3 Aug 2012
Published by Penguin PressWorldCat • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder
A marvellous exploration of a research and innovation powerhouse that, even viewed from this age of innovation, surprisingly anticipated many approaches we think of as modern breakthroughs.I’ve long admired Bell Labs and feel that many of its researchers and innovations interacted with an impacting my own career. While in University, the notion of working with or at Bell Labs was the highest aspiration for top thinkers in many fields. The Idea Factory is an engaging read and showed me how limited my understanding of that institution really was.
First of all, from the 1920s to the 1980s, it was way ahead of its time as an agent of innovation. The approaches were brilliant and could be applied today, including the notion of building architecture and organization structures to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration. Breaking down “knowledge silos” …
16 Jul 2012
If you are in any way connected to this story, see link to event invitation at end of this post.
In August 1972, just before the start of fall classes, a new arrival was causing a stir in the Math & Computer building at University of Waterloo – a brand new Honeywell 6050 mainframe size computer running GCOS (General Comprehensive Operating Supervisor) and TSS (TimeSharing System). The arrival of this computer (which quickly got nicknamed, “HoneyBun” and eventually “The ‘Bun”) set the stage for a whole new generation of computer innovators at University of Waterloo and was the foundation for many a computer and internet innovator.
In retrospect, it was a fortuitous time to be young and engaged in computing. A fluid group of enthusiast programmers, “The Hacks” (a variant of the term “Hackers” popularized by MIT, yet not to be confused with the later “Crackers” who were all about malicious security breaches), revelled in getting these expensive machines (yet by today’s standards underpowered) to do super-human feats. The early 1970’s was the decade when software was coming into its own as …
1 Jul 2012
Published by HarperCollins WorldCat • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder
I’ve always had the luxury to work in jobs in which I’ve had great passion for the core mission. I’ve come to realize how rare that is. And, with the twenty-first century making career and personal choices an ever more complex labyrinth, that fact is indeed a shame.
14 Jun 2012
Today was a banner day for announcements involving a reset of the technology funding ecosystem in Canada.
For a long time, the slow demise of Canadian Venture Capital has concerned me deeply, putting us at an international disadvantage in regards to funding and building our next generation of innovative businesses. You may recall my 2009 post Who Killed Canadian Venture Capital? A Peculiarly Canadian Implosion? which recounts the extinction of almost all of the A round investors working in Ontario.
Since then, many of us have worked to bridge the gap by building Angel Networks, including Golden Triangle AngelNet (GTAN), where I chair the Selection process and using extreme syndication and leverage to replace a portion of the missing A rounds.
Today, the launch of Round 13 Capital revealed a new model for venture finance centred around a strong Founder Board whose members are also LPs, each with a “meaningful” investment in the fund. My decision to get involved was based both on this strongly aligned wealth of operating wisdom coupled with the clear strength of the core team.
The launch …
3 Apr 2012
It is notable that much of the recent trend towards Social Innovation has come from people who began their careers in technology startups, in Silicon Valley or other technology clusters. Some notable examples include:
Bill Gates, partly at the instigation of Warren Buffet who added his personal fortune to that of Gates, left Microsoft, the company he built, to dedicate his life to innovative solutions to large world issues such as global health and world literacy through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Started by Paul Brainerd, Seattle-based Social Venture Partners International is innovating at the intersection of technology and venture capital, with Venture Philanthropy. Paul sold Aldus Corporation (an innovator in desktop publishing applications, including Pagemaker) to Adobe in the mid 1990s. In his mid-40’s at the time of the Adobe acquisition, he was young enough to seek a significant and active social purpose in his life.
Jeffrey Skoll, a Canadian-born billionaire living in Los Angeles and an early employee of eBay, has numerous activities aimed at Social Innovation including Skoll Foundation, Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship and Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. Most of his initiatives …
5 Jan 2012
First of all, I would like to congratulate Phil Deck, Michael Harris and the entire team for finding both a fabulous new home for MKS, but also one which represents a significant strategic financial transaction, valuing MKS at just over 4 times estimated FY2011 sales.
Many people have asked for my perspective. In short, I continue to view the acquisition as favourable to customers, employees, Waterloo and its shareholders. To delve further, this article, written from my own perspective, gives both background and some lasting observations and universal lessons from MKS.
1 Jan 2012
Dennis MacAlister Ritchie (1941-2011) – My Inspiration by a Great Man Who Quietly Shaped an Industry
NOTE: The intrusion and profusion of projects in my life, has prevented blogging for some time. As 2011 draws to a close, I thought I needed to make an effort to provide my perspective on some important milestones in my world.
Back in October, when Rob Pike posted on Google+:
I just heard that, after a long illness, Dennis Ritchie (dmr) died at home this weekend. I have no more information.
I trust there are people here who will appreciate the reach of his contributions and mourn his passing appropriately.
He was a quiet and mostly private man, but he was also my friend, colleague, and collaborator, and the world has lost a truly great mind.
Although the work of Dennis Ritchie has not been top of my mind for a number of years, Rob’s posting dredged up some pretty vivid early career memories.
As the co-creator of UNIX, along with his collaborator Ken Thompson, as well as the C Programming Language, Dennis had a huge and defining impact on my career, not to mention the entire computer industry. In short, after years as a leader …
14 Oct 2010
Published by Key Porter Books WorldCat • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder
Having met Howard Burton a number of times and getting to know his clear focus and overarching personal candour, this book presents a very personal story of building the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) in Waterloo, ON. Overall, what emerges is a rare synergy between two remarkable individuals, Mike Lazaridis the philanthropist and Howard Burton charged to define and implement the fledgling Institute, who were singularly unafraid to break all existing rules and assumptions around what a Physics Institute should be like.
3 Aug 2010
“How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm” (excerpt) by Andrew Bird
Oh, how ya gonna keep ’em down? Oh no, oh noOh, how ya gonna keep ’em down?How ya gonna keep ’em away from Broadway?Jazzin’ around and painting the town?How ya gonna keep ’em away from harm?That’s the mystery
This week, my 18 month old Blackberry finally bit the dust. Out of this came a realization that led me to the challenge I issue at the end of this post.
Please don’t view my device failure to be a reflection on the reliability, or lack thereof, of Blackberry handsets. Rather, as a heavy user, I’ve found that the half life of my handsets is typically 18 to 24 months before things start to degrade – indeed, mobile devices do take a beating.
The obsolescence of one device is, however, a great opportunity to reflect on the age-old question: What do I acquire next? That is the subject of this posting, which focuses on the quantum changes in the mobile and smartphone market over the last couple of years.…
10 Apr 2010
“Nature is by and large to be found out of doors, a location where, it cannot be argued, there are never enough comfortable chairs.”– Fran Lebowitz
I’m a believer that Location Based Services (LBS), coupled with the latest smartphones, will evolve a number of indispensible, and unexpected, killer applications.
That said, it’s pretty clear that those mission critical applications remain to be found. Essentially, the whole LBS opportunity, is a social experiment that early adopters are collaboratively helping to clarify.
It was with those thoughts in mind when I decided to start using some of the popular LBS social media applications, or should I say social games? These included FourSquare, Yelp and Gowalla.
Let me put this in context of other social media applications with which I’ve experimented. Back in 2007, I decided to try microblogging service Twitter, that was then in its infancy, I had low expectations. In fact, I expected to hate it, but mentally committed to give it a two week trial just for the purposes of self education. Over 3 years later, I’m still using it, love it and have …