Saturday, March 31, 2007

Apple, Google join forces for 'ultimate phone' | The Register

The Register is off and running. Here's another one:


Friday, March 30, 2007

To Make Lemons Into Lemonade, Try 'Miracle Fruit' -

"Within minutes of consuming the berries, guests were devouring lime wedges as if they were candy. Straight lemon juice went down like lemonade, and goat cheese tasted as if it was 'covered in powdered sugar,' said one astonished partygoer. A rich stout beer seemed 'like a milkshake,' said another."

I need to get some of these!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Yahoo Motto: Be Evil

Non-Premium users are restricted to the following APIs:
ListFolders ListMessages MoveMessages DeleteMessages
GetUserData CreateFolder EmptyFolder BatchExecute
FetchExternalMail RemoveFolder RenameFolder

Calls to other APIs will return an error. To upgrade to premium, go to For information on how to receive a commission for upgrading users to a premium Yahoo! Mail Plus account, see the Yahoo! Mail Web Service page on the Yahoo! Developer Network.

For want of a shoe, or time for a new rider?

"As a result - and as I posted here - I think MSFT should give the current team until year-end to show the beginning of a turnaround. Recent monthly stats provide some reason for optimism in that regard (the ongoing market share losses having been arrested, at least temporarily), and I have confidence in at least Berkowitz. But if they can't show progress by then, it's time to pull the plug and outsource the entire effort to YHOO in return for a % of the action."

Well "YHOO" would certainly love that. A marriage made in heaven, two companies losing mindshare hand over fist. Go for it!

With all the other good recommendations (dump Ballmer) in this blog I'm surprised at this one. Why doesn't Google and only Google have to be the enemy in online search and tools? Why does Linux and only Linux (what about BSD?) have to be the enemy in Open Source software? Why NOT do a deal with Google? Google desktop and Google Talk have done as much to prop up Windows as anything Yahoo has done in oh those many years. So what the draw to Yahoo other than Yahoo is needy right now? Their offerings are just as bloated and awful as are Microsoft's. I just don't get this one. But that means it will probably happen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Yahoo! Mail goes to infinity and beyond - Yodel Anecdotal

Also PC Mag article here. Slashdot here.

Funny, I just mentioned the fact that Yahoo is always playing catch-up. I wonder if they are reading my blog?

Well, anyway (no I don't think they are reading my blog, is anybody?) you certainly can't catch up with infinity, but I think Microsoft has claimed unlimited storage for Hotmail for a while now. As many posters to the above articles point out, unlimited storage isn't a big issue right now. They are all playing a numbers game, balancing storage limits (or lack thereof) with expiration times for unused accounts, people need to organize (delete junk mail) for their own sanity, and the always present provision to "impose limits on users who abuse the system". So, if I am a compulsive type of person who never deletes any email, be it junk or otherwise, is it an abuse to load all of my archives into Yahoo mail? Since usability of the Yahoo web interface is at an all time low, it's tempting to use it strictly as an archive. On the other hand forgetting to log in (and apparently from the comments, logging into Yahoo isn't enough, you have to specifically visit your inbox) for four months will result in it all being deleted. Now Yahoo needs to catch up on Gmail with its expiration period of 9 months, and it's snappy, uncluttered interface. It needs to catch up with Gmail and AIM mail in allowing POP or IMAP support at the free level. It need to drastically improve its spam filtering, which is all but non functional now. Giving away domain names for e-mail as AOL is now doing isn't a bad touch either. Do all, or most of these things Yahoo, then I MIGHT be tempted to switch from Gmail (or AIM mail, my second choice). Oh, and Yahoo's web interface crashes and locks up for me frequently, in addition to, from time to time, telling me my browser is incompatible, while other times acting as though it is. That's a bit of a show-stopper for something with ONLY a web interface.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Yahoo/Gmail Non-Delivery Issues

Yahoo is quick to blame Gmail for non-delivery of messages originated at Yahoo Groups. Google claims to have fixed the problem a few days later. But comments from the (Yahoo) blog indicate that non-Gmail addresses aren't receiving these message either. So how could that be a Gmail problem?

Is Yahoo turning into the same type of FUD machine that Microsoft has always been? More and more these two companies look like a match made in heaven.

The responsible technical approach would of course be to give out details of what is actually going on (and sure, blame other vendors along the way if it makes you feel good).

So, why are non-Gmail accounts not receiving these messages?

But today I received a message from Yahoo, and the Group blog has part of at:

A Few Changes for More Productive Groups where they are taking away an iFrames feature that apparently a lot of group admins have gotten used to (and sounds like a lot of them are pissed). Not appearing in the blog, but in my e-mail pointer to it is also this compensating announcement:

Some of you are already aware of an improvement that became available last month, but it bears repeating.

- By popular demand we increased file and photo storage limits to 100 megs each. You told us that the old limits weren't enough, and we want to let you know we heard you loud and clear!

