Sunday, December 31, 2006

Power 6 pegged for 5GHz+

The scoop: IBM’s Power6 is now expected to ship with over 5GHz clock speeds.

Jobs too busy looking at "roadmaps" to drive?

But then, we've all figured out by now, it was just Dell envy.

Users told to dump servers, return to mainframes

The cost of ownership of a mainframe are between 30 and 60 per cent better than 30 Sun servers or 300 Linux servers, Illuminata says.

I think I saw this in a Woody Allen movie once.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The vaccine to cure every strain of flu

Current flu vaccines focus on two proteins on the surface of the virus. However, these constantly mutate in a bid to fool the immune system, making it impossible for vaccine manufacturers to keep up with the creation of each new strain.

The universal vaccines focus on a different protein called M2, which has barely changed during the last 100 years.

The protein is found in all types of Influenza A, including the current bird flu and the virus that caused the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic which killed up to 50 million across the globe.

Air Force May Hire Outsiders to Oversee Projects

The Air Force is considering hiring outside engineers or consultants to oversee systems integration of its next-generation navigational satellites, according to industry and government officials. Typically, the military service that orders a particular system retains primary responsibility and control over systems engineering and integration.

But hiring a separate project integrator could set a precedent for future projects and would be a tacit acknowledgment that both Air Force Space Command and the Pentagon's massive weapons-buying bureaucracy lack the necessary expertise to perform the required oversight role.

This makes a lot of sense. But I guarantee that the average mid-rank military type managing a high-tech project is at least as conversant with the technology being applied as is the typical government IT worker in the same position.

So a good start toward downsizing government (if any elected official ever gets the idea to do such a thing into his tiny brain) would be to turn more of the work of setting up IT infrastructure (there's that word again) over to tech companies that manage the effort overseeing other tech companies that do the work.

Taiwan quake shakes confidence in undersea links

Dzubeck added that the Internet bust in 2001 had hit expensive plans by various companies to lay undersea cables along new paths that were less likely to be affected by earthquakes.

I'm not really sure why this is news. But maybe it should server as a reminder that some of our infrastructure over here (like the telephone and cable wires buried underground or running along poles have even less redundancy (read: none) in most cases. In this case there were ten cables and seven of them were damaged.

The New Pocket Casualty Counter From The Associated Press!

Are you freakishly obsessed with the daily casualty count in Iraq? Do you find yourself disappointed when a day or two goes by and no American soldiers die? Have you ever been at a cocktail party and said, "How can we be so damn jovial when George Bush is responsible for a death toll in Iraq that is approaching one-tenth the total of British dead in the Second Boer War?"

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need the new Associated Press Pocket Iraq Casualty Counter! Now the information you need to make bizarre, extraneous points about the Iraqi War is at your fingertips, 24 hours a day!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Oh, THAT's what he meant?

Back to my nap.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

World Domination 201

Don't know when this was actually written, but I just got the link from Slashdot. Good analysis all in all...

Good News:
Just as Windows 3.1 (and even Windows 95) ran for years with 16 bit device drivers dating back to DOS, native 64 bit drivers for Windows-64 will be few and far between for years to come.

MacOS X is intentionally restricted to a limited set of hardware even on 32-bit systems, because Apple can't support anything close to the full range of PC hardware either. Tackling generic PC hardware is a step they've explicitly avoided taking, precisely to avoid the hardware support issue.

On the other hand, the Linux community has spent fifteen years expanding our support for PC hardware, and our insistence on open source drivers means that the vast majority of the hardware we support is approximately as well supported on x86-64 as on x86-32. Our platform-specific problems are minor tuning issues, not sealed black boxes that stop working without explanation. Our hardware support isn't perfect, but it's manageable. For the other two platforms, this issue is their Achilles heel.

and listed under "Bad News" for some reason:
More recently, Intel decided to be a good guy, releasing an open source the driver for their newest graphics chipset before the hardware even shipped. Intel proved it was serious by hiring Keith Packard and Dirk Hohndel to shephard the new driver into and Mesa

And under "What Linux needs to win", an item Steve Jobs seems clueless about:
Linux needs a Wine 1.0 release, installed and preconfigured on desktop distributions. The two most important features of Wine 1.0 have to be that (a) it runs legacy Windows-32 binaries correctly, and (b) it does not emulate Windows-64, its direct competitor!

If that second "feature" seems odd, heed the lesson of OS/2. That operating system bundled a Windows emulator that worked sufficiently well for independent software vendors to ignore native OS/2 support. Vendors wrote for Windows, trusting that the emulator would cover their OS/2 customers.[28] As a result, OS/2 was starved of even the Macintosh's also-ran level of native application support, and eventually withered on the vine. This is not the fate we want for Linux.

Under "Surviving the Killer App" the paper wades into my favorite prediction:
So the good news is actually the possibility that in a Webbed world the operating-system-specific killer app may be a thing of the past. It would be unwise to count on this, however, so it's worth asking what we can do if yet another killer app wades ashore with a case of nuclear halitosis and a yen to destroy Tokyo.

Under "Enabling Pre Installs":
We in the open-source community persist in screwing this up. Preinstalled systems come with defaults for everything, even user accounts. Knoppix can boot from CD straight to the desktop. But modern installers still play 20 questions because we can't imagine them not doing so.[31]

We also persist in designing in the most obnoxious thing an installer can do, which is to spend several minutes processing or copying files and then ask more questions afterwards. This forces the user to babysit the entire install, which is annoying.

AMEN to that!

But I've noticed Debian getting better, and I suspect the others are too. Meanwhile, the last few times I installed Windows (which was in the Windows 2000 era) it had actually gotten harder to install, often hanging on something as simple as mouse or modem detection. Since then I've helped novices over the phone who were also stuck on something that should have been simple to deal with but was not due to the sheer arrogance of Microsoft's attitude toward users.

The most aggravating thing for me about many Linux installers (but particularly Debian) is that there seems to be only about two video card in the universe that they can detect and produce a working "X" configuration file for without some manual tinkering. I get so pissed when I am asked several questions about screen resolution and fonts, only to have to go edit the file manually, and then, to find that even my answers to the questions haven't been incorporated into the file. Clearly, people have been turning in their homework unfinished, but how does this slop get into the final release? It would be much better, and certainly more honest to have a message pop up:

This Installer doesn't have a clue what to do about your video configuration. Here is the file you need to go edit:..... Best of luck!

It could even pop you into an edit session right then and there where at least I've now pretty much memorized the dozen or so characters I need to type to get it all working.

But then, as I mentioned I've had Windows botch my video settings from time to time too. Unfortunately for us Linux proponents, Windows gets it right most of the time if only by using some generic VESA settings and leaving you in some not-so-hot graphics mode that will at least work until you get the right driver installed, etc.

Why Linux can't do likewise I don't know.

The way to get Linux preinstalls starts with this: bypass the vendors Microsoft has under its thumb, and buy from the vendors that specialize in Linux. If only small vendors are willing to do this, they will become large vendors when they get enough sales volume. Establish that there is a market for preinstalled Linux systems, and that some companies can be successful selling them (not just as a Wal-mart style sideline but as their core business), and larger vendors will take notice.

Which is just what I've done. I have a Samsung printer (under $100) that works beautifully, ditto Canon scanner, Olympus and Pentax cameras, external USB devices of several kinds that all "just work"and I sneer and my Windows-using friends who still plug USB devices into their machines with their eyes closed (and with good reason).

The rest of the document is good... no silver bullet answers though. I'm cautiously optimistic, thinking that while things aren't rosy for Linux, they certainly aren't shoe-in victories for Microsoft or Apple either.

Comoditization remains our best friend. As we age, we are less likely to crave the latest car, the greatest stereo system, the widest screen TV. Even us "geeks" get to a point of just wanting something basic that works, and there are more and more such people out there every day. Furthermore, us unwashed masses are not Microsoft's target market, and certainly not Apple's. If Google doesn't take over the world, there is plenty of room for a basic desktop system that will. As long as it comes in around $300.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Librarians stake their future on open source

"Our Sirsi system ran on a great big Sun server that was quite expensive. We poured a lot of money into that over the years to continue to upgrade it, plus the housing of it was very expensive. [Evergreen] runs on a Linux cluster, which is a lot less expensive. Also, we're not paying licensing fees anymore. When you're talking 252 libraries, which is what we are today, that's the great big savings."

According to a study that PINES conducted in 2002, Walker says that if all of their libraries would have to buy a new system, it would cost more than $15 million dollars, plus about $5 million dollars a year for maintenance. They run PINES for a lean $1.6 million a year.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Treasury cancels TCE procurement

This is the latest turn in the history of TCE, which often has been at the center of controversy. A Treasury Inspector General audit in February found TCE deficient. In 2005, Treasury officials ended the TCE procurement, terminating the deal with AT&T and pledging to use GSA contracts, only to reverse their decision several months later.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, was one of the most vocal opponents of TCE. He even warned that he would seek to eliminate funding for the Treasury telecommunications system. Davis has said he favors a governmentwide approach to issues such as network telecom rather than allowing individual agencies to manage it on their own.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Supported Platforms: MySQL Enterprise

Well, I guess that settles it then.

