Sam Altman on targeting energy and biotech with his first Y Combinator batch


The first batch of startups to go through Y Combinator since Sam Altman took over as president pitched at Demo Day in Mountain View on Tuesday.








Cromwell Schubarth
Senior Technology Reporter- Silicon Valley Business Journal

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Sam Altman has wasted no time in putting his stamp on Y Combinator.

The first batch of startups under his guidance as president pitched on Demo Day on Tuesday. The cohort was bigger and more varied than I’ve seen in the past. And many of the startups who took the stage at the Computer History Museum talked a good game of aiming higher than ever.

A pair of nuclear energy startups, a quantum computer enterprise and about a dozen biotech/health companies were the most obvious signs of change under Altman.

“I definitely have a strong interest in deep science companies,” Altman told me a little after the final company pitched and the beer and wine began to flow at the post-Demo Day party. “Nobody but us really is investing in these sorts of companies right now.”

Altman said Y Combinator likes industries that aren’t attracting a lot of competing investors. “These are companies that, if they work, will be incredibly valuable and very few people are trying to invest in them.”

The new focus on energy startups took Altman around the world earlier this year, recruiting startups to join the Mountain View accelerator.

“They didn’t come to us,” he said. “I went out and hand-selected those guys. I met with every fusion and fission company I could find. Surprisingly there are not that many of them.”

He makes it clear, too, that he wants to avoid the mistakes made in Silicon Valley’s cleantech love affair of about 10 years ago.

“Everyone screwed up energy the last time around,” he said emphatically. “The last energy boom featured investments in companies that were trying to deliver energy that was more expensive than what you get off the grid. But there was some vague notion of saving the world and making that OK.”

Cromwell Schubarth is the Senior Technology Reporter at the Business Journal.




Article source: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2014/08/20/sam-altman-on-targeting-energy-and-biotech-with.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+bizj_national+(Bizjournals+National+Feed)

Fever Pitch

On Tuesday, at Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum, which preserves obsolete computing artifacts, a parade of startup founders pitched an audience of investors on plans to speed up the process of obsolescence. This was the latest Demo Day, an event held twice a year for the past several years by Y Combinator, an influential firm that invests in startups and helps them to expand. The total time allotted, including breaks, was six hours; with seventy-five presenters, that came down to only a couple minutes per startup. This being Silicon Valley, the solution was clear: get more efficient.

I sat down next to Cameron Yuill, an investor at the firm Structure Capital, who told me that he expected to invest in several of the startups. The room was filled with others like him—well-groomed men, mostly white, whose calm demeanors contrasted with the manic, overcaffeinated attitudes of the guys in T-shirts who were there to hit up the calm men for cash.

The first presenter, Jason Kelly, strode onstage wearing a T-shirt with what looked like the Jurassic Park logo but which, in fact, displayed the name of his startup, Ginkgo Bioworks. He and his colleagues, he explained, are at work creating organisms. It takes a decade for certain trees to mature—wouldn’t it be better if, instead, you could create biological matter in a couple of minutes? “Imagine what could be done with a modern programming stack on top of biology,” Kelly said.

By the time I finished imagining, Kelly was no longer onstage. Time was short. There were industries to overturn. Ginkgo Bioworks seemed impressive—until GlowingPlant presented. (“We can make real cows’ milk without any need for dairy farming.”) Then there was the nuclear-fusion startup Helion. (“That’s right: nuclear fusion.”) There were plans to disrupt markets worth billions of dollars—at least once, someone mentioned trillions. I met the Tinder for networking, the eTrade for bitcoin, the Uber for parking, and the Priceline for products. I was invited to witness the future of work (a better approach to performance reviews) and the future of emotional health (an online-therapist service). If much of this seems less than entirely useful, consider that at least some of these companies may well bring in billions of dollars; Y Combinator alums include Airbnb, Dropbox, and Soylent.

