Changes

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace I'm going through

David Bowie, Changes



I'm sitting here this morning looking at what a gloomy day it is outside. You people sitting in snow must be laughing at me when I think gloomy (at 62 degrees and slightly humid), but cold weather does take its toll on native Californians. Last night when I should have been throwing a Duraflame into the fireplace (which I don't do anyway because the cats tend to playfully throw themselves into flame when they see fire - Dakota especially likes to brush up against candles on tub-side when he's up for taking a bath with me - and he is a highly-flammable). Yes, luckily my cats love to take baths, and my parrot, Zelda, loved to shower, but that is probably TMI (too much information) for most of you.

Anyhow, last night when everyone should have been shoving Duraflames into their fireplaces without any guilt, around 6PM a spare the air night was declared. What does that mean? It means that the air particles have been declared unsafe to breathe (for the most part) and for people to not do any driving if they can help it (in California that's like asking someone not to have sex if they can help it), and not to burn anything. It was the first nighttime spare the night declared since 1996! Makes you wonder about what all of a sudden caused that blip last night since there haven't been any fires that would have dumped dirty particles into the Valley's basin.... But tomorrow will clear the air, rain predicted for the next two days.

Last Thursday night was the annual gala at the World Internet Center at Stanford where I'm a fellow; it was great getting all dressed up in velvet and satin and drinking the night away with great friends and associates whom I've come to know over the year. Lots of great talk about the future from Director Sue Duggan who has done quite a bit to encourage new partnerships and strategies for major corporations and startups here in the Valley, and beyond. I nearly had to go to Boulder for business last week, but delayed my trip for the gala and to attend the Elcomsoft trial that began last Monday. Alex Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft www.elcomsoft.com looked great and I was impressed how Joe Burton www.duanemorris.com is handling the case, although the jurors looked VERY bored and were probably catching only a third of what the trial is about. The outcome of this trial will ripple throughout the entire technology and publishing industry. It will make changes in how we create and use technology. By the number of press people there I can see that this fact hasn't quite sunken into the mainstream media. I trust that the case is in good hands with Burton at the helm.

A bit more drama would have reeled the jury in a bit more. People are used to watching shows like Law & Order and CSI where there is a bit more connection (in, magically, only minutes) that wraps up the case in the course of an hour and has interesting dialogue. The people of the jury (8 men 4 women) looked a bit like they were shell shocked, although I have to admit that I had forgotten my non-sun script specs the first day. I was running late because of a meeting, so I didn't get to hear opening arguments. I havenít gotten my hands on the transcripts, but what I hope Burton conveyed was how important this case was not just for Elcomsoft, but also for the entire world as far as technology development, and they weren't just judging just another case. What he did point out was that there were American companies such as Apple that had the same kind of software for sale. I would have liked to have seen a battle between Jobs www.apple.com and Warnock www.adobe.com - now that would have been a fair fight. Warnock was a coward for choosing Elcomsoft, and the DoJ thought they'd have an easy-win for picking a Russian company. What Adobe or the DoJ didn't expect was the language of programming far exceeds the English language as far as communication over boundaries.

The jurors should be informed on a non-technology basis about how the DMCA is being used and not have technology shoved down there throats that is completely disconnected from just about (from the looks of the jury, except for a few nerds who couldn't hide their enthusiasm on a few points) any aspect of their own lives. I mean, Adobe, who first brought the case against Elcomsoft, is a major employer in San Jose (where I imagine most of the jurors are from or work) has a towering building with the red letters ADOBE looming large over the city. Is it going to be difficult for jurors to believe that Adobe would do anything wrong (when it is such a large, established company that breathed life back into San Jose's economy). What might be easier to believe is that Elcomsoft (a Russian based company with a programmer who was arrested at a "hackers" conference) is the bad guy. Educated, tech-savvy jurors will be the wild card in this case. The people on this jury are not the peers of Alex Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft. Not a single one of them. They should have asked that the trial at least be held somewhere (maybe in San Francisco) where your regular run-of-the-mill residents haven't been seeing that ADOBE sign on a subliminal basis for the last so-many years. At the very least, most of them probably see it on the way to the courthouse. Holding the trial in San Jose was a huge mistake, and could cost the defense the trial.

