Monday, January 25, 2010

Is Privacy "Passe?"

If you haven’t read the Jan. 25 edition of Bloomberg BusinessWeek, I recommend you do so and turn to page 13.

In an Ideas column, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg is quoted as saying that privacy “is no longer a social norm.”

Think on that for a minute.

Tech bloggers are chiming in. Marshall Kirkpatrick wrote on that “the notion of privacy can no longer be equated with absolute secrecy.”

Blogger Evgeny Morozov wrote on that some governments are “moving towards reinforcing privacy protections.” France for example is thinking about laws to allow citizens to have old online data about themselves deleted. The technology, however, doesn’t exist to do that.

With the growing number of social media web sites, it’s so easy for someone to bend, fold and electronically mutilate anyone’s reputation. A sober reminder that in a world where everyone has a camera, a picture of you is just seconds away from being posted.

Let me say that social media sites are great fun, a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends and family. As one of our employees here said: It’s a way for her to “have a high school reunion every day.”

But once something is posted, it’s out there. Forever.

We all treasure our privacy. These days you have to work very, very had to protect it.

The great thing about the Internet is that everyone has access to it; the bad thing about the Internet is that everyone has access to it.

Privacy need not and should not be passé.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sports will break your heart.

I’m writing this prior to the Jan. 16-17 playoff games but wanted to talk about both the Texas-Alabama NCAA championship game and the extraordinary battle between the Packers and the Cardinals in their NFL wildcard matchup.

Both are perfect examples of why we love sports, and why sports will break your heart.

As for the Texas game, the strategy was obvious. Stop the Tide, and get the ball to Colt McCoy. It worked for two minutes until McCoy was sacked on only his fifth play of the game, which he left with a limp throwing arm. He never returned. Fifty-eight minutes left on the clock. So much for that idea. In comes Garrett Gilbert, true freshman and thoroughly unprepared.

But the Longhorns battled back to get within three points. There was hope, right up until the ‘Bama “D” got to Gilbert, who was sacked and fumbled the ball. Then, the Tide “rolled” into the end zone and that was that. But Gilbert, the most highly recruited high school QB in the country, showed grit. There’s much to feel good about in Austin.

Then, watching the offensive free-for-all between Green Bay and Arizona, it looked like the Pack was out of it early. Proof again that you should never leave a game before it’s over.

The Pack battled back, and after a missed chip shot field goal by Arizona’s placekicker, the game tied up at 45-45 and went into overtime. The Packers got the ball and began their drive. Put another brat on the grill!

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is good, very good, especially making plays when everything around him is falling apart. Early in overtime, he made a simple three-step drop but held on to the ball too long, perhaps expecting to make magic one more time. He ran out of rabbits up his jersey.

Just like the Texas QB, Rodgers got hit, lost the ball and Arizona ran it in for the game-winning touchdown.

The emotions for both games ran the full gamut, and if fans have fingernails left from either game, I’d be surprised.

But in sports, one team has to win and the other has to lose. Texas and Green Bay fans had their hearts broken.

But the nice thing about sports is that both those teams will be back next year, likely to break a few more hearts, and both are hoping it’s the hearts of their opponents.

For you non-sports lovers, this is why those of us are so passionate about sports, because it’s so full of passion.

And heartbreak.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Monday, January 11, 2010

Eighty Football Fields of E-Bliss!

The annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) just finished up yesterday in Las Vegas. Although the economy has had an impact on attendance, it remains one monster of a showcase for all that’s new in technology.

Imagine over 80 football fields-worth of displays from all the major players in tech, plus tucked away here and there—and out in the open—the next big thing.

Absent as always is Apple®, who does their own thing, not the least of which is the anticipated release of the ”iTablet” on Jan. 26 in San Francisco.

By any measure 2009 was a disappointment for folks who make their living selling tech toys, but optimism was seen everywhere looking ahead through 2010.