As lunchtime neared, a man named David Hegarty bounded onstage wearing a T-shirt that read, “Ticket Hero.” He warmed up with a little speech about how it feels to get a parking ticket: “We know that the Man has just shat all over us, and there’s nothing we can do about it.” Laughter. Then Hegarty lobbed his pitch. His startup, Fixed, contests people’s parking tickets for them; if it’s successful, Fixed takes a percentage of the original fine as a fee. Later, he said, he and his colleagues plan to move on to bogus Comcast charges, credit-card fees, and so on. “Fixed is justice as a service,” he said. Wild applause.

A couple weeks earlier, a Y Combinator co-founder, Jessica Livingston, published a stern blog post—timed to run before Demo Day—reminding investors of the firm’s policy against “inappropriate sexual or romantic behavior from investors toward founders.” Livingston told me, during a break, that she had read a disturbing first-person account of Silicon Valley sexism on the Forbes Web site, by an anonymous female founder, and felt compelled to respond.

There weren’t all that many women onstage, though Y Combinator has, over the years, increased the number of female-founded startups in its portfolio. The first woman to present, Ambika Bumb, helped to create probes made of microscopic diamonds that hospitals can use to scan patients. Jessica Richman’s startup, uBiome, sells a “microbiome” kit: you swab yourself (mouth, ears, skin, etc.), and the company analyzes what’s there and tells you about the microbes in your body.

Another woman, Elise Polezel, seemed simply to be selling smoothies; she said to look for her later for free samples. After lunch, I found Polezel, as instructed. She stood behind a table, energetically handing out little cups filled with smoothie—mint or blueberry açaí—while clarifying to someone, “We’re not just a smoothie company. We’re a hardware company.” What she meant was that her startup, LivBlends, plans to sell a machine—“a Keurig machine for smoothies,” she elaborated to me.

Polezel wore a LivBlends T-shirt, which approximated the color of the mint smoothie. “Do you know the difference between this and juice?” she asked me.

“Yogurt!”

“No!” she cried. “Fiber.”

Nearby, I found Yuill and his colleague Jillian Manus, also from Structure Capital, talking up Hegarty, the Ticket Hero. Manus was telling him her stories of traffic-ticket injustice. She had gotten a ticket for allegedly driving more than a hundred miles per hour. But she hadn’t done it! And, to make matters worse, before that could be resolved, a camera had caught her allegedly running a red light. She was talking to her lawyer.

“The justice-as-a-service thing—I really, really believe in it,” Hegarty said.

When Fixed got started, he said, he and others would go around following street-cleaning vehicles on San Francisco streets, to look for cars that had gotten ticketed for parking in a space that needed to be cleaned. When they found a ticket, Hegarty and his co-workers would put a note on the car, alongside the ticket, highlighting any errors that might render the ticket invalid and noting that they might be able to help get the car owner out of trouble. Once, he said, someone caught him leaving a note. When he explained what he was up to, he recalled, the person told him, “You guys are amazing! You are superheroes!” Hence the T-shirt.

Silicon Valley, these days, is a seller’s market; if you’ve got an intriguing startup, it’s the investors who pitch you. “You have to save a hundred thousand dollars for us,” Manus told Hegarty. “I really like this. We really like this.”

Outside the building, after lunch, I passed a man who, in contrast to the atmosphere of overstimulated glee inside the building, stood still, with the pale, vexed expression of a person who might vomit. I considering asking whether he needed help, but, when he didn’t meet my eyes, I kept going. A couple seconds later, I heard him mumbling some grandiose statement in the first-person plural. He was practicing his pitch.

Article source: http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/fever-pitch

The Boy Who Invented Email — History of Email (Part 1)

This is not to say that someone would not have created an electronic version of the interoffice mail system, perhaps even calling it something else, at some point in history; but the facts are that a 14-year-old boy, working in Newark, NJ, was the first to do it, the first to call it “email,” and the first to receive official recognition, for the invention, by the US government.

Prior to 1978, experts and electronic messaging researchers at big institutions, including members of the ARPANET team, thought it “impossible” to create such an electronic inter-organizational mail system. The seminal RAND report, written by David Crocker, a leading ARPANET electronic messaging researcher, makes this unequivocally clear.

