Friday, September 30, 2005

Palm's embrace of Windows for Treo clouds future of Palm OS - Computerworld

"Following the announcement, Gartner Inc. issued a report recommending that corporate users 'make no further investments in Palm OS Treos for enterprise applications.' The new device will enable Palm to compete more effectively against Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry and the growing number of handhelds based on Windows Mobile 5.0, Gartner said in the report."

Nail, meet coffin.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rocketboom Covers SecondLife

Microsoft and Veritas start 'continuous' backup battle | The Register

"Veritas, however, would really seem to own at least the marketing lead here. It's the Windows backup king and focuses solely on making tape and disk backups better for its customers."

Well, not for long I'm sure. Microsoft likes to dine on its partners. Bye bye Veritas, I never liked you very much anyway!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Microsoft Monitor: Look Out, Outlook

"Microsoft would be oh-so happy, if developers added everything but the kitchen sink (that, too, if it would fit in your computer) to Outlook. The e-mail/calendaring/contact management/forms application is on Microsoft's turn-it-into-a-development-platform hit list and has been for a long time. And there is plenty of software that plugs into Outlook. I've got nothing against the platform approach, as long as the basics work right. Considering e-mail is one of Outlook's core functions, there's not much leeway for problems with its basic functions, like sending or receiving e-mail. If Microsoft really wants to make Outlook into a development platform, the core features need to work right."

Hmmm maybe not a shill after all.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Is Microsoft becoming “statesman-like”?, asks Winer - Microsoft Weblog

Winer's original posting.

My thoughts:

I think Winer's point may be valid even if he picked bad examples. For one thing, Ford is a privately held company, and Carter was not a particularly successful President, even though he seems to have been trying to re-invent himself ever since. GE was probably a good example though, they are extremely diversified, and influential.

Microsoft, on the other hand, considering its success, is one of the least diversified companies on earth. I'll give you half credit for the Xbox (hey it's really just a PC) and the MS mouse?, really now, who are you kidding?

I don't think Microsoft will ever be able to expunge the fact that it was IBM that "standardized" the PC, which is why there is no longer a Radio Shack/Tandy PC, or a Texas Instruments PC, or an Altair or Imsai PC, and so on. IBM made a PC that COULD be cloned, and did not much about people who cloned it. They did nothing to stop people from running other operating systems on it or using it for purposes they had not envisioned. As an IBM stockholder you could criticize them for not exerting enough control over the architecture, but if you think it through you have to conclude that any more control on their part would have just caused some other architecture to be more successful in the long run. And with MS stock flat-lining as far back as most people (these days) can remember, it's that long run that MS (and ITS stockholders) should be thinking about.

Ford, come to think of it DID invent the mass produced car. But I bet its financial troubles have more to do with its relationship with autoworkers unions and their pension plans than it has to do with the fact that Ford doesn't get 20% of every car manufactured in the world. That gets right to the heart of Microsoft's situation, because Microsoft has no moral right to a percentage of the sale price of every PC sold in the world either. There is no right and certainly no rationality in Microsoft expecting that obeisance be paid to them every time someone flips on their PC or TV set or game console for that matter. If that were the case then Boeing would be making all the world's airplanes and Ford would be making all the world's cars and Jimmy Carter, no, make that Gerald Ford, would still be President of the US. Like any individual, reputation gets you in the door, but what you say afterward can wind your applause or respectfully mumbled mockery.

As someone who spent thousands of dollars of my own money on Microsoft products when others were "borrowing" copies from the office I've gone from someone who was completely sold on Microsoft products as indispensable to computer usage to someone who doesn't use a single Microsoft product at all. I remember reading in Bill Gates own words how the Windows API (the first time I had ever seen the term used) would standardize peripheral use and make it easier for more programs to work seamlessly together. That all came true, although, conceptually the API was nothing new, mainframe OSs had been masking the differences between multiple peripherals for a long time.

What also came true was that the Windows API, and other Microsoft APIs that followed became weapons of control which allowed other software companies to grow in the shadow of Microsoft, but only to grow so big, and only in certain directions without being enveloped or extinguished.

I think those days are, for the most part, over. We all know what a TV set looks like, and what it does. The same goes for airplanes, cars, refrigerators and toasters. But what kind of world would it be if Boeing made all airplanes, Ford made all cars or if GE made all TVs, refrigerators, and toasters? Well, it would be a pretty good world for Boeing, Ford and GE wouldn't it? But that's not the world we live in. Other companies make those things, and other countries feel it is in their best interest if those things are made by their own companies too. That diversification of products is, and WILL continue to be the way of the world. It isn't even conceivable that an exception will be made for the PC or the operating system that runs it. There is no product whether simple like the paper clip, or complex like the Space Shuttle that has reached such a stage of perfection that everyone worldwide uses the same thing. The Space Shuttle, in particular, serves as a perfect example of what Windows, coupled with the Intel architecture has become: Entrenched, bureaucratic, expensive, overly complex and failure prone.

The party's over. All is not lost for Microsoft by any means, but the falling-off-a-log-easy road to success is behind them and what is ahead looks like hard work. Frankly, I don't think it is something that Microsoft or its founders have much of an appetite for. I've always said that Ford would be better off it it were more widely held. All or most decisions would not be left up to the Ford family. The same is true of Microsoft, while it is publicly traded, it is long overdue for the founders to magnanimously move on to bigger and better things. Look at what Paul Allen has done with his winnings. True genius is being able to succeed over and over rather than just being able to defend a once won position. For the leaders of Microsoft, they need to learn the difference between going on offense and being offensive. Better yet, they need to move on and let others work, and it will be work, to keep the parts of the old Microsoft viable.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Official Google Blog: Everybody won't hate this

"There's no viewer to download, and the bigger video window (which expands automatically to your browser size) is now compatible with Mac and Linux as well as Windows. You can skip around in the video and start watching it instantly, even beyond what's been buffered. And you can watch a 10-second snippet of playable videos right on the results page - making it easier to decide whether you want to commit to the whole thing. "

So, why can't Microsoft do this? Or Yahoo?

Well, suddenly I have a feeling they will be inspired and multi-platform players will spring up. And then as was the case last week on Slashdot, someone from Yahoo will be asking: "Why all the attention to Google?"

