Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for September 2009

Debrief: Austin City Limits Music Festival

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It’s only two days to the Eighth Annual Austin City Limits Music Festival here in my glorious Austin, Texas.

For those of you who have been before, you know how special an event it is.  For those of you who haven’t, what are you waiting for?

“ACL,” as we Austinites have come to refer to it, began as a small festival in 2002 and has grown (some would say too large, but I say the more the merrier) into a world-class music festival.

Which is just what it should be, if we’re to fully live up to our mantra of being the “live music capitol of the world!”

This year, a couple of things are worthy of note.  First, Zilker Park has been completely reseeded from the ground up.  Not the patchwork improvements made after the great Coldplay duststorm of 2005.

No, this is a serious overhauling of the park, and the grass looks absolutely gorgeous.  And, it’s nice and fluffy to sit on.

Second, the festival is being held a week later than normal, and after our 60+ days of 100+ heat in Austin this year, that could be the key difference maker.

In prior years (like 2005), temperatures have reached up to 106 degrees during the festival.  It’s currently a lovely 73 degrees outside.  I went for a long mountain bike ride very early this morning on the Austin greenbelt and there was almost a chill in the air.

If you don’t have a ticket already, this year’s 3-day passes are sold out, so check your favorite ticket vendor or Craig’s List.  If you do, get over to the Box Office now (3pm-8pm daily) and get that wristband.  You will be hating yourself if you wait until Friday to pick it up, as you’ll be standing in line with hundreds of others while you listen to the music from afar.

Some other tips: Bring suntan lotion, just in case, and I always like to take a small umbrella.  You can bring a portable, collapsible chair, and I always take some small binoculars as well.  Otherwise, leave stuff at home, because you likely won’t be able to bring it in, and it’s a long trip back to wherever your car is.

This year, the festival has gone all social media on us.  You can share your personalized schedule from their Web site via Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.

Me, I like to roam around from act to act freestyle (schedules are for my workday!), but here’s a few of the acts I hope to take in:

John Legend, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon, Asleep at the Wheel, Poi Dog Pondering, Heartless Bastards, Mishka, Reckless Kelly, Dave Mathews Band, The Scabs, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, David Garza, Rodriquez…and lots, lots more.

By the way, I just downloaded the new Pearl Jam album, “Backspacer,” on iTunes, and upon first listen have decided it’s some of the best stuff they’ve done since they emerged into the scene in the early 90s.

Eddie Vedder has never been better, and I’m really looking forward to seeing he and his band perofrm in our refurbished park right down the street from Turboville!

So, get on a plane and get yourself down to Austin.  The Festival starts mid-day Friday and goes through Sunday night.

You can learn more at the ACL Website.

P.S. And leave your agita at home.  This is the mellowest, coolest music festival you’ll ever go to, and the people who attend it, both visitors and locals, are very well behaved and all about the music, and we want to keep it that way!

Written by turbotodd

September 30, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Avoiding The Wave

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The Official Google Blog has announced that the Google Wave is set to roll out to a larger audience tomorrow.

Over 100K invitations are expected to go out to developers, early users, and select customers of Google Apps to try out the full preview of Google Wave.

I’m not sure if I was on the list or not (I sign up for all kinds of betas), but I’m certainly interested to hear A) how many bugs and kinks have been worked out since the alpha version and B) whether or not Google Wave is going to save the planet.

Meanwhile, back at the IBM Collaboration ranch, IBM Lotus has been gaining ground on the collaboration front through the delivery and adoption of real products our customers can use today.

In fact, in the first half of 2009, IBM logged thousands of new customers using its Lotus collaboration tools, bringing the total to 15,421 companies that have chosen IBM over Microsoft since 2008.

IBM momentum in the collaboration space is being driven by the continued success of Lotus Notes and Domino against Microsoft Exchange; Lotus Connections and Quickr against Microsoft Sharepoint; and the millions of businesses and individuals that are using Lotus Symphony.

You can learn more about how Lotus is helping companies and organizations around the globe know more via the Lotus Knows Web site.

Written by turbotodd

September 29, 2009 at 7:10 pm

A Small But Moving Matter

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I would be remiss if I didn’t relate the anniversary of September 28.

