links for 2010-07-26

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links for 2010-05-21

  • A new study from Pike Research forecasts that LEDs will account for almost half of a $4.4 billion market for lamps in the commercial, industrial and outdoor stationary sectors by 2020.

    Almost 18 percent of global electricity use goes toward lighting, and lighting in the U.S. consumes a fifth of the amount at an annual cost of more than $40 billion. With their ability to produce the same amount of light as traditional bulbs while consuming less energy and lasting far longer, LEDs represent a strong opportunity to cut expenses and reduce electricity use.

  • A 2009 study (PDF) by Massachusetts-based Groom Energy Research estimated that approximately 60 companies worldwide offer GHG accounting software, and more than US$46 million was invested in GHG accounting software start-ups in 2009.

    According to a recent report by Colorado-based Pike Research, the global market for GHG accounting software and support services grew by nearly 84 percent from 2008 to 2009, representing a total market of US$384 million. They predict the market will achieve 40 percent compounded annual growth through 2017. Australia's S2 Intelligence reports that worldwide spending on green accounting systems will total US$595 billion through 2015, including both GHG accounting software and environmental accounting software more broadly.

  • Aggressive and sustained investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy would allow the U.S. to retire existing coal-fired power plants and a quarter of the its nuclear capacity by 2050.

    The upfront costs would be modest — $10 billion in 2020, or $2.20 monthly for the average residential customer, but by 2040, the savings would begin reaching consumers' pocketbooks. Deploying existing high-efficient technology across every sector, such as lighting, HVAC and water heating, could cut electricity use by 15 percent from today's requirements.

    All of this can occur independent of federal climate change legislation should Congress fail to pass an energy bill this year, according to Synapse Energy Economics, author of "Beyond Business as Usual: Investigating a Future without Coal and Nuclear Power in the U.S."

    Renewable energy, such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass, could grow to provide half of the country's electricity needs, said the report

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links for 2010-05-20

  • But there’s one solution to the climate crisis that we don’t need to wait for — energy efficiency.

    The opportunity is enormous: A 2009 McKinsey report estimates that by 2020, the United States could reduce its annual energy consumption by 23 percent through energy efficiency measures alone.

    This would cut greenhouse gas emissions by over a gigaton — that’s a billion tons — and cumulatively save companies and consumers over a trillion dollars.

    Energy efficiency is doable right now, it’s cost-effective, and it’s absolutely critical to slowing climate change. But it’s not happening fast enough. To truly take energy efficiency to scale, we need a national movement that captures the imagination of people from dorm rooms to boardrooms across the country.

  • As a result, in three to five years, there will be a second big enterprise IT migration from private to public infrastructures.

    Don't believe everything you hear about private clouds. Just because you've finally fixed IT doesn't make you a long-term cloud computing provider. Plan accordingly.

  • Private clouds are better than nothing but an investment in a private cloud is an investment in a temporary fix that will only slow the path to the final destination: shared clouds. A decision to go with a private cloud is a decision to run lower utilization levels, consume more power, be less efficient environmentally, and to run higher costs.
  • Pictured below is Georgina Teye. She sells plastic housewares — baskets, bowls, mugs and the like — at an outdoor market in Somanya, Ghana. She'd like to install solar-powered lanterns at her shop, which is also her home, so that she can remain open later and so that her three children can study at night.

    I'm loaning her $100.

    I made the loan through a startup nonprofit called Energy in Common.

  • It’s no secret that Google has been ramping up its enterprise offerings. The company has made a strong push for the adoption of Google Apps, launching the Apps Marketplace, allowing Apps users to add other layers to their environments from companies like Socialwok and Zoho. Today, Google is taking it one step further. At Google I/O today, the search giant has announced that Google App Engine, a platform for building and hosting web applications in the cloud, will now include a Business version, catered towards enterprises. The new premium version allows customers to build their own business apps on Google’s cloud infrastructure. Google is also announcing a collaboration with VMware for deployment and development of apps on the new cloud infrastructure.
  • A group of investors argued heatedly about the value of open versus closed technology on a panel today at Google’s I/O conference in San Francisco. Dave McClure (pictured), a partner at Founders Fund, kicked things off with a provocative statement: “Open is for losers.”

    McClure was answering a question from moderator Dick Costolo of Twitter, who noted that one of the big values celebrated in the tech community is openness, yet one of the hottest platforms, the iPhone, is completely controlled by Apple. In fact, McClure couched his answer by saying he was “channeling Steve Jobs.” He said that it’s important to have open standards as a foundation for technologies, but after that, proprietary technology motivates people to pursue “cool products and cool ideas.”

