Friday, December 30, 2005 - Microsoft Places Big Bet On Multiplayer Gaming

"Added Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities: 'At the end of the day, we don't play games for social interaction … We play games to escape.' Microsoft's strategy is 'absolutely flawed,' he said."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Microsoft Wins, Open Standards Lose

"Some people, bless their hearts, think that what determines which technology is bought and deployed in business and government depends on technical quality. You might call it the 'let the best program win' crew.

Some people know better."
"It may be a happy day in Redmond, Wash., but it's a sad day for Massachusetts and anywhere else where people think that IT dollars should be spent on the best technology for the job, no matter who makes or supports it."

This reminded me of my comments HERE regarding Microsoft's insane fear of potential competitors:

This is what I hate about Microsoft. They not only crush competition, they crush innovation even if it isn’t competition. They are a bull in the china shop of US technology, which is why I think they have set us back at least ten years in many areas. That’s why I think that the only hope for technology to break free is for the US to become a second class citizen, a fate well on its way to happening.

And the situation in Massachusetts confirms my belief that Open Source will ultimately ONLY succeed outside the US where many of these decisions are already going the other way. Like the Metric system, Open Source, or even Open Formats might be something that the US talks about for many years without actually adopting, even going so far as pretending that they support Open Formats when they actually don't. The government agency I worked with constantly talked about how flexible their situation was thanks to the fact that they had decided to go with a "Client/Server architecture" which was the buzzword of the day. But the reality is that at every decision point they opted for proprietary solutions (and not just Microsoft's) that violated generic Client/Server standards.

That is why when it came to contract negotiation time the vendor always knew that the customer was a captive audience and their prices reflected that. The agency would kick and scream, pout and threaten, but always caved in. To save face, they would get the vendor to throw in a dozen server licenses (for a 45000 seat organization) to demonstrate that they were spending the tax payers money wisely.

Yeah, right.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Scobleizer - Rafe has gone soft

"Why MSFT has kept IE frozen for half a decade or why there’s been no Access, Visio, WMP, DRM for Macintosh or why MSFT bends and breaks standards, etc has absolutely nothing to do with blogs.

Those are strategic decisions MSFT makes to maintain its monopoly and they are not about conduct their business out in the open.

Blogs? Tactical issues at the margins. It’s the circus. Sure diverts attention, though."


Monday, December 26, 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Microsoft Is Losing Some Of Its Elbow Room

"Other analysts say that Microsoft's size has become a disadvantage and that its ongoing strategy of linking everything to Windows and its siblings adds complexity, delays new products and frustrates its engineers.

Vista, the next version of Windows, is scheduled for the second half of 2006, pushed back from a hoped-for release this year and without some originally planned features.

Peter S. Cohan, president of his own management consulting and venture capital firm, measures a company's ability to move quickly against competitors by examining its 'OODA loop,' or its ability to observe, orient, decide and act.

'Microsoft has a very, very ponderous OODA loop,' Cohan said. 'It's become a big, bureaucratic organization' that is constantly trying to balance the interests of various divisions."

Friday, December 23, 2005

Grinchy remark sends kids home in tears

All I want for Christmas is the elimination of teachers unions.

And while we are at it, various other government based unions that make the firing of such iconoclasts all but impossible.

Linux Dies Under Microsoft's Open Document standard

"In Section 10.3.1 of their proposal to ECMA entitled 'Alternative Format Import part' allows a WordML file to directly embed content from a legacy file format such as RTF, MHTML, or earlier WordML formats. A conforming application would be required to read and understand these
legacy formats.

If Microsoft's schemas are licensed royalty free only to conforming applications, and conformance require support for fragments in older abandoned formats like RTF, WorldML and VML, then that would make it impossible for anyone to use these formats other than Microsoft. That would allow Microsoft to recapture its sole possession of the productivity market and the standard for Internet content."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

Technology Sucks

"There's no other major item most of us own that is as confusing, unpredictable and unreliable as our personal computers. Everybody has questions about them, and we aim to help."