On this day, in 1989, IBM Fellow Don Eigler became the first person in history to move and control an individual atom.

It sounds like such a small thing…and it was.  Extremely small.

The moving of the atom, that is.

The event itself was monumental and groundbreaking.

Shortly after, on November 11 of that year, Eigler and his team used a custom-built microscope to spell out the letters “IBM” using 35 Xenon atoms.

This unprecented ability to manipulate individual atoms signaled a quantum leap forward in nanoscience experimentation and heralded the age of nanotechnology.

Eigler built his scanning tunneling microscope (STM) in order to visualize and experiment with individual molecules and atoms. As he experimented, he discovered that it was possible to slide individual atoms across a surface using the tip of his STM.

To demonstrate both the atomic precision and reproducibility he achieved, he wrote the letters “IBM” with 35 xenon atoms, each positioned with atomic-scale precision.

In so doing, Eiger and team helped science move down the road of better understanding the properties, movement and interaction of various materials at the nanoscale, which proved to be essential for building smaller, faster and more energy-efficient processors and memory devices.

Already, the ability to understand and manipulate atoms is leading to new kinds of fabrics, products and more.

Ever wonder what makes a raincoat water resistant, or how sunscreen stays put even after swimming? More often than not, it’s nanotechnology at work.

Because of Eigler’s seminal work, scientists continue making breakthroughs that continue driving the field of nanotechnology, the exploration of building structures and devices out of ultra-tiny components as small as a few atoms or molecules.

Such devices might be used as future computer chips, storage devices, biosensors, and things nobody has even imagined.

Check out the two minute video below which includes a demonstration of the World’s Smallest IBM logo, along with a very interesting interview with Don Eigler.

And congratulations to Don and his team…theirs was a huge and groundbreaking effort on a ridiculously small scale, which is just the way his colleagues like it.

Written by turbotodd

September 28, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Wide Weekend of Sport

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It’s another Merger Monday.

Last Monday, it was Dell’s acquisition of Perot Systems.

Today, it’s Xerox’s $5.75B acquisition of business services provider Affiliated Computer Services.

According to The Wall Street Journal Interactive edition, the combined Xerox-ACS company would have $22B of annual revenue, $17B of which would be recurring revenue.

ACS has over 74,000 employees and derives a quarter of its revenue from the health care sector, including from both commercial and government contracts.

Now that we’ve got Merger Monday’s tidings out of the way, if I could just do a quick recap of the weekend in sports:

The Texas Longhorns won (Yay!), the Houston Astros lost (Boo!), the New York Yankees clinched the AL East (Yay!), and Tiger Woods…surprise surprise…won the FedEx Cup…although his Sunday showing at East Lake wasn’t exactly inspired (and yet he still took second place to winner Phil Mickelson at the Tour Championship).

And lest I forget, the Houston Cougars knocked the Big 12’s Texas Tech Red Raiders out, in Houston, in a last-ditch drive at the end of the game, now putting the Cougars in the Top 20 (12th, to be exact). So much for Texas Tech coach Mike Leach’s hurry up spread offense…it don’t seem to work too well when the Red Raiders are on the road this year.

I actually had bittersweet occasion to visit Houston over the weekend.  It was great to see some of my extended family, even under the circumstances.

It was also great to visit Minute Maid ballpark, where I had occasion to see the Houston Astros get trounced by the Cincinnati Reds, and also to play 18 holes at Hermann Park near downtown Houston (where I shot a stately 81, thank you very much).

My round of golf was an attempt to stave off my coming golf depression.  The 2009 PGA Tour season wound down with Tiger’s FedEx Cup win, and other than the coming President’s Cup, there’s not much competitive golf to look forward to until January.

Reruns of “The Big Break” could s00n be the golf order of the day.

Finally, winding down in the world of sport, my Dallas Cowboys meet the Carolina Panthers tonight at Jerry’s House in Arlington.

Hopefully we can all just now calm down and quit talking about and hyping the massive, gargantuan, gazillion-dollar, ego-driven, tax-abated new stadium, and whether or not a punt might hit the scoreboard! (heaven forbid)…and instead turn our attention to the game of American football.

