Thursday, March 22, 2007

Blue roses - it's finally been done

For all of you out there who are still playing the dating scene, maybe next year you'll have a new option for telling your "special someone" that the gig is up. Now that these have been successfully bred, you should start to see them pop up in commercial grower greenhouses pretty quickly.

Australian and Japanese researchers have demonstrated the application of RNAi technology for gene replacement in plants, developing the world's only blue rose.

Breeders had attempted to make true blue roses for several years, but none had successfully bred roses with blue pigment until fairly recently. In its first commercial application in plants, technology was used to remove the gene encoding the enzyme dihydroflavonol reductase (DFR) in roses.

Roses are very old garden subjects – a favorite for some 5,000 years. The 'something blue' was the delphinidin gene that Florigene's geneticists cloned from a pansy, to direct pigment synthesis in the rose into the 'blue' pathway. The 'something borrowed' was an iris gene for an enzyme, DFR, required to complete the delphinidin-synthesis reaction.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Note To Employers: 8 Things Intelligent People, Geeks and Nerds Need To Work Happy

There are many reasons to let geeks work the way they want to work. Today they work in every industry. They are the knowledge base, blood and sweat equity of many businesses. They work harder than most. They work longer than most. Their job isn’t a separate “thing they do” while they look forward to going home and relaxing. Geeks *live* what they do. They eat, sleep and breathe it. They are your systems administrators, your IT team, your programmers, your web developers, your designers… and sometimes even your customer service and sales people.

Anyone who understands how to leverage todays technology to increase intelligence, productivity and efficiency; anyone who stays up nights working to get better at what they do; anyone whose job is their life - is a geek. These are the most important asset your company has. For this reason, its important to give geeks what they want. Best part is, if you do, they most likely will not leave your company to work for someone who will.

#1. Let them work when they want
Geeks work almost every moment they are awake. They are online before they go to the office. They are home working after the office closes. They work weekends. They are even sometimes working in their dreams. Employers should understand this and more importantly appreciate it. Don’t force geeks to work 8 - 5 if there is no real need other than “company morale.” Meetings are one thing (, so is socializing with coworkers, but a relaxed office schedule will do wonders for the contentment levels of your employed geeks.

#2. Let them work where they want
Geeks prefer to have a couch around to nap on if they are tired. Some like no windows, others want to stare out into a city or landscape. At home, geek’s offices are usually more lived in, more comfortable and enjoyable than anywhere else in the world. This is because they love what they do, and they do it so much of the time they need to be comfortable where they do it.

#3. Let them control their lighting
There is nothing more annoying than working in bright crappy fluorescent lighting if you prefer to work in the dark, or vice versa. Geeks usually have sensitive eyes from staring at CRT monitors for too long. The last thing you want is your geeks to have headaches. Most geeks aren’t very pleasant to work with when they have headaches.

#4. Let them wear headphones
Geeks are experts in the arts of “focus.” Focusing takes removing all unnecessary distractions from your environment and creating a state where nothing else is going on but what they are working on. The harder the problem they are trying to solve or the more creative they have to be, the more they need to focus. Headphones, or simply a lack of ringing phones and talking sales people allow geeks to focus much easier.

#5. Do not expect them to wear a suit
Geeks find arbitrary activities that lack real and meaningful purpose, a waste of time and energy. This includes attire. Most companies today are aware of this and even practice casual dress so as to make everyone more comfortable, but geeks are a special case. “Suits” (the kind of person) usually represent a business man who lacks most things other than a nice smile and great negotiation skills.

#6. Do not make them participate in company events (unless you are sure it is geek-friendly)
Most geeks will not be jumping up and down with joy to attend a company party to celebrate the local football team, unless of course there is beer, and they can hang around and talk to each other about geeky things. Keep this in mind when planning company events. Geeks like to have fun, just not the same kind of fun as your typical non-geek.

#7. Do not hold a lot of arbitrary meetings that could have otherwise been handled through email or IM
This one is important. Like I said, geeks need to focus to be happy and able to focus. Nothing is more of an interruption than someone walking into their space unexpectedly and saying “hey do you have a minute?” The answer is usually going to be a disgruntled “Sure.” The truth is geeks are fine with attending planned meetings (and will happily be there if the meeting is really a necessary one for them to attend in person), but are usually most happy communicating through email and IM. These forms of communication are most appealing to geeks because they do not interrupt you, and polite geeks will even respond with a quick “hold on a sec, I’m in the middle of something.” Email and IM are recorded, searchable records of conversations. They are efficient and to the point. This also makes geeks happy. Geeks can discuss anything through email and IM and will usually be more willing and thorough with their response. Face to face meetings are important, geeks know that, but I would guess that 90% of conversations and meetings held face to face, would be more efficient and end with happier people, if they were held in a recordable, written, virtual space.

#8. Do not make them do anything other than work
This one isn’t completely accurate all the time. Geeks are team players, but they are also easily insulted by being given a task below their level of expertise or outside of the scope of their position. They’ll do it, but they won’t be totally happy. This includes: answering phones, taking out trash, going shopping for company supplies, and “filling in” for a sales person.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Another year, another ACC Business Platinum Cup

Telarus, Inc. took home another Platinum Cup award from ACC Business for being in their top 1% of agents again this year at the Channel Partner's Expo in Las Vegas. This makes the 3rd year in a row Telarus has walked home with this award. You don't get awards for sitting on your hinee. Pictured are some of the great agents and staff who help make Telarus the best telecom master agency in the business.

A Neutral Net Means More Capacity Investment

Telco lobbyists and think tanks have been busy suggesting that all of this network neutrality foot stomping will scare off bandwidth investment, resulting in capacity armageddon. In reality, core investment is booming. Telco lobbyists are simply trying to fend off laws that would prohibit them from creating a new revenue stream by charging a prioritization toll to content providers. Techdirt points to a new study that says retaining network neutrality will actually increase telco investment in bandwidth.

"The conventional wisdom is that Internet service providers would have greater incentive to expand their service capabilities if they were allowed to charge," says Professor Kenneth Cheng, in a study summation. "That was completely the opposite of what we found." That's not to say that network neutrality laws should be passed, since there's still the possibility that our existing lawmakers are too incompetent to construct functional legislation (that doesn't, say, outlaw VoIP prioritization).

But is it possible to retain network neutrality without laws?


My opinion: No, it is not possible to retain network neutrality w/o laws. Consolidation in the telecom's industry has made coopetion impossible. Investor led companies have no real incentive to do what is best for the public good. They are first and foremost responsible for returning a profit to their investors. Their motivation is to spend as little as possible while returning the greatest ROI.

Spending as little as possible means squeezing as much into what you already have in place as possible without spending any money. Thus the carriers have extreme onus to impose paid prioritization - in order to force people to pay or else get their traffic left behind due to lack of capacity for unpaid traffic.

Rest assured that carriers absolutely want to get into the bill-by-the-bit business. They abhore being treated like a "dumb pipe" or commodity.

Personally, I think all transit capacity should be regulated as if it were an interstate highway. It should be available to all comers at a set price with non-discriminatory access. Transit should be forced into wholesale only mode with the retail divisions of said operator being structurally and financially separated from retail and sales operations.