First published in Health Service Journal, 14 June 2001
Just as the Conservatives loved markets, Labour loves targets. So when chancellor Gordon Brown eventually loosened the Treasury’s purse strings, what came out had strings attached.
Through public service agreements, spending departments are tied to the Treasury, with contracts detailing what they have to deliver, how their success or failure will be measured and what sanctions will result. This use of performance targets has spread throughout the public sector.
Continue reading “Take aim at NHS targets”
This article, on the possibilities and problems with virtual actors, still holds good a decade later. It’s very difficult to produce realistic humans (and why bother when, as one of the Mill’s staff said, there are thousands outside the window) – they either have to be perfect, or they fall into the ‘uncanny valley’ of looking nearly, but not quite, right. Instead, virtual actors are either cartoon-like (the route taken by Pixar) or used to add digital extras in post-production.
I don’t suppose many more films have added naked figures to HELP a film get a lower certificate from US censors – as revealed in the box at the end on Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (a section published in the paper but missing from the version available on the Guardian website).
Continue reading “Let me be your fantasy: virtual actors, Final Fantasy, Guinness squirrels and Eyes Wide Shut”
First published in Business 2.0 magazine (UK), July 2000
“Place your bets for the floatation roadshow, financing’s answer to the Grand National. It’s not so much about finishing first, more about simply making it to the line.”
It’s late May, and two Internet executives are mentally and physically preparing themselves for the businessman’s version of an Ironman competition. One is nervous, and the other is cocky as they get ready to embark on what, at the best of times, is a rocky, rigorous ordeal and what, in the current climate of stock market decline, seems downright masochistic. They are embarking on their companies’ IPO roadshow. They hope to encourage investment banks and the public to pour hundreds of millions of pounds into their fledgling operations. Continue reading “New York, London, Paris, Munich: Fear and loathing on the IPO trail”
The need for reinvention
In his lab a few doors along the corridor from his office, Biegelsen proudly shows a piece of paper being steadily rotated by jets of air, held between two green printed circuit boards, while the paper’s movement is monitored on a PC. This is one of Parc’s big current projects – to reinvent the printer, like it did in 1971. Continue reading “Parc life: how Parc Xerox changed the world – 3”
This is an edited and extended version of an article first published in Computing, 11 May 2000
Palo Alto Research Centre, Parc, opened in July 1970 on a bucolic hill overlooking Silicon Valley, before it was called Silicon Valley. The valley, once dominated by agriculture but now crowded with the suburban sprawl that makes up the world’s greatest cluster of IT businesses, was injected with silicon by Parc’s Ears project: Ethernet, Alto, Research character generator and Scanning laser output terminal. The four components of Ears created a network, a computer for one person, a memory buffer for a printer and a laser printer, all invented nearly from scratch. Together, they set the template for the billions of personal computers produced since. Continue reading “Parc life: how Parc Xerox changed the world – 2”