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Greg Lloyd

Greg Lloyd's Public Library

less than a minute ago

18 Apr 2015: What Bakr put on paper, page by page, with carefully outlined boxes for individual responsibilities, was nothing less than a blueprint for a takeover. It was not a manifesto of faith, but a technically precise plan for an "Islamic Intelligence State" -- a caliphate run by an organization that resembled East Germany's notorious Stasi domestic intelligence agency.

  • An Iraqi officer planned Islamic State's takeover in Syria and SPIEGEL has been given exclusive access to his papers. They portray an organization that, while seemingly driven by religious fanaticism, is actually coldly calculating.
  • Aloof. Polite. Cajoling. Extremely attentive. Restrained. Dishonest. Inscrutable. Malicious. The rebels from northern Syria, remembering encounters with him months later, recall completely different facets of the man. But they agree on one thing: "We never knew exactly who we were sitting across from."

      

  • In fact, not even those who shot and killed him after a brief firefight in the town of Tal Rifaat on a January morning in 2014 knew the true identity of the tall man in his late fifties. They were unaware that they had killed the strategic head of the group calling itself "Islamic State" (IS). The fact that this could have happened at all was the result of a rare but fatal miscalculation by the brilliant planner.

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  • Ever since, seeking venture capital in 1983, we wrote the first  formal Autodesk ``business plan,'' I'd been bothered by how  blithely such documents predict things which I know  from personal experience to be utterly incalculable. To  run a business, one certainly needs forecasts, budgets, and  plans, but making a spreadsheet for a product or company that  doesn't yet exist showing revenue from sales to customers who  have yet to be identified is just a waste of time, especially  given how many uncontrollable factors can affect the outcome. 

  • I use the word ``evolution'' a lot because I believe it's  central to understanding how markets really work,  how technologies emerge and mature, and how actual products are  developed in the real world. In the early days of Autodesk, I  didn't even try to guess which product would succeed--I knew  I wouldn't have a hope of making such a prediction accurately.  But I was pretty confident we could bat .200--that at least one  out of five products we chose would succeed in the market. Then,  and only then, would we focus our efforts upon the winner.
  • That's why it's ever so important to get a product into the field  early and to have a rapid and responsive development and  upgrade program. The first product in a category benefits from  the feedback of customers and can quickly begin to converge toward  meeting their requirements, often growing in directions not  remotely anticipated in the original design. This is how AutoCAD  developed--it is how every product which is successful in the  long term develops--and it explains why large, mature products  tend to be messy and complicated, because they have accreted, over  the years, a large number of features, each requested by and  valuable to, a set of customers. It is when the process of  co-evolution of a product with its customers and the  underlying technology slows down or stops that the  product becomes vulnerable to competition. Only when a customer  ceases to believe that the product he already owns will meet his  needs in the future does he goes shopping for a replacement.

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about 2 hours ago

This is a science fiction story I penned in December of 1989 which captures, better than any narrative based in fact, the ``everything is possible,'' ``imagination-constrained'' spirit of Autodesk in the late 1980's. Sales and earnings were blowing the top off the bar graph. Autodesk had launched ventures to position itself at the centre of a host of emerging technologies posed to benefit from the predictable evolution of computer hardware: multimedia, virtual reality, hypertext / wide area networks, information markets, solid modeling, and automated manufacturing. What was not obvious to me at the time was that Autodesk's commitment was skin-deep or less--in fact, fewer resources were allocated to launch these products, when completed, than had been expended by the cash-strapped nascent Autodesk of 1983-84. But enough angst; let's wallow together in the Fat Times, when the Hackers' Conference was described as the ``Autodesk off-site meeting.''

about 2 hours ago

August 20, 1992--Sausalito, CA.--Autodesk, Inc. announced today that it will divest itself of two companies that make up its Information Systems Division. The two companies are the American Information Exchange (AMIX) and Xanadu Operating Company.

  • ``The new management team has carefully looked at what Autodesk's business model should be,'' said Carol Bartz, president, CEO and Chairman of Autodesk. ``Both AMIX and Xanadu are important companies with exciting futures, but they do not fit into Autodesk's core business. We wish them the best in their new endeavors and will work with them during a brief transition.'' 

