Israel Journal: Is Yossi Vardi a good father to his entrepreneurial children?
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Israel Journal: Is Yossi Vardi a good father to his entrepreneurial children?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone is currently, courtesy of the Israeli government and friends, visiting Israel. This is a first-hand account of his experiences and may — as a result — not fully comply with Wikinews’ neutrality policy. Please note this is a journalism experiment for Wikinews and put constructive criticism on the collaboration page.

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Dr. Yossi Vardi is known as Israel’s ‘Father of the Entrepreneur’, and he has many children in the form of technology companies he has helped to incubate in Tel Aviv‘s booming Internet sector. At the offices of Superna, one such company, he introduced a whirlwind of presentations from his baby incubators to a group of journalists. What stuck most in my head was when Vardi said, “What is important is not the technology, but the talent.” Perhaps because he repeated this after each young Internet entrepreneur showed us his or her latest creation under Vardi’s tutelage. I had a sense of déjà vu from this mantra. A casual reader of the newspapers during the Dot.com boom will remember a glut of stories that could be called “The Rise of the Failure”; people whose technology companies had collapsed were suddenly hot commodities to start up new companies. This seemingly paradoxical thinking was talked about as new back then; but even Thomas Edison—the Father of Invention—is oft-quoted for saying, “I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

Vardi’s focus on encouraging his brood of talent regardless of the practicalities stuck out to me because of a recent pair of “dueling studies” The New York Times has printed. These are the sort of studies that confuse parents on how to raise their kids. The first, by Carol Dweck at Stanford University, came to the conclusion that children who are not praised for their efforts, regardless of the outcome’s success, rarely attempt more challenging and complex pursuits. According to Dweck’s study, when a child knows that they will receive praise for being right instead of for tackling difficult problems, even if they fail, they will simply elect to take on easy tasks in which they are assured of finding the solution.

Only one month earlier the Times produced another story for parents to agonize over, this time based on a study from the Brookings Institution, entitled “Are Kids Getting Too Much Praise?” Unlike Dweck’s clinical study, Brookings drew conclusions from statistical data that could be influenced by a variety of factors (since there was no clinical control). The study found American kids are far more confident that they have done well than their Korean counterparts, even when the inverse is true. The Times adds in the words of a Harvard faculty psychologist who intoned, “Self-esteem is based on real accomplishments. It’s all about letting kids shine in a realistic way.” But this is not the first time the self-esteem generation’s proponents have been criticized.

Vardi clearly would find himself encouraged by Dweck’s study, though, based upon how often he seemed to ask us to keep our eyes on the people more than the products. That’s not to say he has not found his latest ICQ, though only time—and consumers—will tell.

For a Web 2.User like myself, I was most fascinated by Fixya, a site that, like Wikipedia, exists on the free work of people with knowledge. Fixya is a tech support site where people who are having problems with equipment ask a question and it is answered by registered “experts.” These experts are the equivalent of Wikipedia’s editors: they are self-ordained purveyors of solutions. But instead of solving a mystery of knowledge a reader has in their head, these experts solve a problem related to something you have bought and do not understand. From baby cribs to cellular phones, over 500,000 products are “supported” on Fixya’s website. The Fixya business model relies upon the good will of its experts to want to help other people through the ever-expanding world of consumer appliances. But it is different from Wikipedia in two important ways. First, Fixya is for-profit. The altruistic exchange of information is somewhat dampened by the knowledge that somebody, somewhere, is profiting from whatever you give. Second, with Wikipedia it is very easy for a person to type in a few sentences about a subject on an article about the Toshiba Satellite laptop, but to answer technical problems a person is experiencing seems like a different realm. But is it? “It’s a beautiful thing. People really want to help other people,” said the presenter, who marveled at the community that has already developed on Fixya. “Another difference from Wikipedia is that we have a premium content version of the site.” Their premium site is where they envision making their money. Customers with a problem will assign a dollar amount based upon how badly they need an answer to a question, and the expert-editors of Fixya will share in the payment for the resolved issue. Like Wikipedia, reputation is paramount to Fixya’s experts. Whereas Wikipedia editors are judged by how they are perceived in the Wiki community, the amount of barnstars they receive and by the value of their contributions, Fixya’s customers rate its experts based upon the usefulness of their advice. The site is currently working on offering extended warranties with some manufacturers, although it was not clear how that would work on a site that functioned on the work of any expert.

