value

I continue to be amazed at individuals, especially artists, who find ways to make money using unconventional business models using the hyper-connectedness of the Internet. A couple years ago the band Radiohead infamously offered up their In Rainbows album as a pay-what-you-want model. Admittedly this was a fiscally easy thing to do for a multi-million selling band but clever nonetheless.  Amanda Palmer has also been on the forefront of using these tools to sell her material. Most recently I heard an interview on Fresh Air with the comedian Louis C.K. who got tired of never seeing royalty checks from his comedy specials that would air over conventional television and cable. He’d decided to record his performance and put it for sale on his wind website, no strings or DRM attached – just pay $5.00 and it is your to download and do with as you please. The outcome flies in the face of everything the alarmist labels and big internet stores are wringing their hands over…he made a million dollars on providing content that people wanted. Don’t just try convince people that what you make is necessary for them to buy…..Make something, provide a service, whatever it is you do, if it is something people truly want, which really defines value, you can get money in return. …and the internet is a great vehicle for getting it out there, what ever it is.

mass innovation

Networking can be a lot of work. I spent the evening last night at an interesting event, Mass Innovation Nights #33. This is a monthly get-together for small/just-starting companies to talk about what they do, meet with other like individuals and generally practice their pitches. Two companies stood out of interest to me. The first was Board Prospects, which is a portal to connect organizations with individuals that have interest in and relevant experience for board positions – board of directors, advisory boards, etc. The impetus behind this is to get organizations to break through the normal “who do you know” method of boardroom recruitment and connect with what should be truly qualified candidates. ImageThe second has taken the idea of gaming, leveling up, social media experiences and applied it to bottle and can recycling. Greebean Recycle takes your standard bottle and can redemption machine and adds two great components to it: the first is a touch screen that enables you to log into an account and the second is a backend connection that gets rid of the paper receipt and enables you to upload your redemption value sot a number of sources of your choice. They have a pilot running now at MIT where students can track their recycling stats and compare them to / compete with their peers. I’m going to pay close attention to this one as I think is a great idea.

Lastly it is also good to have these events in a cool place, this time it was IBM’s Innovation Center in Waltham. A very good location for meetings like this with the presentations all set up in and around lots of historical computing displays and information.

collectable rfid

ImageBack in the 1990’s I was working for the Technology and Innovation group at the now-defunct Arthur D. Little consulting firm. At that time we were doing some work with the then nascent contact-less smart cards. Having recently discovered the multi-colored cardboard crack that is Magic: the Gathering, I thought it would be a great idea to develop a contact-less smart card version of the game where a console would be used to read and write the cards that would store all the stats about your play and the monsters and characters represented by the cards. Unfortunately the idea had already been pitched to another client so I couldn’t do any internal development for patentable IP on this one. Fast forward ten years and I am working at ThingMagic, developer of technology for reading and writing the now much cheaper UHF RFID tags. I pitched my idea again there but it was not in line with the core business so it never gathered any steam. Roll forward to my most recent work at FIrst Act where we used toy-class RFID from Nuvoton in the Voice Rockrz voice-changing microphone. The tags are in bling that ships along with the microphone that contains a reader. Tap the tag to get the new effect. It was fun but I of course still wanted to do something with my old idea of the collectable with RFID. ImageThat didn’t happen there either…..and now present day and we see my decades-old idea is on the market from Activision in the Skylanders product. From one review: “Using a plastic platform about six inches in diameter, the figures connect wirelessly to your video game system…As with other games, you still control their characters on the screen. But you need the figures, which store data and transmit characters’ histories to the nearest game console. Each works like a wireless thumb drive for data storage. Connect it to the system, and the game recognizes all that the character has been through.” Sounds very cool…and very familiar….I may need to buy this game just to see how they implemented that idea of mine from way back when.

game present

Quite often I have non-gamer friends ask me for recommendations for games. This is especially true around this time of year when presents are on people’s minds. Thankfully there are some great lists out there:

If you are looking to get your family started on games beyond the traditional Hasbro/Mattel fare this list from blogger Matthew Baldwin is a great place to start. I have played all of these and own most of them. They are all accessible and great for the family. This list is a “best of” compilation from his annual best lists which are also a great resource if you are looking to go the next step beyond the first list. This year’s edition can be found here.

If you are ready to dive in deep then you cant go wrong with the top rated games on the boardgamegeek. The main list tends toward heavier strategy games. Fortunately they have sub category lists for Family Games, Children’s Games, Party Games, and many others.