Monday, December 11, 2006

It Takes a Monopoly

Those who are trying to figure out if Vista will be successful haven't yet grasped the concept that Vista will be forced on the market, and in time it will be the only operating system you can buy from Microsoft. Of course it will be successful. Will people upgrade their existing systems? Of course not. Microsoft operating systems are always designed for future PC's, not for the installed base. Part of the plan is to make Vista work poorly on current computers so we'll all have to buy new ones. This strategy has been around for years and there is no reason to believe we won't fall for it again. Sure, some percentage of people and firms will upgrade, but most of the upgrades will come with whole new computers.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Slant of media is driven by audience, not owners, U.S. study shows

The authors calculated the ideal partisan slant for each paper, if all it cared about was getting readers, and they found that it looked almost precisely like the one for the actual newspaper. As Shapiro put it during an interview, "The data suggest that newspapers are targeting their political slant to their customers' demand and choosing the amount of slant that will maximize their sales."

But if this is true, can the financial difficulties of the MSM be completely explained by the advance of the Internet? Or is it that we are becoming a nation of illiterates? Maybe some combination of these things?

There is no question in my mind that the mainstream media deserves what is happening to them at this point. I happen to like biased media. The country was founded in a time when there were many small, mostly local news sources with differing, (and this is critical) openly stated points of view.

When possible, I like to read the same story from both a conservative and liberal perspective, and if both don't give me the "hmmm, I never thought of it that way" reaction then I've wasted my time.

Sadly, you don't have to read much beyond the title and first paragraph of MSM stories to know there is nothing new in it at all, and all too often the online media isn't doing much better.

Direct citizen driven journalism as made possible on the Internet has great potential, but also could reduce important issues to the level of WWF competitions.

There is reason for cautious optimism.

*Related Link*

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Spam "solved" by 2006

Yes, Gates predicted it would be "solved" by now, and so it is.

I get almost none now that I use Gmail instead of crappy Windows software.

Thanks Bill!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Inside Microsoft's Labs

It's not every day that Microsoft Research opens up about technologies still in its labs. Microsoft's R&D arm was launched in 1991 with 20 researchers and has grown to 700 employees worldwide. Rich Draves, an area manager, shared with InformationWeek some of the most promising emerging security technologies on his team's workbench.

No. It's only on days when a journalist asks. You can get a pretty good idea of what they are up to here:

The question remains, given the size of the company, do they do much more than "research" on how to keep their cash cow products in their current comfortable positions. My vote is mostly "no". But there are some exceptions.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

New Rules Make Firms Track E-Mails, IMs

Martha Dawson, a partner at the Seattle-based law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis LLP who specializes in electronic discovery, said the burden of the new rules won't be that great.

Oh! the irony.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Is Microsoft Driving Innovation Or Playing Catch-Up With Rivals?

And, although I love Apple (I have three Macs and three PCs in my house right now) I can't display full HDTV images through mine onto my HDTV screen (I have a slightly older Sony screen than Dave does). But with Xbox 360 and Media Center I can.

I see a lot of respondents adopting the Microsoft method of re-defining the term innovation in order to apply it to themselves, or their favorite companies. You can write good software and not be innovative. You can run a tight ship and not be innovative. You can grab mind share, produce clever ad campaigns, sell lots of stock and hire the Rolling Stones to sing background to your product announcements and not be innovative.

I think Google is innovative, not because of their search as such, but because of the automated server infrastructure that makes search and all their other products so responsive using fairly ordinary hardware. Some of the also-rans in this space (like MS) have done a good job of copying features and in some cases improving on them, but they still have to struggle to keep their servers from grinding to a halt under load and they have to hire outfits like Akamai to serve up static pages, buffer downloads, etc.

I think its far too early to conclude that innovation is a part of Google's genetic make-up though. When it comes to fundamental research as opposed to "mouse wheels" and catchy color schemes I don't think anyone has caught up to IBM, and companies such a Apple and Microsoft have PROVEN that they just follow the market rather than leading it in almost every case. Innovation when applied to these companies couldn't be further from the truth.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Vista Will Foil Office File-Format Attacks

Vista's Address Space Layout Randomization approach will stop some kinds of exploits, notably those that rely on memory manipulation, by arranging key data areas randomly in the available address space.

It should make "reboot and retry" diagnostic techniques a lot more interesting too! I can hardly wait to hear the war stories.

PS3 based super-computing cluster on Linux

Overall, they conclude that the next generation cell product needs minor hardware change to scale efficiently for double precision work, but that the first generation is already between 3 and 60 times faster, and between 10 and 200 times more power efficient, than its competitors - numbers to keep in mind when you think about Apple's triumph in arranging to get dual core Xeon CPUs from Intel for only slightly more than than four times the $89 Sony is estimated to pay for an 8+1 cell at 3.2Ghz.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

As Patents Grow More Contentious, As Patents Grow More Contentious, Battleground Shifts to High Court

The high court, which today hears arguments in one of three patent cases on this term's docket, has ruled in recent cases on the side of more flexibility in enforcing such rights. If that trend continues, it could translate into weaker protections for patent holders and promote greater access to inventions.

Wal-Mart Unveils Movie Download Service

Wal-Mart will be entering a crowded field pioneered by CinemaNow and Movielink. Newer entrants include Apple Computer Inc., Inc. and Guba. Starz Entertainment LLC's Vongo offers an all-you-can-view online movie service for $9.99 a month.

Trolltech rolls "complete" Linux smartphone stack

"European and U.S. vendors are also just more conservative about adopting new handsets," Nord continued. "Here in Silicon Valley, I see handsets advertised by carriers as 'new' that I saw two years ago, in Asia. But, I believe Motorola has announced that it will now begin to roll out its Linux phones in the U.S. and in Europe."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Windows Shutdown crapfest

But here's how the design process worked: approximately every 4 weeks, at our weekly meeting, our PM would say, "the shell team disagrees with how this looks/feels/works" and/or "the kernel team has decided to include/not include some functionality which lets us/prevents us from doing this particular thing". And then in our weekly meeting we'd spent approximately 90 minutes discussing how our feature -- er, menu -- should look based on this "new" information. Then at our next weekly meeting we'd spend another 90 minutes arguing about the design, then at the next weekly meeting we'd do the same, and at the next weekly meeting we'd agree on something... just in time to get some other missing piece of information from the shell or kernel team, and start the whole process again.

IBM laughs all the way to the bank

Zeitler added that the reason IBM managed to capture the console market was because while the likes of Intel and AMD were trying to show off the sizes of their clock speeds, Big Blue thought the smart money was on a "multicore" design.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Divide and Conquer: The Microsoft/Novell deal is more about disruption than cooperation.

We saw this happen before when 3Com tied its fortunes to Microsoft in the late 1980s with the lamented 3Com-Microsoft LAN Manager network operating system, which was ironically Microsoft's answer to Novell at that time. Then 3Com CEO Bill Krause felt the only way to compete with Novell was through an alliance with Microsoft. So 3Com bought its way into the relationship, ended up doing all the work (MORE THAN all the work if you count recoding Microsoft blunders), then had to BUY ITS WAY BACK OUT when the product failed.

After that deal was over and the blood had dried, 3Com founder Bob Metcalfe claims that a Microsoft exec told him, "You made a fatal error, you trusted us."

IBM Gets A Second Life

Although it's a virtual world, Second Life is having a big impact on real world commerce and business. News agency Reuters has opened an in-world Second Life news bureau,'s product database is available to book merchants operating within Second Life through an open API, and several pop stars have given concerts within the virtual environment. "There are all sorts of new applications for this technology," says IBM's spokesman.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Novell bridges gap between .Net and Linux

"With this release, we have solved an important issue by making it easier to translate the Microsoft user interfaces to Linux, an important contribution in increasing the number of client-side Linux applications," said Miguel de Icaza, vice president of developer platforms at Novell and maintainer of the Mono project.

Let me know when the first one is out.

(I think this is a good idea, I'm just skeptical about the degree of cooperation Linux will get from Microsoft)

Gates: Rivals wanted to 'castrate' Vista

Windows Vista will make it to market largely unscathed, despite attempts by Microsoft's rivals to take it to pieces, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said Thursday.


I thought most of the new features were removed two years ago to get it out "on time".

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Myth of the Rational Voter

My final remedy for voter irrationality, then, is for people who know more than the average voter to stop being so modest. When experts and those who heed them address a broader audience — in the media, in their writings, or in a classroom — they need to focus on the questions where experts and the public disagree, and clearly explain why the experts are right and the public is wrong. Thus, when economists get the public's ear, they should not bore them with the details of national income statistics, or quibble with each other about marginal issues. They should challenge the public's misconceptions about markets, foreigners, saving labor, and progress.

An appropriate time for sour grapes.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Commonsense Systems: Not!

But, hey, it's 2006. And surely I'm not the only person to have gotten married in, let us say, advanced middle age. I still use my maiden name for business and go by my husband's name for everything else. Especially when traveling with the kids--using different surnames on airplane tickets tends to make the Homeland Security guys very unhappy. And it's been a bit unhinging to have those little intimate talks in the side room with armed, unhappy people each time we travel together. (Happy vacation, kids! Pay no attention to that large man with the pistol!)

One day I notice that the last few places I worked for in my very long DP career had one thing in common even though they were totally different "industries". That thing was that as a central function of the system they had to keep very careful track of people as individuals. Now any business is likely to have lists of customers and potential customers and sending one person two copies of the same bill, or two ads is undesirable. No, I'm talking life or death here, medical records, tourist visas things like that. What surprised me was that there was no correlation between the importance of accurate identification and the care which went into solving the problem correctly.

