Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Future of Books

Jason Epstein was a publisher for more than 40 years. Now in retirement, he wants to replace Gutenberg with a digital press.

Jason Epstein worked in book publishing for more than 40 years. He was editorial director of Random House and founded Anchor Books, the New York Review of Books, the Library of America, and the Readers Catalog. Now in retirement, he wants to digitally reconstruct publishing, as digitization is re-creating the music industry.

I became a publisher by accident. When I entered Columbia College in 1945, I was only 17, but I found myself surrounded by veterans in their 20s, some still in their flight jackets and peacoats, many of them married, some with infants. Most of them were in a hurry to find careers and get on with their lives. Some, however, were incipient scholars, and I was fascinated by their worldly talk of Marvell and Donne, Pascal and Voltaire, James and Proust, and Joyce and Eliot. Some of my elders became my friends. For four years we formed an intense coterie of which I was the chief beneficiary because I joined it knowing nothing and acquired from it the rudiments of an education. I had no thought of a job, much less a career in business, certainly not one in book publishing. Thus it did not occur to me that my friends, thanks to the GI Bill, belonged to a large, unprecedented, and undiscovered market for serious books -- a new phenomenon in the cultural and commercial life of the United States.

In September 1950, after wasting a year in graduate school, I was on my own financially. For want of a better plan, and with only the vaguest idea of what a book publisher actually did (I had recently seen a film called The Scoundrel, starring Noël Coward, about the ruin of a glamorous but dissolute book publisher), I applied to Doubleday's training program, which promised to indoctrinate prospective publishers by rotating them through various departments. Although Doubleday's personnel manager insisted that I was unsuited for the program, Ken McCormick, the firm's editor in chief, hired me nonetheless.

In those days, paperback publishing was an offshoot of maga­zine distribution. Every month a bundle of cheaply printed popu­lar novels, each selling for 25 cents, was delivered along with that month's magazines to drugstores and news­stands around the country. Last month's unsold paperbacks were collected, pulped, and reborn as next month's (hence "pulp fiction"). I had been at Double­day for six months, long enough to grasp the essentials of the business, when I proposed to Ken a plan for another kind of paperback. One February afternoon, as we walked across Central Park, I asked, Why not sell paperbacks in bookstores instead of newsstands? We would publish the kinds of serious works that my friends and I had read at Columbia, but which were available only in hard covers and at pro­hibitive prices. These paperbacks could, I suggested, be slightly more expensive than mass-market pulps: we would break even when we had sold 20,000 copies instead of 100,000. Wouldn't it make more sense to sell 20 copies of The Sound and the Fury at a dollar than one hardcover copy at ten dollars?

What I was proposing was a paperback program that would expand the market for publishers' backlists -- that is, books that sell year after year and in the aggregate contain nearly all that we think we know about ourselves and the world. In the 1950s, backlists were the life's blood of publishing: backlisted titles had recouped their costs, and their sales provided book publishers with a steady stream of profit.

Ken agreed and suggested that I talk to people in production and sales and come up with a business plan. We decided to call the new series Anchor Books, after Double­day's Aldine colophon, with its frisky dolphin wrapped around a weighty anchor. We began by testing the market with 20,000 copies of 12 titles in sturdy paper bindings, priced between 65 cents and $1.25. The first list included Joseph Conrad, Edmund Wilson, D. H. Lawrence, André Gide, and Stendhal. Within a year or two, nearly every publisher in New York and Boston had a line of "quality paperbacks," which bookstores were selling by the millions. The "paperback revolution," as it would be called, had begun.

The essential factors in the success of this format (new to the United States, although European publishers had been publishing quality paperbacks for some time) were an audience for serious reading created by the GI Bill and the 3,000 to 4,000 independent booksellers who constituted the retail market for books. Many of these stores were hardly more than gift shops carrying greeting cards, regional titles, and a few bestsellers, but perhaps a thousand booksellers in cities and major suburbs maintained deep backlist inventories and catered to the eclectic interests of sophisticated readers who found their way to the low-rent neighborhoods where many of the shops were located. Our marketing strategy was simple. We put Anchor Books displays wherever we could, hoping that readers would find them and tell their friends. The books sold themselves.

Friday, May 2, 2008

what will happen in 2012?

