Remember that imaginary product called La Fatera (coming from La Fonera)? Well it now exists and it´s called Withings. It is so exactly what we blogged about that if it is a coincidence Loic Le Meur and I will accept not to take royalties. The Withings (terrible name) is actually very well designed. It is a scale that shares your weight on the internet. It is the social weight loss method. Unfortunately unlike the Fonera the Withings does not Tweet itself. Withings has to work on that. But it does share you weight on the internet. Here is mine. My objective is go to back down to 82kg that I had before the wedding and honeymoon. In the meantime I thank Loic Le Meur for giving us the Fatera as we wedding gift! It is a great gift because we all know what happens oto people after they get married….especially men.
People are not absolutely rich, absolutely middle class, or absolutely poor. A person who makes 1000 euros a month is poor in Europe and well off in Brasil. Now add financial crisis to the euro at $1.5 and while I can´t gurantee you that you will be rich in Miami I assure you you will definitely be richer in Miami than wherever you are from Europe. Prices in Miami are insanely low for European standards. Let´s say you are a young graduate in a relationship and you managed to save 6000 euros and so has your boyfriend/girlfriend and you want to take time off or can´t find a job. Well with 12,000 euros a couple could come to Miami and live for half a year tickets included. I will give you an example. Even though we rent a car for 28 euros per day we love to go around in a scooter. And in Miami you can buy a NEW scooter for 650 euros. And because gas costs half of what it costs in Europe you can go anywhere around South Beach in this scooter for 60c per day which is what we do. We prefer the scooter to the car. Restaurants are in such competition that if you walk on Lincoln Road you are bombarded with offers to eat a good meal for 10 euros per person. Apartments are in great supply that you can rent one for say 6 months for 3000 euros. And on top of this you are in Miami. These days every day is a high of 31C and low of 23C, perfect beach weather. People are nice and fun, and even though they are going through the worst crisis in their lifetime, they don´t show it.
Our dear friend David Sifry is known to most as the founder of Technorati, and now of Offbeat Guides. But what few know is that he is also an amazing photographer. Here´s the proof in our first installment of our wedding pictures. But as you will see, Nina and I decided to open source the photography at our wedding and ask all our friends to show us their view of the event. As other friends publish their pictures I will share with you. In the meantime Nina and I want to thank all of our friends from coming from so far away to Miami to share this moment of great happiness with us.
Al Qaeda’s actions on 9/11 2001 changed America’s view of the world. After the terrorist attacks the Bush administration came to the conclusion that America as a whole was under attack from the Middle East and that the solution was to move that war away from home into the Muslim countries. But what if the US government, first the Bush administration and now the Obama administration, are wrong and the incredibly successful Al Qaeda attacks of 9/11 were not the beginning of a war on America or the West but a freak event?
In 2005 Safe Democracy, my foundation co- organized the largest conference ever put on the subject of terrorism. The conference was attended by many heads of state and 1300 experts from the Middle East and the rest of the world. One of the highlights of the conference was the decision of Kofi Annan to choose this event to announce the UN Principles for Nations to apply when fighting terrorism. These principles were understood by many as a warning to the US that terrorism could not be fought with more terror, a la Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Also around that time it become clear that the subsequent attacks that seemed to resembled 9/11, namely the bombings on March 11 in Madrid and July 7 in London were home grown efforts of a very different kind. These tragic post 9/11 terrorist bombings were found to be not so much a continued attack by Al Qaeda but the story of angry immigrants who were reacting to Spain and UK participating in the invasion of Iraq. In other words, these attacks were not originated in the Middle East but instead the consequence of our involvement in the Middle East. Terror in the form of brutal air bombings, torture on behalf of the US and EU occupying forces, led to more terror in Europe. Out of fighting Al Qaeda with methods perceived as unreasonably brutal by Muslim immigrants in Europe a new type of home grown terrorism was born. It was this realization that made Spain’s President Zapatero pull out from Iraq and since then the threat of Islamic terrorism has diminished.