People in some countries have very long names, and that has nothing to do with marriage, hyphenations, etc. Why is that last-name field 16 characters instead of 61 characters? I guarantee there is so much overhead in these databases these days that the extra space (especially if a variable length field) would make no difference from a storage point of view, and most databases actually perform BETTER with large numbers of distinct values than with many dupes. While the programmers and DBAs who don't have a clue are partly to blame, I think that MOST of the blame should go to the management of these organizations who don't even know how to ensure that fundamental business-rule objectives are being met.

Of course the fact that in some organization the concept of firing someone for incompetence is unknown doesn't help matters.

Yes it CAN be a problem when individuals are not consistent about how they identify themselves, but a lot of that problem goes back to restrictive rules about what a person's ID CAN actually be. We need to allow for long names, middle names (vs initials) and even multiple part names of more than 3. If you can design a system with check-boxes for "Mr", "Mrs", "Jr" and so on that's fine and dandy, but you have to allow for variations that you might not have thought of too and you have to have software that can cope with some of these inconsistencies, unless you want to hire rooms full of people to apply "artificial intelligence" to the problem. Based on the type of people they usually hire to do this, I suspect any computer solution will be better on average. That is *IF* they put enough space in the fields to capture all of the information.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rutkowska: Anti-virus Software Is Ineffective

Of course, I'm still aware that it's not enough, as somebody can embed a very reliable and "silent" zero-day exploit for my .TXT editor in some README file. Or that they can find a bug in my Wi-Fi driver. Or an attacker can inject an exploit for my browser after setting up a man-in-the-middle attack in a hotspot at the airport.

So, from time to time, I might run some custom tools of mine to check the integrity of my system or start Wireshark to see what my traffic looks like. In other words, I'm not very satisfied with the existing commercial solutions, because I know how easy it is to create malware to bypass them all.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Apple puts Intel chips in MacBook Pro computer line

Apple announced that its line of MacBook Pro notebook computers had completed the switch to higher-speed Intel micro-processors.

Sloppy reporting.

Citrix shuns Linux due to 'lack of demand'

Jones also said Linux companies such as IBM, Red Hat and Novell “would be very interested” to see Citrix develop native Linux versions of its products to run on their server platforms, but he said there was no real demand for it in the marketplace.

Not to mention that X allows for much of this functionality without any assistance. Citrix is on life-support from Microsoft, until they decide to do with it what they are doing with the anti-virus folks.

Dream on bonehead.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Munich Linux scales desktop management

LiMux developers have automated installation via Debian's FAI (fully automatic installation) system, according to McIntyre, with configuration information stored in LDAP and the database administration program GOsa as a front-end. "They've integrated these to enable some very clever management features so that all aspects of the city-wide system can be maintained from one central point," McIntyre said.

As new machines are introduced to the system, administrators can choose to configure them as clients or "depot" servers, used as seeds for further clients, McIntyre said. Individual user profiles can be adjusted to, for instance, give access to new applications as needed.

Shared resources such as network storage and printers are set up automatically from the LDAP database, and the system can control access to USB storage devices on a per-device, per-user basis, for security purposes.

Businesses Embracing Firefox As The Other Browser

Fully, 44 percent of businesses with 250 employees or more allow workers to download Mozilla Corp.'s open-source browser at the office, according to a survey conducted this year by JupiterResearch. Last year, only 26 percent of such businesses were willing to do the same

IBM Sues Amazon Over Patents

The patents at the center of the dispute are broad, and IBM alleges they cover parts of Amazon's elaborate product-recommendation system. That system shows customers products related to the one they're looking at, and also shows them other products purchased by like-minded customers. The patents also cover the way Amazon displays advertising on its site to match customer preferences, and how the retailer stores shopping data to build customer profiles.

Some of the patents were first filed in the 1980s, including one titled "Ordering Items Using an Electronic Catalog."


Sunday, October 22, 2006

LightScribe Labeler For Linux Allows Users To Burn Customized Images On To LightScribe Discs

LaCie LightScribe Labeler for Linux is simple and intuitive, allowing users to burn customized images on to LightScribe discs in three easy steps: import, resize, print. K3b Founder Sebastian Trueg said, "We're happy to see that LaCie is developing tools for Linux users, and are pleased to work with them to make it happen. With the LaCie LightScribe Labeler for Linux, K3b users now have access to the latest disc-labeling technology from LightScribe, and a complete burning solution thanks to LaCie."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sun announces the Google shipping container data center, but will it fly?

*spoiler alert*

Not surprisingly, Page and Brin's Boeing 767-200 GoogleJet can carry seven LD8s, making it the fastest networking device ever built.

Speedreaders: sorry about that.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Linux desktop driver woes: Laying blame, lobbying, coping

Generally, the bestselling, mainstream PC peripherals now support Linux. "I don't expect Linux to support the odder peripherals I use such as slide scanners, VoIP phones," said Seager. "I install Linux on machines with relatively standard components."

Finally, good IT practices will take away most driver hassles and open the door to Linux desktop adoption, our sources say. Test and retest before making changes, stick to your specs when buying hardware and make sure your vendors respect and support your decision to use Linux desktops.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nvidia rooted by Linux graphics bug

Nvidia supplied two graphic drivers for Linux - a closed source "binary blob" driver, which is subject to the vulnerability, and an open source driver, which is not subject to the bug. However, the open source driver lacks the acceleration features found in the closed source driver.

HEY! I gotta idea. Lets take out all those wasteful range and error checks and make this baby fly!

Ups and Downs and Who Will Buy...

What's my bid for this once innovative (yes, innovative) Internet company...

Shares of Yahoo fell 17 cents to $24.01 on Nasdaq after the Internet giant was downgraded to "neutral" from "outperform" by Cowen. In a research note, analyst Jim Friedland said Yahoo is losing market-share in display advertising, a problem "unique to the company" and not indicative of the online advertising market's strength.

Now that they are all bloat, I think they'd look good next to Microsoft, who seems to be heading north in anticipation of all the enterprise upgrades that will be forced on its customers.

EXCLUSIVE: PlayStation 3 to run Yellow Dog Linux

Exclusive? Well, it's not really news either. Here is the blurb:

Sony's PlayStation 3 set to move in on personal computers with the release of the Linux operating system for the device.

Linux developer Terra Soft Solutions will today announce the launch of its Yellow Dog Linux operating system for the PlayStation 3 games console.

But it (or at least a placeholder for it) has been on the TSS website for a while I think:

YDL for PS3

Note that what's there now is a cut and paste from the Apple information, or at least it sure looks that way to me.

Clearly this is going to be an interesting Linux box though. That is, unless Sony does something stupid. Now that couldn't happen could it?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Idiots or Pathological Liars?

We report, you decide:
(if short on time read the last one first)

October 11

October 13

October 16

Get this information to every Windows user you know who might have occasion to reinstall the OS.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Real World Government Open Source

Welty said that California CIO Clark Kelso invited managers to investigate open source and said that if their bosses have a problem with that, to have them call him [Kelso].

Welty said his department's budget for software is so low, it runs on "budget dust." When the state went through a recession, he said, "Some departments cut people to pay software licenses. We didn't have those licenses and didn't have to cut people."

And finally, said Welty, open source is great for disaster recovery. If there is another disaster like Katrina, "disaster recovery just screams for open source." While proprietary stuff might have a long procurement cycle, with open source the department can jump in and begin working immediately. "The key is: 'It's OK to use open source," concluded Welty.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Yahoo laser time capsule to surf the universe

In one of the biggest publicity stunts of recent times, internet leader Yahoo plans to beam a digitized time capsule into space using a laser beam. Yahoo will mark the October 25 event by projecting selected content of the capsule onto the side of Mexico's most famous pyramid in a global webcast.


I think Yahoo needs to get acquired.

MS? Sun? anyone?

Gartner predicts biggest change in PCs for a generation

Gartner research vice president Stephen Kleynhans said: "Vista is the largest and, potentially, the most disruptive change in operating system space since Windows 2000. Organisations will discover that Vista cannot be adopted without a careful examination of its impact..."

Dem guys smokin' some kinda pow'ful weed fer sure.

Um... so, sheep who have been on the Microsoft treadmill for all of their careers are going to suddenly hop off and buy Apple computers now? Wake me up early the day that starts OK?

Or maybe they think THIS is the year of Linux on the desktop. (Wasn't that 2003?)

Well, I'll settle for at least a few more people experimenting with alternatives. Further gains by Firefox would be a good start. This is my first posting using the pre-release Firefox 2.0 and my many spelling errors and typos are being underlined on the fly, with a right click to correct them right in the browser. No need to us the Blogger spell check (which I don't care for) or cut and paste from the KDE version of Notepad (Kedit) as I usually do.

A few organization may be tempted to try Open Office once they see the new "ribbon" interface that MS is forcing on them. I've tried OO 2.0 a bit and the built-in database capability is nice and unlike Access creates an actual relational database that can be offloaded to a server once it gets past the prototype stage. The real rebellion will be in other countries first, and as I've predicted for several years now, IT managers here will suffer embarrassment over their cluelessness of anything outside the MS coral. It couldn't happen to more deserving people.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Terra Soft moves past Apple with first Cell-based supercomputing cluster

Staats also says that there's still a future for PowerPC-based workstations, even with Apple out of the market. "IBM offers the p5 185. While showcased as a server, it works well as a workstation. Genesi has announced a dual 970 workstation. With the lower wattage 970s from IBM and incredible, new CPUs coming from PA Semi in 2007, the potential for Power to play in multiple arenas is only growing."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Peter Coffee's Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments

Go and sin no more my son.