What most people don't know about this case is that the US government was one of Elcomsoft's major customers before all of this came down. Obviously the Feds chose this case because they wanted to play the bad-guy Russian card and try for an easy win that would seal the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA, see www.eff.org">www.eff.org and www.eff.org/Legal/active_legal.html for more information, and see action.eff.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item=2347 for some interesting upcoming tidbits). EFF party is being held on the 10th, see details about John Perry Barlow's big bash on Tues Dec 10th at the EFF website.

I still stand by my original comment I made on CNN last year that the DoJ is taking a knife to a gunfight and is not going to win. Did you know that Apple computer has a product does the exact same thing - now that would have been a fair fight ó you could have sold ringside seats to a Warnock/Jobs battle. Especially if they were dressed in loincloths and were in a stadium in a pool of mud -- that's how tech battles should be played out. Or at least with Battlebots www.battlebots.com/

Earlier before going to the courthouse I attended Red Herring's Semiconductor conference, a very cool panel discussion sponsored by Gray Carey www.graycary.com The official title of the panel? Red Herring's invitation-only Semiconductor Briefing at the Cypress Hotel on December 3rd where the question, "What will propel the semiconductor industry into the next era of computing? was explored. Who was involved? The Briefing will feature a keynote speech by Dr. Bernard Meyerson, CTO of IBM's Technology Group and VP of IBM's Communications Research Development Center followed by a panel discussion among such industry luminaries as Seamus Blackley, VP of Development for Capital Entertainment Group and Dr. Avi Katz, President and CEO of Equator.

I found Bernie Meyerson of extreme interest to those of you looking toward the future of nanotechnology and its early applications for commercial use. He rocked. It was a very sexy event and Red Herring definitely knows how to put one of those on. I hope they'll do one based on nano and the changes that will/are being made with the infusion of government money.

There were probably 95 men and five women, and although those odds are favorable if you're marooned on a desert island looking for the perfect mate (and a heterosexual woman), the odds are somewhat disappointing if you're looking toward the future of women in the semiconductor industry. And it's not until lately that I've even thought about taking a look back into the semiconductor industry. Having been a technical part of it years ago, I found it boring and somewhat repetitive (Oh look, another 18 months have gone buy, wonder what's going to happen next?). I have been hanging out at NASA and looking at the technologies they're spinning out and find that it will soon become a viable industry for me to play in again.

After hanging with Jamis MacNevin and some others from the group, I did find that I was very inspired by the whole event. Especially in that setting Ė that hotel is really cool. When I was a kid it was a grain and feed processing plant and retail outlet. Now itís this really grand, hidden hotel. I also took note of BJís, the new brewery www.bjsbrewhouse.com/ and the first brew pub in Cupertino (as far as I know). What used to be there was the Peppermill, an establishment that was somewhat involved in some kind of a prostitution ring sometime in the early 80s. Although Iím pretty fuzzy on the details, I think I was still in high school ó or maybe in college (which is even more of a reason for the details to be fuzzy). Located next to Apple, it got a pretty heavy crowd of engineers. Anyhow, I did go to the private opening of the new pub and it seems like a pretty cool place (late last week). The name is definitely a precursor to what many Silicon Valley engineers will be looking for there. Who names these places, anyway ó BJíS, Hooters. Ö Although BJís is marketed as a family place (and the food sure is great), I find the name a bit delinquent, although I really donít know the genesis of it enough to know that itís not the owners initials or something. So maybe Iíll stop while Iím ahead (pun quite intended).

I went with the optimism of the Red Herring event to the San Jose Fed Courthouse where I would be late for the first day of the Elcomsoft trial. Things seemed unusually quiet for a Monday afternoon on the streets of Downtown San Jose. It was an unusually quiet afternoon and I passed by this older guy who had a badge (the kind you get at tradeshows, not a shield) on, he was just outside the courthouse and it said "special deputy," and I wondered what one would have to do to acquire such a badge and what power it actually wielded.

