Friday, November 30, 2007

Things That are Not What They Seem

"The Absence of Character

We are witness to a national trait of never accepting any culpability when it matters, and then when it does not, blaming one’s successors. Neither Richard Clark nor Michael Scheuer could find bin Laden or the 9/11 terrorists before they struck. Both blamed each other, their respective agencies, the Bush administration, and almost everyone else but themselves. Then in retirement they cashed in with books, became the darlings of the Left and provided a blueprint for others. Now Gen. Sanchez claims we can’t win and must leave—voiced in his service to election-cycle Democrats. But, of course, the insurgency took off under his tenure, even as he assured us in sworn testimony before Congress that we had enough troops, the right tactics, and things were improving under his watch. Was he not truthful then, or now, or both?"

Republicans Report Much Better Mental Health Than Others

Of course!

Being right is extremely gratifying.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Doug Morris: The world's stupidest recording exec, in easy-to-read comics format

I think this comic is going to be a classic.

"Bears with chainsaws for hands" cracks me up every time I read it (and I had to go check to make sure he didn't actually say that).

PopularityDialer Goes Offline - New York Times

"It gets weirder. When Ms. Chowdhury and Mr. Forsyth contacted the F.C.C. to get an explanation for the citation, the F.C.C. minion who responded was equally baffled. 'I don't see how a Web site falls within the jurisdiction of the F.C.C. or how it would cause T.C.P.A. violations,' went the reply. 'We would not give any advice on how to legally continue the operation of your business. That would have to come from your own attorney.'

So let me get this straight: The same F.C.C. that sent the citation has no idea why it sent the citation?"

That sort of sounds like my experience with the Feds. I had to hire someone to intervene.

How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook

Keeping track of our social relationships is a serious piece of work that runs a heavy cognitive load. It's natural to seek out some neural prosthesis for assistance in this chore. My fiancee once proposed a "social scheduling" application that would watch your phone and email and IM to figure out who your pals were and give you a little alert if too much time passed without your reaching out to say hello and keep the coals of your relationship aglow. By the time you've reached your forties, chances are you're out-of-touch with more friends than you're in-touch with: Old summer-camp chums, high-school mates, ex-spouses and their families, former co-workers, college roomies, dot-com veterans... Getting all those people back into your life is a full-time job and then some.

You'd think that Facebook would be the perfect tool for handling all this. It's not. For every long-lost chum who reaches out to me on Facebook, there's a guy who beat me up on a weekly basis through the whole seventh grade but now wants to be my buddy; or the crazy person who was fun in college but is now kind of sad; or the creepy ex-co-worker who I'd cross the street to avoid but who now wants to know, "Am I your friend?" yes or no, this instant, please.

Google Immortal

This post was automatically generated.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Verizon Wireless to Offer Open Access to Network -

"In a major break with industry practice, Verizon Wireless said it will allow consumers to use any compatible cellphone on its network and allow open access to the Web and third-party applications."

Do Not Read This If You Are Anti-Nuclear Energy - Freakonomics - Opinion - New York Times Blog

"In other words, even if you end up pro-nuke, you can still find something to blame on nuclear industry. (I have always found this argument shaky, especially when put forth by journalists: that the nuclear industry didn’t tell its own story well. When a besieged industry does “tell its own story well,” it is said to be manipulating the media; and when it doesn’t, it’s not the media that’s at fault, but the industry itself.)"

Google Plans Service to Store Users' Data -

"Google is preparing a service that would let users store on its computers essentially all of the files they might keep on their personal-computer hard drives -- such as word-processing documents, digital music, video clips and images, say people familiar with the matter. The service could let users access their files via the Internet from different computers and mobile devices when they sign on with a password, and share them online with friends. It could be released as early as a few months from now, one of the people said."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Q&A: Talking with Stephen King - TIME

HT: Google Blogscoped

I think there ought to be some serious discussion by smart people, really smart people, about whether or not proliferation of things like The Smoking Gun and TMZ and YouTube and the whole celebrity culture is healthy. We've switched from a culture that was interested in manufacturing, economics, politics — trying to play a serious part in the world — to a culture that's really entertainment-based. I mean, I know people who can tell you who won the last four seasons on American Idol and they don't know who their f------ Representatives are.

I don't know if Mr. King intended this as a criticism of Google so much as modern media culture, i.e. what is being produced as opposed to what is being hosted.

Contrast with cable TV, which provided much more in the way of educational content such as History Channel etc, while at the same time producing an explosion of mindless entertainment programming. The difference is that with cable, if times get hard, they'll keep the programming that pays the bills and jettison the intellectual stuff.

I don't see Google (or Youtube) as being in this position, unless they change significantly. They host whatever anyone wants to put out there and search for it as well. If I want news on the "DC tax scandal" I don't have to see anything else in the process of looking for it. I don't have to visit the front page of the newspapers and magazines that might carry this story. Google has given us that and the capability is not well understood by people like Mr. King.