Microsoft to Cripple Computers Running Pirated Copies of Vista

"Microsoft Corp.'s forthcoming Windows Vista will take much harsher steps to curtail piracy than previous versions of its operating system, including crippling the usefulness of computers found to be running unlicensed copies of the new software."

I think they meant to say more crippled.

Firefox Flaw Demo Is Itself Flawed

"I do not have 30 undisclosed Firefox vulnerabilities, nor did I ever make this claim. I have no undisclosed Firefox vulnerabilities," he added.

"The main purpose of our talk was to be humorous. I apologize to everyone involved," Spiegelmock said.

Earlier Monday, Window Snyder, the new security chief of Mozilla, said her team had been unable to produce more than a browser crash with the exploit code. "Even though Mischa hasn't been able to achieve code execution, we still take this issue seriously," Snyder said in an accompanying message on the developer center site. "We will continue to investigate."

There are some things that aught not be joked about.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Novell goes for SCO's throat

"In short, Novell is arguing that even if the court doesn't immediately agree with Novell about the Microsoft and Sun payments, SCO is going broke and Novell's share of the money should be put into a trust so SCO can't spend any more of it.

By not focusing on the arguments over who owns what in Unix but instead hammering on the far more simple matter of SCO not living up to its business contract, Novell hopes to put a quick end to SCO and its seemingly endless Linux litigation."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Amazon Finds That Driving Around The World Taking Pictures Every Few Feet Isn't Worth it

"Amazon hasn't gotten very far in its stab at the search industry. Just about the only thing that A9 is known for is its attempt to combine local search and on-the-ground pictures. But driving around to collect pictures is an expensive process, and so far, it's Google's simple maps that have become the standard for visually representing local search."

Duh. No kidding?? I wonder how long DeepPockets MS will continue to take aerial photos. I keep noticing helecopter hovering closer to the house... but maybe that's something else.

Getting out my tinfoil hat.

ICD-5000 Cellphone Projector/Image Recorder

"Designed to project your cellphone's screen onto a larger screen for demonstrations, the ICD-5000 is a boon for developers, marketeers, sales monkeys, and people who want to show their buddies the time they met Erik Estrada at the Chevron station."

I always knew that desparate "inovators" would eventually start stealing ideas from the movie "Brazil".

Chess Mess

"After five months of grueling play, my first world championship contest with Anatoly Karpov was abruptly cancelled by the FIDE president. Instead of having a set number of games, our match was to go to the first player to reach six victories, a goal that had proved unreachable despite Mr. Karpov's jumping out to a 5-0 lead. After I won games 47 and 48 to move to the score to 3-5, the match was abruptly cancelled. The Soviet sports authorities who had such influence in FIDE didn't want to take the chance I would win another game. Their loyal favorite, Mr. Karpov, hadn't won a game in months, and I -- the outspoken youngster from Baku -- was getting too close for comfort."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Apple Inc sayz : All youR PODs aRe beLong to Us

Apple Inc sayz : All youR PODs aRe beLong to Us

I won't Comicstrip blogger, I most certainly won't. I've even stopped using my old CrApple stuff in protest.

A PODX on Apple.

Is Dead 2.0 Dead?

Well, at least "temporarily".

I can't remember ever getting a sign-in prompt quite like this though.

Must be some sort of fancy new Web thing.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Open-source guru Eric Raymond joins Freespire board

"Desktop Linux must advance now," said Raymond. "If desktop Linux is to advance to a broader audience, it must work with iPods and other MP3 players, play DVD movies, view Windows Media and Quick Time content on the web, and so on. I wish users didn't require these proprietary formats, but it's naive and unrealistic to expect the masses to forgo these requirements in the near future. Linux must make some compromises to attract mainstream users."

I hope this works.

I tried Linspire aka Lindows a long while back and found it to be very user friendly. But like other user friendly Linuxes (and like Windows and OS X) it was often sluggish at times when I thought it should be snappy. It took longer to start up than other, more basic Linux versions. I used Suse for a year or so and found that it had these problems too, but I also learned what default components I could uninstall to pep up performance a bit.

In the mean time I kept experimenting with Debian and gradually learned how to make it do things like play CDs and Windows media files. It would be nice someday to have the best of both worlds, that is, systems that do excellent device detection and set-up, allow you to override those decisions, and this is important, only do that when you request that it be done (re-detecting my video card and monitor at every start-up is just plain silly).

But I tell Windows and Apple users to look for the "Works with Linux" logo, or words to that effect, even if they have no plans to run Linux. Hardware that only runs on Windows, or worse, only on a specific version of Windows is a good way to isolate vendors that are lazy or cost-cutting to the extreme. They may also be attempting to lock you into their products by co-mingling the software and hardware aspects of their products. Remember replacing a Winmodem with another Winmodem and finding that they aren't all alike, can't be easily detected or unistalled, and interfere with one another? Remember HP printer device drivers popping up messages reminding you to use only genuine HP toner, paper, and asking if you would be interested in HP Life insurance? OK, I made that last one up.

Two years ago I wanted to get off of the inkjet printer treadmill, having tried 5 or more various brands and finding them all using more ink than I spent for myself on food, I decided that black and white laser technology was good enough for me, especially with a price war that was going on in that space. I ended up with a small Samsung ML-1740 that was under $100, and included the word "Linux" on the packaging. At the time I was using my Apple Powerbook almost exclusively, and as it was new, sticking with OS X. The printer worked flawlessly, and in fact it has taken me those two years just to use the included "starter" supply of toner. I doubt I've printed half a package of paper in that time. Finding a full sized toner refill wasn't easy when I finally needed to do that, but Staples just started carrying them, and I could have ordered it online had that not occurred. My guess is that the printer will die from roller rot before I use all that toner. Quite a change from ink cartridges that start drying up while the printer is just sitting there.

Anyway, my acquisition of a used Dell SX-260 small footprint machine for around $300 has caused me to switch back to Linux almost full-time (I'm so fickle, and I wish more users were). The Powerbook is now relegated to actual travel situations and a bedside movie watching machine. When Etch goes production I may even try that on it, but no hurry.

It took a few weeks after setting up the Dell for me to realize that I needed to print something. Thinking this was going to be an ordeal, I "printed" the few pages I needed into a PDF file, transfered that file to the Powerbook, and then hooked the Powerbook up to the printer to get the hardcopy. It wasn't a LOT of trouble, but wouldn't do for printing directions or a map as I was on the way out the door, late for some appointment (one of the few regular uses I have for a printer at all).

So I decided in the next few days I'd better investigate Linux printing to the Samsung. After trying various generic Linux printer set-up methods with less than spectacular success, I remembered an article written by Eric Raymond on his own frustrations with the process. Things hadn't improved much, if at all.

But then I remembered the "Works with Linux" words that had helped me choose this printer in the first place and decided to visit the Samsung web site to see what was available. Keeping in mind that Samsung has gone on to newer models, I was able to find a driver download for the ML-7xx line of printers (some of which include scanners I guess) and downloaded that file. It wasn't a Debian package, but was an "unzip and run the install program" sort of thing. No different really than what you get with Windows, except the Windows things are usually packaged as an EXE file leading Windows users to be more oblivious than they might otherwise be about just clicking on any and every icon they see.

The Install program (which told me the first time I ran it that I needed to be "root", put up a nice GUI dialog. There were a blessed few options to pick, and all the defaults seemed reasonable. It also mentioned that I needed Sane support pre-installed for scanner support, and just in case I did the appropriate apt-get to make sure that was the case, even though my printer doesn't have a scanner (I do need to verify I can scan with my Canon scanner though, another rare activity).

In just a few clicks, my installation was complete and it even asked if I wanted to print a test page, which I did, and which printed quickly and accurately. It put a printer icon on my desktop (KDE, but I don't know if that matters) and now when I print, I get the options I had before of creating a PDF file, or printing to a real printer. Magic. Just as good as Windows, better in some ways. If more devices had this level of support, switching to Linux would be a no-brainer for many home users these days.

I hope the Freespire project meets with much success, and let's get the word out that devices that work with Linux, in general work better with everything else too. It is a mark of value that separates the value brands from the also-rans.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Microsoft offering free repairs for all 2005 Xbox 360s

It ain't broke. But if it is it ain't our fault. But if it is, we ain't gonna fix it. But if we do, we'll just fix some of them. Or not.

Now bend over again.

Apple updates strengthen wireless security

You remember, the exploit that wasn't an exploit. Now fixed. Makes perfect sense to Macheads.

"WinXP is the Model T of operating systems"

"In my experience, coming to Windows after using Linux and KDE for years, WinXP has fewer features and is less customizable than KDE. I am not just talking about “eye candy” either. I am less productive when using WinXP. Instead of working in the way I prefer, I am forced to modify my work habits to match WinXP's limited feature set. WinXP is the Model T of operating systems — any color as long as it is black."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Skin moles may hold clues to treating cancer

"Scientists say the process in which moles and molelike tumors start and then stop may be good news. It seems to be an important way for the body to stop cancers that can easily get going when a random mutation pushes a cell along that path."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Dell goes back to basics and hires 500 engineers

"If you haven't noticed over the last 10 or so years, Dell's engineering has amounted to little more than perfecting the glue application on the back of a case badge and swapping pins on a power supply to ensure proprietariness."