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Great ride today. I LOVE the new highway for road-cycling.

I think that the Sea to Sky Highway is going to become known as one of the most amazing road-bike rides in the world. The Whistler Granfondo is going to be a blast. Great training ride day today. 16k warmup and then 3 16k sprints.

Click the map to follow along!

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I’m in the June/July/August issue of Backbone Magazine talking about cleantech in Canada

Does this mean I'm now a cover model? :-P

Backbone Magazine has just published a great overview of the cleantech sector in Canada that contains quotes from a number of notable people in the space including Kirk Washington (Yaletown Venture Partners), Victoria Smith (BC Hydro), Rick Whittaker (Sustainable Development Technology Canada), Raul Pacheco-Vega (UBC), Helen Goodland (Lighthouse Sustainable Building Centre) and me. Thanks to the Globe team and Lisa Manfield the author for a great article. You can either jump to the article, to the table of contents of this issue, or to a list of all of the issues.

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links for 2010-05-08

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links for 2010-05-03

  • The Pretence of Knowledge

    The particular occasion of this lecture, combined with the chief practical problem which economists have to face today, have made the choice of its topic almost inevitable. On the one hand the still recent establishment of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science marks a significant step in the process by which, in the opinion of the general public, economics has been conceded some of the dignity and prestige of the physical sciences. On the other hand, the economists are at this moment called upon to say how to extricate the free world from the serious threat of accelerating inflation which, it must be admitted, has been brought about by policies which the majority of economists recommended and even urged governments to pursue. We have indeed at the moment little cause for pride: as a profession we have made a mess of things.

    It seems to me that this failure of the economists to guide policy more successfully is closely connected with their propensity t

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links for 2010-04-29

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BC Crossfit Games Sectional Qualifier photos are here

This weekend rocked. I was dead last but got personal bests on all my numbers and didn’t blow up (and did finish!) so I was still happy. Next year I’ll be competitive!

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I just signed up for the Canadian Death Race on Aug 1. My body wants to nervously puke and poop all at the same time.

Luckily I’m training with my friends who’ve done it before. They’ve assured me that it will be a complete suffer-fest. I think their words of reassurance were something like: “you think you hurt now – just wait until hour 10 when everything from the neck down is just one big cramp.” Thanks. I’m also grateful for the ass-kicking I’m getting from Jesse and Heather over at Squamish Crossfit.

Here is the overview of the course and event. Gory details can be found here.

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Startup Lessons Learned Simulcast this Friday April 23rd in Vancouver. Learn how to build fast-cycle lean startups.

I’m super excited to be part of the crew (along with Bootup Entrepreneurial Society) bringing the Startup Lessons Learned conference to town via simulcast this Friday April 23rd. For those of you who don’t know, the Lean Startup movement (a derivative of lean manufacturing) was kicked off by Eric Ries, formerly of Imvu. It has blossomed in a very short time into a global movement of entrepreneurs interested in how to build fast-cycle, highly iterative startups that learn fast and minimize wasted effort.

More information on the event is below.

  • PRICE: $25 (regular on-site SF price = $695USD so that’s a 96.5% discount not counting the savings in travel costs.)
  • SIMULCAST LOCATION: Bootup Entrepreneurial Society, 3rd floor, 163 W. Hastings St., Suite 200.

Startup Lessons Learned, San Francisco (via simulcast to Vancouver)

Startup Lessons Learned is the first event designed to unite those interested in what it takes to succeed in building a lean startup. The goal for this event is to give practitioners and students of the lean startup methodology the opportunity to hear insights from leaders in embracing and deploying the core principles of the lean startup methodology. The day-long event will feature a mix of panels and talks focused on the key challenges and issues that technical and market-facing people at startups need to understand in order to succeed in building successful lean startups.

Confirmed Speakers and Participating Mentors:


