Category Archives: Uncategorized

How Making Hardware Drags Software Companies Down

It looks as if it will be a bad day on the stock market for Microsoft, Google and Apple. As I am writing this Microsoft’s stock price has dropped almost 10%. Microsoft took a $900 million charge to write down inventory of the Surface RT, a tablet that no one seems to want. Apparently Microsoft has six million unsold units. There are so many things wrong with this device that I couldn’t list them; suffice to say that it is not the “iPad killer” that it was intended to be.

Google is down over 3% this morning, which still has the stock price close to $900. For the second quarter of 2013 Google had net revenues of $14.1 billion, certainly nothing to sneeze at. But the Motorola division, which had revenues of close to a $1 billion, had an operating loss of $342 million. That should turn around with the eagerly anticipated release of the Moto X phone. In a recent ad, Motorola calls the Moto X the “first smartphone that you can design yourself.”

Apple meanwhile is down just under 1% today, having the best day of the three companies. But there are concerns about the timing of the iPhone 5S and about Apple’s ability to compete for phone sales in emerging markets.

Simon Wiesenthal: The Search for Justice

Simon Wiesenthal

The second in a series of classes on Jewish Heroes and Heroines, this class focuses on the life and accomplishments of Simon Wiesenthal.

Born in 1908 in Austria, Wiesenthal would be sent to a series of concentration camps, including Janowska, Plaszow, and Mauthausen. Although he had been starved to a weight of only 99 pounds at the time of his liberation, Wiesenthal would survive and begin working for the U.S. Army, gathering documentation for Nazi war crime trials. He is credited with the capture of Karl Silberbauer, the Nazi responsible for the arrest of Anne Frank and the capture of Franz Stangl, the one-time commandant of the Treblinka and Sobibor death camps. Wiesenthal also founded the Jewish Documentation Centre, which collects documentation about war crimes and criminals.

Wiesenthal was also honored as a humanitarian, receiving numerous awards that included the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal from the U.S.; the Legion of Honor from France; the Jerusalem Medal and the Liberta Gold Medal from Israel; and the World Tolerance Award.

Please join us for this man’s remarkable story.

 

 

 

Thank You, Cory Doctorow

The end of the year is always a time of reflection for me, of looking back over the past and thinking about the reasons to be grateful. One of the big things for me, and for my family, this past year was getting to meet Cory Doctorow in person.

I have been a fan of his for a number of years, ever since someone recommended that I read his novel “Little Brother.” I really wish I could remember who that was. After the first book, A Place So Foreign and Eight More, Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Eastern Standard Tribe, Makers and For The Win soon followed. But there was more.

While I still worked at Stardock, Zubaz and I found that we shared the pleasure of reading Cory’s stories. One night, I wrote Cory a note of thanks…and he responded! Almost immediately. I can’t tell you how cool I found that!

I couldn’t wait to tell my kids. One thing led to another and soon we all began to share and enjoy his works. (One day, if I am really lucky, my son will give me back my copy of Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town – at least that is my hope.)

Over the months and years, Cory and I have exchanged emails and I have included my kids in the correspondence. My reasons have been twofold- Cory is exactly the kind of person, with the kind of vision, that I think is important to share with your children; and it makes me seem marginally cooler, you know for a parental type figure, that I know him. Sort of. Which brings me to the next point.

This past September, I received a note that Cory would be speaking in Ann Arbor, as part of the Penny Stamps Lecture Series panel on Futurology. I emailed my daughter and we made plans to go. We both enjoyed the first part of the presentation, which was held in the Michigan Theater, a large space that filled up pretty much completely. But after that, there was a smaller session. We got to sit front row. I was wearing my best “Talk Nerdy to Me” t-shirt, a shirt I bought after reading Cory’s short story, “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth.”

Cory was signing books afterwards. When we came up with our copies of Little Brother (my daughter Lauren) andMakers (that was for me) I introduced myself and Lauren and Cory greeted us both warmly. He spoke with us and was a true gentleman.

As we were leaving, my daughter said to me “That was the coolest thing in my life.” I have to tell you, I walked the rest of the way slightly above the ground.

It is truly wonderful that there are still people so warm and so truly courteous in the world.