The making of a mad scientist

There is a fine line between IT visionary and mad scientist, but Sheldon Zelitt isn’t afraid to cross it.

The former chief executive of Calgary-based VisuaLabs, who was deposed by the company’s board of directors last year, was happy to liken himself to an eccentric genius when he talked

about his plans to create a new kind of 3D television set. VisuaLabs, he promised, would offer a device that didn’t require any kind of strange headgear or multi-coloured glasses. Unfortunately, Zelitt’s invention turned out to be a store-bought Sony TV. His departure came as little surprise.

On Thursday, the Alberta Securities Commission charged Zelitt on 11 counts of misrepresentation under the Alberta Securities Act. The charges, of course, allege there was more than one tall tale told.by the maverick entrepreneur.

While I can’t really sympathize with Zelitt, his 3D adventure proves once again that with the right attitude, anyone can come up with breakthrough technology. Even me! Herewith, some of my own short cuts that will get you in on the latest IT trends:

  • Change voice mail greeting on the help desk phone to a jovial-sounding “”Hey, you!”” Call this “”speech recognition.””
  • Gather together three of your colleagues, pick up a copy of Tomb Raider at the local Blockbuster and discuss the film over drinks. Tell your boss you’ve developed “”four-way videoconferencing.””
  • Arrange a series of recycling boxes in a six-box cluster that keeps staff at their distance. Explain that you have set up a “”storage area network.””
  • Hire interns (but don’t pay them) to check e-mail, arrange appointments, organize files and purchase video games. Refer to them as “”personal digital assistants.””
  • Knock on the heads of dim-witted users while making a hollow-sounding noise. Call this your “”biometric identification system.””
  • Replace broken mice with stir sticks from local coffee shop. Show users how to poke at cursor keys with their new “”stylus.””
  • Get a job teaching computer skills to Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart. Tell colleagues you now specialize in “”thin clients.””
  • Transfer customer contact list into Little Black Book. Explain to CEO new “”customer relationship management (CRM)”” strategy.

And you thought innovation was hard.

sschick@plesman.com

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