Friday, May 27, 2011

Best Guitar Players of All Time

This post is likely to spark much debate but I want to preface this list as being a personal opinion and it is not based on record sales, other lists or criteria. Purely subjective this list was put together based upon my exposure to a broad selection of music I've been listening to from the early sixties to today.

WL Blog Uno Best Guitar Players of All Time List Number 1
(In No Particular Order or Ranking)
Quotations of Note (Not a Pun!)

Django Reinhart - Belgian Gypsy Jazz Guitarist Extraordinaire, one of the original guitar masters to play in the 40s and 50s.

Chet Atkins - The original Certified Guitar Player, Nashville A and R Exec and Fingerpicking legend - discovered and signed Charley Pride. Gracious and one of the best mentors a young guitar player could ever have, he personally wrote back to every fan who sent him a letter and amongst those very early fans (we're talking age 6 or 7) were Mark Knopfler and Tommy Emmanuel, who both got to play and record albums with Chet before he passed away. One of the most unselfish guys in the music business and deserves a lot of the credit for discovering and helping new guitar talent emerge in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Imagine -Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler

Les Paul - Inventor of the Multitrack recorder, the "Log" first solid body electric guitar with pick-ups. Les is credited with so many electric guitar and studio recording inventions that most every famous musician playing the electric guitar has credited given credit to Paul. He was also Steve Millers godfather, and taught him how to play guitar when he was 5 years old. Les was an accomplished jazz guitar player and wrote and produced many songs commercial jingles in the 1940s and 1850s with his then wife Mary Ford. He had a big hit with How High the Moon.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Les Paul 

Jimi Hendrix - Army veteran emerges and becomes guitar god that blows away Clapton and Townshend as soon as he emerged on the Rock scene. Stephen Stills was offered the bass player position in Jimi's band but turned it down but remained good friends with Jimi.

Jimmy Page - Led Zeppelin lead guitarist, The band dominated the rock scene in the seventies. All of their albums were electric and acoustic guitar rock masterpieces. Mandatory viewing for Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page fans is the recent DVD, It Might Get Loud. Very nice interchange and insight into his roots and music along with similar profile son The Edge (U2) and Jack White.

Tommy Emmanuel - One of the best fingerstyle guitarists in the world, finally getting the press and acclaim that is long overdue.

Tommy Emmanuel playing Classical Gas

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Tommy Tedesco - If you are a child of the sixties seventies or eighties you heard Tommy's guitars on most TV them song shows or Top 10 Pop Rock Hits of the day, a vested member of the "Wrecking Crew"

Larry Carlton - Mr 335 and the session musician that did a lot of the behind the scenes arrangement and stellar guitar lead performances for Steely Dan in the late 70s and eighties.He is also a studio recording legend and a stellar solo performing artist who also did some amazing work in the Crusaders and in Bob James group Fourplay. Also won a Grammy for composing and performing the theme for the TV Series Hill Street Blues. He is an extremely talented music composer, arranger and performer.

Josie - Larry Carlton at EC Crossroads Guitar Festival 2004

Danny Gatton - one of the most talented Fender Telecaster players ever. Passed away at the height of his career. He was at the verge of breaking through.

One Way Rider - Albert Lee, Danny Gatton and Vince Gill

Jeff Baxter - Most known for his early work as a member of the original Steely Dan, he contributed to most of the early hits with searing and catchy guitar licks and went on to join the Doobie Brothers. Jeff is also a DOD Department of Defense consultant and has been a major contributor to the "Star Wars" Space defence missile attack system. He is a neighbor and good friend of Senator Dana Rohrabacher.

Reelin' In The Years- Jeff "Skunk" Baxter

Pete Huttlinger - One of the best fingerstyle artists playing today. His technical mastery of the guitar is amazing and he has transcribed and written many guitar lesson books

Fingerstyle Guitar Players of the Highest Caliber play guitars made by Collings Guitars which is based in Austin , Texas. They are one of a handful of US Guitar manufacturers that still hand builds guitars in the US.

