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.

Net Neutrality Hyperbole Stumbles On

Glad to see that some people are finally getting it.

What tech couldn’t you live without?

Short answer: None of it. (i.e. I could live without all of it)

But from the comments:

"Ideas are dirt. Anyone can have an idea, it’s the IMPLEMENTATION that counts. " (Coulter)


One of my bosses used to use and expression that went something like: "They asked me a nickel question and expect a million dollar answer." (I may have the denominations wrong.)

After a while I realized I didn't know what he was trying to convey and asked. He described a room full of Pointy Haired Bosses, including the top PHB, sitting around a conference table while heads of our division explained what we had been up to for the past quarter. The PHBs were in the head office hundreds of miles from our division. They didn't understand our products and most of them were not even acquainted with IT (computer stuff) much less experts at it.

But the ordinary PHBs had to impress the top PHB that they were both paying attention and being insightful about what they were hearing. So one of the PHBs would interrupt the presentation to ask "Why don't you replace the mainframe with PCs?" or on another day it might be "Why don't you replace the PCs with a mainframe?" and an ally in the room would shout "Great idea Charlie!"

And so our division bosses would come back from the status meeting with time-wasting "what-if" projects that would take substantial time away from satisfying customers.

I suspect this is the norm in many , or even most mid to large sized companies. It seems to be the norm in our new "blogosphere" (not a term I like) as well, with many people shouting out new ideas to the world and then following up incessantly to make sure that they get full credit for "first mention".

My respect is reserved for those who quietly implement something, work out all the basic "gotchas" and announce a "product" if not of commercial grade, at least of alpha quality that people can use or experiment with. That takes a lot of work, and represents a "risk" at least of one's time and doesn't ask the world at large to get all worked up over something that may have fundamental flaws.

I'll cite just one instance of this, although there are many, and that is RSS feeds. Just the other day a dinner companion was explaining to a non-techy what RSS feeds were and he let slip the common phrase "it is a push technology". Knowing there were other techs at the table he immediately caught himself and added "well, it's not really push, but..." by which time he had lost his intended audience anyway.

If only the nickel idea folk who came up with the syndication concept had actually implemented something that used push techniques rather than falsely describing what we have as push technology. We now have something that is so established that it is not so easily changed in this fundamental way. It's "good enough" even though it now consumes almost as much bandwidth as the actual page views it was meant to streamline.

More and more in our world it seems like the rewards are being directed toward those with the nickel ideas instead of the people who actually do the work or take the risk to do the million dollar implementation. Our broken patent and copyright system is one manifestation of this as more people are writing up ideas and then laying in wait for someone to spend the money to implement something similar and then suing them.

Consumers will pay the cost of this by having to permanently work with "good enough" solutions that will never be fixed, and people will wonder why fewer and fewer truly creative people want to participate.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Linux Today - Morton Gets Googled

"'We are pleased to confirm that Andrew Morton has joined Google as a member of our Linux development team. Andrew joins Google from the OSDL and has an unparalleled background in Linux and open source development. Andrew will continue his fine work on the Linux kernel and with organizations like OSDL. We are thrilled to welcome him to Google,' said Google Open Source Program Manager Chris DiBona."

Friday, August 04, 2006

Techcrunch: Dazzle Us Again,

More to come...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Techcrunch: AOL/AIM users to get 5GB free storage


(more tripping all over one another to give stuff away!)

(Why can't the auto makers get a hnt from this?)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Global Warming, None Like it Hot

Once and for all!

Some other small items:

The heat, I can stand. I grew up in FLORIDA!

And while it is hotter here than it is in Florida at the moment, I've seen hotter days. And the humidity? Meh, I went out today without an artificial breathing device thank you very much.

Yesterday I went out too. Out to my air conditioned car. From my air conditioned car to the air conditioned Walmart. (Don't make faces, it's the only store in town.)

Growing up in Florida we didn't HAVE air conditioners. We simply dried up like raisins during the summer and went into hibernation. Late August rains re-hydrated us back to life. In Chicago they are talking about the government GIVING away air conditioners. I can hardly wait 'till that notion comes to my town. Can I get cheese with that?

Did you know they have portable CD players for $9 these days? And not just some no-name brand either these were Durabrand players. OK, I never heard of them either. Nor did I want one. Who needs a CD player any more? Um I guess that's why they were $9.

Back to the beach, it's not the heat driving people off the beach early, it's the flies. Stinging flies. By the time I had walked over to the hot-dog stand (which was my ONLY reason for wanting to go out there today) I had a half a dozen on me. Only I didn't know it until they had drilled their little drill bits through my old dry skin. I'm stayin' in and scratching 'till the next thunderstorm. Tomorrow I hope.

On technology: AOL is now free (I already had a free AIM ID and as far as I can tell that gets me to the same goodies without having to give them my name and address and phone number. Or maybe I just lied about those things). Microsoft has made their free web pages almost usable today. I have a little test page over there and it now looks almost as beautiful as this one. The downside is I think their servers are unable to cope with all the people tinkering. I've been getting those funny useless standard IIS error pages all day. Big companies stumbling all over themselves to give us things. Does any one else sense the imminent arrival of dot-com-crash 2.0? I do, and it will be none too soon.

Scoble either advertently (opposite of inadvertently) or not keeps bad-mouthing his former employer. Seems he doesn't think there are any "bit-heads" working there any more. Quite believable too. Which is why I wish they would just leave the OS stuff to Linus Torvalds and friends and concentrate on user-friendly word processors and spreadsheets. On the other hand those might be selling for $9 at Walmart one day soon too. My Walmart still has plenty of XBox 360s by the way. I can't decide whether buying one would prove that I hate Microsoft, or the other way around. Does Linux run on them yet?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

InformationWeek Weblog: Days After Entering 12-Step Program, Microsoft Falls Off Wagon

"Whatever happened to the '12 tenets,' announced just 10 days ago, that were supposed to help a seemingly humbled and repentant Microsoft assume a more ethical stance toward allowing competition? Could it be that its self-imposed 12-step program has already failed to cure Microsoft of its monopolistic impulses?

First case in point: the amusing news--posted by a TechWeb reporter--that the preview of Microsoft's newly renovated home page provided Internet Explorer users with a new search tool and site guide, while users of the open-source Firefox browser were insulted with a 'We're sorry, the page you requested could not be found' error message."

See below for other similar nonsense. They never got on the wagon in the first place. Talk is cheap.

Windows Vista Speech Recognition Demo

Dear Aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all...