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Brier Dudley's Blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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September 1, 2008 12:00 AM

Geeks, writing and the future: a Neal Stephenson interview

Posted by Brier Dudley

Today's story about Neal Stephenson didn't do justice to the great conversation we had, first over Ethiopian food and then here at the newspaper offices.

For a photo, we took him down to an old press in the basement where he posed next to a dial that displays thousand pages per hour of output, which is kind of funny for a guy who writes 1,000-page novels longhand.

The conversation was all over the place, so here are excerpts rather than a transcript.

Q: Do you have another book started already?

Continue reading this post ...

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November 14, 2007 3:41 PM

Happy GIS Day!

Posted by Brier Dudley

I didn't realize there was such a holiday, but Seattle-based LizardTech let me know because it was showing kids at Brighton School how far map creation has come since the Revolutionary War.

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May 22, 2007 2:17 PM

Boeing didn't plan for microwave curry

Posted by Brier Dudley

On the 747, at least. Maybe it has addressed this in the Dreamliner.

From The Register:

Forget binary liquid explosives, a British Airways stewardess has shown how it's really done by popping her curry ready meal into a 747's club class microwave, with explosive results.

The spicy blast -- caused by the supermarket-bought nosh's inability to withstand the might of the double-strength airborne microwave -- provoked crew on the Heathrow to Miami jaunt to deploy a fire extinguisher "to douse the blazing oven."

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April 17, 2007 2:41 PM

Former Seattle VC sentenced to federal prison

Posted by Brier Dudley

A followup to an unpleasant tech story: Craig McCollum, the former Seattle venture capitalist found guilty of failing to pay child support and alimony, was sentenced Monday by a federal judge in St. Louis.

From a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today:

U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson gave him three months in prison and ordered him to pay more than $10,000 in restitution to his children and others.

Jackson said victim impact statements from McCallum's children had been "heartbreaking."

"This isn't a case where you had trouble finding a job," she told McCallum. "This was a crime that you committed."

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April 9, 2007 9:46 AM

A short break

Posted by Brier Dudley

Time to recharge the batteries and enjoy spring. I'll be back next Monday.

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March 20, 2007 11:10 AM

Stephenson surfaces at Cinerama

Posted by Brier Dudley

A particularly good night at Paul Allen's Cinerama inspired Seattle author Neal Stephenson to explain what's really happening with the movie "300."

Microsoft blogger and narcissistic dilettante Fimoculous called out the essay, which appeared in a different Times. I hope it's a sign that Stephenson's exercising his writing muscles again and working on another book.

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January 2, 2007 2:18 PM

Predictions freedback, all the way from Iraq

Posted by Brier Dudley

The best response so far to Monday's 2007 predictions column came from Dennis Monahan, a lieutenant commander serving in Iraq.

He had a great suggestion for applying location technology to wikis:

As I was reading your article for the Seattle Times on 01 Jan it dawned on me that it would be neat to see if the blog market ties into the "location" services piece that you mentioned in your article in some way. For example, if a "wikipedia-like service" were suddenly "attached" to blog subject matter experts (SMEs) that were geographically and/or topic oriented. Instead of just finding the closest "pizza" joint in your local area, you could find your favorite critic's choice (or a selected choice that shares links with your favorite) and any past reviews (for a single example -- I could come up with more fairly easily). Recommendations could also be received from "identified network friends", etc. Wireless collaboration on a whole new level? I guess it could also embed some advertising . . . anyway, I would think that is probably what the technology needs to be capable of in the near future.

Find that guy a job in the tech industry after he's done with the Navy.

Other readers took me to task for suggesting that Vista will do well and the iPod's dominance will begin to fade.

But I was most surprised to hear from a few readers who thought I was encouraging music piracy, by saying that people could share music stored on flash memory cards.

Here's how I responded to one who questioned whether the music industry will block the Flash-based music players I mentioned:

I didn't mean to advocate stealing.
The technology I wrote about is already widely available; the only difference is that the capacities are increasing. You can put anything you want onto a flash card inserted in a PC then put the card into another device or PC. That's how most people transfer photos from cameras to computers.
The recording industry can't block this. That's why it's working with Microsoft and others on copy protection technologies that embed into digital music and limit how many times it can be copied.
Meanwhile, consumers have been letting friends sample their music collections for decades -- first with cassettes, then with CDs and more recently with software, including a bunch of products available now that make iTunes more flexible.
Hopefully people will use the technology responsibly and people will continue buying music.

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December 18, 2006 10:41 AM

Tinkering links

Posted by Brier Dudley

Here's the annotation for today's column on tinkering techies in the Northwest.

I should also mention that the column was also inspired by reporting I did for a story on Jim Russell, the Bellevue engineer whose tinkering in the 1960s led to optical storage technology behind the compact disc.

Here are the information sources mentioned in the column:

MAKE magazine fetishizes tinkering.

The Ignite Conference in Seattle that MAKE publisher O'Reilly organized. Here's a recap by O'Reilly's Brady Forrest.

Boeing has great info on the company history at its Web site.

There are many sources for the story of Bill Gates and Paul Allen starting Microsoft. I think the book by Paul Andrews and Stephen Manes is the best of them.

Here is Google Code, the site where it provides tools and services to developers. Microsoft has its MSDN developer network, and here is the site for web services.

Microsoft has posted tons of information about its robotics software and XNA game developer kits.

Mark Beck, the Whitman College professor, has also posted lots of information about his quantum mechanics lab device. I wonder if he'll use those mechanical skills to build a machine for cooking pigs.

If I had time to tinker, I'd start my shopping at Boeing Surplus, which by the way is having a 25 percent off holiday sale. I wonder what I could make with a five axis gantry machining center?

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September 12, 2006 9:42 AM

Back in business

Posted by Brier Dudley

I'm back after a wonderful paternity leave, but feeling a little left out because I wasn't one of the reporters whose phone records were stolen by Hewlett-Packard.

Give me a ring if I've missed any juicy tech tidbits over the past few weeks -- it's a pretty secure line to my desk, 206-515-5687.

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August 28, 2006 4:37 PM

Where's Brier?

Posted by Mark Watanabe

It's been about a week since the last post here, but there's a good reason.

Brier's been -- shall we say? -- busy. He talked about it earlier (second item).

Well, the sporadic posting disorder reached its height this past weekend as he and his family welcomed a new baby. Everyone's doing fine. Congratulations to all!

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.