In December of 1977, Mr. Crocker wrote:

“At this time, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale, inter-organizational mail system. The fact that the system is intended for use in various organizational contexts and by users of differing expertise makes it almost impossible to build a system which responds to all users’ needs.” (D. Crocker, December of 1977)

This report was written just a few months before Shiva began his project at UMDNJ.

The big institutions such as the ARPANET, MIT and the military had decided not to even attempt to create an electronic replica of the interoffice mail system. They chose to focus on the simple exchange of text messages between devices, dating back to the lineage of the Morse Code telegraph of the 1800s. Their efforts were the precursors to what we know today as Texting, Chat, and Twitter, the simple exchange of short messages, but certainly not email.

Shiva, however, had a singular focus to create a “full-scale inter-organizational mail system” in order to make the lives of office workers easier. He took into consideration human factors: the system had to be easy-to-use. He created a simple user interface so secretaries, doctors, students, and staff could easily migrate from the typewriter to the keyboard. His system did not need the Internet or ARPANET, but ran on the Wide Area Network (WAN) and Local Area Network (LAN), already in place at UMDNJ.

In 1981, Shiva received a Westinghouse Science Talent Search Honors Award, known as the “Baby Noble’s” for his invention. In his Westinghouse application, the young teenager had a remarkable prescience on the future of email. He wrote in the conclusion of his application:

“One day, electronic mail, like Edison’s bulb, may also permeate and pervade our lives. It’s practical applications are unlimited. Not only is mail sent electronically, as many telexes and teletypes are capable of doing, but it offers a computational service that automates a secretary’s or file clerk’s work of writing a memorandum, document or letter, editing, filing, and retrieving. If electronic mail systems become a reality, they will surely create different patterns of communication, attitudes, and styles. Volumes of written work, for example, shall become obsolete.” V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, 1981

The 14-year-old boy’s predictions on email all have come true.

Shiva’s example demonstrates that we cannot underestimate the creativity and wisdom of our young people. Nearly 25% of the world’s population is less than the age of 14, and about 50% are below the age of 25.

Excerpt from Westinghouse Science Awards Application, Shiva predicting the future of email.

Jim Clifton of the Gallup Organization, in his book the Jobs War, has concluded that the world needs to create 3.2 billion new jobs within the next 10 years. The current models of innovation rely on massive amounts of capital flowing to a few centers of innovation in major cities, big companies, large universities and the military. However, according to Clifton, these current models for innovation will only create 1.4 billion new jobs.

There is a 1.8 billion new job deficit! Where will these jobs come from?

The recent uprisings across the world may likely be attributed to youth feeling distressed and having little hope for jobs and a future where they can flourish. The journey of that 14-year-old boy working in Newark, NJ reveals an inspiring and alternate model for innovation.

Such models may appear as some brilliant exception, because media simply neither highlight nor report accurately such examples, as a rule.

Philo Farnsworth, for example, conceived TV, also as a 14-year-old child, in 1930, working in his home laboratory, in the small farming town of Franklin, Idaho. Like Shiva, Philo had that same ecosystem of loving parents, a wonderful mentor, and a supportive community.

However, it took many decades for the world to even know this fact, and that too, long after he died. Vested interests, for many decades, reacted and worked hard to hide the facts of Philo being the inventor of television; and such vested interests, also reacted in a similar manner, after news of the Smithsonian’s acquisition of Shiva’s code, papers and artifacts, on February 16, 2012, documenting his invention of email.

Is it so hard for us to believe that brilliant innovations such as email and television can emerge in healthy and sustainable ecosystems beyond the bastions of big universities, large companies and the military?

Modern media has an incredible opportunity to share such facts in a timely manner based on reviewing primary sources, and moving beyond simply accepting the word of “experts,” and the propensity to copy and paste from Wikipedia. Factual reporting of other “Shiva’s” and “Philo’s” is more than just good journalism, but one that can give hope to the emerging 3.5 billion young people, below the age of 25 who deserve accurate narratives on the infinite possibilities for creativity and innovation.

In 2011, when Shiva’s mother was dying, she gave Shiva a suitcase, in which she had saved from 1978 all of the computer code, papers and artifacts documenting his invention. The Huffington Post, at that time, was fortunate to have access to copies of Shiva’s documents, before the Smithsonian’s acquisition on February 16, 2012. They were the first media organization to share the Anniversary of Email.

