Monday, April 13, 2009

In the War on Terror Bigger is not Necessarily Better

Three stories about digital spying and vandalism and the ongoing saga of the Somali pirates make me think of the American Revolution and how far we, as a nation, are from that.

First the news:
Wall Street Journal claims Chinese and Russian hackers have infiltrated the US power grid system leaving the spector of our enemies suddenly pulling the plug on our gadget crazy culture. Why bother to bomb us when we can be so easily stricken at one of our most vulnerable points? (

AT&T Broadband and Telecom Paralyzed in California Attack on Fiber Optics lines
Last week 10's of thousands of Californians had no cell phones, Internet access or 911 services because "vandals" cut a series of the fiber optic cables that not only supply Internet access but also serve as the "backbone" for many of the cell phone companies in the area including Sprint. Subsequent commentaries have show similar incidents in the past year around the country leading some to speculate that these are terrorist tests for our vulnerability.
17 year old Cyber punk infects Twitter with a worm...because he was bored.

And then there are the Pirates of Somalia (the screenplay is probably being written somewhere in LaLa Land even as you read this.) Easter Sunday was a resurrection for the US captain recently captured and a moment of judgment for three pirates who died. The drama has not ended with their deaths because the piracy continues with increasing boldness even in the face of a massive, multinational naval presence in the area. How is it that these pirate warrior clans can prey with such brazen impunity? The answer to this question and the truth that ties all them all together is utterly simple: Bigger is not better and we were the ones who taught the British.

King George's army landed on American shores believing that the undisputed might of the British Navy and Army could squelch the colonial uprising only to find that the Minutemen didn't "fight fair". Guerilla tactics defeated over-extended supply lines and armies of professional soldiers found they could not defeat an impassioned populace fighting in their backyards for the right to "live free or die". Bigger was not better.

American military might, billions of dollars and some of our finest young men and women have been spent in two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan). Those struggles have helped to bankrupt our economy, scar a generation of young and impassion some of the world's deadliest terrorists, but by no stretch of the imagination can America claim to have won these contests.

Now the battle seems to be coming to our comfortably insulated shores. 911 showed us just how patient and bloodthirsty our terrorist enemies can be. The vulnerability of our electrical power grid and its penetration by hostile foreign agents show the breadth of the internal threat. The fiber optic vandalisms, according to some reports, showed a high degree of sophistication (knowledge of the underground locations and which wires to cut), and they smack of probes by terrorist cells testing our infrastructure further. All of these threats were executed by small numbers of strategically placed, small units. Bigger definitely is not better.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Detroit: Resurrection Postponed

Ironic, isn't it? As the Christian feast of the Resurrection (Easter) approaches, a local judge has struck a blow to make sure that the city of Detroit doesn't have an even chance to rise from its ashes.

Quoting Thursdsay April, 9 Detroit Free Press:
Wayne County Circuit Judge Isidore Torres held that Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. had no power to veto the City Council's rejection of the state law creating the authority....The decision puts into doubt the $288 million that would have funded an expansion and renovation of Cobo that has been viewed as essential to preserving the city's signature event -- the North American International Auto Show.
Detroit's Queen of the Council, Monica Conyers, was ecstatic: It gave her a chance to deride Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel once again and babble on about how this keeps Cobo's assets under Detroit City Council's control. Read: Somebody was trying to cut Detroit's inner political circle out of the loot. This in a city reeling from tales of graft, incompetence, feather-bedding, bribes, nepotism and all the other earmarks of a corrupt, self-interested political machine with one goal in mind: Keep the control and the devil take the hindmost.

Detroit, now more than ever, needs a miracle resurrection that will transform this profoundly compromised political landscape into one that will become part of a regional coalition to revive this once great metropolitan era. Monica Conyers and her supporters have assured everyone who will listen that she will have no part in that unifying and healing process.

Tell us, Monica, when the North American Auto Show follows the rest of the industry out of town, exactly what will you be left to rule?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The End of the American Empire

The 20th Century was arguably the prime 100 years of American economic ascendancy. Our industry put the world on wheels, armed our forces and sent heavy equipment around the world while, among other things, our granaries fed the world. Our burgeoning middle/working classes gobbled up goods and services like there was no tomorrow, particularly after WWII. But that all changed as the century drew to a close and teetered on the brink of destruction amidst the smoke and ruin of 9/11.