In the World of Blogging, Be Carefull What You Ask For.

Is Adobe hopping to get the free advertising boost of the blogosphere? If so, maybe they should have a re-think.

In the distant past I was a fan of Windows. In the less distant past I was a fan of all things Apple, and in the less distant netherworld of unreleased betas I was a fan of Adobe too.

At some point the future of all of these companies was in doubt and they worked hard to survive. But then, to a greater or lesser extent they all achieved the ability to draw residuals on their past successes. The iPod has remade Apple. So much so that I wonder if they even want to be in the computer business any more. MS still makes tons off of Windows and Office, but predictions of the eventual decline on those revenue streams are almost universal. Adobe, long a one-trick pony, after MS pulled the font rug out from under them, Acrobat made a lot more sense as a “perpetual” revenue generator and they did a great job of promulgating the format to just about everywhere from Linux, Apple's OS and even to Palm pilots and such. Small companies could of course survive for decades on these income streams, but these aren't' small companies, so they have to find ways to get larger streams to flow out of these existing products. This is almost never good for existing users, who are in many cases completely happy with what they have. All they need is for that existing capability to keep up with OS upgrades (most of which they don't need either but are forced into). And so the march of “improved” technology goes on.

I was a beta tester for an Adobe product called Atmosphere back in, oh, 2000 or so (maybe earlier). Way back then they already had a system that would allow you to set up a 3D chat room on any ordinary web page, complete with customizable avatars, sound, etc. Not quite the full experience of Second Life, but for what content creation involved (a few hours of tinkering) quite impressive. Someone skilled in the tool could produce a 3D landscape that was breathtaking and approached a photo-realism that I haven't seen anywhere else. The only problem was that the code was buggy as heck. After two years of delays it seemed to have gotten worse rather than better. They changed the scope from being a separate program with a plug-in for web work to only a plug-in and no separate viewer. The plug-in only worked with IE, and many of the beta testers (like me) had already switched to Mozilla. FINALLY they announced the production product, as if they had given up on fixing the bugs. Ahhh, but they had promised all beta testera a copy of the production product. I got mine. Shortly thereafter the product was unceremoniously discontinued, and the production team made to vanish. The next version of Acrobat had some sort of 3D capabilities built-in, which I've never seen operate as I had already begun my migration away from Windows and I suspect that's the only place it will work (if it does work).

Call it bloat, or featuritis, the unfortunate requirement of being a publicly traded company impels these companies to abandon common sense and make former things of beauty into eyesores while they scurry to discover something new. A poor user has to hope against hope that these new endeavors such as Xbox and iPod will be such runaway sucesses that the companies will leave the old stuff alone, but that doesn't seem to be the normal course of events does it?


PS: Unless I'm missing something, your pointer to the Acrobat video points to a page that requires you to have Flash version 8 (not available for Linux yet), nevertheless, it automatically directs me to a product update page which doesn't exist, although the script doing this never discloses that fact and instead just waits for something to happen that isn't going to happen. Finally I discover that the actual video, on Podtech, is in a Quicktime format that I could have even played on my Linux machine. I cringe that they pay people to put this stuff together. It's probably just as well for Adobe that I don't spend much time blogging about them.

PPS: I haven't kept good score, but I think Adobe has failed miserably to honor a promise made by the company CEO a few years back for consistency across platforms. They in fact aren't doing any better now, and in my casual observation are doing worse than before the promise was made. They got off to a great start in making PDF format an open standard, but I'm not at all sure that that openness applies to new features that are continuously forced down users throats. Not surprisingly, other formats which are more open, and do the orignal job better, are startting to have more appeal. DJVU creates better looking documents that render faster, and given the choice when downloading a document I'll pick the DJVU format which is usually about half the size. I suspect this new version of Acrobat will only make matters worse.

More to HP Spying Than Previously Reported

Those briefed on the internal review said that at various times, questions were raised about the legality of the methods used. They did not identify who raised the questions, when, or to whom they were addressed. But a crucial legal opinion, its origins previously undisclosed, was supplied by a Boston firm that shares an address and phone number with a detective firm on the case.

Uh huh.


Representing themselves as an anonymous tipster, the detectives e-mailed a document to a CNET reporter, according to those briefed on the review. The e-mail was embedded with software that was supposed to trace who the document was forwarded to. The software did not work, however, and the reporter never wrote any story based on the bogus document.

Well, I guess the detective agency's lawyer said that was OK too.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

PowerPC Cell Chip Gets Fedora Linux Support

"The Cell chip is interesting for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that it marries a 64-bit PowerPC core with eight vector math units that have a tremendous amount of processing power, which can be used to handle media processing or number crunching. Why someone isn't trying to build a Cell-based scientific workstation out of this chip is a wonder."

Yes, I wonder too:

Why Apple leapt over to the Intel architecture it has been deriding for 20 years. Why Microsoft is experimenting with offloading vector math processes to the video processors because they are an order of magnitude faster than than what we refer to as the CPU (for historical reasons apparently).

One way or another I have a feeling I'll be using one of these some day, no thanks to Microsoft, Apple or Intel (I hate having to list Apple as a co-conspirator) who continue to vend second-rate lock-in solutions. In the mean time, if I have to use second-rate, I'll do it second hand (I've never had one of these fail) and throw them in the dumpster when they roll off the usability curve (which is a lot longer in Linux-time than the commercial alternatives)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

To Browse or to Download? That is the Question

I'm still a skeptic about whether RSS is a good idea or not. RSS emerged at a point where there was still some doubt that Google and others could essentially capture all networked content and make it searchable. Now RSS and "Search" are not seen as competing technologies, but in my mind they are in a way, and Blogging, Vlogging and Podcasting (which if we were consistent would be called Alogging) can each be assigned to one camp or the other as well. The division I'm talking about is the division between things we "browse" on the Internet and things we "download".

I've subscribed to hundreds of RSS feeds over the months and I've used half a dozen ways to manage them at least. They all have one thing in common, which is that data is gathered from the target web sites that I may or may not (and in fact most probably never will) look at. Doesn't the waste of all this bother anybody but me? I think we are fortunate that Joe Average user is blissfully ignorant of his computers ability to collect all manner of information that he is not interested in.

Apple of course ruined all of this by making this “syndication” concept easy to turn on in iTunes. So easy in fact that these background downloads of disk-filling-never-to-be-seen/heard/watched content can be turned on quite by accident. New computers and even laptops with minimum disk sizes of 60G or so mean that it will be two years before a user will slink into his Apple store and ask why he can't do anything on the computer any more without getting disk-full messages. That is, unless the Tiki Bar and RocketBoom episodes don't vastly accelerate the process.

There are, of course, things you can listen to while doing something else, and I've downloaded boring old tech podcasts of one kind or another to burn to CDs that I can take in the car. I could MAYBE even see clear to downloading videos to take on an Internetless plane ride or hike through the Himalayas, but those are exceptions.

The as yet unrealized full beauty of the Internet is that content should be ON DEMAND, always new, freshly spell-checked and corrected so that when I DO go looking for something I'm getting the latest, greatest, most “correctest” version of it possible.

While there is a rightful place for things such as the Wayback Machine, Google Books, and the like, I don't see the future of the Internet as turning us all into more efficient pack-rats. Just the opposite, the certainty that “it's all still out there somewhere” should free us to just use what we need at the moment and not burden ourselves and our hard drives with a lot of copies of things.

Somehow the industry pundits and a-listers haven't gotten over the Gee Whiz factor of easily produced and acquired multimedia, an attitude that is shared among normal people only by teenagers who don't have to earn a living yet. I think what confuses the pundits is that they think this demographic is going to change. I suspect it won't. When these kids (hopefully) mature, they will lose interest, and only be replaced by more kids who have the luxury of spending 6 hours a day socializing without the need to actually produce anything. Orkut, Myspace and maybe YouTube will appeal to these kids, but I think it a huge mistake to think that the rest of what we do on the Internet will “evolve” to look like these products.

Instead, I see traditional modes co-existing for a long time with the new. One way or another my TV set will continue to get (well, if I actually watched TV that is) a standard set of “premium” content that can be referenced as (among other things) chanel numbers. But I also think we will have “radios”, “TV sets” and maybe even “Newpaper machines” that will draw content on demand from a near infinity of sources that we might also refer to in some shorthand form, programmed possibly in advance from URLs. Will these “channel buttons” that replace RSS and other forms of syndication even be worthy of an acronym?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen...

But sooner or later you probably will.

"This is just the latest in an often-repeated set of government IT blunders: Poorly managed projects with unrealistic expectations that fail to deliver, causing them to be scrapped amid the havoc they wreak on a business. In one form or another, taxpayers foot the bill, and that bill keeps getting bigger. (Rhetorical question: how come these gaffes always seem to benefit crooks and not the legitimate taxpayers?)"

MS Claims Patent on the English Language (and others)

'But Microsoft's move is sparking criticism. Dan Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation, said this is just another example of how "completely out of control" the patent system is.'

Not to be outdone, Apple has patented fingers.

Mr. Answer Man Answers Questions About Computing History

“>>techies hate Microsoft for how it has set back the technology industry.
Can someone explain to me how did they do it?
What was there before Microsoft for the masses?”

