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Thu, 27 Dec 2007 16:06:07 GMT

Use DNA Origami to cast Longwinded Spells

We first posted about Paul Rothemund when he published his big DNA origami paper [pdf] back in March 2006. It was a really nice result not because he was the first to make cool DNA patterns, but because the method he developed was so general: by designing short staple strands he could make a long strand of viral DNA assemble into arbitrary patterns and proved this pretty convincingly by making happy faces and a pretty accurate world map (among other things).

I just saw this week that he also gave a talk at TED last March. It’s just five minutes and he does a nice job of explaining the principle behind his work. He also puts it in an interesting context. He points out that using a computer to program an arbitrary pattern that then assembles by itself in a test tube is a lot like casting a spell in that the right set of instructions take material form. Of course, the spells are still very longwinded and require a lot of intervention, but it’s a provocative thought.

Posted by: Andre      Read more     Source

Sun, 16 Dec 2007 14:21:46 GMT

General Motors 100th Anniversary

General Motors 100th Anniversary
Five years ago the Buick Club of America celebrated that marque's 100th anniversary with an incredible gathering of Buick cars from the early years to the contemporary Reatta. Included were rarely seen "dream cars" like Harley Earl's Y-Job and his jet-influenced LeSabre prototype. Now the club is back to honour GM's 100th and Buick's 105th at the Flint Cultural Center, home of the Sloan Museum and Buick Gallery and Research Center, on July 16-20, 2008. What I found especially interesting is a plan to host tours of five of the more prominent houses in the area owned by GM executives. Interesting because the historic Ford and Dodge family homes are most often highlighted during similar tours. Does this mean we'll get a peek into Bob Lutz's personal garage where he hides his favorite classics? If you like Buicks (and who doesn't?) here's a rare opportunity to dip into the past.

Posted by: Philip Powell      Read more     Source

Sun, 16 Dec 2007 14:06:07 GMT

Valuable Retail Owner Information

Valuable Retail Owner Information
After almost 20 years in retail, I'm on the look out for new resources, sites and books that help the retail owner be successful.

As a business owner you live and die by ROI: Return on investment. You want to ensure that the dollars you spend on cost of goods, payroll, advertising and G&A bring a return that allows a nice percentage of top line sales flow to the bottom line.

ROI also stands for Retail Owners Institute, an online resource with tons of valuable information for the new and experience retail owner/franchisee/manager.

ROI, the website, offers articles, tips, links and even a Retail Financial Basics course that you can sign up for.

There are 56 different retail industries segmented and once you become a member of ROI you have the opportunity to view articles, and benchmarks for your specific segment of the retail world. Imagine knowing if your 27% cost of goods sold is good or offers room for improvement.

There are even quizzes you can take that address some of the key issues you face as a retail owner.

Good stuff.

Deborah Chaddock Brown

Posted by: Deborah Brown      Read more     Source

December 12, 2007, 10:00 PM CT

Now Protecting 'America's Birth Certificate'

Now Protecting 'America's Birth Certificate'
NIST technician Dana Strawbridge bolts the top frame of the map encasement to its base during a test sealing of the encasement prior to shipping to the Library of Congress.
A hermetically sealed glass and aluminum encasement built by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will protect the first world map to label the lands of the New World as "America" when the "Exploring the Early Americas" exhibition opens Dec. 13, 2007, at the Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington, D.C. The 40-square-foot, state-of-the-art display case is the new home for the 1507 Waldseemüller map, often called "America's birth certificate".

Protecting America's historic documents is not a new task for NIST. Twice before (1951 and 2003), the agency built encasements for the nation's Charters of Freedom-the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights-housed at the National Archives. However the Waldseemüller map encasement, developed in partnership with the LOC, is six times larger than any of those cases. The new encasement's frame and base were machined from two solid pieces of aluminum donated by the Alcoa Company. It was sealed with a double sheet of thick, non-reflective laminated glass. The case includes valves for flushing out oxygen (which would chemically react and degrade the map's paper and ink) and replacing it with inert argon gas. It also includes sensitive monitoring devices to constantly measure internal environmental conditions.........

Posted by: Edwin      Read more         Source

Wed, 12 Dec 2007 00:24:09 GMT

A Busy December Begs for Lifestyle Managers

A Busy December Begs for Lifestyle Managers
December is busy, busy, busy. You've got parties to attend, family gatherings to sit through and more shopping to finish than you can possibly get done. How are you ever going to find time to enjoy online dating? Many people let their profiles go stagnant and their email boxes fill up because there just aren't enough hours in December days.

But some people take a business approach to their personal lives. They hire someone else to do the things that they can't get done. And in this day and age, that can even mean hiring someone to take care of basic aspects of your online dating for you. These people are called lifestyle managers and they're growing in popularity.

Lifestyle managers do exactly what their name implies: manage the details of your life. Essentially, this is a personal assistant for the home. You find someone that you like and can trust and then teach them how to take care of the things in your life that you just don't have time to take care of. And yes, for some people that means online dating.