So here is the answer for anyone who asks: Google is innovating. They aren't doing everything perfectly the first time, or at all in some cases, but they are trying things. Meanwhile, Microsoft and Yahoo are watching, and copying (and copying Apple too when they do something first) and whining and crying that nobody pays attention to THEIR innovations. You know, it helps to look up big words before you use them...

Google define: Definitions of innovate on the Web:

* introduce: bring something new to an environment; "A new word processor was introduced"

So, MSN maps isn't really innovative, not when all the features they brag about available for months from Google. So really, Microsoft, stop bothering us with your "new" ideas. Call us when you really have something. Or if. That goes for you too Yahoo. And stop your whining, it gets on our nerves.

Now for what Google has done. Check this out. And THIS HAHA!

These videos worked first time on both Linux and Apple. On the linux machine I've never bothered to install browser plugins for video... it's one of those things I get around to doing the first time I really have to have it. But this works, and the previews work. Everything works. Don't know how they did it, but I'm sure MS and Yahoo "engineers" will be right on the case in a day or so.

Coursey Makes Dumb Journalism Official

I used to think Coursey wrote dumb stuff for CNet just to get the readership stired up. Same goes for Scoble and a few others. But some things just go too far. He didn't get a single postitieve response, and since everything he said was wrong, anyone who supported him would be messing with their own reputation too.

Let's face it, there are people out there who, while they may actually be making their living as a "technology journalist" just don't know diddly squat about it. There is no excuse for this. I'm just glad they no longer publish him every day, or even several times a week. The number of writers at CNet I pay any attention to numbers about 3. Needless to say, Coursey isn't among them. His readers agree (I just just copied a few of dozens):

"# Incorrect
johnsu01 9/24/2005 1:11:59 PM
# Coursey again leans to M$
sagax 9/25/2005 1:40:05 AM
# Corruption by Microsoft
IT_Expert 9/25/2005 12:27:45 PM
# Uh..... reads/writes MS formats just fine....
linuxgrrl 9/25/2005 12:41:14 PM
# MS formats are encumbered with patents and vendor lock-in
systemx 9/25/2005 2:10:08 PM
# Actually, NO-ONE supports new MS XML format
nerd6 9/25/2005 6:14:47 PM
# You don't get it..
paulwallen 9/25/2005 9:15:10 PM
# BEEEP - Wrong!
pedershk 9/26/2005 3:39:44 AM"

IBM's Software Gambit -

"The company says it is partnering with some 4,000 applications companies, spending $500 million per year on 30 technology centers worldwide that they and IBM use to develop products, and another $500 million on joint sales and marketing activities. In the last 20 months alone, IBM tapped a network of over 100 venture capital firms to recruit some 950 independent software vendors (ISVs) into the group."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Microsoft Windows Is Offically Broken

"Mr. Allchin's reforms address a problem dating to Microsoft's beginnings. Old-school computer science called for methodical coding practices to ensure that the large computers used by banks, governments and scientists wouldn't break. But as personal computers took off in the 1980s, companies like Microsoft didn't have time for that. PC users wanted cool and useful features quickly. They tolerated -- or didn't notice -- the bugs riddling the software. Problems could always be patched over. With each patch and enhancement, it became harder to strap new features onto the software since new code could affect everything else in unpredictable ways."


The Korea Times : Former President Corners Microsoft Korea

"After taking the reins of KIPA in June 2003, Ko once and for all muted his critics by leading an all-out campaign to introduce Linux, the main threat for his former company Microsoft, to Korea.

'I racked my brains for three months after inauguration to find out a way to boost our country’s software industry and the answer was open-source programs,' Ko said.

'In order to become a genuine software powerhouse, Korea had no choice but to secure source technologies. We cannot achieve the goal under the command of dominant closed-source programs,' Ko said."

Paradoxically, the same is true here in the US.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

NewsForge | How will Linux be leveraged in next-gen supercomputers?

"IBM and the United States stole the top slot last November when the BlueGene/L system running Linux topped 70 teraflops (trillions of calculations) per second on the Linpack Benchmark and displaced Japan's Earth Simulator as king of ultra high performance computing (HPC). The Earth Simulator runs a customized flavor of Unix, and is capable of 35.86 teraflops. Since taking the lead, IBM has cemented its position by nearly doubling the performance of BlueGene/L, which kept the top spot on the June 2005 Top 500 list with a Linpack performance of 136.8 teraflops."

In related news a special team of Microsoft researchers have managed to couple 500 Intel PCs to acheive an astonishing 75 Blue Screens of Death per second, while at the same time, collecting samples of every known computer virus from an open connection to the Internet. Researchers stated that the main slow-down was waiting for the systems to reboot for the next knock-out, but the faster boot times of Windows Vista will allow them to zoom past this record. "Anybody who thinks that inovation is dead at Microsoft just isn't paying attention" said one of the researchers. Microsoft scientists have dubbed the combined system Black and Blue.

Microsoft: beating itself back to health? | The Register

"Redmond knows a thing or two about successful PR, and clearly wants to steer the press to the bad news in one lump. Business Week and Forbes lined up to chew the company out for late delivery of software last week. But this way, Redmond's spin doctors hope, everything from now on will be part of a Microsoft comeback story. It's a canny strategy that plays the home press corps sense of even-handedness … and short memories."

Ditto what I said earlier. - Oracle, Palm Tumble On Weak Earnings

"Oracle wasn't the only company to report disappointing earnings: Palm plunged $6.28, or 18%, to $28.69 on Nasdaq after reporting that first-quarter profits slid 7% and offering a second-quarter earnings outlook below analysts' mean estimate. The handheld computer maker plans to announce a Treo smartphone that runs Microsoft software, the Wall Street Journal reported."

History shows that companies that go against Microsoft and then give in and try and cozy up to them don't fare well. Nor do they deserve to. So long Palm. My old Palm IIIs are still working fine (two months per set of triple-A batteries) than you very much, and I'll keep my eye out for something smaller and simpler, not some pocket (and pocket-book) busting behemoth running a bloated operating system.

Friday, September 23, 2005

New anti-spam measures from broadband providers can hurt e-mail delivery

"New limits on simultaneous SMTP connections and volume rates put in place by a growing number of local broadband providers are making it more difficult for e-mail marketers’ messages to get through to consumers, according to a Bigfoot Interactive white paper released this week."

