Sunday, July 31, 2005

Why Bill Gates Wants 3,000 New Patents - New York Times

Why Bill Gates Wants 3,000 New Patents - New York Times: "I have not seen the software in use. But if I were in a position to make a ruling, and even if I accepted the originality claim on its face, I would process these swiftly: Rejected.

Microsoft's other pending applications - 3,368 at last count - should receive the same treatment. And while tidying up, let's also toss out the 3,955 patents that Microsoft has already been issued."

All I can add is: Amen.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Scoble vs.The Register

Microsoft blogger: 'My toolbar vanished too!' | The Register: "Bullying small web publications, while maintaining an elaborate fiction, is a new step for the blogger however, and in our experience Microsoft's PR professionals have never resorted to bullying."

Scoble denies the e-mail (Update: and it may well have been faked by The Register, or SOMEONE ELSE). But the point being made (I think) is that when corporations blog, or pay individuals to blog you have to take everything those individuals say with a huge grain of salt. Scoble's blog (among others) are very vocal and carelessly casual most of the time, but then he gets into trouble and sudenly his comment system goes down, he goes on vacation, has company, eats too much cheese, and goes silent for a few days. (Update: he has company and has gone silent for a few days.)

The question is: Is the ailing Microsoft reputation benefited in any way by this? The company is known for bad PR stunts already, paying companies to produce "research" promoting their products and so on. Doesn't this just look like more of the same extended into the blogosphere?

Could something Scoble says get the company sued? Or can his posting on a non-Microsoft website allow them to wash their hands of any controversy? While most people seem to like Scoble, and at first, he seemed like a nice down-to-earth nerdy type to me too, after a while I detect a less and less subtle manipulation going on.

Microsoft has always been a great demonstration of marketings triumph over engineering. We look back at the Beta/VHS wars and can all conclude now that Beta was better, but its too late to do anything about it. The same dynamic applies to Windows. It was never the best, but now we are stuck with it. Like the Beta/VHS wars, the operating system wars may soon be rendered moot by a greater and greater emphasis on newer technologies, in this case ability of online techniques to take back many of the activities that used to require local tools (like Office).

MS wants to be a player in this arena, if for no other reason than to thwart Google who many think will eventually provide word processing and spreadsheet capabilities. You can't hire commissioned sales reps to go door to door selling MSN services (for free) as an alternative to existing Google and Yahoo functions (also free, pre-existing, and generally better). So what is a cut-throat marketing company to do? Whether Scoble is for real, a shill, or a totally fabricated persona doesn't really matter. The fact is that he is paid, and probably paid pretty well to convey a positive message about Microsoft. It's called stealth marketing, and one of these days the term will be up there with "spam" as something you want to avoid at all costs. But for now, companies are using it to push their products, and those of us who would prefer to continue thinking for ourselves have to be on the lookout.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Counterterrorism Blog

The Counterterrorism Blog "The first multi-expert blog dedicated solely to counterterrorism issues, serving as a gateway to the community for policymakers and serious researchers. Designed to provide realtime information about cases and policy developments."

Updated URL:

USA PATRIOT Act (H.R. 3162)

USA PATRIOT Act (H.R. 3162)
Handy non-PDF version, although I don't know how up to date it is. I got a kick out of this:


(a) REVIEW- The Secretary of State shall review how consular officers issue visas to determine if consular shopping is a problem.

(b) ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN- If the Secretary of State determines under subsection (a) that consular shopping is a problem, the Secretary shall take steps to address the problem and shall submit a report to Congress describing what action was taken. "

How many of us know people who would be aghast at the thought that our country would ban SHOPPING! (**)

Looking for items that have the left all up in arms I find it difficult to find all that many. Which is not to say there are not some.

If anyone wants to seriously debate the act, who not start with some specifics. Once debated, why not end with an amended act?

Of course if your aim is to Bash Bush, you don't have time for all this work. Easier to equate the entire act to "digging though our panty drawers".

(**) NB: Consulate shopping (or consular shopping) is the practice of making multiple attempts to obtain a visa to enter the US in the hopes that you will stumble upon a consulate or consular officer who is not doing their job properly. Nothing about the act changes anything happening over at the Department of State. This represents no more than a "goosing" of the DoS to focus on one of their existing activities with renewed enthusiasm. Much of the act in fact is along this same line.

MS Windows what?

MS Windows what? | Computerworld Blogs: "Windows is the brand, not the 2006, that's just the version. What about Vista says 'for systems other than servers'? What about it says 'for consumers'? It evokes natural landscapes, mountain views, blue skies, etc. Hardly makes me think 'high quality operating system.'"

And why should ANYONE think of "high quality operating system" when they think of Windows? Vista suits it just fine. Shitza might have been a tad better.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Microsoft still losing money on Xbox

Microsoft still losing money on Xbox: "When I asked Stephen McGill, head of UK marketing for the console, if Microsoft was expecting to make money on the Xbox 360 he shrugged and told me: “We’re thinking long term.”"

Mathematically I think it can be proved that if "long term" is infinitely long that it is the equivalent of not thinking at all.

PHBs by any other name...

CEOs are faking it, Stanford professor says - Computerworld: "In the interview, Grove added that it is important not to be weighed down by the burden of making important decisions without a clear picture of things. 'Try not to get too depressed in the journey, because there's a professional responsibility. If you are depressed, you can't motivate your staff,' he said."

