January 28, 2009
The Innovate Buffalo Niagara awards luncheon was held today at the Buffalo Convention Center. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s now-yearly event highlighted 66 companies in 5 categories, from Advanced Manufacturing to Professional Services. The winners got a nice plaque and a chance to bask in the limelight for about 10 seconds.
The place was full of optimism in spite of the current economic climate. In a period where many businesses are shrinking, companies like Geico, Multisorb and Roswell Park Cancer Institute are adding to staff. Granted these are companies whose business products are in most cases far removed from the heavy industries that made Buffalo great in the 50′s and a failure 20 years later, but that’s the point here: This area will survive this economic downturn and grow far more quickly by having a diverse business environment than by relying on a few big players. The 66 companies in the competition represent just how far, how quickly, we’ve come in terms of economic diversity.
We need more of these businesses. Keep them coming, please.
January 28, 2009
I didn’t have my camera with me but if I did I would have photographic evidence that the city’s new plan for plowing city streets during inclement weather does not include city streets.
It was clear that none of the east-west side streets downtown had been plowed at all and that the north-south thoroughfares maybe got plowed once. It was a mess.
And today’s snow has been persistent, but not heavy.
At what point will we no longer accept failure as the only option from our local governments?
January 26, 2009
Since December I have received more unsolicited resumes than I can shake a stick at. Some make for a great read but I cannot help these people right now, especially when most are asking for work in fields that we, a software development company, don’t offer. I just don’t need to add a bridge inspector or statistician or tech writer to our staff.
Last year’s job losses nationally came in at around 3.1 million with the manufacturing, professional business services and construction sectors taking the biggest hits, and January hasn’t been kind either. In just the past week eleven companies alone announced 76,000 jobs cuts and we have not hit the bottom of the layoff barrel. Worse is the number of underemployed – it was 11% in October, and it’s growing and adding to our collective distress. We are closing in on the 1982 unemployment numbers.
The strongest companies will survive – by working hard, sacrificing, focusing, by evolving and in some cases by sucking at the National teat. (By the time the proposed $900 Billion stimulus package is finalized I’m sure every congressional district will contain at least one teat-sucker.)
I will work my ass off to make sure that my company successfully adapts to these times.
January 19, 2009
In Cheektowaga, what should one do to celebrate a 30-year-old’s January birthday at the office?
January 18, 2009
Anyone tired yet of the never-ending reconstruction of Wehrle Drive at Transit (and Transit at Wehrle Drive)? I feel like I’m reliving the nightmare at Genesee Street all over again.
I snapped this shot of the intersection; there are currently 21 traffic signals strung across 6 lanes. It’s cluttered and confusing and doesn’t appear close to ending any time soon.
January 18, 2009
So the switch to all digital television will take place across the U.S. in a few weeks. I mentioned previously that I thought this was long overdue.
Yet over the past week HD reception at my home has been, in a word, terrible. Sound out of sync with picture (which is really spooky-looking!). Picture breakup as the signal is lost, then regained, then lost again. Picture with no sound. Frozen frames.
High-def on Time Warner, sometimes
And I have cable.
Saturday’s Buffalo Sabres’ game was a hoot while the same four measures of some song were substituted for a period’s worth of out-of-sync announcing. While that was probably a programming error at MSG, it nonetheless leaves me questioning if the technologists running the system have their act together and are ready with all their new toys.
We have been led to believe that reduction in quality is the price we pay for technology gains. That’s so much crap yet the first question we ask when a friend has computer problems is “Did you reboot it?“ Cell phone reception generally sucks, as do most earbuds and MP3 audio compression. Refrigerators may be more feature-rich and efficient but they last what, five or six years tops? One only needs to walk through the aisles at Walmart (and be over 30) to see how complacent we’ve become with low quality products.
Anyway, it doesn’t have to be that way yet the switch to high-def will demand acceptance of a television system that works well far less than close to perfect; and that it will take a long time – with lots of head-banging – before HD becomes everything we expect of it.
It’s still long overdue.
January 15, 2009
One statement from President Bush’s speech tonight struck a chord with me:
“So around the world, America is promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity.”
So long as waterboarding, and perhaps other forms of persuasion are not construed as denying human liberty, human rights and human dignity then I guess the President and I are in agreement. But if we believe that these interrogation tactics are construed as debasing basic human rights, then we have a problem.
And it’s a big problem. It’s doublespeak. It’s the Nixonian approach to being above the law simply by saying so.
My respect for President Bush dropped as the folly of the Iraq war dragged on and plummeted after the Katrina debacle, but I lost the last of it when he and his team used semantics and wordplay to justify the use of waterboarding while simultaneously declaring that the United States does not torture. And yet just a few hours after even more damning reports that indeed, we do torture, our President looked us straight in the eye to speak about America and human dignity in the same sentence.
I felt relieved after the speech ended, relieved because it is the last one President Bush will give as Commander in Chief.
January 13, 2009
Western New York has the Erie Canal, and Love Canal. It has Canal Side, too.
Why not the Grand Island canals?
My colleague Tom suggested this at work today. Imagine the canals of Venice. Okay, that’s a little much. Imagine a bunch of inlets off the the Niagara River reaching into the Island, like water fingers. Build homes along the canal where half the garage opens to the street and the other half opens to the water and is, essentially, a boat house. Connect the canals, provide some good zoning for homes and small business, and you have a unique community focused along the extended waterfront.
I wonder of if the Grand Island Planning Board ever considered something like this.
January 13, 2009
I don’t think that’s what President Bush meant. But it was still funny, in a nauseating way, to hear at his last news conference.
And I’m pretty sure his use of the term misunderestimated was intentional, in that he thinks it’s a real word.
If – despite his gnarled rhetoric – you still believe in President Bush then don’t go here. You won’t find the kindness or praise you seek for him.
January 11, 2009
This post is from BuzzFeed, showing that in 45 years there has been almost no change to life expectancies in sub-Saharan Africa. Nowhere else in the world have health conditions remained unimproved for so long.
GapMinder has a stunning graph that plays life expectancies by country. Select almost any sub-Saharan country, hit the Play button and watch how these countries have stagnated or worse, regressed. My favorite degenerate African country, Zimbabwe, has a life expectancy that plunged from 62 to under 45 coinciding with the reign of President Robert Mugabe.
I suppose that there will always be some segment of the world at the bottom of the pecking order; I just wonder if this part of Africa is destined to remain there forever. Certainly during these rough global economic times their future looks even more uncertain.
January 11, 2009
The Obama Administration has proposed delaying the abandonment of analog television beyond the current February 17th date. President-elect Obama expressed concerns that America just wasn’t ready.
Analog TV in its current form dates back to 1939 (and 1953 for color broadcasts) and has essentially been obsolete for almost 20 years. I recall articles in EE Times from the late 1980′s declaring that digital encoding standards and microelectronics had advanced to the point where high-definition signals would be ready for public broadcasting by 1992. That never happened, and it took another 10 years before other countries – Japan and Germany in particular – leapfrogged the U.S. in establishing digital television as the standard. The last official cutover date before this one was December 23, 2006. Before that there were others. [The FCC had hopeful expectations, unmatched by either the electronics industry or Congress.]
Half a decade later the U.S. is ready to forsake a 70-year-old technology and embrace a much more versatile broadcast media. The transition will never be perfect no matter how hard Obama and Congress might want it to be, but it’s still long overdue.
If only we would move to eliminate the incandescent light bulb. The tungsten filament will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year. It too had a good run but really, it’s time to move on.