Saturday, September 24, 2005

Temporary Retreat

I won't be posting for the next week or so, instead I thought I would leave this delightful picture of Drea De Matteo.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Palm to announce Treo 670 / 700?

Rumours and pictures of the Palm Treo 670 have circulated for months.

Now it looks like there may be some truth in them. Microsoft, Palm and Verizon holding a joint conference means that this isnt another Palm supports Microsoft Exchange or .net frameworks for infidel devices.

This looks more like the real deal. (Picture courtesy of

Time to move to Symbian.

Check out the media invitation below:

Palm, Inc., Microsoft Corporation and Verizon Wireless Announce Press Conference for Sept. 26

SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 23, 2005--Ed Colligan, Palm, Inc. (Nasdaq:PALM) president and chief executive officer; Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect; and Denny Strigl, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless, invite the news media to join them for a press conference on Monday, Sept. 26, at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco beginning at 9 a.m. PDT.

Admission will be limited to members of the business and technology news media who present current press credentials.

Registration will begin at 8 a.m. outside the Twin Peaks conference room on the second floor of the hotel.

Members of the news media who plan to attend in person are asked to RSVP to Ryan Luckin of A&R Partners at

Webcast Details
The press conference will be accessible via live webcast at links below beginning at 9 a.m.

A replay, podcast and written transcript of the press conference also will be available starting at approximately 12 p.m. and listed in Monday's news release.

To view the webcast please click on the following links (Due to their length, the following URLs may need to be copied/pasted into your Internet browser's address field. Remove extra spaces if they exists.):

For 56 kbps: sfo_press_conference_20050926_56.asx
For 100 kbps:
For 300 kbps or broadband:

Date & Time
Monday, Sept. 26 Press Registration: 8 a.m. PDT and continental breakfast Press Conference: 9 a.m. PDT
Valet parking will be provided at the hotel

The Palace Hotel 2 New Montgomery St. San Francisco, Calif.

Broadcast Video and Other Materials Video and photographs will be available from several sources, including the following: -- Palm's Multimedia Library ( Preregistration is required to access broadcast-quality video and stills. -- Microsoft's press room ( -- Verizon Wireless' Multimedia Library ( Preregistration is required to access broadcast-quality video and stills. -- Cameras are permitted on-site -- an audio mult-box will be provided. Please direct any media inquiries to Ryan Luckin of A&R Partners at or 408.910.9265. Please direct any broadcast inquiries to WCTV's media relations at or 212.445.8220. CONTACT: A&R Partners for Palm, Inc. Ryan Luckin, 408-910-9265 SOURCE: Palm, Inc.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Shoot the marketing department

Dell recently launched its latest MP3 product the Dell DJ Ditty. It is designed by Dell to compete with the iPod Shuffle.

First of all the name, what kind of marketer would labour their 'cool' new product with the name ditty. You'd only go and ask for one at the counter if you wanted to win a bet against one of your mates or were very drunk. Now imagine that even if you where happy with the product how you would recommend it to one of your friends.

Then there is the 'inspired' product design. You've been had, its a rip-off of a cheap Ronson lighter from the Argos catalogue. Its not cool, its not ironic and it may sound better than a Linn hi-fi system, but it still says BAD TASTE.

I am sure Apple are already wondering how they are going to handle their haemorrhaging market share when this bad boy hits the market and turns the Apple Store on Regents Street into an empty shell.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Originally uploaded by renaissancechambara.
OK so you have your favourite IM service that you like to use, but its a free world and some people are just wrong and chose MSN instead. Or you have an ID for years on ICQ that some people still use. What do you do with them all?

When you have IM ID congestion you need Adium X. Adium is a multi-protocol messaging client that is slicker than an eel skin codpiece and full of open source goodness. There are funky themes and other extras with Adium, allowing you to customise it more than and a 1987 Vauxhall Nova. Its just a shame about the Orville the Duck icon they use to represent the application, instead here is some graffiti I photographed down by the Truman Brewery a while ago..