Awww, poor babies. Let me pinch your cheeks until they BLEED.

The Globe and Mail: Airbus has history of twisted landing gear

"Virtually overlooked was that this kind of incident had happened on Airbus 320s at least four times before. The most recent was in 1999, which resulted in a mandatory airworthiness directive to all airlines operating the aircraft to fix possible faults with O-ring seals in the landing-gear steering module."

Sun president: PCs are so yesterday | CNET

"So asserted Jonathan Schwartz, president of server and software maker Sun Microsystems. Instead, what has become important are Web services on the Internet and the mobile phones most will use to access them, he argued at a Friday speech here at a meeting of the American India Foundation."

Well, I guess that means that many Sun systems are day before yesterday then? But seriously, if people want to risk losing important stuff by storing it on devices with MTBFs measured in minutes, who's gonna stop 'em? As noted a couple of articles below, the marketplace is a fickle and often stupid one (why else would so many people be running Windows?) and sometimes it takes years for quality to sort itself out above marketing magic. Quality EVENTUALLY wins, and smart shoppers (like (now) the State of Mass) get to laugh at the rest of us, err, THEM.

Massachusetts moves ahead sans Microsoft | CNET

"The move to adopt OpenDocument shuts Microsoft out of the state's procurement process because the software giant, which dominates the office application market, has said it does not intend to support the OpenDocument format."

Open Standards - Information Technology Division

Bravo to the state of Massachusetts for doing the right thing. There isn't MUCH to commend the state from my point of view, but this is certainly one major good thing. I hope more states, and the Federal Government follows their lead in demanding open formats or nothing at all from software vendors.

Vitamin C Undies PLUS Anti-Odor Duds - Gizmodo

"In a tremendous surge of stupidity this Friday afternoon, we’ve got the lowdown on wearable fabrics. We’ll start with a new anti-odour fabric, made with silver nano-particles no less. I don’t know who really believes that any type of nanotechnology is going to stop their stink, but I guess if they make it, you will come. You always do. "

Yes, they do don't they. Sad.

An Unabashedly Biased View of the Passing of a Network Titan - Computerworld

"There was simplified memory, symmetrical multiprocessing support and, with NetWare 5, a truly blinding Java virtual machine and a fancy new file system. By this time, however, Microsoft had its act together. The abomination that was Windows NT 3.51 was replaced by something marginally less scary, NT 4.0 -- the bold (and wholly untruthful) claim being that it was New Technology. The techies of the world weren't fooled -- even today in Windows servers you can dredge up obscure error messages with the text 'LAN Manager' screaming out at you. The only thing new about NT was its Swiss-cheese approach to security. "

Microsoft's nightmare inches closer to reality | CNET

"A group of pro-Internet 'doves' led by then-executive Brad Silverberg and Slivka argued in the mid-1990s that instead of digging in on the PC, Microsoft should beat its rivals by becoming the dominant platform for Internet computing, according to the book 'Breaking Windows: How Bill Gates Fumbled the Future of Microsoft,' by David Bank."

Thursday, September 22, 2005 -- Senate Clears NASA to Buy Russian Spaceships

"Without relief from the Iran act, NASA could soon find itself unable to send its astronauts to the space station for extended stays. A Soyuz capsule set to carry a new two-person crew – and one space tourist – to the station Sept. 30 is the last one Russia is obligated to provide at no charge to the United States under a bilateral agreement."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Airport PCs stuffed with meaty goodness | The Register

"Many airport executive lounges are equipped with PCs that allow business and first class fliers to surf the web. Rather than using a web-based email service and clearing the cache and password completion forms before shutting down, some execs are using Outlook Express packages on these machines to write emails."

I think the company should publish these geniuses names so we can make fun of 'em. (And follow their careers afterwards)

MSFT Bagholder: Broken record

"Expand and accelerate the buyback program. Convert the Windows and Office cash gusher into fewer shares and higher EPS. The last balance sheet shows almost $40 billion piling up like all of Ballmer's empty words. While MSFT is cheap, buy it back with both hands. Repeat until it isn't cheap."

Geting pop-ups and other odd behavior? From SANS - Internet Storm Center

"If your users are accessing the european versions of the more popular search engines, chances are you have come across a file named 's_ta_ts.js' recently. The file contains about 2000 bytes of triple-encoded JavaScript, recognized by virus vendors variably as 'JS_WONKA.A' or 'Java/Dldr.Movie.A'."

Free Standards Group Releases LSB 3.0

"With the widespread adoption of LSB 3.0, ISVs and end users should benefit as it becomes easier and less costly for software vendors to target Linux. Adopters include the nine members of the Debian Common Core Alliance, Novell, Red Hat, and Asianux, which is an alliance of China's Red Flag Linux, Japan's Miracle Linux and Korea's Haansoft distribution vendors."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

US Landfalling Hurricanes 1900-1999

The one thing we did not find is any suggestion of increasing hurricane season severity. The most active period within the Twentieth Century record is the 1930s-1960s with something of a lull subsequently. This is not supportive of the hypothesis that the globe is warming catastrophically or that there are more and more severe storms occurring.

Also see:

Reuters Business Channel |

"The Google Web site has several references to Google WiFi but provides few details. One page

( refers to a product called 'Google Secure Access', which is designed to 'establish a more secure connection while using Google WiFi.'

A separate page ( offers a free download of Google Secure Access, carrying the headline: 'Your wireless connection is almost ready to use.'"

Sunday, September 18, 2005

� Should election software be open source? | Open Source |

"I ask this because I really don't know who has been getting elected in my home state of Georgia these last three years. There is no paper audit trail. The software is all closed-source. They tell me who has won each time, and they publish numbers in the newspaper, but the point is there is no way to check."

ABC News: Avian Flu: Is the Government Ready for an Epidemic?

"Sept. 15, 2005 — It could kill a billion people worldwide, make ghost towns out of parts of major cities, and there is not enough medicine to fight it. It is called the avian flu."

Intel furious at AMD Formula One deal, claim

"THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH claims that chip maker Intel is incandescent with rage at a deal between Formula One governing body, the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) and its semiconductor rival Advanced Micro Devices."