Yahoo is playing catch-up again as Google groups has had this amount of storage for months. This can only mean that Google groups will now offer 200 meg, or 500 or a gig (I can now store ALL of my crappy photos on Google for free with no artificial limitations that Flickr has).

Yahoo joins the long list of companies that need to fail to demonstrate that consumers are actually paying attention (no I'm not saying they are paying attention, simply that if they are, "me-too" efforts like this won't do).

Google has acquired JotSpot

Somehow I missed this. I'm working on some stuff where this would be useful too. As tempting as it is to advise the customer to wait for new features, there are plenty of features in the existing Google Docs that they can use now. I have advised that they try the "Live" features that Microsoft offers, even though they'd have to do it without my hand holding as I have no desire to run Windows or Office just to be able to get to those things. They have no interest. Maybe, finally, the average Microsoft customer is starting to resent lock-in. I hope so, and think so. So what is Microsoft going to do about it?

Prediction: Nothing.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Coldwell Banker's Second Life - Mar. 23, 2007

"Coldwell Banker will open a virtual sales office and start selling virtual land at 9 a.m. on Friday. The company released the information exclusively to Fortune."


Saturday, March 24, 2007

ABC News: Pet Food Maker to Take Financial Responsibility for Pet Deaths From Poisoning

"Instead, he said the company, which manufactures nearly 100 brands of dog and cat food, will immediately begin testing any 'suspect raw materials' to identify any additional contaminated products."

Not that they've gotten to the bottom of this yet, but what confidence do we have that there is adequate testing for "raw materials" used in human food? If the testing were at the raw materials level (rather than the finished product) couldn't this problem have shown up for human food testing, or do they even do such things?

Are we entering a time when each "consumer" must become an expert on exactly where each menu item came from: This country is OK, that one not, this farm in California has a good rep, but not that one.

Well, if all future research grants don't get funneled in to some variant of the global warming scare, maybe this is something that should be looked into, huh?

Michael Geist - DMCA Architect Acknowledges Need For A New Approach

"The most interesting - and surprising - presentation came from Bruce Lehman, who now heads the International Intellectual Property Institute. Lehman explained the U.S. perspective in the early 1990s that led to the DMCA (ie. greater control though TPMs), yet when reflecting on the success of the DMCA acknowledged that 'our Clinton administration policies didn't work out very well' and 'our attempts at copyright control have not been successful'"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Windows Vista, More Than Just a Pretty Face

Quoting myself to someone who complained about dings on Vista found in Slashdot:

I don't want to seem insensitive (although I am rather), but--DO [upgrade].

I mean I don't go on various forums and tell everyone what new operating systems I'm upgrading too. I don't hold press conferences and issue press releases about the wonders of my latest OS. Why can't Microsoft just STFU about Vista and let people just upgrade if they want to? Why does it have to come on every new computer I can find in almost any store?

Do I try and tell everyone else in the world what OS to run? Do I go to device makers and offer them incentives to NOT support other OSes? Do I dance around a stage until I"m about too have a coronary and dripping sweat from my armpits shout "Give-it-up-for ME"?

The average computer user DOESN'T CARE what OS they are running, nor do they care about glass interfaces, rotating cubes or anything else likely to be discussed on Slashdot (why are you even reading here by the way?). Slashdot is to computers what a classic 50's car convention is to transportation. If at such an event I ask you what you drive I don't want to know that it is a pink 57 Chevy coup, I want to know the freaking serial number!

But for the average computer user, the details of operating systems behavior are so... so... LAST CENTURY!

For average people the OS should be just part of the box, like it is on my TV set (yes there is and OS in there of sorts, even if it is defined by the arrangement of vacuum tubes). The company responsible for it (if it is a company at all) shouldn't even have their name on the box, much less be contributing a sizable portion of the cost to the thing. The OS, as an integral part of the box should JUST WORK, start up instantly (and not with the help of flash drives that further add to the cost), be impervious to viruses, not need monthly updates, and not put up splash screens reminding me what version it is, who wrote it, and what it's catchy cute name is. I DON'T CARE!

Looking at my home entertainment system I can think of three fundamental changes that have taken place in more than 50 years: The TV set is now in color. HDTV has raised the resolution a bit. The buttons and dial on the tuner now have fewer moving parts. Many of these devices will last for twenty years or more and NEVER need a repair during that time. My current equipment, which I've already had for more than ten years, will probably outlive me, and unless I spend too much time looking at the splashy ads in magazines or watch too much (aka any) TV I won't find myself lusting after upgrades. The sound quality is already beyond my ability to discern any difference, and the video is more than adequate (if anything I'd go to flat panel HDTV to save electricity).

So, why, would anyone who is not a paid member of the "computer industry" care about this new OS, or whether the company that produces it continues to exist? I can't think of a reason. Stop reading Slashdot and worrying yourself on what these geeks say about the latest MS OS. In fifty years, most people will not have heard of Microsoft and there will be no such thing as "personal computers". I hope I live to see it.