Zachary Breaux - Just as he was breaking through as one of the best Jazz guitarists and heralded as the new Wes Montgomery he rescued a woman from drowning in Florida but lost his life drowning after saving the woman. Died at the age of 34.

Lee Ritenour

Chuck Loeb - Just inherited the Lead Guitar Chair at Fourplay filling some big shoes as Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour respectively played Lead Guitar for that stellar Jazz group. A terrific Jazz Guitarist and a local boy who was raised in Nyack, New York a town just north of New Jersy on the Hudson River in Rockland County, a suburb of New York. Bob James knows how to pick them.

Chuck Loeb Playing Autumn Leaves

Quotations of Note:

"listen to Buddy Guy playing with Junior Wells to learn how to play funky and with restraint" Late Sixties - Walter Becker

Do You Have GAS*?*Guitar Acquisition Syndrome

Laurindo Almeida
John Williams
Mark Knopfler

Mark Knopfler Interview with Jeff Skunk Baxter

Solid Rock: Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits live at Knebworth 1990

Keith Richards

Tumblin' Dice - Rolling Stones Keith Richards

Brian Setzer - Stray Cats Alumnus, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Now resides in Minneapolis not far from Prince's recording studios.

Pete Townshend

Won't Get Fooled Again (Acoustic Version) Pete Townshend

Eric Clapton

Tearing' Us Apart  Live at Knebworth 1990 Eric Clapton

George Harrison

Carol Kaye - One of the greatest living Bass players male or female and an original member of the famous Wrecking Crew, she played on most of the Beach Boys, Association, and Monkees albums in the 1950s.

Roy Clark
Al DiMeola
George Benson
Earl Klugh
Steve Khan
Jay Graydon

 Josie Electric Guitar Solo - Jay Graydon

Rick Derringer

Denny Dias - Dyed in the wool jazz guitarist and founding member of Steely Dan. Contributed many lead guitar parts to hit Steely Dan songs. Denny has embarked on a second career as a software programmer working int he LA area. He performs from timt to time at benefit concerts and at venues when Steely Dan is performing in LA.

Elliot Randall

 Reelin' In The Years Elliot Randall

Jan Akkerman
John McLaughlin
Carlos Santana
Jerry Garcia
Jorma Kaukonen
Frank Zappa
Louie Shelton
John Entwistle

The Real Me (Quadrophenia) - John Entwistle

Dean Parks
Pat Martino
Vince Gill
Buck Owens
John Fogerty
Mike Campbell
Jon Herrington

Jon Herington - Ampli Tube Demo - Steely Dan Touring Lead Guitarist

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Handyman Helpers - Power Drills from Bosch and Skil

Selecting a drill and/or power screwdriver these days is no easy task. There are so many good models and brands to choose from it is a confusing and daunting exercise to select one based on all of the specifications sizes, capacities and prices. I like many older homeowners started out with a corded Craftsman 3/8 inch drill but quickly switched over to a NiCad Battery Powered cordless. Those drills were great, but they run time was very short and the batteries would not hold a full charge after only  a few charges. Panasonic came out with a line of drills that used Nickel Metal Hydride batteries and these drills were powerful and the batteries lasted hours, and did not have the dreaded memory effect that NiCad batteries had. These drills were expensive when they first came out (around $300.00) and I have been using one for over 8 years. The only drawback is that the drill is pretty heavy weighing almost four pounds.

Bosch has been very successful with a line of 12 volt lithium ion powered drills and I replaced my Panasonic with a Bosch 12 Volt Drill. It is small (about 20 ounces) yet powerful enough for most household jobs and the removeable12 volt LiIon battery lasts forever. It also has a built in LED light and a torque control to adjust for screws and heavier duty applications. I have dropped the drill many times on concrete and it still looks great. The outer casing is protected by hard rubber and the case is finished in a dark aquamarine color to hide most scratches. Bosh also has a right angle compact version of this drill which accepts the same batteries and is quite powerful. Perfect for working in tight spaces, both of these drills are highly recommended. They cost about $199.99 MSRP each but can be purchased for much less used or reconditioned. A very worthwhile investment that will pay off almost immediately.