Of course, there are certain aspects of online dating that you'll want to do on your own. You are going to be the one going on these dates after all. You wouldn't want a lifestlye manager to make the call about whether or not someone is date-worthy. But there are some basic tasks that a lifestyle manager can handle for you.

Aspects of online dating that a lifestyle manager could take care of include uploading and cropping new photos that you've taken over the holidays, editing your online profile to give it a little bit more pizzazz, weeding the really sketchy/scary/bad emails from your inbox, sending a generic "no thanks" to the people you've decided to veto and assessing your schedule to see when December dates can take place.

If you've got too much on your plate this year but don't want to give up dating, you might want to ask for a little bit of help. To learn more about lifestyle managers, check out this article from last week's Washington Post.

Question of the Day: What online dating tasks are "crossing the line" when it comes to assigning them to someone else?

Posted by: Kathryn Vercillo      Read more     Source

Tue, 11 Dec 2007 03:09:26 GMT


How do you engage a person in conversation?

One of the most important marketing systems you have is called networking. Getting out and meeting other entrepreneurs and potential clients for your business. There is many places to do this as I have mentioned Toastmasters, you local Chamber of Commerce and community events.

Angle from the Unlimited Self Mastery blog describes ways you can be compelling when engaging someone in conversation. I for one used to be quite and shy and used to being in the corner watching everyone else. But over the last couple of years I have learned to get involved in conversations and be part of the talking.

There are several ideas included to help you get started.

Also I would remember that the most important part of a conversation is being a good listener.

Posted by: John Dornoff      Read more     Source

Mon, 10 Dec 2007 00:43:58 GMT

The Future of Media and Advertising

The Future of Media and Advertising
Are the economics of media changing to look more like the economics of retail? That's one of the arguments made by John du Pre Gauntt. John teaches a course I've been attending on "Understanding the Convergence of Media and Marketing." He wrote an excellent short essay about his views on the subject, and with permission, I have reprinted the paper here below.

During the second half of 2005, the irresistible force of convergence smashed head-on with the immovable object of today's media and advertising industries.

The immovable object lost.

That issue settled, the two core questions are A.) what fundamentally changed?, and B.) what constitutes competitive advantage in this new environment?

I contend that convergence flips competition from a property-based model of owning or exploiting titles or channels to a service-based model of owning or exploiting knowledge of customer preferences. In a world of infinite digital shelf space, media and advertising is going to start looking a lot more like consumer retail.

I believe that media companies and advertisers can no longer base their business on owning content *consumers* whose experience is defined according to a content type, media channel or technical device. Instead, media companies and advertisers must learn to serve *customers* who could be viewing, listening, reading, playing, or manipulating a given piece of content wherever they want, any time they want, on any device they

Thus, the lasting impact of convergence is the penetration of retail e-commerce into the previously cushy world of media and advertising. Media and advertising executives might dream that convergence enables them to re-sell or re-purpose existing content or campaigns for new money. But that is sugar water masquerading as mother's milk. After the novelty phase is past, they or their replacements will have to rip the guts out of current operating procedure lest convergence-native competitors do the job for them. Media and advertising executives need only observe how e-commerce rocked travel & leisure, financial services, home electronics, real-estate, automobiles, and a host of other consumer touching industries to grasp what a retail future really means for them.

The march toward consumer retail for media and advertising is inevitable because once an economic good or service can be digitized, transported and experienced on-demand; push-oriented business models that depend on scarcity must yield to pull-oriented models that help people navigate a world of abundant choice.

This is convergence acting as a solvent on traditional media and advertising. Executives are rightly terrified. The past decade saw skepticism on their part about convergence because it didn't come as a signature innovation that anyone could see. Instead, convergence arrived on little cat feet via hundreds of innovations that rode on broadband IP combined with the habits of a network-native customer base who were in elementary school when convergence first crossed the radar screens of Hollywood and Madison Avenue.

But the digital tribes have grown up and have profoundly different perceptions of media value. They produce, share, experience, and manipulate content as well as opinions about goods, services, and ideas without immediate recourse to incumbent media and advertising outlets.

Convergence as glue
However, convergence also enables mass customization, which is good retailing by another name. The amateur social networks have figured out what most professional media and advertising firms have failed to grasp: creating value is not simply the ability to solve a content, distribution, digital rights, or monetization problem. It's about understanding and serving a new kind of audience, stupid!

An early pioneer was MTV. Strictly speaking, MTV doesn't fund artistic development, distribute the network signal, or sell music direct to the consumer. Yet, MTV became huge in the global music industry because it was highly skilled at programming music video content to fit and enhance the lifestyle of its audience. By clearly understanding (some might say manipulating) its audience, MTV owned first place in a demand chain- and called the shots accordingly.