Add to that several entire industries milking the whole scheme of things and pretty soon you are talking real money eh?

Just like our bloated government, the tech industry has grown up slowly and inexorably, and around sub-standard software that only runs on second-best hardware. If you could just wipe the slate clean and start over almost anyone could do a better job of it, but now, it's only in users interests to get it right, and what do they count? A captive audience, the vendors rightly say: "don't worry about them, they aren't going anywhere." And they are right for about 90 percent of you.

Must suck to be a slave to Microsoft.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Portable stereo's creator got his due, eventually - International Herald Tribune

While software companies flood the patent office with crap, people who actually invent things get the shaft. At least there is a happy ending for an old man who spent much of his life in courts.

POWER to the people

Cost of Time Warner's new family tier raises eyebrows

"'It is perfectly obvious Time Warner is deliberately offering a product designed to fail,' Parents Television Council President L. Brent Bozell said in a statement. 'According to Time Warner, no family should want to watch sports. According to Time Warner, no family should want to receive any news channel other than Time Warner's CNN. According to Time Warner, classic movies are not appropriate for families. And neither is religious programming.'"


Friday, December 16, 2005

US Troops Terrorize Iraqi Family

John Kerry need to throw his medals away (again).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Xbox 360 Has Nothing On Atari 2600 -

"On top of this enforced 'freedom' of choice, retailers took it another step and offered pre-orders on systems bundled with games, accessories and even pre-paid game rentals. Toys R Us (nyse: TOY - news - people ) offers, through (nasdaq: AMZN - news - people ), four variations: the Pro Players Bundle I and II, and the Core Players Bundle I and II. These bundles are priced at $999.95. Picking one of these bundles makes you a sucker, not a gamer. "

Or maybe a slave?

IBM gets national medal of technology for chips

"Although Big Blue has had trouble in recent years making money off of its chip division, IBM's research often receives high praise. Over the past few years, it has begun to line up partnerships with companies such as Advanced Micro Devices, Sony and Microsoft. In these deals, IBM provides R&D and chip design for a fee."

See, now this is true innovation, not just treating users like slaves.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Explosion shuts down Perdue plant

"'When these two combined, it lifted up the whole roof like a box off a pair of shoes -- boom!' said Assistant Chief Bryan Records, of the Salisbury Fire Department."

Fire officials are asking anyone with any idea what the Chief was talking about to please give them a call. - Holiday-Season Videogame Sales Sag

"Consumers often slow their spending on games for older hardware so they can buy titles for new systems. The rub for publishers is that shortages can limit the number of new consoles in homes during their first year or so on the market, which reduces the number of consumers who will buy the new games.

For example, U.S. retailers sold just over 325,000 Xbox 360s after it went on sale at the end of November, according to NPD. While analysts believe that represents nearly all of the inventory Microsoft made available to U.S. retailers, it is a miniscule number compared with the tens of millions of original Xboxes, PlayStation 2s and Nintendo GameCubes at which publishers can target products."

Slaves I tell you!

Microsoft patching software hit by glitch; Company treats users like slaves.

"'If you synchronize your server after December 12, 2005, all previously approved updates may be unapproved,' Microsoft said in an article on the issue published on its support Web site published Wednesday."

Meanwhile in THIS blog entry Scoble says that someone who doesn't use RSS feeds the way he thinks they should be used is treating their users like slaves.

How someone who studied as a journalist could come up with such a goofy metaphor is a mystery, but it still has me laughing. So, I'm going to devote my normal four-posts-a-day-on-Microsoft-screwups to that theme...

If you can't count on the Microsoft patch system working, and considering the thousands of network admins this is going to screw-over and ruin their holiday, then Microsoft is treating them all like slaves. SLAVES I tell you!

These people must be stopped!

