April 27, 2007

The House is Coming Along

We're a few weeks into a renovation project, and the place is really coming along! It's exciting to see the changes (and feel them--we insulated too). Lucy is going to have a nice warm home--we just hope we're not killing the character of our 80-year old place.

April 26, 2007

Kids: Buy a Toy, Join Our Virtual World

Magda recently forwarded an article about online gaming and virtual worlds such as SecondLife, Runescape, and Club Penguin. But one of the most fascinating examples is Webkinz, a virtual world designed for kids 6-13.

The experience starts by purchasing a "lovable, plush" pet from a local store. The toy pet comes with a secret code used to unlock the pet's virtual home on the Webkinz web site (Webkinz World). There, kids can design their pet's room and use Kinzcash to decorate room, buy food, clothes, etc. In fact, like The Sims, students must care for their pet in Webkinz World (feed it, keep it happy, exercise it, etc.). Students can earn additional Kinzcash by playing games and taking quizzes, etc, and they can invite their friends into Webkinz World to interact and chat with each other online. The whole concept is astonishing, especially considering it is designed for 6-7 year-olds! Check it out yourself--take the tour of Webkinz World to see it in action.

Apple Growth 3x That of Industry Growth Rate

I knew I should have bought Apple stock a few years ago!

Apple posted its 2007 Q2 financial results Wednesday, far exceeding even optimistic analysts' expectations and pushing its shares over $100 for the first time. Earnings grew a whopping 88% year-over-year, and Apple reported a sales growth of 36% in the second quarter (more than three times that of the industry growth rate of 11% for personal computer sales in Q2).

Obviously, strong iPod sales contributed to Apple's success in Q2, but I was interested to note that Mac sales accounted for 56% of revenue (1.5 million computers sold in Q2--36% growth) and music-related sales accounted for 44% (10.5 million iPods sold in Q2--24% growth).

Notebook sales (laptops) accounted for 59% of Apple's computer sales in Q2. Earlier this month, Apple announced that it had now sold more than 100 million iPods since its introduction in 2001. I heard somewhere--I think it was on the MacCast podcast--that sales of iPods have outpaced any other consumer electronic device in history, including the Sony Walkman.

April 25, 2007

Billionaires Devote $60M to "Ed in '08"

The NYT reports today that billionaires Bill Gates & Eli Broad are going to spend $60 Million to bring education reform to the forefront of the 2008 presidential race. That's about 3x what was spent to "Swift Boat" John Kerry in 2004. The Ed in '08 initiative won't endorse a candidate (they can't as a charitable group), but the NYT reports they will attempt to push three key issues to the forefront of the education debate: "a call for stronger, more consistent curriculum standards nationwide; lengthening the school day and year; and improving teacher quality through merit pay and other measures."

The initiative launches nationwide with a web site (and blog), radio spots and print ads such as this one showing a student writing "A histery of Irak" and the text "Debating Iraq is tough. Spelling it shouldn't be." That's a creative way to compete with, indeed relate to, headlines coming from the middle east. The effort really appears to be nonpartisan (or at least bipartisan), being comprised of corporate executives and former national figures from both the Democrat and Republican parties. It will be interesting to see how Republican candidates struggle with the idea of a national curriculum, Democrat candidates square-off with teacher unions over the idea of merit pay, and how parents will respond to a national effort to extend the school day and year.

April 24, 2007

Elementary School in SecondLife

If you haven't seen it yet, check out the Hardknock Elementary School in SL--it has classrooms, a cafeteria, offices for the principal, guidance counselor and school nurse, and even educational bathrooms. Cool place! I can't wait to learn more about it.

Blogging on the road

Nothing better than blogging on the road with a cameraphone! I've been sending tweets from my phone for a few days. It's crazy following twitter with www.twittervision.com

Check it out--mesmerizing!