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postedPosted in Money Matters, Stuff on September 20th, 2014 by glennm

My “new” 2007 Porsche Boxster now has LED fog lights. And I helped. Wow!!


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More CFAA Uncertainty

postedPosted in Lawyers, Guns & Money, Money Matters, Tech Bytes on August 9th, 2012 by glennm

We’ve written previously about the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) being limited by judicial interpretation, especially for employers as civil plaintiffs, and offered tips on alternatives to controlling unauthorized access to or use of enterprise IT systems by employees. Reports Of The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated | Information Intersection. The terrain is getting even murkier.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last April in Nosal gave the statute a limited construction, holding that the “exceeds authorized access” offense is “limited to violations of restrictions on access to information, and not restrictions on its use.” That may make sense from the perspective of a law dating to 1984 and initially designed to criminalize physical damage to computing systems, but not from the perspective of how courts transition precedent from one technical era into another. The CFAA is not that old. Yet already we are confronted with an increasing conflict as to its basic scope when applied to civil remedies for insiders who exceed their authority and injure corporate good will or IP. Indeed, cybersecurity experts often warn that the greatest threats to business IT systems and the information they store arise not from hackers, but dishonest or disaffected employees, even “well-meaning insiders.”

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A Penny Saved

postedPosted in Business, Money Matters, Tech Bytes on August 8th, 2012 by glennm

With calls for elimination of the U.S. penny going back decades, we are now on the verge of an inflection point for commercial payments. Between debit cards and emerging mobile payment systems, it seems innovation can disrupt even established roles of government that date to the U.S. Constitution (1789) and centuries beforehand.

Cash moved one small step nearer to its deathbed with the announcement on Wednesday that Square, the mobile payments start-up, would partner with Starbucks Coffee Company, reports Claire Cain Miller on Wednesday in The New York Times.

Daily Report: A Step Forward for the Mobile Wallet.

Social security checks are today almost completely a thing of the past. How many more years or decades before currency itself becomes extinct? And will this sea of change also disintermediate banks? Wait and see, but likely not for long.

Note:  Originally prepared for and reposted with permission of the Disruptive Competition Project.


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Not Too Big To Fail

postedPosted in Lawyers, Guns & Money, Money Matters on July 2nd, 2012 by glennm

Dewey logo

Dewey & LeBoeuf is the biggest AmLaw 200 firm to collapse, but its not the only one. Here are 10 other law firm failures that made news in their day.

Not Too Big to Fail | American Lawyer


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Of Buggy Whips, Telephones and Disruption

postedPosted in Lawyers, Guns & Money, Money Matters, Tech Bytes on June 25th, 2012 by glennm

Disco Project

At the DisCo Project, we naturally focus on the current, dynamic technology marketplace and the disruption it is continuing to cause to brick-and-mortar and other “legacy” industries. But disruptive innovation is not new and not unique to high-tech. It’s been around for hundreds of years and serves as a key driver of both economic growth and social evolution.

Let’s start with the poster child of disruption, buggy whip manufacturers. In the late 19th century there were some 13,000 companies involved in the horse-drawn carriage (buggy) industry. Most failed to recognize that the era of raw horsepower was giving way to that of internal combustion engines and the automobile. Buggy whips, once a proud, artisan craft, essentially became relegated to S&M purveyors. Read Theodore Levitt’s influential 1960 book Marketing Myopia for a more detailed look.

Not everyone was obsoleted by Henry Ford. Timken & Co., which had developed roller bearings for buggies to smooth the ride of wooden wheels, prospered into the industrial age by making the transition to a market characterized as “personal transportation” rather than buggies. Likewise carriage interior manufacturers, who successfully supplied customized leather-clad seats and accessories to Detroit.

One might suspect this industrial myopia has been confined to small markets with few dominant players. But not hardly. One of the more famous series of patent cases in history were the battles between Western Union and Alexander Graham Bell in the 1870s, Bell correspondencewhere the telegraph giant (along with scores of others) vainly tried to contest Bell’s U.S. patents on the telephone. Ironically, the telephone was initially rejected by Western Union, the leading telecommunications company of the 1800s, because it could carry a signal only three miles. The Bell telephone therefore took root as a local communications service simple enough to be used by everyday people. Little by little, the telephone’s range improved until it supplanted Western Union and its telegraph operators altogether.