I hope that’s especially the case for Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Written by turbotodd

September 28, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Less is More?

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It’s good to see some good news these days.

EWeek has a story today that suggests the tech sector hasn’t been hit nearly as hard as some other industries in terms of job losses.

That’s not to say it’s been pretty.

According to the story, between January and June, we lost 115K jobs, much of that in tech manufacturing.

Overall, starting in June 2008, tech lost 224,100 jobs, a 3.7 percent workforce decline in the IT sector, as opposed to the overall U.S. private sector, 5.1 percent.

I guess things could be worse…unless you’re one of that 3.7 percent.

If you did lose your tech job, you might want to thinking about sending your resume to the gang at Twitter.

The Wall Street Journal Deal Journal reports today that Twitter is nearing a deal to close as much as $100M of new funding from as many as seven investors.

The new valuation from these investors has Twitter worth an estimated $1B.  Them’s a whole bunch of Tweets.

Speaking of Twitter, has anybody checked out the new TweetDeck on the Mac (I’m at V 0.30.5)?

Wow, that full Facebook Newsfeed with photos and links and all is VERY cool and extremely useful.  More and more, TweetDeck is my Twitter/Facebook-streaming console du jour.  Keep up the great work there, yo.

If you didn’t like the new TweetDeck (and it’s doubtful that you did), soon you’ll be able to use a new tool from Google to comment right there on the Website.

Google “SiteWiki” is a new Google Toolbar addon, which is intended to let anyone with a Google account comment about a Web site or even add content.

Crowdsourcers, start your engines…and your markup!

This move extends the Google juggernaut to ALL Web pages everywhere throughout the known Universe.

Sources are telling me that the new Mars toolbar extension, which allows Martians to communicate directly with we humans via the Google operating system, will be entering beta shortly.

But only after Google can get the temperature on Mars WAY up…it’s too frickin’ cold there now, even for the Google Chrome browser, which was thought to be impervious to extreme temperatures at either end of the thermometer.

Me, I’d just like to be able to say hi to Marvin and hear him say just one more time:

“Capture that creature and return my elunium pu36 explosive space modulator!”

Written by turbotodd

September 24, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Tom Delay: Wild (and Wily) Thing

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I typically don’t delve much into politics on this blog for obvious reasons.

But when I heard Tom Delay was going to be joining the TV show “Dancing with the Stars,” (hereafter known in this post as DWTS), I had to check it out.

Delay’s Congressional district was centered in a town on the edge of suburban Houston called Sugarland, but Delay was anything but sweet in his approach to how he orchestrated the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives during his tenure as Speaker.

They didn’t give him the nickname “The Hammer” for nothing.

As to why he’s appearing on “Dancing with the Stars,” I suppose you could ask any variety of the celebrities that question who have appeared on the show.

Though certainly there seems to be a consistent theme of “has-beenness” to those who have appeared, I applaud their courage to throw it all out there, especially considering that most of them have never taken dance lessons in their life!

(Blogger’s Note: I have taken several dance courses in the course of my life, including jazz, modern, and tap…why I still can’t do a good two-step is beyond explanation).

I suspect Delay’s decision is partially due to wanting to go on a charm offensive, considering the PR hit he took when he was indicted right here in that bastion of left wing liberalism, Austin, Texas (to be completely fair and balanced, our governor is Republican, and he’s even talking about wanting to secede.  After the Tom Delay dancing with the stars affair, the great state of Texas may have no choice!).

From a pure marketing and PR perspective, I think Delay’s decision was a brilliant one.

The big mean Hammer is now doing the Cha Cha Cha with Cheryl Burke, the only dance pro to have made it to the DWTS finals three times (this according to the Web site) — how bad could he be?

You get my point.

And for the record, I’d never watched a single episode of DWTS before Monday night.

Apparently, I wasn’t alone, because the DWTS did just fine in the Nielsens Monday night when it was stacked up against some pretty hefty competition, including the 2-hour debut of this seasons’ “Heroes” and “House,” both heavy hitters in and of their own right.

DWTS beat them both, garnering 17.5M viewers to “House’s” 16.5M.