So the question here is why the USA and EU continue to believe that occupation of either Iraq and Afghanistan, or only Afghanistan, is the best regional strategy. Many commentators still believe that we are safer because we occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. But lately many have been changing their views and are beginning to agree that Osama Bin Laden was a freak terrorist with a very personal agenda, who because of his own international background and skills, had his own global war to carry. We should not manage our international agenda thinking that the globally minded Osama Bin Laden is the rule but that even the most radical elements in the Muslim world are now focused in regional objectives in countries that are mostly Muslim or have large Muslim populations, such as the tragic attacks on India. Few critical observers believe that whoever is fighting Europe and the US in Afghanistan, for example, wants to actually attack Europe or the US the way Osama Bin Laden did. Instead most conflict in Afghanistan, and the Middle East in general, now is against occupying forces or Palestinian/Israeli, Sunni/Shia and moderate vs radical Islam.
Al Qaeda type attacks outside of the Middle East, like the attack in Mumbai, are serious but not the driving force of violence in the Middle East. The only way to prevent those is not for India to invade Pakistan, where a lot of radical Islam is based, but to better protect itself. By now it is clear that most of the fighters in Afghanistan just want the US and EU out of their country and will fight us like they fought the British 100 years ago and the Russians 30 years ago. But just like they did not go on attacking Great Britain after it pulled out of Afghanistan a century ago, I don’t think that even a Taliban Afghanistan will include a successor to Osama Bin Laden planning the next 9/11 out of there. I think that part of the message the Taliban got as well as Qaddafi got his when we bombed his home. And indeed, our enemies in Afghanistan want to turn the country back into the Middle Ages forcing men to wear beards, oppressing women, banning music and so on, but is it our role to turn the Middle East into Western democracies or to protect our way of life and economies in our own countries? Because if the answer is the former we could invade Saudi Arabia next, as most 9/11 attackers were Saudis and they also promote a way of life which we find that violates the rights of women, homosexuals and other groups who deserve their human dignity. But can we afford a global crusade for dignity? Would you send your child to die so the homosexuals of Iran, for example, stop getting the death penalty? Nobody seems to advocate that.
We have squandered over a trillion dollars occupying and policing Iraq and Afghanistan, trying for those countries to become something they don’t want to be. In the meantime we have been responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, the devastation of Iraq and Afghanistan’s fragile economies and we have given an impossible task to our military who are dying for a dubious cause in tragic ways. What we should be doing instead is focusing our precious human and financial resources in making sure that those who intend to destroy us, freaks like Osama Bin Laden, do not get hold of nuclear weapons or the infamous weapons of mass destruction and achieve their personal objectives. And I say personal because I travel the Middle East enough to conclude that most Muslims want to be like us rather than see us become like them. But to make sure that the next Osama does not show up with real weapons we need better cooperation with Russia and China who also suffer terribly from Islamic terrorism. We have to work with them not only because they are victims of the same phenomenon, their countries border the Islamic world but also if we antagonize them, they can be the reason why the next Osama Bin Laden does show up with a nuclear weapon. In short what we have to do is to make sure that 9 11 continues to be the biggest and most successful terrorist attack in history, a freak event that is never again repeated.
The Wi-Fi Alliance today issued a new standard to augment Wi-Fi, called Wi-Fi Direct, that turns a Wi-Fi chip into a mini access point. The technology allows your Wi-Fi gadgets to talk to one another without having to get on a network, and enables anything containing a Wi-Fi chip to combine with other WiFi-chip-containing gadgets to create a wireless hotspot. Using it, you couldn’t connect to the web without some form of backhaul connection to the Internet, but you could send files and share data between devices
At Fon we find ourselves in a great position vis a vis WiFi Direct because of a number of reasons:
First Fon is the largest global WiFi network in the world with over 650K Fonspots and growing both organically through the sale of our routers known as Foneras and through agreements with operators such as BT, Zon, SFR and others who install Fon in their routers. With WiFi direct Fon will spread not only through routers but through gadgets connected to routers so our signal will have more reach. Gadgets will act as repeaters.