The linked blog entry though is about Sony vs Microsoft, which I think in the grand scheme of things is being rendered moot...

I answer this question so often I should save a template of some sort.

It wasn’t exclusively Microsoft, but the PC in general. Whether things would have evolved so badly had Microsoft not been in the picture is open for speculation, but as Microsoft plays such an important role in the average user’s PC experience, they have to take the bulk of the blame as it stands.

The PC allowed many people who would never have been allowed inside the air-conditioned/raised floor computer room the chance to hit the on/off switch of a computer for the first time. I’ve met many people who consider this an important milestone in their life, and maybe that has something to do with the fact that “booting” is such a popular pastime for PC users. (On the old mainframe systems I had to schedule special time to re-boot the computer to show new employees what was involved, because it was something that almost never happened otherwise.)

Over the years I’ve watched these folks, newly empowered with their own private on/off switch demonstrate repeatedly why they were never allowed near the computer room. They still blame everything that goes wrong (including such things as forgetting to do backups) on “the computer”, and they marvel at such “new” concepts as RAID drives, uninterruptable power supplies, vector processing, virtual machines and “managed code” that were invented in the 60s or 70s.

As the computer industry recovers from that set-back (which is quite real) the resultant systems are going to look a whole lot like where mainframes were headed anyway. Most people will not be aware of this, nor will they be aware that we could have probably gotten here a lot faster by standing on the shoulders of giants rather than re-inventing the wheel (sometimes mixed metaphors make sense).

How do more and more people connect to the Internet? Through a specialized box that keeps out all the bad stuff. In my case that box also connects to a hard drive that manages shared storage, it communicates with my streaming devices on several radios throughout the house, it does it’s own scheduled back-up, and none of this involves any technology from Intel or Microsoft. Imagine that! Most of what I do with computers these days involves data stored somewhere in “the cloud” of the Internet and I only need to worry about making local copies when I travel where there will be no Internet access (an increasingly rare situation).

As I mentioned in a post above, much of what was wrought when IBM allowed other companies to control the destiny of the PC has now been rendered itself obsolete by yet “newer” technologies that look, once again like carefully controlled centralized systems. Even compare with strong points of new Xbox and PS3 systems being server based and you see that the PC/Game console are looking more and more like the vision of smart terminals that (again) isn’t really a new idea at all.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

HP, Not So Well Dunn

"It was classic data-mining: Dunn’s consultants weren’t actually listening in on the calls—all they had to do was look for a pattern of contacts. Dunn acted without informing the rest of the board. Her actions were now about to unleash a round of boardroom fury at one of America’s largest companies and a Silicon Valley icon. That corporate turmoil is now coming to light in documents obtained by NEWSWEEK that the Securities and Exchange Commission is currently deciding whether to make public. Dunn could not be reached for comment. An HP spokesman declined repeated requests for comment."

Well, this should prove interesting. I was just starting to warm up to HP again too.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Licensing Fun!

Thanks for actually listening and reasoning with me. :) - Our management team responds best to issues like this when communication is clear and to the point. Microsoft does not actually take the media back to "destroy" it. It is the responsibility of the selling company to do this when reported. (I know, I know)

I definitely understand your position, and can relate to wonder "Why" this is occuring - many times users wonder what their repair shops have done with their machine (well, yours is an entirely different issue).

Note: I don't actually use Windows any more, but my guilty conscience over being a member of the computer profession causes me to try and help others use it from time to time (an occurrence I try more and more to minimize).

What I find ever more interesting is all the things that Microsoft doesn't do! Many people are surprised when I tell them that Microsoft doesn't actually create the Windows CDs or documentation (if there is any) that comes with their new machines. Now we find that they can't be bothered to shred inventory that has been reported not available for sale.

With the sub contracting out of Windows coding and bug fixing to other countries (and as far as I know they are contract people not actual Microsoft employees) they approach a Nirvana that only the like of the RIAA can match, namely collecting the largest part of the funds for a product while at the same time having the least possible responsibility for producing it.

Must be nice you old "softies".. Must be nice.

update: here is thhe link to the forum, which Blogger seems to be ignoring (I'm using a beta, oh wait, they are ALL betas!):


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Lesson Plan For The DOE

"Another week, another preventable exposure of citizen data at a government agency. Last week's spillage in the spotlight came courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education. A glitch in a new software program created a situation where the wrong client data was being shown to people trying to update their student loan accounts. After a number of complaints, the DOE shut down the affected Web pages. Then apparently, they worked on stonewalling.
If the contractor and the DOE spokesperson were for real, and knew this little about the incident after the fact, it kind of makes you wonder how much attention both the agency and the contractor were paying to begin with. There's a lot of data here to be responsible for, and that's where "taking it seriously" really comes into play. You can't just talk the talk, you have to walk it too."

Still not holding our breath.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Google Office: Google Apps for Your Domain

"Bottom line: Google Apps will be used by companies that are relying on an in-house tech fan as their IT department, where larger companies who have a consultant or IT person on staff will stay with Microsoft solutions for these tasks. The truth is, Microsoft Office is great at traditional document creation, but it's lousy at collaboration, and that's the space that Google Apps, Office Live, SharePoint, and lots of other competitors are going after."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Linux Guns for Desktop

Open-source advocate Eric Raymond on winning over the iPod generation, the need for open source to conquer hearts and minds beyond geekdom, and why Linux advocates don’t have much time to beat Microsoft.

Monday, August 21, 2006

IBM Opens the Open-Source Floodgates

"The worldwide market for Linux operating systems is now estimated to sit at more than $7 billion. IBM, which already has a sizeable chunk of that business, believes that with this latest push, it can add to that figure and, in the process, position itself well for future growth. I agree."

Me too!

Mainframers Learn New Tricks

"Indeed, Geoff Smith, an IBM z/OS information strategist at the company's mainframe development lab in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said that within 10 years, the IT industry will experience a decline in system programmer talent."

I hope the good people at IBM aren't just getting around to figuring this dynamic out. Wasn't this pretty evident, oh, back in '85 or so?

I'm not sure of the year, but I got interested in the PC phenomena with the introduction of the IBM PC/AT. So much so that I went out and borrowed money to buy one. It only took a short time to realize that PCs, in some form, were here to stay, even though I didn't buy into the concept that all programs should be running on users desktops. I could see that much about the PC was not a thing to behold. I wasn't the only one asking the question “why did they pick Intel?” Or other questions such as “why don't they have more control over Microsoft?”, “why did they do such a poor job managing OS/2?” and so on. Always one to impute undeserved intelligence to IBM management, I found the answer in Genesis, here slightly modified:

IBM came down to see the PC and the tower/laptop, which the children of Wintel built. IBM said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language (Basic); and this is what they begin to do. Now nothing will be withheld from them, which they intend to do. Come, let’s go down, and there confuse their operating system, that they may not understand one another’s formats.”

And so there you have it. Wintel was invented so that IBM would always have a mess to clean up, and so it has been. Now I don't think this strategy has run out of gas yet, but surely they should have come up with a viable desktop “mainframe” and continued to support it so that the sub culture of the enlightened ones could continue. With Microsoft claiming to enter the consulting business in a big way, and still pulling stunts like this, IBM in one form or another will be around a long time, and people will cling to their mainframes until the last mainframer dies.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dead 2.0: Why Do I Blog?

"So - Do I care about readership numbers? I enjoy them, but don’t focus on them. I like the compliments I receive (and don’t mind the flames either), and I like to hear that others like what I write. I enjoy the fact that I appear to be causing intelligent discussion on the topic. That is truly meaningful to me.

To summarize: I’m an egotistical bastard who, like everyone else, writes a crappy blog but usually finds it fun to do and enjoys the occasional link from the outside world.

But that’s me."

Ditto. Me too.

I also read the Carr blog that prompted this, and have a few things to say about it.

My blog is, loosely, about technology. Nothing so specific as Web 2.0, and maybe that is a mistake. But my original "blog" written before the term was invented, was about everything, and I finally decided that was too much stuff for one place. This is the blog I'm most comfortable making daily (or almost daily) contributions to. Some days I don't have much to say, but today is an exception, so the next few posts (in rare chronological order) will cover: (1) a nice experience with the electric company, (2) a bad experience with online media, (3) some dubious mainstream journalism, and (4) my response to Carr's blog.

Oh, and (5) a real world weather report, and (6) a Second Life weather report.

New Phone Technology


I have what I consider to be a technologically backward electric company: No online billing.

You can PAY your bill online, but not receive it that way. they also have the now standard options to have the bill payed automatically out of your checking account. But then you sometimes read about some pool soul that was billed for an entire company, or worse by mistake. When I lived in Virginia the electric company was Virginia Power, but I heard that they also had a customer by that name, and occasionally Mrs. Virginia Power received payments from other customers by mistake. So not all billing errors are bad ones. Except you still have to spend hours and hours straightening them out if you don't want to go to jail.

Today's event was nothing like that. I simply called the electric company to find out when (or if) they were going to repair the five foot deep hole in the parking lot of my building. The one they dug two weeks ago to repair an underground cable. Oh they covered the hole, but they also promised that a truck would be along to repave the area, over which people walk their dogs, ride their bicycles and so on. Maybe they are just waiting for it to settle. But I wanted status. So I called.

