1 highway, 0 city.

Now you can get a laptop that gets extremely bad mileage. General Motors will announce a new $3000 Hummer-branded laptop next week:

The carmaker has signed an exclusive three-year licensing agreement with Spokane, Wash.-based Itronix to make a portable computer designed for people who work outdoors: police officers, firefighters, claims adjusters and construction workers, for example, as well as people who own a Hummer and are fascinated by anything related to the oversize vehicles.

Itronix, which makes laptops and tablet PCs for the U.S. military, said it wanted to style a new category of “semi-ruggedized” laptop. Priced at $2,988, the laptops come with enough padding to survive six separate drops from a height of 30 inches onto two 3/4-inch sheets of plywood placed on top of concrete.

Our feelings get hurt so easily.

I was recently doing some work with a company that was evaluating internal processes to see what was working and what wasn’t. The research had been done, and the report was being prepared.

At this point one of the people in the company laid down a key guideline for the report and presentation. There couldn’t be any criticism of any kind of the company – nothing negative of any kind – regardless of what the research revealed.

Imagine paying a consultant to determine how effective your processes were, but telling them they weren’t able reveal the results unless they would make the company happy. Just how much would they learn from that?

I think if there was any bad news I’d want to know about it so that I could do something about it. Fortunately it was a lower level person who provided that comment, so I assumed it was not indicative or the company. Yet that person must have gotten that idea from somewhere.

More death by PowerPoint – literally.

From the Washington Post:

Did PowerPoint make the space shuttle crash? Could it doom another mission? Preposterous as this may sound, the ubiquitous Microsoft “presentation software” has twice been singled out for special criticism by task forces reviewing the space shuttle disaster.

Perhaps I’ve sat through too many PowerPoint presentations lately, but I think the trouble with these critics is that they don’t go far enough: The software may be as much of a mind-numbing menace to those of us who intend to remain earthbound as it is to astronauts.

PowerPoint’s failings have been outlined most vividly by Yale political scientist Edward Tufte, a specialist in the visual display of information. In a 2003 Wired magazine article headlined “PowerPoint Is Evil” and a less dramatically titled pamphlet, “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint,” Tufte argued that the program encourages “faux-analytical” thinking that favors the slickly produced “sales pitch” over the sober exchange of information.

Tip of the hat to Furdlog.

Apple rocks! redux.

On Sunday night my son ordered a new iPod from Apple.com using his student educational discount. It arrived this morning, not even 48 hours from the time of order.

My family has officially decided to purchase Apple products from now on.

Slide.

I’m trying a new social photo sharing application called Slide that scrolls photo channels down your screen. You can see channels shared by other people, or choose to share your own channels. It’s kind of a neat idea, and it finds your photos on your disk and allows you to share them directly if you are running the client application. So there’s nothing to upload or download.

Of course it lends a very voyeuristic element to my screen, because I never know just what is going to show up on any given channel.

Killing the golden goose.

Om Malik:

Over past three years, Apple and its iTunes have saved their music industry from falling into the dark abyss that is peer-to-peer sharing. Now the same record industry wants to kill the golden goose, by raising prices of the songs. Why? Because the record executives are thinking to themselves: That damn Steve, he is so smart that he makes money by selling iPods and by selling music. How can this geek be a better businessman than us, they say? I mean they have been screwing the talent for so long, and now this computer guy, pulled a fast one on them! The nerve! (I am channeling their inner thoughts here, in case you were wondering.)

[...]

Thankfully, they record business is split into two camps – one that wants price of downloads to stay at 99 cents, and the boneheads.

Removing the middleman.

The Business 2.0 Blog posits on Google’s Master Plan:

He’s right that the value of the operating system is under threat. But thinking about Google as the new operating system is using yesterday’s metaphors to explain tomorrow’s technologies. It’s not the operating system. The operating system does not matter anymore (or, rather, will matter less and less). That is because increasingly the information you want to get to is not on your PC, it’s on the Web. This allows Google (or Yahoo or anyone else) to build critical applications beyond the browser that sit on top of the operating system to go and fetch data from the Web and bring it back to the desktop. This certainly fits with Google’s mission to “organize the world’s information.” They want to organize it on your desktop.

We’ve moved into the world of information appliances. Just as we have radios, televisions, fridges, and stoves, we now have interchangeable Microsoft, Apple, and Linux appliances.

We’ve got multi-purpose PCs, TiVos for recording video, XM satellite radios, and more, all of which are potential appliances. Google gets this, and their plan seems to be acting as the conduit for the information. Helping to share it, locate and get you to it. And they’re doing it without having to create or own the content in any way.

So as the book Blown to Bits suggested, they are disintermediating – removing the middleman and connecting customers directly to the information that they want. Oddly, Jeff Jarvis might be thinking along the same lines, asking “who wants to own content?

The operating system is going to be as irrelevant as the maker of the disk drive in the PC, because it just makes the appliance go.