obama – Stay N Alive

The Solution to Offshore Manufacturing is Technology, Not Politics

In The Biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, it talked about a meeting Steve Jobs had with President Obama. Jobs was quoted saying, ‘“You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” Jobs told Obama at the outset. To prevent that, he said, the administration needed to be a lot more business-friendly. He described how easy it was to build a factory in China, and said that it was almost impossible to do so these days in America, largely because of regulations and unnecessary costs.’ 

It was clear in tonight’s State of the Union address that this particular conversation weighed on President Obama’s mind, as he addressed it directly. In the Address, President Obama talked about solutions to fix our current American manufacturing processes. He mentioned possibilities such as reducing taxes for companies willing to manufacture in America, and making it more expensive for companies that chose to manufacture overseas. I argue that this is not enough though, perhaps not even necessary, as in an era of technology and brilliant minds technology itself will replace the need for offshore manufacturing.

Silicon Angle has a great post about “The Era of the Physible”, a take on a new category of the file sharing website, Pirate Bay, that shares 3D designs for printers that can print objects in 3D. In it they discuss the future of 3D printing, and how we are getting near the real possibility of Star Trek-like “replicators”, which can manufacture just about anything you can imagine.

I believe the future of manufacturing is in these devices. I think we are just years away from replacing entire factory lines with simple, polymer ink-based printers not much bigger than the printer that prints on paper in your own house. Here’s the best part: each of these “factory-in-a-box” devices will be in every home in America. (They’re already on their way in simple forms – see Cubify for example)

I predict, in the not too distant future, not only will you be able to shop, buy, and order phones, devices, and gadgets online (most likely through a mobile device if current trends have their way), but you’ll also be able to print those devices out, right in your home, just like you do a piece of paper right now. That’s right – the future of manufacturing exists in the homes of every single American, and every person in the world. We won’t need those offshore factories in the future! It’s an industry that, just like the automotive industry, just like just about any mechanical, human-powered industry, is quickly being replaced by computers!

Apple’s meticulous about its manufacturing processes. Steve Jobs instilled a culture where even the factories of Apple themselves were decorated in pristine white design, beautiful, well-functioning processes that got things out quick. With Apple’s focus on end-to-end solutions and control over the entire process, Apple could very well move in this direction.

Imagine a world where Apple, like their current factories, made beautiful 3D printers that created their devices in the homes of every customer, instead of building expensive factories in China. Imagine if Apple could reduce that cost, and give complete, full control to the manufacturing process of their phones in the homes of their customers. What if they put one of these in each Apple Store for customers that couldn’t buy their own 3D printers?  And guess what? Government doesn’t have to do anything to make this happen (other than making it cheaper and easier for businesses to do this). Because it’s a cheaper, more efficient process, businesses will do this for Government.
I truly believe this is the future of manufacturing, not factories and jobs of blue-collar workers. We need to be preparing for this, rather than worrying where our manufacturing is taking place. The next President’s 4 year term will start to see this major shift in manufacturing, and if they’re not prepared it’s going to hurt the American economy.
I’m concerned that we’re focusing too much on where our factories are located, and finding ways to hire more blue collar workers, when we should instead be finding more ways to get those blue collar workers interested in more white collar jobs, giving them the education they need to do them. In the future, we won’t have a need for blue collar factory jobs, period – the trends are showing that. We’ll have a need for white collar engineers, software developers, and those that can design the devices, yes, devices, that will manufacture every product created by corporate America.
In an era of the computer, internet, and mobile device, my kids aren’t even getting simple computer classes in their schools. Many children aren’t even learning how to type. I learned how to program when I was 10, in elementary school (part of this was due to lack of laws such as COPA) – I fear we’re losing this focus in America, and that’s why we’re seeing a severe shortage in high knowledge engineering talent. Kids simply aren’t seeing the importance or value of this stuff, so they don’t want to learn it.
My hope is the next President of the United States can keep this in mind as they plan their job creation strategy. Instill a love of computers and engineering in our kids. Get rid of laws like COPA that prevent kids from looking things up on their own and take the power away from parents. Bring computer and engineering education back into our school system, from elementary school age! This is a huge wick that has been lit and is heading towards a big stick of dynamite waiting to blow up. Once it does, this whole offshore factory problem won’t be an issue any more. I’m afraid none of the current USA Presidential candidates realize this.
See the above video for an example of Cubify at CES this year

Internet Everywhere – It Starts With Your Startup

Fix the internet - Mt RushmoreAs I type this I’m driving in I-90 East through somewhere near Madison, Wisconsin (I’m in the passenger seat), finally able to access the internet for the first time in 2 days. We started our trip in Salt Lake City, Utah where I live and have since driven through most of Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana. The withdrawals were setting in, yes, but I’ve learned a lot over the previous days – the Internet is advancing but most people still do not have Internet!