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-weber/the-history-of-email-boy-who-invented-email_b_5690783.html

Hackers steal hospital records

MINUTES. THE DETAIL ON THAT COMING UP. THANKS JOB. WE FOLLOW CONSUMER ALITTER RUE NOW. ANOTHER COMPUTER HACKING CASE THAT COULD AFFECT A LOT OF PEOPLE HOSPITAL RECORDS. COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEM THAT OPERATES MORE THAN 200 HOSPITAL ACROSS THE COUNTRY SAYS HACKER BROKE INTO THE COMPUTER AND STOLE DATA ON 4 AND HALF MILLION PATIENTS. COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEM OPERATES AT LEAST 3 HOSPITALS IN HOUR AREA. THESE ARE THOSE AFFECTED. BE CLEAR, THIS IS NOT U.S. HEALTH WHICH USED TO BE PART OF THE SHAN SYSTEM. WE ARE LIVE FROM SHAN WHAT ARE HOSPITAL OFFICIALS TELLING YOU. Reporter: ACTUALLY THEY ARE SAYING NOTHING. YOU KNOW WHEN I FIRST LEARNED OF THIS THIS MORNING I CALLED SHAN STARK WANTING TO GET INFORMATION TELLING THE PEOPLE THAT CAME IN HERE. I CAME INSIDE EVEN WENT IN WITHOUT A CAMERA. THEY PROMPTLY ESCORTED ME OUT WITHOUT ANSWERING ANY QUESTIONS AT ALL. SHAN STARK TAKEN OVER SEVERAL YEARS AGO AND OPERATE BID COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEM ONE OF 2 06 HOSPITALS ACROSS THE COUNTRY RUN BY THE COMPANY. TODAY THE THE COMPANY SAYS THAT HACKERS RECENTLY BROKE INTO THE COMPUTERS AND STOLE DATA ON 4.5 MILLION PATIENTS. THIS DATA IS SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS. PHYSICAL ADDRESSES. BIRTHDAY AND TELEPHONE NUMBERS. ANYONE WHO RECEIVED TREATMENT FROM A NETWORK OWNED HOSPITAL IN THE LAST 5 YEARS OR WAS MERELY REFERRED THERE BY AN OUTSIDE DOCTOR COULD BE AFFECTED. DATA BREACH PUTS THESE PEOPLE AT HEIGHTEN RISK OF IDENTITY HEIGHTEN RISK OF IDENTITY THEFT. THAT ALLOWS CRIMINALS TO OPEN UP BANK ACCOUNTS OR CREDIT CARDS ON THEIR BEHALF AND TAKE-OUT LOANS AND JUST RUIN PERSONAL CREDIT HISTORY. HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED IN NORTH FLORIDA IS NOT KNOWN. THE COMPANY HAS HOSPITAL IN STARK. LIKE CITY AND LIVE OAK. COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEMS HIRED A CYBERSECURITY EXPERT AND THEY DETERMINED THAT THE HACKER WERE IN CHINA AND USED HIGH END SOPHISTICATED SOFTWARE TO LAUNCH THE ATTACK THAT PROBABLY OCCURRED IN APRIL OR JUNE OF THIS YEAR. WE UNDERSTAND TOO THE FBI IS INVOLVED IN THIS BUT WHAT THEY ARE FINDING OUT THIS REALLY ISN’T GOING AFTER PEOPLE’S FINANCIAL RECORD. WHAT THEY BELIEVE IS HAPPENING HERE IS THAT THE HACKERS ARE ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR MEDICAL DATA AND EQUIPMENT AND IT’S THAT TYPE OF SPYING THAT THEY ARE LOOKING INTO. THIS IS CHANNEL 4, THE LOCAL STATION. ANY WOULD WORD HOW THE COMPANY HELP ANY VICTIMS OF THE HACKING? Reporter: WELL, THAT’S WHAT I WANTED TO ASK THEM. THAT’S ALL I WAS TRYING TO FIND OUT FROM THEM AND THEY ARE NOT SAYING ANYTHING. BUT SOME PUBLISHED REPORTS ON CNN SUGGEST THAT IT LOOKS LIKE THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO RUN SOME FINANCIAL HELP OR BE ABLE TO RUN CREDIT CHECKS AND CREDIT REFERRALS TO SEE IF ANYBODY HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN ALL OF THIS. THAT’S THE ONE THING YOU WANT TO DO. CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT IF YOU HAVE BEEN A PATIENT OF THE HOSPITAL HERE OR OTHER ONES IN THE AREA JUST TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE.

