On the move

09.21.06 | Permalink | Comments Off on On the move

Last night I was able to get 296 miles in after the conference camping out in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Two things to mention about this segment, there is, in fact, a Peckerwood Lake – nearly splut water out my nose when confronted with it on the GPS screen and there is a great rib place on the outskirts of Little Rock, Arkansas called Smoke Shack Bar-B-Q (501-803-4935)- not much ambiance, but GREAT ribs. Back to the road now, perhaps an entry later tonight.

Meatspace coordinates: N35.216 W94.223
Ohio State’s 2006 record: 3-0 Next up: Penn State 9/23
Tune: Pride in the Name of Love by U2
Technorati Tags: | Roadtrip | Arkansas | Mike Harding Blog

Innovation, Travel

Time, place, and space

09.20.06 | Permalink | Comments Off on Time, place, and space

Over the past 2 days I’ve had the opportunity to attend the TTI/Vanguard conference on Time, Place, and Space in Memphis, Tennessee at the Peabody Hotel. For a little background, TTI/Vanguard conferences are a place for smart people to get together and explore topics typically with a technical bent. Thank you to Ann Cheslaw and the rest of the Vanguard team for the opportunity to attend. It’s always great to catch up with friends like Peter Cochrane (though he didn’t attend this conference) and smart acquaintances like John Perry Barlow, Gordon Bell, and Len Kleinrock.

Does the network end at your screen and keyboard?

That’s the key question for this particular conference, where does the network end? With all the sensors, actuators, cameras, location, context, identification, and history, the answer is assuredly no, the network does not end at your screen and keyboard. Why does this matter? Because the world is full of stuff. There is a large gap between the stuff of the physical world and the bits of the network.

Here’s a great video from George Carlin about “stuff” (click to view)

The agenda of this conference is designed to explore the gap between the bits and atoms and to spur thinking and innovation around those subject areas. Day 1 saw presentations from Robert Carter, CIO of FedEx Corporation on how the network extends into physical space.

Here’s a great video of a day in the life of FedEx:

John Springer, Director of Global Operations for Nike Golf followed with an interesting glimpse into how Nike is melding technology into various products like golf clubs, balls, integrating with iPods etc. The next session was hosted by Dr. Wolf Kohn of Clearsight Systems on an architecture for realtime RFID feedback. Robert Poor, founder of Adozu, demonstrated RFID sensing and data presentation using active, smart tags based on 802.15 technology (vs. 802.11 wifi we’re used to seeing.)

Skyhook Wireless’ VP Jed Rice showed an ingenious use 802.11 wifi access points as a means to determine location (instead of GPS.) Loki is very cool, if only it would run as a network service rather than being linked to a particular operating system or browser. In the US there are some 65,000 access points being added to the network per day being added to a base of 13M access points. It’s like wifi has become the new RJ45 jack.

Brooke DeLorme, CEO of Earthmate, showed a new way to create 3D digital mapping using raster images captured by 360 degree cameras. A new earth referencing system, essentially a fine grained cell structure overlayed with any metadata one might want to add was previewed by Perry Peterson, President of Pyxis Innovation.

Finally, John Perry Barlow gave a great talk on time. Here’s a good question: What time is it on the network? Answer: Now. He advanced a hypothesis that non-industrialized cultures could enjoy an advantage because they are polychronic, able to exerience time as a circular and ongoing series of events vs. the monochronic nature of specific, linear, time constraints beaten into industrial cultures to make things work (derived from Edward T. Hall’s work on the subject.) I can say that personally I connected with this, things never stop and arbitrary time boundaries are not meaningful in my experience on the network.

We all enjoyed a reception and dinner at the Museum of Rock and Soul, which was an excellent venue.

Day 2 started with an ontology for stuff presented by Doug Lenat of CyCorp. It’s clearly very challenging to describe stuff in a specific enough manner for machines to be able to act upon them. For example, Lenat referenced 75 variations on what “in” means to be specific enough to answer questions about the objects being described. Mich Mizushima gave an overview of the state of supply chain and logisitics management in humanitarian aid situations. Suffice to say, it’s a mess. The Fritz Institute is providing a hosted software platform to aid the solution to that problem set. Funda Sahin, Professor of Logistics at the University of Tennessee, gave a thought provoking talk on how IT and Supply Chains should be integrated, iteratively.

