Thursday, June 26, 2008

Surf and turf!

Following up on a recent post, word is out today via a story in the Los Angeles Times that Chrysler Corporation will soon have Internet capability as an option in its 2009 model cars. The article says:

"UConnect Web is an extension of the company's UConnect system, which provides Bluetooth connectivity for cellphones and MP3 player integration with the car stereo. Rival Ford provides similar services, but without Web access, in its popular Sync system. With the added Internet connectivity, drivers and passengers will be able to get such devices as laptop computers and Nintendo Wii consoles online. As to what users can download while in the car, Chrysler's Leung said anything was fair game. "There are no limitations in content," he said."

Aside from the obvious safety worries, what else does this mean for drivers and passengers? For in-car media usage? For dash-top or built-in GPS? Even for ham radio?

Many amateurs are already equipped to access their home stations remotely via Internet hookups (though some get pretty Rube-Goldberg-esque with their Skype audio links and more). Will this finally give us the ability to hop on 20 meters during the morning commute, using full legal power, a 90-foot tower, and full-sized monobander...all from the car?

I'd be interested in your thoughts on the coming ubiquity of the web.

Don N4KC

Saturday, June 14, 2008

We Can't Even Handle Geologic-Speed Change

When we talk about how people react to change, we assume we are discussing--and on this blog our mission is supposed to be!--rapid technological change. But how can we expect them to accept a doubling of scientific knowledge every five years if they can't handle the concept of natural, long-term, climate cycles? Change that occurs over thousands of years?

You guessed it. I'm about to wade into global warming.

This was precipitated by (pun intended) a post on the excellent weather blog under the direction of James Spann. James is not only the Birmingham, Alabama, TV market's best-known and most highly-respected weathercaster, but he is also a long-time ham, WO4W. Though many fuss when he interrupts their favorite programs with continuous dangerous-weather coverage, he has saved many lives over the years by doing so. Seems like a reasonable trade-off to me!

James has caught quite a bit of heat lately for his common-sense comments about Al Gore's global warming campaign. A representative from the Weather Channel even proclaimed he should lose his certification from whatever high-level organization certifies weather forecasters...all because he maintains warming of the planet is nothing more than the natural cycle of things. On Earth, we are either in an ice age, warming up from one, or cooling down for the next one.

The post on his blog that I read this morning is mostly a replay of an article on another web site by John Coleman. John was, ironically, one of the founders and early stars of the Weather Channel. He makes some very intriguing points about the hysteria surrounding the supposed calamitous heating of our planet, all caused by the emissions from our beloved automobiles. Regardless of which side of the debate you are on, it is an interesting read.

Of course, I couldn't help but chime in so I posted some comments on Spann's blog. There are some things so obvious you would think they did not have to get their own bullet points, but I suppose not. So:

– You can sell far more books, movies and speaking engagements with a crisis than you ever could with naturally occuring phenomena. As always, follow the money!

– As mentioned by James and others, people have short memories. We tend to see things in our own limited little area of time and space. Weathercasters perpetuate things when they say, “The high today will be 90, and that’s ten degrees above average for this date.” “Average” is determined by taking the high temperatures for this day all the way back to when recordkeeping began, adding them together, and dividing by the number of days we are considering. Not only does that ignore millions of years of history, but it is a math exercise that smooths out a lot of temperature extremes!

– People want simple answers to complex problems. Just like they expect murders to be solved and wars to be won in sixty minutes–less commercials–they want to be able to solve any perceived crisis in a simplistic way. If we stop driving cars and using electricity, the polar bears will survive and New Yorkers won’t be paddling rowboats down Broadway.

Is every one of the folks on the other side of this issue only in it for the buck? No, I think most are sincerely worried about what they believe to be the truth. Are others in it for the notoriety or for the money? No doubt about it. Those are the scoundrels who should be ashamed of themselves.

The rest of us, though, should step back and broaden our perspective. This whole thing would be comical if it didn’t also mean the ensuing hysteria may have far more negative impact on society than the “crisis” we are supposed to be hysterical about.

