Turbotodd

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

Archive for June 2012

IBM’s New Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

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I wrote in a post just the other day about the opportunity for companies looking to build their enterprise mobile strategies, mentioning some 75 percent of respondents in our CIO study asserted that mobility is a top priority for their business strategy.

But I also mentioned the challenges, like the continued emergence of new platforms and OSes and devices, concerns about security and privacy of sensitive corporate information, and other related concerns.

Today, IBM made another announcement that will help more companies embrace the opportunity mobility presents, but also enjoy the fruits of IBM’s massive investments in virtualization technology as well.

This new set of flexible workplace solutions are intended to enable clients to create a simple, cost-effective environment that allows employees to use any device to access workplace applications anytime and anyplace.

IBM SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure solutions are designed to help clients get ahead of the rising trend toward employees bringing their own electronic devices to work.  It allows organizations to manage desktops centrally while small or large numbers of users can access desk top applications from any location or device, including personal computers, tablets, smart phones, laptops and thin clients.

The solutions were created to help clients escape the constraints of physical computing — simplifying desktop management, tightening security, and enhancing overall employee productivity.

The IBM offerings support the widest range of industry hardware, software and virtualization platforms across various industries, including health care, education, financial services and retail, as well as the public sector, local, state and federal government agencies.

For example, the 2,000-student Gilmer County, Texas Independent School District is using the offering to provide a more flexible workplace for teachers and administrators.

School District Technology Director Rusty Ivey had this to say about this new virtualization solution: “The IBM virtual desktop solution with Virtual Bridges VERDE on System x allows us to lower desktop management costs, while improving data security and disaster recovery.  VDI improves the productivity of our teachers and administrative staff, as well as lab users by providing instant access to the latest operating systems and applications anytime and anywhere, using their choice of electronic devices.”

The IBM SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure solutions come fully-tested across hardware, software and services to help streamline IT administration and help take the guess workout out of the transition to a virtual desktop environment.  The offerings were created in collaboration with leading solutions providers such as Citrix, Virtual Bridges and VMware.

The IBM System x powered solutions are immediately available worldwide in configurations to match a client’s individual desktop management requirements.  You can learn more about this new solution in the video below.

Scrolling Down iPhone Memory Lane

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I heard it was the 5th anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone, which, first of all, just freaked me out, because how could it have been five years already!

But, once I was over that, I realized I have a record of my thoughts and observations back them in the form of this blog.

So, I went back and weaved together the following based on my observations in and around that year on the topic of the iPhone.

Read at your own peril. Accessories not included.

June 4, 2007 (25 days prior to the iPhone Launch)

Headline: Why I Won’t Be Getting An iPhone

Well, at least not yet, anyhow.

First, as I think I’ve explained in the past, I’ve been burned too many times on early adoption.

The only early adopting I’ll be doing moving forward is for small canine creatures I keep as pets.

Second, I just got my Blackberry Pearl.

It seems to do most everything I need it to do, for now.  Everything except allow me to successfully browse the Internets.  It used to do that, too, until the IBM internal software installation corrupted the browser.

They tell me I can fix it by wiping the Blackberry hard drive and starting from scratch.

Let me get this straight: I bought a Blackberry so I could check my corporate email and calendar (which I can successfully still do) and to surf the Internet.

But in order to successfully surf the Internet, I have to wipe the Blackberry hard drive and reinstall from scratch, in the process giving up my ability to successfully check my corporate email and calendar?  And this is supposed to be productivity enhancement???

Three, the iPhone costs in the neighborhood of $600.

My Blackberry Pearl cost me $99.  I can think of another $501 reasons I’ won’t be waiting for a new iPhone to ring.

Four, I don’t like grovelling or begging, nor do I like sleeping overnight on sidewalks outside the Cingular store, not for concert tickets and certainly not for a new cell phone.

When I bought my Pearl, I called ahead, had ’em charge the Pearl in advance of my getting to the store, and by the time I arrived, simply did a quick run through and check out.  I liked the Cingular retail people veddy much.

On June 29th, I will be staying as far away from the Cingular Web site and retail stores as is humanly possible.  The core Appleites (pun intended) will be out en masse, they will be single minded of purpose, and they will have great anxiety over whether or not they’ll be one of the lucky ones to win the iPhone lottery.

