DVR box is dying, Woz's wisdom and other cool things learned at SNW

Wozniak says innovative projects, not tests, should determine a student's grade; the popular DVR follows your every move

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The greatest innovation projects Woz participated in at Apple almost always involved technology he was unfamiliar with. But, he said, when you want something for yourself "you work hard to learn it."

"A lot of companies can learn from that," he said. "Let your employees have some resources to help them develop something not for the company necessarily ... [but] because your mind will develop in ways that are beneficial for the company.

Motivation doesn't come from big salaries and stock bonuses but from creating something that you can take pride in, perhaps something that has never before been created before, Wozniak added.

Where technologists land

Another fascinating person I met at SNW was Dave Davies, a wiry man with a bone-crushing handshake and an almost manic passion about his field of work.

Dave's the CIO of Flight Options, a company that sells high-end personal jets the same way that timeshare vacation homes are sold. Companies or rich people purchase a portion of the jet's value, or a block of annual flight time.

It's turned out to be a cool business model. Thirteen years since its founding, Dave heads up IT in a company with 700 employees, 150 aircraft and 1,300 customers who are the "top 1% of the top 1%," of business leaders.

For example, an hour's time aboard an eight-passenger Citation X jet will cost you $2,667. For that, you get the use of telephones, a Wi-Fi network, a microwave/convection oven, power outlets and a full refreshment center as you rocket across the sky at 480mph.

Dave and others who'd been with the company from the start sold their equity to partner Raytheon in 2005, but they got together and bought it back in 2007. The company had changed from an IT standpoint, so they quickly got to hard on creating an innovative, flexible IT infrastructure and intuitive technologies.

As Dave sees it, if IT doesn't help drive the business, it'll always be seen as a cost center. And if you want to innovate new technology, first you have to get a business executive to champion it.

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