The Color Of Money

Silicon valley venture capitalists are typically reluctant to invest in companies more than an hour's drive from their offices. Far-flung start-ups are simply too difficult to manage. So it was curious, a few weeks ago, to find John Doerr, the most famous partner at the Valley's most storied venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, scouting for investment opportunities all the way in Brazil. In a two-day, 10-meeting whirlwind trip, Doerr, his KP partner Ellen Pao, and Doerr's...

Web of Risks

Cameron walker learned the hard way that sharing information online can have unintended consequences. In 2005, the sophomore at Fisher College in Boston organized a student petition dedicated to getting a campus police guard fired and posted it on the popular college social network Facebook.com. Walker wrote that the guard "loves to antagonize students ... and needs to be eliminated." It was a poor choice of words. Another student informed school officials, who logged on and interpreted the...

Dangers of Social-Networking Sites

Cameron Walker learned the hard way that sharing information online can have unintended consequences. In 2005, the sophomore at Fisher College in Boston organized a student petition dedicated to getting a campus police guard fired and posted it on the popular college social network Facebook.com. Walker wrote that the guard "loves to antagonize students ... and needs to be eliminated." It was a poor choice of words. Another student informed school officials, who logged on and interpreted the...

Who's Building the Next Web?

Deciphering the exact meaning of the phrase Web 2.0 is a popular parlor game in Silicon Valley. The expression can stand for many things--the kind of start-up that forges new connections among Web users, lets them share their tastes in music and video or simply exploits their creativity and participation in new ways.In the broadest sense, the Web 2.0 moniker captures the renewed exuberance (perhaps irrational) in high-tech circles. There are so many start-ups, in fact, that inventive observers...

Is TiVo's Time Up?

The biggest loser in Cisco's acquisition of Scientific Atlanta is a little company that's well loved by its customers: TiVo. The Silicon Valley pioneer helped invent the digital video recorder (DVR), and its name became synonymous with the technology's wondrous ability to pause and record live TV to a set-top box and to save us from TV ads. Cisco executives almost certainly considered acquiring TiVo as a way to break into digital entertainment (though they declined to comment on any potential...

Technology: High Speed On The Go

Sorry, but your mobile phone is so yesterday. When it comes to the most coveted wireless gadget, it's no longer the slimness of the handset that matters but the speed of the network. With Verizon and Sprint rolling out new "evolution-data only" (EV-DO) broadband service, TIP SHEET tested each one. Verizon's network (it adds about $15 to your monthly bill), which we tried on a Motorola E815 phone, makes watching clips from NBC News on the carrier's V Cast service a satisfying experience, though...

Blackberry: Bring It On!

Mike Lazaridis knows all about the "BlackBerry Prayer"--the supplicating position one assumes when grasping the popular six-ounce wireless combination e-mailer/phone known as the BlackBerry between your palms and thumb-tapping messages on its QWERTY keyboard. His wife complained so often about his assuming the posture at home that he was forced to respond: he gave her a BlackBerry of her own. Then he gave BlackBerrys to both their kids, ages 8 and 10. During a recent family dinner, Lazaridis...

Eats, Crowds And Cheats

Google jumped whole hog into China last year, investing in search leader Baidu.com and doubling down on its own Chinese-language portal. Yahoo bet part of the farm on China last month, plugging $1 billion into the search engine Alibaba.com. These days, it seems like every major American Internet business is going to China, and so I did, too. My wife and I toured the megalopolises of Beijing and Shanghai, the bustling manufacturing centers outside both cities, sampled the varied cuisine,...

Good Morning, New Orleans

During Hurricane Katrina, it was old-fashioned radio, not newfangled insta-media, that served as a lifeline for people battered by the storm. In the dark chaos of the Louisiana Superdome, or the lonely quiet of their homes, people along the Gulf coast huddled around battery-operated devices, seeking comfort and news from the on-air voices.But broadcasting during the crisis and the aftermath has been no easy feat for New Orleans radio companies, who face the same hardships as their listeners. At...

Plain Text: Heroes or Nettlesome Hacks?

