February 22, 2005

Science is cool: Intel Builds First Continuous Laser with Silicon

From Reuters via eWeek, Intel Builds First Continuous Laser with Silicon:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters)—Researchers from Intel Corp. have created the first continuous laser beam using silicon components, a development the chip maker called a major scientific breakthrough that could herald significant advances in communications and medicine.

Mario Paniccia, the director of the photonics lab, said the device could have medical applications in the years ahead, replacing large lasers used for surgery that cost as much as $50,000 each with far less expensive and smaller devices.

Paniccia said Intel is aiming to create products from its work in silicon photonics by the end of the decade.

Smaller / cheaper lasers will lead people to use lasers in new applications, probably in places where we never thought to use lasers before.

All around us the basic building blocks of technology are getting lighter, smaller, cheaper, and/or faster. Then these building blocks are combined in new ways to improve or even revolutionize the way we live. Keeping an eye out for improvements in the building blocks of our technology (like improved materials, devices, and infrastructure) can give one a “heads up” on future products and services.

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 07:46 PM

February 11, 2005

Hollywood. Original? Never!

Original Screenplays Falling by the Wayside, from the Hollywood Reporter, laments the collapse in the number of original screenplays being developed by big Hollywood studios.

But pity the working screenwriter who wants to connect to his or her muse. "There's never been less interest in an original screenplay," says Larry Gross ("We Don't Live Here Anymore"). "Now all movies are borrowed and ripped off. They want to stamp out all signs of a distinctive original voice."

The major studios have become block buster factories. Given the limited number of releases that a major studio can support, they have to try to “swing for the fences” each time. That makes them conservative, and fills the summer movie season with loads of cookie cutter fare. The economics of their distribution system almost force this upon them.

So even though several awards for original screenplays will be handed out in the next few weeks, most writers know their originals will never be produced -- instead, they use them as calling cards.

Given how hard it is to write a great movie screenplay, this is kind of sad.

"You write something original that springs full blown from your forehead in order to launch or reinvigorate your career," says Howard Rodman, dean of the USC screenwriting department. "The studios use them to figure out who's a good writer. But they don't get made. What the studios consider a studio movie has never been narrower than it is now."

There are lots of outlets for original screenplays outside of the major studios: mini-major studios, independent films, made for cable or made for TV movies, even direct to video or direct to digital productions. I have heard some writers quoted as saying that the writing on the best TV shows is “edgier” than most writing for major Hollywood movies.

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 09:26 AM

February 10, 2005

Moving Boxes

Moving Box

The last time we moved, my Mother-in-law volunteered to pre-labled our boxes This is the kind of thing we ended up with. These made it a little easier to smile during the move.

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 09:59 AM

February 03, 2005

The Value of Search Engine Optimization

Wired News published an article entitled Googling the Bottom Line. The pull quote:

Although my hunch was that the results would show benefit to cracking Google's top 30, I didn't realize just by how much. In fact, it is extraordinary. Oneupweb found that the first month a site appeared on the second or third page of Google results, traffic increased five times from the previous month, and in the second month, traffic was nine times greater. The number of unique visitors tripled when a company moved up from page two to page one, and in the second month doubled again to more than six times the traffic it received before it broke the top 10. More importantly, Oneupweb discovered a correlating impact on sales: 42 percent more the first month, and nearly double the second month.
The data is a bit self serving, coming from a company selling search engine optimization. But I believe that getting into the first page of the search listings is worth a lot to a company with a major web presence..

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 11:54 PM