After the normal multi-level "why are you calling?" menu I was put on hold to wit for a live human being. I was told I might have to wait six minutes. Not bad as these things go. But then, and this is the cool part, they told me if I wanted to, they could just call me back when there was someone available to talk to.

WOW! This has never happened (to me) before. this is the sort of technology that could have been implemented 20 years ago. Really, isn't that about how long these automated phone systems have been around? I mean really, the menu part of the system seemed like a good idea at one point, but hen companies realized it was a way to ignore you, without technically ignoring you. Most of these systems transfer you around almost endlessly, and some of them achieve the nirvana of automated phone support by never actually giving you the option to speak to someone at all (but always leaving that possibility just out of reach).

In less than six minutes my phone rang. I asked my question, and was told that a repair truck would be dispatched. Leading me to believe that if I had not called nothing would have been done. Well, I sort of already knew that.

Even Automated Mainstream Media Can Suck

When I got this PC (well and Apple PC) it came with some special software for reading "magazines". Functionally it was pretty much the same as the Adobe Acrobat reader, except it kept tack of "magazines" that had been downloaded, it may have features I don't even use, but suffice it to say I'd just as soon get the PDF files, or links to them by e-mail and not have to worry about yet another format. Tux magazine is distributed that way, and when they go subscription next year I'll probably pay for them.

The issue is not pay or no-pay, the issue is the proliferation of specialized formats that don't add any value. More importantly, when I decided to try out this new magazine format they gave me a subscription to some Apple oriented magazine free for a year. I also found that I could sign on and fill out a short form and get e-week that way. The irony there being that by the time I get this spiffy new electronic e-Week in the special "maybe it will work next year and maybe it won't" format I have already read most of the articles via links to stories on the web. Web pages load a lot quicker, can be cut-and-pasted, or linked to in e-mail messages, and can be scrolled through a lot faster than the cute animated simulated page turning of the specialized reader. Most laughable is that they give you the choice of reading the magazine using your web browser, but if you choose that option, they simply use a browser plug-in to offer up the same lousy interface you were trying to avoid.

Like the automated phone story above we have to distinguish between technology that does something useful versus technology for technologies sake. I think, if anything, that is the "theme" of this blog. I love good technology. But I'd rather have no technology (as in go back to rooms full of phone operators or mailed-out magazines) than technology that pretends to do something useful and really doesn't.

Sadly, that last phrase describes a lot of what goes on with the Internet (let alone Web 2.0) today. for those of us who obsess about technology, we can hack (old use) our way though the thicket and find the useful things and ignore the rest. But for most people out there, who are not so obsessed, think about how much of their time we are wasting with these useless toys! I regularly apologize to people for my career choice, which I'm afraid put forth more feel-good technology than true innovation (sorry for using that word).

For more and more companies it seems, the issue is not whether their products are filling a need, but rather is their product filling a previously unoccupied space in the technology landscape. Not "does anyone need this?", but rather "is anyone already doing it?" Most sadly, in many cases if the answer to the latter question is "yes", the "innovator's" response is to tweak the idea in some superficial way to make it different.

Those are the thoughts that go through my mind when I see arguments over RSS feed formats, endless monologs (of which this is now one) over the purpose or value of blogging or various blogging tools. As an industry (a term I use more loosely than ever) I think we can do better.

Dubious Mainstream Journalism

Now when I got that special-purpose software using magazine subscription that I mentioned earlier (or later if my Blogspot chronological posting effort fails)... as I said I filled out a simple form to get a subscription to e-Week. I had just moved by the way, and had decided to not load up with "free" tech-pub subscriptions that used to fill my mailbox daily in Virginia. But the vendor (Zinio is the product) then offered me the chance to subscribe online to several other tech magazines by filling out a single form. Now I hadn't figured out how useless this online magazine paradigm was yet, so I thought "cool - one form, all the old mags, no full mailbox!" so I clicked on through to what turned out to be pages and pages of questions, far worse than any form I've ever filled out for a printed publication, but still a net savings of my time. Finally I got to the end of it, had clicked "send" so to speak on all this information about "my company" when I was informed that none, NOT ONE, of these publications was even available in Zinio format so, they would be MAILING me these magazines instead. UGH. WHY had I given them my address?!

This was a classic bait and switch of course. The print publishers are desperate for circulation numbers and they will do anything to get them, as I'm finding out while I try and cancel any of these subscriptions or just let them lapse.

If anyone needs to know the answer to why online publishing is a good thing (whether you call it blogging or something else) you need go no further than to try and use the alternative and have to deal with he pond scum that run the paper publishing business. They don't value their honor. Witness the daily excesses in the mainstream media (and the tech pubs are owned by the same people). They get caught lying about their circulation numbers all the time. Yes, there is click fraud, but I am sure that is nothing compared to the fraud of running your ad in print and thinking that "millions" of people are going to read it. Which is not to say that print advertising is worthless. Having your company name appear EVERYWHERE is a good thing for some really big companies. Seeing Boeing advertised in Time magazine won't cause me to buy my own 747 (even if I could) but as a tiny part of their advertising campaign it is probably justified, and if not, so small an investment as to not be noticed.

But the days of print journalism as we have known it are surely numbered, blogosphere or not. In addition to the full mailbox, my filling out that endless form has cause me to get a lot of requests to participate in things. Oh not just the things that cost money to attend. Free things too. Various forums are run by these outfits where they round up last-minute speakers to speak to a last-minute audience about subjects to be decided on at the last-minute. Only it's a three hour drive for me to get there.

I opt-out of these things (thank you Zinio) as often and as permanently ("Please don't call me with future offers") as I can. One magazine has been bugging me for weeks (with no opt-out mechanism I can find) by e-mail to participate in some sort of innovation survey. I just delete them. But the other day the magazine arrived with the "top 100 innovators" (I'm not going to bother identifying the magazine, I wouldn't want "CIO" to cancel my subscription now would I?)

Now I'm used to these top 100 things. Computer World and other used to run them all the time. Only then they would go into some depth about 25 or so and have shorter articles about the rest. This thing has articles on about four of the "winners" and I say about, because the articles are hard to separate from ads for the companies who won with talk about the actual innovation on the short side. At the end are the 94 "runners up" I guess, just listed by name, with no indication of what great thing they did. Oh yes, there are some big outfits in there like the US Marine Corp, the Iowa Department of Administrative services, I'm sure there are some innovative ways to notify people that they haven't paid their speeding tickets. There are a lot of small companies I've never heard of too. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I'd even responded to their inquiries, my small consulting firm might be in the top 100 as well.

Woe be to the paper publishing business. But didn't we not only predict that but brag about it years ago? All the waste of trees, energy to process, litter. All that ended. Any day now. So why are they fighting it? They all have web spaces. Most of their customers (especially of the tech publications) would rather be reading the material on-line, the day it is typed in. it's like there are building full of people somewhere who just don't get it yet. How can you be in the business of writing about this technology, and in some cases of providing it, and still be so clueless about what makes sense?

Got me.

Nicholas Carr's Blog: The Great Unread

"Once upon a time there was an island named Blogosphere, and at the very center of that island stood a great castle built of stone, and spreading out from that castle for miles in every direction was a vast settlement of peasants who lived in shacks fashioned of tin and cardboard and straw."

Once upon a time there was a mainstream blogger who ran out of things to write about and started writing fairy tales instead.

There is nothing worse than seeing someone question the mechanism that got them where they are. Sort of like a spammer who makes millions spamming people and then forms an organization against spam. "Hey! I made mine, party's over now pal!"

Of course the dynamic doesn't just apply to money-making. Ask Senators-for-life Robert Byrd or Ted kennedy (to name just two). Big companies (Microsoft) get into the cat-bird-seat and can't be moved, and some dynasties seem like they might (GM) go on forever. Whole industries (US Steel, RCA) undergo total upheaval in order to unseat just an incumbent or two.

While there may be many people who have been defrauded by the notion that they would get their 15 minutes of fame by blogging. I suspect this is not a common occurrence.

I started using the Internet when it was mostly still character mode. No fancy graphics. Web browsers had been invented, but were not well known yet, and my tool of choice was Gopher.

Still, hardly a day passed between my discovery of "the Web" and my desire to own my own web page. I have not been without a public web presence since, even though it has undergone many changes in domain names, formatting, and choice of topics.

There was a time, LONG before the term Blogging was invented, when I updated my page daily, and I did it in an additive fashion, so in every respect, save the tools I used, it was a Blog. I still use the equivalent to "notepad" to compose my blog entries by the way.

I am not ashamed to say that few people IF ANY read my "blog" back then and I'd guess that my numbers have hardly improved in the years since.

I have tried to get some friends to read my blog, but other than the particular post I point them to I doubt they ever come back (if so they never remember to mention it). I get e-mail messages from these same people asking me how I am doing or what my opinion is on a particular subject when the answer is right there for the world to see. I post under a pen-name because sometimes my opions are rather strong, and I have friends who I'd just as soon not have an argument with.

So why do I keep it up? I agree with Dead 2.0 that it is largely ego. But I also enjoy the writing, and if I wasn't writing this, I'd be writing an e-mail message, a forum post, or a letter to the editor somewhere. I've written a few letters to the editor, and not one has ever been published. Poor me. Worse yet, I don't think I have influenced the editorial policy of the newspapers one iota.