Among 18-49 year-old viewers, Dance outpaced CBS 8-10 P.M. comedy block by 5% (4.1/10 over CBS’ 3.9/10).  They beat “Heroes” by 52% (2.7/7).

(Thanks to TV By the Numbers for the ratings scoop.)

Those numbers were enough to generate ABC’s best numbers since May.  No wonder the ABC execs put DWTS on in prime time three times a week.

As for the Hammer’s Cha Cha Cha debut, Mr. Delay could probably stand to spend a little more time in the dance studio before he will completely realize the “Wild Thing” he aspires to…but I wouldn’t pull the gavel out to vote him off the dance island just yet: there’s too many ratings to be had!

Written by turbotodd

September 23, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Where I’ll Be And When I’ll Be There

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I’ve just told the whole world I’ll be in Viva Las Vegas from October 25-29 for the Information on Demand conference.

Actually, I’ve told all of you before in this blog.  But now, I’ve gone and told everybody on TripIt as well.

I’m still getting the hang of TripIt, but so far it’s pretty cool.

Honestly, I traveled so much earlier in the year I didn’t have an opportunity to stop by long enough to understand what it is or what it does.

I think it’ll grow on me.

Kind of like having Libyan President and Mohammar Qadafi growing into Donald Trump’s backyard at one of his properties in Bedford, N.Y.

Dude, are things so bad in Trumpland the Donald is having to rent out his backyard to the terriers?

This is a serious recession.

I didn’t realize “The Apprentice” had been hit so hard in the ratings.  Or was it the casinos?

In any case, I hope to play golf at one of the Donald’s courses someday. Hey, maybe he has one in Vegas!

As for getting back to the Information on Demand conference, Scott Laningham and I spoke recently with Anant Jhingran,who is the Chief Technology Officer of IBM’s Information Management group.

Anant debriefed us on all the cool cloud computing discussions that would be going on at the event, including the Cloud Unconference.

Only at an IBM event could it actually get cloudy in Vegas!

Me, I’m hoping for plenty of sunshine myself.

And remember, if I see you there in the Nevada desert, remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…that is, unless I write about it in this blog, in which case all bets are off…so to speak.

Written by turbotodd

September 23, 2009 at 6:41 pm

WPP’s Sorrels: Flat is the New Up

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WPP’s Martin Sorrels sat down with The Wall Street Journal recently and answered some questions about the state of the advertising and marketing industry.

If you’re a subscriber, the full Q&A is here.

A couple of my favorite sound bytes from the interview:

  • Regarding the state of advertising spending around the world: Flat in the U.S. and Western Europe is the new up.
  • On the likelihood of ad spending returning to some sense of where it was before the downturn: We describe the recession as L-shaped, which implies that it will never go back to where it was before. The forecast for levels of increase in ad spending, both traditional and nontraditional, are pretty anemic for the next two or three years.
  • On the fact that a quarter of WPP’s revenues now come from digital, yet clients are spending only an estimated 13% of their marketing budgets there:  We know we spend up to 20% of our time online, so in theory spending should be up at 20%. It’s just natural conservatism, resistance to change and inability to adapt to change. I believe when digital budgets get to 20%, which will be in four or five years, we will be spending 30% of our time online.

Fellow digital marketers, prepare to continue with your Sisyphean task of pushing that digital marketing rock up that very big hill.

And get over it…life ain’t fair.

Look at it this way: The longer “they” take to get what’s going on, the more job security and slow, Darwin natural selection evolution type growth there’s likely to be in the digital marketing and social media milieu.

In a related video interview, Sorrels blamed this slow change on old media dinosaurs like himself being in positions of authority and being resistant to change.

Hey, at least he’s willing to call a spade a spade.

But seeing as you’re the steward (through Ogilvy and Mather) of much of IBM’s marketing spend, could you hurry it up already??

Written by turbotodd

September 22, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Dell and Perot, Cole and Drogba

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Monday mornings are never dull.

I awakened this am, still stinging from the defeat of my Dallas Cowboys in their new $1B+ home (“the palace in Dallas,” some are calling it, which would work great, except the stadium’s actually located in Arlington) by the New York Giants on a last play field goal, only to discover that Dell has announced its intent acquire IT services firm Perot Systems in a deal worth an estimated $3.9B.