I realized what a terrible state we are in when on Wednesday we were visiting Mount Rushmore and in front of our eyes, rappellers from Greenpeace began to descend down and hang a sign protesting Obama’s position on Global Warming. I had my telephoto lens and SLR with me so I immediately began snapping pictures of the entire event as it unfolded and recording video on my iPhone. I had a problem however – there was no Internet at Mount Rushmore. No Wifi. No Edge. No 3G. Evidently there may have been a connection from some other service, since supposedly Greenpeace livestreamed the event from Ustream, but I have no idea what. I was dead in the water to be able to report what was happening. I was able to call my contact at a local Utah news station to report the news (ironically they probably had the news before South Dakota even had it), but I had no way of getting them any images or video of the event as it was unfolding. It wasn’t until 3 hours later that I was finally able to find a store with a connection I could use. However, what was the first thing I did? I SMS’d a Tweet to Twitter (a few, actually) telling the world about what was happening. I also called Cinch, and recorded my voice thoughts of the event – those went out to FriendFeed and Twitter.

Global Warming aside, I think President Obama has other things to consider as well. One of the initiatives he is striving for during his Presidency is the ability for every American, everywhere, to have access to broadband Internet. It’s an interesting initiative, begging the question whether Americans actually have “rights” to have Internet access. However I think there’s one better Initiative President Obama needs to consider that will help towards this cause: Businesses should be encouraged to adopt alternative communications platforms that take up much less bandwidth such as SMS, MMS, and Voice. That’s right – we need to take a step back before we can take a step forward.

Others may argue, but one of the major reasons Twitter has been successful has been due to the support of SMS as a publishing and communications platform. One message of “follow soandso” to 40404 and you have updates coming straight to your phone, no registration necessary, no internet necessary, and just one number anyone has to remember. It’s a powerful concept, and while not used by most people, it has enabled people to post “earthquake!” to Twitter, collaborate and organize forest fires in the middle of nowhere, report political unrest and more. It’s how I was able to be the first person to report on Mount Rushmore’s protest on Wednesday. This is what brought the media to Twitter, which is what inspired others to join, and even brought Oprah to Twitter. It’s the information and quality of information that can be delivered, worldwide, which has made them successful – that would not be near as effective without SMS as a simple medium to publish that information when internet is not available.

A Proposal

My first suggestion is for President Obama: We need more measures to make SMS and MMS more affordable for businesses to integrate. It is currently too expensive, without financing, for startups to afford SMS integration into their startup. It’s one reason Twitter removed the previously popular “track” service which allowed you to receive updates via SMS when people Tweeted various keyword criteria. It’s why Twitter has completely removed SMS service in many other countries. It’s why hardly any other competitor to Twitter has been able to integrate SMS at all.

We need tax breaks for people that choose to integrate these “simpler services”. The companies that provide these communication mediums should also receive tax breaks and incentives for reducing the price. Perhaps the government needs to step in a little bit on the costs. In addition, the public needs to be educated of these incentives. Startups should know the potential numbers they could reach by enabling such simpler services in addition to their more broadband-appropriate offerings.

Now I have a suggestion for the startups: Consider integration with SMS, MMS, and even voice. Some times the numbers may not be so obvious, but if you’re trying to provide information to the masses, the best way to get the quality posts may be through non-internet posting mediums.

Recently Robert Scoble wrote about some stats shared by Thomas Hawk about Twitter and Facebook growing, but FriendFeed remaining stagnant. Let’s lay aside the argument that I don’t think any of the three are even competitors. I think the number one step FriendFeed could take right now that would increase their traffic, reduce the growth of the other two, and put them ahead, is to integrate some of these simpler services. The media will never join unless they can get the “earthquake” and “fire” and political unrest stories they’re getting from Twitter right now. Many of those posts can’t happen if there is no non-internet form of communication.

In addition, imagine if I could send e-mail via SMS? Now, I may not want to have it on all day but what if I could at least send a quick e-mail when my internet is not working but I do have a cell phone plan? A simple SMS ought to do. Services like Gmail and Yahoo and Hotmail could all provide such a service, and open up to a much wider worldwide audience. I remember in Thailand in various towns much of the community not having internet without having to go to the local University to get it. Guess what? They all still had cell phones.

There’s a void in the world right now. It exists in a large part of our nation, in fact, and I think outside of Silicon Valley circles we often forget that. It’s time to step back just a bit and be sure we’re accommodating those without internet access in our startups as well as those who have it.

This Utah Texan’s Voting for Obama

election_2008.pngI rarely pipe in with Political rants here because well, it’s a tech blog. However, with the change in the economy and lead-in to an election, politics seems to be the only thing people talk about these days. I’m going to make an exception today because I think, as an Independant, I’ve made a decision that is quite significant for me. For the first time, ever, I’m voting Democrat this election. Yes, “my friends”, I’m voting for Obama.