We suddenly found ourselves in a world where our economic obesity was being fed by Chinese made goods, most major economic controls lay outside of our borders and our vaunted manufacturing centers were being replaced by cheap foreign labor. Greedy investment bankers put the final nails in the coffin by first feeding unreasonable expectations of continued prosperity and then avoid any accountability and bailing themselves out with help of their political cronies.

This is a new world where China suggests that the dollar is no longer a viable measure of currency while it artificially suppresses its own currency and Hugo Chavez, military dictator in Venezuela, recommends oil as the basis of economic exchange. A short 25 years ago both ideas would have been laughed off the world stage; now President Obama approached the G20 meeting of leading economies less as a rock star and more as a supplicant.

I believe our economic healing will begin with a new generation of Americans who see themselves as less entitled to the good times than they are dedicated to creating new value for global markets. My fellow members of the self-focused Boomer Generation may have to be pushed off the stage seeing how so many of us have run the economy into the ground and then taken fat bonuses. Maybe necessity will then become the mother of a whole new culture of inventive people looking over the horizon and outside the overstuffed chair that their elders have occupied.

Who do you think will lead us out of our economic swamp and into a new land of promise and opportunity and how will we get there?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Where's the paper?!

Is it coincidence that this week we have learned of a whole host of Michigan newspapers (Saginaw, Bay City, Detroit, Ann Arbor) that announced they are closing shop or reducing home delivery and going online? I don't believe in coincidences and neither do a lot of our listeners. One very articulate email crossed my desk that I want to share with you because of all the questions it raises about the changes. Our listener agreed to let me post it anonymously.

As you also know, home delivery customers typically pre-pay 6 months of subscriptions. This provides the Freep with free cash flow they don't have to get somewhere else. The time value of money is worth something, as well.

I'm a 25+ year home delivery subscriber to the Free Press. It seems that I, and other long-time customers, are being singled out as a profit problem and I just don't get it. I haven't read anything about renegotiation of the Teamsters contract nor any of the press production unions, so I'll assume that didn't happen. And, as I mentioned before, they can somehow "afford" to deliver newspaper to 18,000 retail locations, but not to home delivery carriers? I'll also assume they didn't renegotiate the debt load to cover their new presses.

So, I am left to conclude that their contracts with the home delivery carriers are the crux of the problem. But they can still "afford" home delivery a magnanimous three days a week. The old monthly subscription rate was $14 and change for 7 days a week delivery. Now it's $12 a month for 3/7 of the product. That looks like close to a 100% increase in price to me.

And no, I don't plan to read the digital free press, which presents me with an exact duplicate of the printed product. Who cares? The electronic version should be better than the printed product. is still free and is also free.

One last comment - the next time someone from the Freep appears on your show, please ask what the cost is for a full page ad in the printed newspaper. Then, have him explain how he would hope to generate that much revenue on-line. Also ask if their jump in web traffic might have had something to do with the Kwami mess.

Oh yeah, I recently retired after 28 years with Hewlett-Packard. So I am well acquainted with technology. But I just don't envison firing up my PC in the morning and staring at a screen to read the paper. I could do that now if I choose to. Don't need the Free Press to do that, which at best is no more than a barely adequate regional product but it's the only morning game in town.

What is your reaction to the changes?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Apple's Killer Application

All the fuss about the changes coming to the iPhone's 3.0 operating system missed the real "killer application": the lack of voice commands. Yep, the world's smartest smartphone is utterly stupid when it comes to using voice commands, deadly dull, I might add.

The iPhone is the first phone that has nearly caused me to lose my life and I have been using mobile phones since 1972 when I had to connect through an operator and the transmitter weighed 20 lbs. and only fit in my trunk. There is simply no safe way to use this mobile phone when you are mobile in a car. The lack of buttons means that you have to look down at the screen even to pull up your favorite numbers for speed dialing! God help anyone near you if you have to search for a contact in your address book. Heck, my treasured old Palm Treo could do that easily and still keep me alive because I could at very least FEEL the buttons and still focus on the road.

Now Apple has proudly announced their great leap forward in phones with the new OS 3.0 and one of the first innovations mentioned is Cut & Paste, one of the simplest functions in a handheld computing device. Then, to add insult to injury, they utterly ignore the one glaring safety issue for mobile users: voice commands. Yes, I know you can buy applications that try and make this work or, and this is probably the point, pay AT&T another $5/month for their clumsy version of voice dialing. This is basic mobile phone safety, Apple, get it done and keep the customer base alive!