Apart from scurrilous character assassination suggesting Bell had bribed U.S. Patent and Trademark Office clerks to stamp his patent appli­cation first, the patent cases are best remembered for their eventual 1879 settlement. Western Union assigned all telephone rights to the nascent Bell System with the caveat that Bell would not compete in the lucrative telegraphy market. After all, Western Union surmised, no one wanted to have their peaceful homes invaded by ringing monsters from the stressful outside world. Check out this verbatim 1876 internal memo from Western Union:

Messrs. Hubbard and Bell want to install one of their “telephone devices” in every city. The idea is idiotic on the face of it. Furthermore, why would any person want to use this ungainly and impractical device when he can send a messenger to the telegraph office and have a clear written message sent to any large city in the United States?

Epically wrong! But that, of course, is the challenge of disruptive innovation. It forces market participants to rethink their premises and reimagine the business they are in. Those who get it wrong will be lost in the dustbin (or buggy whip rack) of history. Those who get it right typically enjoy a window of success until the next inflection point arrives. Were barbers out of business when, some 200 years ago, doctors began to curtail the practice of bleeding patients, eventually usurping barbers as providers of health care? No, because barbershops moved from medicine to personal grooming.

Disruptive technologies create major new growth in the industries they penetrate — even when they cause traditionally entrenched firms to fail — by allowing less-skilled and less-affluent people to do things previously done only by expensive specialists in centralized, inconvenient locations. In effect, they offer consumers products and services that are cheaper, better, and more convenient than ever before. Disruption, a core microeconomic driver of macroeconomic growth, has played a fundamental role as the American economy has become more efficient and productive.

Clayton Christensen, Thomas Craig and Stuart Hart, The Great Disruption

There are hundreds or thousands more examples we can discuss. Polaroid and Kodak, both innovators in their own right, have faced bankruptcy and virtual irrelevance over the past few years because they could not cope with rapid disintermediation of their photography businesses by digital technologies. Walgreens, CVS and camera shops, meanwhile, have retained a solid photography revenue stream by supporting photo printing from SD cards and even Facebook photo collections.

Some businesses get it and some do not. Disruptive competition drives out those whose world view tries quixotically to preserve the past or to protect economic and social customs from technology-driven change. Disruption is of course not a panacea for all social ills; New Yorkers, for instance, complained as much about the filth and stench of cobblestoned city streets filled with horse droppings in the 19th century as they did about the filth and stench of paved streets filled with cars and CO2 fumes in the 20th century. As an economic and competitive matter, however, disruption is a process of continually “out with the old and in with the new.” And it’s been that way for as long as anyone can remember.

Courtesy of Disco Project | Of Buggy Whips, Telephones and Disruption.


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Massive Solar Outburst Could Dazzle Your Weekend

postedPosted in Money Matters, Social Media on January 21st, 2012 by glennm

Auroras may dazzle more people than usual this weekend as Earth receives a glancing blow from an enormous solar outburst that erupted on Jan. 19.


Posted via email from glenn’s posterous.

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Debit Card Fees: Heads They Win, Tails You Lose

postedPosted in Money Matters, Rants on September 29th, 2011 by glennm

What a backwards industry. Consumers save them money at point-of-sale, receive no interest, and now must pay a fee for reducing the banks’ costs. Fail!!


The nation’s beleaguered banking industry, which has been raising fees and doing away with free services, has a new target: debit-card users.

Bank of America Corp. is laying plans to charge millions of customers a $5 monthly fee to use their debit cards, and other big banks are expected to follow suit. The industry says it needs the fees to recoup revenue it will lose because of new government regulations that cap what they can charge merchants for debit-card transactions.

Bank of America, the largest U.S. bank by assets, disclosed the plan on Thursday in a memo to its senior staff. It intends to begin collecting the fees nationwide early next year. BoiA plans to charge customers a $5 monthly fee for making debit card purchases starting next year. Andrew R. Johnson joins the PM Hub to explain.

New federal limits on debit-card “swipe fees” are expected to cost U.S. banks an estimated $6.6 billion a year in lost revenue. To offset that lost revenue, many banks have eliminated or scaled back debit-rewards programs, added monthly fees for checking accounts and raised minimum balance requirements for customers to avoid certain fees.