Another collaborative effort product presented to us was YouFig, which is software designed to allow a group of people to collaborate on work product. This is not a new idea, although may web-based products have generally fallen flat. The idea is that people who are working on a multi-media project can combine efforts to create a final product. They envision their initial market to be academia, but one could see the product stretching to fields such as law, where large litigation projects with high-level of collaboration on both document creation and media presentation; in business, where software aimed at product development has generally not lived up to its promises; and in the science and engineering fields, where multi-media collaboration is quickly becoming not only the norm, but a necessity.

For the popular consumer market, Superna, whose offices hosted our meeting, demonstrated their cost-saving vision for the Smart Home (SH). Current SH systems require a large, expensive server in order to coordinate all the electronic appliances in today’s air-conditioned, lit and entertainment-saturated house. Such coordinating servers can cost upwards of US$5,000, whereas Superna’s software can turn a US$1,000 hand-held tablet PC into household remote control.

There were a few start-ups where Vardi’s fatherly mentoring seemed more at play than long-term practical business modeling. In the hot market of WiFi products, WeFi is software that will allow groups of users, such as friends, share knowledge about the location of free Internet WiFi access, and also provide codes and keys for certain hot spots, with access provided only to the trusted users within a group. The mock-up that was shown to us had a Google Maps-esque city block that had green points to the known hot spots that are available either for free (such as those owned by good Samaritans who do not secure their WiFi access) or for pay, with access information provided for that location. I saw two long-term problems: first, WiMAX, which is able to provide Internet access to people for miles within its range. There is already discussion all over the Internet as to whether this technology will eventually make WiFi obsolete, negating the need to find “hot spots” for a group of friends. Taiwan is already testing an island-wide WiMAX project. The second problem is if good Samaritans are more easily located, instead of just happened-upon, how many will keep their WiFi access free? It has already become more difficult to find people willing to contribute to free Internet. Even in Tel Aviv, and elsewhere, I have come across several secure wireless users who named their network “Fuck Off” in an in-your-face message to freeloaders.

Another child of Vardi’s that the Brookings Institution might say was over-praised for self-esteem but lacking real accomplishment is AtlasCT, although reportedly Nokia offered to pay US$8.1 million for the software, which they turned down. It is again a map-based software that allows user-generated photographs to be uploaded to personalized street maps that they can share with friends, students, colleagues or whomever else wants to view a person’s slideshow from their vacation to Paris (“Dude, go to the icon over Boulevard Montmartre and you’ll see this girl I thought was hot outside the Hard Rock Cafe!”) Aside from the idea that many people probably have little interest in looking at the photo journey of someone they know (“You can see how I traced the steps of Jesus in the Galilee“), it is also easy to imagine Google coming out with its own freeware that would instantly trump this program. Although one can see an e-classroom in architecture employing such software to allow students to take a walking tour through Rome, its desirability may be limited.

Whether Vardi is a smart parent for his encouragement, or in fact propping up laggards, is something only time will tell him as he attempts to bring these products of his children to market. The look of awe that came across each company’s representative whenever he entered the room provided the answer to the question of Who’s your daddy?

The Advantages Of Duct Cleaning Systems

byAlma Abell

Perhaps the most important system at work in your home is the a/c because without it the Summer months would be nearly unbearable. In order for the a/c system in your home to function properly, all of the different elements that comprise the system will have to be at peak performance. Many elements of the a/c system, such as the ducts, are commonly neglected and over time can become riddled with problems. Many a/c professionals recommend that the ducts in your home be cleaned on an annual basis to reduce any problems. Here are a few of the Advantages of Duct Cleaning Systems.