  • AMIX operates the world's first electronic, online marketplace where customers can buy or sell digitally stored information: software components and tools, documents and scripts, market research and industry analysis, multimedia applications and the like. Additionally, AMIX provides a complete mechanism that allows customers to consult with each other online.
  • Xanadu is a hypermedia information server. With an array of information management tools that includes links, version management, detectors, endorsements, and access control, Xanadu makes the ideal underpinning upon which to build collaborative and groupware applications. 

about 2 hours ago

Apr 8 , 1988: Statement for the Autodesk/Xanadu Press Conference

  • Many people within Autodesk have long been aware of Ted Nelson's  work and the efforts to implement the Xanadu hypertext system.  Before his involvement with Marinchip and later Autodesk, Lars  Moureau met Ted Nelson in Stockholm and was instrumental in  getting his books translated to Swedish and published in Sweden. 

  • At the Hackers' Conference in October 1987 I spoke to Roger  Gregory, President of Xanadu Operating Company, which was formed  to implement Xanadu, about Autodesk acting as  a beta site for a commercial Xanadu system. As we continued the  discussion there and at several subsequent meetings, it became  increasingly clear that a partnership between Xanadu and  Autodesk might be beneficial to both parties; Autodesk had the  financial resources and distribution to implement and launch the  product and Xanadu had the technology and talented people who  could build it. A Xanadu system could easily solve the  data and project management tasks that Autodesk realised it  needed to solve for users of its products, while offering them  much more than just a drawing manager.
  • We eventually decided that Autodesk would purchase 80% of  Xanadu and fund the development of the product. Ted Nelson came  to Autodesk as a Distinguished Fellow, both to guide the  development and promotion of Xanadu, and to explore other areas  of research. What follows are the remarks I made at the press  conference at the West Coast Computer Faire where the alliance  between Autodesk and Xanadu was announced.

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about 2 hours ago

1994: Bits of History, Words of Experience
Edited by
John Walker

unconventional in its growth, and so eventful has been the road that started with a small group of programmers sitting around talking about building a company and has led, so far, to a multinational company which is the undisputed leader in its market, that it's tempting just to shrug your shoulders and say ``you

about 3 hours ago

18 Apr 2015: Visitors to the south-western French port of La Rochelle this week have been treated to the greatest of spectacles in the seafaring life: a spanking 18th Century frigate, fitted out and ready for adventure.

  • The three-master has successfully passed sea trials in the Bay of Biscay and is now to embark on its maiden voyage: a transatlantic crossing to where its namesake once roved with the Americans.
  • Yorktown was the result of an American-French alliance that - for all the subsequent travails in the relationship - still counts for much in the two nations' historical memory.

    And the Hermione has its own important part in the story.

  • For it was the Hermione that in 1780 carried to Boston a young French aristocrat - Gilbert du Motier the Marquis de Lafayette - who more than 200 years later still wears the mantle of America's BFF: Best French Friend. Ever.

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Apr 16, 15

15 Apr 2015: The debate over the Pawtucket Red Sox and a public subsidy to help keep the team in Rhode Island began in earnest Wednesday as PawSox ownership unveiled their much-anticipated plan for a $70 million ballpark next to the Providence River. According to the proposal, a 30-year lease/sublease agreement would have a net cost to the state of about $2 million a year.

Apr 16, 15

17 Mar 2015:.
Humans are hard-wired to make up a story, to make sense of what’s happening around them. Telling ourselves a story helps us predict what might happen next. It gives us context. Prediction makes us feel safe. To know what is likely to happen next helps us to decide what to do.

  • There was a terrific experiment done a few years ago that nicely illustrates how stories help us predict. The scientists recorded a story told by a subject while she was in a MRI brain scanner. Then they played the audio of her story to other participants as they took turns to have their brains scanned. And to everyone’s surprise the brain imagery from the story-teller synced with the story-listeners. That’s to say when the young woman recounted her prom night events her brain lit up in a certain way as things unfolded, and by just listening to the story the others brains lit up the same way. There was, however, one exception. Every now and then the listeners brain patterns would get ahead of the story. When this happened they were predicting what comes next. Of course this can only happen when it’s a story. It’s very hard, for example, to predict the next dot point in a PowerPoint deck.
  • Our story completion skills work pretty well for us most of the time. We can predict quite accurately what’s going to happen next. But in times of change it is quite possible for competing stories to emerge across an organisation resulting in people working at cross purposes. When everyone has a different story everyone is shooting off in every direction like a startled colony of rabbits.

  •  In these times it makes sense to get people together to work out the narrative that makes the most sense for everyone, and then work out which stories best support this narrative.
Apr 16, 15

A celebration of the sandwich, and an attempt to create a taxonomy for its many diverse forms. APRIL 14, 2015

  • For the purposes of this field guide, we have laid down parameters. A hamburger is a marvelous sandwich, but it is one deserving of its own guide. The same holds for hot dogs, and for tacos and burritos, which in 2006, in the case known as Panera v. Qdoba, a Massachusetts judge declared were not sandwiches at all. Open-faced sandwiches are not sandwiches. Gyros and shawarmas are not sandwiches. The bread that encases them is neither split nor hinged, but wrapped. 