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Toy Time

I passed the the model shop on High Holborn and spotted some gems that I will share on this blog over the next few entries. First up was a Scalextric set with a Ford Torino, a skittish handling toy car based on a skittish handling real one; talk about a marriage made in adult childhood heaven.
Viral Craicer

Not as easy as it seems, choose out of a list of names which one belongs to the My Little Pony range of childrens toys from the 1980s and which is the name or alias of a performer in an adult-orientated loop. Try your luck here.

More importantly which category would Christina Aguilera fit into: small horse or glamour model?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Trouble With Blogs....

Is that they are an ideal vehicle to fuel dissension. During the former cold war, one of the things that the CIA liked to do was to smuggle photocopy machines into the disident groups behind the Iron Curtain as a sort of DIY kit to create thought crimes. (Both football fanzines and the punk movement did a similar thing in the late 1970s and 1980s).

Organisations like Sun and Microsoft are both using blogs to reach out the hearts and minds of influencers and other stakeholders. Unfortunately the power of blogs can also amplify voices of dissent.

Using a service like Blogspot and having a privacy protecting software service like Tor, allows you to create a virtual ID with no traceability; providing you with a Dooce-resistant way of corporate dissension in a responsible manner.

They allow individuals or group to wage assymmetric information warfare campaigns against larger corporate organisations and their countermeasures such as slick corporate communications teams. Take MiniMicrosoft for instance. (Kudos to Charles Arthur for the link). Picture courtesy of SterlingArtz.


Originally uploaded by renaissancechambara.
James Gordon-Mackintosh of These 4 Walls and 77PR has finally set up his oft-discussed t-shirt business based around cutting graphic design. More accessible and better value for money than Futura the designs at Sideline are worth a visit. The picture gives a flavour of what to expect, don't be surprised to see them previewed on a Quark jockey near you sooner rather than later.

Letting the cat out of the bag

Cat not yet out of the bag
Originally uploaded by Terri.
Interesting post on Sun Microsystems CTO, Jonathan Schwartz blog asking Sun employees to refrain on queering the pitch for their PR people by leaking product details.

From a PR point of view, there are a number of things are interesting about his posting:

- The posting was driven directly by leaked information that had come out over the past few weeks
- Jonathan appealed to employees in a public forum, rather than an internal memo
- There was no mention of an employee blog policy, which many large companies have now implemented
- Its a soft pitch rather than the draconian slap down meted out by the likes of Apple, implying a trust-based system usually found in academic research labs (MIT used to give everybody root access so that they could delete or destroy other peoples work, to take away the achievement and challenge of hacking the security and inadvertently causing damage.) This by implication means that engineers, developers or researchers are likely to have been the whistleblowers

In A Simple Request to Sun Jonathan says: For the sake of your colleagues around Sun, please do not share Sun's confidential information. There have been a few instances in recent weeks where crucial data and photos were leaked from Sun. It probably sounds counterintuitive, but this actually harms Sun's business.

The way news or media cycles work, if any information is 'leaked' to the marketplace, it radically reduces our ability to garner broad top shelf coverage - most media outlets won't cover what's already been leaked. So leaks actually have the opposite effect of what you might think - they dampen coverage, lessen interest, and complicate helping the field drive business. They also prompt customers to put decisions on hold, and put at risk the credibility of our salesforce to be 'trusted advisors' to our most important partners and customers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

San Jose Mercury News technology blog has a week long online discussion going on here about the future of Apple Computer. Some of it makes interesting reading.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Black strap, the Sinn U2, metal bracelet the Sinn EZM3

A Bit of a Looker

Sinn is a German watchmaker who have a reputation of producing fantastically designed and produced watches. I've started to look around to add to my watch collection and paid particular interest to Sinn's latest model dive watch, the U2. It is made of specially hardened stainless steel and has an Indian rubber strap. The watch has an additional hand in red to provide an additional time zone. The legibility of the watch display is really well done.

Unlike most Sinn watches however it is a triumph of style over substance. The strap has no vents, cleats that would allow the watch users wrist to feel more comfortable in hot weather.

The crown is not protected. Most diving watches including Sinn's own designs have shoulders either side of the crown to protect it from damage. The watch forgoes a useful feature of other Sinn watches by putting the crown on the right-hand side of the case, it is more likely to catch on a shirt sleeve or a wet suit cuff.