As much as I have loved the iPhone for nearly two years, I don't know if I want to continue gambling my life on it. What do you think?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Modest Proposal for Dealing with AIG Execs Bonuses

Outrage can feel cleansing but ultimately it is rather useless. Right now public outrage is boiling over at the news that top AIG Execs will receive $165 million in "bonuses". Correct me if I'm wrong, but a bonus is supposed to be a reward for outstanding or at least above average performance. These guys are the same ones who helped torpedo the world's economy with their shady practices and are the same shameless crew that threw a big party at a posh resort to celebrate shortly after the first "bailout" payment. There was public outcry then but the party was already over by the time their self-indulgence had been discovered.

This time AIG's top dogs were caught before they divided the booty but are now claiming that they are obligated by contract to award these bonuses or the incompetent executives who have brought our economy to the brink of disaster might sue them! Again, remind me what a reward/bonus is. It appears these porkers get to waddle up to the trough and slop regardless of their performance. But I digress, back to my premise: outrage is ultimately useless.

Here is my modest proposal: Expose these managers to public scrutiny. Post the names of all AIG executives receiving any of the $165 million in the recent payoff on a public website and then let nature take its course.

Within a few hours the full addresses, email and a whole lot more information will be public knowledge thanks to "public outrage" in action. Following that, people will do whatever they want with that information, hopefully in an appropriate and legal manner... of course. I have a few suggestions, all legal and decent, but I'll keep them to myself for now.

So what do you propose we should do to these professional porkers?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's next? Apple iPod implants?!?!

Bigger isn't always better as Apple proved today with the launch of the next generation iPod Shuffle. It's so tiny it has voice prompts instead of a scroll wheel to tell you what music you are listening to. You change the songs and volume by squeezing a little device that is connected to your headphone cord. The tiny new mp3 player is no miser on space with 4Gigs of storage. The price point of $79 is perfectly timed for the runners, walkers and cyclists in the northern hemisphere who are just emerging from their dens.

In an hilarious takeoff, one snarky website showed a suppository and the new Shuffle side by side and then suggested extreme care be taken not to confuse them. Heck, I have a hard time walking and chewing gum at the same time; I'm afraid that this little iPod is so complicated to run that it has left my generation out in the cold. On the other hand, the voice instructions will be a great help to us aging boomers since our unaided eyes no longer see a lot of the smaller controls on these new-fangled devices anyway!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Teeny Tiny Apple Bytes

Never has the absence of Steve Jobs been more obvious than this week's announcement of upgrades to existing Apple computer platforms. No more special meetings for carefully chosen press friends, just a big dump of long overdue upgrades to existing systems.

Rather than go into each one of the changes and upgrades let me point you to an article in the Washington Post that summarized all of the tweaks (

What is most notable is that Apple has focused on the desktop sector of the market which has taken such a shellacking in the past quarters. The company has also stuck to their high price points at a time when those who can afford to buy are looking for REAL deals. A commentary that I have seen on a number of other blog postings suggests that when you take the same dollar amount required for the beautifully designed and very functional Macs and look at what else is available in the market, you can get a huge boost in function and features buying a PC desktop or laptop. Apple has chosen a strange time to stick to its "Apple tax"; stimulus anyone?

Where's My Netbook?

Another curious phenomenon is the continuing lack of a serious netbook (Ultra-portable computers that are high on function, small on size and weight and very easy on the pocketbook, e.g. $400 average price point.) Given the continuing success and dominance of the iPhone in the smartphone market, it would seem to be a small step up to expand the capabilities and ease of use that has marked that device (along with iPods etc.) and move vigorously into a segment that has a price point that is accessible for most people in the market for a portable computer. Steve Jobs' arrogant, "we-don't-build-junk" mantra rings rather hollow. This wasn't the other shoe dropping that many Apple fans had hoped for and one has to wonder if the company is running low on pumps at a critical time.

PC vs. Mac...Apple still the winner

Having said all that about Apple, I must add that using Vista on my new PC just makes me appreciate the stability and functionality of the Mac OS X on my MacBook Pro. It is the one safe harbor I can return to after having to reformat one more friends PC hard drive that has been raped by virus and left for dead. I don't frankly care how much of a market share Microsoft has if its all at risk because of lousy OS.