Secondly Fon currently creates gadgets that convert mobile signal to WiFi, like the Fonera 2.0n that converts 3G to WiFi. But with WiFi Direct many gadgets can become Fonspots something that is now done in some occasions using special software as in the case of Joikuspot for example.
Lastly and most important because as Om Malik says this improvement just makes WiFi more useful, more ubiquitous, more available everywhere.
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- Wi-Fi Direct enabling P2P communications amongst WiFi wares, scaring Bluetooth half to death (engadget.com)
- BT’s wifi network reaches half a million hotspots thanks to BT Fon (english.martinvarsavsky.net)
- Fon Fonera 2.0n router (ubergizmo.com)
Warning. I just made the following feature wish list not knowing exactly which sites have what features. These are features that I wish I had, maybe I do and I don´t know. Also where I say Facebook, you can change that for the social network of your choice. In Spain for example Tuenti beats Facebook among young people.
Facebook should allow for the gifting of pictures. It is not good enough to post pictures and allow friends to tag themselves. Imagine two friends who fight, or a break up, then when the angry party deletes the pictures the person who appears in the pictures loses them. Facebook should allow a copy of the picture to be owned by the person who tags it so long as the owner agrees.
Facebook needs Skype. It should either team up with Skype or create its own Skype. It´s crazy that people can´t speak or video conference on Facebook that should be a core app.
Facebook´s email sucks. Facebook should team up with Gmail or create a good email system. It is getting better but it is not good enough.
Facebook should open up more. Twitter is where it is because it is so open. Facebook needs better APIs.
Facebook should allow you to import OPML files and include RSS in your news feed. Why keep the personal news feeds always separate from the real news feeds.
Facebook should learn from Apple when it gets to create lists. I want fast tools to create lists. All my friends whose language is Spanish, done. All my friends who live in Paris, done. All my friends who are married, done.
Facebook because it is done in USA which is the country which probably has the most inter generational tension, it ignores the possibility of parental relationships. It focuses on dating asking people if they are single or not or many questions about what relationships they have but it ignores parenting. In Spain for example Facebook rules in the over 30 crowd and Tuenti in the under 30 crowd. It would make sense if you could not only say what kind of relationship you have but if you are a parent or not and how many kids you have, their names, etc. There are an enormous amount of actitivities in which a lot of money is spent that involve children. Little children, like my 2 year old Leo, can´t be on Facebook themselves. But if I told Facebook that Leo exists I would get ads and activities proposed for him.
Facebook should allow people to wear a mask for certain approved activities. No I don´t mean a mask to have Facebook sex. I mean a mask to join groups that you may not want to openly join. For example, my father is an alcoholic group, cocaine users group, or any groups that deal with diseases, mental illness or any subject where anonymity helps.
Facebook should allow you to store files a la dropbox so you can have them in many computers and instantly share them with your friends.
Facebook would make a killing if it focused on travel. Facebook needs the social travel agency. Currently travel web sites are not prepared to deal with a travel leader who books a trip for 10 friends but each friend then pays separately for the airfare and the hotel. This could be an app. Currently when my older kids travel I end up being the banker of their EasyJet flights until their friends pay me. It would be great if they could say, weekend in Ibiza and for the next 2 hours the airlines/hotels, hold the bookings and each one pays with their own credit cards but they seat together and go to the same hotels.
Facebook has an incredible opportunity in search but for that it has to copy Twitter. When you tweet whatever you say is public unless you make it private. When you are in Facebook whatever you say is private. If Facebook was like Twitter the value of Facebook as a search engine would be enormous.
Aphrodite is being painted right now in Barcelona. Assuming it all goes well she will leave Barcelona Nov 1st and be in Barbados around Dec 10th. Stops will be Gibraltar and Canaries a day each for provisioning. Last time Aphrodite did Canaries, Barbados in only 12 days. I am not doing the crossing myself but I am putting together a crew to do it. Nina and I will sail around St Barths between Dec 15th and Dec 28th. So far I have one professional sailor who has been on Aphrodite for a year. His name is Hernan Prado. This is a good blog post of his in Spanish describing his experience on Aphrodite. So I am recruiting 4 or 5 more crew members who can stay a minimum of 45 days and more if possible. I pay for all the expenses. Amateur crew members have to pay their transportation to Aphrodite and from Aphrodite when they disembark, that´s all. I already tweeted this and got many proposals of which two look like candidates who qualify and who are available. There is also the possibility of doing the return in April.