According to their calendar, the Maya believed that their world would end on Dec 21, 2012. Of all the dates put forth by prophets and cultures for a doomsday, this is one with an authentic almost eerie feel to it. But what will happen? A global cataclysm is one possibility. Presented here is enough information to help you decide - be you an expert or a beginner.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cosco Crossroad

An interesting intersection of the old red major downtrend resistance turned support line and the new blue uptrend support turned resistance line has developed. On the first day after the crossroad was formed price closed below the red line showing weakness. However, on the second day it moved from the low and pushed upwards until it met resistance at the blue line before losing some momentum closing near the middle of the candlestick bar. This closing above the red line gives a more bullish outlook than the previous day. However, there is still no clear direction where the trend is heading based on current data. For uptrend price just need to move along the blue line. Breakout above the blue line will be a bonus but not a necessity. Immediate support is $3.04 followed by $2.94 . If this support does not hold expect a retest of $2.79 .

Using Technical Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Applying Stock Market Charting Techniques, Revised Edition

Using Technical Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Applying Stock Market Charting Techniques, Revised Edition

This is a practical book about Technical Analysis written by an investor with over 30 years of experience who has "been there and done it". The book has a section with exercises. If I had a complaint, it would be that the patterns shown in the example charts are too clear; things are not that crystal clear in real life. Anyone who reads this book should also read "Trading The Plan" by Robert Deel. Both are very practical.

I really like this book as it covers the basics and has examples where you have to use what you've learned to do the exercises. The reading is pretty dry but I still refer back to the book often when I'm trying to remember what a "double bottom" means or what an "ascending triangle" helps you predict.

Carl Zeiss & SEMATECH Develop Novel Design for Photomask Registration and Overlay Metrology to Enable Double-Patterning- Lithography

n a potential boost to advance lithography, engineers at SEMATECH and Carl Zeiss SMT today announced the completion of their final design for the next generation Photomask Registration and Overlay Metrology system – called PROVE™. The successful final system design release is a major milestone within the project. PROVE™ will allow for the production of more advanced photomasks with substantially improved image placement accuracy. Double patterning lithography, in particular, requires tighter image placement control for photomasks, but the new system will also enhance photomask production in general.

The new metrology system PROVE™ developed by a team of more than 40 Carl Zeiss SMT engineers and supported by SEMATECH ascertains the accuracy of mask pattern alignment, and registration for 32nm half-pitch and beyond photomasks. Double patterning is a technology for enhancing feature density by using standard 193nm wavelength technology. The newly developed metrology technology also forms part of the critical infrastructure of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. “Future lithographic scaling places a high reliance on very tight overlay control of the various device levels, and the photomask is a key component of the overlay error budget,” said Michael Lercel, SEMATECH Director of Lithography and chairman of the ITRS Litho Working Group. “This new system will get us past several previously ‘no known solution’ challenges.”

“Exploiting the core competencies of Carl Zeiss SMT and our long-term experience in 193nm lithography optics and metrology enabled us to create a revolutionary new system design which will close the technology gap for overlay metrology at 32nm and beyond. Additionally, the broad presence of ZEISS products within the mask industry will be most beneficial for our customers in providing them an increased on-site applications and service support,” said Oliver Kienzle, Member of the Board of Carl Zeiss SMT’s Semiconductor Metrology Systems Division.

“With double patterning coming on strong as an optical extension, registration tolerances are getting even smaller,” said Patricia Gabella, SEMATECH project engineer and manager of the joint project. “Working with Carl Zeiss SMT we have completed a design for quantifying image placement errors as small as 2.4 nm according to the ITRS roadmap. This is a major milestone towards making double patterning a commercially viable technology.” Gabella said the tool itself is targeted for production in 2009, with mask manufacturers being the primary customers.

Nanowires and Carbon Nanotubes

Currently, scientists find two nano-size structures of particular interest: nanowires and carbon nanotubes. Nanowires are wires with a very small diameter, sometimes as small as 1 nanometer. Scientists hope to use them to build tiny transistors for computer chips and other electronic devices. In the last couple of years, carbon nanotubes have overshadowed nanowires. We're still learning about these structures, but what we've learned so far is very exciting.