Article source: http://www.news4jax.com/hackers-steal-hospital-records/27592156

Retailers And Their Computers Wait For Holiday Season Starting Bell

In these, the Dog Days of August, some children have already headed back to school, the workforce takes final summer vacations and retailers hold their breath preparing for the all-important holiday season.

Within thirty days we’ll talk a lot less about retail management turmoil (there is a pretty large stable of retailers looking for new CEOs and a few new ones in high profile companies) and a lot more about holiday prices.  The products to be sold are likely already in distribution centers or on the water heading to them, promotional plans have been set and labor hours planned and forecast.

The consumer has sent mixed signals.  Retail sales excluding cars have been somewhat anemic, but the economy seems to be otherwise doing well. Still even Macy’s, which has been enjoying top line growth for many quarters, has lowered its guidance a bit.

My personal predictive metrics are relatively simple – the quality of service at fast food restaurants, and the ease of finding laborers for tasks like house cleaning and gardening.  And mall traffic in Aventura. In Miami, at least, by those metrics the economy is booming and we should have a very strong holiday season but retailers seem to be unsure.

When a company like Macy’s cuts its sales forecast to the street, it is reflecting data put out by very sophisticated computer forecast engines. Reactions cascade through the entire retail enterprise. With that as a backdrop, it’s a good time to talk about the technology tools and techniques retailers will use to drive business through this important time of year:

  • If it’s possible to cut back on purchase orders, retailers will do so.  History has taught us that rabid “70% off everything in the store” trains consumers badly, and don’t really make up for sales shortfalls.  Better to not bring in that inventory in the first place than struggle to get rid of it to make room for the next season’s products. If forecast engines see sales trending downward, retailers will do their best to stem the tide of inbound inventory.
  • Payroll hours may be cut.  Just as there are sophisticated engines that forecast sales, most retailers have some very sophisticated labor scheduling tools to determine the right mix of labor in stores based on specific activities to be performed.  You really want different people in the store to receive merchandise and re-set the floor than to wait on customers. Amid all this complexity, one metric rules over all – the ratio of payroll as a percentage of sales (known as payroll-to-sales in the trade). That number is set.  If sales go down, hours are cut.  If sales rise, hours might be added.
  • Weekly Newspaper Inserts may be changed or expanded. These inserts, called “FSIs” are what make the Sunday paper so plump during the holiday season. Typically, they’re sent to the printer three to five weeks in advance of publication dates.
  • Final decisions are made on store opening hours.  It’s easy to say “Extended hours!! All stores will be open from 9am-midnight!!” but the math behind that can and should be very complex.  The first question retailers ask themselves is:  “How many more items will we sell if we stay open additional hours?”  Of course, retailers being retailers, they might also ask “How many sales will we lose to other retailers if we don’t stay open those extra hours and they do?”  But that’s just the beginning.  That’s when the math takes over.

If you keep a store open three extra hours you add expense:  the temperature has to be customer-friendly…that adds a cost. The lights have to be brighter.  That adds a cost. Employees and managers have to be on duty to help customers.  That adds even more cost.  When it’s all added up, a retailer may well decide to stick with standard hours, or add just one more each night. I personally worked at a retailer who opted to close its stores on New Years Day because they numbers just didn’t add up.

Over the past few years, it’s gotten a lot harder to draw any conclusions from the Back to School selling season.  The season itself is inconsistent across the US.  In my home state of New York, schools still open the Monday after Labor Day, but in Miami, where I live now, kids are heading back to school on Monday. August 18.  Because there’s no real “big bang” and because it’s hard to think about fall clothing when the temperature is 91 degrees, this selling season has lost its “pop”.