Goodbye PC Mike, Hello Pastor Mike Wendland

On a final note, I want to wish an old friend and mentor, Mike Wendland, much success in his new career as Communications Pastor for Woodside Bible Church in Troy. The church is actually a collection of fellowships that embraces nearly 6,000 people each week. Mike will be responsible for all the communications from newsletters to video productions as well as preaching frequently. Mike Wendland, by the way, is one of the finest Bible teachers/preachers I have ever listened to. We first got to know one another through the Detroit Media Fellowship that he helped found in the 90's. It met at historic Fort St. Presbyterian Church in downtown Detroit and was initially a way of gathering the many Christians at the Free Press, Detroit News and Channel 4 TV which were right across Fort St. Interestingly, Dan Mountney, a former anchor for Channel 4 TV, left his job in the late 90's to become the communications pastor for Kensington Metro church, another booming group of congregations in Detroit's suburbs.

While I know that the congregations of Woodside will be well served by Mike's ministry, we will miss his frequently witty, insightful and always informative media reviews. God bless him as he pursues the purposeful life.

Friday, February 27, 2009

My Life as a Movie Extra

First let me say that I am amazed that there are people who actually seek this type of work out with the hope that someone, somehow will notice them in a crowd and say, "Let me talk to that guy/gal over there."

In brief working as an extra for a movie means long hours (12 in my case) at minimum wage, an unpaid hour break for lunch that you have to buy and waiting and waiting to be called only to sit in the back of the scene where no one will ever be able to focus on your face.

I was fortunate to be right in the middle of two scenes with George Clooney for his upcoming movie, Up In The Air, scheduled to come out this fall. We were filming in the C concourse of Metro Airport's McNamara building which you access by descending a long escalator and then walking about 150 yards down a tunnel to rise on another long elevator to the C Concourse in the middle of the field. The first scene was shot on the moving walkways there. Clooney and a female actress who had stared in Twilight were approaching on one walkway while I was approaching on the other looking down at a newspaper in my hand.

If you have never been on a shoot (TV, video or movie) it is all about hurrying up and waiting while the crew and director constantly set and reset the lights and sound. In films this first part is done with doubles who are about the same size as the actors. All the while they are doing set up we extras were running through our routines time and time again. Then the actors step in and we probably do the same shot 12 times more. Then they change angles for another set up while we are all still in place and we go through it with the doubles and then another dozen times with the actors.

In all fairness to the crew, actors and extras, a lot of the repetition comes from stuff like the overhead announcements going off (this is a working airport), an excited woman yells out "George" just as he is delivering his lines or someone walks into a scene (Again its a working airport; can you imagine how mad you would be if you were rushing for a plane and a film crew stopped you while they went through their routine?)

A fun part of the experience is sitting around and talking with the other extras while waiting. They come from all walks of life Phys Ed instructors for grade school, an aspiring Miss Michigan who works for a PR agency, a liquor salesman, a former Channel 4 newscaster and, of course, an unemployed broadcaster. A funny and touching aspect of the day was that we had a group of 8 young men with closely cropped hair dressed in full military garb. They were so convincing that George Clooney came up to them at one point and asked them where they had served which lead to a little embarrassment and a lot of laughs. People were constantly stopping these young actors in military garb and sincerely thanking them for their service. One mother asked a couple of these guys to have a picture taken with her little boy and then told them that "You have made his day!"

My second scene with George Clooney was shot in the tram that runs overhead in the main terminal. I was standing 5 feet from him in the shot that featured him talking on a cell phone while seated in the bench across from me. If that scene is kept, look for the corner of a tan trench coat just off to his right in the distance...that's mine!

When you work on a set like this you see the incredible economic impact that a movie has on our area from Teamsters driving extras to the set, to catering companies serving the crew, 180 extras at a time (albeit at minimum wage!), lighting tech's, make up people, casting agents...the list goes on and on. There is a very real impact and we need to fight any fool in Lansing who questions the validity of this industry in Detroit. GM may be going bankrupt but Hollywood is far from it.

Ah well, it's all over for now and I will sink back into my well deserved anonymity, just another face in the real crowd. Lucky for me that I came home to a loving welcome from a very real family.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Great Vista Debacle

I recently bought a new desktop (Dell Inspiron 530, Dual Core, 2 Gig Ram, 250 Gig HD) for my home office primarily for my wife's email and as a back up computer. The old one died unceremoniously before Christmas...Hello, Santa.

I confess that most of my wounds, as far as computers are concerned, are self-inflicted and this past Sunday I decided, in a momentary but serious lack of judgment, to use the disk that came with the computer to upgrade to Vista (Business). I really prefer Vista's layout and even some of the security functions (not the accursed UAC!) and, after all, Dell had included it with the machine so it must be OK! NOT!

