Thursday, December 08, 2005

More from Philanthropia

Two numbers really stood out in Ronn Richard’s presentation today.

1) He said that only 12% of African-American males graduate from Cleveland Public schools – the other 88% drop out. That is staggering.

2) For whatever reasons, many students move homes, and hence schools, numerous times each year. Some have moved 6 times in a single school year! How can a kid develop any educational or social continuity if they are in 6 different schools in a year?

Neosa gets funding?

Yes, but don’t get excited. At the Philanthropia event today at Landerhaven, almost 900 attendees heard Cleveland Foundation president and CEO Ronn Richard talk about Cleveland, philanthropy and the economy.

When asked how to get Cleveland back on track he offered 3 ways:

1) Convince TRW, BP and others to come back – but he, of course, doesn’t think that will happen.

2) Fund startups. He pointed to the work of Bioenterprise, Jumpstart and Nortech in particular

3) Do what made Cleveland a great city in the first place. That is, by becoming the leader in a new industry. Make Cleveland the home town of not just some new companies but of new industries – stem cell, wind power, etc. Just like the semiconductor industry transformed Silicon Valley, one industry could transform our region.

He added that Cleveland was in some way a victim of its own success. By being so good and important in manufacturing all those years, it may have stayed too long at that party. While manufacturing is still strong here, he suggested it was time for new innovation.

I was schmoozing with tablemates during much of this but my ears perked up when I heard him use Neosa as an example. He said the Cleveland Foundation had just given a grant to an organization called Neosa. I was surprised but thrilled to hear it.

Then he went on to talk about how this regional group lets cities buy salt together in a better way. So the “s” in his example Neosa was for salt, not software. Sigh.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

How to Differentiate your Business

Marketing and Branding always seemed to be somewhat lame disciplines to me - something that people who couldn't do science or tech or heavy duty business like accounting got into.

But in an increasingly competitive global market, branding and differentiation are essential.

At the JCU Entrepreneur’s Association meeting last Saturday at Landerhaven, 3 experts – Sara Stashower, Kathy Ross and Jeanne Hauer - gave some ideas to the crowd.

I hadn’t heard of Kathy but when a Stashower (yes, of Ligget-Stashower) speaks, you listen. And Jeanne Hauer is not only Regional Marketing Director at Anthem but also author of Millionaire Women.

They had some interesting, if not revolutionary tips which I listed on this page.

What might be of greater interest is their combined recommended reading list – also available on that page.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Nottingham-Spirk Tour

The common perception would be that a building with 42 miles of Internet cable would be a modern steel and chrome edifice. But there is nothing common about John Nottingham and John Spirk - or their new Innovation Center.

I went to the Neosa meeting at the new Center last week and was blown away. Another world-class facility in that world-class mile or so around University Circle.

Check out some pics and details of the event.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Man behind the Microchip

The Man behind the Microchip.
Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley by Leslie Berlin.

Because the modern tech industry is still so young, people may have personal recollections about some of the events when reading histories of the times. As such, they may also have a personal bias.

This book about Robert Noyce will probably not be a favorite of fans of William Shockley or Jack Kilby with whom Noyce shared credit for innovations. Nor to fans of Gordon Moore and Andy Grove who maybe don't get the credit they deserve from this book.

But in general, it's a very interesting look into the birth of a technology, industry and ultimately Silicon Valley.

I ended up giving it 3.5 (out of 4) pocket protectors.

Read my review

Clevelanders and others in the US should consider that in Noyce's last interview, he said that if he was "emperor" of the US he would "make sure we are preparing our next generation to flourish in a high-tech age. And that means education of the lowest and the poorest as well as the graduate school level."

tech skills=power, no tech skills=dependence - simple as that.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

No Video for You

OK, it's not as catchy as the Soup Nazi's "No soup for you!" but I have not bought in to the video - streaming or otherwise - craze.

The new Apple iPod lets you watch video, like missed TV shows, on your device. Oh boy. If the shows are that importnat can't you Tivo or record some other way and watch on a decent screen?

And video webcasts seem like a waste. Even though most of us have decent speeds and bandwidth to support video, too many webcasts just show the speakers head; which may or may not move from time to time. Or they display a Powerpoint slide. Yawn. What a waste.

Plus, video has the same drawback as text - you have to focus your eyes on it whereas with audio (podcasts and the like) you can listen and still do other things.