I wonder if Intel throws chairs too.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Chip makers brace for slower pace in Moore's Law - Computerworld

"SEPTEMBER 16, 2005 (REUTERS) - The journey to ever smaller, faster and cheaper chips is slowing down and may put a big dent in sales and profits of the semiconductor sector and even the economy, industry players and analysts said this week."

BBC NEWS | Business | Money matters in cybercash game

"In the bank's Stagecoach Island game, players explore an imaginary world using virtual money, which they earn by answering financial questions.

It uses one of the existing massive multi-player environments on the web, Second Life, developed by Linden Lab.

The game lets players create their own characters and interact with others.

A pilot version of Stagecoach Island was launched for young adult Texans in San Diego and Austin over the Labor Day weekend earlier this month. The pilot will run until mid-November."

Friday, September 16, 2005

Enthusiast uses Google to reveal Roman ruins

"Using satellite images from Google Maps and Google Earth, an Italian computer programmer has stumbled upon the remains of an ancient villa. Luca Mori was studying maps of the region around his town of Sorbolo, near Parma, when he noticed a prominent, oval, shaded form more than 500 metres long. It was the meander of an ancient river, visible because former watercourses absorb different amounts of moisture from the air than their surroundings do. "

Microsoft Shakes Up Corporate Licensing

"At least one analyst was unimpressed. 'Software Assurance has outlived its usefulness,' said Paul DeGroot of Directions on Microsoft, a Redmond, Wash.-based research firm that specializes in tracking Microsoft's moves. 'The farther we get into this [new upgrade cycle], the less attractive SA has begun to look.'

Software Assurance, which was launched in 2001, lets customers pay an annual fee -- ranging from 25 to 29 percent of the outright license -- for the right to upgrade to any and all updates of that product during a two- or three-year span."

And in related story: - Want the Enterprise Version of Microsoft Windows Vista?

"Now it appears that Microsoft is not just encouraging customers to use the program but requiring them to--at least if they want access to its newest products, analysts say."

Basic Chart for MICROSOFT CP - Yahoo! Finance

Scoble claims a big big announcement next week. "Shock and awe?" Can anything shock this patient back to life?

Fast forward to this week... so what was the big announcement?

The coax cable highway - At The Whiteboard - ZDNet

As a good example of bad web design, ZDNet has buried a good idea called "Whiteboard Videos" under a too graphical interface. This points to a particular video, and along with it comes links to others. No apparent "Home" page for any of this for me to tell you about. Good stuff, but could be better if they didn't have such a "creative" web design.

Online Extra: A Rendezvous With Microsoft's Deep Throat

"Over the years, however, Mini says he found it increasingly difficult to affect any sort of meaningful change. As a regular employee, his was a lone voice in the wilderness. Ironically, anonymity has helped Mini become a clarion call for change. Near the top of his Web site is something of a manifesto: 'Let's slim down Microsoft into a lean, mean, efficient customer pleasing profit making machine! Mini-Microsoft, Mini-Microsoft, lean-and-mean!'"

A Million Nation States of One fears Google Balkanization | The Register

"Weblog evangelists like to see fellow practitioners as very special flowers indeed - uniquely representative of the rest of us, the one true authentic voice of the people, and the very cortex of the web's 'hive mind'. Remove weblog chatter from the web, they argue, and you lose the very essence of the internet. Like er... cat pictures."

Your point?

MS Shills line up to praise PDC show-and-tell.

"And one single page summarizes it all: Microsoft Codename Max, a new photo sharing application. Look closely. How often can you read Sharing is good on a Microsoft web site? And the team behind this product claiming We are not robots."

Only problem is: they mean sharing with other Windows users.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mother and Anti-War Hero Cindy Sheehan Signs with Speaking Matters LLC for Public Speaking Tour

"Cindy Sheehan may have ended her summer vigil at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, but she is taking her anti-war activism to colleges/universities by participating in public speaking and public programs across the nation."

Well, it's a living.

SANS - Internet Storm Center - Cooperative Cyber Threat Monitor And Alert System - Current Infosec News and Analysis

"Since Microsoft gave us a free month, how are you spending all your newly-found free time? I'm specifically interested in readers that are custom-coding solutions to security or system administration problems. Got any C/Perl/Python code that you want to share? You coders don't get enough credit here, so let's here from you."

Abandon ship! Dell jumps off Itanium | The Register

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Dartmouth News - Dartmouth researchers build world's smallest mobile robot - 09/14/05

I just love all this nano-tech-hype. They've created a tiny tiny inchworm. Give it another 50 years or so and the nanobot will be able to tie its own shoelaces.

Color me skeptical.

Samba's Terpstra shoots down open source misinformation

"When I am asked, 'Why should I move to Linux?' my reply is usually, 'To do what?' So my first word of advice is to clarify the goals, objectives, purposes and return on investment that must be made to make the change.

Long story made short -- there is one option: How long does the business want to keep operating?

If there are no long-term goals, the decision to use Windows or Linux does not matter. If there is a strong desire to survive the current crunch profitably, then make the right choice."

Of course you have to have decision makers that can think past the end of thier nose, and maybe even past that nice little glass paperweight that the Microsoft sales rep gave them. Don't hold your breath.

Microsoft fights bid to drop Office software - The Boston Globe

"Microsoft, however, is resisting the adoption of OpenDocument as a standard file format. Instead, it is readying a new version of Office using a similar XML document standard that is says will offer the same benefits to customers while providing greater functionality.

Microsoft executives are now warning in their comments that the proposed move could cost the state money if its agencies are forced to cancel Office licenses, some of which extend beyond January 2007 and could create problems interacting with businesses."

Well, not, of course, if those businesses adopt open formats too. That would be the point that the pointy pinheads at Microsoft seem unable (we know it's just a pretense) to comprehend.

Would someone give the crybaby his bottle. (Just don't give him your business).

Techscape: on Gore, Clinton and the internet | The Register

"“The VP took on Tech Policy and Telecom Policy for the administration,” Tyson said, “and was also the leader of ‘Reinventing Government,’ a program to improve the efficiency of the US government through technology.” For all their efforts and all the taxpayer money spent on this interesting “reinvention” scheme, many Americans consider it a Clintonian frivolity of gargantuan proportions. After all, look at the smoking crater left in the technology sector after eight years of Gore cheerleading.