For those on a really tight budget, I highly recommend the Skil 7.2 Volt Cordless Drill Driver. It retails for about $79.99 and while not as powerful as the Bosch, it is a decent drill that comes with an internal Lithium Ion Battery as a cost savings measure. The battery lasts a long time and the speed and torque settings are adjustable. It does weigh a little less tan the Bosch at a little over a pound so it is perfect for small jobs or jobs on a ladder.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Going Green - New Homeowner Tips to Save Electricity

During a recent house move, I came across two outstanding products that will greatly conserve energy and reduce your electricity bill immediately, The first product is the NUVO H2O MANOR Whole House Water Softener and the second product is the Utilitec R19 420 Lumen 40 Watt Equivalent LED Light Bulb (Sold exclusively by Lowes.)

Living in a part of the country where the water is extremely hard takes its toll on copper plumbing, water heaters, dishwashers and washing machines. It makes it that much harder to wash clothes and even getting a soapy suds out of bar and liquid soaps is nearly impossible with hard calcified water. The folks at NUVO invented a whole house water filtering system that does not require electricity, salt or the addition of chemicals, It uses a cartridge that strips out all of the calcification minerals out of the hard water by chemically interacting with beads in the filter. The NUVO replacement filter costs about $80.00 and lasts about 6-9 months. The NUVO Manor model we purchased cost about $800.00 including 2 filters and the plumbing labor cost to install the system was about $300.00.  We saw immediate results after this filter was installed. In fact, the water turned green for a while as the filtered water was dissolving the calcification scales built up in the internal plumbing.The whole filtration system and cartridge is very small and compact and can fit in tight areas in a house or garage. It measures bout 9 inches in diameter and is a bout 30 inches long. It has a bypass setting to allow you to change the filter without spilling water. This is a very well though out, well designed water filtering system that has been in use for decades at commercial restaurants and hotels so the technology is proven and reliable.

Buy the NUVO H2O Water Filtration System at Amazon

Check out the NUVO whole house water filter system at:

It really works as advertised and I give this home
product two thumbs up! Way Up!


LED Lightbulbs Are Affordable Now

The new house we moved in to has about 115 standard R19 Light bulb sockets and every single existing bulb was a 65 Watt incandescent. Yikes, that's about 6500 watts of electricity consumed if all of those lights were turned on. Instead of installing compact fluorescent bulbs, I decided to go with LED bulbs primarily because they consume only 7 watts of electricity to produce 40 watts equivalent of light with 420 lumens.We're looking at a total of about 800 watts total electricity consumption versus 6500 which is a huge savings. LED bulbs are much cooler and run at about 80 degrees. CFL bulbs hit 140 degrees and incandescents go up beyond 200 degrees. The current knock on compact fluorescent swirl bulbs is that they contain mercury and if they break, they release mercury into the air. There is also talk that they are linked to cancer but I have yet to see the actual scientific evidence or report to confirm this. Compact fluorescent bulbs cannot be dimmed and the color temperature is usually a cool color so it is not great for reading unless you buy a cfl bulb that is warm white.These Utilitech R19 Bulbs fit in the normal (Screw-in) socket used by standard light bulbs and those used by spotlights and most recessed lighting cans. The color temperature is about 27000 and although they are not as bright as an incandescent 60 watt bulb, they are pretty close. The other added bonus is that they are dimmable and come with an industrial strength heat sink to keep the heat down so the bulbs will last 3-6 times longer than CFL bulbs. Best of all I caught them on sale at my local Lowes Hardware superstore for only $9.97 per bulb. The normal price is $18.99 per bulb. In addition to installing these LED bulbs, I also installed Leviton PR180 Occupancy Motion Sensor Light Switches for the garage and all of the bathrooms and closets. This will also help reduce the electricity consumption as my kids almost always forget to turn off the lights in the house.At around $15.00 a switch, this is also an excellent way to cut your electricity bill and also to reduce the amount of heat generated in your home in the summer time.