Now, how about those new cell phones with the built-in infra-red massage (no, not message) capability?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Red Hat Plans Linux Desktop Offering 'for the Masses'

Seems like we've been here before.

I doubt I'll use it unless Debian disintegrates. Which is always possible with billionaires funding alternative "vanity" brands such as Ubuntu and and Lindows, err, whatever it is called this week.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

How to Stop the Dilbertization of IT

"First" there was this article: How to Stop the Dilbertization of IT

Which was mentioned in this Slashdot article.

And them maybe coincidentally or not I thought yesterday's Dilbert cartoon was particularly relevant.

And I'll leave as an exercise the finding of the /. comment I was responding to, except for the last line I've quoted here. Leaving only the questions: "Can anything be done, and if so, what?"...
"Debt" is a ten thousand year old playground game.

I don't know if this and the rest of your comment are original material or not but it is profound, so I decided to say so rather than use mod points as I originally set out to do. More and more in my own observations of the modern world the term "game the system" pops, unbeckoned into my head and I don't even remember when I first learned the term.

I do remember in short studies of game theory learning that it is easy to construct a game in which a mutually beneficial outcome works against outcomes with are "best" for all participants. What continues to surprise me is not that such games spring into existence in the real world, but that those who have at least some power over the game rules continue to do nothing to change them so that the outcomes that are best for the individual are more synchronized with those that are best foor the organization.

I guess that's a round about way of saying "why doesn't someone above simply fire the PHB?" And if the problem exists at a higher level, why doesn't someone above that do some firing as well? Examples in the real world are easy to find. Imagine a Microsoft without a CEO who makes a PR blunder every time he opens his mouth. Imagine if Ken Lay, or the Enron board had fired Jeffry Skilling when he first announced that he wanted the company to be "as asset free as possible" rather than giving him even more authority to implement such a PHBesque notion.

In all my career the Dilbert-like (and this is certainly not a new phenomenon) activities have only sometimes been initiated by my immediate boss, and almost never at the top of the company, but somewhere in the murky in-between, where rumor has it that people are all first cousins or go to the same church (because there is no other rational explanation for their existence).

I suspect that in some very successful companies there is still one of those overpaid (though not in such case so much overpaid) people who can peer down into the organization and burn off the underbrush so that those doing constructive things have more chance to grow. Most companies somewhere along the line lose these key people at the top and become the Enrons and Microsofts of today.

One big problem though in many countries it is harder and harder to fire people for a variety of reasons, even when they grossly under-perform, or mis-perform. We have to look no further than our governments (particularly federal) for just how bad this can, and probably will get even for companies like Google that start out with so much talent and enthusiasm. Even if they can at first have a fairly good control over their talent pool (as they grow rapidly) at some point they are going to be full of "Wallys" who no one can figure out what to do with, but who have kept enough within the rules to avoid being terminated.

I don't by any means think, as the article implies, that this is confined to IT. Quite the contrary, we see it everywhere more and more. The change, if it is going to happen at all (I'm not optimistic) has to come from our elected officials who can once again make it easy for companies to clean house. After all, in a society that more and more takes care of the unemployed and under-employed, worse things can happen than being the victim of a corporate "downsizing". the question is whether there is anyone at most companies making sure that the right PHBs are let go during such events.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame "Solitude" Tour

But in case you're interested, before watching the C-Span coverage, here is a summary of the events so far (link in title).

NIST Likely To Lift Windows Vista Ban If Microsoft's New OS Passes Muster - Technology News by InformationWeek

"Unlike colleagues at some other federal agencies, however, Szykman said he is not seriously considering booting Windows from his computing environment in favor of alternate software. 'The majority of our users are on Microsoft technology and I expect it will remain that way,' said Szykman."

Well, it didn't take that MS sales rep long to make the necessary phone calls did it?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I, Cringely : The $7 TV Network

"Neither our PCs nor the Internet were ready for multicasting in 1997, but today they are, the trick being to somehow enable an efficient multicast-type experience without turning on multicast support in the routers, where multicasting remains switched off.

Enter Neokast, the brainchild of a PhD candidate from Northwestern University, Stefan Birrer. Neokast uses peer-to-peer technology to effectively emulate a multicast experience."

Danish scientist: Global warming is a myth

"He says the currently used method of determining the global temperature -- and any conclusion drawn from it -- is more political than scientific."

So there!

Plame to tell her story before Congress

I'm not commenting on the story here so much as the technology used to produce it. You see the part I've bolded below? I was reading the article and was puzzled about what sort of "voting record" a former ambassador would have. Maybe they had a list of which Presidents he had voted for? Anyway, the link, which I also reproduced in my sample here, does indeed take you to the voting record of Joe Wilson, only it's not the same Joe Wilson mentioned in the article.