  • 8 AM – 9:00 Registration
  • 9:00 – 9:30 AM Welcome
    *Eric Ries, Host, Startup Lessons Learned
  • 9:30 AM – 10:20 AM Build Keynote: “To Agility, and Beyond”
    * Kent Beck, Three Rivers Institute
  • 10:20 AM – 10:40 AM Continuous Deployment Case Study: WiredReach
    *Ash Maurya, WiredReach
  • 10:40 AM – 11:00 AM Agile Development Case Study: Grockit
    *Farb Nivi, Grockit
  • 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM Case Study: “But Does it Scale?”
    * Tim Fitz, James Birchler, and Brett Durrett, IMVU
  • 11:30 PM – 12:15 PM But What about Design? Minimum Desirable Product
    *Andrew Chen (Futuristic Play), Laura Klein, Dave McClure, Rashmi Sinha
  • 12:15 AM – 1:15 PM Lunch
  • 1:15 – 2:00 PM Conversation: Getting to Plan B
    * Randy Komisar, KPCB
  • 2:00 PM – 2:20 PM Minimum Viable Product Case Study: Aardvark
    *Max Ventilla and Damon Horowitz, Google (Aardvark)
  • 2:20 PM – 2:40 PM Pivot Case Study: Flowtown
    *Dan Martell and Ethan Bloch, Flowtown
  • 2:40 PM – 3:00 PM Pivot Case Study: KISSmetrics
    *Hiten Shah, KISSmetrics
  • 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM Afternoon Break
  • 3:30 PM – 4:15 PM Customer Development 2.0
    *Steve Blank
  • 4:15 PM – 4:35 PM Is Customer Development Marketing? Food on the Table Case Study
    *Manuel Rosso, Food on the Table
  • 4:35 PM – 4:55 PM Customer Development Case Study: Dropbox
    *Drew Houston, Dropbox
  • 4:55 PM – 5:15 PM Customer Development Case Study: PB Works
    *David Weekly, PBworks
  • 5:15 PM – 6:00 PM Customer Development Panel
    *Cindy Alvarez, Brant Cooper, Sean Ellis, Matt Johnson

This event is intended for people on the front line of delivering products. If you are a start-up founder, an employee engaged in customer or product development role at a company of any stage, or someone at a large company looking to bring the lean startup methodology to your company, we encourage you to attend the event.

Local Simulcasts

For those outside of the Bay Area, we will be offering simulcasts of the event. Official simulcast hosts can be found below – make sure to sign up using one of the links below:




North America


South America

Posted in Business, Computing & IT, Enterprise Software, Events, Excellence, Interesting People, TA Speaking & Media, Technology, Web 2.0 | Tagged | Comments Off

11 days left to get early registration discount for the May 18 Angel Forum

If you’re looking to raise some early stage investment for your company, the Angel Forum is a great venue to get in front of local angels. Information below. Note the following key dates:

  • April 23: next screening session.
  • April 30: early registration deadline (save $100)
  • May 18: Angel Forum event.

See Bob’s information below:

Looking for Investors?   April 30 deadline for 27th Angel Forum on May 18.

30 Companies are invited to present and exhibit to pre-screened 60+ private equity investors at the 27th Angel Forum on May 18 in Vancouver. Nearly 90 investors came to the last Angel Forum, despite the economic crisis.

5 companies already selected with 13 companies in screening. April 23 – next screening session.

“The Angel Forum is about the best organized event I have attended (ranging from across Canada and the Pacific NW). And having the drumbeat going before and after is a real difference from most other events.” Christopher Procyshyn, CEO Of VanRX Pharmasystems.

Post Presentation: To drive investor investment in your company, our Investors-Only discussion right after your presentation, invites investors to join or start a term sheet/due diligence team specific to your company. We link you (via deal management software) with investors who tell us of their interest in your company.

Avoid the last day rush: Earlier applicants have a better chance of being selected as 2x as many companies usually apply than space available and selection closes when we reach maximum capacity. Review our home page and selection criteria before submitting your Company Profile here

April 23 – next screening session. Save $100 by registering before April 30 deadline.  Apply / Register here

Sponsors:  Business Development Bank – Venture Capital      Fasken Martineau        PricewaterhouseCoopers    TSX – Venture Exchange

Questions? Reach Bob Chaworth-Musters, Angel Forum-Vancouver at mailto:

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Vancouver’s CO2 Impact gets good coverage at for their gold standard multi-benefit carbon credits

Disclosure: I’m an advisor of the CO2 Impact team.

I’m quite excited about the work that Boyd Cohen and his wife Elizabeth Obendiente and the team are doing and happy to see that they’re getting the coverage they deserve. They have a great article written about them on’s site. You can read the article here. In it you can learn all about how they are helping Latin Americans build cleaner community-centered kilns that help clean up the air, prevent health issues, and also return funds to the village from the sale of the carbon credits. It’s slow but necessary work.


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Startup Lessons Learned: Building highly iterative, fast-cycle startups with minimal waste. Simulcast in Vancouver Apr 23

On April 23, over 20 awesome speakers are going to get together in SF for the Startup Lessons Learned conference. Bootup Entrepreneurial Society has kindly decided to host the simulcast in their Gastown digs.

