Snipers needed

In response to a few emails I received at work. I needed to vent. So decided some image editing was the right outlet.


I already hired the services of a sniper (A Belgium buddy of mine…)



October 8, 2007 at 10:31 am Leave a comment

Two whales, Emperors, Yom Kippur and integrity

Since moving to the valley we have done a bit of synagogue shopping. Not that we go very often – we do not. Pretty much its Yom Kipper services once a year. And in the last three years I think we finally settled on Hillel @ Stanford.

This year, Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann [rabbipkn at stanford dot edu] which both me and Chimene have learned to appriciate (And she is the main reason we chose Stanford Hillel), gave quite a thoughtful sermon about hmm.. whales. And Emperors. An more then anything – Integrity.

I had Idan with me – so was hard to follow. As I learned later on, two years old is the worst age to take a child with you to service. Especially if you just landed a few hours before and the kid has not seen you for a week. So after Naeelah, we chatted and she kindly agreed to share the text with me. So Here it is. And a teaser below.

And no – reading it – and reflecting about it – does not require being Jewish. Human yes. Jewish or religious – no.

This past May, California was riveted by the travels of two wayward humpback whales. A mother whale and her calf exited the Pacific Ocean and swam 90 miles inland up the Sacramento River. For over a week, amidst crowds of onlookers, the Coast Guard and wildlife experts attempted to coax the whales back to the ocean…

And you thought all those jokes about St. Peter at the Pearly Gates originated in the Vatican? Oh No – we have our own version! Since Yom Kippur is our rehearsal for that heavenly moment, we need to ask the four questions now and every year on this holy day. What do you think the rabbis imagined God would ask us? Questions like: Did we pray every day? Did we keep kosher? Did we celebrate Shabbat every week? Curiously, the questions they recorded had nothing to do with ritual practice. They had everything to do with integrity.”

October 2, 2007 at 4:40 am Leave a comment

Big brother and transparent society

I have been thinking through “Semi autonomous” systems for a while now.

Two trends coming together:

Metro wide wireless networks: with affordable IP connectivity. We know this one is coming. Wimax, WiFi, 7000Mhz and even 3G might be properly priced and open at some point.

The second is more tricky. Webcams are evolving. Not only a one way device that send video automatically but slowly adding a speaker – so you can watch what is happening and at the same time talk to the webcam surrounding. And soon they might have a screen – so you can display information. And you get some processing power in the unit – and move beyond just compressing video into motion detection, face recognition and more. Power / Solar technology is improving too, so soon we will be able to have stand along units that we can leave in our front yard or the city can easily install in any city corner. And the devices can monitor and interact with the surrounding. And if needed connect to a human “call” center and have a live person connected.

Whats the implications? Zero crime society ? Never being alone again ? Big brother always watching ? All of the above ?

David Brin has written on this about a decade ago.

The solution he outlines to the big brother is an “open” big brother where everybody can watch everybody and all the webcams are always open to all. Not a central closed monitoring system which only the city police have access to the videos, but an open one where there are no secrets. Opening up and allowing everybody to watch any webcam in real time is the best guarantee that the system will not be abused – because the information is alway shared. If a policeman arrests somebody, he knows very well that the whole event is being monitored, recorded and media and individuals can access the information.

The technology is moving ahead. And we will soon either find ourselves in a closed monitored world (which is the trend today) or in an open one. The cardinal question is what can be done to bring to life Brin’s vision of a transparent society ? Is the solution regulatory ? Or is there a business that can be built around providing the transparent society ?


August 7, 2007 at 4:53 pm Leave a comment

Apples (New?) business model

Have been quite for the last eight weeks as we went through the Trolltech acuiqistion. So now that I am officially a Troll (and growing long hair) its time to  blog again

From ZDNet
“The 270,000 iPhones only include units sold to AT&T for distribution in its stores, units sold by Apple through its network of retail stores, and some number of units that might have been in transit as the clock turned on the third quarter, Oppenheimer said. An Apple representative confirmed the number doesn’t include online sales of the iPhone during the 30 hours before the quarter ended on 30 June.