More recently, search engines such as Google or Yahoo! along with e-tailers such as Amazon or eBay have created major, profitable businesses through gathering customer demographics and activity data as their fundamental capital stock. They refine that raw material into real assets through digital conversations with customers in the form of searches, transactions, reviews, loyalty programs, and other forms of interaction, that are digital in technology, but are retail in philosophy.

In each case, the thrust of product and service innovation revolves around optimizing how customers find what they want, in a format they like, at a price they are willing to pay-anytime, through any device, and on-demand. Back-end production and fulfillment systems exist only to add value to that experience.

Like Janus, these companies face in two directions simultaneously. The front end accumulates demographic and psychographic information to marry with activity data to place the most relevant suggestion, and thereby help the customer navigate abundant choice. The other face looks upstream to orchestrate multiple supplies of product, content and services to deliver on expectations of an on-demand experience.

To execute on that brand promise, these companies have built powerful infrastructures of processes, databases, networks and applications. But their business is about mining their infrastructure's institutional memory in order to consistently end up in the right place, with a good offer, when the customer is most receptive.

To know a lot of little things or one big thing
So how should today's media companies and advertisers compete in a world where customer knowledge on the front-end and orchestration on the back-end is what drives value?

I say that media and advertising companies had better adopt more of a retailer's mind- set. Content creation, production and distribution are now sub-sets within the swatch of new activities such as product placement, cross promotion, dynamic pricing, bundling with tools, individualized service, identifying and engaging communities, rewarding loyalty, running specials, all of which are retail best practices that media players and advertisers must customize to their world.

Owning titles and/or media channels will remain important. But they will no longer define what is media, what is advertising, who wields market power, and how they use it.

Many, if not most, of today's incumbents will counter that media and advertising are unique (the burden of proof is on you) or I'm simply re-stating the obvious. Perhaps. But until the day I can call CBS Sports customer support to fix the camera angle I ordered for the Superbowl or qualify for a free preview of an exclusive motoring channel for new BMW owners, I don't buy what they're trying to sell-namely that incumbents ever thought much past the idea of pushing inventory to a captive audience.

However, I do know that by the early 1600s, European castles became virtually impregnable to cannon fire, a situation that persisted right up to the 19th century. But the castles declined nonetheless because their primary advantage- the ability to organize and control trade within a well-defined area-couldn't compete with the new factories and industrial culture that drew tenants and talent off the farm and into the cities. Once the exchange of goods, services and ideas happened outside castle walls, these grand structures became only so much overhead.

Today's situation is similar. No cash, debt or stock-led frontal assault will likely breach the walls of today's consolidated media and advertising incumbents.

And it doesn't matter a tinker's damn.

During the next decade, look closely for those companies that have internalized the distinction between owning exclusive titles/channels and serving loyal customers. They will be the ones controlling the most wealth and power in a converged media economy.

Note: Louisville readers should consider attending the 4 week Bellarmine course that John teaches.

Posted by: rob      Read more     Source

Sun, 09 Dec 2007 10:28:26 GMT

The Walker

The Walker
"[Paul] Schrader has denied that The Walker is a political film," notes J Hoberman in the Voice. "However, it''s not only political, it''s nostalgic for politics..... This is a serious movie and, gliding around the center of power, a stylish one. But, like its protagonist, The Walker is unable to close the deal."

"[Woody] Harrelson plays the latest incarnation of the Schrader hollow man, Carter Page III, the swishy scion of a Virginia political dynasty," writes Benjamin Strong in the L Magazine. "Living off his inherited fortune and a part-time gig as professional gossip monger, Carter passes his days escorting DC dames, albeit only in the non-conjugal sense. Like his forbearer in the Schrader canon, American Gigolo''s Julian Kaye, Carter becomes entangled in a plodding, slightly incomprehensible murder investigation that may or may not ruin him, but that definitely bores us."

Updated through 12/7.

Posted by: dwhudson      Read more     Source

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 21:04:23 GMT

Hunting vs gathering

Hunting vs gathering

Yeah, yeah, it’s Black Friday. But it’s also just three days until the opening day of regular rifle deer season in Pennsylvania, which for some people I know is like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s rolled into one. So while the gatherers are standing in checkout lines, the hunters are moving tree stands around, cleaning their rifles, and going to the target range.

For the righteous among us, of course, there’s always leftover tofurkey and Buy Nothing Day. To each his/her own. Me, I’m going out to look for some photos.

Posted by: Vianegativa      Read more     Source

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 08:21:03 GMT

Bug Art

Bug Art
This week''s issue of Nature has an interesting review of an exhibition, The Art of Arthopods. California entomologist Steven Kutcher uses insects as living paintbrushes to generate his "paintings". Read more about it here.

Kutcher''s bug art is on display at the Entomological Society of America meeting in San Diego (9–12 December) and at the Lancaster Museum (15 December–13 January 2008), in California.

Incidentally I used to have a couple of Madagascan hissing cockroaches (above), but I failed to think of using them to create art work.

Posted by: Dennehy      Read more     Source

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