I will stay as far away from them and their mob as is humanly possible.

That is, unless they are willing to give me a personal tour of their new iPhone, in which case I’ll be happy to oblige their momentary lapse of reason.

June 18, 2007 (11 days prior to the iPhone Launch)

Headline: Eight Hours Of Apple Talk

Me, I’m still trying to recuperate from my U.S Open anxiety, but the rest of the blogosphere is all Apple iPhone talk all the time, apparently now eight hours at a burst.

The latest headline: iPhone is expected to deliver up to eight hours of talk time.

That’s a big deal, at least in terms of expectation setting, because there’s been tremendous criticism about the built-in battery that a user couldn’t replace with an already charged backup.

It also helps if you got yourself a long-winded teenager stuck at the mall…be sure to upgrade that ATT plan!

Me, I hope never to have to abuse my Blackberry Pearl with an 8-hour conversation, but then again, nobody really wants to talk to me, and I can always buy a backup battery, so this isn’t an issue pour moi.

As if Apple and the iPhone wasn’t already sucking up all the oxygen on Planet Earth (what’s left of it), and if you’ve not read or heard enough about the cult of Steve Jobs lately, New York magazine has a great feature by Silicon Valley journalistic hit man John Heilemann entitled “Steve Jobs in a Box.”

“Steve!  Are you in there!?  Steve??!  Do you need help getting out of the box, Steve?!!”

It’s juicy, long format, going-deep-into-Steve’s ego id and psyche kind of stuff technojournalism, complete with Heilemann’s breaking out Jobs’ career into three “acts.”

Could there be a Metropolitan Opera version waiting in the wings, complete with Bill Gates starring as the Devil himself?

Wait a minute, this oughta be a Pixar/Disney film, NC17 edition.

Oh well.  You’ll just have to head over to New York mag online for the current installment.

June 25, 2007 (4 days prior to the iPhone Launch — I was on a business trip out in Silicon Valley, and actually visited the Apple campus just a few days prior to the iPhone debut)

Headline: I Want My iPhone

Rumors abound of Apple employees publicly flouting units from the first manufacturing run, and I have no doubt the lines will start forming at the AT&T stores for we plebes sometime today.

You can get your first reality check and low, lowdown on the iPhone around 6 P.M. Pacific Standard Time this evening, which is when Walt Mossberg’s and David Pogue’s first reviews are expected to strike.

Word on the Business2.0 blog street is the early reviews are “generally positive” but that “downloads are sluggish” over AT&T’s current cellular network and that there are “typing difficulties.”

Well, uh, yeah.  There’s no friggin’ keyboard on the thing (well, not the keyboard as we typically have known it)!

That’s like saying there are steering difficulties on a Lamborghini with no steering wheel (and on Highway 101, I’m certainly beginning to wonder if a steering wheel is really even necessary).

This is a whole new computing paradigm, people, and, it’s from Apple: You have to will the thing to do what you want.

It’s all about the human mind telepathic connection interface!  Don’t you get it??!!

June 29, 2007

Headline: The New Chic: Geeks Waiting In Line

First off, this post is NOT being written while waiting in line at an Apple retail outlet, an AT&T store, or elsewhere.

Second, thank Heavens, I was rescued from out of the heart of Silicon Valley, where iPhone fever has reached new heights (remember when people waited in line for Windows95?), and safely back in Austin just in time for the flooding to recede.

But clearly, I’m in the minority.

Supergeek blogger Robert Scoble is waiting in line with all his other geek friends (see the pics here….wait a minute, doesn’t Scoble qualify as Mr. Supergeek Celebrity to get a free iPhone in advance?).

Kevin Rose and the Diggnation crowd were podcasting in line.

Just in case you wanted to read about or listen or watch what it’s like to wait in line to get an iPhone.

I know I was wondering.

Which makes me wonder something else: Maybe waiting in line for the latest geek gadget is the new chic.

Pulling an old Coleman sleeping bag out of the closet and investing in a solar battery generator to keep the G4 crowd in power, maybe this is the thing, and the iPhone is just part of the overall package, almost a mere afterthought to the status reserved for those who waited.

I wait, therefore I am.

