links for 2009-06-06

  • Usually synonymous with mass production, the quick response (QR) bar code was originally created by Japanese company Denso-Wave to keep inventory. However, because QR codes allow for more data than the standard 10-digit bar code, and because scanning requires less effort than typing a URL, the QR has taken a turn for the personal. The genius behind QR codes is that even a hairless chimp can play with them. Below are five of my favorite uses:
  • Changing your Mac to Dvorak in Software
    These instructions apply to Mac OS X version 10.4 a.k.a. "Tiger"

    Earlier versions (and likely later versions) of Mac OS X are similar; you can also change layouts in Mac OS 9 via the Keyboard control panel.

  • Best explanation I've heard yet of why Google Wave could be significant and useful. Yesterday I was trying to coordinate several phone meetings. One such effort, involving 4 people at the client org (even though only 2 would be on the call) took a total of 22 e-mails. Enough!!!! Better tools!
  • "ViewPass, a plan for a system that would allow easy payment by consumers across multiple platforms and extensive collection of data that would allow publishers to target advertising based on that visitor’s interests.

    "Mutter proposes ViewPass as a way to “access valuable content on the websites and mobile platforms of all participating publishers.” While I have concerns about all paid-content approaches (I made the Freudian typo “pain-content” in a tweet last night), and about the industry’s unhealthy focus on such a misguided approach, I concede that charging for high-value content might work in some niches."

  • Thursday, Trilliant, a smart grid network builder, acquired Skypilot, a broadband wireless company that used to specialize in long-range, high-capacity WiFi for rural areas and cities.

    “The unique technology in Skypilot was helpful in the municipal WiFi market but maybe not determinative,” said Eric Miller, senior VP at Trilliant. “But you take that technology and move into the utility market, and it’s a breakthrough technology.”

    The acquisition follows a move by another former municipal WiFi player, Tropos, into smart grid networking. This month, Cisco started talking big about energy, too. It’s a natural area for these companies to expand their businesses because the smart grid is fundamentally about about networking the pieces of the energy system.

    “Historically, power supply infrastructure has been created to serve load as a passive element of the system,” a Department of Energy report noted.

    In other words, right now the grid is just a bunch of wires.

  • "To rise from the ashes, automakers must think like Silicon Valley — blow up “stores” in favor of experience centers. Let people buy what they want, when they want and how they want.

    "What would a car industry without dealerships look like? In our dreams, they’d be a lean network of showrooms offering hands-on experience with a range of vehicles from a variety of manufacturers — as we already can find at used car lots — and help from salaried employees who won’t lose a commission if you walk. Manufacturers would only make cars that had waiting buyers, eliminating the waste associated with inventory and overproduction.

    “It could be almost like an Apple store, and Sony in particular has stores where you can experience their products,” speculated Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of, which provides information about new and used cars."

  • "The price point of $50-$60 for an annual subscription was an arbitrary choice, Brill said, and would depend on how much and what kind of content was put behind a pay wall. Journalism Online is also arguing that newspapers can reduce the cost of acquiring new subscribers by offering bundled subscriptions to their print editions and websites, just like The Wall Street Journal, where Crovitz was formerly publisher. (In fact, there are a lot of similarities between their plan and the Journal’s current model.)"
  • "Nielsen Online, which measures web traffic, said the number of minutes on social networks in the United States rose 83 percent in April from the same month a year ago, but found users were quick to move on and sites could quickly fall from favor."
  • Over the weekend, however, the Federation of American Scientists' Secrecy News blog noticed that the document had appeared on the website of the Government Printing Office and quickly grabbed a copy, hosting it on their server. Although the original has been pulled from the government's site, these sorts of errors have become irreversible in the Internet era—the FAS' document is now mirrored on Wikileaks.
  • Here's Bridis' explanation of the new application AP plans to deploy.

    "What we're doing is employing some technology, and the technology is not going to be looking for a paragraph," he disclosed. "The technology is going to be looking for the entire story that gets republished somewhere, and at that point it flags it. It doesn't do anything in an automated way, it's going to flag it for a lawyer or a paralegal to look at, and make a judgment on 'Well, is this OK? Is this a one-time offense?'"

    OK. "Entire stories"—that's the problem?

    "There are commercial websites, not even bloggers, necessarily," Bridis added, "that take some of our best AP stories, and rewrite them with a word or two here, and say 'the Associated Press has reported, the AP said, the AP said.' That's not fair. We pay our reporters. We set up the bureaus that are very expensive to run, and if they want to report what the AP is reporting they either need to buy the service or they need to staff their own bureaus."

  • Local Motors will design, manufacture, and bring to market innovative, safer, more functional, lightweight, efficient cars through a revolutionary, local assembly and retail experience. These cars will revolutionize not only automobiles, but also the very structure of auto-making, auto-selling, and auto-servicing.

    * In auto-making, Local Motors will build low inventory, high cash conversion, low capital intensity assembly facilities distributed across the United States, which will bring satisfying and meaningful manufacturing employment in a pleasurable life-work experience.
    * In auto-selling, Local Motors will create an aspirational experience of scarcity driven demand whereby the local factory will create a Wonka-like fascination with its products and methods. Not only will it sell its cars, but it will sell the experience of people being able to visit and watch their car being "born".

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