"Kushner's new book 'Life Without Caffeine - How Eliminating Caffeine Can Save Your Life'"

Breach at Ameren plant unleashes flood in Missouri

"The failure led to overfilling of the 55-acre (22-hectare) reservoir feeding a 440-megawatt Ameren Corp. plant and creating a breach in a berm that sent roughly 1.5 billion gallons (6.8 billion liters) of water cascading down the mountainside, company chairman Gary Rainwater said."


Pull the other one.

one big glob

Better than full RSS feeds!

All the really important bloggers in one place at last!

Monday, December 12, 2005 - Microsoft May Give Consumers A Share in Advertising Revenue

"Microsoft Corp. may up the ante in its competition with Google Inc. by sharing some of its online-advertising revenue with consumers who use its Internet search engine.

The concept, described by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in a presentation last week in India, is being considered as a way to draw more users to Microsoft's search business. It would mark a significant change in how a major search engine operates."

After a while you have to wonder if they are capable of any originality at all. Well, you don't have to wonder for too long.

Paul Kedrosky's Infectious Greed: Backup This!

Seems like more and more people are using external USB drives. Every time I go to Sam's club or Costco these days they have some previously unheard-of amount of storage on sale for around $100. Noticing that I had accumulated two of these things, I decided to do something fancier than just hooking them up to the USB ports on my laptop...

For a long time my backup strategy has been to always be actively using at least two computers at any given period of time and then to just network-copy all my important things from one to the other. Generally this has taken the form of a desktop machine and a laptop with a hefty sized hard drive.

Since I travel less now, I've taken to using a new laptop (Powerbook) as a desktop replacement and my older laptops as more expendable devices that I can carry around an not worry about getting lost or broken. Between photo collections and music, no laptop has enough disk space to save it all anyway, so I too got an external USB drive, which I left disconnected most of the time, just in case.

I recently came to the conclusion that it makes more sense to just use the external drive for almost everything as well as for backup. I obtained yet another external drive (for $99 I find these things hard to resist). But on top of that, I also got (experimentally at first) a Linksys NLSU2 which supports two USB drives and makes them available on the network as SMB/CIFS file shares supported by Windows, OS X and Linux (I use all three at times). You can use both drives for different purposes if you wish, but as an alternative you can also set up the second drive strictly as a backup of the first. Not quite as good as RAID perhaps, but it's smart enough to do an incremental backup, and you can schedule the backups for every day if you wish and I noticed that while my first backup took a couple of hours (the device is not lightening fast by any means) the subsequent backups only run a few minutes and I schedule them for 5AM when I'm sure to be sleeping.

So far I'm pretty happy with this thing (I've only had it for a couple weeks), but be aware that there are firmware updates already out for it which should probably be applied before first use.

Now when I am on my various machines I generally am working directly from the networked drive and keeping my local hard drive relatively clean. When traveling I just allow and hour or so to copy down anything I want to take with me. When it comes right down to it, the notion of keeping important things one "the network" rather than on individuals machines makes as much sense for the home user as it does in business, and now that can be accomplished without spending big bucks.

As a bonus, I've noticed that the Western Digital drives spin down after a few minutes of not being used. The Maxtor drive I have doesn't share this desirable property. With the two WD drives and the Linksys I just leave everything running all the time and don't worry about heat, power or wear and tear. I keep the boxes out of sight on top of my computer hutch, but with a wireless G network (properly secured) I could put them just about anywhere. The Linksys also works as an FTP server and, while not quite a web server, you CAN get to your files (but not update them) via a web interface. I haven't used this capability yet, but in theory I could set it up as a file server to be accessed remotely without having to leave a computer running all the time as I have in the past.

I guess you have to be a bit of a geek to set something like this up, but it was pretty easy as such things go and I'm quite sure that there will be even more turnkey solutions in the near future. The home data-center has arrived. And it runs Linux by the way.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

China overtakes U.S. as supplier of IT goods | CNET

"Data in the report, to be published on Monday, show that China's exports of information and communication technology--including laptop computers, mobile phones and digital cameras--increased by more than 46 percent to $180 billion in 2004 from a year earlier, easily outstripping for the first time United States exports of $149 billion, which grew 12 percent from 2003."