More and more it seems these automated link generators are providing more disinformation than information. I particularly dislike the ones that generate pop-ups over what you are trying to read if you accidentally hover your mouse in the wrong place. Common words in lower case take you to people who have those words as part of their name. Is anybody paying attention to all this sloppiness? I didn't think so.

"Although she's had little to say publicly, Plame has made more than a few splashy appearances with her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson (news, bio, voting record). Last month alone, the Wilsons attended a book party for Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic Party chairman, and were spotted having lunch with actress Morgan Fairchild at the Four Seasons."

Project Green is Dead—for the Foreseeable Future, at Least

"During the session someone asked Nadella if Project Green is dead. He said that much of the understanding about Green is false. 'When our message came out, [people said] that none of our product lines were going to exist. We said, 'We have an agenda of convergence.' A lot of the Green stuff you believe, you heard from someone else. That was created to create FUD in our message. Will our designs converge, or data models converge, our UI shared? Absolutely.'"

Keep your eyes on the shiny ball, see it swing from side to side, you're getting sleepy, so sleepy.

Personalize Your Homepage


This Google talk applet requires Flash 9 too!

GrandCentral: The New Way to Use Your Phones

"You need Flash to use GrandCentral. Get it here"

No, I HAVE Flash, I just don't have the latest version, which I think is only barely available for Linux and I'd rather wait until it is a standard part of my distro.

So here is my review of your product: It sucks!

Maybe I'll try it again at some later time, or maybe by then you will be out of business and Google or some such large company will be offering a non-denominational equivalent.

Just wondering why I would need a computer application of any sort to get a portable phone number at all. Curious, very curious.


More MS criticism from inside (presumably).

Microsoft Watch - Web Services & Browser - Who Shot Windows Live?

MS Corporate politics (yawn):

"The question remains: Who shot MSN—or is it Windows Live? There may have been multiple shooters, in a free-for-all of Second Amendment rights.

Johnson is a candidate, because his ascension to president of the Platforms & Services division knocked down Cole and led to ongoing changes to MSN/Live."

I keep trying this stuff, at least those parts of it that don't require Windows. Just hard to imagine they have "millions" of users. Maybe advertisers see through the funny accounting tricks after a while. Some of the Yahoo stuff is still usable, but mighty cluttered and disorganized. Google stuff isn't perfect either, but the interface is simple, and response is (mostly) fast.

Google is taking separate products (most but not all of which are developed in-house) and allowing them to sink or swim on their own. Microsoft seems intent on rolling together one big monster online package (pattern sound familiar?) Yahoo, which has more years worth of stuff to integrate continues to do a lousy job of hooking it all together, even the look-and-feel of one Yahoo product compared to another doesn't correlate very well.

Google, who's interfaces all have the same text-mode looking simplicity (which I like, but some people probably don't) keeps making the packages talk to each other better. It was frustrating that when you uploaded a picture to a blog entry you no longer had any control over it (it didn't show up on a list anywhere, couldn't be edited, deleted or replaced). But now those pictures go into Picasa (if you share blogs, it can be a bit tricky to predict WHERE they go into Picasa though) and you now have a gig of picture storage rather than the 250 meg you had before. Will a gig of space hold all the huge pictures I'm taking these days? No, not for long. But if I only upload the "good" ones I'm fine so far, and in addition to this ID, I have a couple of "corporate" ids each with their own storage. I think I'm getting more bang for the buck (well, metaphorically) with Google than with either of the other two. Is there a contrary point of view? Is anyone singing the praises of MS Live, Yahoo Groups, or Yahoo anything? I haven't found them.

Oh, and I didn't mention AOL because nobody else seems to be either. They have some quality online offerings out there (who else has IMAP e-mail?) but none of the regular suspects in the "blogosphere" ever mention them. Is this holdover resentment for all those floppies?

At least half of these companies need to merge. My bet/preference would be Google/AOL and MS/Yahoo. In terms of interface style those are the pairings that make most sense. Pairing a cluttered/bloated interface with one that was clean and simple would ruin both (hypothesizing a group of people who actually LIKE clutter here).

GMO corn causes liver, kidney problems in rats: study: Scientific American

"Greenpeace said a study it had commissioned that was published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Technology showed rats fed for 90 days on Monsanto's MON863 maize showed 'signs of toxicity' in the liver and kidneys."

I wonder if will affect gas mileage.

The Glass Ceiling Over Linux

It's really hard to miss how Linux and Windows are relatively judged in the tech blogosphere. Consider the following attributes and their praise or criticism, completely based on what operating system they happen to accompany:

1. A free graphics program bundled with the system.
(a) On Windows: Cool! A free paint program! Hey, everybody, check out this awesome pixel-art I did!
(b) On Linux: The interface is completely wrong! It needs to be just like Photoshop!

2. The system has a command line.
(a) On Linux: It's this archaic dependency on outdated interfaces that is holding Linux back.
(b) On Windows: The new Windows Power Shell innovation is a bold leap forward that gives Windows more power! Order your copy for $100 today!

