what we were soon going to call “social media.” The authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto were in attendance, and explained to us all how the network was a conversation and that the world was about to change, but mostly nobody listened.
This was well before Friendster, or Myspace, or LinkedIn, or Facebook, or Twitter. We were still using Listservs and email distribution. Social was what we did on happy hour Friday night…and at all the SXSW parties.
Flash forward to 2013. Social media is an industry. And 27,000+ people invade Austin every March looking for….a job? Insights? A drunkfest?
I’m not looking for a job. I’m definitely looking for insights. The drunkfest we’ll have to wait and see…but logistics matter.
I’ve talked to two people this morning already, one a close colleague, another a complete stranger from Philly, who complained they had travelled to an offsite location from the Austin Convention Center to attend a session, but the sessions were already filled, and the line to get back via the shuttle was 30-40 people long and it was raining.
UPS explains it all when they talk about “logistics.” All this virtual convening in a physical space is fantastic, but only if the physical space can facilitate the virtual conversation.
Despite having distributed and automated the registration and badge pickup process this year — that alone is a huge step forward — the fact that the venues can’t accommodate the interested attendees suggests that SXSW Interactive 2013 could be the beginning of its end.
I’ll reserve my complete judgment until we get a little further into the conference.
But if SXSW Interactive hasn’t completely jumped the shark, I think I definitely saw at least a few dolphins swimming around down there in Town Lake…and they looked hungry.
Yesterday was a big day for the clouds.
Not only did we encounter a lot of mentions around cloud computing here at IBM Pulse 2013 and its growing importance in the IT realm, we also heard from IBM in an important announcement that all of its cloud services and software moving forward would be based on an open cloud architecture, OpenStack.
This move will ensure that innovation in cloud computing isn’t hampered by locking businesses into proprietary “islands.” For without industry-wide open standards for cloud computing, businesses won’t be able to fully take advantage of the opportunities associated with interconnected data, including mobile computing and business analytics.
As part of a first major step here, IBM unveiled a new private cloud offering based on the open sourced OpenStack software that will speed up and simplify managing an enterprise-grade cloud.
Now, businesses will have a core set of open source-based technologies on which they can build enterprise-cloud services that can be ported across hybrid cloud environments.
Based on customer-driven requirements, the new software, called IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator, gives clients greater flexibility by removing the need to develop specific interfaces for different cloud services.
With the new software, companies can quickly combine and deploy various cloud services onto the cloud infrastructure by lining up the compute, storage and network resources with an easy-to-use graphical interface.
The new IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator allows users to perform the following:
- Build new cloud services in minutes by combining the power of pattern-based cloud delivery, with a graphical orchestrator for simple composition of cloud automation;
- Reduce operational costs with an orchestrator that can automate application deployment and lifecycle management in the cloud: compute, storage and network configuration, human tasks automation, integration with third party tools, all delivered by a single cloud management platform and;
- Simplify the end user consumption of cloud services, via an intuitive self service portal, including the ability to measure the cost of cloud services with metering and charge-back capabilities.
In addition, IBM also announced new versions of software that use open standards to help companies better monitor and control their enterprise cloud deployments.
For example, IBM SmartCloud Monitoring Application Insight helps businesses monitor the real-time performance and availability of applications hosted on a cloud and being delivered via the Web, hosted on public cloud platforms and IBM SmartCloud.
Two new beta programs, that use analytics to predict changes in scale and usage, are now available. In addition, new integration between IBM SmartCloud ControlDesk and IBM Endpoint Manager automates and extends the ability to control cloud services for compliance, regulation, and security to various “end points” or devices, such as mobile phones, medical devices and car engines.
The integration of these two products is made possible through open-standard OSLC.
The development of open industry standards has proven a critical turning point in the success of many technologies, such as the Internet and operating systems.
For cloud computing to grow and mature similar to its predecessors, vendors must stop creating new cloud services that are incompatible. A recent report by Booz & Company warned that without a more concerted effort to agree on such standards, and leadership on the part of major companies, the promise of cloud computing may never be reached.