  • There are five main families of sandwich in The New York Times Field Guide. 

    There are sandwiches made on Kaiser or "hard" rolls. 

    There are sandwiches made on soft buns.
     

    There are sandwiches made on long hero or sub rolls.
     

    There are sandwiches made on sliced bread.

  • And there are what we call "singulars," which are those creations on bread that falls outside these other groups but are still vital to the sandwich landscape, like the muffuletta.
Apr 15, 15

15 Apr 2015: Iger planned to pump nearly $1 billion into this venture, called MyMagic+, a sweeping plan to overhaul the digital infrastructure of Disney’s theme parks, which would upend how they operated and connected with consumers. At the core of the project was the MagicBand, an electronic wristband that Iger envisioned guests would use to gain entry to Disney World and access attractions; make purchases at restaurants; and unlock their hotel room doors. It would push the boundaries of experience design and wearable computing, and impact everything from Disney’s retail operations and data-mining capabilities to its hospitality and transportation services.

Apr 15, 15

12 Apr 2015: Novelist Cecily Wong recounts her love of the Hawaiian staple, proves comfort food comes in all shapes, sizes, and cans

  • In my native Hawaii, Spam is beloved. It has a place at every meal, over rice and stir-fried in noodles and served in thick slices alongside eggs and pancakes. Spam is the bacon on our burgers, the ham in our carbonara, the pigs in our blankets.

  • Hawaiians eat the most Spam of any population in the world — seven million cans a year, or about six cans for every islander. We celebrate holidays with Spam. There’s an annual festival called the Spam Jam. The year Spam turned 75, my mom’s best friend sent her a case of commemorative, limited-edition Spam which is displayed proudly at my parents’ Oregon restaurant. When Hawaiian expats come to eat, they regularly pull my mother aside, offering illicit sums of money for the canned memorabilia, running their fingers over the metal grooves and imagining it as their own. My mother has systematically rejected each of these offers, unable to fathom why she would part with an everlasting, limited-edition slice of spiced ham history.
  • When I was seven and my family moved from Oahu to Oregon, it came as a great shock that Spam was an embarrassing food to love. The first time I took a spam musubi from my lunch box, my school mates were horrified by the pink slice of formed meat attached to rice with a piece of seaweed. Their choice of lunch meat didn’t appeal to me either — partitioned trays of cold, plastic-tasting ham and cheese, crackers, and a juice pouch — at least my meat came in durable metal, at least mine was previously hot, seared in a pan with garlicky teriyaki sauce. But at seven years old, I couldn’t shoulder the burden of Spam alone. With no one to back me up, in a land of Fruit Roll-Ups and peanut butter and jelly, I became what my mom calls a closet Spam-eater. I loved it privately, indulging in Spam on the weekends and for breakfast before school, asking my mom to pack me plain rice balls for lunch, which, oddly, my friends thought were cool.

     

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Apr 14, 15

Apr 2015: Kill Time. Make History.

  • Welcome citizen cartographers!
    Help unlock New York City's past by identifying
    buildings and other details on beautiful old maps.
  • The Library is training computers to recognize building shapes and other data on digitized insurance atlases. Via these easy, bite-sized tasks, you can help check the computers' work and capture other valuable information.
  • WHY THIS MATTERS

     

    Imagine if maps had a magic switch
    that let you explore the geography of the past.

     

    The Library wants to do this for New York City, turning historical atlases into time machines.

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Apr 14, 15

14 Apr 2015: Amazing! 1,000 customers talked in 10 weeks. The @BerkeleyHaas Lean LaunchPad Class. Slides & Videos here

Apr 13, 15

12 Apr 2015: Ars revisits a computing history classic through art, YouTube, and William English.

  • In December 1968, engineer and inventor Douglas C. Engelbart and a team of more than a dozen engineers and staff from the Augmented Human Intellect Research Center (AHIRC) gave a demonstration at San Francisco’s Civic Center Auditorium to show off what they called the oN-Line System (NLS). The demo, which lasted for about an hour and a half, became known as “The Mother of All Demos” because for many of the 1,000 computer technology professionals in the audience, it was the first time they saw personal computers used interactively, rather than crunching numbers via punch cards.
  • A modern-day take

     

    At Stanford University's campus last week, Ars attended a two-night-only showing of “The Demo,” an experimental opera meant to pay homage to "The Mother of All Demos.”