... more at the link.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Microsoft Suffers Latest Blow As NIST Bans Windows Vista - Technology News by InformationWeek

"FAA CIO Dave Bowen told InformationWeek that he may forego upgrading the aviation safety agency's computers to Microsoft's latest offerings in favor of desktops running some combination of Linux and Google Apps, Google's new online suite of office productivity tools."

Halliburton Moving HQ To Dubai

Here is a sloppily worded (but well reasoned of course!) Slashdot post in response to the question of bringing back the old days of companies that cared for their employees' well being:
Q: It's a damned shame, but how can we bring it back?

I rather doubt we can, in our lifetimes anyway. Countries that are just now entering the level of prosperity that we enjoyed in the second half of the 20th century are quite willing to give tax breaks, look the other way on pollution controls, and in general "care about" companies that open up in otherwise impoverished parts of their countries. Here on the other hand, we have developed a cultural bias against all large companies, while at the same time not doing much to favor small companies either.

If you are a Boeing, you may make the best airplanes, but you have a heavily government subsidized Airbus to go up against. In this particular case of course, Airbus, having nothing to lose but European tax payers money went way out on a limb with some bad technology and now Boeing is seeing the benefit. But several years ago Boeing outlook wasn't so certain, and several years from now (if Airbus gets their act together) that might be the case again. Very rarely though does our government step in to prop up a company that might be in trouble (Chrysler being a counter example), instead letting the chips fall where they may (as with Enron, Worldcom, etc.)

On the other hand, if a company is healthy, there is a public outcry to keep them out of town (Walmart), tax them more, or confiscate their revenues for some worthy cause (as Hillary wants to to do to the other US oil companies). It seems to be often forgotten that these "big greedy companies" are where many of our retirement programs are invested. Yes, Enron was evil (at the top), yes they did bad things, and yes a lot of individuals were hurt when their stock value went to zero. But was the average Enron employee a part of this? Would forcing them all to archive their e-mail for a billion years have prevented it? Doubtful.

Do small companies get treated better? Maybe some do, but the ones I know are being run on a shoestring and nobody working there is getting rich. A dozen man construction company for example is subject to endless regulations, and because they handle millions of dollars in materials, even though the employees may be making a low hourly wage, they are not treated like a "small business". Doctors and Dentists in America used to be thought of as small businesses too, and that's the way they operated. But our legal system has changed all that. Now even the smallest country doctor needs a staff to keep track of paperwork, billing though various government agencies, and of course responding to litigation issues.

Our media has focused on the fact that many large companies are being run by executives that are millionaires, and who continue to make millions every year, often after poor performance. But this isn't true of the vast majority of businesses and we've lost sight of the fact that the REAL value of the company (almost any company) is is the hundreds (or thousands) of employees making a living wage, as well as stockholders (pensioners) just like you and me. Socialist countries (I include most of Europe) have awakened to the need to keep these companies happy, just as we (Americans) have started to find every reason imaginable to make such companies feel unwelcome.

I don't think for a minute that most big companies "care" about their employees, other than on a competitive level, where they have to offer just enough incentives to keep them from jumping ship. But the average American voter certainly doesn't care for corporate America either, and as you can see here from the other comments, we'll also blame them for not sticking around to take another beating. Do you think the average government worker in Washington "cares" about the average American citizen either? Yet we give them more and more authority over us to protect us from those institutions that are free to go somewhere else if the going gets too tough here.

To bring things back we have to once again realize that with the exception of a few executives most companies are "us". At the same time, India, China, and so on will have to stop offering them incentives to move. Our attitude certainly shows no sign of changing any time soon, and I don't think those other countries will either, hence I think it will take a new generation of people in America (who will unfortunately not be too well off) to once again see the value of saying "yes sir" to the boss.

I am no defender of Haliburton. There ARE bad companies, and maybe they are one of them. I'm none too happy with what Microsoft has done to the average computer operating system, but my remedy has to do with their monopoly status, not what Gates and Ballmer get paid. Enron was lead by unethical idiots, but all those people are now in jail or dead. It is our culture that punished the company as a whole, criticizing them for every business deal they've done in the last 20 years, and instituting new laws (Sarbanes/Oxley) that will cost ALL companies, good and bad billions of dollars in compliance costs. Can't we just "fix" Microsoft for their monopolistic behavior? Couldn't we have just "fixed" Enron by taking out (legally of course) their boardroom? Can't we go after Walmart's health coverage issues? No, instead we have passed, and will continue to pass draconian new rules that will cause large companies to run at a loss, and small companies to go under. In fact, companies like Microsoft, with billions in the bank will benefit (at least in the short term) as smaller competitors are put out of business. We are in for a clash of titans here in America (Google, MS, IBM, HP AOL/TW and a few others), and then I think we are going to see a big big crash. That's the way I see it anyway. I hope I'm wrong.