I was thinking about that when I popped my purse into a plastic tub, having made sure to leave my stun gun in the car, for the security check. Three feds checking security and me in the empty entryway. So, one of the older guys asks for my ID. I tell him I don't have one on me. Having had an incident many years ago where my identity had been stolen and still to this day I'm sorting things out, I am very wary of having anything on me that identifies me on my person that can be nicked. I knew my passport was in the car because I had some international dealings I've been taking care of as of late, so I hiked back to the parking lot and retrieved it from a very hidden spot. When I showed it to him I asked what it proved; it's not like he was checking it against any list of wanted criminals, or even suspected criminals (more likely the case these days when everyone is a suspect until the government proves you otherwise). He said it was to see who I was and if I matched the pic, and to see what city I lived in. Well, because I had forgotten my script specs I had my sunglasses on, so I actually could have been anyone. When I walked through the metal detector and retrieved my purse and notepad I turned around and asked him what city I was from...and I got such a look. I went up to the 4th floor and began observing.

It's kind of funny how removed I am from the usual suspects in the press. I didn't recognize anyone, except there were a few who recognized me. I hate that, but I run into so many people that it is somewhat hard to keep mental track. And after a day of attending things, it becomes even more difficult because I'm trying to sort out the characters involved in the events and mentally writing my lead.

I looked at the jury who that was led out after a time-out was called and a document was hunted down. Afterward, the feds called a witness out of order when it was their turn to cross-examine, the witness currently on the stand was told by judge Whyte "I'll see you tomorrow." No one said anything as the witness left and the witness called out of order took the stand. When she was finished testifying (and I really thought she was a very weak witness) the judge recalled the other witness. As the Feds kept going out the door one by one to look for the witness to be recalled (It was quite humorous and like a joke, how many Feds does it take to recall a witness?), Judge Whyte made a comment that he told the witness that he'd see him tomorrow. The Judge called an end to the day and everyone stood. It was odd because the judge had not excused anyone (not that he needed to) so everyone was standing ó including the press who had stories to file. I was surprised when the judge said, "You don't need to wait around," or something like that.

On our way out the door I was surprised to see that the jury had been led out the back only to ride down with the press in the elevator. One misplaced question and an easy answer (given on the confusion of the first day of trial by a juror) could have easily caused a mistrial. I wondered about the wisdom of the jury keeper's decision as the jurors walked out the door and into the streets of San Jose like the rest of us.

I had dinner with my friend Stu and headed off to the www.nanobioforum.org meeting where Laura Mazolla has done an excellent job in putting together a forum that brings physicists together with medical professionals to see what synergies can form. The meeting, held into the late evening, was located at the law offices of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe in Menlo Park where Harvey Fishman, MD, PhD; Ophthalmology, Stanford Medical Center, and David P. Lee, MD; Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford Medical Center, made great presentations about the need for nano solutions in their fields. And this is the stuff that WILL change medicine forever. It was a fabulous way to spend the evening - even if I was on my 10th cup of coffee and third Vivarin; I had been up all night 3:30 the night before and had to get to the Red Herring event by 7:30 the next morning in Cupertino.

Of course, afterward, a crew of us went around the corner to my second offices away from home www.britishbankersclub.com where we crashed the bar upstairs (normally closed, but definitely more quiet for hard-core discussion, especially when the Stanford B-School was downstairs and hormones raging as the sexes mixed it up before holiday vacation). It was a very young, beautiful and promising crowd. We left them to their own devices and dragged our old asses upstairs with our drinks in hand. David Grosof, a brainiac MIT guy looking toward the future of nanotech as a promising technology (and whose brother developed the controversial, but little known Fosorg Theory) was among the group. We got out of there late and I went driving down the El Camino home.

This weekend was spent trying to get things ready for the big move. I've yet to tell hardly anyone what I've got planned, but I'm moving back to my lovely LA, although I have a few stops to make first, including Kenya where I'll be working on a report of how peripheral terrorism can destroy an economy and has lasting implications. I'll be maintaining a Silicon Valley address and spending time here, although calling LA home. Iím planning to hook into the research institutes, universities, tech and entertainment companies forming the future. Since most of the entertainment companies funding much of the legislation regarding copyright, use and airwaves are in Southern California, I figure that will be the place where I will write the next book. I also have some other projects in the works (see future projects in book section), and Iíve been longing to get back into the film industry. Hey, and I actually got the book section in order (finally) and have chapter downloads available, including the text that was censored from two of my books.

So, there it is ó my big news is posted. And I have to say it's taken a while to decide to pull up stakes and move back to my one and only love ó Los Angeles. Some people fall in love with people, I fall in love with cities and technologies, and I've been pining a long, long time to return to a place I consider home.