And so, in many ways, Halloween has become the canary in the coal mine that helps retailers get a final holiday forecast. That’s mighty late for decision-changing, but it’s what we have. It’s not a big gift-giving holiday, but it is a big party time, and also indicates the consumer’s propensity to spend.  The holiday falls on a Friday this year, which bodes well for those catering to trick-or-treaters and party costumes alike.  We should get a pretty good sense of consumer thought processes from the average transaction size at most anyplace that sells Halloween decorations, costumes and party supplies.

Regardless of sales forecasts, retailers will stop making changes to their computer systems around mid-September.  Most companies consider it the height of lunacy to change anything after that time. Smart CIO’s know that the real imperative will be stability, consistency and security.  They will have their staffs on high alert.  No one wants to be this year’s Target Target.

Security expert Brian Krebs believes the right question to ask is not “Will we incur a data breach?”  He believes the going in thought should be “We WILL be breached…are we prepared to avoid data theft before it occurs?” The technical abilities to avoid data theft do exist.  Retailers must spend the money to implement them.  If they haven’t done it by now, they’re vulnerable this holiday season. It’s just that simple.

These are some of the things to look for in the coming months. Retailers can’t do much to change global political turmoil, weather calamities, or unrest at home. All they can really do is keep their houses in order. They’re not going to do evil things with the technologies they own. They’re going to drive sales and profits.

Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/paularosenblum/2014/08/18/retailers-and-their-computers-wait-for-holiday-season-starting-bell/

Computers should be fun. Part 1: History

Posted: Sunday, August 17, 2014 12:00 am

Computers should be fun. Part 1: History

By Dave Moore
For The Transcript

Norman Transcript

I got involved with computers because I thought anything that had to do with technology was fun; therefore, I figured computers should be fun, too.

I have my friend, Jack, to thank for introducing me to computers and getting me started in my career as a computer repair guy.

When I first met Jack, he was an engineering student at the University of Oklahoma and was, in my estimation, a bona fide genius. Jack and I loved electronics and technology and had great fun talking about pretty much anything that used electricity.

Back in about 1978, Jack and I were driving around Oklahoma City one day and Jack said, “Let’s go into that store, over there,” pointing to a small storefront on Northwest 10th Street. “I want to show you something.”

Walking into the store was, for me, like walking onto the set of some futuristic science fiction movie. There were computers everywhere. We were in one of Oklahoma’s first computer stores and they sold machines from a company named Commodore.

Jack pointed to a Commodore PET computer (“Personal Electronic Transactor”) and said, “Someday, I’m going to own one of those.”

Those seemed like fanciful words at the time, since the price of the Commodore PET was around $1,000. Still, the idea of having fun with a computer stayed with us and percolated over the years. This was before the days of the IBM PC (Personal Computer) and the full-on “home computer revolution.”

A review of the Commodore PET, printed in a 1978 edition of “Electronics Today” magazine, stated, “Never before has a company tried to convince the public that a computer is an acceptable, fun, useful, perhaps even an essential thing to have around the house.”

As time went on, Jack and I both ended up buying computers, but not the Commodore PET. In the mid-1980s, Jack bought a TI-99, made by Texas Instruments, and started to learn programming.

I bought a Commodore 64, which was eight times as powerful as the PET, and started experimenting with programming and music recording. Other geeky friends bought the Apple II or early Macintosh computers. The world of home computing was really starting to gel, and we were having a ton of fun.

As things developed, significant events occurred that began to slowly siphon away some of the fun of home computing.

First, the IBM PC format became somewhat standardized and competing companies like Dell, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard began selling machines that were more or less the same under the hood and could all run the same operating systems and software.

The home computer revolution was ramping up and going mainstream. Computers from the likes of Commodore, Atari, Texas Instruments and Radio Shack were being crowded out by the “PC.” Home computing stayed somewhat fun, though, as most PCs ran on the Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS), which was fairly stable and reliable.