Speakers include: Eric Ries (founder of the lean startup movement), Dave McClure (the foul-mouthed, opinionated, and obnoxiously right-most-of-the-time angel), the KISS metrics team, Randy Komisar (VC/angel with Kleiner Perkins and author of my favourite book on venture capital – The Monk and the Riddle), Steve Blank (who recently wrote a fantastic blog post called “No Plan Survives First Contact With Customers” and many others. This is a top-tier collection of speakers.

This is going to be a kick-in-the-ass day that is going to make any startup entrepreneur rethink their entire business approach.So if you’re sick of limping along building your business 10 users at a time or “working to get the app just right before we launch”, get yourself and your team down to this event.

Sign up HERE. This event is $700USD in person. We’re providing the simulcast here for $50 FREE. Do it. You won’t regret it. And you’ll get to hang out and meet a bunch of other startup entrepreneurs who are all building their ventures. Great place to connect with like-minded folks.

Posted in Angel & VC Financing, Business, Computing & IT, Events, Excellence, Humour, Interesting People, Life Lessons, Technology, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment

Okay Steve, Alice in Wonderland for the iPad IS magical and revolutionary. Really.

Behold the future of books. Imagine showing this to a caveman. They would stone you to death and then smash the iPad apart looking for the little people inside.

This is truly awesome and inspiring as a creative work.

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Best. Ipad. App. Ever.

Check out the world’s best “deskphone.” This is brilliant.

Click to go to the original article.

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Walmart’s 40 year growth curve – fantastic animation – looks like viral infection writ large

Check out this crazy animation of Wal-mart’s expansion over 40 years. Looks like a virus breaking out.

(click to go to the page with the animation, then hit PLAY)

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I’m in this week’s Business in Vancouver talking about cloud computing

I’m quoted in this week’s Business in Vancouver, discussing cloud computing, along with my industry colleague Sarah Morton from Backbone Systems (a recent sponsor of the Vancouver Cloud Camp.)

Apr 6-12, 2010 edition

I’m glad Curt got my favourite line in there, courtesy of Vancouver’s world-famous sci-fi author, William Gibson: “the future is already here, it just isn’t widely distributed yet.” True in many domains, including cloud computing.

Not the best article I’ve had, not the worst. More accurately, when I worked at Business Objects, I worked on collaborative software, web 2.0 strategy, and also SUPPORTED the Saas business unit by providing additional market research capacity.

As usual, this article doesn’t clearly articulate the overlaps between Saas and cloud but I’m not surprised. That’s hard to do at the best of times. My version of that has always been that cloud is now being broadly defined in three columns and three layers so the whole grid is “cloud”, column 1 is “true public cloud” and the box in the upper left corner is “true Saas”.

In Curt’s defense, it was the middle of the Olympics and he was surrounded by much more interesting work.

Since Business in Vancouver doesn’t offer permalinks to their articles (see above line!), I’ve copied the whole article here below:

Cloud control growing for more businesses

Companies that service and use the shared computing model are growing in step with the technology

Curt Cherewayko

It’s probably been four years since Troy Angrignon last had a conversation about building a desktop-based application, let alone built one.

At that time, he was an emerging technology strategist with Business Objects, where he helped build the company’s first Software-as-a-service (SaaS) unit and do market analysis for the unit’s first product.

That Angrignon’s title included the word “emerging” reflects that SaaS and “cloud computing” are relatively new concepts.

But while SaaS and cloud computing aren’t ubiquitous in business yet and while there’s still confusion about what the cloud is, Angrignon and other IT professionals agree that the cloud is growing.

“The future is here,” said Angrignon. “It just isn’t widely distributed yet. All software should be built as SaaS. There’s no reason to do it otherwise.”

Angrignon, who co-chaired a day-long cloud computing conference in Vancouver last month, is now an independent IT consultant.

In its simplest form, the cloud is a mish-mash of remote applications, platforms and infrastructure connected to their users by an Internet connection.

Whereas enterprise or desktop-based software is housed in its user’s local hardware and servers, cloud computing applications are typically based in data centres that can be hundreds of miles away from the user.

And the businesses that manage and maintain cloud software can be hundreds of miles away from the data centre and their clients.

Businesses on either side of the cloud computing model – the providers and their customers – are growing in step with the cloud, as providers advance cloud technologies and more businesses adopt such technologies.

Sarah Morton, president of Backbone Systems, likens cloud computing to a co-op program in which member benefits increase as the co-op grows.