The limits on debit-card swipe fees—one of the most contentious regulations to arise from the financial crisis—were finalized by the Federal Reserve Board in June and take effect on Saturday. The new rules will cap at 24 cents the fee merchants pay banks each time a customer buys something with a debit card, down from the current average of 44 cents. The rules apply to banks with $10 billion and more in assets.


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F1 “Customer” Engines and Privateers

postedPosted in Formula One, Money Matters, Rants, The Sporting Life on May 4th, 2011 by glennm

BAR nose

Jacques Villeneuve’s former team manager Craig Pollock is geared up to launch a new, efficient engine for Formula 1 in line with the the revised FIA rules mandating 4-cylinder turbos scheduled to take effect in the 2013 season.  Pollock, who was the team principal of British American Racing (BAR) for its first two seasons in the sport, is to head up PURE — Propulsion Universelle et Recuperation d’Energie.

“There are only four suppliers to date for 12 teams, and there is no guarantee there [are still] going to be four suppliers in 2013,” said Pollock. “Our design and development is already way down the road and we are now ready to approach the teams. We’re going to come in with a very cost-effective, high quality engine, and we believe there are many teams out there who will be looking for a change of supplier going forward.”

Jacques Villeneuve’s Former Boss to Launch New Engine | BBC Sport.

For more than a decade, Formula 1 has been dominated by automobile manufacturer “factory” teams, and we’ve seen a dramatic decline of independent F1 racing organizations. In fact, Williams is the only team that exists solely to race in Formula 1, with its recent lack of success illuminating. Red Bull, for instance, sells energy drinks and the boss of Force India has many other business enterprises. All of that has made customer engines a rarity. While some of the big teams (like Red Bull Racing) technically “buy” their engines, in that case from Renault, the relationship between F1 constructor and engine supplier is very close, more of a partnership than that of vendor-customer.

An F1 engine available to everyone on roughly equivalent financial and technical terms — as was the case for more than 20 years with the famed Ford Cosworth DFV from 1968 on — would represent a transformative event, harkening back to the days of trailblazing “privateer” Grand Prix racing teams like those of Rob Walker and, later, Ken Tyrrell.

One of the questions raised by the  [modern] engine deals is whether customers are getting the same engine as the works team. If Ferrari supply Toro Rosso with their top of the range engine, is it not slightly embarrassing that they were completely outclassed in Italy, with Vettel winning?

Customer Engines | Sidepodcast.

Eliminating this uncertainty and making top-notch powerplants available to all teams for purchase is a great development.  There is hardly a realistic chance even this would allow one-off private teams to get back into the sport, given the tremendous financial demands of modern F1 chassis and aerodynamic design, it still would be a welcome break for the smaller teams and backmarkers. Good luck, Craig!

You are welcome to read more and explore further at my Formula One Art & Genius site.

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Crazy Huge iPad Lines In Europe and Japan

postedPosted in Money Matters, Tech Bytes on May 28th, 2010 by glennm

I did not have to wait in line when buying the iPad on its U.S. launch date (April 3). This frenzy suggests that the device really is a disruptive game-changer, something folks realized only after using it for awhile.

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The Venture Capital Industry Is At An Inflection Point

postedPosted in Business, Money Matters, Tech Bytes on September 2nd, 2009 by glennm

Many are speculating that 2009 represents a fundamental turning point for the venture capital industry. Some are arguing that the industry is in dire straits after years of poor performance. Others have argued that the math simply does not work for the industry’s current size.  What Is Really Happening to the Venture Capital Industry?

It is indeed quite likely that the venture industry is in the process of a very substantial reduction in size, perhaps the first in the history of the industry. However, the specific catalyst for this reduction is not directly related to the issues just mentioned. In order to fully understand what is happening, one must look upstream from the venture capitalists to the source of funds, for that is where the wheels of change are in motion.

The issue, explains Kevin Durant of, is that a lack of liquidity and fairly ordinary returns from VC funds have driven institutional capital from the venture space.  If so, it’s not that the IPO drought and absence of exit events for start-ups is what’s hamering Sand Hill Road, but rather a perfect storm of fiscal crisis and shrinking capital sources.  That, coupled with the fact that VCs travel in packs and tend to jump on the bandwagon AFTER the innovation train has already left the station.

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