Tyson added for good measure, “The President was absolutely not into any technology at all,” she sounded bemused, “I never saw him with a Palm Pilot or Blackberry for instance.”"

Gates on Google: What, me worry? | Newsmakers | CNET

Bill feeling jilted by the press over Googles extended "honeymoon":

"CNet: Well, I guess that's what you have to combat, right? They are in this phase, and when Google does anything, they get attention.
Gates: Yeah. You do me-too Google Talk, and it's a big deal. But we had our honeymoon phase, and it was fun from maybe 1985 to 1995. And we've had lots of competitors in their honeymoon phase. But I'd say, in some ways, this is the biggest honeymoon I've ever seen."

I've heard that Google has much larger equipment too.

Microsoft Monitor: PDC: The Big Day

"The Microsoft Monitor Weblog is a companion to Jupiter's Microsoft Monitor Research Service and provides additional news, analysis and insight relevant to the areas most important for Microsoft's growth in both the business and consumer marketplaces. "

Let the Shilling begin! - A 'Moronic' Proposal

"The glory of what is happening in Bozeman is that taxpayers are proving to be wiser about priorities than their politicians. We like the suggestion by Ronald Utt of the Foundation Heritage that, when the new levee is built to protect the Big Easy from future storms, it should bear a bronze plaque stamped: 'Proudly Brought to You by the Citizens of Alaska.'" - A 'Moronic' Proposal

"The glory of what is happening in Bozeman is that taxpayers are proving to be wiser about priorities than their politicians. We like the suggestion by Ronald Utt of the Foundation Heritage that, when the new levee is built to protect the Big Easy from future storms, it should bear a bronze plaque stamped: 'Proudly Brought to You by the Citizens of Alaska.'"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Microsoft Gadgets - Like when the neighbor borrows your drill and doesn't bring it back.

"Have you ever wondered how new technologies get developed in Microsoft? Wonder how a cool idea goes from incubation to release? Well, we’re excited to announce that we’ve started a blog designed to bring you closer to the process with the Gadgets blog and we’re kicking it off at the PDC.

What are Gadgets? Gadgets are a new category of mini-application designed to provide information, useful lookup, or enhance an application or service on your Windows PC or the Web. Examples might include a weather gadget running on your desktop or on your homepage, an RSS Gadget that pulls in your favorite feeds, or an extension of a business application providing just-in-time status on the pulse of your business."

I guess this is what we were supposed to be all amazed about according to Scoble. I AM amazed... that they can do this with a straight face: "a NEW category of mini-application"?

Oh well. It makes them look bad (again) and they are so clueless they don't know how bad it makes them look. Pathetic.

Microsoft's Midlife Crisis -

"'Microsoft has become what it used to mock,' says Gabe Newell, a developer on the first three versions of Windows. At late-night rounds of poker with 'Bill and Steve' in the mid-1980s, he says, 'we laughed at IBM. They had all this process for monitoring productivity, and yet we knew they had spectacularly bad productivity. That's Microsoft now.' "

Michael Robertson Hopes to Open Up Online Music | CNET

"I've heard people say, 'Well, FairPlay (Apple's copy-protection technology) was so good and Steve Jobs was so persuasive and that's why we got there,' which is all hogwash. The only reason we got where we are is because MP3 and P2P have consistently put pressure on the industry to do something. I think that the only way we get to the next phase is if they continue to feel the heat from open standards and P2P."


Microsoft: Office 12 to Anticipate Needs

"SEATTLE -- The latest version of Microsoft Corp.'s Office software will try to anticipate and automatically offer the tools a user is most likely to want during a specific task, in one of several enhancements designed to help the company best one of its biggest competitors: itself."

Oh Boy! Clippy is back! Maybe he'll bring his friend Bob too!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Oracle conquers Siebel at $10.66 a share | The Register

"Oracle CEO Ellison claims the deal “vaults” the database vendor into the number one position in the CRM market and moves it closer to being the world’s number one applications player."

Well, let's see where it vaults the stock price, flatlining now just like Microsoft (which took less of an initial hit at the dot-com-bust-thing).

Sunday, September 11, 2005

BeyondVC: Missing an engineering release date can be a symptom of a larger problem

"More specifically, it was pretty clear that the sales reps were not properly trained or equipped to sell the product. When not armed with the knowledge and sales tools to properly sell, it was quite easy for the reps to get derailed during sales presentations, flail when addressing customer objections to the product, and agree to add one-off features to close a deal."

Sounds like a lot of sales reps I've dealt with too, both as a developer and a customer. Of course, as a customer, you should be aware that you are often not well served by these "just for you" specials. They often don't work well, and don't get supported well, or at all.

Pak-Lite's Official Website - The 9Volt LED Flashlight!

This looks pretty cool. Works for 1200 hours on one battery! Or is it 8760 hours? Well something like that.

Carly Fiorina joins League of Exiles | The Register

"Fiorina has invested in RHG and joined its board. As a director of RHG, Pink Slip Carly will sit with Franklin Raines, the former CEO and chairman of disgraced mortgage financier Fannie Mae; Steve Wiggins, who was pushed out of his post as chairman at Oxford Health Plans; and Colin Powell, who couldn't stomach four more years of Bush. Professional board member and Netscape worshipper Jim Barksdale also has a spot at the RHG table."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Microsoft tries to recruit Eric Raymond

He turned them down (no surprise) and added:

"FURTHER UPDATE: I had my serious, constructive converstation with Microsoft last year, when a midlevel exec named Steven Walli took me out to dinner at OSCON 2004 and asked, in so many words, “How can we not be evil?” And I told him — open up your file formats (including Word and multimedia), support open technical standards instead of sabotaging them, license your patents under royalty-free, paperwork-free terms.

I believe Steve Walli went back to his bosses and told them that truth. He is no longer with Microsoft, and what little he’ll say about it hints that they canned him for trying to change their culture.

This didn’t surprise me. Microsoft’s profit margins require a monopoly lock on the market; thus, they’re stuck with being predatory evil bastards. The moment they stop being predatory evil bastards, their stock price will tank and their options pyramid will crash and it will be all over.

That being the case, negotiation is pointless. Microsoft is not reformable. Jeering at offers like this is actually the most constructive thing we can do."