While many of Backbone’s clients are small and medium-sized businesses, they’re part of a cloud computing co-op that’s powered by thousands of other organizations.

Backbone clients use the same programs and computing power as some of the largest international corporations.

Morton added that “business are sharing a large enterprise infrastructure and paying a smaller price for it.”

And as they scale up, businesses can access more services and computing strength in the cloud as needed.

Discovery Parks retired its desktop software and internal network and moved to a SaaS model largely because it didn’t want to have to hire a dedicated IT professional to manage its IT as its real estate portfolio grew.

Mark Betteridge, Discovery’s executive director and CEO, estimated that such a professional would command an annual salary of roughly $50,000.

Instead of updating and maintaining its software, licences and firewalls itself, Discovery pays a monthly fee to Backbone to manage those tasks.

Previously, if Discovery had network or software complications, it would have to hire an outside IT troubleshooter and suffer through what could be days of downtime.

“With Backbone, they can diagnose it almost immediately and fix it almost immediately,” said Betteridge.

Backbone houses its customers’ servers and networks in a Vancouver-based data centre.

The company, which bundles and manages products for clients, launched its first product, a remote e-mail and business application offered by Microsoft Corp., in 2006.

With 10 employees, Backbone now manages software and applications for more than 1,000 employees in numerous organizations.

In 2008, Mono County, California, and the Town of Mammoth, which is in the county, were using enterprise systems to manage land development and sustainable growth.

The two governments’ small and aging in-house systems had become increasingly dysfunctional as the resort community’s population grew.

“We were faced with significant growing pains,” said Nate Greenberg, GIS co-ordinator for the town and county.

Last year, the two governments switched to web-based permitting platforms managed by BasicGov Systems Inc. after being referred to the Vancouver company by another government.

Greenberg said BasicGov’s platform has reduced government infrastructure and the number of staff hires needed to handle increased pressure on their permitting systems.

He added that staff can access the web-based platform from any location that has an Internet application.

As well, the single systems replaced a patchwork of in-house systems that often couldn’t communicate well with each other.

“That allows for really smart decision-making ability because people in one department can see what people in another department are doing,” said Greenberg.

Like Morton, Greenberg pointed to the strength-in-numbers benefits of cloud computing.

“With the power of all those people buying into it, we can leverage much larger functionality than we could have locally.” •

This article from Business in Vancouver April 6-12, 2010; issue 1067

Business in Vancouver ( has been publishing in-depth local business news, analysis and commentary since 1989. The newspaper also produces a weekly ranked list of the biggest companies and players in a wide range of B.C. industries and commercial sectors, monthly features and industry-focused sections that arm its subscribers with a complete package of local business intelligence each week.

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2010 Q2 cleantech finance notes: cleantech deal volume up, banks finally engaging

This  year started off with a bang with Deloitte heralding 1Q10 as a “record quarter” in terms of deals done (180 vs the previous high of 165 in 4Q09). But only $35M of the $1.9B raised was by Canadian companies. That’s a shockingly small amount of finance for such a burgeoning sector.

With that as a backdrop, it’s interesting to see CIBC announce this week that they have built a new cleantech specific team that will be offering a range of services to the cleantech sector. Related to this I saw this morning that RBC Capital has just funded the Greenscape Capital team (sponsors of Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room exercise here in Vancouver back in March). This will let the Greenscape team execute on their plan to build the world’s “greenest parking facility.”

Congrats to CIBC for finally doing what the European banks have been doing for years and to RBC/Greenscape for continuing to move things forward on large scale efficient buildings.

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Apple iPad launches. Hell freezes. Politicians stop being corruptible. New era dawns

Wow, the iPad hasn’t even launched yet but it has been a crazy week.

Firstly Apple announced that the whole iPad thing was just a big April Fool’s joke. Those crazy kids.

Kleiner Perkins doubled down by increasing their iFund from $100M to $200M. Clearly, they didn’t hear about the aforementioned joke.

Apple is getting ready to tour people through the iPad with the oddly named “Meet Your New iPad” sessions. Surprising nobody, the marketing communications people are gushing that it will be an close look at “the most amazing features of iPad.” I’m pretty sure there will be lots of talk about “amazing magic” and “magic amazingness” in there too.