From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype - New York Times

“Nowhere does Mr. Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet,” Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University in Australia, said in a September blog. “Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change.”

In October, Dr. Easterbrook made similar points at the geological society meeting in Philadelphia. He hotly disputed Mr. Gore’s claim that “our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this” threatened change.

Nonsense, Dr. Easterbrook told the crowded session. He flashed a slide that showed temperature trends for the past 15,000 years. It highlighted 10 large swings, including the medieval warm period. These shifts, he said, were up to “20 times greater than the warming in the past century.”

Getting personal, he mocked Mr. Gore’s assertion that scientists agreed on global warming except those industry had corrupted. “I’ve never been paid a nickel by an oil company,” Dr. Easterbrook told the group. “And I’m not a Republican.”

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

ABC News: Man, 91, Challenges Jack LaLanne, 92

"Fortin, a widower who has wintered in Florida since retiring from the funeral business decades ago, doesn't think either man would get hurt in a brief square-off. 'He'd knock me down, I'd knock him down,' he said."

Yeah, and then you would both report for hip surgery. at the Tomb?

Today is pick on the MSM day. God I hate them!

Andrew Lih - Essjay Departure, Questions Remain for The New Yorker

"The ultimate question then: did the New Yorker ever ask Essjay for his real-life name for verification of the facts? Given their vaunted reputation for meticulous fact checking, this is an important question."


Where do people get this stuff?

Gates Asks U.S. Senate Panel To Ease Skilled-Worker Visas -

"Mr. Gates said a worker's mother country is helped when that worker sends home some of his or her wages to remaining family members. He also said that countries with health problems would be better served by greater investment in health care and not by trying to prevent their health-care professionals from moving abroad."

Did anyone on the Senate panel have brains enough to challenge this doublespeak from Microsoft's Idiot-in-Chief?

What am I saying, of course not.

GDC07 Clip: The PS3's Home - Kotaku


More coverage:

Sony brings it 'Home' for the PS3

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Schools across Japan may switch to Linux :: gyaku

Japan's public broadcaster NHK reported late last week that the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to introduce the open-source operating system Linux for use within classrooms across the country in the near future. According to an investigation conducted in the spring of last year, there are currently over 400,000 computers at schools in Japan running on either Windows 98 or Windows Me, systems no longer supported by the software manufacturer Microsoft. The prohibitive cost of replacing these machines with newer models, as well as the rising price of proprietary software, prompted school teachers and administrators to propose the possibility of switching to open-source software as an affordable alternative.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Civilization Watch - February 18, 2007 - Evil Fiction - The Ornery American

"Let me tell you about an audiobook that I hated.

I didn't hate it because it was badly written -- it was mediocre in the way that mediocre thrillers usually are, and that means it would ordinarily have been tolerable.

No, the reason I stopped listening to Steve Berry's The Alexandria Link is that this book is evil."


I've sworn off anything that can be described as "historical fiction", which includes a lot of movies as well as books. Even if I can't detect what the agenda is, and if I can then whether or not I agree with it.

I can't read nearly as much as I would like to any way and this is a convenient way to shorten up my list.

Wired: AP Technology and Business News from the Outside World on

As the professor on Futurama says: "Good News Everyone!"...

"Diebold Inc. saw great potential in the modernization of elections equipment. Now, analysts say, executives may be angling for ways to dump its e-voting subsidiary that's widely seen as tarnishing the company's reputation."

Good news, because Windows based flaky touch screen systems will get a much deserved black-eye.

Good news, because maybe a few taxpayers (regardless of political affiliation) will be outraged by yet another wholesale replacement of voting systems by what is (almost**) certainly going to be more of the same. You think the laptop, touchscreen, and software (particularly Microsoft) sales reps are going to just sit idly by as Diebold leaves the playing field? With luck a few well placed (and as many cases as not Democratic leaning) election officials will be publicly driven from office. Do I care whether they are corrupt or just stupid? Um, no. In fact, corrupt governments might tend to watch how they spend our money more carefully. I want the spending on things that obviously don't work to stop, no matter what the cause.

Good news, because it might serve to remind people how close some of the 2006 results were (just as close in many cases as Florida 2000) and yet very few of these results were contested by Republican losing candidates, who could have wasted more taxpayer money with a nod. The one case of a contested results in the states surrounding me was in fact one in with a republican won by a comfortable margin. The Democrats called for a recount anyway. There is no doubt who the "ends justify the means" crybabies are (except in the mainstream media that is).

Good news, finally, because there is (**at least) some chance that the few stories of poor to non-existent systems analysis that went into these new touchscreen voting systems will yield some viable open source alternatives (in fact open source applications running on Linux are ready to go.)

I'll continue to spank posters on Slashdot, local forums, and newspaper editors, who imply that an election has only been mishandled when Republicans win. That shallow thinking HAS lead to tyranny (even if a tyranny of "the masses") in other countries and it will do so here if not stopped.

