With a world full of blogs, commentaries, forums and discussion groups it appears that everybody has something to say about everything. So ... I may as well join the throng and put forth some opinions about topics that are relevant to my two passions ... Technology (HomeToys) and Alternative Energy (Earthtoys).

Editorial Comments

Bob Hetherington | HomeToys

Editorial Comments ... but mostly just ramblings!

Moving forward it is ever more important that we build on our strengths and use them to change the way we do business in a global marketplace. Individually ... each of us should ask ourselves ... what value do I have to the rest of the world ... not just my country or neighborhood ... but the whole planet. In turn those of us in business must ask the same question in order to survive the changes that are taking place.

by Bob Hetherington


As many of you know I recently visited China for an eye opening whirlwind tour and adventure. You can read some of my comments in the IS China 2006 report. Combining that visit with the reading of a book called "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman has been a wake-up call for me to the realization that indeed we are on the verge of a new era of globalization. Unfortunately for us in the west ... our media, educational and political organizations are not giving us the real picture and instead are selling the illusion that we are and will forever be the most educated and progressive society on the planet. We give our children ribbons and stickers no matter how well they perform and tell them that it really doesn't matter if you win ... as long as you do your best and have fun participating. This is true as long as you are on a team that will carry you through to the finish. The sad thing is that if everyone on the team (i.e. the next generation) feels that they don't need to win ... then they won't even finish ... in fact they probably won't even enter the competition!!! Meanwhile, the rest of the world will be going for it ... progress will be made ... and let's just hope that they keep the rules that we are used to playing by.

So ... how does any of that relate to this Emagazine issue? My reason for creating and maintaining the HomeToys and Earthtoys websites was and is to promote free exchange of information within an industry. With an engineering background I was trained to break complex problems down into small manageable bits. Back in 1996 when I started HomeToys it was said that the world wide web was like the New York Public Library ... with all of the books thrown on the floor. My task then was to pick one section of the library and try to organize it into a meaningful resource. To do that I decided that the best way to accomplish this was to let those with expertise contribute to the library while I merely attempted to keep everything organized and accessible to all. 10 years later ... after throwing nothing away ... HomeToys has quite a bit of information and in fact traces a small bit of history in the Home Technology Industry. EarthToys is a bit younger (2002) but already has a library with some wonderful articles about Alternative Energy.

So what?

Moving forward it is ever more important that we build on our strengths and use them to change the way we do business in a global marketplace. Individually ... each of us should ask ourselves ... what value do I have to the rest of the world ... not just my country or neighborhood ... but the whole planet. In turn those of us in business must ask the same question in order to survive the changes that are taking place. One way to do that is to look at how we arrived at where we are today, break our thoughts into small bits and apply engineering principles to use those tools to build a strategy for our future. My contribution to this is the creation and operation of two related website resources that continue to grow and provide free information to those who will build the future.

Yes ... Home Technology (HomeToys) and Alternative Energy (EarthToys) are related! It is my belief that technology ... not politics ... will advance the energy industry and provide us with a viable future where many more societies on the globe can enjoy the kind of lifestyle that I am able to enjoy. The home technology industry is perhaps the best example I have ever seen of how product and service development can advance rapidly via collaboration and co-operation. Not since the race to the moon has there been a more aggressive and rewarding advance of technology in my lifetime. 10 years ago there was an infantile internet community of individuals sharing ideas and a handful of technologies available to a few do it yourself buffs to automate and enjoy top quality entertainment systems in their homes. Now look where we are today! Millions of internet users share information and collaborate via multitudes of networks resulting in the most amazing access to rich and affordable lifestyle options that we have ever experienced.

On the other hand ... there has been virtually no adoption or effort to improve the accessibility or affordability of alternative energy products or services for the average person ... at all ... in my lifetime. Yes, billions are being spent by governments, philanthropists and environmental organizations and associations each year ... and yes ... everyone is talking about alternative energy and the environment. But ... do you own any products based on all of this jabber? Do you even know if there are affordable products you could use instead of that wasteful electric light bulb? My guess is that you now have baffled look on your face and want to tell me that you thought the government was supposed to look after that complicated stuff. Well they haven't, nor do they really have any mandate to do so. And the only businesses really benefiting from all the hooplah are the hotels and conference organizers who sell high priced meeting rooms so that bureaucrats and scientists can sit around and admire how well each other presents their fund raising cases. Sorry if that sounds harsh ... but it gets my blood pressure up. I already stated that I have an engineering background ... and engineering is about building things that work ... from concepts that are usually too complicated to communicate to the average man. A good example of this is the iPod! It downloads digital mp3 files from a computer or website and magically turns them into hundreds of tunes to enjoy anywhere. Just a few years ago the words download, digital, mp3 files, computer and website would send many people screaming for cover!! The point is ... sooner or later someone has to leave the meeting, stop talking in jargon and acronyms, and go ahead and build something for people to use and enjoy!

I warned you that I was going to ramble and rant a bit :-(

So Mr. Engineer ... where do we go from here? What is the solution to this dilemma? Well in my opinion, the solution is collaboration and cross-pollination between those of you who are wizards in the  Development, Manufacturing, Marketing and Installation of Home Technology Products with those of you in the Alternative Energy Industry. We need affordable products and services for our homes and businesses that can save us energy and get us off the oil bandwagon. I think the demand is there now and growing with each penny increase in the price of oil and electricity.  We can't wait for governments and policy decisions any more. To begin with how about just an affordable and simple solar kit designed to power a small home network that provides not only information, education and entertainment but also control for the solar system? I know you can buy some bits and pieces and build one for yourself ... but I mean we need to see one available in Best Buy or Circuit City or Wal-mart ... and it needs to be marketed to the average guy or even better ... to the average gal. Lets get together and break the big problem into little bits that we can understand and implement.

Thanks for listening. I would very much enjoy to hear your comments and ideas via email to news@hometoys.com. I'll be happy to do my part by organizing them and presenting them here in the next issue or before that if the response is high.


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