Sheets of carbon atoms used to make carbon nanotubes

A carbon nanotube is a nano-size cylinder of carbon atoms. Imagine a sheet of carbon atoms, which would look like a sheet of hexagons. If you roll that sheet into a tube, you'd have a carbon nanotube. Carbon nanotube properties depend on how you roll the sheet. In other words, even though all carbon nanotubes are made of carbon, they can be very different from one another based on how you align the individual atoms.

With the right arrangement of atoms, you can create a carbon nanotube that's hundreds of times stronger than steel, but six times lighter [source: The Ecologist]. Engineers plan to make building material out of carbon nanotubes, particularly for things like cars and airplanes. Lighter vehicles would mean better fuel efficiency, and the added strength translates to increased passenger safety.

Carbon nanotubes can also be effective semiconductors with the right arrangement of atoms. Scientists are still working on finding ways to make carbon nanotubes a realistic option for transistors in microprocessors and other electronics.

Future of lithography still undecided

The semiconductor fabrication industry still appears to be undecided as to just what is next. 90nm seems pretty much settled, but the tools and techniques to go as far as 45nm are still very much on the drawing board. Teams from Sony have demonstrated a resolution capable of 45nm but, like Intel's well-publicized 10GHz ALUs, they're a long way from making anything real and marketable. An interesting piece at EETimes highlights the uncertainty in the industry.

Despite the fact that the industry is moving into 90 nm pilot production with existing 193 nm steppers for critical layers, vendors of alternative technologies are pushing their systems toward production.

Alternative methods, and their patent holders, see the processes beyond 90nm as their holy grail, where they can make their mark on the market. Today's extreme-ultra-violet lithography is nearing the limits of its resolution. As we have gone through optical to ultra-violet, the next logical step is x-ray lithography. Not according to JMAR Research who, as well as X-ray lithography, are researching the possible applications of Collimated Plasma Lithography (CPL) for future semiconductor fabrication.

With the big two of AMD and Intel designing x86 processors for higher and higher clock frequencies, as well as a host of embedded and mobile applications from thousands of vendors, more precise and smaller fabrication nodes are required to keep the die size down and to keep the power consumption within reasonable levels. Future fabrication techniques are designed to help designers achieve these complimentary aims which benefit both our top spec desktops and our hand held devices.

Many options expected in the future of lithography

Maintaining the historical pace of reducing half-pitch for each technology generation requires overcoming the challenge of extending the incumbent optical projection lithography technology at 193nm while simultaneously developing alternative, next generation lithography (NGL) technologies. Not only is it necessary to invent technical solutions to challenging problems, it is critical that die costs remain economical even as the costs of design, process development, masks, resist, and exposure tools rise. Maintaining economical production costs is becoming a bigger challenge as the rising costs of developing a new generation of lithography technology must be amortized over relatively few generations of integrated circuits.

In the Difficult Challenges tables in the 2005 ITRS, stronger emphasis was placed on challenges related to immersion lithography. The 2005 chapter includes more detail describing cost of ownership, resolution enhancement techniques (RET), and design for manufacturing (DFM) with lithography-friendly design rules.

Continued emphasis was placed on challenges for implementing cost-effective post-optical lithography solutions, and more detail was added on the requirements for extreme ultraviolet (EUV), imprint, and maskless lithographies.

Technical Analysis of Stock Trends

Technical Analysis of Stock Trends

I read Edwards and McGee, Technical Analysis of Stock Market Trends with great enthusiasm. Here was a book that was originally written in the 1940's that is equally valid to anyone trying to play the stock market in the Twenty First Century. It also gave me insights into the wild times on Wall Street in the Roaring 20's, and taught me how the pros did stock manipulation and organized "bear traps." Understanding Wall Street irrational exuberance in 1928 helps a smart investor understand the irrational exuberance in 1999. I started reading and then using Technical Analysis because I found I couldn't make money on the market just using the fundamental analysis that my accounting professors taught me in business school. I bought stocks based on detailed analysis of the firm's fundamentals and then could not understand why the prices of my "smart" investments immediately dropped like a rock. Technical analysis provides an investor with insights into the market forces (supply and demand) that affect the rise and fall of stock prices and give a rational investor understanding of the psychology of the herd of investors.

Modern web technology available from Clearstation and E-trade take the drudgery out of the technical charting, and make it easy for an amateur investor to become an experienced technical chart reader. Edwards and McGee was the book that helped me develop this skill. I can not praise the authors of this book enough.