At 8:19am this morning, CNet wrote about the big names unveiling iPad apps including Netflix and EA. Then at 10:47am, Google announced that the Gmail team had released an HTML5 Gmail web app for iPad. Then a couple of hours later, InformationWeek’s Eric Zeman bitterly complained that the entire software universe had not yet instantly released new updated apps, particularly calling out uhhh…Google for not doing so. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Continuing on the market-readiness theme, there are rumours that the iPad will launch with 1000 iPad-specific apps. Meanwhile Apple has begun to create a list of websites that are iPad-ready. So far there are four. That leaves only 75 zillion left to update/catalog. Take that Adobe.

Speaking of Adobe, since Apple hates Flash, they need to line up organizations on their side of the fight. Seems like so far, they’re getting some bruisers into the game. CBS ABC, NYT, CNN, Sports Illustrated, Reuters, Vimeo, Hulu, Netflix, and are all saying “screw you Adobe, we’re with Apple and HTML5.” Must be awkward at meetings when the NYT is asking for discounts on Adobe software.

The beleaguered magazine publishing industry launched their opening experimental salvos with a mix of free/freemium/paid offerings. Leading the pack in silliness was the Wall Street Journal with their offer of a $17.29/mo subscription. I’m not sure if that’s horrendous or brilliant. From a margin perspective, I suppose if they can get it, they’re laughing.

CNet finally beat the Onion news by writing the single best article on those creepy weird people who sleep in line-ups to buy first release products. Nice work CNet. Boo on you Onion News.

Mashable showed us how board games might be a killer app of sorts for the iPad. Finally, no need to dig those dusty boxes out of the top shelf in the spare room when the family comes over!

WordPress managed to build what I think might be the most useless app so far: a blogging app for iPad. I can’t imagine trying to build hypertext rich articles on the iPad. What a nightmare. I write my posts with 2 or 3 windows open and 2 monitors. Trying to do this in a single app with no multi-tasking would be horrific. Interestingly the almighty, ever-present and usually lucid Om Malik wrote a post titled “Why iPad will Change Blogging for me” in which he made the case that he wasn’t really sure it would and counted the many pains he could envision. Maybe he wrote that post on the iPad and that led to the cognitive dissonance.

Meanwhile in me-too land, a number of soon-to-be-forgotten players launched a number of indistingushable iPad alternatives. I’d give you the link, but really, why bother?

That’s the week that was on the eve of the launch of the iPad. Tomorrow a new era dawns.

Oh wait, there’s an iPad v2 coming with a camera? And multi-tasking? Okay, then maybe THAT’S the dawn of the new era.

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Cloudcamp Vancouver video summary

The awesome guys from Hustream up in Kelowna came to the recent Cloudcamp Vancouver and made a great little video for us. Thanks guys!


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Vancouver’s First Cloudcamp happens on March 13, 2010 in two more days

Vancouver’s First Cloud Camp is in two more days!

What will you do at Cloud Camp? You will learn how to take advantage of cloud computing to do things you could not do before, to save money, to be more flexible and agile. You can get your questions answered about security, privacy, and compliance. You can learn about and understand the differences between public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid clouds. Hear from your peers who are building and developing on the cloud about how they have stopped buying and installing and maintaining physical servers.

CloudCamp is a free full-day “unconference” where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. With the rapid change occurring in the industry, we need a place where we can meet to share our experiences, challenges and solutions. At CloudCamp, you are encouraged to share your thoughts in several open discussions, as we strive for the advancement of Cloud Computing.

End users, IT professionals and vendors are all encouraged to attend and participate.

We’d like to ask your help to spread the word. You can do that by:

  • Sharing us on Facebook
  • Letting your LinkedIn contacts know you’re attending the event
  • Tweet about us using the hashtag #Cloudcamp or full phrase “#Cloudcamp Vancouver”
  • Email your friends and invite them to come.

The URL for sign-ups is:

Sign-up closes Friday night at midnight

Details are below as a reminder:

DATE/TIME: This Saturday March 13, 2010, 9:00am

LOCATION: Discovery Park, 887 Great Northern Way (map)

COFFEE and LUNCH is provided and/or feel free to bring your own.

COST: FREE! (bring your friends!)

AGENDA: (this may change)
9:00-9:30am Registration
9:30-9:45am Welcome & Intros
9:45-10:00am Lightning Talk
10:00-10:30am Unpanel
10:30-11:00am Organize Unconference
11:15-12:00pm Session 1
1:00-1:15pm Lunch
1:15-2:00pm Breakout Session #2
2:00-3:00pm Breakout Session #3
3:00-3:30pm Wrap-up Session
Evening – ad-hoc dinner/drinks somewhere??? (at your own expense!)

We would like to thank our sponsors who have made this event possible.