Unless you are a skilled electrician, I would advise against installing these switches as a do it yourself project. A licensed electrician could install four of theses switches in an hour. Electricians usually charge $125-150.00 and hour for labor. I installed them myself because I did a lot of electrical work when I was working my way through college many years ago. Upgrading the LED lightbulbs is a no-brainer do it your self operation,. Just unscrew the old bulbs and install the the new LED bulbs and you're good to go.

Here's a Youtube video from Ecogeek that compares LED bulbs 
with incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs

With these two aforementioned green products, you can save a lot of money easily and effortlessly. Almost makes going green fun as you are saving money and the environment by reducing your carbon footprint. If a lot of people switch over to LED bulbs, I believe it will help us to reduce overall energy consumption and even dependence on foreign oil.

Money Talks Bull$%&@ Walks or The Proof is In the Monthly PG&E Energy Bill:

Prior to moving into our 3700 square foot house and in ground swimming pool, ( family of 4 ) the electricity bill on average for the last year was about $379.00 per month. The first electric bill after I made all of the aforementioned Green electrical-related upgrades was $160.00 for the month of June and the most recent bill was $159.00 for the month of July.

Friday, May 20, 2011

One Step Closer to Notebook Nirvana-TESTED: The Acer Aspire Timeline X 1830T-3721

Okay, the road warrior in me will settle for nothing less than a powerful notebook computer that is truly portable and has great battery life. It should have a decent sized screen that is bright and crisp and a keyboard where you could actually touch-type. On paper and in real life, this Acer Notebook fit the bill. I recently acquired an Acer Aspire Timeline X 1830T-3721 configured with a mobile Intel Core Duo i5 low voltage processor, 4 GB or RAM, and a 500 GB 5400 RPM 2.5" Hard Disk. It comes with a wide screen 11.1" LED display screen and gets an honest 5-8 hours of battery life from the 6-Cell Lithium Ion Rechargeable battery. It has a built-in HDMI port, 2 USB 2.0 ports and built in Bluetooth. The 64 Bit version of Windows Home Premium is installed on the hard disk. It weighs in at just about 3.1 Pounds with the battery. It was selling for $789.00 at Tiger Direct.

The following upgrades were performed shortly after receiving the notebook:

The main system memory was upgraded to 8 GB of DDR3 SODIMM System Ram.

The 500GB Hard Disk was removed and replaced with an OCZ Vertex II 256 GB SSD Hard Drive.

With the 8 GB of System Ram and the 64 Bit Version of Windows booting from the OCZ Vertex II SSD drive, the Windows 7 Boot time is now 30 seconds from a cold boot. All 64 bit applications run like greased lightning and documents and spreadsheets open up lightning fast.

This notebook is highly recommended with or without the aforementioned upgrades. It is truly a high value notebook for the money and very well constructed. It stands up quite well to more expensive notebooks from Sony and Panasonic. It is powerful enough for any business application and has decent graphics performance for such a small form factor. If you are a road warrior and travel a lot for business, this notebook will significantly lighten your load.

Sony DSC-HX100V Cybershot Digital Camera Mini-Review

I just got a review sample of the Sony DSC-HX100V Cyber-shot 30X Optical Zoom 16 Megapixel Digital Camera. It is an actual production model and has been tested with a 16GB Lexar media SDHC Type 6 memory card. Herewith is the skinny on this new bridge camera from Sony.

I am pleased to report that image quality is excellent for this class of camera. It does not have the quality of a DSLR (still has a smaller Image Sensor) but the image quality is decent from ISO settings of 100 - 800. it definitely handles noise a lot better than the DSC-HX1. It is very fast and responsive and the Carl Zeiss 30X Optical Zoom is quite sharp. The equivalent zoom range is 27mm to a very impressive 810mm. It looks and handles a lot like the Sony DSC-HX1 (The preceding model introduced in 2009) but is a little heavier and feels chunkier as the right hand-grip is contoured to allow for a more secure handling. The 3 Inch LCD has 921,000 pixels of resolution, a big improvement over the DSC-HX1 which had 221,000 pixels.