“Dude, what did you do Friday night?”  “As if, dude.  What do you think I did??  I was waiting in line to get my iPhone.  Where the —- were you?!!”

Wait not, want not.

That sense of Burning Man iPhone collegiality is the only thing that explains this phenomenon.

Because here’s the deal: The thing goes on sale online at the very same moment it can be bought in the retail  outlets and, guess what?  Regardless, it has to be activated online through the iTunes store to get the service up and running.

Until such time, you’ve got a really pretty Apple artifact.

But who’s to argue with reason.  I wish them all well and the very best of luck.

Me, I’ll be sitting in my nice air-conditioned condo, doing some work, maybe throwing on a little AppleTV in the background.

On second thought, maybe I’ll go out and join ’em.

Not to get an iPhone, mind you.

Just to hang out with the geeks where I belong.

December 26, 2007

Headline: Year of the iPhone

Looking back on 2007, there’s but no question in my mind that Apple’s iPhone dominated much of the tech conversation.

I opted for a $99 Blackberry Pearl instead (partially because of its form factor, partially because it’s what allows me access to needed IBM resources like email and calendaring), and it’s done me just fine — especially considering it was about 5X cheaper than the iPhone.

But, the iPhone cultural phenomenon and technology footprint couldn’t be escaped, nor questioned.

I was at the Apple campus in June visiting with a friend, just before the first iPhones went on sell, and I didn’t see a single iPhone unit while on the Apple campus (allegedly only top execs had them prior to the launch), they were so tightly held.

No big surprise, considering Apple’s tight grip and embargo on its launches. But the phenomena that was the pending iPhone couldn’t be constrained.

Months prior to the launch, Google and other search engines were inundated with search inquiries about the iPhone…blogs were abuzz about the product features…podcasts explained its virtues…the mass media mass brainwashed the masses about its planet-saving capabilities.

For weeks after, the halo of the afterlaunch melted into the tech landscape, complete with new tech lore about being the first in line, or waiting in line with one’s Apple brethren, or etc ad nauseum ad infinitum.

When was the last time you bragged about waiting in line?

I succumbed to the hype myself, long enough to go into the store and touch an iPhone firsthand.

It was all I could do to leave the store without buying one.

But then I came back to my senses and started thinking logically about the problems that an iPhone would or would not solve for me personally (what a concept! Purchase a product only because it actually solves a problem!), and the Blackberry Pearl would do just fine.

And it has.

So I wouldn’t be the coolest kid on the cubicle block…so I wouldn’t be able to personally extol the virtues of the new touch screen interface…so I wouldn’t be able to becoming a walking, talking Apple salesperson in my spare time, despite all the constant complaints about the lethargic AT&T Edge network (which never seemed to slow me down much with the more text-oriented Blackberry).

Life would go on.

And it has.

But the milestone it demarcated would be clear.

Because the real phenomena behind the phenomenon for me around the iPhone was not the device itself, but rather the notion that mobile IP-based multimedia computing was finally coming into its own.

After years of the U.S. lagging behind the SMS craze in Europe (which launched well before most Americans knew what a text message was), or the DoCoMo iMode craze in Japan in the late 1990s and early 2000s (which was how many Japanese first experienced the Internet), I felt as though the U.S. was getting a clue and catching back up.

If nothing else, the iPhone demonstrated what was becoming possible at the intersection of mobile data and voice, of mobile computing, after years of overpromising and underdelivery.

That a cell phone didn’t just have to be a cell phone, but that it could evolve into a true multimedia personal information manager and portable computing and communications device, using an interface that we mere mortals could understand and learn quickly.

It was the opportunity presented by the possibility of a nuclear intersection between computing, communication, collaboration, personal entertainment, and mobility.

That we could use it to communicate and get directions and do work and listen to music and watch videos and find somebody’s phone number.

No, for my money, the iPhone was only a starting place, the beginning of something much, much bigger to come. A mile marker on the way to a much more promising land.

It was the Star Trek communication device brought down to reality here on earth.

“Beam me up, Steve.”

It was a great start, but it was only that.

So, go ahead, use your index finger to scroll down. It works well enough.

Me, I can’t wait to see where that scrolling finger might take us next.