Just because we have the technology to do video we need a more compelling reason to use it IMHO.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Great Lakes Geek

I have way too much to read. There are all kinds of interesting books out now it seems. Not to mention all the business and tech rags I devour.

Plus there are a ton of blogs that have interesting things to say. But even with RSS, I just don’t get to a fraction of them.

But I have found that I can listen to audio and still do other things – work, walk the dog, workout and so on.

I figured others might feel the same way so I started up a new podcast radio show called the Great Lakes Geek Show. Basically it’s a bunch of audio interviews with local and national people in the business and tech world – and some other categories too just for fun.

So I have a great interview with Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Publishing. Great article in Wired this month about Tim titled the Trend Spotter.

Also have Chuck Geschke, founder and chairman of Adobe, but I mangled the mic and the audio has some annoying imperfections. It’s worth the snap, crackle and pop though.

Much of the show will be local people – Tech Czar Mike DeAloia is up as is Neosa's Jim Cookinham and some others.

Most will probably just click on the MP3 link and listen at their PC but I did wrap some in XML to make it a real podcast. XML rocks!

Take a listen when you get a chance and let me know what you think – and who should be on the show.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Myth of Dell

CRN's Michael Vizard had a great column in the 7/18/05 issue.

One of the comments was: "The myth is that Dell is the low-price leader. The reality is that Dell is exceptionally good at marketing systems that appear to have a low price to end users, but more often than not, when one actually configures the system with the appropriate amount of memory, drives and graphics cards to be really useful, it winds up costing as much as any other compatible system. In some cases, the price tag may come in at even more than what rivals are charging for the same fully configured system."

I have run into this for years. The advertised price sounds great but it has a low quality graphics card or insufficient RAM or... Something else.

Throw in the lack of local support and other options (like Magnum! ) look a lot better.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ars Gratis Ars

I’m not really an art aficionado. I like to visit the CMA and other venues to see interesting stuff but I’m not a student of the field by any means.

So it is unusual that I would be at 2 arts events in a few days. Sunday I went to the Cain Park Arts Festival. It’s only a few miles from home so I popped in to check it out. Tons of people on a sweltering day and lots of interesting pieces from Cleveland and around the country (and even a booth from Israel).

Tuesday I only had to travel a couple miles more to get to the NEO Show at the Art Museum. Hahn Loeser is sponsoring the NEO Show - formerly the May Show - and they had a private viewing with some tasty drinks and hors d’oeuvres. It was sweltering again so not many people ventured out to the gardens where a harpist and other musicians played. Lots of bigwigs in attendance and CMA Director Katherine Lee Reid spoke for a few minutes.

The show itself was pretty wild. Some interesting pieces and mediums but a few items just flabbergasted me. One was some crates stacked with what the artist claims are exactly 100,000 clippings from the phone book. Another was a horizontal freezer. You were invited to lift the lid and yep, it was a freezer. Empty. That was the entire piece! Someone clue me in to the art behind that one. ;-) I see the same on tree lawns the night before trash pickup.

The best of show had me scratching my, admittedly untrained, head too. It was a black and white video displayed on one of the walls that featured the head and torso of a man screaming and contorting his face for 2 minutes and 27 seconds. That was “best in show.”

Well, it least it got people talking.

Maybe the coolest thing is that I could see these 2 shows without travelling more than about 4 miles.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Lose a few pounds?

If you've ever tried to shed a few (or more) pounds, you'll get a kick out of Claire - the self-acclaimed "Lumpy Girl"

She went public with her weight loss attempt - even posted a picture - and has been updating her progress for all to see. She's a riot to read - even for you skin and bones types.

Check out Claire

Nothing to do?

Ok, the worst thing about blogging IMO is posting a bunch of personal stuff that nobody really cares about anyway. But this is just a taste for all those who claim there is nothing to do in this city.

Where to start...Last Wednesday was a Community of Minds event at CPL downtown. George Nemeth spoke about blogging. The gardens at the library are wifi enabled and a great destination. The weather didn't cooperate that night but it was still a good event. Have you been there?

Thursday - my sand volleyball league out at Bumpers. Indoor is fun but nothing beats sand vball. You don't have to play - lots of people come to watch, drink, eat, listen to tunes, hang out.

Friday - went to the SeniorFest at the Zoo for ClevelandSeniors.Com. I try to get to the zoo a couple times a year. It's so close and so cool. Should do it more. When's the last time you went to the zoo?