Researchers finaly confirm what we suspected all along.

Media Alert: (or marketing hype warning)

Media Alert: Microsoft Unveils Official Name for “Longhorn” and Sets Date for First Beta Targeted at Developers and IT Professionals: Company announces official name of its next-generation Windows client operating system.

Bloated product, bloated marketing droids:

How can anyone take this company seriously?

As The Resister put it:

"Perhaps calling the product Windows Vista means it will give users a commanding overview of their information world. Or perhaps the strategy boutique at Microsoft thought dropping the 95, 98, 2000, 2003 act means less chance of dumping an entire cache of time-linked marketing material when development schedules slip a year or two."

Mini-Microsoft: Microsoft Financials: "And then?"

Mini-Microsoft: Microsoft Financials: "And then?"

We feel your pain. Not.

The sooner Microsoft is just another software company, the better. Ditto for Intel/hardware.

Monopolies do not make capitalism work well, and also give it a bad name.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Rooting for the Martians - Yahoo! News

Rooting for the Martians - Yahoo! News: "Hollywood has grown eye-poppingly angry with the rest of the country, mostly over Bush and
Iraq, but partly, at least, because the left-coasters apparently thought they were somehow entitled to a string of Democratic presidents after Clinton. The upshot is that even mild-mannered nonpropagandists like George Lucas have come under pressure to display their lefty credentials with silly political touches. "

Sony gets Unreal 3 engine for PlayStation 3

Sony gets Unreal 3 engine for PlayStation 3: "This means that we’ll be seeing the PlayStation 3 hardware pushed to the max, as the engine is one of the most advanced currently on the market, featuring a programmable shaders tool, physics engine, and GUI based physics attribution tool, along with various other tools, such as scenario development, movie scene development, animation and particle animation tools."

Friday, July 15, 2005

Apple Spin Machine Melts Down

PBS | I, Cringely . July 14, 2005 - More Shoes

It's funny to watch Apple fans, and just plain old Apple watchers try to spin the latest Apple "switch" as some brilliant strategy.

It's not as though Apple has always got it right. They have made their share of mistakes with or without Steve Jobs at the helm.

Oh, and while we are at it, why do they keep bringing up Job's stay at Next? Oh, Steve went off and did more brilliant things while Apple foundered on its own. I've never laid eyes on a Next computer or talked to anyone who ran the OS. It's a minor footnote in computing history. A trivia question.

So, what's all this shoe fetishism from Cringely?:

"IBM's G5 dual cores look easily comparable to Intel's Pentium Ds, both in terms of computing power and electrical power consumption. So what's really up?"

Job's goofed, bigtime. That's what's up. "i" goes on to say that well Apple will get a chance to use these processors anyway. But who will want to buy one from Apple? Benchmarks show that it is the ham-handed Apple version of Unix that slows down their systems the most, not the hardware. Which is why people were buying Apple servers and running Linux on it to get the best performance: (Link) but now I question whether anyone would even bother with high end Apple hardware at a point where future support is in doubt. Especially when there are alternatives (Link, Link)

"This third shoe is Apple's closeout sale on the iPod Photo, which is suddenly and inexplicably $150-off all over town. Get ready for the Video iPod, which will presumably be available from more than just Apple. HP is already on board and these clues suggest Intel is likely there, too."

How about as an alternate explanation the fact that nobody wants to pay a lot of money to view video on something that needs to include a magnifying glass? Will Apple have a monopoly on Intel hardware used for digital media? Only if you get your news from Bizarro Superman comics. Apple did well with iTunes. But my Windows friends who tried them were not all that impressed. We all postulated that people would switch from PCs to Apple computers when they got an iPod, but I haven't seen all that many examples of that actually happening. Anybody who can put up with Windows will also put up with a less stylish media player that works with Windows (and is cheaper).

And then the "i-ster" wanders off into retinal scan video displays for $4000. OK well, Apple can sow that market up and still go out of business. Hey *I* was an iTunes user too. I have one of the low end iPods (around here somewhere) and have downloaded maybe $100 of music. But I don't trust Apple (even less now) and have converted all of those tunes to MP3. In every case I wish I had taken the time (and saved the money) and just got the CD. I think others will come to that conclusion too after the fad is over. If I am going to PAY for downloading digital content then I want it unencumbered. When I run my "Software Update" on my Apple computer the thing that gets updated the most often are the media programs (iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie) and the only one of these I use is iTunes. What are the updates, bug fixes, or more restrictive use allowances? You guess. (hint: Bug fixes don't require to accept the usage agreement again). But I'd switch to a native XMMS in a minute, or when I switch back to Linux I'll be using that anyway.

The party is over for Apple. They made a few lucky moves that worked out for them and they had a fairly reliable ally in IBM. Now they are in shark territory with Intel, Dell, Microsoft and others willing to sacrifice good technology for bigger sales figures. Apple hasn't dominated in this arena and isn't likely to start now.

You should have stayed pure Apple, now you have sullied your reputation. Or should I have said Sculleyed? I wonder what he is up to (Link)? Maybe they should bring him back to "save Apple" again. It seems to need saving on a regular basis.