After a relatively long (60+ minutes) to install Vista without any error messages, I rebooted the machine and was presented with the friendly log in screen. As soon as I logged on the machine gave me a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) and an error message I had never seen before. It was all downhill after that, nothing would work, not even Safe Mode with Networking (allows you to connect to the Internet while in Safe Mode.) DESPAIR!

I spent the rest of the next three days trying to Google the answer with little result, emailing Tom Diroff and Ed Rudel, our two tech experts from our computer show and spending over an hour on the phone with my own personal help desk, i.e. Ed, all to no avail. After sleeping on the couch a couple of nights (Ginny was not happy with my tinkering) I decided to simply do a complete clean install of Vista and then restore her data which I had saved on an external drive. Even that proved to be full of grief because the new Vista was pretty much without most of the key drivers needed because it was supposed to be an upgrade installation over Win XP. So I had to manually restore many of the drivers from the disks that Dell supplied with the machine, e.g. the drivers for the DVD player so that I could install the other programs like my printer software.

The moral of the story? If it ain't broke, don't fix it! I do have to say that I much prefer the new Vista system, even with its problems and Ginny doesn't seem to notice the difference since she only uses Outlook 2007 which looks exactly the same.

At least I'm off the couch...for the time being.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Multi-tasking Inauguration

I just couldn't help myself, it was too much of a temptation. During Tuesday's inauguration, CNN streamed the ceremonies online in conjunction with Facebook. On my computer screen was a flash video window with the CNN reports and the proceedings while on the right hand side of that same page was a panel that allowed me to see either what my friends were posting about the event or switch to see what everyone was saying. It was a remarkable experience, kind of like standing on the Mall in Washington, DC, waiting for the show to begin and striking up a conversation with the people around you about the event. The only problem was that I eventually got to talking to half a dozen people at one time and began to lose track of the event itself.

Soon the whole multi-tasking thing got way out of hand. I had the TV on in the living room to record the event for my wife Ginny, a TV on in the office with me (because I discovered that CNN/Facebook coverage lagged behind the real event by 30 seconds) to follow the event as it happened, the CNN/Facebook coverage on my computer (muted because it was behind) and in the meantime I was trying to install Vista on my wife's computer! I'm afraid that I probably missed some important parts of the inaugural address but I figured that I would catch it later.

It amazes me that my grandchildren somehow manage to accomplish a lot of things while doing many things at once. I discovered through all this that I am simply not up to multi-tasking more than two things at one time, such as walking and chewing gum while the world around me Twitters itself into a cloud of ADD oblivion.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hail to the Chief

What a remarkable confluence of history: The inauguration of the first African American president of this country following the remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King's valiant struggle for just such a moment. I can imagine Dr. King and St. Peter leaning on one of Heaven's parapets looking down on the events Tuesday morning when suddenly the gatekeeper of glory nudges Dr. King and says, "See, I told you, we shall overcome."

May the "we" truly be all of us as we put aside political divisions, racial mistrust and economic differences to once again stand as "We the People of these United States...", committed to raising one another up and stepping over the threshold of fear and indifference to apply our considerable skills to "bearing one another's burdens."

I invite you to join me and take a moment and pray for our new president and his coworkers for wisdom, courage and decisiveness. Then let us ask God to show us"... not what our country can do for us, but what we can do for it."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jobless in Appleland

Pardon me if I don't shed a tear or phone my broker to dump my Apple shares (as if I could afford them!) Apparently Apple's own Elvis has left the building. Steve Jobs, a brilliant innovator, resuscitator of the Mac fortunes and all around promotional genius is taking what some believe his final leave of absence from the company he made enormously profitable. The rationale that is being given is that his "hormone imbalance" is much more serious than imagined and that he needs the time off to get well. Lest I sound callous, let me say I sympathize with Steve and his family as they go through this trial again and hope that he recovers completely.

Now, on to the main point, what is Apple going to do to keep its creative process that has produced some of the most exciting and trend setting devices imaginable going without "the man"? I don't think the real issue is whether Apple can survive without Steve or not but whether it can grow up in time to become a self-sustaining purveyor of digital excellence.