Memo: Microsoft threatened to shut down Mac Office

No surprise here:

March 05, 2007 (Computerworld) -- Microsoft Corp. threatened to dump the Macintosh version of Office 10 years ago during talks with Apple Inc. because the move would "do a great deal of harm" to its rival, according to a memo made public in a recently-settled antitrust case.

The 1997 memo from Ben Waldman, at the time the head of Microsoft's Macintosh development group, to then-CEO Bill Gates, urged Mac Office 97's release. The suite, which in June 1997 had not yet reached beta, was eventually released as Office 98 in March 1998.

But Waldman understood that the next Mac Office was a stick that could be used against Apple. "The threat to cancel Mac Office 97 is certainly the strongest bargaining point we have, as doing so will do a great deal of harm to Apple immediately. I also think that Apple is taking this threat pretty seriously," Waldman said in his e-mail to Gates.

Mini-Microsoft: There's Ray! Plus: Plenty of Room For More Brains at Microsoft.

"Overall, the reaction seems to be: 'Meh.' For whatever reason, I feel there's an increasing expectation for Ray to walk onto the stage with a TabletPC cradled in each arm blazing innovative thoughts for the future that leave the audience agog. Now everyone is looking towards Mix07 for the 'Wow' because this last presentation came up short."

Did he say the word "innovate" 75 times?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

'Global Warming Is Lies' Claims Documentary

"The programme claims there appears to be a consensus across science that CO2 is responsible for global warming, but Professor Paul Reiter is shown to disagree.

He said the influential United Nations report on Climate change, that claimed humans were responsible, was a sham.

It claimed to be the opinion of 2,500 leading scientists, but Prof Reiter said it included names of scientists who disagreed with the findings and resigned from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and said the report was finalised by government appointees.

The CO2 theory is further undermined by claims that billions of pounds is being provided by governments to fund greenhouse effect research, so thousands of scientists know their job depends on the theory continuing to be seen as fact. "

The Great Global Warming Swindle

The film features an impressive roll-call of experts, including nine professors – experts in climatology, oceanography, meteorology, environmental science, biogeography and paleoclimatology – from such reputable institutions as MIT, NASA, the International Arctic Research Centre, the Institut Pasteur, the Danish National Space Center and the Universities of London, Ottawa, Jerusalem, Winnipeg, Alabama and Virginia.

The Killing of Wi-Fi : The Threat of Wi-Fi - Columns by PC Magazine

"Here's the value proposition. Wi-Fi is currently at 54 Mbps and has been for years. Reaching 100 Mbps is easily achievable thanks to pre-n and other tricks. The cell connections run from 384 Kbps with EDGE up to maybe 2 Mbps on EV-DO, if you're lucky. These are the speeds we were playing with 10 years ago, but now they're some sort of breakthrough. Yes, it's a kind of breakthrough, considering the phone companies' old 115-Kbps GPRS clunker technologies.

For these speeds—which are capped, mind you, so you cannot actually use what you are sold—you pay $50, $60, maybe $70 a month. And for that money, you get to send files from a park bench a couple of times a week or maybe once a month from the airport. Is the public so stupid that if given the choice between that service and free municipal Wi-Fi, they'd want the slower expensive service over the free faster service?"

Yes Indeedy!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Carl Malamud to Brian Lamb: “You should not treat the U.S. Congress like Disney would treat Mickey Mouse”

From Jon Udell's blog:

What I think a lot of people don’t understand — C-Span is a business, just like CNN is,” Mr. Collins said. “If we don’t have a revenue stream, we wouldn’t have six crews ready to cover Congressional hearings.

I wondered about that, but lacked context. Now Carl Malamud has provided the missing context. In a stunning letter to C-Span’s president and CEO Brian Lamb, which includes the above quote, Malamud points out that C-Span is supported not only by its revenues operating as a nonprofit business, but also by “considerable public largesse.” Taxpayers, Malamud argues, are footing the bill for much of the facilities, wiring, and equipment that enable C-Span’s camera crews to do their work.

Read the title link for more. My comments:

Great catch!

I’ve long been a fan of C-span and when I first got cable I soon found that I was watching it a large percentage of the time. I learned a lot of things about how our government works that were not covered (or were just plain wrong) in my high school civics classes, and now I find they don’t even teach civics any more! I tell everyone I talk to not to let another election go by without watching a few hundred hours of C-span (unfortunately almost nobody takes this advice).

In protest to the shoddy workmanship of most cable content I canceled my service several years ago and find myself much more informed about the world than I was as a couch potato, but part of the reason for this is that I still watch and read C-Span on the Internet. I constantly worry that they will start requiring some proof that I have cable service in order to get to their programs, which are in fact partially funded by those same cable monopolies.