..and lastly here are some of my favorites:

 

 

second act

Well today I wake up to the reality that First Act has decided to go a different direction without me and I find myself once again on the job hunt. It was a fun two and a half years.  Power Gig was unfortunately not the success we had all hoped for but the guitar peripheral was a great technical feat and I am proud of that. The latest foray was in microphones with the RFID-enabled toy Voice Rockrz and the iPad karoke pair: Soulo and Disney Spotlight. Hopefully they’ll do well for the company over this holiday season. I’ll miss most of the other products as well… Disney and Nickelodeon keyboards, drumpads, etc. and all of the new products we’ve brainstormed, some of which will hopefully see the light of day soon. …and what do I do with my new home-time? spend an hour stacking wood and then crack open my brand new Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, conveniently with a well-rated solitaire play…

foodies

We had visitors over the past week….my mother, my brother Bill, his daughter Calina and her husband Nathaniel. Bill and Nathaniel are serious foodies and we ate wonderful food for a few days while they were here. The list below is a summary of the meals we cooked together. Most of the vegetables came from either the Wilson Farm CSA or the Arlington Farmer’s Market. The other ingredients came from a variety of sources including the North End and COSTCO.

 

Dinners & Lunch:

Blue Ribbon Barbeque Pulled Pork, Spicy Sausage & Burnt Ends

Steamed Wax and Green Beans

Tomato Basil Salad

 

Cauliflower Fried in Garlic and Butter with Chives

Chard Sautéed with Mushrooms and Peppers

Tomato Basil & Fresh Mozzarella Caprese Salad

Fresh-picked Wilde Porcini Mushrooms Sautéed in Butter

Cheese Tortellini in Sage Brown Butter

 

Fresh-boiled Lobster Salad with Tarragon and Chive Mayonnaise on a Green Salad with Peppers and Mandarin Oranges

 

Fig, Basil, Guanciale, Fresh Mozzarella Bruschetta

Spinach Salad with Mandarins, Pine nuts, Craisins, and Farm-fresh Hard Boiled Eggs

Fettuccine with Eggplant and Mushroom Tomato Sauce

 

Tomato Basil Burrata Appetizers

Beer Batter Bread

Grilled Delicata and Acorn Squash

Grilled Poblano Peppers Stuffed with Gouda Cheese and Wrapped in Bacon

Grilled Chicken and Apple Sausages

Cole Slaw with Ginger, Apple, Mandarins, Walnuts and Sesame-Ginger Dressing

 

Breakfasts:

Whole Wheat Raisin Scones

Oatmeal Muffins

Beer Batter Pancakes with Mint Asian Pear Compote

 

Desserts:

Apple Crisp (from cousin Diana)

Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownies (Stephanie’s specialty)

leadership

while sitting here in the Delta Sky Club here in Detroit I’ve been catching up on some blogs that I usually read. As it turns out these two are great musings on Leadership.

Make things
here I particularly love the Freeman Dyson quote “There is a great satisfaction in building good tools for other people to use.”

Wanted: Leadership by Example
if only we could have a scientist/engineer political leader that could say “just as I did”

slam

next week, August 9-13, brings the National Poetry Slam competition to Boston. The schedule of events can be pretty daunting so I’ll help you out….go to these two opening bouts Bout 10 at All Asia in Cambridge and Bout 17 at Cafe 939 in Boston. My nephew Dylan Garity is on the SlamMN! team from Minneapolis and he is definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately I have to travel for work otherwise I’d be there as well. In case you have any concerns about what you might see or hear…here is Dylan performing at a competition last year.

good luck Dylan!

muffins

every other weekend or so I bake muffins for breakfast. I often follow a recipe but occasionally I improvise. Here is this morning’s improvisation that turned out really good

Apricot-Lemon-Herb Muffins

3c white flour
1c whole wheat flour
2/3c sugar
2T baking powder
~1/2c chopped dried apricots
1/2t salt
~1T fresh lemon balm
~1T fresh rosemary
~1T fresh sage
~1T grated lemon rind
2c milk
4 eggs
1/2c melted butter

preheat oven at 375F

chop herbs finely
steep herbs and lemon in milk over low heat for about 10 min
thoroughly mix dry ingredients in a large bowl
beat eggs in separate bowl, slowly beat in melted butter
add all wet ingredients to dry, gently folding
spoon generously into greased muffin tins
makes 12-18 muffins

bake for 15-20 minutes

new to the neighborhood

I have not kept up with this blog in a long time – facebook essentially replaced the purposes I have had for this. Because of that and the squarespace blog was costing money I’ve moved most of the archive over here. Some the links are probably broken (internal photo collections at squarespace for instance) but it is a reasonable facsimile of what I entered over the last seven years at squarespace (and the earlier stuff is still here).

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