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           Wired, July 1999

 

Wired's best story this month is not only an interesting look at several people who aspire to be Silicon Valley magnates, but could very well provide the story bible for the next tacky Aaron Spelling project.

Po Branson, who wrote a hilarious piece on George Gilder a while
back, strikes again in "The Digital Gold Rush". It's excerpted from a
forthcoming book that he wrote that details the lives of the
aforementioned Valley wannabees.

Even though it's a bit longish, but not nearly as long as some
other Wired pieces I've had to slog through, it moves quickly and
compellingly into the lives of these characters, who sound like the
Sell for some failed Fox pilot about the Valley.

Meet Thierry: He's from France, sports a goatee and is putting his
Passport's visitation time limit to the max. Meet Zilly: He sold pot to
get here, likes rap, thrash and skateboarding and he thinks his idea
about a touchscreen keyboard device will sell sell sell. Meet Sexy
Julie Blaustein: She cold calls but she knows that sales is the only way a
nontechie can get a start in the business. Meet Ben Chiu: the sauve
former nightclub owner thinks his ecommerce idea can work if only he
can make the contacts.


Po spends at least a year with his "Cast", some of whom are on the
cover and some of whom who have their names and companies changed. I imagine Zilly, the guy who sold 40 pounds of prime marijuana to get his stake
in the valley, didn't use his real name. I found this to be an entrancing
read, full of quirky details, as well as the interesting inevitable
failures.


Other interesting things about Wired: Well, let's face it there just
aren't as many interesting things about the Rosetto-less Wired these
days. Overall, it feels like any other business mag: prosaic,
visionless and without the hint of dreams. Without the overall vision of its
founders I don't know if stands for anything anymore. It is no longer
cutting edge in terms of its themes or its execution. This magazine
used to be a must buy for me, now I'm beginning to think I'll just take a
copy with me to the Borders cafe, sift through it, and see if there's
anything there.

 

                                                   June 5th, 1999

So, what's the best way to explore Mars: Send your heavy payload lander
to the surface where it takes a few panoramic shots before it slowly
crawls off and dies amidst the red dust, or send hundreds of smaller
insect-like aerial devices that could last indefinitely and provide
much more detailed info about the red planet.


Nasa is seriously leaning toward option number two. Stanford Professors
Ilan Kroo (apparently his real name and not some villainous Dr. Seuss
character) and Fritz Prinz (Really. Not making this up.) are designing
these machines as we speak. The problem of the very small is what ails
them. Just as manufacturing switches from the classical to the quantum
when building the very small, aerodynamic notions change from that of
jets to that of bumble bees, where air is more like a thick gooey
ocean. If they're successful, then it could mean a much better way of
surveying the Red Planet.

Closer to home, it would also improve surveillance and could spawn whole armies of microscopic killers, which could deliver everything from neural toxins to tiny explosives. But, hey, try not to think of them as airborne life erasers, but science in progress. Think happy thoughts, because you never know when they're probably watching us, hovering in a one inch corner in the ceiling... 


The other advance has to do with advances in light capture, which could
yeild watch sized computers that could blow away Crays.