I have lived in a country that was run by a dictator for many years and then freed by the democratic process. One of the most insidious effects of that dictatorship, however, is that it leaves a whole generation of people enslaved internally. Conversations constantly surrounded how much "safer" things had been when the military ruled the country and people were summarily executed for stealing a loaf of bread. At least in the public eye, it seems that this same attitude exists with the benevolent dictatorship of Steve Jobs. "Things were so much better when Steve was in charge. What will we do now?" How about think for yourselves and keep Apple moving in the right direction...ahead with or without Mr. Jobs.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New year, new computer

Well that seems to be the way that it goes with my life! In 2007 a cup of tea executed my trusty Dell Inspiron laptop and I replaced it with my MacBook Pro 15". This year old age finally did in the motherboard on desktop that Computer Builder's Warehouse (remember them?) custom made for me on our show around 2003. I had been getting close to maxed out on the 60 Gig hard drive and the old processor kept shutting down mysteriously until one day it started no more.

So it was time to go shopping. I had been thinking about buying an iMac 20" or 24" all-in-one desktop but I simply couldn't afford the "Apple Tax". No matter what other Mac Boys and Girls may tell you, generally speaking, comparably equipped PC's are at least 20% cheaper than their pretty Apple counterparts. I know that this is heresy but more and more of us former Windows folks who switched are saying it and even the great Leo Laporte admitted to it on one of his podcasts this past year.

Being short on cash, I made a pilgrimage to Micro Center in Madison Heights where my friendly salesman, Jeff Kurz, suggested I look at the Dell Inspiron 530 desktop which was on sale for $399. So I gave up my Mac dreams and went for the PC! The machine is basically my wife's for email, documents and the occasional picture. I also use it for back up of some key programs such as my Pro Tools LE recording software.

Here are the specs: Dell Inspiron Dual Core 2.20 Ghz processor, 2 Gig Ram, 250 Gig Hard Drive, DVD RW, Card reader ports, Win XP Pro (upgrade disk to Vista Home Premium included).

So far it has been a pretty fast little machine and real pleasure to work with. The only problems I am having right now are trying to get the Documents and Settings from the old hard drive. Problem: it's just the hard drive, the computer died and I hooked it up externally to the new machine with a USB drive. I just can't get my wife Ginny's or my Contacts to switch over. Any suggestions?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Consumer Trends in 2009

Netbooks: These smaller than normal (9-12 screens) computers are fast becoming the growing edge of computer sales according to some market analysts. Portability, battery life and most of all a modest price point make them extremely attractive to a public already indoctrinated into handheld computing with the iPhone. Big question: Will Apple get on board with their own netbook (perhaps a larger version of an iPhone/iPod Touch?)

Get ready for Windows 7, Microsoft’s new generation of operating system if only because Redmond has got to shift the focus from its much maligned Vista OS even if Win7 is the same thing under the hood. No more dawdling, Mr. Ballmer; put up or shut up in 2009.

Feast on Memory (RAM) and Stock up on Storage (Hard Drive). Prices on both RAM for your CPU and Hard Drive space have dropped like the stock market. Why not save some money and just juice up that old computer? Find out how much memory your computer can use (remember that 32 bit machines can only use a little more than 3 Gigabytes of RAM); I recently bought 4 Gigs of RAM for my MacBook Pro for around $60. Look for quality in the hard drives but buy big and back up! Prices are so low! ( The cost per gigabyte of memory in Feb. 2000 for a 20 GB Fujitsu hard drive was $19.73/GB. In April 2005 a Western 250 GB sold for $1.15/GB and right now a Western My Book 1 Terabyte (1,000 Gigabytes) sells for $.18/GB.

The impact of a tech-savvy president will be felt far and wide. Soon-to-be President Barak Obama is a child of the electronic age and is completely comfortable communicating in that format. What impact will this have on political life and our national future? Probably not much to start with but what happens when Pres. Obama is stymied by Congress and takes his case to YouTube or social networking sites to make his point to the American people directly?

Telcom feeding frenzy. Expect the few remaining, giant telcom players to start squeezing consumers for higher rates, e.g my wife just got a text message on her ATT phone inviting her to activate text messaging so that she could be charged $.20/message incoming and outgoing. Parents, watch out for those exploding phone bills when your teens start tapping incessantly to keep in touch with their many BFF’s. A major cable company is “bragging” about a $24/month local digital phone call plan! Vonage offers the whole country and a few of our neighboring nations for about the same price. I predict that one of the major telcoms will gobble up Vonage soon and silence it so that they can reduce competition and wring the most out of the customer. Long live capitalism!

Are you my “friend”? Social networks sites will start having a deeper and deeper penetration into the culture first as baby boomers with time on their hands join Facebook to see the grandchildren who are often spread all over the country because of scare jobs. Secondly, because finding work is all about who you know and not so much what you know, professional networks like LinkedIn, Plaxo and Pulse will become the place to find new jobs, clients and colleagues.

What are your predictions?