Freelance counterterrorist Aaron Weisburd is not an employee of any of the three-letter federal agencies. He works alone in his attic in Carbondale, Ill., far from the hotbeds of terrorist activity. Yet for the last three years, the 41-year-old computer programmer has been obsessively monitoring dark corners of the Internet such as Qal3ah.org, the Web site where, last week, a group called the Secret Organization for Al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe placed a dubious claim of responsibility for the...

QUICK READ

Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter's Guide by Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway and Jon WarshawskyAnyone who's read a corporate report knows how boring business jargon can be. Whether it's just sloppy or really intentional ("restructuring" instead of "layoffs"), the authors say "bull has become the language of business." In this 192-page guide, they offer tips on navigating around common miscommunication traps (obscurity, anonymity, the hard sell) that befall business people....

DIAGNOSIS: INTERNET PHOBIA

Dorothy Harris took two buses through the pouring rain in south Chicago a few weeks ago to improve her finances and possibly even her health--by using the Internet. With help from a volunteer and a Web tutorial in a class cosponsored by The National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Harris, 81, went online for the very first time. She visited the Medicare.gov Web site and, after entering information about her complex drug regimen for heart-bypass surgery, Harris discovered she was eligible for...

MOTOROLA'S GOOD CALL

Robert Brunner never expected to carry a Motorola phone. A partner at San Franciso's Pentagram Design, Brunner is a fan of fashionable products like Philippe Starck watches and Sony digital cameras. The 76-year-old Motorola, on the other hand, has traditionally been "good at engineering things, not necessarily good at doing cool, well-detailed objects," Brunner says. Nevertheless, last fall he found himself joining countless other gadget hounds in a rush to the nearest Cingular store to buy the...

GRANDE PLANS

You can't go near the City Centre mall in downtown Seattle without seeing the coquettish mermaid logo of a certain international coffee company. There's a Starbucks kiosk just inside the mall entrance. Not a hundred yards away, another Starbucks is perched near the elevators to the 44-floor office tower. Up a short escalator, there's a third Starbucks. Why does a midsize shopping center need a trio of identical coffee shops? "If we only had one, customers would have to wait, or they would walk...

FINGERTIP WINDOWS

It's only supposed to happen with a sports car or diamond ring. But the employees at San Francisco's OQO can't take their company's sleek new computer out in public without drawing attention. On airplanes, buses and trains, curious onlookers relentlessly ask about the thin, ceramic-colored device that fits snugly in your hands and weighs a slight 14 ounces. Everyone wants to talk about it, play with it and usually find out where and when they can buy their own. Even the guards at SFO,...

Plain Text: A Small Step For Private Space Travel

Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites did it once again this morning, sending the rocket-propelled glider SpaceShipOne 63 miles above earth, into the nether regions of the atmosphere known as suborbital space. Despite a few tense moments--the craft spun uncontrollably on ascent--pilot Mike Melvill wrestled back control and accomplished the first of two flights necessary to win the $10 million dollar Ansari X Prize. (The second qualifying flight is tentatively planned for Monday but may...

Plain Text: Inside the Dark Corners of the Net

This week, Iraqi insurgents led by Al Qaeda extremist Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi added two more tragic casualties in the war in Iraq--and two more grainy, home-made videos to the collection of gruesome terror testimonials on the Internet.On Monday, Zarqawi and his gang beheaded Eugene "Jack" Armstrong of Hillsdale, Mich. Yesterday, they executed Armstrong's housemate, Jack Hensley, from Atlanta. Both men, who leave behind devastated families, worked for a United Arab Emirates construction...

TECHNOLOGY: PHONES TO WATCH

The next time you can't find the remote, hunt for your cell phone instead. A Berkeley, Calif., start-up called Idetic is making TV reception on cell phones possible with its infant service, MobiTV (mobitv.com). For $9.99 a month, owners of 19 different Sprint phone models can watch 22 cable stations, including CNBC, C-Span, Fox Sports, the Discovery Channel and a few news and comedy channels tailored for mobile users. For another $10, a second Idetic service lets baseball addicts listen to...