Venue: Discovery Park
Gold: RightScale, Backbone Systems
Silver: Peer 1, Tropo, Agreement Express, Layer 7
Media/Promotion: Bootup Entrepreneurial Society, BCTIA, TechVibes

Thanks from the Cloud Camp Vancouver team.

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Two curves: My view on the BC cleantech sector at the beginning of 2010

I was asked recently what I had learned from my informal survey of the local BC cleantech sector. This was my response and I was encouraged to share it more widely. I’d love your own thoughts on the following.

Dear (Friend):

You asked about my view on the cleantech sector after I took some time to survey it. Let me answer by starting with the big picture and the thing that prompted me to look at cleantech in the first place. Then I will be better able to answer your question at the bottom.

First, the global view.

Globally, we are standing at the confluence of two exponentially increasing tides. The power of one may help us address the risks of the other, but only if we engage them both head-on. One is the curve of resource usage, the other is the curve of technological change.

Curve 1: Overshoot and collapse and “peak everything”

We have used up half of our forests and half our our fish stocks on the planet to-date and given our “peak everything” 3.5%/yr compounding resource usage curve, we will use the same amount of resources in the next 20 years as we used in the last 260 years. It is widely understood that we have already exceeded the capacity of this planet to support our continued growth as a species by between 20-30% and are already going to have to plan for a “controlled crash.”

Curve 2: Double exponential technological advances

Simultaneously, technology is developing at a double exponential rate such that we can not even comprehend what our world may look like by 2050 from a technology perspective. A brief reminder: 30 steps taken 1 foot a a time moves you forward 30 feet. 30 steps taken exponentially moves you forward 1.07 billion feet. It’s hard for our brains to grasp. The next 10 years will be like our last 100 in terms of new technology and that is accelerating.  If predictions by people such as Ray Kurzweil come true, we could have nano solar devices providing 100% of humanity’s power requirements by 2030,  the wealthy and maybe even middle class will be iiving long healthy lives free of disease and many of them will be integrated into computers and robots. If we choose our technologies wisely, even the poorest will have the benefit of low-cost desalination and solar power.

In terms of scenarios, it will already probably be either a huge cliff, a controlled step-down crash, or in a miracle of miracles, a bounce off the bottom and a move to a regenerative world. Hopefully we still have those options.

Actions we need to take:

We need to understand and act on the knowledge that comes from both of these curves.

Regarding the first curve, we need to stop the denial, anticipate the issues, structure responses that address both the rational and irrational causes of inaction, address our flawed, emotional, homeostatic tendencies, and work towards creating a regenerative world, rather than the destructive negative overuse cycle we are in.  We know a lot about why we do not act. We don’t need “more information”, we need to build plans that take into account our very human responses to things. Jared Diamond and Joseph Tainter‘s work is key here.

Regarding the second curve, we need to stop sticking our head in the sand about technology and embrace and channel technological development. Relinquishment of technologies won’t work. That would be like standing idly by saying “I will have no part in that river coming dangerously close to the village” when that river is doubling in volume and power every year. We can’t stop it, but we can channel it. We need to slay our sacred cows by revisiting nuclear power (which is emissions free) and genetically modified foods.  We need to use every advantage we have to both increase resource generation and regeneration and also to decrease resource usage per person. This will require structuring government incentives for radical expansion of green technologies.  The Sustainable Development Technology Canada program is a great start. We need more. We need to think like Vinod Khosla who says “if we do not address maintech (building materials, concrete, water, chemicals, coal, oil, efficiency) and solve them at low-cost, that can get to market unsubsidized in China and India and scale to the whole planet, then we won’t solve our problems”. Since we don’t know where the innovations will occur, we need to structure capital to create massive “optionality” and R&D across the board, focusing on those areas that are most ripe for change / disruption / innovation and that are causing the biggest problems. Sadly, I think we should also continue to support companies and organizations like Space X and the LifeBoat foundation, both of which are trying to get off the planet in case we really make a mess and can’t live here any more.

We need to work the top line by increasing resources

We need to Increase outputs and resources and regeneration through restoration of forests, soils, forests, fisheries. We need to boost agricultural outputs (again) by raising land and water productivity and studying ways of producing protein more efficiently that with the standard corn-fed cattle approach. This includes continued research into genetically modified foods.