This is one of the reasons why many divers wear their watch on their right hand even though they are not left handed. While the U2 is a great example of the watchmakers art, save your money and purchase their Einsatzzeitmesser 3 (EZM 3) model instead.
Design Classic

Halliburton is now a name entwined with the Bush Cheney government, usually to do with allegations of overcharging for services or the manner in which they have been awarded contracts.

The company had a long and proud history as a pioneer in the oil services industry. As with any pioneer, when the couldn't find appropriate supplies they made them themselves.

Erle Halliburton founded the New Method Oil Well Cementing Company that later became Halliburton in 1960. One of the problems he faced in the 1930s was finding robust instrument cases and briefcases that would stand up to the rigors of the international oil business, from bouncing in the back of a pickup truck through the Texas oilfields to international air travel.

From this need the Zero Halliburton case company was born. Erle sold up his involvement in the case company in 1952, but they kept his founding ethos. The cases were made from the wonder material of the time - aluminum - which was finding use as a light high-strength metal in the aviation industry. The case also benefited from aluminum's even heat dissipation properties to protect its internal contents.

Move forward to the 21st century and Zero Halliburton Stealth case has moved on with the launch of a carbon fibre case which retails for about 2000 USD. The use of carbon fibre gives this design classic a new feel and aesthetic whilst keeping true to Erle's vision of a high performance case. If this sounds too rich I can recommend one of their traditional aluminium cases.

Jargon Watch

NSFW - Not Suitable For viewing at Work. I saw this first on Wired News columnist Regina Lynn's article discussing the popularity vintage adult entertainment content.

While the subject matter was a reasonable discussion on a trend within the online media industry, some of the links off the page could get you fired.

E85 - A fuel mix of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol that is now cheaper than regular petrol in some parts of the States. Alcohol fuelled vehicles has been around for a good while. Brazil was one of the main pioneers, running cars off alcohol made from sugar cane.

E85 is now becoming a popular alternative fuel in parts of the states that grow a lot of corn, which is ideal for making alcohol (just ask Jack Daniels). While fuel companies are reluctant to carry alternatives to petrol since it fosters more competition; tax breaks, government subsidies, high oil prices and a large number of compatiable vehicles is seeing a small but significant number of filling stations now pumping E85.

Kudos the New York Times The New Prize: Alternative Fuels by Danny Hakim. For more information on alternative fuels including biodiesel and the bio/petroleum diesel blend B20 go to, which is a good primer.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The 37 Paths to Wisdom & Other Cool Web Firms has an interesting article about 37 Signals a Chicago based software company that is making waves. The company has developed lean, responsive web-service based software applications for project management and personal productivity.

Odeo is a way of making podcast publication and consumption much easier, it has the ease-of-use that one would expect from one of the founders of Blogger.

Viral Craicers

A great viral from Liquid Generation showing how sexualised pop culture has become.

Spot the adult entertainment performers from the people with no decernable talent (its not as easy as you think).

At Chez RC, we scored a respectable 40 per cent and were told that we needed to watch more porno, and who are we to disagree, after all it's on the net so it must be true.

Open Art Surgery

Many people have been impressed by the svelte nature of the new Apple iPod nano. This Japanese site is the first one to disassemble one.

From the left:

The first picture is the inside of the back case. It has some sort of foam insert to protect the circuitry and make sure that nothing rattles about. It would rest on the back of the main circuit board. The foam is cut away to leave room for the battery pack, the back could also act as a heat sink for the battery to dissipate the heat generated as it discharges. The round spot is a piezo electric loudspeaker for operational signals like a low battery.

Next up is the flash memory module. It is encased inside the black chip packaging at the middle of the board. In this case its a Samsung made 4GB module. This board is attached to the front of the main board with a couple of screws.