BLOGS: 'REEFER AND BEER' IN THE TOFU HUT

John Seroff, like lots of other New Yorkers, ekes out a living bartending and waiting tables. But each night the 29-year-old music aficionado spends three hours holed up in his apartment in front of his computer, spinning records for the world. His online music journal, or "MP3 blog," The Tofu Hut (tofuhut.blogspot.com), features obscure songs, each available for downloading, and a running commentary about musical tastes and trends. Seroff's preferences are diverse, to say the least. Last week...

The Master Of Wind

If Jim Dehlsen ever needs to remind himself why, at 67, he's still trying to save the world, all he has to do is glance outside his window. The offices of his three-year-old firm, Clipper Windpower, look across California's tranquil Santa Barbara Channel and, in the distance, to the remote marine sanctuary of Santa Cruz Island. Marring that view are eight oil rigs jutting into the ocean mist. In 1969 a well underneath one platform ruptured, releasing 200,000 gallons of crude into the harbor,...

The Alaskan Front

In early august the remote Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska was gripped with unseasonably mild weather: 70-degree afternoons, ravenous mosquitoes past prime insect season and dry tundra in the typically swampy lowlands of the coastal plain. These may be early signs of global warming, which is ironic, because the Arctic refuge is the 19 million-acre nature preserve that the Bush administration has targeted as the optimum spot to drill for oil and natural gas, the very fossil...

Getting Imac Right

The first colorful iMac, unveiled in 1997, weighed 40 pounds. The dome-shaped follow-up, with its flat-panel screen, weighed 21 pounds. Those computers were cute, but with the new, 18- pound iMac G5, it is tempting to say that Apple has finally gotten it just right. OK, so the G5 doesn't have a built-in Wi-Fi base station or personal video recorder. But its high-tech innards, including the speedy G5 processor, are tucked behind a flat-panel screen and sheathed in the white polycarbonate used on...

I Want A Movie! Now!

Netflix and TiVo ushered in an age of couch-potato bliss. Netflix lets its customers browse through its huge movie catalog on the Web and rent DVDs through the mail without having to worry about late fees. TiVo lets people digitally record their favorite shows and zoom through the ads. But now couch potatoes are perched on the cusp of true paradise. Soon they won't even have to stand up to trudge to the mailbox; fat broadband pipes will let them directly download movies over the Net to their...

THE ALASKAN FRONT

In early August this year the remote Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska was gripped with unseasonably mild weather: 20 degree afternoons, ravenous mosquitoes past prime insect season and dry tundra in the typically swampy lowlands of the coastal plain. These may be early signs of global warming, which is ironic, because the Arctic refuge is the 19 million-acre nature preserve that the Bush administration has targeted as the optimum spot to drill for oil and natural gas, the very...

A Mightier Wind

If Jim Dehlsen ever needs to remind himself why, at 67, he's still trying to save the world, all he has to do is glance outside his window. The offices of his three-year-old firm, Clipper Windpower, look across the tranquil Santa Barbara Channel and, in the distance, to the remote marine sanctuary of Santa Cruz Island. Marring that view are eight oil rigs jutting into the ocean mist. In 1969 a well underneath one platform ruptured, releasing 750,000 liters of crude into the harbor, coating...

The Alaskan Front

In early August this year the remote Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska was gripped with unseasonably mild weather: 20 degree afternoons, ravenous mosquitoes past prime insect season and dry tundra in the typically swampy lowlands of the coastal plain. These may be early signs of global warming, which is ironic, because the Arctic refuge is the 19 million-acre nature preserve that the Bush administration has targeted as the optimum spot to drill for oil and natural gas, the very...

THE WIRELESS WORLD

Phones, No. Wi-Fi, Yes HERMISTON, ORE. Population: 13,200 Why: Rural areas need the Internet, too Fact: Thirty-five towers and 75 antennas broadcast a signal that covers the whole countyThe phone and cable companies ignore the towns along the Columbia River in northeast Oregon despite the prevalence of farms, food-processing facilities, power plants and military installations that crave high-speed Internet access. "Sometimes it seems like we live in a third world out here," says Fred Ziari,...

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