A lifelong friend in New York recently told me, "Clive, I don't call you because I don't want to talk, but because I really do want to talk." The same applies to blogging on Thinklabs website - I've had so much to say that I've had to avoid the temptation to get online and write, lest it absorb all my time.
I planned to write during the design of the Thinklabs One, which took me three years of full time focus. I resisted, deciding that engineering comes before writing. I then planned to start writing when we launched the One last year. I again resisted the temptation, deciding that with a six week backlog in orders, my obligation to customers was to reproduce stethoscopes, not ruminate about them. When we caught up with demand in late 2014, Ebola struck and that became the priority of the day. I am now hoping that it's safe to venture back into blogging.
This week cannot pass by without observing the passing of a giant of the computer world. It is a rare thing for one person to touch the lives of billions of people, for one's work to have a global influence. This week I'm also in Hong Kong and spent some time at the Hong Kong Electronics Show. I can tell you that his influence is on show. So let me say a few things that you perhaps didn't know about him.
He was a giant in the programming world. He is most famous for two major contributions. The first is developing the software that runs every Apple device on the market today, as well as most of the computers that run the internet. You may not know that the same software is also the foundation for every Android device. So you could say that his work forms the foundation for every mobile device that exists today - phone or tablet - not to mentioned many...
Apple has one of it's hyper-hyped announcements set for tomorrow morning. So I'll throw in my predictions of what Apple will, might, or should announce:
Will - A cheaper iPhone. If they don't release one, they will win the luxury phone battle and lose the developing world war to Android.
Might - Subscription music service a la Spotify. I hope they don't, and they allow Spotify to capture this market. Apple should have done it years ago, instead of nickel and diming customers for $0.99 songs. Subscription music is the future, and Spotify has done a terrific job. I hope Apple's arrogance keeps them out of subscription music a couple of years longer for Spotify's sake.
Should - Announce that the Apple iOS platform is Open for hardware developers. Fortress Made for iPod doesn't work for thousands of hardware developers. I doubt they'll do this, but it sur...
The Nobel Prize for Medicine was just announced and one of the winners, Dr. Ralph Steinman, died of Pancreatic Cancer 3 days ago.
What can one say, other than this is a cruel irony - that a researcher whose life's work may save hundreds of millions of lives one day - did not survive to see the world thank him.
I would also like to note the passing of Wilson Greatbatch, a prolific inventor whose crowning achievement was the invention of the cardiac pacemaker. He died at 92, having lived a life full of invention. He apparently said that he'd "given up trying to change the world." I doubt those who wear pacemakers would agree.
It is with great sadness, but fond memories, that we note the passing of Max Harry Weil, known as the "father of critical care medicine". I wrote about him many years ago, but I'll repeat the story.
I was exhibiting the Thinklabs Digital Stethoscope for the very first time at the American Heart Association (AHA) in late 2003. The show had been exhausting, with lots of interest in our new company and product. About an hour before the end of the exhibit hours, an older man with a stick walked up and listened to the demo electronic stethoscopes we had on display.
"I'll take one now" he said.
"We don't yet have FDA approval so I can't sell you one yet" I explained.
"Oh, I know the rules. I've done lots of research. You can sell me one as a 'research device' and that'll be kosher."
I respectfully refused and promised to contact him as soon as we had them to sell....
I mentioned in a recent posting on American manufacturing, that we might see a shift from the mass-produced product to the individually-produced or custom-designed product. This trend would favor small niche US manufacturers. To use a concept form Complexity Theory, the "Fitness Landscape" will shift away from Chinese mass production.
So yesterday I picked up a Wired Magazine and the cover story is about Limor Fried and others who are doing small-run custom designs. The articles are fascinating, and I urge any of you who follow the design world to read about this new trend.
About six months ago, I decided that we're in the throes of yet another Internet Bubble. I don't recall if I blogged about it, but it has been on my mind for some time now. The New York Times has weighed in on this, with some comparisons between now and 2000. Of course we have...
Amid the turbulent and disturbing stories coming out of Japan and the Middle East, some of the most economic important news was actually made by a news organization itself. The New York Times announced that content is no longer free. From now on, readers will have to pay to read the New York Times.
I may be completely wrong about this, and the New York Times will have to back down and provide its content free of charge again. If not, March 28th, 2011 will be the day that the world learned to pay for information that "wants to be free". To quote Stuart Brand's full quotation:
On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these t...
Last week, I wrote to each of our Japanese customers, wishing you well during this difficult time. I would like to repeat those wishes here.
Over the years, many physicians from Japan have purchased Thinklabs electronic stethoscopes for teaching, research and private practice in Cardiology, Pulmonology, Internal Medicine and other specialties. I have had fascinating conversations with many of you at conferences, from senior professors to residents in training.
As you deal with this triple catastrophe of an earthquake, a tsunami, and what looks like an impending nuclear fallout threat, please know that we are thinking of you and your families each day.
Japan is a an impressive and proud country. When I visited Japan, I was amazed at the elegance and the organization, the technology and the people. From a place where every stone is placed with intention, wher...
Now that IBM's Watson computer system has won Jeopardy, IBM is moving into computer-aided medical diagnosis. I'm surprised it has taken this long.
Medical diagnosis has been moving towards more and more "evidence-based medicine" and "Algorithmic-based medicine" which tend to somewhat mechanize the diagnostic process. Last month, a physician at Harvard recently told me that medical education is moving from "knowing" to "knowing where to find information". A few years ago, a professor at Harvard told me, "We don't encourage students to know what to do, we encourage them to know what to do next. The idea that a student should be able to leap to a diagnosis is misguided." A pediatric cardiologist who studied Electrical Engineering a year ahead of me at Caltech told me that studying medicine was more about memorization than the problem-solving techniques he'd...
Over the past decade, I've been thinking about where the American economy is going, and what the next engine of growth will be. I'm having trouble foreseeing which new industry or technology will produce the tens of millions of jobs needed to maintain our standard of living.
We're now enamored of social networking, but what effect does Facebook have on our economy? Is social networking a new growth engine? Facebook employs 2000 people, so their direct employment is miniscule compared to other industries. Other social network companies have even fewer employees. The investment rationale of these internet enterprises is that the user base scales exponentially with the "network effect" but payroll does not. So on the jobs side of the ledger, social networks don't do much for the economy.
Now consider the LOSS OF PRODUCTIVITY. As of this writing, Facebook user...