How are we going to handle REAL change if we can't understand something as slow as climate evolution?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Follow the $$$$$

We have seen the birth of a totally new medium in our lifetime. Now it is fascinating to many of us to watch it grow, morph, and evolve into something much more powerful than we could have ever imagined. A little over a decade ago, I'd say 90% of us had little idea of what the Internet was, let alone what its potential would be. I remember thinking, "How are they going to make money on this thing?" See, it has to make money or it won't be a factor, right?

(That was especially true of Google. There were no ads on the main page! No banners! How were these goofy nerds planning on making money with this thing? Shows what a visionary I was!)

Now, it appears the Internet is poised to become the second largest advertising medium (read: "money maker") of them all, second only to that vast, all-encompassing category called "direct marketing." A recent article in MediaPost, an ad industry trade mag, says:

"According to a recently released study by IDC, the U.S. Internet Advertising 2008-2012 Forecast and Analysis, overall Internet advertising revenue will double from $25.5 billion in 2007 to $51.1 billion in 2012. During the forecast period, Internet advertising will grow about eight times as fast as advertising at large. The Internet will go from the number 5 medium all the way to the number 2 medium in just 5 years, says the report, making it bigger than newspapers, bigger than cable TV, bigger even than broadcast TV, and second only to direct marketing.

"Video advertising will be the principal disruptor of Internet advertising during this time, as its revenue grows sevenfold from $0.5 billion in 2007 to $3.8 billion in 2012 at a compound annual growth rate of 49.4%. Brand advertisers will shift significant amounts of money into video commercials, primarily from broadcast television and to a lesser extent from cable television.
Karsten Weide, program director, Digital Media and Entertainment, says 'What will (help) drive this trend is that consumers are starting to realize that, as opposed to TV, Internet video lets them watch what they want, when they want, and increasingly, where they want.'"

One point I think the article misses is that a considerable amount of that "video advertising" will be delivered by -- you guessed it -- the Internet. And that along with some other signs I see lead me to believe this estimate of Internet ad growth is very, very spectacular as it is already!

Not bad for a 12-year old!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Pardon the Tardiness

As expected, it is sometimes difficult to find time to post updates to this blog. Things are happening! I've been traveling with the day job -- trips to Phoenix and San Diego, on which I did not bother to carry a radio since I knew I would have little time to use it -- and lots of meetings to begin the planning process for 2009. We really have a concentrated planning program now, not our former practice of waiting until Q4 to cobble together some numbers for Q1 of the coming year, then finishing the rest in the nick of time before the quarter started.

I operated the Alabama QSO Party this weekend for a few hours and had 67 contacts on 20 and 40. I didn't hear a lot of activity but hope there was more going on than what I could detect. I also worked several of the historical naval vessels that were on the air, mostly on Saturday. It is always a thrill to talk with the USS Batfish, which is located high and dry in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in the middle of the Cherokee Nation. That submarine was the subject of my book IN THE COURSE OF DUTY, and hers is a fascinating story -- three enemy submarines sunk in three days, as well as the remarkable tale of how she came to rest where she does today, in the former Dust Bowl, of all places. At any rate, thanks to Charlie and the guys who put WW2SUB on the air whenever they can (also one of my favorite callsigns!).

Finally, I completed the last of the corrections and changes to the manuscript for THE ICE DIARIES, the book about USS Nautilus and her voyage across the top of the world, through the North Pole, in 1958. It went to the printer Monday, June 2, and should be out in mid-July. The special event station -- N9N -- to commemorate that historic transit is still looking good to go the weekend of August 2 and 3. Chuck Motes, K1NAL, and the Navy MARS group are doing a wonderful job with all the footwork. And he sent me notice yesterday that the governor of Connecticut, Governor Rell, has declared August 3 as USS Nautilus North Pole Crossing Day in the state. The more recognition my co-author, the late Captain William Anderson and his brave crew, can get, the better.

I'll update with more as I can. Now I probably have a meeting or something...


Don N4KC