The most prominent feature of the main circuit board is the lithium ion polymer battery which takes up a third of the space. This is connected to the circuit board by soldered cables rather than a clip-in connector making it not not user servicable for the average man in the street. At the bottom of the board is the connector for power, headphone socket and data exchange between the iPod and the iTunes enabled Mac. One of the ways that Apple has managed to make the device so small is by putting all these connectors together at the bottom of the iPod nano rather than a headphone socket at the top and everything else at the bottom. There is some usability issues in doing things this way, but Apple must have felt that these were more than worthwhile in order to produce the end product.

The scroll wheel is connected to the circuit board by a ribbon connector, since it is sold state it takes up virtually no space. It is held in place and given a solid feel by a metal backing plate mounted to the back of the device facia (this is on the bottom right of the picture below the colour LCD screen.

The device has a low component count, helping to keep costs down partily by having a very sophisticated design.

Kudos to Impress Corporation for the teardown photo.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Return of the Texan bar

Recycling of intellectual property is something that companies have been doing for a while. How many Marvin Gaye, Roy Orbison or Jimi Hendrix compilations can the world take from the music industry?

Sports clothing brands Adidas and Puma both know the value of raiding classic designs in their archive.

Defunct arcade and console games like Atari have been resurrected on mobile phones and gaming controllers that come up to 30 games using modern electronics.

Now Nestle seem to have learned from this trend with their re-release of the Texan bar. Above is a picture I took of one in the wild. Its chew texture and toffee goodness makes a welcome return to sweet-shop shelves.

Whilst we are on the issue of Nestle, what about the irony of their involvement in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film remake? Nestle are releasing lots of Willy Wonka branded chocolate and candy to coincide with the film. Where it gets interesting is that Roald Dahl's book (and the film for that matter) is critical of big corporate confectioners who squeezed out the small independents and were alleged to have violated intellectual property rights of these smaller companies.

Jargon Watch

Bumvertising - the use of sign-holding homeless people as an advertising medium.

This was used to promote in the Seattle area.

In return for food and water the Bumvertising representative must be enthusiastic, willing, and appreciative. For more information go here.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Hedgehog rides again

Ron Jeremy, porn superstar, hero and all-round good guy has graced a self-mocking PETA campaign. Kudos to Ad Rag.
Crude Addiction

I watched an interesting news story over the web regarding how petrol prices varied across the US as the effects of hurricane Katrina registered on the forecourt.

Katrina damaged eight refineries on the Gulf coast. The state of California is looking into price gouging allegations against the oil companies and there is pressure being brought on the Governator to bring in emergency laws to protect their constitutional right to dirt cheap gas prices.

View the full news report

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Holy Mackerel! Apple Launches Worst Kept Secret In Tech Sector! And a Really Cool iPod Which Is Way Better!

Apple has finally announced the first iTunes phone in association with Motorola. The ROKR allows you to play music, and answer calls. Cingular is the first carrier to go with it.

On to the real news, Apple has finally got around to fixing the biggest problem with the iPod Mini, its got rid of the hard drive and the clueless looking candy colours. It uses flash memory instead and has emerged from its chrysalis as the beautiful iPod nano (four-letter words is obviously the latest vogue in tech market nomenclature. Probably designed to appealed to a younger audience brought up on instant messaging and SMS texts.)

Product porn picture courtesy of Apple.
The Predators Ball

While I was busy worrying about the right adidas tracksuit top to wear, where I could get the latest Street Sounds electro album, and how to avoid going into school the US stock market was been shaken up by green mailers and heavily leveraged buyouts. The theory goes something like this, business were not being worked hard enough to deliver a return on investment. So professional investors would look to buy up companies at below the sum of their assets.

This purchase would be paid for with debt, selling off assets or by cutting costs (people) within the business. They would do away with non-core activities like R&D or employee benefits.

Often the management of the 'prey' corporation would pay off the investor to go elsewhere in a crude shakedown called greenmailing. The debt aspect is more interesting. Apparently the high level of debt in a business would motivate the management by fear to deliver better returns than previously achieved. Broadly speaking there is two types of company debt that can be purchased and traded:
  • Investment grade debt - where a company is considered to be good for the money and a low to no risk by a ratings agency like Standard & Poors. This allows companies to borrow at a lower rate because low risk requires lower rewards
  • High-yield debt - so called junk bonds where the company is given a 'junk status' by the ratings agency. This can be a solid company with low growth that may be underperforming relative to its sector. It does not mean that it will disappear in a puff of smoke.
Michael Milken and investment bank Drexel Burnham were the past masters at selling junk bonds. Milken realised an essential truth in the markets - that junk bonds were often not at the level of risk that their repayments would indicate. This discontinuity provided an excellent investment opportunity, which is what Milken sold to his investors. When he had a willing pool of investors Milken could then shovel out junk bond issues.

