Sunday, March 25, 2007

Silicon Wadi

I had dinner this week with a good friend from Israel's tech industry. We were reminiscing about the history of tech in Israel. How in the 80's there was nothing. In the 90's people would say, "Israel has great technology, but they have no idea how to market it". And suddenly overnight, in our new as as yet unnamed Millenium, American companies are buying more Israeli companies than they're buying from any other foreign country. Israel has become a high tech powerhouse. Intel's most important new processors, the ones that run laptops, are developed in Israel. Qualcomm's most important technologies, Cisco's newest stuff, all this is developed in Israel. Israel has more companies on the NASDAQ than any foreign country with the possible exception of Canada. And Israeli companies are now perceived as having BETTER marketing savvy than their American counterparts, especially when selling in Asia. Amazing stuff. When did all this happen???

So just like the Bay Area has its Silicon Valley, and NY has its highly over-hyped Silicon Alley, Israel has its much under-hyped Silicon Wadi. It kinda makes me proud.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Daylight Savings Time Bug...

The famous Y2K bug never materialized, but on the other hand, the Daylight Savings Time (DST?) bug is still with us.

A few days before this year's premature Spring Forward Sunday (SFS), Cingular actually called my cell phone an left and automated message telling me that I will need to manually adjust my time to accommodate the modified timing of time change. That surprised me because I know that phones get their local time data from the cell phone signal.

Still, against my best judgment, I complied. Albeit a bit late, because on Sunday morning I still managed to forget it was SFS.

Here's the thing. Within a few hours my phone reverted to the old, pre-SFS time. So I changed it again. It quickly changed back. And again. And again. This has been going on for a week and a half.

I have two theories about this bug. The first is that it's Cingular's fault. Whenever my phone polls Cingular, it gets an incorrect time reading, and that's what it shows.

The second is that the bug derives from an assumption that congress would never interfere with the timing of SFS. So the phone polls Cingular, gets a response that indicates some universal constant like Greenwich Mean Time, and calculates the local time based on location and its internal database on the timing of SFS. Which as we all know, was set forward by one month this year by special decree of congress to increase golf course revenues...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Lost and Found

A couple of days ago I rushed over to Target at lunchtime to buy a yoga outfit. I needed one because I had forgotten to take one with me, and I wanted to stop at a yoga class on my way home that evening.

I came back to the office reasonably happy with my purchase, until I realized I had left my favorite black cardigan in the Target dressing room. It was a long shot, but today, on my way home, I stopped at Target and asked if they had it in their Lost and Found.

They didn't, but they suggested that I go back to the dressing room where I had left it, and lo and behold, the woman working there (different than the one who had been there when I bought my outfit), pulled it up from behind her counter.

Truly nice.

Which brings me to my point - I seem to forget things everywhere all the time. It's not senility, I've always had this problem. But on the positive side, virtually every time it happens, I can retrace my steps in my mind and figure out where I left the item.

And once I figure that out, I will virtually always find it when I come back. There are only two significant exceptions: 1) Planes. I've left jackets on planes several times, and it's consistent, the "cleaning crew" picks it up, and I never get it back again. 2) My yoga studio, YogaWorks. Twice I forgot expensive black Manduka mats there. In both cases I remembered and went back to pick them up within 24 hours. In both cases they were gone.

I don't have a full explanation...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Muffin Tops

I'm told the term for young women squeezed into the oh so fashionable new low cut slim fitting jeans that make their bellies and hips bulge out ever so slightly is Muffin Tops on a good day, and Sausages on a bad one.

I'm feeling like a Muffin Top today.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I joined a couple of friends yesterday to see the film 300, not knowing in advance what it was or would be about - just trusting them that this appeared to be the best option out there for the evening...and I loved it. Here are the thoughts that ran through my mind as I was watching it. 1) This is a real art house movie, I'm surprised it got wide distribution. 2) this is by far the best historical epic film I've ever seen, 3) it's truly artistically brave, and 4) it feels more like a play than a film, very stylized, both in look and in words. I only found out after seeing it that 300 is based on a comic book series. This morning I read that it grossed $70M at the box office this weekend, the third highest performance on record.

So I was surprised to find on its Rotten Tomatoes page that half of the "cream of the crop", i.e., the nation's top reviewers, didn't like it. Here are a few choice quotes from these crème de la crème:

A.O. Scott of the NY Times (someone I usually do agree with): "300 is about as violent as Apocalypto and twice as stupid." Kyle Smith of the NY Post: "Keeping in mind Slate's Mickey Kaus' Hitler Rule -- never compare anything to Hitler -- it isn't a stretch to imagine Adolf's boys at a 300 screening, heil-fiving each other throughout and then lining up to see it again." Stephanie Zacharek of "300, even with its impressive vistas of computer-generated soldiers, is just a throwaway epic." The Newark Star Ledger: "History is inconveniently complex. And so we get Frank Miller's version, in which everything is simplified to the point of porridge."

These reviewers need to get a life. Or maybe smoke a joint or two (although for the record I didn't have anything in me when I saw it). They seem to be hung up on historical inaccuracies. They seem to judge this film by the standards of cinema verite. This movie doesn't pretend to be historically accurate. It doesn't pretend to be accurate or real. Even without knowing a priori what it was about, it clearly felt to me like a fable or a Greek myth. And a great one at that. Highly recommended by yours truly.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Would I Eat Cloned Beef?

Yesterday, at a fancy corporate staff meeting, this question came up. It's what the VP of M&A asked the other VP's while we were waiting for the CEO.

I'd meant to write about this question a couple of months ago, but let it go since I didn't feel I had a very well founded answer. But since it's obviously fallen under the official mission of this site - staff meeting talk and cocktail party talk are almost interchangeable - I've decided to weigh in.

No, I'd prefer not to eat cloned beef. And it's not because I'm that squeemish, and it's not because I don't understand that I'm already eating cloned veggies and that cloning is not the equivalent of synthetic. I do understand all that.

But here's the thing. I went to India a few years ago, and the lemons there had an indescribably wonderful aroma that I've never encountered anywhere else. Ditto for the cucumbers. Ditto for the tomatoes. I suspect that 100 years ago, vegetables and fruit in the west had similarly wonderful aromas - that is before we started breeding them.

Sure, you'll say that Indians may have wonderful vegetables, but they don't have enough of them, because they don't use the more efficient bred varieties. That may be true, but at the moment we in the West don't seem to be suffering from a shortage of beef.

So what do I think of breeding of cows? Well, I acknowledge that it's made milk and meat that much more available. I just don't think we need to add that extra element of efficiency that cloning will bring to the process. And I sometimes wish I could taste what milk and meat would be like coming from one of those unbred cows of 200 years ago, tremendously better I would bet.

And then there's that small matter of biodiversity. We think we're so smart with our cloning abilities, but I'm not convinced we really know what we'll be getting ourselves into with cloning of animals. No, I'm not afraid these animals will be dangerous to my health, it's just that I prefer to have Betty the Cow retain her odd colored coat, while Fred the bull have an unusual black spot on his nose, and I'm willing to pay extra for it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Should We Be Worried?

That's what I heard a news announcer ask today, when interviewing a christian theologian about the new documentary purporting to show evidence that Jesus was married and had kids.

Here's my take: Maybe he was married, and maybe he had kids, but no, we shouldn't be worried.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Have a Safety Trip

That’s a line from an e-mail I just got from a Japanese customer. Which reminds of another e-mail I got many years ago from a different, moderately irate Japanese customer. He wasn’t happy with the performance of an imaging system we had sold him, and asked me to please send our lead engineer over “in scrambled form”…