The promise of total, across-the-board PC compatibility was never quite fulfilled, though, and computing became less fun as computer repair guys and enthusiasts like me tried to figure out how to make things work as advertised.

Soon, the world of computing was turned on its head by another significant event that forever changed home computing: the introduction of Microsoft Windows.

Microsoft Windows offered impressive hope, and the promise of bringing easy computing to the masses proved irresistible. Never mind that Apple was already making superior computers that were loads of fun to use. It’s almost as if the entire world of computing was hypnotized by Bill Gates and Company.

Still, because of rapid adoption by the business world, the PC/Windows combination became the dominant force in home computing. The rest is, as they say, history.

The computer fun factor diminished even more. The first version of Windows I owned and used was Windows 3.1. Granted, when Windows worked like it was supposed to, it was fun.

It was cool flipping back and forth between different “windows.” Being able to point-and-click with a mouse was definitely more fun than typing in strings of cryptic DOS commands (C:Windowsdir /p).

Sadly, though, Microsoft Windows was so full of bugs that you could often spend as much time trying to fix things as you did actually getting anything fun or productive accomplished.

Countless hours and dollars have been spent trying to make Windows computers live up to Microsoft’s promises. This made computing much less fun than I had with my old, faithful Commodore 64.

Nonetheless, things improved over the years. Each version of Windows brought incremental improvements in reliability, and therefore, fun. To be fair, despite the imperfections, Windows 7 and 8 are far more reliable and fun to use than Windows 95 ever was.

That said, I think I’ll take a break from telling you how to fix your computer and, instead, look at ways to have fun with these high-dollar devices. Next week: games.

Dave Moore has been performing computer consulting, repairs, security and networking in Oklahoma since 1984. He also teaches computer safety workshops for public and private organizations. He can be reached at 405-919-9901 or www.davemoorecomputers.com


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Article source: http://www.normantranscript.com/news/article_9f25dfdc-23de-11e4-a34a-001a4bcf887a.html

Wilder memoir to give gritty view of prairie life

Wilder memoir to give gritty view of prairie life

In this 2012 photo provided by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press, an employee at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum in Mansfield, Mo., prepares to handle Wilder’s original manuscript of “Pioneer Girl.” The original version, written likely in the late 1920s, was written on tablet paper with lead pencil. The South Dakota State Historical Society Press plans to publish an annotated version of “Pioneer Girl” this fall. (AP Photo/South Dakota State Historical Society Press)

Wilder memoir to give gritty view of prairie life

This undated image provided by the South Dakota Historical Society Press shows Judy Thompson’s illustration of the cover of “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography”. The original version of the autobiography, that Wilder likely wrote in the late 1920s, was written on tablet paper with lead pencil. The South Dakota State Historical Society Press plans to publish an annotated version of this fall. (AP Photo/South Dakota Historical Society Press)

Wilder memoir to give gritty view of prairie life

This photo undated provided photo by Bruce Beaton shows Pamela Smith Hill in her office in Portland, Ore. Hill has been the lead editor on “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography,” since 2010. Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author behind the beloved “Little House” series, likely wrote her autobiography in the late 1920s. The South Dakota State Historical Society Press plans to publish the annotated version of this fall. (AP Photo/Bruce Beaton)



Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 3:54 pm
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Updated: 7:00 pm, Sat Aug 16, 2014.

Wilder memoir to give gritty view of prairie life

Associated Press |


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PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Laura Ingalls Wilder penned one of the most beloved children’s series of the 20th century, but her forthcoming autobiography will show devoted “Little House on the Prairie” fans a more realistic, grittier view of frontier living.

“Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” — Wilder’s unedited draft that was written for an adult audience and eventually served as the foundation for the popular series — is slated to be released by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press nationwide this fall. The not-safe-for-children tales include stark scenes of domestic abuse, love triangles gone awry and a man who lit himself on fire while drunk off whiskey.

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      Saturday, August 16, 2014 3:54 pm.

      Updated: 7:00 pm.

