By Michael Mulvey on March 2, 2015 2:21 PM
—overheard this weekend
—overheard this weekend
This week Michael (little Mike) and Bryan are joined with special guest Michael Mulvey Sr (Big Mike). Big Mike recounts his experiences at AT&T in the '70s & '80s including his work with DARPA, the first fiber optic networks and all sorts of other nerdy stuff like propagation delays and attenuation standards. Big Mike also explains why your land line telephone (usually) never goes down when the power goes out. Michael and Bryan also discuss the films Boyhood and Dazed and Confused, as well as best practices in project management.
I finished my taxes & I'm getting a fat refund, so here's a tax-themed palindrome:
Great answer to a Quora question: What was it like to deliver a presentation to Steve Jobs?
We were in a meeting one time, and Steve commented on how much he hated the 'wart' that was the external iSight camera. I said, "I can make it internal." Steve asked how long it would take to have a prototype ready. My team worked on it (with many other teams both software and hardware), and we developed a prototype. We had the demo set up and ready to go for the next day. The only 'glitch' we had not anticipated was one of the software guys upgraded the OS on the machine AFTER we had run through the demo and felt it was ready. So the next day when we showed it to Steve, there was a color shift in the video we had not seen the day before. He asked why, and the software engineer spoke up and said he had updated the OS and it probably changed the gamma settings. Steve I think was more amused, and just said, "Get things right, and show it to me again."
Another time, I was presenting a feature for Motion I came up with. Real-time, green-screen, high-definition chroma-keying in software. Steve asked me in the presentation if another company could come up with this feature. I said, "Well, since I thought of it, I imagine someone else could come up with the idea, but it is rather unlikely that they could solve it the same way I did." (By the way, the 'peanut gallery' of VPs and Directors standing behind Steve tried to tell me how to answer Steve's question. The problem was, half of them were nodding yes, and the other half were shaking their heads no.) Steve decided that since it was hard to duplicate, that instead of going for a patent on it, we were going to keep it a trade secret. And as far as I know, no one has been able to duplicate the real-time, green-screen, high-definition chroma-keying feature in software... (the key being real-time).
I find these glimpses inside Apple fascinating.
The new Pebble Time smartwatch launched on Kickstarter and has raised $5 million dollars in half a day.
Fast Company is labeling it as "the battle" against Apple and Andoid smartwatches.
Not quite. At least not for Apple.
The Apple Watch is going to start at $349 and go up $10,000 (at least) for the 18K gold version. Pebble's watch is under $200.
While I'm sure there's quite a bit of overlap between people who backed the Pebble Time and people who want an Apple Watch the target markets are different. Pebble Time sales won't affect Apple Watch sales very much the same way Honda Civic buyers don't influence BMW buyers—even if those BMW buyers are buying "entry level" models.
My first impression of the Pebble Time is how awful the hardware looks. My second impression after watching the video is how fun and thoughful the interface and animations are.
—Buddy Guy's mother to Buddy, heard onSonic Highways
I've lost track of the 1960s. At least its chronology. It's not a matter of Puff the Magic Dragon, but the decade seemed scrambled even as it was happening. No narrative; all abstract montage. Everything used. But not much signed. More than all the flowers gone. In my case: a book, a friend, a girlfriend. I never sent the letter I wrote--but then, neither did she.
The summer after the afternoon when I had been looking at John Sloan's painting in the Gaslight Tavern, I am sitting in McSorley's "Wonderful Saloon" on East Seventh Street just off Third Avenue in New York City--not far from The Cooper Union.
It is my first trip to Manhattan, and I have already discovered that the A-Train is more than track three on my Columbia Record Club LP; that there is a hospital with the same name as a lip-kissing, candle-burning American poet; that the White Horse Tavern has (not unlike our Gaslight Tavern) a used bookstore (more than one) close by; and that Henry James's Washington Square is my Washington Square--at least mine because that summer I am living in an apartment facing the east side of it.
I lived two blocks down from McSorley's (at 100 East 7th Street) from 2000 to 2005. It's a special place in NYC and I've shared many, many, MANY light & darks with friends there.
This week Michael and Bryan discuss Bryan's computer woes (again), Palm V's and Dope Wars, dirty snow in NYC, Apple's supposed plans to make a car, self-driving cars, subways, Bill Murray, and the Oscars. The episode opens with the exhaust from a 1970 Ford Gran Torino King Cobra Boss 429.
Dan Akerson, who ran General Motors for less than three and a half years, issued a stern warning to Apple this week against making a car. In an interview with Bloomberg, he noted that making cars was hard. "A lot of people who don't ever operate in it don't understand and have a tendency to underestimate," said Akerson, who has held no other executive positions in the automotive industry. "They'd better think carefully if they want to get into the hard-core manufacturing," he said of Apple. "We take steel, raw steel, and turn it into car. They have no idea what they're getting into if they get into that."
This sounds very similar to what former Palm CEO Ed Colligan said about Apple's entry into the phone market in 2006:
We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,'' he said. "PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in.'
Is Apple going make it's own car? Are they going to buy Tesla?
I don't know.
I just know I'd love to be a fly on the wall in Apple's labs because they're working on some awesome stuff. Guaranteed.