Where's the 'Wow'?

"And even though the company had the support of the big-name video game publishers -- Electronic Arts, Activision, Ubisoft and Sega, among others -- the Xbox 360 experience just hasn't been what it should be, given the hype, anticipation and price tag for one of the units."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Nancy Drew and the Case of the Missing Xbox 360 Hard Drive Space - Gizmodo

"This is because Microsoft used the Nvidia GPU for the original Xbox, and now that they have switched over to ATI for the 360, that Nvidia GPU has to be software simulated to properly play original Xbox games. Nice one Microsoft, real classy."

That would also be my guess as to why some of these things re crashing. Good news is that it can (probably) be fixed with software. Bad news is... well, bad news is they should have stuck with Nvidia. Not that I have any interest in owning one of these, but it's fun to watch the good ship Microsoft run into another iceburg.

NASA seeks private replacements for shuttle trips | CNET

"NASA hopes to supplement, and eventually replace, crew and cargo flights to the space station that had been planned for the shuttle fleet. The agency also may have to pare down the number of shuttle flights to the station even before they retire to pay for development of a new spacecraft."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Yahoo makes its telecom play | CNET

"Yahoo said on Wednesday that will offer two new fee-based voice over IP services so customers can make voice calls from a PC to a telephone and receive phone calls on a PC."

I'll wait 'till it's been out a year or so as Yahoo has a tendency to change their minds about these deal after 6 months or so, leaving you with some equipment or set-up that no longer works as you had planned.

(Got burned on Yahoo ISP, webhosting, text messaging before I learned my lesson)

Is the PowerPC due for a second wind? | CNET

"Because people have that personal link to that PC, they tend to equate processing with PCs, and they don't realize that there are increasingly tens, if not hundreds, of processors that you use every day, and those things are quickly becoming much more powerful.

You're going to be shocked I'm sure, but the PowerPC drives the engine control, the power train application in some automobiles. And by next year, 50 percent of car (models) in the world will have PowerPCs."

Multiverse - cool new thing

"In July 2004, a team of Netscape veterans founded The Multiverse Network, Inc., a company aiming to become the world’s leading network of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and 3D virtual worlds. Multiverse has pioneered a new technology platform designed to change the economics of virtual world development by providing independent game developers with the resources they need to enter and compete in the $2 billion online game market."

MacOS X on Linux? | Paul Murphy |

One can only hope.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

EFF volunteers to lose important suit over Sony 'rootkit' | The Register

Interesting tidbit:

"So why does Gilmore object to the quite reasonable security measure of searching an incognito traveler's bags and person? Because he doesn't like to be searched, and thinks only about himself. His selfish, unrealistic demands will go a long way toward ensuring that this case is decided in favor of the busybodies. It's a very winnable case, but it will be a miracle if Gilmore wins it. He's doing everything possible to kill any hope that you or I might fly the paranoid skies and keep our identities to ourselves."

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ten things we love about Microsoft - Download Squad

Well, I agree with about two of those ten things. The rest are either false or not that big a deal.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Retailers not pulling Sony BMG discs

"'It is unacceptable that more than three weeks after this serious vulnerability was revealed, these same CDs are still on shelves, during the busiest shopping days of the year,' said Attorney General Spitzer in a statement provided to SecurityFocus. 'I strongly urge all retailers to heed the warnings issued about these products, pull them from distribution immediately, and ship them back to Sony.'"

And consumers should blame SONY, not the retailers for this foot-dragging. The retailers, understandably, don't want to take a hit for something that was not at all their doing. Sony need to provide incentives for retailers to pull these discs, and if they don't they are just compounding their guilt, and ultimately compounding their monitary liability when these suits get settled.

Microsoft's switches shared source execs | | CNET

"Bill Hilf, who runs Microsoft's Linux lab, will take on the added responsibility for the shared source work."

Translation: We are no longer interested in this particular marketing initiative.