About IBM, Cloud, And Open Standards
IBM is applying its experience in supporting and validating open standards from Linux, Eclipse and Apache to cloud computing. Working with the IT community, IBM is helping to drive the open cloud world by:
- Creating a 400-member strong Cloud Standards Customer Council that grew from about 50 members at launch;
- Sponsoring OpenStack Foundation as a platinum and founding member and as one of the top code and design contributors to all OpenStack projects;
- Driving related cloud standards, such as Open Service for Lifecycle Collaboration, Linked Data in the W3C and TOSCA in OASIS, to enhance cloud application portability;
- Dedicating more than 500 developers on the open cloud projects and;
- Working closely with the OpenStack Foundation, along with its 8,200+ members from 109 countries and 1,000 organizations.
IBM is one of the world’s largest private cloud vendors with more than 5,000 private cloud customers in 2012, which increased 100 percent year-over-year. IBM’s cloud portfolio, called SmartCloud, is based on a common code of interoperability, allowing clients to move between IBM’s private, hybrid and public cloud services.
IBM Orchestrator is expected to be available later this year. IBM SmartCloud Monitoring Application Insight is expected to be available in the second quarter of the year. The analytics beta programs are expected to be available by the end of March.
Go here for more information about cloud offerings from IBM.
It’s a rare feat that I’ll sit down and watch the entire Academy Awards ceremony end to end, but that’s exactly what I did last evening.
I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other about Seth McFarlane as emcee going into the evening, but after seeing the reports of his apparent Twitter lynching, I’m sure glad I stayed off social media for the most part during the event.
Of the entire evening, I have to say I was laughing way out loud in my living room at the sock puppet rendition of the Oscar-nominated Flight. Coke sniffing, tequila swilling sock puppets flying a plane upside down? All they needed was the Pets.com sock puppet to fly in save the day (although we saw how well THAT worked out for Pets.com!)
I thought McFarlane struck a fine balance between properly insulting the Hollywood clerisy and appropriately celebrating the film arts.
On which topic, I wanted to debrief on a particularly notable celebration, the Honorary Awards, one of those awards that were awarded prior to Oscar night. This year, one of those awards went to D.A. Pennebaker, a pioneer and downright legend in documentary filmmaking circles.
Arguably, Pennebaker’s work, and the work of those he influenced, has had a resultantly more powerful historical impact than many of the celebrated filmmakers in attendance last evening.
Pennebaker, along with a small cohort that included the likes of Richard Leacock, Robert Drew, Albert and David Maysles (and a handful of others) in the form of Drew Associates helped to create the notion of cinema verite, or “truth in film.” In 1960’s Primary, Pennebaker and team documented John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey’s campaigns in the 1960 Wisconsin Democratic Primary (and which resulted in one of the most famous “stalking” shots in cinematic history of then candidate JFK).
With this film, Pennebaker and crew also demonstrated the power and impact that could be brought about with the synching of film and sound (using the then relatively-new Nagra tape sound recorders) on the move — that is to say, where the documentary filmmaker could “follow” their subject in the field.
Pennebaker has also been a pioneer in making a record of musical performance, starting with his filming of Bob Dylan’s 1965 English tour, entitled Dont Look Back, but also other important artists including Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie.
Dont Look Back was the first draft of the basic script for music videos nearly 20 years before they exploded onto the scene with MTV.
And love him or hate him for it, Pennebaker helped paved the way for what came to be known as “reality TV” — one could pretty easily connect a straight line from Pennebaker’s cinema verite work to Cops — although Pennebaker’s contributions to the documentary medium have been much more substantive in terms of subject matter and thoughtfulness, and it’s a shame that the medium hasn’t evolved more broadly with the promising foundation that Pennebaker and his associates laid down fifty plus years ago.
If you’re interested in checking out his work, I would certainly encourage you to screen Primary and Dont look Back. There’s also Monterey Pop and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
And, of course, that ever campaign-insider flick, The War Room, which took us inside the first Bill Clinton presidential campaign “war room,” where the likes of James Carville and George Stephanopolous worked to keep the Clinton campaign spinning and vibrant.
To steal from that early campaign slogan: “It’s the documentary, stupid.”