Smarter City Solutions For A Small Planet

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Improving Water Management In South Bend, Indiana

Yesterday, IBM made several announcements in the “smarter cities” arena that I wanted to lend some pixels to, as it’s IBM’s partnerships in such initiatives that bring the Smarter Planet story to life.  In other words, the proof is in the pudding.

In South Bend, Indiana, IBM partnered with the city government there to dramatically overhaul South Bend’s water management system. Like many municipalities, South Bend has an aging sewer infrastructure, and yet sixty percent of water allocated for domestic human use goes to urban cities.

The new IBM IOC for Smarter Cities service, which was developed with local business partner Emnet, has now improved South Bend’s ability to predict the potential overflow of hazardous wastewater. The system also has allowed South Bend to improve storage and water conveyance performance while avoiding $120 million in infrastructure investments.

IBM is delivering IOC as a service on the SmartCloud, removing the up-front cost and complexity for South Bend which saves on IT infrastructure costs.  This model allows cities such as South Bend to pay for software-as-a-service out of their operational budgets, enabling easier, faster procurement than if they were required to fund new IT infrastructure from their capital budgets.

You can learn more from the press release here and via the video below.

“Anticipating and preventing incidents before they happen is key. Viewing all our aggregated data in real-time via the IBM SmartCloud will help us predict where incidents can occur and safeguard our citizens.  Through creative collaboration and IBM’s powerful smarter city solution, we can create a smarter city and solve problems that, until now, seemed insurmountable,” said Gary Gilot, Member, Board of Public Works, City of South Bend, of their IBM smarter city solution. “We have had huge measurable benefits and with IBM’s continuing partnership with the city, Notre Dame and local entrepreneurs like Emnet, we will produce more.”

Improving Public Safety in Davao City, Philippines

Across the Pacific in the Phillipines, IBM and the Davao City Government announced an agreement to help the city scale-up its existing Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) by integrating city operations into a single system, infused with advanced technologies, to further enhance public safety operations in the city.

Using IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center (IOC), the PSSCC will have a centralized dashboard view that will allow the city to monitor events and operations in real time. This comprehensive view will enable officials to better predict and plan for potential issues.

To enable Davao’s smarter city transformation, the IOC will integrate multiple city agencies in the PSSCC to improve interdepartmental collaboration and enhance the management of Davao’s four pillars of public safety: crime prevention and suppression; emergency response; threat prevention and response; and traffic management.

Davao City, considered the nerve center of the Southern Philippines in the Mindanao region, has undergone a tremendous transformation over the last decade. The collaboration with IBM will contribute to the City’s vision to emerge as the premier socio-economic and tourism center in Mindanao and across East ASEAN as well as the Asia-Pacific region.

You can learn more about the Davao City smarter city solution here.

Rationalisation de la Trafic en France!

Not to be outdone, the City of Lyon, France (the second largest metropolitan area in France outside of Paris) announced that, in partnership with Veolia Transdev and IBM, that they are developing a smarter mobility solution designed to help cities alleviate road congestion, optimize transportation infrastructures and improve the urban traveler experience.

As part of the Lyon’s Optimod project, Optimod’Lyon will test and validate new services to improve the mobility of people, passengers in the urban environment, optimizing and combining the use of transport infrastructure.

The smarter mobility solution brings together Veolia Transdev’s expertise in the public transit industry and IBM’s expertise in managing big data and advanced analytics. Cities will now have the ability to coordinate and connect services across all of its transportation networks, including subways, trams, buses, vehicular and bicycle traffic, and more.

The solution also leverages IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) designed to give cities a holistic view of city operations – such as water, transportation and public safety – through one central point of command, facilitating faster and more efficient decision-making.

Combined with Veolia Transdev’s technology dedicated to urban mobility, the new solution helps a city predict traffic road speed and arrival times and coordinate city responses across the transportation network across multiples modes of transportation within a city, such as buses and trams.

These advanced solutions also take into account unplanned events, such as rain storms or traffic accidents, which may cause delays or disruption in service.

Travelers will have access to real-time information on traffic for a more seamless, multi-modal transportation experience – such as combining bicycle, vehicle and public transit. The service uses predictive analytics, which can help a traveler easily bypass a traffic jam, and provide details about the location and interconnections of the transportation options.

