Saturday, July 21, 2007

J.K. Rowling day – Today July 21, 2007

That’s what I am calling today. And deservingly so: Today her seventh a final book in the very popular Harry Potter-series was released. This, and that the fifth Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has been in the cinemas for a week now.

As an educated guess, I will say that today, more books will be sold than in any previous day in history. Last night thousands to millions of fans would have camped out in front of stores like Barnes and Noble to get there eager Muggle hands on the last Harry Potter book ever to be published: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Never in history has any other author been so successful and none so deserving. I did a lot of reading about her for this article and realised she is THE BEST RAGS-TO-RICHES STORY in the history of mankind.

In 1993 J.K. (Joanne) Rowling was living on a welfare grant of £69 (About $100 at the time) a week while calling a mouse-invested loft flat in Edinburgh, Scotland her home. Divorcee and mother of one, she struggled financially, but still persevered with her idea of a book about the life a boy wizard.

Her first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone was seen a big gamble by her American publisher, Scholastic. They took her in in 1997 and their gamble paid off royally!

Today J.K. Rowling is ranked 48th in Forbes Celebrity 100 list 2007 and has a net worth of a cool $1 Billion. Warner Brothers has cashed in on the more than $5 Billion in movie ticket sales the five movies has generated and Mattel has grossed over $300 million in movie paraphernalia.
J.K. Rowling will say goodbye to the successful franchise after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” has been made into a movie, but the money will never cease to pour in. She has created an intellectual capital empire that is comparable to those created by The Beatles, Queen, Abba, U2 and George Lucas. Paramount Studios has even announced that a Harry Potter theme park will be opened in 2009!

Throughout, those close to her say that her ego has not taken control of her. She remains down-to-earth as a now mother of three. (Kids can do that to you…). The humility mst have been a product of her time spent defending the victims of human right abuses while working at Amnesty International; the job she held before becoming a full-time author.

Let July 21 2007 go down in the history books as J.K. Rowling day and as a great moment in publishing!

Surface Computers - Microsoft designed the next evolutionary step in computing

I have close to 14 blog articles which I have done the research for, but never actually took the time to write and publish them. But every now and again a story comes along that fascinates me so much, that I have to publish it immediately. This is such a story.

Microsoft is once again changing the face of computing: The latest evolutionary leap in computing. Ever watched the movie The Island with Scarlet Johansson and Ewan McGregor? In the movie the character that plays the director of the facility uses a “surface” / table computer. His desk becomes the computer, with “files” (computer files) scattered across the table. Just by touching the table and moving his fingers on it, he manipulates the files, type and operates the commands.

Well, Microsoft is making this all a reality.
Click here to watch the video clip of a demonstration of the product.

This is really fascinating! I can see that these tabletop/ “surface” computers will soon replace our standard desktop PC’s. Pretty soon, your computer will be bought in a computer retailer and also available in furniture shops! Bill Gates will once again become the richest man in the world. Rumour has it that Carlos Slim Helu now holds this position. I will report on this shortly...


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Futuristic features of Luxury cars – Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus

I’m back. I’ve just finished moving into my new place. Stepping up. I’ve forgotten what a big task it is to move. It’s just not simply picking up your stuff, loading it up and moving. No, it’s a whole three weeks of small, time consuming small labour: Move this, fix that, buy this, install that. Admin, measuring and fitting, looking at options, schedules and unexpected expenses. But in the end, it’s all worth it.

So I have the privilege of living in a better neighbourhood now. My favourite thing about it is the neighbours’ cars! Expensive cars. I love seeing what they are driving. Looking… that’s all I can do right now, since all my money is going into my business and my new, huge mortgage.

To protect the privacy of my one neighbour, let’s call him Andrew. Andrew drives a 2007 Lexus LS460. I’ve personally never been a big fan of Lexus, till I had a chat with Andrew. The features of this car are astounding!

And that is where I’m heading with this article: The astounding, mind-boggling technological marvels that the car manufacturers are building into their cars today. Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus are leading the feature race. Just have a look at these innovative features that are in cars already and those soon to be launched:


Audi have manufactured the world’s fastest, smoothest, commercially available gearbox: The S-Tronic. It consists of 2x 3 speed gearboxes and 2 clutches. When you take off, transmission one is in first gear and transmission two is in second. When it’s time to change gears, S-Tronic uses the clutches to swap transmissions and gear changes happen in an unprecedented eight milliseconds! There is just no way you’ll be able to feel the gear changing, never mind loosing power during gear shifts!


Car-to-car Comm: This feature baffles me a bit. It sounds like the first sign that cars will be driving themselves in the near future. The future generation of Mercs will all be connected through a multi-car network: Their own little Intranet. This apparently opens up several possibilities. For example: Your new E-Class will receive a message from a SLK further down the highway that the traffic is backed up and will warn you to consider an alternative route. Wow. The cars are talking to one another! The next thing you know, they will not be doing their job, because they are IM’ing love letters to one another! This feature is reported to be launched in 2009.


Lexus has gone out of their way to pack their flagship model, the LS460 with the coolest features on the market. They are well working towards taking human error out of driving.

Advanced Obstacle detection and Driver Monitoring: Note… “driver monitoring”. They do not only manage the car; they manage you. All the new luxury cars have sensors on the front and the back, detecting the distance between you and the car in front of you. Now Lexus’ and Mercedes-Benz’s will actually assist in braking the car if you don’t do so early enough. But the Lexus will actually detect where you are looking at! If you are distracted by the sexy billboard of Scarlett Johansson next to the road, the Lexus will detect that you are not focusing on the traffic and the car will raise an alarm and start braking for you to prevent a collision.

Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS): This upcoming feature to the Lexus LS460 is for all the people, like me, who hate to parallel park. Never again will it be a problem in the LS460. With this feature, all you have to do is align your Lexus next to the open space, press a button on the dashboard and watch the car park itself! Wow. Amazing, right? The car will detect the space you want to park in and actually manoeuvre itself into that space!

If you are still not convinced that cars will start to drive itself in a short while, I just don’t know. Just look at the evidence: We’ve got cars parking itself, braking itself, cars talking to one another and changing gears without you feeling it. Pretty soon we will be spectators to cars driving themselves!

Not me however. This move will keep me financially unstable for a while, while I still drive my 2003 medium sedan. I won’t be buying a new car anytime soon. That’s unless Prince Azim actually reads my blog and decide to change my fate!
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