What will be hot in 2010 (my humble predictions):

My “super hot product” prediction for the upcoming year will be 3-D HDTV. Like any other technology there will be early adaptors, there will be bugs and of course, like anything new, the first sets will be expensive. With both ESPN and TLC rolling out HD it provides incentive for potential viewers to invest in the sets, but do satellite/cable program providers have the bandwidth and, if so, at what price?

But 3-D HDTV, especially in sports, is guaranteed to be a hit eventually. The transition from HD to 3-D HDTV will be faster than it was from standard def to HD (depending on the economy of course).

Also hot: E-readers like Kindle and tablet-style computers. I blogged elsewhere that reported that they actually sold more digital books than traditional ones on Christmas Day 2009. According to the CES web site, there were 23 different exhibitors with various types of e-readers.

Small will be big, and as a result, “hot.” Handheld TVs with both off-air and premium programming will also become very popular. Prices should be affordable from the start and only get better as more players enter the market.

DVDs are on the way out, as it will be more and more common simply to download movies right off the Internet to your TV. There will be a myriad of ways to do it, and it will be confusing for many at first, but it will catch on. Actually, it already is.

CES isn’t open to the general public, but attracted more than a hundred-thousand industry folks and media who cover tech. Has the tech turnaround begun? I think so. Proof will come when all these goodies hit store shelves throughout the year.

See you at the Big Box store!


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

It’s about the terrorists, stupid.

Call it a Christmas miracle, but for some reason the bomb carried by 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria didn’t go off the way it was supposed to while he was seated in 19A aboard a Northwest Airlines jet.

He tried to set off some sort of explosive device while the jet was approaching Detroit. There was smoke; there was fire but no explosion, which is doubly lucky because 19A is very close to the fuel tanks.

Catastrophe averted. Abdulmutallab claimed to be Al Qaeda-trained and, within a few days, a murderous group linked to Al Qaeda claimed he was a “brother” and that they had trained him.

So how did it happen? We know he started his “mission” in Nigeria where security screening involves just getting on the plane. Oh yes, he paid cash for his ticket and had no bags. Destination: USA. No red flags, at least not in Nigeria.

By then he was in the system. There were additional security screenings in Amsterdam, but he sneaked by those as well.

Initially, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the system indeed worked. Oops. Last Monday she “recalibrated” her position to say the system, in fact, didn’t work.

Passengers are already being impacted. Some airlines won’t let you leave your seat within an hour of landing. Laptops and the like also have to be stored at that time. Bomb sniffing dogs are everywhere, especially in international departure areas.

Sadly, there has also been some political sniping going on. Cheap shots are out of order.

Much of the talk remains on the “system.” Can it be made better? Absolutely, but terrorists aren’t flying from here, they’re flying to here. The problem isn’t the system, it’s the terrorists!

They keep trying. They keep coming back. They’re not giving up. They’re relentless in their “jihad” against the West.

They’re sponsored by, and find refuge in, nations like Yemen and Iran. Countries like Nigeria simply let them walk on.

All the security here in America won’t keep them from boarding planes in other countries. The terrorists know that. Their modus operandi is pretty basic. Bombs, made from stuff you can buy at a drugstore. Scaled down versions of the improvised explosive devices, or IED’s, killing our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our high tech vs. their low tech.

What we continue to underestimate is their cunning. Intelligence gathering is getting better. The capture of Najibullah Zazi in Denver is proof. By holding the 9/11 terror trials in New York, who knows how many young, misguided people will only be inspired to join the ranks of terrorists because you can bet the bad guys on trial will take every opportunity to portray themselves as glorious martyrs.

So, while we take our computers out of bags, slip off our shoes, are submitted to random pat downs, etc., here in the United States, terrorists will simply continue to refine their techniques and continue to walk on to planes in countries that have few if any security checks.

Keeping people in their seats an hour before landing just means the terrorists will try an attack more than an hour before landing.

We know where the safe havens for these terrorists are. We know who is bankrolling them. What we’re not doing is anything to stop it at the source.

The horse has long since left the barn. No need for a new lock. What we need is a new door. A door that locks from the inside rather than the outside.

John W. Scherer
John Scherer is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at