Oppenheimer confirmed that Apple is receiving payments from AT&T related to the sale of iPhones, but he didn’t want to discuss the specifics of the agreement between the two companies. Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, believes AT&T is paying Apple about $11 a month per new iPhone customer, or about $3 a month for existing AT&T customers who switched to the iPhone “

Lets do some math.

.25M units first few weeks. So I think 5M Units first year is very conservative.

Lets say half are new AT&T subs and half are existing. That is $7/Month. $84/year.  Or $126 per device for 18 month life.

These are $126 of 100% margin to the bottom line. The iPhone margins are amazing as is (~$500 retail with $250 BOM)  but if you count the additional $126 per device – this kind of margins are unheard of in the handset world.

What would it do to Apple bottom line? I am on pushing my accounting skills here – but lets say $84 per year, 5M devices spread over a year, we are looking at additional $210M dollars for Apple on the iPhone business.  I think I should buy some stock…

Wonder what is going through Nokia top execs as they do this math…

July 26, 2007 at 5:33 pm Leave a comment

Flesh eating wireless viruses, perfect duds, FCC and more on Cellular Carterfone

I was hoping to take a break from Carterfone. But then both me and Jason started reading the operators responses.


Stoppard has this line in ‘The Real Thing’ [Probably my favorite play] “Persuasive Nonsense. Sophistry in a phrase so neat that you can’t see the loose end that would unravel it. It’s flawless but wrong. A perfect dud. You can do that with words, bless ’em.

So we decided to unravel the crap the operators wrote. Full text is here

The argument is simple – the vigor and strength of the operators response (They even forced Motorola, Quallcomm and LG to support them) is the best indicator of how far the market is from being efficient and innovative. Otherwise – what are they afraid of ?

We outlined to remedies, which are easy tom implement and get the industry 90% of the way toward fixing the problems

  1. The Commission should require each carrier to publish the existing CPE standards they use for certifying devices for use on their networks. Carriers must accept any CPE that meets those standards, and can reject any CPE that does not. Certifications will be handled by existing companies who specialize in handset certification.
  1. The Commission should require each carrier to communicate to consumers what portion of their monthly bill is used to pay for service and what portion is used for the device. Furthermore, carriers should comply with Carterfone and offer a service-only plan.

Then we went on the address the specifc arguments the operators made – like protecting us from wireless viruses (Flesh eating?) or giving us free phones (Just pay us $50 for 48 month but its FREE) and more crap.

Next is to go in front of the FCC in person. Which should be fun


May 21, 2007 at 4:42 pm Leave a comment

Pattern recognition and replication: Idani rowing

An 18 month old on a rowing machine ? Yes – after watching his daddy doing it, it was time to replicate the pattern…

Idani Rowing B

Idani Rowing A


May 21, 2007 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

Why handsets should be subsidized – but are not today

As I was working on the FCC petition, and especially after thinking through Tim Wu’s subtle (or not so subtle) points around handset ‘Subsidy’ I got to realize that we are looking at a serious case of the misleading rhetoric shaping the discussion.

When you buy a car, you have two options: Put down the whole $10K upfront. Or lease it, pay $1000K and then monthly payments for 24 months of $500. Your car is not ‘subsidized’ by the car dealership – you just pay for it over time rather then upfront. And there is full disclosure how the lease payments were calculated.

Now when it comes to cell phones, operators some how managed to get us to think they are ‘subsidizing’ the handsets. And that we should be nice and say monthly “Thank you for being so kind and subsidizing my handset ” as we are writing a check for $50 for their great “wireless service”

Handset are not subsidized today. Consumers are paying an arm and a leg for their handsets. And we don’t even know how much we pay for the service and how much for handset. The remedy, as we discussed in petition, is to have operators comply with Carterfone and have a “service only” no handset bundled monthly plan. Then we will know how much we really pay for handsets…

Handsets can be subsidized – for example – through advertisements. “We will give you this handset for free, but we have our ad engine incorporated” – That is subsidy. What we have from cellular operators today is not subsidy, but rather handset leasing.


May 4, 2007 at 9:14 pm 1 comment

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