The 16 MB SONY EXMOR CMOS image sensor is capable of greater detail and gives even better low-light performance....based on some of the existing light photos I shot and the manual focus controls are much easier to use. The video quality is superb with full 1080 HD movie quality. One touch/one button video mode makes it even easier to use the camera in video mode and the twin stereo microphone set-up is retained and is perched above the pop-up Flash Unit.The HDMI adapter dongle is gone so you can use a standard HDMI cable to output to any HD TV or notebook that has an HDMI input jack. I see this camera as replacing a Sony camcorder and as a travel camera that has extreme flexibility with the 24 MM to 600MM 35Mm equivalent Optical zoom capability built into a compact camera that is physically smaller and weighs much less than your average DSLR camera. Instead of packing 3 or four lenses the long zoom Carl Zeiss Zoom lens will allow you to use the camera in virtually any shooting environment in a super-zoom digital camera that weighs less a little more than a pound (21 ounces or 700 Grams). The useful sweep panorama feature is carried over along with in camera editing of captured images. It also has a built-in GPS Geotagging feature which was not tested in this review. Processing horsepower I suspect was increased to accommodate the 16 Megapixel imager and to maintain the 8 Frame Per Second High Speed Burst Mode at the highest resolution setting of 16 Megapixels. The only real knock I could give this camera is that fact that it does not support RAW files. It also accepts SD, SDHC and the new SDXC SD Memory Card formats in addition to the Sony MS DUO format. Figure on getting around 300 shots with the LCD on with the included proprietary Sony Lithium Ion Rechargeable Battery. Now shipping from Sony and their Authorized dealers for an MSRP of $449.99. This camera is highly recommended and arguably the most advanced long lens bridge digital camera currently available for sale in the US. This should be on your short list of travel digital cameras that have a long zoom with decent resolution and image quality.

Here's a photo I took on 7/31/11 of Hideki Matsui swinging for the fences at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum - The Oakland A's played the Minnesota Twins this afternoon with Oakland winning 7-3.

At full extended telephoto zoom using the Sony DSC-HX100 - Auto Setting Superior Auto on Camera Shooting Mode Dial where the blur and noise is removed automatically for capturing sharp images.

"Oh, no, there goes Tokyo go go Godzilla" Hideki Matsui at bat against the Minnesota Twins

Report Card - Sony DSC-HX100V

Please note that image quality is graded on a curve for Point-and Shoot/Bridge Digital Cameras with smaller CMOS and CCD Image Sensors
Note: Printing images from this camera up to 11" x 14" Should be no problem.

Image Quality - Overall   B +
Image Quality (Low Light) A -
Zoom Capabilty               A -
Performance                    A -

Build Quality                      B +
Features                            B +
Price/Performance           B +

Video Quality                    A -
Video Performance         A -

Battery Life                        B
Ease of Use                      B +
Preview Capability           A -
Travel Camera                  A -
Soccer Mom/Dad             A -
Pro Replacement              C +
Wedding Camera             C  -

Sports/Action Camera      A -
Storage Media                   A -
Wide Angle                         B

Macro                                  B+
Manual Focus                     B+
Flash Capability                 C

June 7, 2011  User Review Update
I took about 30 candids today using the built-in flash and at 100 ISO and without the flash at 800 ISO and the results are outstanding. Noise is well controlled at 800 ISO, colors are natural and balanced and the camera was fast and almost felt as fast a a dslr. I also took a 720P AVCHD Video that came out crystal clear with perfect exposure and color rendering. The Zoom was used and the noise was not picked up by the stereo microphones. Color fidelity is excellent and I have to say the video quality easily matches a higher end Sony camcorder. Recording video was extremely easy as the dedicated video button allows you to switch to video recording with one press of a dedicated button.

I also found that the rotating function wheel came in really handy when I was changing ISO speeds in the Program Still Picture mode. It also allowed me to change the plus minus settings of the exposure compensation without having to hunt through menu screens.