A fascinating technology of active RFID systems on a chip was disclosed by John Gloekler, Founder and CEO of G2 Microsystems. The G2 approach is to use standard 802.11 wifi (as well as some other radio options) to attach to a battery and sensors (temp, pressure, humidity, motion, shock, light, chemical, etc.) The secret sauce is the power management extending battery life to years vs. the current 1 month life on most active wifi tags.

Robin Chase, CEO of Meadow Networks (and former CEO of Zipcar) advanced a controversial hypothesis that soon our car travel will be pay per use for infrastructure versus the current flat fee model. She showed a great example of “naked streets” – see the video below for details of life without traffic controls.

Day 2 wrapped up with Roy Russell, CTO of Zipcar who told us about how the time-share, casual car rental business worked. They’re growing and doing well, replacing about 50 cars per 60 subscribers. And finally, Chris Kantarjiev of Dimebank Software, rehashed the history of WebVan, the grocery delivery people. IPO in Nov 1999 to closed doors in Jul 2001 after burning through $1M a day for 1,000 days…A real tale of woe, I wonder how the management team managed to stay out of prison.

There is a field trip to the FedEx ramp that unfortunately, I’ll miss. But I’ve had some experience with this having seen the old Airborne Express facility in Wilmington, Ohio back in the 1980’s.

Suffice to say, it was a thought provoking and stimulating 48 hours. These are great conferences, if you ever have a chance to attend, take it! This is all feeding into my thought process about what I throw myself into next.

Meatspace coordinates: N35.085 W90.031
Ohio State’s 2006 record: 3-0 Next up: Penn State 9/23
Tune: Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed
Technorati Tags: | Roadtrip | Innovation | Mike Harding Blog

Humor, Travel

Peabody Ducks

09.19.06 | Permalink | 5 Comments

The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennesee has a very interesting tradition, a march of the ducks each day at 11:00am. There are 5 ducks, 1 drake and 4 hens, that take the elevator down from their penthouse duck mansion to waddle down the red carpet up a step and then into the fountain in the lobby of the hotel.

Video of the ducks leaving (click to view)

Apparently this all started as a prank when the general manager and a hunting buddy after a night of drinking Tennesee sipping whisky (Jack Daniels) decided it would be fun to put their live decoy ducks in the hotel fountain. They went to sleep, came back in the morning and there was a crowd. Thus, a tradition was born. I can attest to the fact that the lobby was full this morning for the duck parade and that’s got to be good for business.

Meatspace coordinates: N35.085 W90.031
Ohio State’s 2006 record: 3-0 Next up: Penn State 9/23
Tune: Diving Duck Blues by Sleepy John Estes
Technorati Tags: | Roadtrip | Tennessee | Mike Harding Blog

Humor, Travel

Going to Memphis

09.18.06 | Permalink | 2 Comments

550 miles today through southern Ohio, Kentucky, and western Tennessee. Never been to Memphis before and I have to say, I like it. Dinner tonight was had at the Blues City Cafe on Beale Street. Combination: barbeque ribs, blues, Monday Night Football, and beer. What’s not to like?

Here are a couple of random impressions from the road today:

  • In southern Ohio, an enormous church compound, Solid Rock Church (with a truly disturbing Jesus partially submerged in a pond with a fountain making the sign of touchdown) next door to Trader’s World. Could it be they’re part of the same business?
  • In Kentucky, a water tower that simply says “Florence Y’all”
  • In Tennessee, Nervous Charlie’s Fuel (and Fireworks!)

Meatspace coordinates: N35.085 W90.031
Ohio State’s 2006 record: 3-0 Next up: Penn State 9/23
Tune: I’m going to Memphis by Johnny Cash
Technorati Tags: | Roadtrip | Tennessee | Mike Harding Blog

Ohio State Football, Travel

Bearcats declawed

09.17.06 | Permalink | Comments Off on Bearcats declawed

Ohio State beat the University of Cincinnati 37-7 yesterday in a somewhat flat performance. The Bucks started off slow with a Texas hangover and then buckled down in the second half to pull away and even cover. The defense is still growing, it was great to see a mobile quarterback have some success then get shutdown. That’s vital experience before seeing Stanton and Tate later this year.

While I wasn’t able to make it to the Horseshoe, I was able to take in the game with my family here in the Miami Valley. It was a great time. Today I’ll spend the day with friends here and then tomorrow morning will head to points south.

Meatspace coordinates: N39.468 W84.006
Ohio State’s 2006 record: 3-0 Next up: Penn State 9/23
Tune: Back to Ohio by The Pretenders
Technorati Tags: | Roadtrip | Ohio | Mike Harding Blog

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