This helped stoke the fires of the 1980s buyout boom. Milken and his driven personality along with peer Ivan Boesky defined Wall Street to the media influencing Michael Douglas' performace as Gordon Gecko and eventually making them marked men for an attorney general on the rise with politics on his mind (former New York mayor Randoph Giuliani.

I managed to complete the Predators Ball: The iside story of Drexel Burnham and the junk bond raiders by Connie Buck, which provided a good primer on this time. Milken came across as the puppetmaster moving companies and people around the board like chess pieces to provide maximum return for him. You can find it on Amazon here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

80s fetish meets ultra-violence

I got to see Nick Love's follow-up to The Football Factory - The Business. It is brilliant and crap at the same time. It manages to encapsulate all the things I loved and hated about the 1980s and then uses the scenery of Southern Spain to pump it up a 1000. Highlights, leisure suits, rubiks cubes, GMTV, Margaret Thatcher and Duran Duran define the plebian culture that permeates throughout the film. No matter how rich the characters get, they drag themselves down.

Its a classic gangster flick of a young lad in way over his head. He becomes a villain by inches and makes mistakes which he eventually learns from along the way. Some of the crims are straight out of The Sweeney and then some.

The plot is well played out and is a cracking watch...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

PowerPoint: the Ted Bundy of Software?

There has been a bit of buzz on some of the blogs and email lists that I subscribe to about a Washington Post report PowerPoint: Killer App? by Ruth Marcus. Key outtakes from the article:
  • The nature of the way information is delivered on PowerPoint obscured some of the most serious risk factors surrounding the space shuttle Columbia
  • It encourages providing data without supporting information / back-up documentation
  • It encourages a lack of depth in thought as all concepts are broken down to bullet points
It even moved sufficiently far out of techy circles to be commented on by Matt Drudge on his site The Drudge Report. This isn't the first time that PowerPoint has been attacked in this way. Information guru Edward Tufte wrote PowerPoint is Evil for Wired magazine (it can be found here).

Tufte believes that PowerPoint
  • Induces stupidity
  • Makes presentations boring
  • Wastes time
  • Degrades both the quality and credibility of communication

And that's not even including the shocking clip art.

Skeptical? When you write a document in Word, have you ever started in the middle or moved chunks of text around like Lego building blocks? Its much harder to write in this style in paper, Word by its nature can encourage more creating but unstructured writing. You throw down everything first and then sift through it discarding some pieces and reordering the rest. The same can happen with emails or any other text requiring editing.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Jargon Watch

Dooced - to get fired because of your personal website. Heather Armstrong (nee Hamilton) worked in Los Angeles as a web designer. She catalogued her work experiences on her website, some of these postings her employer found to be objectionable and negative. This cost Heather her job

She now blogs about her experiences as a stay-at-home Mum in Utah with a certain wit and style.

Heather's advice on blogging about work: Never write about work on the internet unless your boss knows and sanctions the fact that YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT WORK ON THE INTERNET. If you are the boss, however, please don’t be a bitch and talk with your hands. And when you order Prada online, please don’t talk about it out loud, you rotten whore.

You can read the offending blog posts here.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Employee Discounts Mystery

While I was over in the US on business, I noticed that there were four types of adverts that seemed to crop up all the time across the television channels:
  • Perscription drugs and treatments (because your Doctor doesn't know best)
  • 50 hymns on a CD that can be ordered direct from the supplier
  • The usual consumer finance advertisements that blight television all over the free world, so we can buy yet more Chinese-made goods
  • Employee discounts for everyone on a new car

I was surprised that there had been no apparent consideration given to the idea of using 'employee discounts' as a marketing tactic and the messaging around these consumer discounts.