Better Quality of Air

Among the best benefits of having your ducts cleaned is that it will help to substantially improve the quality of air in your home. The dust particles that build up in your duct system over time will begin to work their way in to the air that you breathe. This can cause many different respiratory ailments and can be hazardous to everyone that comes in to your home. By letting a professional clean your ducts on a regular basis, you can avoid these negative consequences and ailments that accompany them.

Save Money on Cooling Costs

Most homeowners fail to realize that the dirtier their ducts are, the harder it is for the cool air to pass through them. The harder that your unit has to work to push the air through, the more energy it will use. This will not only run the price of your energy bill up and it will bring about repairs in your unit faster. The money that is paid to have the ducts cleaned is far better than having to repair your unit prematurely due to negligence on your part.

When in need of quality Advantages of Duct Cleaning Systems, be sure to call on the team at Palm Harbor Heating & Air Conditioning. They can get your ducts cleaned in a timely and efficient manner. Call them or visit their website for more information on what they can do for you and the a/c system that you have.

News briefs:July 27, 2010
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News briefs:July 27, 2010

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Accident at Russian hydroelectric plant kills ten
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Accident at Russian hydroelectric plant kills ten

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Sayano–Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station, located on the Yenisei River in Russia, experienced a problem after a pressure surge caused water pipes to burst, flooding the engine room. The water triggered an explosion in a transformer.

Ten workers were confirmed dead and as many as 68 more injured. Some are still missing.

The power station was shut down, and backup sources were enabled. The dam across the Yenisei was not damaged and there is reportedly no possibility of territory flooding. Two of ten turbines were destroyed, with a third seriously damaged.

The hydroelectric plant is the most powerful in Russia, supplying several major aluminum plants, including Rusal. It was opened in 1978 and generates more than 23.5 terawatt hours annually.

Pope John Paul II unable to lead Good Friday services
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Pope John Paul II unable to lead Good Friday services

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Pope John Paul II, the most visible global Christian leader and head of the largest Christian denomination, Roman Catholicism, has for the first time been unable to lead traditional Good Friday services in Rome.

He appeared to worshippers via a video presentation from the Vatican.

The Catholic leader has been diagnosed with pulmonary illness and Parkinson’s disease.

Catholic services on this day are strictly liturgies of the word with an optional Eucharist, as the Mass cannot be celebrated on Good Friday.

Creator of website satirizing Glenn Beck on winning domain name case
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Creator of website satirizing Glenn Beck on winning domain name case

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wikinews interviewed the creator of a parody website satirizing American political commentator Glenn Beck, about his thoughts after prevailing in a domain name dispute brought by Beck before the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Florida resident Isaac Eiland-Hall created the website in September, and it asserts Beck uses questionable tactics “to spread lies and misinformation”. Eiland-Hall was represented in the case by free speech lawyer Marc Randazza.

Wikinews interviewed Randazza for the article “US free speech lawyer Marc Randazza discusses Glenn Beck parody”, and previously reported on the Beck v. Eiland-Hall case in articles, “US free speech lawyer defends satire of Glenn Beck”, “Satirical website criticizes Glenn Beck for ‘hypocritical’ attempts to silence free speech”, and “Glenn Beck loses domain name case over parody website”.

Bombing of Peshawar Pearl Continental Hotel in Pakistan kills 18
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Bombing of Peshawar Pearl Continental Hotel in Pakistan kills 18

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Militants in Pakistan launched a truck bomb attack on the Peshawar Pearl Continental hotel, killing 18 and wounding at least 55. Among the dead were two foreign United Nations officials working for the World Food Programme.

According to the BBC, Fidayeen-e-Islam, a relatively obscure Pakistani militant group, claimed responsibility for the blast. The attack follows a threat from the Taliban made on May 27, warning of “major attacks” in Pakistan.

The bombing occurred despite the property being heavily guarded and secure. The militants gained entrance by overcoming the guards with gunfire, and forcing a bomb-laden truck, containing at least 500 kilograms of explosives, through the gates. Police official Liaqat Ali told the Associated Press that the militants “drove the vehicle inside the hotel gates and blew it up on reaching close to the hotel building.”