Saturday - The Powwow at Edgewater. The American Indian Education Center sponsored their 11th annual Powwow all weekend and it was a new experience for me. Represenatives from various Tribes came from all over - Ontario, North Carolina, Minnesota, etc. Great costumes, dancing, music, crafts - even buffalo meat burgers.

I ended up with a poster featuring Geronimo and 3 others holding guns. The headline says "Homeland Security - Fighting terrorists since 1492."

Sunday I caught the Tribe (9 in a row!) and then headed over to the Irish Summerfest in Euclid for some Guiness and some tunes.

A million other things going on too but still I have friends who complain that "there's nothing to do in this city."

My only complaint is those pesky bugs that have been swarming for the last week.

Perfect for the Dawg Pound

Heard a new term today - migth be old hat to many of you - but it was new to me.

Blawgs - Blogs for law firms.

A consultant sent out a press release called "‘Blawgs’ Little More Than An Expensive Hobby for Many Law Firms."

Wish I had thought of that name.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Windows Server Installfest

We will have a special meeting of the Windows Server SIG this Saturday May 21st. We will be doing live installs of Windows Server 2003 on some donated Compaq servers. Time permitting we will bring them up to SP1 level.

Sky Bank donated the servers and Microsoft donated the server software. The completed servers will then be donated to several non-profit sites through Computers Assisting People - CAP.

Paul Stork will lead the session and because it is hands-on, attendance will be extremely limited. RSVP if you want to attend - first come, first serve.

The meeting will be at the CAP Resource Center at 3154 Payne Ave from 10AM till noon.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Deja Vu all over again

I was reading Crain''s today.

There was a frontpage headline about business leaders pledging an "allegiance to regionalism." Seems these 30 business leaders from 18 counties are getting together to form a far reaching business development group. How promising.

Also on Page 1 is a story about public companies dealing with criticism from people posting about them on the Internet. Damn bloggers

The Op/Ed page has an item titled "Academia, corporate worlds need better link." Sounds like a plan.

The type of stuff we read about every week.

But this is from Vol 19 No. 14 from April 6-12, 1998. I was cleaning up some stuff at the office today and discovered this issue stuffed in a box.

7 years and just how far have we come? It would be funny if not so sad.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Moral Courage

I just read a great book - Moral Courage: Taking Action when your values are put to the test by Rushworth M. Kidder. Kidder is the founder of the Institute for Global Ethics and this is his 3rd book on the topic. So he was doing ethics before it became a popular topic.

The book has a bunch of real-world case studies that show the challenges of being moral in the modern world.

It's tough to be moral today. New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote (in 93) how it was becoming more common for society to “choose not to notice behavior that would otherwise be controlled, or disapproved or even punished.”

Not to mention "groupthink" - the effect where a team, for example, makes decisions none of the individuals would have made on their own.

He is optimistic in the ability to teach moral courage and, to prove this isn't a topic just for the new millenium, quotes Aristotle: "We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.”

I have a lengthier review of the book posted. It's worth your time.

Monday, April 25, 2005

School all year?

We have an interesting survey going on at Though the site is geared to the 50 and over crowd (and those who care for and about them) we get a bunch of younger visitors - and many of them vote in the anonymous surveys.

The current vote asks "Should Children go to School year round? "

Some of the comments are predictable - Yes - kids in other countries do and we are falling behind. Yes - it keeps kids off the streets. No - teachers won't work year round. No - kids need a break and so on.

I am surprised at the number of comments along the lines of - "It would help the parents out - they won't need daycare in the summer" or "At least if they go to school, kids will get a few decent meals each day in the summer."

Have we really come to this where schools are seen as providers of social services - as opposed to educational institutions?

Littlest Heroes

My cousine Annie volunteers at a pretty cool organization. It's called The Littlest Heroes.

It's a local non-profit that provides services to kids with cancer and their families. As you can imagine, they have a bunch of sad but true accounts of bravery from the kids.

It's cool that they focus on the entire family because, let's face it, that is a traumatic ordeal for all involved. It's tough enough to watch helplessly as an older member of the family succumbs to the disease (been there, done that - turned down the t-shirt) so I can't imagine how it must feel to have the helplessness multiplied when it's a kid.

Check it out when you are thinking of contributing time or some dough.