According to a press release on the Dell web site, “the acquisition will result in a compelling combination of two iconic information-technology brands. The expanded Dell will be even better positioned for immediate and long-term growth and efficiency driven by:

  • Providing a broader range of IT services and solutions and optimizing how they’re delivered;
  • Extending the reach of Perot Systems’ capabilities, including in the most dynamic customer segments, around the world; and,
  • Supplying leading Dell computer systems to even more Perot Systems customers.

The Wall Street Journal indicated the merged firm would have “$8B in services revenue” and would seek to “better position Dell among its more diversified rivals like HP.

Speaking of rivals, did anybody catch the Chelsea Blues 3-nil trouncing of the Tottenham Hotspurs (“Spurs”) yesterday morning (U.S. time) at Stamford Bridge?

I’m still convinced most Americans don’t know what they’re missing in not checking out more Premiere League soccer (read: futbol) action…I’m convinced it’s one of the best and most competitive sports leagues in the world…and with satellite and cable carrying so many of their games these days, it’s an excellent way to fill in the gaps in one’s sports calendars.

Anyhow, that first goal by Ashley Cole, in which Cole seemed to glide across the turf a few inches and head in a cross from Didier Drogba, was an absolute thing of beauty.

Of course, all this football talk is perhaps just me getting psyched up for next year’s World Cup in South Africa, fantasizing about being sent there to blog about how IBM can help build a smarter planet through World Cup soccer.

A man’s gotta have his dreams…including Michael Dell.

Written by turbotodd

September 21, 2009 at 1:59 pm

From Mean Green Eagles To Flying Elvi

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American college football season has kicked into high gear and there are a lot of happy people across the country and around the world.

I follow a number of teams, but my faves have to be my alma mater, the University of North Texas “Mean Green” Eagles, and living here in Austin, the Texas Longhorns.

The Eagles are off to play Alabama tomorrow, God Bless ‘Em.  As I Tweeted earlier, at least North Texas is getting paid the princely sum of $750,000 in TV money to make the trip.

Tomorrow night, it will be Texas Tech Red Raiders paying a visit to Austin to take on the Longhorns.  We’ll just see how that hurry up spread offense works in the Texas Capitol.

We’ll also see how the new Google DoubleClick Ad Exchange works out, which Google is undergoing to take on Yahoo (among others) in display advertising.

This is one of the first long-anticipated outcomes of the Google DoubleClick deal, and though many would suggest Google’s playing catchup on this one, The New York Times writes this is Google “pushing for a second act.”

Yahoo won’t give up that ground easily, and since this space is all about filling excess inventory, I would suggest that targeting and context will become the rightful king of display.

Whoever can provide the best contextual display advertising, wins…good luck to the rare instance where Google plays David to somebody else’s Goliath.

Speaking of context, I’d like to provide you more on the coming Information on Demand conference previously mentioned in this blog, and which will be held at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas from October 25-29.

And so I’m going to refer you to our own Nancy Kreps, who recently previewed the conference with developerWorks’ Scott Laningham in this podcast.

Nancy is the conference education manager and does a brilliant job (in less than 6 minutes) of explaining what you can expect to find should you make the journey to Vegas.

As also previously mentioned, I will be making a visit to Vegas to blog the event, and am really looking forward to my return engagement at the Mandalay Bay.

I wasn’t able to make it last year, but blogged the event in 2006 and 2007, and can only say it’s a massive, and massively educational and informative, event.

It can even be quite entertaining (one year I remember SWG general manager, Steve Mills, taking the stage wearing some Elvis glasses, and that alone was the worth the price of admission!).

I will be joined this year by Scott Laningham with his roving camera and microphone, so we hope to cover the event from any number of angles (including in advance of the event…keep an eye on this blog for coming podcasts from a garden variety of Information Management experts!)

Information management and business analytics are ridiculously hot topics at the moment, so we’ll be sure to keep that in mind in order to keep our coverage market driven.

That said, we will also reserve the right to cover ridiculously frivolous and Vega-rati-like topics as well.

Hey, what’s a trip to Vegas without a sighting of the skydiving Flying Elvi??

Written by turbotodd

September 18, 2009 at 4:47 pm

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