Where’s The Value?

Binary

So I don’t know how I feel about this or maybe I do. 


The Wall Street Journal reports today that from the 10 largest companies by market capitalization:


1) The top 3 are technology companies


Apple $679B

Alphabet (Google’s Parent) $489B

Microsoft $422B


2) Moreover, a full 5 (half) of the top 10 are technology companies


That includes the 3 above and the other 2 below:


Facebook $288B

Amazon $280B


As a technology person, I am thrilled at the impact that IT has on our society. 


We are no longer the same thanks to our Apple iPhones, Google Search, Microsoft’s business tools like Outlook, Office and SharePoint, Facebook’s social networking, and Amazon’s online shopping. 


But to think that these information capabilities outweigh by value everything else in society that we need as people is somewhat astounding.


For example, the other 5 of the top 10 companies are:


Exxon Mobil (Oil and Gas) $346B 

Berkshire Hathaway (Insurance, Utilities, Clothing, Building Products, Retail, Flight Services) $340B

General Electric (Power and Water, Oil and Gas, Energy Management, Aviation, Healthcare, Transportation) $298B

Wells Fargo (World’s Largest Bank) $280B

Johnson and Johnson (Pharmaceuticals) $278B


So when you add these behemoths up–this is what we have:


The 5 top technology companies are worth $2.158T


Vs.


The top 5 traditional companies from all the other industries combined are worth only $1.542T


Net it out:


The largest representative IT companies are worth $616B or 40% more than the other major companies combined.


(In fact, just the top 3 IT companies at $1.56T are worth more than the top 5 other companies at $1.542T.) 


Sure IT growth has been on a tear for the last couple of decades and we love everything futuristic it brings us. 


But isn’t it a little scary to think that the companies that meet all our other needs from food, clothing, shelter, medicine, transportation, energy, finance, retail, etc. isn’t worth more to us than just the IT alone. 


Perhaps adding it up from a value perspective just doesn’t add up in a real life perspective. 


I love technology and want more and more of it, but man does not live by technology alone. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Nothing Is Something AND Something Is Nothing

Uber Commodities

So the world financial markets continue to go haywire. 


The Uber glorified taxi service and app (with an almost half billion dollar operating loss) is now valued at–get this–over $50,000,000,000!


And commodities–you know the precious materials that REAL things are made off (gold, silver, copper, aluminum, oil, gas, coal, wheat, cotton, corn, soybeans, cotton, cocoa, coffee, sugar, beef, and more) hit a 13 year low. 


When the nothings of this world like a basic cab service become invaluable and the real things that power our homes, technology, transportation, and manufacturing become valueless–then we know a day of painful financial reckoning is coming. 


The markets can stand on their head for only so long before the blood rushes in and people become dizzy and see spots.


A reversion to the mean is the one something here that is inevitable, along with a pretty decent recession to boot. 😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Lobbying Will Get You…Where?

Keystone
In Washington, D.C., lobbying is a way of life. 



Just walking from the State Department to the Metro means you’ll get accosted by somebody wanting action on some issue. 



I took this photo in action today of this guy obviously not in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. 



He equates it with “Climate Chaos!”



He is holding a sign up to me and trying to hand me some literature.



Whether or not piping tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast is net good for the economy and national security or bad for the environment and global warming, is of course a matter of debate. 



But like all issues, there are two sides to everything–so prove your case!



Maybe the point to free speech is that everyone can not only have an opinion, but also express it and advocate for it. 



There can be open and amble discussion, vigorous debate, compromises, and ultimately a vote and decision–that hopefully gets us to the best course of action. 



Unlike countries run by dictators or religious fanatics who attempt to quell all opposition–where bloggers are flogged and jailed and authors and satirists are threatened and murdered–we try to make our best case and not condemn those who simply think different than us. 



In expressing ourselves here, someone may occasionally joke and say, “now don’t chop my head off for saying this,” but in other countries they really mean it! 