Integrated transit information, such as the ability to scan ticket barcode for your journey like with air travel and the ability to simply plan and travel across different public and private transport networks, will be provided through an app for smartphones and tablets. This will help travelers save time and money and enhances the overall traveler experience.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’m ready for a fully-travel-optimized summer vacation to Lyon!

You can learn more about the City of Lyon smarter city solution here.

Google’s New “Jelly Bean”

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So did anybody else watch that Google I/O keynote earlier today from the Moscone Center in San Francisco?

Apparently, so, because at one point there were nearly 100,000 concurrent viewings on YouTube.

Yes, I said, 100,000.  Pretty impressive for a developer’s conference.

I’ll get to some of the key Android announcements momentarily…first, the show stealer, which for my money (and of which there’s not a whole lot), one-upped Apple’s keynotes in a way they’ll likely never be able to match.

As the team was preparing to introduce the much-discussed Google Glasses (which I hope, one day, I’ll be able to wear on the golf course and announce to my technophobe father exactly how many yards his shot is to the pin without missing a beat), Sergey Brin cut away to an airplane flying high over the skies of San Francisco, all featured in a Google Events Hangout.

I presumed the cutaway was Memorex, but soon found out differently.

The skydivers jumped from the plane, flew in their birdsuits a little ways, then opened their chutes and landed safely on a roof by or at the Moscone Center.

They delivered the Google Glasses to some manic BMX mountain bikers, who jumped a couple of roofs before handing them over to some dudes who were hanging by some ropes.

Before too long, they all came busting into the live keynote and up on the stage to deliver the glasses.

I’ll never think of my FedEx delivery guy the same again.

I guess everyone at Google Marketing and PR was pretty confident all their skydivers’ chutes would open and no Google Glasses were going to go splat along with their mules.  That, or they had a contingency plan to cutaway to poor voice-challenged CEO Larry Page trying to pick up the slack via ASL.

Like I said, the whole stunt got my attention.

There were a range of interesting announcements, including the Glasses (available to developers attending I/O sometime next year), the new Google streaming media player (Yawn), and Google’s own Nexus 7 (is that one step behind Windows8?) tablet.

But the new Android, 4.1, AKA “Jelly Bean,” was the storyline I found most interesting.

Google announced “Project Butter” as the new innovation in 4.1, which helps make transitions and animations in the Android OS run more smoothly (at a cool 60 frames per second).

Googlers also demonstrated more responsive widgets (I hate to wait on any mobile device app!), which users can drag and drop and move around on their home screen.

Android Heavens, open up and save me from thith mobile lag!

The Google voice recognition engine is now going offline, which means you can transcribe to your heart’s content without being connected to the Interwebs.

“Android, go beat up Siri and then send me some funny pics of such that I can view on my newfangled Android 4.1 home screen and share them via my non-lagging new Facebook app on Jelly Bean!”

The new “Google Now” was also a cool new feature, which allows you tor bring up new “cards” that contain relevant and timely information (“How tall is the Empire State Building?”).

If Trivial Pursuit ever makes a comeback, I want to play the Google Now-assisted edition!

Google Now also takes advantage of temporal and physical data it knows to make friendly suggestions to you.  For example, when it’s lunchtime, Google Now could suggest some local restaurants nearby and let you easily make reservations to go there.

I’d suggest you view the video below to learn more about Google Now, but despite my preference to stick with the Apple iPlatforms, me likey the new “Jelly Bean” and hope Apple responds with some similar features in a future iOS release.

Get Real With Your Mobile Strategy

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As someone who regularly monitors and communicates key trends in the digital marketing environment with IBM, I obviously have to keep pace (as best I can!) with those emerging arenas that I think are going to have an impact in our (IBM’s), and the industry’s, ability to communicate effectively, efficiently, and to the right audience.

The emerging mobile space is a good example of one of those trends.  With the advent of the iPhone in 2007, and later the Android platform and, more recently, the rapid adoption of tablet computers like the iPad and now Microsoft’s “Surface,” the opportunity to market and communicate through these devices is enormous.

But the opportunity doesn’t just end with marketing. Companies around the globe are also realizing mobile computing can change business in fundamental ways.