We need to work the bottom line by decreasing our resource usage per person

We need to also lower our resource use/person by restructuring economically through things like cap and trade, removal of subsidies on things like oil (we spend $700B annually across the globe subsidizing the exact wrong behaviours), restructure the energy landscape by decommissioning coal, shifting to renewables, pushing for all of the efficiency we can get now and every year going forward. We need to get MUCH better at urban design since in 30 more years, 80% of the planet will live in 3% of the surface area in cities and that means urban transportation, bikes, water use, city farming, squatter gentrification. We need to implement “third world” solutions in our own backyard – micro finance, entrepreneurial education, population stabilization (which happens automatically as people move to the city).

National leaders…aren’t leading

Global progress on our bigger issues is stalled. Copenhagen was widely regarded as a failure. Nations are too slow to act. China and the US refused to take material action at Copenhagen and that means that no other nations will follow. The US is frustrating cap and trade. Canada is also lagging. Within our borders, our provinces and territories are too heterogeneous and their populace has too many diverging interests.

We have structural capital issues that are impeding our ability to bring investment into Canada that will continue to haunt all forms of technology development, including cleantech, and they need to be addressed. The Section 116 problem has never been resolved and makes it difficult for investors to invest in Canada without great hassles. We need to fix this as it continues to scare US venture capital away and is causing a hollowing out of Canadian companies as US investors must move our companies south in order to invest in them. It’s easier for a US company to buy out and move a Canadian company than to simply invest in it.

This revolution will happen provincially, regionally and municipally:

BC is already the 10th largest “cleantech market” in North America.  We have top-notch universities that pump out research, we have core resource and mining people, law, and organizations in place that can be repurposed for cleantech company creation, financing, and implementation of things like carbon projects. We already have an excellent industry association leadership in the BCTIA, the Premier’s Technology Council is already very supportive of cleantech, and we have programs such as the newly launched CleanWorks BC marketing campaign intended to attract foreign investment to BC. We also have a large number of excellent cleantech companies here and we have strong core competencies in hydro electric power, power transmission, storage and battery technology, wastewater management, and bioenergy.

The Lower Mainland as a region and all of the cities inside it will be key. You can make a difference at the regional level. Cities are massive producers of the problem and they’re also massively incentivized to solve the issues for themselves – they are almost self-contained zones.

In Vancouver, we have a mayor who sees the benefit of working on all three pillars of sustainability: “people, planet and profit” as it is often referred to. He is building ties with Governor Schwarzenegger from California and Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room Initiative , among many other things. In short, he is trying to put Vancouver on the global map as a “Green Capital” in the world.

So what do we need to do next?

We need capital fixes. There are many others who know much more about this but I know that we have capital gaps. The exits are long and difficult for investors (10 years) for many of these green technologies and so many companies suffer or fail as do their investors.

We need to continue to back primary research at the universities that feeds into our technology landscape.

We need to build more funds that create small companies that can fail faster – allowing us to create promote “optionality” or the creation of as many options as possible.

We need to build a more unified province wide Cleantech BC association that unifies traditional energy, renewables, materials, efficiency, and water all into one cohesive strategic plan.

We need to survey our assets in the universities and our companies, scan the market for current and latent need and then really support those clusters where we can excel and build networks of inter-related and successful companies.

As a province, we need to realize we are competing globally, not within Canada.

As a province, we need to redefine “cleantech” to include all of our “maintech” – the stuff that will move the needle. That will require vision expansion and coaching. This means expanding our idea of “cleantech” from renewables to greening of the entire supply chain and all materials and energy usage.

We need to continue to push these changes bottom up because waiting for national governments (Canada, US, or otherwise) will take too long and be too ineffective. The only exception to that is major cap and trade policy and other regulation which mostly needs to happen federally. But even without it, cities and regions can adopt their own and enforce them locally as they’re doing now. It’s less effective but it’s a step until the national dithering is resolved.

The province must address issues of forest, agricultural land, fisheries and water restructuring in order to once again focus on maximizing sustainable, regenerative yields. One area I’m significantly concerned about here is water rights. It appears that we are selling off our water rights to foreign interests and that needs to be reversed. Peak water is right behind peak oil as a critical issue.

My final summary?

We have a lack of national leadership on the major environmental challenges ahead of us as evidenced by Canada’s embarrassing performance at Copenhagen, but that is countered by highly motivated provincial, regional, and municipal leaders. And we have a province filled with excellent cleantech companies, entrepreneurs, and teams that are highly capital efficient.

So, while my survey of the sector has tempered me with its long, difficult, unpredictable company builds and exits, the people working on those companies have excited me with their passion, vitality and energy for finding and creating solutions to our big challenges. That passion and energy is one of the key reasons I have decided not to return to the US and to instead, stay here and work to build BC’s local technology sector. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get to it.

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