Just be careful you are not in the same room with Ballmer and any office furniture. - Oil for Food as Usual

"Mr. Volcker's report is replete with examples of incompetent U.N. oversight and tales of political wrangling among the permanent members of the Security Council. But the abiding fact is that it was the Western powers, not Saddam, who wanted Oil for Food at virtually any cost, because it offered the appearance of a meaningful policy in the absence of a real one, namely regime change. And it was the political convenience of this chimera that led the U.S. and the U.K. to tolerate, and the rest of the Security Council to feast on, the opportunities for corruption that were inscribed in the very nature of the program." - 'They Are All So Wrong'

"Perhaps this and previous administrations have had an effective policy just too difficult to comprehend because they have ingeniously sheltered it under the pretense of their incompetence. But failing that, the legacy of this generation's presidents will be promiscuous declarations and alliances, badly defined war aims, opportunities inexplicably forgone, ill-supported troops sent into the field, a country at risk without adequate civil protections, and a military shaped to fight neither the last war nor this one nor the next."

MSFT Bagholder: Yet another reason to fire Steve Ballmer

"Steve and Bill's pettiness during the anti-trust case cost billions of dollars and years of draining litigation when they insisted on fighting the U.S. government instead of quickly settling and moving on.

Now it appears they've learned nothing and are looking to embarrass themselves and the company again as they lead us down another road to litigation hell."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Terra Nova: Virtual World Phishing

"Though many MMORPGs have 'fishing' as a profession, I recently received the first phishing email related to VWs. Yes, it seems that your game account may be as valuable and vulnerable as your bank account.
It's an indication of how significant the asset holdings are in some of these worlds, that it's worth setting up a scam like this for the account details. And it can hardly be an accident that the first one targets EVE--a world known mostly for its trade.

Expect more attempts in other MMORPGs in time."

So, be careful fellow SLers!

Google Blog: Cerf's up at Google!

"The news is out that I will join Google on October 3 as Chief Internet Evangelist (I tried for Archduke, but it didn’t work). What I really like about Eric, Larry, Sergey and the whole Google family is its collective and eminent practicality and seemingly boundless creativity. In fact, my recent interactions with many of Google's senior staff have simply underscored my admiration for the extraordinary talent at Google that has been assembled in a short amount of time. Google has come so far since the early days!"

Don't forget to mention: No chair throwing!

ABC News: Who's to Blame for Delayed Response to Katrina?

"As one FEMA official told ABC News, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco failed to submit a request for help in a timely manner.

Shortly before Katrina hit, she sent President Bush a request asking for shelter and provisions, but didn't specifically ask for help with evacuations. One aide to the governor told ABC News today Blanco thought city officials were taking care of the evacuation."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Microsoft agents stalked mid-sized companies

"Although we were not sure if the desks mid-sized companies are different from small or large companies, we are certain that Steve’s photo album must be as interesting as snaps of my holiday to the Black Sea. But according to Ballmer, when he got the pictures back from the chemist, they revealed that 'today's business software doesn't look enough like today's businesses'. Which is a bit like saying that today's car doesn't look anything like their drivers."

Programming Tools: A Recap of LinuxWorld SF 2005 | Linux Journal

"A Korean company, ThinkFree, has an interesting new product line for Linux. It is a MS Office replacement, written in Java, that seems to be better at 'round-tripping' files between Windows and Linux than are the other open-source Office clones."

Actually it has been out for two or three years. I'm surprised it hasn't met with more success. Maybe linkage with a particular distro or some other better known company would help.

Ex-Microsoft Exec Alleges Incompetence

"Lee went on to say in the e-mail that he was embarrassed by Microsoft's business practices and that people in the government joke about Microsoft's internal politics. But he provided few details in his testimony Tuesday about what exactly the Chinese government was frustrated with.

The former executive testified that one of the lowest moments of his career with Microsoft was a conversation in which Gates yelled at him and said that the company had been 'f-----' by the Chinese people and its government. Lee did not clarify the context of Gates' comments."

Sounds like upper management at MS needs some sort of anger management class.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Windows vs. Linux - Computerworld

"Ah, the administrators. Traditionally it's been easier to hire Windows admins, but their skill sets can be less developed than those of Linux admins. Although Windows may appear easier to configure and install, actually implementing Active Directory completely and correctly requires skills beyond what most general Windows administrators have to offer.

Microsoft has contributed to this situation by watering down the qualifications for MCSE certification, although the Windows Server 2003 certification test is more thorough than either the NT 4 or Windows 2000 ones. By comparison, however, Red Hat Inc.'s Red Hat Certified Engineer qualification entails a grueling eight-hour lab test, with an 80% failure rate."

Microsoft Monitor: My Space is Vacant

"But, on Sunday, I abandoned My Space. I am no longer able to post new entries to the blogsite. I contacted MSN technical support, which to its credit responded late on a Sunday night (over a holiday weekend, no less) with suggested fixes: Clearing Internet Explorer's cache or setting security to 'medium.' My browser isn't the problem, because I can't post from other computers, either. Strangely, I could edit an existing post and use that to direct people to my new personal blogsite. The problem remains today."

I posted an e-mail message to Joe Wilcox about this but I neglected to mention to him that this last weekend was not a holiday in India I don't think. My experience with these farmed-out support services is that many of them have no control over anything. They can't reset a password, or even tell you for sure if a system is up or not, let alone tell you when to expect it back. At one point recently, unable to accomplish the electronic payment on a credit card I called to ask how long their system might be down. I was told to "try again in a few days". Very helpful.

Anyway, here is what I did tell Joe Wilcox about MSN Spaces:

I was rather puzzled by your endorsement of MSN Spaces, but rather than contact you, I just assumed that Jupiter Media may get a large part of its revenue from Microsoft or something, now that you've documented this glitch maybe I was wrong.

In any event, if your purpose is truly to watch Microsoft and not to just advertise for them you should probably point out publicly that:

(1) MSN spaces layout looks horrible by modern standards and is often so slow that you think it might be down.

(2) Spaces has a growing number of templates, but so does Blogspot (aka Blogger by Google) and the latter allows you to edit existing templates or create your own from scratch, something I figure Microsoft is unlikely to do.

(3) Spaces gives you 30 meg for uploading photos. Blogger gives you 300 meg.

