14 June 2003

I've been sharing my computer's idle time with the University of Washington's long time scale simulation project for several months now. So it was interesting to see some of their results on aluminum surface growth. The work is interesting in part because the simulation manages to incorporate both short (femtosecond) time scale behavior like atomic vibrations, and long (millisecond) time scale processes like diffusion.

(PDF file. Adobe Acrobat Reader required.)

Posted 11:18 AM

13 June 2003

Nothing like senseless destruction of small (clay) animals to end the week on a high note.

(Flash required. Link by way of Metafilter.)

Posted 03:28 PM

I've flown no-frills airlines before, where they don't offer meal service or in-flight entertainment, just basic transportation. But Mainline Airways apparently didn't even have airplanes. Or anywhere to put them, since it operated entirely out of a college freshman's dorm room. The Massachusetts Attorney General reportedly is not happy.

(Link by way of TechDirt.)

Posted 11:23 AM

12 June 2003

I haven't yet gotten busy enough to need an assistant, but I'm getting there. The idea of a virtual assistant is very interesting, especially since I certainly don't need full time help. Comments from anyone who's tried this approach (as assistant or client) are welcome.

Posted 10:39 AM

11 June 2003

The results of the various investigations into the WorldCom mess are starting to come out, and they're about as ugly as you would expect the biggest bankruptcy ever to be. According to Dick Thornburgh, the Bankruptcy Court Examiner "has identified significant problems with respect to virtually every area reviewed, including acquisitions, strategic planning, debt management, credit facilities, loans to [WorldCom CEO] Mr. Ebbers, Mr. Ebbers' $70 million forward sale, employee compensation, and internal controls."

Keep in mind that this is only an interim report. Thornburgh says he expects to find further problems.

Meanwhile, WorldCom's own internal investigative committee demonstrates a talent for understatement when it reports that, "[In early 2000], WorldCom’s continued success became dependent on Ebbers’ ability to manage the internal operations of what was then an immense company, and to do so in an industry-wide downturn. He was spectacularly unsuccessful in this endeavor. He continued to feed Wall Street’s expectations of double-digit growth, and he demanded that his subordinates meet those expectations. But he did not provide the leadership or managerial attention that would enable WorldCom to meet those expectations legitimately."

Both these reports run to hundreds of pages. The summaries, though, should be required reading for anyone interested in managing or investing in a public company.

Posted 04:27 PM

Joi Ito has posted an extensive analysis of privacy issues arising from electronic technology. Written as part of the debate over electronic government in Japan, it includes surveys of the privacy situation in the US, Canada, and Europe. In English and Japanese.

(PDF files. Adobe Acrobat Reader required.)

Posted 10:41 AM

10 June 2003

3380 words since my last update. Spent most of the last few days doing things other than writing, so I'm a bit behind. 124,880 since January 1.

Posted 12:11 PM

The rich live in the real world just like everyone else. Which is why, James K. Galbraith argues, wealth-enhancing tax cuts that demolish government services are a false savings. "You are better off being prosperous and paying tax than going down in the first-class cabins of a sinking ship."

Posted 11:45 AM

09 June 2003

In the 1990s, Dell catapulted itself into the top tier of PC suppliers while still raking in substantial profits in a notoriously low margin business. They did it in part by using inventories to drive sales, instead of the other way around.

(Link by way of TechDirt.)

Posted 11:56 AM


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