  • At the beginning of the original demo, Engelbart demonstrates word processing by he copying the word “word” over and over again. This became a theme throughout the modern-day "Demo", with the actors on stage singing “word” over and over.

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Apr 11, 15

9 Apr 2015: Once, years ago, we gazed into our future and caught a glimpse of our death—sprawled on our backs like an upended tortoise, slowly succumbing to the darkness beneath a sudden avalanche of Simpsons DVDs. But now only the first part of that premonition will come true, as Simpsons showrunner Al Jean has revealed that Fox will no longer be releasing its seasons on DVD—and presumably, any other physical media. It’s the end of an era, and given the durability of the series, probably the right decision to save Mother Earth.

  • The good news is that Jean promises that those commentaries and deleted scenes will continue, and will be made available to fans free of charge. The bad news for anyone outside the U.S., or who doesn’t have a cable provider that supports FX Now, is that they’ll only be distributed through the Simpsons World website. Yes, you are now at the whims of geography, your home entertainment package, and the reliability of your Internet if you want to see outtakes and hear Jean and others talk about the making of latter-day Simpsons episodes. And no longer will you have a comforting cardboard and plastic case to cradle in your arms, or bite down on in frustration. You can’t, like, own The Simpsons, man.
  • For prognosticators of the death of physical media, the end of The Simpsons on DVD—easily among the most popular and enduring TV collections out there—certainly looks like a neon-yellow canary in the coalmine. (Though the constant deluge of TV DVD sets we still get here daily at The A.V. Club would beg to differ. We just got a “complete series” of The Colbys yesterday. The fucking Colbys.) Still, while Jean graciously declined offers from crazy people to crowdfund more Simpsons DVDs—“ I don’t think The Simpsons should ever ask for money without providing you a cheap toy,” he said—he did leave some hope for one giant, series-encompassing “master” set, should the series ever be allowed to end.
Apr 11, 15

Apr 2015: What is now considered one of Stanley Kubrick’s most accomplished films, as well as an example of innovative, audacious filmmaking at its best, was almost given birth to by accident. After Kubrick’s dream of making Napoleon crumbled into pieces, he used this studious research and shifted his ambitions and talent into William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1844 novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon. The story of an unscrupulous Irish scoundrel who marries into high society and advances in the aristocratic society of 18th century England proved an ideal ground for the master to exhibit his storytelling powers. With the significant help of his director of photography John Alcott, Kubrick created a cinematic world that could be most easily described as a moving 18th century painting. Giving its best to avoid using electric sources of artificial light, relying on the illuminating power of candles and natural lighting, investing enormous effort into costume design, Barry Lyndon looks genuine through and through. Moreover, it leaves the impression of actually being comprised of works of art taken down from the walls of some filthily rich British nobleman.

  • “I’m not sure if I can say that I have a favourite Kubrick picture, but somehow I keep coming back to Barry Lyndon. I think that’s because it’s such a profoundly emotional experience. The emotion is conveyed through the movement of the camera, the slowness of the pace, the way the characters move in relation to their surroundings. People didn’t get it when it came out. Many still don’t. Basically, in one exquisitely beautiful image after another, you’re watching the progress of a man as he moves from the purest innocence to the coldest sophistication, ending in absolute bitterness—and it’s all a matter of simple, elemental survival. It’s a terrifying film because all the candlelit beauty is nothing but a veil over the worst cruelty. But it’s real cruelty, the kind you see every day in polite society.” —Martin Scorsese
     

  • The colors, shading and atmosphere aren’t the only things Barry Lyndon has in common with two-dimensional works of art—the film also appropriates a certain quality of unresponsiveness. It’s somehow distanced from the viewers, it masterfully puts them into the position of an observer in an art gallery, not someone who actively interacts with the screen. Barry Lyndon is detached, cold and to a degree unburdened with the pressure of entertaining an audience. Kubrick, who not only directed but also adapted Thackeray’s satiric novel to produce a sharp, narration-driven script, created a technically breath-taking, arrogantly and recklessly fearless, monumental film over three hours long. The first reactions to it, unfortunately for Kubrick’s peace of mind, perhaps failed to be as enthusiastic as the piece deserved, but decades that followed certainly did Barry justice. All hail Barry Lyndon, an exceptional piece of filmmaking, a masterclass in bringing a unique filmmaker’s vision to life, a work of art only a few others have the quality to measure up to.

     

  • What we have here is a rare document of exceptional historical value. Dear every screenwriter/filmmaker, read Stanley Kubrick’s screenplay for Barry Lyndon [PDF]. (NOTE: For educational and research purposes only). The DVD/Blu-ray of the film is available at Amazon and other online retailers. Absolutely our highest recommendation.

     

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