Silicon Valley moments…

We were sitting in the hall in front of the Special Needs Nursery. Dave Winer, Patrick, and me. Dave and Patrick had their Macs open and were taking advantage of the free Wifi to blog and upload another picture (we were waiting for Milan cause Maryam and friends were visiting and we can only have a visitor or two into see him at one time).

Anyway, a group of surgeons walked by and one saw the Macs and said:

“Mac guys, I love it. Do you have the new iLife?”

Now THAT is what I call evangelism.

Dave turned to Patrick and said “that was a Silicon Valley moment.”

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Stephanie Agresta and Hans Veldhuizen in Palo Alto Apple store

Another moment? We took off from the hospital for a little while and got lunch and then visited the Apple store. Patrick bought iWork (he already has Microsoft Office but says iWork is a lot better for his reports and such). Dave got a MacMini. At the Apple store two people recognized me. One was from New York. The other from Amsterdam. UPDATE: That’s them in the picture.

The Amsterdam visitor was Hans Veldhuizen, founder and president of Novatunes (he told us he’s building a new kind of music service that’ll be shipped later this year). He’s here to attend the TechCrunch 40 conference and saw Dave Twittering that he was in the Apple store (there’s a LOT more people Twittering than you might think). Stephanie Agresta is a consultant and told us she just joined forces with the Conversation Group. Small world, cause I know a few people involved in this new social media consultancy. Giovanni, one of the partners, is who introduced me and Podtech to Seagate. They are already doing work for SAP, so will be very interesting to watch and see how they get more companies involved in the social networks.

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A moment in Milan’s life: I’ve been looking at all the technology used inside the nursery to monitor babies and such. The coolest thing I’ve seen so far is the ABM, or Auditory Brainstem Response test. Milan was asleep during his. Two little headphones play sounds into his ears and two electrodes on his head detected responses. He passed fine. but I just thought that was the coolest piece of tech. I’d love to meet the person/team who came up with this. Milan never even woke up for the test. Imagine if you were alive 100 years ago and took a time travel machine to today. Would you recognize anything in this world? Probably not.

Today Patrick and Dave were asking themselves what kind of computer Milan will have when he’s 13 years old (Patrick is 13, so is interested in such things).

I answered it’d have 4 terrabytes of RAM and 1,000 terrabytes of hard disk space. Patrick looked amazed and said something like there’s no way that such a computer would happen so quickly.

I told him that when he was born, back in January of 1994 the Web browser had barely been invented (Netscape incorporated that year) and that Windows 95 hadn’t yet shipped. The average computer back then had something like 16 megabytes of RAM (not gigs, megs) and a 40 megabyte hard drive (really cool computers had 32 megs of RAM and an 120 meg hard drive. I didn’t think we’d have a computer in our hands that would have a lot more memory than that and would be on the Internet 24/7 to boot.

What an amazing time to be alive. If we dream for a moment about 13 years from now, what do you see?

How about a mouse that works off of your brainwaves? How about a computer 10x more powerful than an iPhone that’s embedded onto your glasses? How about a petabyte hard drive? Or a printer that you could fit in your wallet so you could hand out pictures of your kids to friends who wanted them? I’ll be honest, I’m scared by the thought of embedding a computer into my body, but we’ll definitely see those. I’ve already met people who have RFID tags in their hands, which is mighty weird today but might become commonplace over the next decade or so. Imagine buying Starbucks just by waving your hand over the counter and not needing to carry credit cards. Oh, that’s another change that’s happened since Patrick is alive. Now almost every store and restaurant takes credit cards (at least in Silicon Valley). I remember when I got nasty stares at Starbucks for trying to use a credit card instead of paying cash.

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A pile of gifts arrived yesterday from lots of my friends (both “real” and “online”). We really appreciate that and we’re going to make a donation in kind to help out kids less fortunate than us.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “lottery of life” lately. Everytime I hear that damn helicopter come into the trauma center I think about the fact that someone is in a world of hurt while I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

On Wednesday, when we were in the testing center we encountered a pregnant woman who was sobbing, being consoled by her relatives. Obviously she had gotten some bad news of some kind. I can’t get her out of my mind. I’m so lucky. Patrick is such a great kid. Milan is so healthy and happy and wonderful and Maryam is just the best person I could wish for. Why did I get such a great family when she, obviously, got some really tragic news?

It’s so random, the lottery of life. A friend of mine knows an extremely rich woman up in Seattle. She has adopted a little girl from China. She told my friend “this little girl had to be abandoned to win the lottery.” I’ve been thinking about that, too. It’s so sad that there’s kids out there who aren’t loved the way Milan is being loved.

I’m thinking back to when I met Paul Singer, senior vice president and CIO at Target. He wears a pin that says “Adopt.” Great people make the kind of impression on you that last years, even though you only meet them once for a few minutes. I wish I was 1/10th the human being that Paul is.

Walking through the hospital and seeing the Packard name, along with tons of Silicon Valley famous people, on a wall remembering those who donated major money to build one of the world’s great teaching hospitals, it makes me remember what great leaders Silicon Valley has been fortunate to have pass through and there are no bigger than the Packards. They did things that make life better for all of us, both in times of need (hospitals) as well as places to take our kids (the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the world’s best, was started by their daughter).

I want to interview more of people like that: people who aren’t just out to make another dollar, but who are making the world a better place through their actions.

Do you know of someone like that in the tech industry? Give me a call or drop me an email (er, a Twitter, or a Facebook message). We need more tech industry moments like those.