The bomb caused a 15-foot wide crater, and brought down the west wing of the hotel. An injured guest, Jawad Chaudhry, said, “The floor under my feet shook. I thought the roof was falling on me. I ran out. I saw everybody running in panic. There was blood and pieces of glass everywhere.”

The hotel is regularly used by businessmen and diplomats, and is located in a secure area of the city. Neighbours include the Peshawar High Court, Provincial Assembly and the official home of the Commander of the Frontier Corps. The perceived security of the neighbourhood makes it a candidate for the location of a planned United States consulate.

Samuels Jewelers to be acquired by a DTC sightholder
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Samuels Jewelers to be acquired by a DTC sightholder

Monday, December 11, 2006

A major purchase transaction is being prepared in the diamonds’ industry: Samuels Jewelers started a discussion with a sightholder from Diamond Trading Company (DTC). The latter is to acquire the majority part of retailer’s shares.

There is still not much information about this particular sightholder, except for the fact that it is based in India. The present majority shareholder of Samuels Jewelers is DDJ Capital Management. The representatives of the company do not give any information concerning the potential buyer.

Randy McCullough, the President and CEO of Samuels Jewelers, stated that it would be a great opportunity for the retailer to start a partnership with a DTC sightholder, thus Samuels would be able to re-capitalize its balance sheet, to acquire newer inventory and guarantee itself stable growth in the future.

As for Samuels Jewelers, which is officially called “Samuels, Schubach and Samuels Diamonds”, possesses a network of 97 jewelry stores in 18 US states since October 1 this year. The incomes of the retailer at the end of the previous year are estimated to be around $100,000,000.

The current shareholder of Samuels Jewelers, DDJ Capital Management, is a company, which specializes itself in private equity and debt financings. This managing firm began its activity in 1996 and since then has grown to operate capitals of 79 institutional clients (estimated in approximately 3 billion dollars).

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Despite passage of bailout bill, two US states may need loans
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Despite passage of bailout bill, two US states may need loans

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Despite the passage of a 700 billion USD bill by the United States House of Representatives on Friday and the Senate on Wednesday, two U.S. states may need loans totaling over 14 billion dollars.

California and Massachusetts are seeking at least 7 billion dollars each from the federal government as loans. Officials and lawmakers in both states say that the loans would be temporary.

According to Massachusetts’ state treasurer, Timothy P. Cahill, the state was unable to borrow money last week on a short term loan. He also states that the state can afford to pay its bills and debts for the next few weeks, but not beyond that without a short-term loan from the government. Cahill has asked the federal government for a loan similar to the recent one passed by Congress and the Senate.

“That’s all we would ask them to do: Treat us like the investment banks,” said Cahill to the Associated Press.

Officials in California say they need an emergency loan, or they will run out of money by the end of October. California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger said the state is “not out of the woods” and needs a short term loan from the government.

“California and other states may be unable to obtain the necessary level of financing to maintain government operations and may be forced to turn to the federal treasury for short-term financing,” said Schwarzenegger in a letter to the Treasury Department, which is taking the letter under consideration.

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representative voted to pass a revised bailout bill which included raising the FDIC insurance cap to $250,000, a move designed to please progressives. However, the $110 billion in tax breaks, earmarks and what has been called pork barrel spending is not offset by any increases in revenues and has added opposition to the bill from some Representatives in the House. Earmarks added into the bailout bill included $192 million in tax rebates for the Virgin Islands rum industry, $148 million in tax cuts for the wool industry, $100 million tax cuts to the auto racing industry, and $48 million in Hollywood tax incentives, among others.

Australian refugee contractor accused of breaching its duty of care
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Australian refugee contractor accused of breaching its duty of care

Friday, December 30, 2005

Contents

  • 1 Richard Niyonsaba
  • 2 Denial of food
  • 3 Background and Criticisms
  • 4 Sources

The Australian Centre for Languages, a company which has a multi-million dollar contract with the Australian government to provide refugee services, has been accused of breaching its duty of care following the death of a chronically ill child and allegations of failing to provide three women in their care with food.

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