Small Hard Drive

News.com writes about Cornice, which has “developed a 1.5GB, 1-inch diameter hard drive for consumer-electronics devices that the company says will be cheaper, smaller and hold more data than some other mini-hard drives or flash-memory cards.”

The Cornice drive is essentially a minimalist hard drive that has been shorn of any materials not needed for portable electronics. The drive, for instance, doesn’t have its own internal, dedicated pool of memory; instead, it uses the memory shared by the rest of the device to cache data. The SE doesn’t have rails, so it can’t be removed from the host device; by contrast, the drive is planted on the motherboard, and transfers of files are accomplished through USB (universal serial bus) ports.

The 1.5-inch GB drive, which has been in volume manufacturing since mid-April, sells for $65 in quantities of 10,000. The company is aiming for $50, Magenis said. By contrast, existing standard 1-inch Microdrives from IBM sell for $219 at retail or more, while 1GB flash cards go for around $200.

Social Software and KM

Dave Pollard discuss how knowledge management could be re-invented as “social network enablement” and its impact:

What are ‘social networks’? They are the circles in which we make a living and connect with other people. They transcend strict delineation between personal and business (there’s often overlap between the two). They transcend organizational boundaries and hierarchies (we often trust and share more with people outside our companies, and outside our business units, than those inside, and often get better value from the exchange to boot). We are beginning to suspect that the essential yet elusive lesson of the PC is also the essential lesson for KM: It’s all about portability and connectivity, not about processing power or content.

Vacations – Or Not

I cannot remember when I took my last proper vacation. Maybe 10 years. I do take a few days off every now and then, but on most occasions the trips are linked with some business angle. I have seen a lot of the world though. I keep thinking I will take a few days off – go to a place with no Internet, no cellphones and with a mountain on one side, and an ocean on the other side. Just sit there and contemplate the world.

I think and then I stop! No way. I cannot imagine being away from the present world and not reading email and weblogs for more than a couple days. There is so much happening, so many conversations to follow, so many things to do. It is like we are in race – against time, ourselves, whatever. The mind is always working on new ideas – faster than we can implement. In this context, vacations are a distraction.

I find my most relaxing times when I am travelling in-flight. The one concession I have made is that when I travel internationally, I fly business class. I will take plenty of reading material with me for the flight and the airport lounge. The additional investment is well worth the returns – some of my best thinking happens in the aircraft. Long stretches of time with no interruptions. A sense of timelessness from which one cannot escape. I do not waste time sleeping in flights. That is the time to consolidate all thoughts. On earth, life has now become a string of micromoments. In-flight, life becomes a continuum.

Now I realise it. The flights are my vacations. Only that the mountains and the oceans are below, rather than on either side. And I get the clouds thrown in for free!

Weblogs and Wikis

Ross Mayfield differentiates between the two:

A weblog enables individual voice. A post reflects a person’s understanding on a given issue at a moment in time. Individual voices exist in a social context that urges continued participation. Post-to-post communication and feedback encourage continued use and sharing that otherwise occurs only in private. A weblog is a great source for what’s new and the narrative thread that got us there — a simply powerful tool for communication and publishing.

Wikis let the group voice emerge. Each wiki page reflects the current consensual understanding of a given concept.

Weblogs turn individuals into webpages while wikis turn communities into webpages.

Ross should know: his company, Socialtext, combines a wiki and a weblog.

Weblogs in IT Organisations

Phillip Windley has some food for thought, ahead of a panel discussion:

What do you hope to accomplish within your organization with your blog? What positive and negative experiences have you had?

Are you encouraging members of your organization to blog? How? How many bloggers are there in your organization?

One of the chief uses of blogs in an IT organization is narrating your work. How valuable is it for you to narrate your work. How valuable is it for you to read what others are writing?

I know of one IT organization that uses a blog format for network outage notification (along with the accompanying RSS feed). What uses do you see for the blog format beyond an individual journal?

eBay’s Success

Business Week writes:

eBay’s revenues rose 62%, last year, to $1.1 billion. That’s its cut from nearly $15 billion in gross sales from member auctions of everything from baseball cards to catering trucks. Profit growth has been accelerating, too, as earnings jumped 172% last year, to $249 million.

eBay’s success comes as much from its 31 million active buyers and sellers as from executive brilliance. Members not only decide for themselves what to trade, they also handle all the inventory and shipping, and much of the commercial interaction — which explains the company’s juicy 80%-plus gross profit margins. The secret, says CEO Meg Whitman, “is the community of users who have built eBay.”

[Meg] moved the site beyond its auction roots, urging merchants to sell at fixed prices as well as at auction. Fixed-price trade now accounts for about 26% of the site’s gross sales, attracting new kinds of buyers and speeding the pace of commerce on the site. And last year, eBay bought payment processor PayPal, whose billing software lets buyers avoid sending checks in the mail and results in instant payments to merchants.

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TECH TALK: Constructing the Memex: MyMemex (Part 2)

Page Archiver, to fetch and store pages as specified so as to ensure that articles from sites which hay restrict access at a later date can be archived locally and given a unique (local) URL for permanent reference.

Summariser, to take a page specified by the user, and create a brief summary, extracting the essential ideas from the page. This would be especially useful when doing a search. (It could also be a web service offered by MemexCentral.)

Search, which needs to be supported by a web services API to ensure not just full-text local search, but also to ensure that other Memexes can request a search. This is where the interlinkages start happening. An innovative idea proposed by Marciej Ceglowski is peer-to-peer Semantic Indexing.

Visualiser, for a better display of the Memex and its relationships. In recent times, there has been extensive development of visualising tools like Grokker, MindMaps and TouchGraph, which can represent networks in a more intuitive manner.

Digital Dashboard, to integrate all the information that is coming in on to a single screen. It can allow for a writing space to enable quick searches and additions to the blog, or an events horizon which shows the new feeds as they come in.

PIM Connector, so as to capture information from the calendar and address book. We want to make sure that there are no silos of information, so the ability to have a 2-way linkage with the likes of Outlook and Evolution will be important.

IM/SMS Integration, so that the user can receive alerts on different devices. A user should be able to set up filters on the type of events that will need to be tracked.

Trail Tracking, which can be done by either capturing the users browsing history from the local computer or via the proxy server. Being able to show the pages surfed and the trail followed is an important indication of interest and should be preserved for future reference. Think of this as a Personal Panopticon.

Google API Key, so the user can integrate and leverage searches using the web services provided by Google. By using Google as a web service, the results can be better integrated into what the user sees, rather than going off on to a separate page. The Google API can also be used to restrict searches to sites that more closely match our interests.

Whats missing in this picture? The Mirror Blog, a constantly updating view of the world and information space around us. But first, before we talk about the Mirror Blog, we will take a small detour into a remarkable concept outlined more than a decade ago.

Tomorrow: Mirror Worlds

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