The more you use and explore this camera, the more you will like it as the controls and short-cuts are well thought out and help reduce the learning time. One you learn the controls, you will be able to make adjustments on the fly without having to access feature buried in menu selections.

UPDATE June 25, 2011
After recording about 100 digital photos and about 10 video clips, I have come to the conclusion that this is one of Sony's most balanced digital cameras with a heft and feel much like a Sony DSLR camera. The camera is easy to grip and really feels substantial after holding it for an extended period of time. It feels as if the entire camera was carved from block of titanium. This camera houses a lot of advanced circuitry and state-of -the art optics and it feels like the innards are very well protected from shock and outside elements with a rugged outer casing. This camera will stand up to a lot of abuse in the field. So far I feel this camera is worth every penny at an MSRP of $549.99.


Alien Anthology Blu-Ray DVD Set Review

Alien Anthology Blu-Ray DVD Set (20th Century Fox Review
I finally got a chance to view this lavishly prepared and packaged box set of all four Alien movies including the three sequels. I was recently bed-bound with a bad cold and fever so this was the perfect opportunity to view the DVDs without any major interruptions.

When the first Alien Movie was released in 1979 it scared millions of movie-goers worldwide and went on to become one of the top grossing science fiction movies of all time. I still remember the brilliant tag-line in all of their trailers and print ads " In space, no one can hear you scream", Aliens released in 1986 the follow-up sequel made by James Cameron also broke box-office records and arguably was as scary or scarier that the first but that has always been a topic of hot debate.

The chest-burstinq sequence in Alien, the First Science Officer Robot going berserk scene, the exoskeleton loader battle with Ripley in and the Mother Alien and Bishop's daring rescue of Newt (Aliens)were all visual effects firsts that broke new ground for science fiction movies. These scenes and action sequences made you believe it was actually happening with a level of detail and realism never before achieved in modern cinema

First off, if you are a Science Fiction fan, or a fan of the cinema with more than a passing interest in movie directing, producing, set design, special effects, Script writing and development, acting, then this box set merits a must view as in not only entertains but educates with a plethora of never before seen content, interviews and artwork that was incorporated into the actual production of the Alien movies. What I found most fascinating were the interviews with Ridley Scott, David Giler and Dan O'Bannon.

Ridley (or Sir Ridley) Scott is the man! To have Alien and Blade Runner to his directing credit and to have single-handedly created all of the storyboards for Alien, Mr Scott is a story-teller in the best sense of the definition as he can visualize his film project the way no one else can and has assembled teams of craftsmen who share his broad and forward thinking vision. He has worked with the very best art and production designers. Of special note, the interviews with visual artist Ron Cobb and with Visual Futurist Syd Mead were particularly enlightening. The back story of how HR Giger's artwork became an integral part of the Alien production is also quite interesting. TO say Giger's artwork is disturbing and scary is truly an understatement. This famous Swiss artist conceptualized and painted the Alien in a series of artwork he created over the years. Dan O'Bannon was introduced to Giger's artwork when he was visiting London and immediately identified Giger's renderings of a creature as the Alien. When O Bannon showed the Giger book to Ridley, he immediately concurred.

This DVD set is so rich in content that you will need several hours to view the 2 separate DVDs that have organized the content so that a viewer can easily access it by a clever menu system that mimics the MUTHR computer query mode first seen in the first Alien movie.

Ridley Scott in directing Alien as an "A" level movie paved the road for many more quality science fiction movies to be green-lighted. The list of collaborators and contributors to the Alien movies is surprising and impressive even when their contributions were discarded or un-used in the final movie. We're talking Renny Harlin, VIncent Ward, William Gibson, Joss Whedon to name a few.

I think that the Alien Anthology producers achieved their goal of rewarding the Alien fans with a rich treasure of behind-the-scenes content and interviews with the creators and cast of all of the Alien movies. The back-story of constantly fighting with the Studio Suits on going over budget resonated as a familiar one as you have heard the same story over and over again occurring with directors George Lucas and James Cameron before forming their own production movie companies.