Here are some pictures of 92ft Ketch Aphrodite designed by Andre Hoek and built by Vitters.
Assuming you already bought your Fonera 2.0n, we have a new foneradownloader firefox extension release for you. This extension is great for downloads. When you are using Firefox and find a download link or a torrent, if you have this extension installed you get to choose if you want the fonera to do the download or your laptop. This is great to send a lot of torrents to your fonera for example, then leave home and come back and watch your movies. Legal Torrents is a good torrent site to do this. With this extension downloads wait for you and not the other way around. This new release brings some small enhancement and a ‘geeky’ feature for massive downloaders which may miss from other download manager extensions.
First, the settings dialog no longer applies it’s settings ‘on-the-fly’. This is done because some users complained about problems on the extension re-connecting when the address is still not fully typed.
And now for the new feature… when you right click on a web page and you’re connected to the fonera, a new item will show: “Find links for fonera”.
When this item is selected, a window will pop-up with all links/images the page has. We think this will be a nice feature for when you are in a page with lots of links and you don’t want to bother rightclick-ing each one of them!
Think about this feature when you go to an image gallery webpage and you want to download all pics, or all isos from a linux distro or maybe all zips from a multiple volume download.
To make this task even easier, we’ve included a small toolbar with pre-selected filters: images, movies, music, torrents, rapidshare and megaupload. When you select any of these filters, all links matching will be automatically selected so you then send them to your fonera. This filters can be modified from the ‘about:config‘ preferences page in Firefox. You need to type about:config in the url to access it.
But that’s not all, we also included a ’search as you type’ filter for when you have lots of links but you know what you’re looking for.
And as usual, we included small bugfixes to enhance the user experience and full support for lastest firmware for both fonera2.0 n & g. We really hope you like this small upgrade, so please test it and report bugs you find in our user forums.
Together with Jazztel, Eolia Renovables is another remarkable Spanish start up story. Started five years ago by Miguel Salis, Eolia Renovables is one of the leading European operators in clean energy generation with a first half of 09 EBITDA of $64 million dollars. There are very few companies in the world, never mind just in Spain, that achieve these results in such a short time. Eolia´s estimated market cap is now around $1.5bn but it was built with only $148 million in equity plus a large amount of project financing. Eolia grew through a combination of organic growth, namely wind and solar farms built by Eolia and acquisitions. My holding company Jazzya developed some wind and solar farm projects that were sold to Eolia, with the most relevant being El Moralejo near Albacete.
The story of Eolia shows that not everyone is born an entrepreneur. Indeed I have two good friends who got most of their training as executives and then went on to found their own start ups. Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com, whose remarkable story is very well known, and Miguel Salis, whose trajectory is practically unknown. This is probably the case because, in Spain, entrepreneurial success stories are seldom shared for an unreasonable fear of generating envy in a society that has very confused feelings towards successful people.
Miguel and I were at Columbia University together in the 80s. While after graduation I became an entrepreneur, Miguel had a 20 year career before becoming an entrepreneur as Founder and CEO of Eolia Renovables. First, he became a banker at Lehman, then Salomon, then CFO at Jazztel, the telecom operator I founded in 1999 (now also worth over a billion dollars), then Ya.com (which I also founded together with an amazing team of ex Telefonica managers and we sold for $800 million dollars), then he managed my family office known as Jazzya and only in 2004, 20 years after graduating from business school, Miguel became an entrepreneur on his own. In order to raise the funds needed to build Eolia, Miguel became partners with one of Spain´s most creative investment banks, N+1. Here are the bios of the team that Miguel put together.
Here are Eolia´s latest results. They speak for themselves.
And to top it all, Miguel Salis is also a great jazz musician 🙂