(4) Blogger has an open API that allows you to create your own interfaces, not that I'm likely to do this, but other people are. My favorite is "BlogThis" which sits as a button on my bookmarks bar and allows me to quickly create a blog entry that point to another web page, leaving a space for me to add my own comments. Even if I want to create a blog entry that doesn't link to anything I still use this button and just clear the link field.

(5) Yahoo also has a blogging function now, that looks like it has a lot of potential particularly in working with other Yahoo functionality (Yahoo groups, etc.), I haven't worked with it enough to compare with the other two. Even AOL now has a free blogging service, as well as free 2 Gig e-mail (little publicized so far) that works off the same ID you have for AOL Instant Messenger. All of these services allow you to create a blog entry by sending an e-mail message, but the AOL service also allows you to create blog entries using IM, either the AOL instant messenger, the iChat interface on an Apple system or even an open source program such as Gaim, basically anything that is AIM compatible (officially or not). Of all these I think the "BlogThis" is unsurpassed in ease of use, with the exception of blogging from a cell phone or a department store, I can't imagine why anyone would want to use e-mail or IM to blog, other than just to say they had done so.

(6) Last but not least, at times some of the MSN Spaces features only worked with Internet Explorer. They didn't SAY this of course, because Microsoft's policy is usually to not acknowledge the existence of competitors, that way they don't have to answer those unpleasant interoperability questions. MS to State of Mass: "You mean you're not going to use OUR standard?!" This situation SEEMS to be improving as I have now been able to post using Firefox on an Apple machine, but now that you mentioned you are on an Apple too, or were, it occurs to me that any functionality on non MS software my be accidental and temporary. My guess is they just don't test. While they might not go out of their way to break Firefox or Apple, or Linux compatibility, they don't go out of their way to make sure it works either. In my case, sufficient cause to avoid all of their products.

Keep an eye on what AOL is doing with their free services. Within a year I predict they are going to be annoying the heck out of the others.

Why anyone would pay $14 a month for just a blogging service is a mystery to me. These days, that amount will get you a full multiple domain web "server" with e-mail, several Gigs of storage and more bandwidth than you are likely to use. Of course if you are a celebrity, or by some other means end up getting "a ton of hits" then there may be some limitations on the free blogging services (although I've never noticed any).

Monday, September 05, 2005

Microsoft endorses Open Document standard it condemns

"Why would you do such a thing, Microsoft? What's the reasoning behind this? Oh – I think I've heard of this before! What is it called boys and girls? EEE I think I've seen – Embrace, Extend, Extinguish. Embrace the open standard (OpenDocument, etc) Extend it (MS Office 2003/Office 12 XML-based specs?) and Extinguish the use of the standard. Office is the primarily used flavour of XML-based documents."

Nothing New Here, Move Along

Regarding the next item down. Here is my monthly (or so) big long rant about Microsoft.

As one of the occasional Scoble arrow shooters, I'm not sure his lack of anonymity has all that much to do with it. I found YOUR blog via Scoble and he has been a good source of links to things both favorable and unfavorable concerning Microsoft. Of course he also posts a lot of dreck, as some of the tools ("BlogThis" being a favorite of mine) make it just too easy to blog a word or two about everything you browse during your day.

The biggest problem I have with his blog is that he occasionally takes on the pretense of being an objective observer of Microsoft products. Let's get this clear: nobody working at Microsoft (after they have gotten a couple paychecks anyway) can be objective about Microsoft products. That lack of objectivity is only amplified by (1) Putting your name on the blog (or website), (2) working in the Microsoft PR or Marketing department, and (3) not having a strong technical (i.e. Programming) background before your time at MS. Scoble has all three working against him.

His message seems to be: "you can trust me, because I post my blog on a non-MS website and I often say bad things about Microsoft. So when I tell you that Virtual Earth or the next version of IE are really great you can take that to the bank!"

I just happen to think that either Scoble is naive or that he thinks most of his readers are. He is basically a journalist by training, and his technical pronouncements should be taken with a large grain of salt (as should much of what we read at CNet etc.) until he has established some credibility. He doesn't have the patience to do this, and furthermore on an occasion or two (that I know of) he has called people who challenge him liars, and even searched for references to articles by someone (on my blog) and posted a comment asking me if I want to publicly support a known liar (when in fact I hadn't even expressed an opinion on the subject). In short, he is not too childish to be a blogger, but probably too childish to be representing Microsoft in that capacity, officially or otherwise. If he REALLY believes everything in his blog it would have been better in fact for him to do so anonymously, but then, I suspect he is in the MS Marketing department as a result of the reputation he built up before becoming an employee. Building that same technorati ranking from scratch would almost certainly be impossible.

But whether Scoble is a good thing or a bad thing for Microsoft isn't that important in the grand scheme of things. The fact is, Microsoft is too big. The best thing that could have happened would have been for the anti-trust case to have caused them to get busted into two or (better yet) more companies. I think it would have been better for MS, its employees, stockholders, and customers. It would not have been better for Bill Gates ego, which I think might be the main reason that it is still in one piece. When IBM went though a similar ordeal they too avoided a forced break-up, but not long after that they began spinning off divisions and diversifying the divisions they had (and they continue to do this) so that they can focus on one or two core areas at a time while letting the less profitable stuff percolate in the background or just selling them when they think nothing more can be done. They in fact divested and diversified far more on their own than the FTC would have had them do. There is no ego involved when they decided that the printer business wasn't profitable enough, or more recently the PC hardware business. Microsoft, in fact, owes its existence to IBM's willingness to "just let go" in some areas, and while I would quibble that they let too much of the PC industry go too soon, and should have never trusted Microsoft with OS/2, the fact is that the world is a better place for the "IBM PC" and IBM's contributions to computing continue to benefit mankind (speaking particularly of their research work) in ways not nearly matched by Microsoft.

I know the thrust of your blog is that Microsoft can be fixed by making some adjustments here or there. I have my doubts. As a former customer, I don't like what Microsoft has become. I didn't like the monolithic AT&T either, but I'm pretty happy with Verizon. I think there are some good parts of Microsoft yearning to be free, so to speak. The company needs to get beyond being the creation of Bill Gates, and I dare to say, Bill Gates would be better off being a very wealthy stock holder, but being as much interested in his other stock holdings as he is in "his baby". As of now, I think MS has a far larger chance of following the flight path of DEC, who's founder stayed with it almost to the end than IBM, that managed to survive its founders and become true corporation rather than personal empire.