Enterprise Mobility: A Top Strategic Priority

In our recent CIO study of more than 3,000 CIOs, IBM discovered that 75 percent of respondents asserted that mobility is a top priority in their business strategy.

But, there are significant challenges.  New platforms and operating systems are emerging all the time, security and privacy are critical issues of concern to business leaders, and there’s a need to maximize development investments for the mobile platform.

IBM has been communicating more aggressively about this opportunity, and our own Bob Sutor has been a critical thought leader for IBM in this space.

As some of you may remember, Scott Laningham and I interviewed Bob recently about IBM’s mobile strategy at the Impact 2012 event back in May.  You can find that interview below:

Bob’s blog is a must read for you mobile adherents, and you may also be interested in a specific post in which Bob articulated IBM’s mobile strategy.

Continuing IBM’s mobile drumbeat, we most recently partnered with eWeek to produce a short slide show that articulates some best practices in mobile deployment that Bob and his team developed, best practices based on extensive experience with real (and recent) customer engagements.

I’ll hit the wave tops for you below, but to read all the details, you’ll need to visit the full slideshow over at eWeek.

  1. Don’t Compromise on User Experience. Good apps are engaging. They are designed for performance and customized to deliver the functionality your users need in a simple and easy-to-use manner.
  2. Support Different Development Approaches. Mobile apps are no longer an experiment. Companies are quickly realizing their value to different lines of business, both as productivity tools for employees and engagement channels facing customers.  Choosing a development approach for these apps entails many parameters such as budget, project timeframe, target audience and application functionality.
  3. Build for Performance. Recent reports show that already today, mobile users are spending more time using apps than mobile browsers. Combined with projections that more than 50 percent of users will access the Web through mobile devices by the end of 2013, application performance has never been more crucial for your mobile initiative.
  4. Enable Collaboration, Efficiency. Modern business applications are constantly changing, and they are rarely developed by a single person anymore.
  5. Ensure Proper Authentication and Address Security Concerns. Whether employee- or customer-facing, mobile applications are quickly assuming the roles of many mission-critical systems in the enterprise. It is no wonder that authentication and security have become the top concerns of the mobile enterprise.
  6. Close the HTML5 Gap. Commitment from all major mobile vendors, active standardization efforts and a growing ecosystem of third-party tools has been fueling recent success and adoption of HTML5.
  7. Connect With Back-End and Cloud-Based Systems. Mobile business apps are not independent entities. They should be tightly connected to a variety of existing back-end and cloud-based systems.
  8. Manage Mobile Apps, Devices, Data. Managing applications after they are downloaded and installed on devices has become critical, with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend specifically challenging IT departments. A growing number of organizations are starting to adopt a combination of management approaches, both on the application level and the device level.
  9. Evaluate Supporting Services. The mobile channel is transforming the way companies are doing business, and with that transformation, new challenges arise on both the business and the IT levels.
  10. Protect Your Investment. As the mobile landscape develops, success lies in the ability to adapt to change.

IBM: Goin’ Mobile…and Then Some

IBM has been steadily investing in the mobile space over the past decade — not as a device manufacturer, but as a provider of mobile enterprise application and platform technologies, including tools for developing software in the mobile realm, and also to provide endpoint management (management of all those various and sundry devices your employees are now bringing to the office and expecting you in IT to support!).

We acquired Worklight in February to help more quickly deliver mobile application management capabilities across a range of industries, and as eWeek observes, Worklight’s software “enables organizations to efficiently create and run HTML5, hybrid and native applications for smartphones and tablets with industry-standard technologies and tools.”

If you’re looking to get into the mobile game, a good place to start is our webcast, “Harnessing the Power of Mobile in the Enterprise.” (Registration required)

Nora Ephron: I’ll Have What She’s Having

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We lost a great writer with the passing of Nora Ephron.

Judging from all the accounts of those who knew her, we also lost a great human being.

I did not know her, but I knew her work.  Anyone who followed American cinema over the past three decades, how could they not?

Starting with the anti-love love story (about love, and Ephron’s love for New York City), “When Harry Met Sally,” when both Harry and Sally decided they couldn’t just be friends after all…“You’ve Got Mail,” the first movie that presciently understood love in the late 20th cyber century…“Julie and Julia,” which brilliantly bridged time and space, juxtaposing a young female blogger in Queens in the early oughts struggling to follow her life’s passion with Julia Childs bushwhacking her way through male-dominated culinarydom in Paris in the 1950s.