I am of the opinion that all of the coverage of government should be in the public domain, and if the taxpayers have to foot the bill to make it so, then fine. Let C-Span broadcast those materials for the cable community and turn the digitized versions over to, Google, or anyone else willing to host them. I have no problem with C-Span selling the DVDs, CD, and so forth that they do either, such things are a convenience for many people who are not savvy about downloading, or don’t have fast connections, but for the rest of us there is no reason we should have to ask permission of C-Span or anyone else to make use of public hearings.

C-Span is at the same time performing a public service and, as your article indicates, possibly serving as a barrier to an even greater public service. One has to wonder if they have not become so set in their ways that they don’t want anyone rocking the boat.

Let’s rock!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Sirius Guarantees Radios Will Work After Merger -

But will there be any content for them to receive?

Cox & Forkum: Charmed

(Nice cartoon at title link)

From the Mercury News Article:

"Language fluency was a big reason some of Sun Microsystems' technical support jobs were moved from India to Nova Scotia. Customers in the Americas who needed tech support had griped about having a difficult time understanding the English typically spoken in India. ``This move offered a better fit for our customers,'' said Sun spokeswoman Dana Lengkeek."

I don't think language is the main issue though. Consider an example recently relayed to me (I have less recent personal examples though):

You call about a brand new printer/fax/scanner combo that after a month has started issuing a grinding sound when you do certain operations and refused to feed paper from the sheet feeder (but otherwise scans and prints fine). After asking several sensible questions, the telephone support suggests that you download and install a newer version of the devices firmware. ("Newer version? I just got the thing!") Furthermore, since this will take quite a while, they suggest you call back when the process is complete.

This has nothing to do with language, although it may have something to do with culture. In North America (and other places I''m sure) we have struggled with high-tech devices for long enough to know when the support person has exceeded their competency as is merely stalling for time, or worse, trying to get you off the phone so that they meet some sort of efficiency standards at their call center. These lame tactics might have been common at call centers in Texas or Baltimore in the 80s, but they don't fly any more. In other parts of the world though, callers might have a different, more tolerant response to the "authority" of the call center personnel. It has little to do with language, or accents, which in this melting pot we have here are all too common in daily face to face life.

As to the economics of it all, I suspect the average consumer if given a choice of being on hold for a minute and speaking with someone anywhere in the world, versus being on hold for an hour, and possibly being disconnected in the process to get some bleary eyed tech-seminar graduate from big-city USA, most of us would take the former.

StorageMojo - Open Letter to Seagate, Hitachi GST, EMC, HP, NetApp, IBM and Sun

"The papers suggested that important assumptions about disks, and by implication, arrays, are wrong - and not just a little.

  • Failure rates are several times higher than reported by drive companies.
  • Actual MTBFs (or AFRs) of “enterprise” and “consumer” drives are much pretty much the same.
  • Drive failure rates rise steadily with age rather than staying flat through some n-year mark.
  • SMART is not a reliable predictor of drive failure.
  • Array disk failures are highly correlated, making RAID 5 two to four times less safe than assumed."

Hard Disk MTBF: Flap or Farce?

"Data sheets for hard drives have always included a specification for reliability expressed in hours: commonly known as MTBF (mean time between failures), or sometimes the mean time to failure. Same difference: One way assumes that a drive will be fixed, and the other, replaced. Nowadays, this number is around a million hours for an 'enterprise' hard drive. Some drives are rated at 1.5 million hours."

Do we want Mac in the enterprise when we have Linux?

"Larry Dignan recently posted a piece on Mac in the enterprise (The eternal question: Can Apple go enterprise?). I think a better question is actually why we would want Apple to bother with the enterprise when we have Linux? This assumes, of course, that you're in the market for a Windows alternative. However, Apple has done such an incredibly nice job moving into the world of consumer electronics that I say, 'Let them stay there!'"

VOTE! - Dell IdeaStorm

"CHOICE is what consumers want on their new PCs, not annoying surprise circus-ware (the typical smattering of confusing 3rd party popup-infested software found on most new Dell PCs). Quality free and open source software is well behaved, and may be legally pre-installed on PCs, and legally shared with friends and family, sharing is encouraged! Cast your vote for consumer CHOICE and public transparency at Dell. "

Adobe wants to be the Microsoft of the Web

"What is not appealing is going back to a technology which is single sourced and controlled by a single vendor. If web applications liberated us from the domination of a single company on the desktop, why would we be eager to be dominated by a different company on the web? Yet, this is what Adobe would have us do, as would the many who are (understandably, along some dimensions, anyway) excited about Flex? Read Anne Zelenka’s post on Open Flash if you don’t think that Flash has an openness problem. I’m not eager to go from being beholden to Microsoft to being beholden to Adobe."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Compendium of Second Life Articles from Ziff Davis

Black Hat Demonstrations Shatter Hardware Hacking Myths

Unless you were at Black Hat on Feb. 28, you probably woke up safe in the assumption that if a rootkit hit your system, reimaging would remove it. You probably also thought that the best way to search a PC's volatile memory, or RAM, was by grabbing it with a PCI card or a FireWire bus.

You were wrong.