The Education of Andy Grove

[via Shrikant] Fortune writes:

Grove and Intel are now embedded so deeply Inside our minds, our computers, and our culturethe man has been on 77 magazine covers, by one countthat with hindsight, their success seems foreordained. But the opposite is the case: By all odds, Intel should have failed. It should have been destroyed by the same brutal international competition that has killed apparel companies, tire companies, and television companies, or fallen into obscurity like Zilog and other successful chipmakers. Intel, too, should have stumbled on the terrifying treadmill of Moore’s Law, which requires betting billions upon billions of dollars on ever more costly factories to make chips you’re still developing for customers who’ve yet to demand them. It should have been eclipsed by an upstart competitor with a better mousetrap. Intel’s success should never have happenedit was an anomaly, an outlier, a freak.

Two-way Data Web

Jon Udell writes:

Ive gotten plenty of mileage out of XPath and XQuery, and my dream is that these XML-oriented query disciplines can be federated at large scale. But first things first: We need to create the data web. And recently, two leading figures have dropped major hints about how thats going to happen.

The first was Bill Gates, who, in a September interview, told me, the RSS data web is a natural development coming out of the acceptance of XML … and weve got some ideas internally … about making RSS work two-way.

Historically, RSS has been a read-mostly affair. There are APIs through which blogging tools can inject content into publishing systems, which then reflect it back out as XML feeds. But while the blogosphere has at last realized the vision of a two-way Web, RSS as a data transport remains largely asymmetric. Microsoft evidently wants to change that.

The second and much more explicit hint appeared a month later in Adam Bosworths ACM Queue article. Atom is both a feed format and a publishing protocol. The latter, Bosworth noted, is a simple HTTP-based way to INSERT, DELETE, and REPLACE entries within a feed.

Mobiles for the Poor

The International Development Magazine writes: “Access to mobile phones is rocketing, along with its impact on poverty.”

In rich countries, mobile phones can seem something of a mixed blessing particularly if you are stuck on a train next to a teenager with a Crazy Frog ring-tone. But in poor countries, mobile phones have no obvious downside and have already delivered remarkable benefits, in terms both of economic growth and personal empowerment. They may even enable poor countries to leapfrog over some of the traditional stages of the development process.

Some of the biggest benefits are going to the worlds very poorest people, who cannot even afford to buy their own phone handset….The anecdotal evidence from developing countries makes it obvious why the mobile phone has been such an economic boon. At its simplest, a mobile phone can allow a farmer or a fisherman to find out what that days prices are in various markets, so that he can take his goods to the market offering the best price. Already, there is evidence that the growth in mobile telephony is reducing the variations in prices between markets in poorer countries. Small businesses can more efficiently shop around for supplies. A handyman living in a village can advertise in the big town nearby for work, and travel only when he is informed by phone that there is a job available. In Nairobi, a text messaging service has been set up to alert the unemployed to job opportunities. Anything that minimizes wasted journeys is extremely valuable, more so in poorer countries with their often underdeveloped transport infrastructure (especially roads) than in rich ones.

Build-it-yourself Cellphones

[via Ambarish] writes:

Surj Patel is building his own cell phone, bit by soldered bit.

It’s not easy. It starts with parts that cost around $400. Then Patel and his partner, Deva Seetharam, have to write code to run on the tiny Linux-based computer that he’s hoping will serve as the brains of his new phone.

“I want the phone to be much more open,” Patel said. “The world’s best research and development lab is all the hackers out there. Enable them, and they’ll do it.”

TECH TALK: Peter Drucker: Managements Newton: Peter Drucker: Managements Newton: Writings

Business Week provided a summary of Druckers timeless ideas:

On Leadership: Dont ever think or say I. Think and say we. Effective leaders know they have authority only because they have the trust of an organization. They understand that the needs and opportunities of an organization come before their own needs.

On Talent: Attracting and holding talent have become two of the central tasks of management. Knowledge workers have many options and should be treated and managed as volunteers. Theyre interested in personal achievement and personal responsibility. They expect continuous learning and training. They want respect and authority. Give it to them.

On Work: Focus on opportunities rather than problems. Problem solving prevents damage but exploiting opportunities produces results. Unless there is a true crisis, problems shouldnt even be discussed at management meetings until opportunities have been analysed and dealt with. Exploit change as an opportunity, and dont view it as a threat.

On Making Decisions: Every decision is risky; it is a commitment of present resources to an unknown future. Risks can be minimized if you know when a decision is necessary, how to clearly define a problem and tackle it directly, and that youll have to make compromises in the end. You havent made a decision until youve found a way to implement it.

Rich Karkgaard provided these insights from Drucker in Forbes on leadership:

What Needs to Be Done: Successful leaders don’t start out asking, “What do I want to do?” They ask, “What needs to be done?” Then they ask, “Of those things that would make a difference, which are right for me?” They don’t tackle things they aren’t good at. They make sure other necessities get done, but not by them. Successful leaders make sure that they succeed! They are not afraid of strength in others. Andrew Carnegie wanted to put on his gravestone, “Here lies a man who knew how to put into his service more able men than he was himself.”

Check Your Performance: Effective leaders check their performance. They write down, “What do I hope to achieve if I take on this assignment?” They put away their goals for six months and then come back and check their performance against goals. This way, they find out what they do well and what they do poorly. They also find out whether they picked the truly important things to do. I’ve seen a great many people who are exceedingly good at execution, but exceedingly poor at picking the important things. They are magnificent at getting the unimportant things done. They have an impressive record of achievement on trivial matters.

Mission Driven: Leaders communicate in the sense that people around them know what they are trying to do. They are purpose driven–yes, mission driven. They know how to establish a mission. And another thing, they know how to say no. The pressure on leaders to do 984 different things is unbearable, so the effective ones learn how to say no and stick with it. They don’t suffocate themselves as a result. Too many leaders try to do a little bit of 25 things and get nothing done. They are very popular because they always say yes. But they get nothing done.

Tomorrow: Writings (continued)

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