The list price for this box set is pretty high at $200.00 but you can find used copies on eBay and for as little as $70.00 which I feel is money well spent if you are a film fan or a fan of Allien or Science Fiction/Horror.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Federal Express - Lessons Learned

Federal Express
What We Can Learn From This
Legendary Company

Starting up your own business these days is harder than ever as the economy is one of the most challenging ones we have faced in decades however it is also one of the best times to start a business and if you already started a business, now is the time to take advantage of a down economy to really excel and to beat your competitors when adversity is the greatest.

I think we can all learn from Federal Express, the company started by Fred Smith after he got out of the Air Force flying fighter jets in the Vietnam War and becoming a decorated war hero. Most every business person is familiar with the actual story about Fred Smith submitting an MBA term paper which was pretty much the business plan for starting Fed Ex at Harvard and receiving a C- from his Professor. Fred has that paper framed on the wall of his office which is a reminder of his perseverence and determination to make Federal Express a success, but I want to delve into some other interesting details about Federal Express and how they leap-frogged their competition.

Military Logistics Background Pays off in the Commercial Sector
Fred became very familiar with the US military logistics operations as it supported the large US Air Force infrastructure and with the NORAD B-52 Nuclear Bomber sorties and coverage routes with back-up jets that were flown with the specific purpose of backing up the primary B-52 Bombers if they should ever experience a mechanical malfunction. The Back-up Bombers were flown East To West and West To East to shadow the routes of the primary B-532 Bombers and were prepared to take over and complete a mission if a primary B-52 bomber ever experienced a mechanical malfunction that grounded the plane when it was in official service.

Fred took that coverage methodology and applied it to Federal Express where he would have empty back-up Fed-Ex planes flying east to west and west to east to provide back-up coverage if any of the primary Fed-Ex freight jets carrying fed-ex parcels ever experienced a mechanical malfunction that would ground the plane. If one of the primary Fed-Ex freight jets went out of service with a loaded cargo of Fed-Ex parcels and packages, it would land at the nearest commercial airport and be met by one of the East-West West-East back-up empty fed-ex jets and the cargo on the grounded plane would be transferred to the back-up Fed-Ex jet to complete the delivery as guaranteed by Federal Express. That's how they guarantee overnight delivery. This is a brilliant application of military logistics to a commercial application.

Doing Whatever It Takes to Make the Company a Success
Some time during the first year of operation When Fred was piloting one of the small pool of Fed-Ex jets he received a radio transmission from his accountant informing him that they would not be able to make the payroll for the Pilots employed by Fed-Ex that week. Fred asked how much they were short and his accountant replied $25,000.00. Fred changed course for the jet he was flying from Memphis to Las Vegas. After a marathon gambling session of high stakes poker, Fred was able to walk away with $25,000.00 in winnings required to make the payroll that week.

Hiring the Right Employees
When Fred came up with the idea of tracking a package with bar codes and entering it in the computer system so that an envelope or package could be tracked from the start of the shipment to the very end, the experts said that it couldn't be done or that it would be too expensive to design and implement. After a thorough and exhaustive search, Fed Ex found a talented IBM Executive and Programmer, Jim Barksdale who confidently said he could deliver this tracking system on time and within budget. Jim made it happen and Fed-Ex stock soared after the tracking system was launched and implemented. Later on in Jim's career, he was hired as the CEO of Netscape and he was on a 12 city whirl-wind road show with their lead underwriter, Morgan Stanley. In every one of the major 12 cities from New York City to Chicago to San Francisco, Jim was high-fived by virtually every Fed-Ex driver when he made that tour as every Fed-Ex employee knew that he was the guy that got the Fed-Ex Bar Code Tracking system done and made their Fed-Ex stock holdings value soar.

Lessons Learned For Small Business
You need to have a vision and be prepared to fight for your vision and to persevere even if the experts tell you you have the wrong idea or that your business will never fly because its never been done before. Instead of asking why? Ask why not? Which is exactly what Fred Smith did when launching Fed-Ex.

Lead by example. Early on, Fred flew the freight planes side by side with his pilots showing support and solidarity and demonstrating commitment to the business and what he expected out of every Fed-Ex employee.