Tyrannical dictatorships and Jihadists terrorizing and imposing their will on the masses just won’t cut it anymore. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Going For A Healing

Oxygen Bar
So my wife tricked me today…



First day in Santa Fe and there was so much to see. 



By afternoon, my wife said she was tired and wanted to stop in an “Oxygen Bar.”



Good Jewish boy from the Bronx, what do I know from Oxygen Bars?



So they had these cool health tonics, soothing music, beautiful artwork, oxygen therapy, and…



In the back, they did healing treatments!



So my wife tells me I should do this.



Ah, why do I want to spend money on healing treatments?



She jumps up, goes over and talks to the owner, and comes back and says “Okay honey, she is going to give you a sampler.”



A what!



I hem and haw, but my wife doesn’t take no for an answer, so I reluctantly go to try it.



Well…



I really enjoyed it.  



From spa-type treatments to spiritual healing.



I had a smorgasbord of some light massage/reflexology, oils, sprays, rocks, branches and leaves, warm wet cloths, figure eights with a dream catcher, angels and animal spirits, and even prayers said. 



The very nice Jewish owner, Kadima Levanah, spoke about releasing your energy, having compassion on yourself, doing your best, starting anew, and having a full healing. 



By the end, I was smiling and feeling a lot more stress free–even though my wife tricked me like usual! 😉



(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

The Talent Function

Integrity
I really like this quote from Warren Buffet. 



Three traits to look for in recruiting the best people:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Energy
  3. Integrity

But what good are the first two without the third one?



So Integrity first (or squared for emphasis)…then intelligence plus the energy to use it plentifully and you have yourself an organizational winner!



Related to this, I saw someone on the train today with a tee shirt (from Sweet Green…not sure why this is their slogan) that said:



Passion 



   X



Purpose



This seemed like a good motto to me define the energy (#2) in Buffet’s top 3 items for recruiting. 



With a clear intent plus the compelling feeling to achieve it, you got energy to apply.



The resulting function: 



Talent = f {Intelligence, Energy (or Passion x Purpose), Integrity Squared}



Now that’s a recruiting formula we can all follow–thank you Mr. Buffet. 😉



(Source Photo: LinkedIn)

Futuristic Highway

Some really great ideas here for the highway of the future.

These are the inspiration of interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde.

To save energy and increase safety, there are four concepts presented:

– Glow in the dark road markings (i.e. lane dividers) with photo-luminescent paint that charges during the day and lights up at night.

– Weather symbols on the road with temperature-responsive paint, so for example, when the temperature falls below a certain level, the roads show snowflake symbols to indicate that they may be icy.

– Motion-interactive lights on the highway that light up when cars approach and are powered by the draft of the moving cars.

– Induction lanes that can charge car batteries as they run along them and reenergize the cars for further travel.

Already, there is a 500 meter stretch of road in Oss, Netherlands with the glow-in-the-dark road markings–these are almost radioactive green in color and give a futuristic Tron look to the roads.

Now the question is when can we get these high-tech upgrades for I-495?

What an awesome high-tech display befitting our nation’s capital and maybe it would help with traffic as well! 😉

Sitting Ducks, Sitting In The Dark?

Sitting Ducks, Sitting In The Dark?

If you read the Wall Street Journal, then you heard today about the attack that took place last April on the power grid in San Jose, California.

Yes, “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” and in San Jose in 2013!

Some assailants cut the telephone cables in an underground vault and shot for 19 minutes at a electrical substation with more than 100 rounds from an AK-47 and “surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley.”

In this isolated case, power was able to be rerouted around the damaged site, but it still took 27 days to make the necessary repairs.

What if this was a broader attack–what could have happened?

Firstly, since our roughly 2,000 nationwide giant transformers sit mostly in the open surrounded by nothing more than chain link fences and some cameras, an attack is possible, if not probable.

According to the then Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), “if a surprisingly small number of U.S. substations were knocked out at once that could destabilize the system enough to cause a blackout that could encompass most of the U.S.”