      Article source: http://www.itemlive.com/news/national/wilder-memoir-to-give-gritty-view-of-prairie-life/article_1a1421c3-f8e2-5172-aa57-14142d2638e2.html

      History Lessons

      It feels weird to call the forty-four-year-old playwright and director Robert O’Hara a major figure in the American theatre, because the phrase sounds oddly ossifying—like an honor one is bestowed at the end of a long, satisfying career. But I do think he’s a virtuoso, and has been since his first play, “Insurrection: Holding History,” was produced in New York, at the Public Theatre, in 1996. The Cincinnati-born author, who directed the show himself, was mentored by the institution’s artistic director at the time, George C. Wolfe. It was inevitable that Wolfe’s influence—particularly when it came to sending up blackness as it was portrayed in the American theatre—showed in “Insurrection.” Its protagonist was a black gay man who, during a stay in a Virginia motel, travels back in time to the eighteen-thirties; there, he falls for one of the guys in Nat Turner’s posse.

      O’Hara’s early work drew from other great sources. His interest in time travel is reminiscent of the novelist Octavia Butler’s forays into America’s slave-owning past. His sometimes dense, humorous speech owed a bit to Suzan-Lori Parks’s plays, in which history would not leave her characters alone. During the past fifteen or so years, though, O’Hara has worked hard to become himself. The hallmark of his comedic dramas is the way he examines the deeply complex relationship that blacks have with homosexuality, and what gay people themselves feel about homosexuality.

      O’Hara’s latest full-length play, “Bootycandy,” which begins previews at Playwrights Horizons on Aug. 22, is somewhat autobiographical. In it, we first meet a little boy named Sutter, whose mother criticizes not only the way he describes his penis but its uses. From there, O’Hara takes us through a number of very funny and often scathing scenes depicting Sutter’s coming of age and beyond. Gays dismantle gayness, and a lesbian couple reverse their commitment-ceremony vows by saying things like “Wherever you go, I will not be there.” The punch line in O’Hara’s work? His recognition and dissection of that ill-fitting straitjacket called political correctness. 

      Article source: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/25/history-lessons-4

      Room with a view toward better student health

      Space for future fitness center

      Unused space at Greenville Central School will become the district’s fitness center. Photo by Audrey Matott



      Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 2:00 am

      Room with a view toward better student health

      By Audrey Matott
      Columbia-Greene Media

      thedailymail.net

      |
      0 comments

      The Greenville Central School District’s buildings and grounds staff has been hard at work for the past three months to clear out space in a storage area on the ground floor of middle school that will be used as a fitness center for students.

      The storage room has been used for the past 10 years as a means for storage of surplus equipment. Recently, it became apparent that a weight room would help enhance the district’s athletic programs.

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      Saturday, August 16, 2014 2:00 am.

      Article source: http://www.thedailymail.net/news/article_e46fc9ce-2508-11e4-8060-001a4bcf887a.html

      Video: An oral history – Former Xbox boss Ed Fries on the early days

      Back in May, Halo 2600 developer and former Xbox executive Ed Fries spoke at length about his history and his work at Microsoft as part of the Computer History Museum’s ongoing series of “Oral History” interviews with notable figures in the tech industry.

      Speaking to museum representative Dag Spicer, Fries covers everything from his origin story as the child of engineers in Bellevue, Washington to his experience working as a programmer at Microsoft (where he earned the nickname “Fast Eddie” and coded game projects like Microsoft Fish-O-Rama in his spare time) on software like Excel, as well as his eventual progression to helping pitch the Xbox project to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

      It’s an interesting peek into what it was like to work at Microsoft while the company was reaching new peaks of influence in the industry, and developers will likely appreciate Fries’ anecdotes about working on projects like Microsoft’s Bungie acquisition and the decision process that led him to code the Atari 2600 game Halo 2600 in 2010.

      The interview was recorded and published to the museum’s YouTube channel, and we’ve taken the liberty of embedding it above. If you find it interesting, take the time to comb back through the museum’s channel and check out similarly interesting presentations like this conversation between Mark Cerny and EA’s Rich Hillieman or this 3dfx history panel.

      Article source: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/223417/Video_An_oral_history__Former_Xbox_boss_Ed_Fries_on_the_early_days.php