Share the profits with your employees - Fed-Ex has an excellent employee stock option and stock purchase plan. Bonuses are tied to achievement and exceeding their assigned goals. Be clear about the mission statement and what goals the company wants to attain.

Spend the extra money to hire extraordinarily good people. It will pay off in the long run and will make it easier for you to grow the company and to attract great people.

Communicate your vision of where you see the company going short term and long term. Encourage Teamwork every step of the way and let them know that you cannot be successful without their help and commitment.

Sony is Kicking Butt With Their New Digital Cameras!

Sony has come back with a vengeance. After four or five somnambulent years producing mediocre digital cameras, they have come out of the gate (pardon my analogy) Godzilla. First they announced and shipped (on time) the Sony NEX 3 and 5 APS C Sensor removable lens cameras to glowing reviews form the digital photography community and almost immediately followed up on that earth and category shaking announcement with the world's first Single Lens Translucent Mirror DSLR camera, the SLT 33 and 55. They are readying a new line of full frame DSLRs that will give Canon and Nikon a run for the money in terms of feature set, performance and price.

I have never seen so much digital camera innovation pour out of one company so quickly. They have put Canon and Nikon on notice that they intend to pull out ALL of the stops technology wise with digital camera technology from here on out. The EXMOR sensor, The Carl Zeiss lens operation and the SLT technology are all home run franchises that will propel the product mix and will filter down into their lower priced cameras sooner rather than later. The Minolta acquisition has clearly paid off big time for Sony and they are fearless when it comes to changing the game of digital camera offerings for the advanced amateur or those looking to trade up from an advanced point and shoot camera. The end result of Sony's aggressive moves in this space is more road-kill and still born products from the second tier digital camera companies like Olympus, Fuji, Casio and Ricoh. Price performance at Sony is way up and their digital camera products are really hard to beat with the still and video imaging advances built into their new cameras. It is obvious that they are gunning for the number one digital camera manufacturing position and by introducing the NEX and SLT product lines, they have laid the gauntlet down. It will be very interesting to see how Canon and Nikon respond product-wise and you can bet your pay check that Canon and Nikon are NOT going to let those product introductions go un-answered. The digital camera buying public is clearly the big winner coming out of this battle of the Digital Camera Titans. STAY TUNED!!!!!!

Here are 2 digital photos taken at 9:00 PM in the evening at the Stoneridge Mall parking lot near The Cheesecake Factory restaurant. - Just Existing Light using the Handheld Twilight Scene Mode on the $200.00 Sony DSC-WX9 Point and Shoot 16 megapixel Digital Camera. I did not use a tripod and the camera automatically selected ISO, Shutter and aperture in addition taking 6 separate photos and aggregating them together for the best HDR photo. These photos are about as sharp and noise free at 800 ISO as you will get from an entry level DSLR. Shooting in near or total darkness is a true test of a digital camera's low light capabilities and the Sony DSC-HX9 passes with flying colors.

It's Getting Cloudier By The Minute - A Poem

It's Getting Cloud-ier by the Minute
With Apologies to Rudyard Kipling
by Wes Lem

Microsoft once ruled the roost when Windows was the only game in town

Apple computer proved it's OS was going to be the crown jewel and renowned

While pre-occupied with each other, Google came up with another (Operating System That Is)

And the Chromebook saw the light of day, whilst the Microsoft and Apple Execs were out to play (probably Golf)

So the computing horizon is filled with clouds, co-exsisting with tons of applications and data

While the chromebook loads up in 5 seconds, Windows 7 still struggles to get booted and the blue screens say LATER!

Serge and Larry are not confused, its Bill and Steve who really got used (this time).

The moral of this tech tale can be told

The power of the computer is still an amazing thing to behold

But it's better to fund your business with advertisements than with overpriced hardware and operating systems that have been paid for a zillion times over

The Google guys say don't be Evil; but it's Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer who are about ready to to a Knevil (Over the Chromebook)

Who Needs Operating Systems Anyway?