What I liked most about Ephron’s writing was her humor.  But I also liked that she challenged accepted and conventional wisdom about women and humanity in general…and threw most of that conventional wisdom right out the window.

She understood their were universalities that underscored us all — men, women, children, — and made us all seem more like one, despite all our supposed differences.  She could also brilliantly underscore those universals with her fantastic humor, humor that highlighted our common humanity and sometimes made seem so frail, but stubbornly persistent, our human condition.

But she wasn’t always about funny.  1983’s “Silkwood,” much of which was shot at the then new Las Colinas film studios near Dallas, demonstrated Ephron’s knack for serious storytelling, revealing the story of Karen Silkwood, an Oklahoma nuclear plant employee whistleblower (played brilliantly by Meryl Streep) who disappeared under suspicious circumstances before she could arrive for a New York Times interview.  It was a serious movie about some very serious and relevant issues, and paved the way for later whistleblowing films like “The Insider.”

Or “Heartburn,” which laid bare the thorny thistles underlying marriage, again with Meryl Streep playing her alter ego to Ephron’s former husband Carl Bernstein (played devilishly by Jack Nicholson), with Ephron falling in love with the insider Washington columnist despite her (valid) fears about marriage, only to find him living a double life with another woman (John Edwards, anyone?).

No, I didn’t know Nora Ephron.  But for the last thirty years, I did know her work, much of which still makes me chuckle years later.  That’s a rare talent, especially these days.

I don’t know what it exactly what it was that Ephron had…but I’d like to have just a little bit of it nonetheless.

Written by turbotodd

June 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Mac v. PC Shopping Guy

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Welcome to Austin, Texas, where it’s expected to reach a balmy 106 degrees today.

I would retire to the pool and use my newfangled Verizon Jetpack Internet everywhere device to let me do a few emails while sipping virgin Pina Coladas, but I’m afraid my skin might start burning and smoking like some bad horror movie. Yes, it’s going to be THAT hot outside (and it’s only June 26).

In the summer, I tend to get up really early to do all my grocery shopping and things, so that I can then come home and never leave the house until the sun goes back down.

And on the subject of shopping, while flipping through the news on my iPad this morning, I discover this whopper of a story in The Wall Street Journal online.

Travel company Orbitz recently discovered that people who use Apple’s Mac computers spend as much as 30% or more a night on hotels. So, in turn, Orbitz is starting to give them different, and sometimes costlier, travel options than what Windows visitors see.

You mean, I have to go back to using Windows in order to get the best deals on Orbitz? Not necessarily, but it’s quite evident that you’ll be given different promotions, many of which will cost more because you’re part of the cool, Apple fanboy set.

Now if we could just see what Orbitz would offer up to Ubuntu Linux users…a cardboard shack out back?!

I’ve been writing about IBM’s smarter commerce initiative for several months now, and this is a perfectly good example of how companies are using all that great information they’re garnering in their web browsing and sales activities, then using that information to market differently to different folks.

Before you Mac users pull your long dormant Windows7 machine out of hibernation, first, remember you can always opt to rank all your results on Orbitz (and other travel sites) by price, and you’re obviously not limited to the promotions you are offered.

But Orbitz did find that Mac users spend an average of $20-$30 a night more on hotels than their PC counterparts, according to the WSJ story, which is a substantial difference considering that the site’s average nightly hotel booking is around $100.

I sense a whole new wave of Mac v. PC commercials coming on:

PC Guy: Dude, I stayed at the Four Seasons for $30 less than you did last night because I run Windows!

Mac Guy: Yes, but you didn’t look nearly as cool as me hanging out at the hotel bar with all the hipsters. And when I turn my computer on it just works!

The data also revealed that Mac users tend to stay in more expensive rooms than the Windows crowd.

So, this is the part where I go back outside, grab my Pina Colada and multiple cans of 60 SPS Walgreen tanning spray, and hand you off to the IBM Smarter Commerce Website so you can read more about how you can utilize such predictive analytics for business advantage.

And don’t forget about my last post, where I mentioned some recent announcements IBM made in the predictive analytics space.

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