I grew up in a very Republican and conservative family. I have extended family that are very Democrat and liberal, but for the most part, my Mom, Dad, brothers and sisters all seemed pretty conservative growing up. I married a conservative, my brothers, father, father-in-law, and now sister are all accountants and for the most part, pretty fiscally conservative. I grew up in Houston, TX, and I currently live in Utah, 2 of the most Red states in the nation. So I’ve had conservatism all around me. I’ve always been a very “independant” person though. I hate the two-party system. To me, picking a candidate is about picking the best person for the job, not picking a person just because they belong to one party or the other. If I ever run for politics, then I’ll pick a party and pick where I stand on things. As a normal citizen, I get to be a learner, not pick sides, and choose the side that will be best for this nation. Why Obama? Let’s pick a few issues that have convinced me:


This was a big one for me. I used to work at UnitedHealth Group, and learned a lot about how large HealthCare companies work, and what the problems are that face this nation in regards to HealthCare technology.

What convinced me on Healthcare is in the last debate when Obama talked about “digitizing medical records in Doctors offices”. Obama, more than anyone else gets technology. His campaign has done an excellent job targeting people on Facebook, Twitter, via Youtube, and other means that McCain I imagine simply hasn’t touched. (Don’t get me started on McCain’s “disability” – if McCain really knew technology he’d know there are very good accessibility option on most Operating Systems these days. I know blind people better at computers than McCain.)

One of the largest and costliest issues facing our nation right now are old insurance companies and old doctors still using paper for most of their record-keeping. These papers at some point have to be converted to digital format, which in many cases leads to errors and costly mistakes. The large insurance companies are making money off of this, creating systems around leaving a flawed system in place. It’s wrong, and Obama understands this. Our economy will be better because of this. (and no, Obama isn’t doing “true” universal healthcare – he’s just keeping the stupid from costing us money by not having healthcare)


As a fiscally conservative individual, this was a big issue for me. Frankly, neither McCain nor Obama have good plans. The fact of the matter is, when Bush leaves office, our taxes are going to go up. Both Obama and McCain have ways to give back to the citizens, but economically speaking, they’re both the same. McCain gives back to everyone, keeping corporations from being taxed, and giving money back to the rich that may not need it as much.

Obama wants to do a weight-distribution of the money. He’ll tax corporations, which in turn will pass that cost onto the consumer. At the same time, the middle-to-low income consumer will have more money due to tax cuts and rebates given back to them. In the end, the rich still get paid because the consumers, now with more money, can spend money on their products. It’s simple economics – the wealth gets distributed either way. Both plans are near identical if you ask me so this isn’t a huge issue for either.


As an Independant, I’m against the death penalty. I could never, in any way, imagine myself in a position to be responsible for someone else’s life, and for that reason I could never directly vote for it or agree with it. For that same reason, I’m against Abortion, except in the cases of rape or incest. I would never allow my daughter to have an abortion, would not support my wife in such a decision, except in very rare circumstances.

At the same time, it doesn’t affect me one way or another if you or your friend or your sister or mom get an abortion. That’s your business, not mine. Economically speaking, in Freakonomics it actually suggests that it is better for the nation to allow abortion – there has actually been less crime since Roe v. Wade than before. Allowing choice, statistically, has had an indirect affect on the crime-rate of this country. Again, I’m not saying I support it – I’m just saying it’s not that big of an issue for me.

For this reason, I don’t buy those that say bringing in a Liberal to lead the nation could enable the Supreme court to be tipped liberally, forcing Roe v. Wade to be enforced. One way or another, it’s your choice – we all have the responsibility to make that choice. IMO, this nation is not affected adversely by allowing it. So regardless of Obama’s stance, this is just a non-issue for me.

Foreign Policy

McCain scares the living daylights out of me in regards to Foreign Policy. ‘Nuf said.


Obama’s “Change” theme has annoyed the heck out of me. However, I think I finally got it after this last debate. We are in a circumstance in this nation right now that is unprecedented. All of those running were not living the last time this happened. We simply don’t know how to solve it. Therefore, it requires an adaptive President to manage the situation. It takes someone who is willing to change and adapt with the circumstances. Obama showed that this last debate with some of his change in position. McCain is still doing the same things he always did. For this reason above all, I’m implementing “change” in my life and voting for Obama this election.

(Note, it’s not too late to convince me otherwise – if you think I’m wrong, and have solid reasons to back that up, I’m all ears! Again, I’m in this to learn!)

Facebook DNS Blunders Take Down Obama App

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Just yesterday, I posted on how Facebook had seemed to deprecate the apps.new.facebook.com domain, the primary domain for all applications on the Facebook platform. I reported that it seemed to be up now, but some people are still not able to access the App according to reports in the Facebook developers forums. One such casualty is the Facebook Obama “Vote for Change” app, allowing users to register to vote, vote absentee, find polling locations, etc. With today being the deadline for Voter registration in many states, this doesn’t come as good news for the crucial Gen. Y crowd said to be much of the deciding factor for this election.

It appears that as I wrote earlier, the 20-50% reduction in app traffic may be due to a DNS issue. Some users are seeing the issue, and some aren’t. Where I’m seeing it now, it would appear that perhaps my DNS resolved, but others are still reporting it. After an entire weekend, there is still no word from Facebook on this issue.