Should I end it all for want of being Nicholas Carr? Who's book "Does IT Matter?" I haven't read, but who's blog I was introduced to by Robert Scoble, who is very confused about the history of computing. Answer: No IT doesn't matter, nor in the big picture does the History of computing, who invented RSS, or what caused RocketBoom to explode (implode?). People are already taking all these wonders for granted that we used to salivate over, and they don't care how they came about or who wins the battle over credit that we see being fought out daily.

Why do people keep diaries? I think blogging answers the same urge. I have bits of paper I wrote on in high school. Looking back on them reminds me of how small my world was back then. I worried too much about the wrong things. I didn't write anything that would give me "first mention" rights to anything important going on today. With people today claiming credit and statues made of themselves for the most tangential reference to some new concept, I doubt my batting average will improve in the future. Here is one: For the future in which people will not be able to board any public transport with their own toiletries, I propose a new business that will catalog their personal preferences and have a small parcel with all their needs waiting for them at their destination. Call it "shaving kits -R- Us" and for anyone who tries it, I'll expect a big fat check for the rights. I have Google servers as my witness!

But as my two previous (or is it two next) posts will demonstrate, there is more to blogging (if that is what the world insists on calling it this week) than peasants (like me) versus the big media monoliths. Those old timers are in a world of hurt and it has nothing to do with me or anyone like me. It has to do with the mythology of the product they were pushing being exposed for what it is: A lot of dead trees being chopped down for no good purpose.

Electronic publishing, video on demand, and magically appearing shaving kits: All good things, and if the Washington Post, Wall street Journal and Microsoft can keep up, more power to them, if not, they'll continue to get my ridicule, and one of these days I can point back to these posts and say "I told you so." That's why I blog.

Weather Report

Today was a perfect day weather-wise, but I only went out briefly. Between all this blogging, and answered several important e-mails, worked on a PC repair (well, at this point, replacement is more like it) for a friend, which caused me to have to use Windows (blech) for the first time in two years. I kept the sliding door open though so that the wind off the Atlantic Ocean at 77 degrees or so, could blow through. The beach is crowded, as are the streets, with people desperate to find a parking place. In a few weeks the weather will be as good, if not better, and the crowds will be largely gone.

Oddly enough, I'm thinking about going to Florida when it cools off a bit. Just for old-times sake. I could change my mind though.

LL Dialog with Users becoming a monolog?

And finally in todays stories...

I was a bit disappointed to hear that Linden Labs is closing their much abused user forums. While a big supporter of the concept behind Second Life, I have to admit that I don't find the system much more stimulating than Cable TV (of which I am not a subscriber). For a long time I was a frequent contributor to the user forums, but the kook politics, political correctness, counter-culture fascism and as it is often called "drahma" (there really is an "h" in there somewhere) rather wore me down.

I look forward to a day when going into SL is not such a "self referential" experience. I can remember when the main topic of many ICQ conversations were about what was new in ICQ, and while I blog, with today being an exception, I'm usually not interested in blogging about blogging.

But I'd like to think that the "Second Life Community" of which I am voluntarily not a part might some day be more interesting to people of my age and I think that almost certainly means that we might want to trade e-mail messages, instant messages that don't require a graphics supercomputer, and so on. Being a member of an online community shouldn't cause people to say "I'm all worn out after a long SL session last night." While "we" don't think of SL as a game, many of its users use it that way, wearing themselves out in the "playing" of it, having to be in the same "place" at the same "time" as your friends to get a word with them, worrying if your "look" is right for the moment, etc.

I've had some good "chats" in Second Life, but they don't happen every time I get on, or even most of the time. the building interface, while intended to be easier than the old professional 3D tools has always been frustrating for me. I got the hang of Truespace, Maya and a couple others quickly enough, but my SL creations never line up right, and I'm a stickler about everything lining up right, not just close which is the orientation of the SL method. Were it not for that fact, I'd probably spend hours in SL just building and not worry about using it for anything else.

Somehow I think the replacement of the forums with a company blog, as yet to be fully defined, is a step backwards from the original small community days. I remember being asked my opinion on what SL should be called, there were some really crazy alternatives. Looking back on the recent forum posts and the new blog entries, it looks like a lot of changes are afoot, without the discussions that took place just two years ago. The size of the community now too big a drag on the decision process I guess.

I don't know if anyone has done a study on community size. But it seems clear to me there is a limit to how big they can be and still work. You can call all Myspace users a community but they are not. Rather they are a mirror of real world communities, with kids from the same high school or geographical area tending to communicate more. Similarly, if it is not a geographical association, there has to be some common interest that binds the communications together and if the group is large, there have to be some "opinion leaders" (for lack of a better term) who's names you recognize that are doing most of the talking.

As in todays discussion (the last for a long time I hope) of the long tail of the blogosphere, there have to be some SL users who wonder "why am I here and who would miss me if I weren't?". If there are no answers at hand, and no alternative uses of your time in the interface it is only a matter of time before the enthusiasm burns itself out. At what point does SL reach a steady state, and is it economically viable at that point? I still don't see it as a replacement for IM, e-mail or phone calls, and as a replacement for actually going out and meeting people I question its value.

But then, in Snow-crash, people "goggled-in" while riding in a car or waiting for an appointment. 3D-VR took the place of books, music, TV, and just about everything else. SL has a long way to go before it has achieved that, except with all the time it takes, for many of its users they simply don't have time for any of those other things. It's not quite the same. The Internet should help us do more, not sap our energy so that we do less.

But maybe the blog approach won't squash all discussion. We'll see. LL has been wrong before and corrected their mistakes later. This might be one of those times. I've never been wrong of course. Oh no, not me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Scobleizer - Tech Geek Blogger � Looking at Vista

Here is an old blog comment I made and I don't remember if it ever got published... but since many of them don't I like to save copies just in case. In this case, I think it contains a good idea that I've mentioned before.

You know what they say about people who ASSUME.

You need to distinguish between "high level" code and interpreted code. Some might consider C high level. But high level code, no matter what the original language can be optimized.

Who said anything about kernel code? Not I. Is most of Windows implemented in the kernel? Again, this is news.

You can mix and match low/high compiled/interpreted code (note: talking two different issues there) all you want as long as code that gets executed a LOT is non-interpreted and has been optimized (by writing it in assembler or using a very good optimizing compiler).

But even interpreted code isn't necessarily slow. APL is an interpreted language, but I'd put it's ability to do matrix manipulation up against any average C programmer, because the matrix operation are all "primitives" in APL and the matrix work is highly optimized (at least for any commercial version).

And while we're at it, your comment much earlier about implementing Windows on top of BSD is at best misleading. The WINE project is an attempt to implement as much of the Widows API as possible on top of another base OS. This is a reverse-engineering effort, and is far from perfect. But is was a good enough base to allow Google to port Picassa to Linux relatively quickly.

Given the actual Windows code (and the rights to use it of course) Microsoft could do a near perfect re-implementation of the Windows user and driver interface just about anywhere they wanted to.

I don't happen to think that the VMS underpinnings (to the extent that the VMSness hasn't been tweaked out of existence) are the source of Windows flaws (WINE has proven that the flaws port quite well). On the other hand, there is nothing inherently spectacular about that VMS history. In fact there is something quite spectacular about your original comment, which I'll re-quote:

"Cause the C and Assembler bit heads who built Windows don’t work at Microsoft anymore. "

All the more reason to build Windows on top of a base that is still openly maintained by exactly that sort of "bit-head". It is exactly at that level that there is no longer any significant competitive advantage in maintaining proprietary code. When is that last time you heard a Windows user complain about inadequacies in the Windows HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer)? Same issue.

Monday, August 07, 2006

VA Decides to Open Source Veterans Data

"Ted Davies, a managing partner at Unisys, said a company employee who regularly used the desktop computer reported it missing July 31. Company officials then scoured the building three times and sought to determine what data was lost before reporting it to the VA last Thursday."

The new Open Source program now involves the loss of not just laptops but desktop systems as well. We congratulate the Veterans Administration and Unisys for this bold new initiative! - Google to Pay $900 Million To Handle MySpace Search

Too tired to comment, other than to say that I think this is significant, not in itself, but as a "type" for other partnerships that you might not think of as "naturals".

Net Neutrality Hyperbole Stumbles On

"Yes, net neutrality. Who would have thought telecommunications could create such exaggerated name calling? After hearing only the opposing arguments, one would conclude robber barons on one side of the table are arm-wrestling robber barons on the other side of the table to see who can be the first to destroy the Internet."

Finally, someone "gets it".

Yes, there is the distinct possibility that someone has or will take unfair advantage of the Internet.

I defy you to write a paragraph describing how to stop it.

OK, lets pass this law: "All must play fair on the Internet."

OK, now how to you enforce it? It will always come back to a building (or buildings) full of bureaucrats, the first generation of which may actually be subject-matter experts of sorts. But it ends up in 10 years being thousands of people putting in their time for the government pension and not answering the phone because it might involve some unpleasant work activity.

I'd much rather have choices, between telephone wires, TV cables, and through the air transmissions of data and let these companies continue to batter each other over the head to get our business than anything designed to "improve things" that might come from Capitol Hill.

Sorry, but Net Neutrality advocates simply haven't paid attention to the history of such things.

Go after abusers of the system by all means, but a pro-active "play fair" law not only won't guarantee fair-play, but will guarantee that some companies will achieve "favored" status and be able to exclude everyone else. Just like we already have with regulated phone and cable access.