If I was an employee how would I feel about being promised a discount and then finding out that everyone gets as good a deal as me whether they work for the company or not - had I been sold a product (by my own company under false pretences?). Many years ago, I used to work for a large chemical combine where employees were invited to buy shares at 10 per cent above the market price through a company share purchase scheme, they thought that we wouldn't notice as the price was quoted in Dutch guilders, I know how this can leave a bitter tasted in the mouth.

From a consumers point of view, does the extension of the employee discount programme mean that the car companies have been screwing me over for a long time - that they can now afford to drop their pants like this and give discounts out like candy? Why not wait some more until the big three car companies (Ford, General Motors (Vauxhall & Opel to Eurotrash like me) and Chrysler (as in the American car company Mercedes bought)) get really desperate. Listen to the pips squeak.

On an unrelated note Opel have an interesting car as canvas for art section to their web site.
You can be sure of Dell

Slate has an interesting article that addresses why technology sector overachiever Dell is getting kicked in the teeth by the markets. In Is Dell Dying? - What's wrong with America's greatest computer company Daniel Gross outlines the following factors:
  • Quarterly results released on August 11, 2005 showed growth of 15 per cent versus 16 - 18 per cent projected numbers
  • Over the past five years Dell's stock has underperformed the NASDAQ and only kept pace with the S&P500
  • Dell had a large amount of bad publicity form a well read blogger who complained about the bad customer service experience that he had received
  • Dell is having to jump a continually higher fence. Maintaining 18 per cent growth in a company that large and in a market of continually declining margins
  • Dell is relying on new markets like China for growth that are less recptive to the companies magic sauce
  • Dell is in a mature marketplace and has tried to branch into new fiercely competitive markets for hot consumer electronics products.
This too is unlikely to give the same growth numbers, it looks like Dell will have to support its share price via share buy backs or a dividend like grown-up companies do.

What the article fails to address is the vacuous nature of consensus numbers on predicting profit. For more information on this concept in more depth read here and get Alex Berenson - The Number from Amazon.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Jargon Watch

Jumping the couch - the nadir, things couldn't get any worse. Jumping the Shark came from what fans of Happy Days considered the worst ever episode. The Fonz jumped over a shark whilst wearing a set of water-skis. Jumping the couch is down to Tom Cruise's I'm so in love" behaviour on Oprah earlier this year. Thanks to celebrity scandal email newsletter Popbitch

Friday, September 02, 2005

Pirates of Silicon Valley

During the technology bubble the media suddenly caught on to the riveting back stories in the tech sector that Bob Cringely and Co. had been banging on about for years. HBO came out with a particularly good adaption of one such back story - Steven Paul Jobs versus William H Gates III. While purists may be concerned about the consolidation of characters and all them other truthful details that get in the way of a good film the rest of you can get the film on DVD on Amazon.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Technology companies unable to pmp their wares to consumers

Market analyst firm Instat has come out with a report that says the market for personal media players will remain 'disappointing'.

From their press release:

A recent report by In-Stat found the following:
  • Early adopters will remain the primary market for PMPs this year
  • The mass market is not yet willing to pay the hefty price tag for PMPs, which is approximately $400 to $500.
  • PMPs are competing with other converged devices such as handheld gaming devices, smarter PDAs, and portable DVD players
  • By 2009, In-Stat forecasts that worldwide PMP shipments will reach 7.5 million units.

The report title Video Content Availability Will Be A Key Factor in Portable Media Player Growth basically is an admission that PMPs are currently a device without a use. Think about it, whats the point of going through the hassle of ripping a video off a DVD to watch it on an awkward iPod type device that is more expensive than a portable DVD player hmmm.

In addition video is an immersive format so the scope to use it is less than listening to audio devices like the Apple iPod.

So it looks like iRiver won't be selling all that many PMPs, even with a fine young lady draped across the screen like the picture above.
Jargon Watch

Chigger - Young people in Hong Kong who wear hip-hop clothing, listen to mainstream R&B and idolise triad movies. Kind of a Kowloon Chav. Courtesy of the Future Laboratory summer newsletter.