In the future, America's products are going to go head to head with products from all over the world. Microsoft can no more dominate the world market for software than Boeing (a company I continue to have great respect for) can dominate the market for airliners. Both companies can remain big players, or maybe even the biggest player, but right now, our kids stand in danger of becoming dumbed down end-users while Microsoft continues to milk the domestic market and at the same time farming out the programming to kids with formal computer science training in other countries. I'm not happy about that. I'll keep complaining until it changes.

Mini-Microsoft: Back to Basics

"Upfront request: if you think, within these posts and the comments, there is something worth discussing and sharing, I'm going to ask you to do me a favor: spread the word, spread the discussion.

* One way would be to click on the little envelope icon for this post (or any post you find interesting) and send it to someone you know that would be interested.
* Another would be to send your own email with the URL to this blog, , along with what you think.
* Another would be to plain blog about it, perhaps even discussing your own take on Microsoft's health and its vision for the future.
* And another would be to print a hardcopy of a particular post and put it up for others to read."


Microsoft: Google Wanted Dead Or Alive. Better Dead - Softpedia

I think this is a repeat, but I liked this quote:

"If you like metaphors, the conflict between Google and Microsoft is a conflict between generations. Google is run by young entrepreneurs, who no longer regard the PC as something they have to conquer; for them, it’s merely a tool. (After all, you can access Google using your cell phone, and most of them are not running Windows Mobile 5.0, but Symbian). Microsoft can’t get over the fact that the PC is not the center of the universe and the company still depends on hardware sales. "

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Shell's ingenious approach to oil shale is pretty slick

Hopefully this is not a case of sloppy reporting or over-hyped marketing:

"On one small test plot about 20 feet by 35 feet, on land Shell owns, they started heating the rock in early 2004. 'Product' - about one-third natural gas, two-thirds light crude - began to appear in September 2004. They turned the heaters off about a month ago, after harvesting about 1,500 barrels of oil.

While we were trying to do the math, O'Connor told us the answers. Upwards of a million barrels an acre, a billion barrels a square mile. And the oil shale formation in the Green River Basin, most of which is in Colorado, covers more than a thousand square miles - the largest fossil fuel deposits in the world."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The (Near) Future of PowerPC and Linux | Linux Journal

"Although Apple's announced migration to Intel was a shot heard round the world, it it important to know that many OEMs specialize in Power architecture products. Design and engineering teams are working hard to quickly bring to market products that not only replace those commodity items required to conduct business as usual, but improve upon the products themselves and offer greater diversity."

In other words: Apple: Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Court docs: Ballmer vowed to 'kill' Google | CNET

In another version of the chair-throwing story:

"'At some point in the conversation, Mr. Ballmer said: 'Just tell me it's not Google,'' Lucovosky said in his statement. Lucovosky replied that he was joining Google.

'At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office,' Lucovosky recounted, adding that Ballmer then launched into a tirade about Google CEO Eric Schmidt. 'I'm going to f***ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to f***ing kill Google.' Schmidt previously worked for Sun Microsystems and was the CEO of Novell." - Microsoft Presses Case Against Google

"Google countered with its own set of filings, attacking Microsoft's allegations and offering an unflattering view of its rival. In one sworn testimony, a former Microsoft employee, not Mr. Lee, alleges that when the employee informed Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer he was quitting Microsoft for Google, Mr. Ballmer in a fit of anger and expletives threw a chair and vowed to 'bury' Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt."

Looks like a big baby. Acts like one too.

Microsoft Blasts Massachusetts' New XML Policy

Do I hear the sound of a schoolyard bully stomping his feet in frustration? The state of Massachusetts won't hand over its lunch money. What is a struggling monopolist to do?

Gulf Coast storm and floods challenge IT - Computerworld

"At 2 a.m. on Aug. 27, two days before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, Tim Babco grabbed a red binder containing the latest version of SCP Pool Corp.'s disaster recovery plan, put his dog and cat in the car, locked up his house and drove 500 miles from Covington, La., to the company's emergency operations center in Dallas."

More Blame Game

A city official having a press conference to blame state and federal officials for having press conferences? Makes perfect sense.

Newsview: Politicians Failed Storm Victims

"Robin Lovin, ethics professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said it's too convenient to blame one branch of government when they are all, at some level, failing people. From Watergate to Clinton's impeachment, governmental institutions have disappointed the public.

'Bush, Congress, the mayor - each of them are symptoms of a bigger problem, that we don't have accountability for disasters or challenges of this scale,' Lovin said. 'That's all the public wants in trying times - accountability.'"

Thursday, September 01, 2005 - Apple Pulls Mac Mini Free Trial Offer

"As to why the offer was pulled, votes are split between the following:

1) it was only ever planned to run for 12 hours (boring but probably true)
2) Apple sold out of stock (boring but possibly true)
3) Apple panicked at the thought of a mountain of second-hand Mac Minis being returned and the resulting massive reconditioning bill (funny, but almost certainly not true)"

4) Steve Job's has panicked at the thought that Apple stockholder are going to want to shove all leftover machines up his butt. (almost certainly true, as he claims sole responsibility for "not being impressed" with upcoming PowerPC technology. Checking to see what sort of engineering degree Steve has...**)

**Inventor Steve Jobs: "In 1972 Jobs graduated from high school and register at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. After dropping out of Reed after one semester, he hung around campus for a year, taking classes in philosophy and immersing himself in the counterculture."

Oh. - Power Outages Hamstring Most Emergency Communications

"Millions of dollars have been spent to upgrade emergency phone and radio communications systems since the Sept. 11 attacks, but Hurricane Katrina exposed a simple but nagging vulnerability: power.

In Katrina's aftermath, communication between different emergency-response agencies has been nearly impossible in places. Cell towers, emergency communications equipment and 911 centers in many locations are inoperable because they are underwater.

Federal agencies have churned out several reports detailing standards for first-responder phone and radio equipment and formed countless working groups. But this week officials in Washington have had trouble gathering information about the situation in hurricane-ravaged areas because communications are so sporadic."

Emphasis mine. Every time I see these words or the alternates (committee, blue ribbon panel, etc.) I cringe and internally translate the words into: "don't expect anything useful to happen". More often than not that translation is justified.