Further, since each transformer is custom made, weighs up to 500,000 pounds, costs millions to build and are hard to replace, a large scale attack could result in “prolonged outages as procurement cycles for these components range from months to years.”

Is this an isolated incident and nothing to worry about?

Uh, no! Domestically, there were 274 incidents of deliberate damage in three years. And overseas, between 1996 and 2006, terrorist organizations were linked to 2,500 attacks on the power grid.

“Utility executives and federal energy official have long worried that the electric grid is vulnerable to sabotage.”

The Former FERC Chairman said, “What keeps me awake at night is a physical attack that could take down the grid. This is a huge problem.”

Do you think the lights will be on forever or is it just a matter of time?

On a personal level, have you given any thought to how you will feed your families, light and warm your homes, run your businesses, gas up your cars, and send and receive information?

Our Achilles’ heels–and is anyone even paying serious attention?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal; this is not an endorsement of this book, but rather symbolic.)

Green Data Center Cooling

Green Data Center Cooling

I read with great interest this week in BBC about 2 mysterious barges off the East and West coasts of the U.S.

One barge is by San Francisco and the other by Maine.

The 4-story barges belong to Google.

There is speculation about these being, maybe, floating data centers.

I think that is more likely than showrooms for Google Glass.

These barges would potentially avail themselves of the ocean water for cooling the IT equipment.

I would imagine that there could be some backup and recovery strategy here as well associated with their terrestrial data centers.

But how you protect these floating data behemoths is another story.

A white paper by Emerson has data center energy consumption in the 25% range for cooling systems and another 12% for air movement, totaling 37%.

Other interesting new ideas for reducing energy consumption for data center cooling include submersion cooling.

For example, Green Revolution (GR) Cooling is one of the pioneers in this area.

They turn the server rack on its back and the servers are inserted vertically into a dielectric (an electrical insulator–yes, I had to look that up) cooling mineral oil.

In this video, the founder of GR identifies the potential cost-savings including eliminating chillers and raised floors as well as a overall 45% reduction in energy consumption, (although I am not clear how that jives with the 37% energy consumption of cooling to begin with).

Intuitively, one of the trickiest aspect to this would be the maintenance of the equipment, but there is a GR video that shows how to do this as well–and the instructions even states in good jest that the “gloves are optional.”

One of my favorite aspects of submersion cooling aside from the environmental aspects and cost-savings is the very cool green tint in the server racks that looks so alien and futuristic.

Turn down the lights and imagine you are on a ship traveling the universe, or maybe just on the Google ship not that far away. 😉

(Source Photo: Green Revolution)

PLS DNT STP

I first saw an advertisement for this music group near George Washington University.

I was taken by their name: PLS DNT STP (i.e. Please Don’t Stop).

Pretty smart!

I checked out one of their music videos online and asked my wife to listen as well.

As it started, she goes, this is the type of thing that can give people with epilepsy a seizure.

Yes, she was joking, I think.

But then she said she liked it and to post it to her Facebook, which I dutifully did.

The music is a little young, but even we can appreciate the high energy and cool factor.

I wrote on my wife’s Facebook wall, “You’re Bad!” 😉

Even The Buildings Smile

Even The Buildings Smile

Soon we will end the weekend and move into the next workweek.

As a kid, I remember people calling it “Blue Monday”–presumably because of the feelings people had going back to work.

I know some people that don’t even like to go out on Sunday evening at all, because of the anxiety they feel about the upcoming week.

But I thought this was a great photo that my daughter took to express the weekend joy and good feelings and the importance of carrying these forward throughout the whole week.

Someone actually drew this smiley face on the side of the building!

When my other daughter, Minna, asked my mom in the nursing home today for some words of wisdom, she reminded us all that “the years go by all too quickly!”

In her words, I understood that the main thing is to find meaning and purpose, give more than you take, and remember to count your blessings every day. 😉

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)