Also not understood by Mr. King (who after all is wealthy as a results of our entertainment oriented culture) is that parents who don't take an active part in their children's development are going to raise imbeciles (functionally, regardless of their IQ). Unfortunately in that regard the damage is done, and even if we were to reverse course now (doubtful) it would take 20 years or more to see the difference.

We've made our bed and now have to sleep in it. Google can hardly be blamed.

Coding error to blame for DHS award to Chenega

"An agency of the Homeland Security Department improperly awarded a 10-year, $475 million sole-source contract in 2003 to the Alaskan Native firm Chenega Technology Services Corp., according to a new report from the department’s inspector general."

Doesn't exactly sound like thy have any plans to correct the error either. Typical. Your money at "work".

Of course it could be worse. Yes it could. No member of the DC government was involved in spotting the millions of tax dollars embezzled there, it was a lowly private bank teller who thought something seemed fishy. Maybe one day voters will wake up too. You think?

A $160,000 Bentley, a $26,000 designer handbag, more than 40 fake government tax-refund checks averaging a staggering $388,000 apiece and $1.4 million in Neiman Marcus luxury items. These are some of the gaudier details of the $20 million tax scam inside the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Apple: Zune outselling iPod on Amazon

When you've nailed the analysis, I can't think of any reason not to brag about it (quoting myself):

I imagine it has a lot to do with Apple not allowing retailers of their products to compete with one another on price.

If I'm going to buy an Apple product online I might as well buy it from Apple where it can often have it monogrammed and gift wrapped for free. If you could get them significantly cheaper at Amazon I'm sure they would be selling more of them.

Add to that the fact (I think) that you can ONLY buy a Zune from retailers, not directly from Microsoft:

and I really don't think there is any validity to this comparison.

I do think though that Apple's lead in this area will die a slow death unless they do something new to differentiate themselves. At the volume the innards for these things are being cranked out by whatever godforsaken country they are coming from, there is just no way for any US "maker" to claim a leadership position.

They are positioning themselves as a general purpose upscale consumer electronic company (some might call this painting themselves into a corner).

Keep an eye out for the iBeam (a small white radar detector that once you're stopped will actually try and talk the officer out of giving you a ticket), the iContact, a knobless no-moving-parts stereo entertainment center that you control by staring at various parts of it and the iCUP for which no product details have been, uh, leaked.

Thompson to DHS: Give small biz a chance

Quick fix #587:
"Small businesses are more flexible than large contractors and can react more quickly to change, said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) at a Nov. 15 breakfast hosted by Crowell and Moring."

Quick fix #1: Get rid of federal managers who fail to acheive their goals (or any goals). The rest will take care of itself.

I wonder if they'll ever try it?

Server Too Busy, Laptops Broken, No Light at End of Tunnel

Server Too Busy: "Server Error in '/' Application. Server Too Busy Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code. Exception Details: System.Web.HttpException: Server Too Busy Source Error: An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below. Stack Trace: [HttpException (0x80004005): Server Too Busy] System.Web.HttpRuntime.RejectRequestInternal(HttpWorkerRequest wr) 148 Version Information: Microsoft .NET Framework Version:1.1.4322.2407; ASP.NET Version:1.1.4322.2407"

You DON'T always get what you pay for.

When in doubt:

Buy TWO of them!

#6: Way to turn this into an Apple ad.

Man: My Apple computer is so unreliable I had to buy two of them!

Other Man: That's nothing. My Windows Computer is so unreliable I had to buy THREE of them! Uphill!!

Or something.

If we were talking step ladders or x-ray machines, there would be companies out of business, and executives in the un-employment line. Only a career in modern high-tech can make selling cigarettes seem a noble way to make a living.

More news of updates that don't fix anything.

"boot from sleep mode" is an oxymoron.

If you had a computer fast enough to make possible actually booting Windows in a few seconds it would go to work for you while you lay around and watch videos all day.

There will never be such a thing. Microsoft's job is to make systems that are progressively slower so that you need to buy more hardware.

Intel's job is to make hardware that is progressively more complex so that you need to buy more software.

Whether they have a written or verbal agreement or just communicate with nods and winks across the card table doesn't matter. They'll play the winning strategy as long as consumers are dumb enough to keep falling for it.

Don't any of you ever get it?

GAO Flunks SEC's Internal Controls - -

"The GAO's report said that data related to accounts receivable balances is processed manually at the SEC in a manner that is prone to error and could result in inaccurate financial reporting by the agency. The news is a blow to the SEC, which was criticized by the GAO in 2006 for the same manual processes, but narrowly avoided a material weakness by putting in place extra controls to compensate for them. The GAO said those controls were not effective in 2007."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Google admits to cracking Facebook private data

"It's not that Facebook disapproves of targeting ads to its users' private data. It just disapproves of Google doing it."

Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device

"Three years ago, we set out to design and build an entirely new class of device—a convenient, portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. The result is Amazon Kindle."

Open Source Mathematical Software

From PDF file at link:
Open source software, such as TEX, Mozilla Firefox, and Linux has had a profound effect on computing during the last decade, and we hope that open source mathematical software will have a similar positive impact on mathematics.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Media Matters: Inside the Media Matters, Clinton, Obama Love Triangle

"Or! Playing white knight to Obama's distressed damsel could just be a ploy to handily distract people from asking any more uncomfortable questions about the lefty group's alleged angel investor, Senator Hillary Clinton, who acknowledged helping to fund the site at this year's YearlyKos convention. "

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nokia 810 Fan Video

Boston Review — Pious Populist

"In truth the only solution to the “Iran Problem”—from the nuclear question to Iran’s regional support for Islamist groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah—is for the century-old dream of democracy to become a reality. Ahmadinejad is fully aware of this danger and has done everything to forestall democratic change. Since taking office, he has closed virtually every opposition paper, stepped up censorship of films and books, attempted to dismantle the student movement and suppress the embryonic labor union movement, and tried to intimidate Iranian women who were beginning to find a public voice."

Friday, November 16, 2007

OpenWorld: 1,500 companies adopt Oracle Unbreakable Linux

"The number of customers is impressively greater than the number Oracle announced six months ago: 26. And that was with 'virtually no selling at all' of Unbreakable Linux, CEO Larry Ellison bragged during his keynote speech at Oracle's OpenWorld 2007 conference. 'We did all of this while just building up our Linux sales team,' he said. Unbreakable Linux includes enterprise support for applications running on either Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or Oracle's close clone, all at half the price of Red Hat Inc.'s offering."

Considering Oracles entire data center operation converted over to Linux years ago, and last time I checked it was their development platform, why would anyone in their right minds (that excludes my former employers within the federal government) want to run a dedicated Oracle server on Windows?

Maybe I answered my own question there.

Katie Couric imitates Dan Rather on YouTube video clip

If I still watched TV, I might be watching Katie. But just for the cute of it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

One Post per Blog

I recently decided to do all my blogging here. So much simpler. Hardest part will be making sure I have a back-up of some sort (Google still doesn't provide a true back-up for archival purposes as far as I know) for the blogs that will eventually be dropped.

But I have it easy. Some people have apparently taken the opposite tack of posting one or two items and then just moving on to another blog, another name, another profile entry. (Didn't there use to be a five blog limit per user?) It almost looks like domain name squatting, or an amateurish SEO effort.

As an early user of most things Google, I've always, or almost always, been able to pick the name I wanted for things. Not true at AOL where I was very late to the party and had to look for a name that included numbers, or special characters so as not to be unbearably long and hard to remember. Fortunately I don't use AOL for much (IM) and even that less and less as time goes on.

But we may be approaching a time when all the "good" names are used up within the Google name space, and possibly by people who, for whatever reason, aren't really making such good use of those names. I wonder what, if anything they (Google) will do about it, and whether they have considered the impression this makes on potential new users who will have to call their blog something like "J4n3ts Blog". | Queen Hillary's disruptive court

"But Hillary's performance at prior debates was never as deft or 'flawless' as the media claimed in the first place. Conventional wisdom has now flipped, and the air-headed lemmings of our free press have turned on a dime and are stampeding in the opposite direction. This is the same crew who passively swallowed administration propaganda about the urgency of an invasion of Iraq. Don't ask for critical acumen from this lot."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Student describes how she became a Clinton plant -

The college student who was told what question to ask at one of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign events says "voters have the right to know what happened" and she wasn't the only one who was planted.

Stefano's Linotype ~ Dalvik: how Google routed around Sun's IP-based licensing restrictions on Java ME

"So, here we are: Apple makes the iPhone, incredibly sweet, slick and game-changing and yet incredibly locked. Google makes Android and not only unlocks development abilities on the mobile phone but also unlocks millions of potential Java mobile programmers from Sun's grip on it.

Plus, they're targeting 3G phones, not the crappy 2.5G that the iPhone supports now.

Screw the iPhone and screw Java ME with all its profiles, midlets and the stupid requirement to crypto-sign your application to run on your own phone: I can hardly wait to get my hands on hardware that can run Android... and if they can't support multi-touch out of the box because Apple owns patents on it, I'll download the patch that enables it from a country where such nonsense doesn't apply."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Facebook Unveils Social (Class) Actions? | Digital Daily | John Paczkowski | AllThingsD

Nothing new but...
“It seems as though Facebook might be assuming that if a person talks about a product, then he or she consents to being used in an advertisement for it,” Solove writes. “But such an assumption might be wrong, and the use of a person’s name or image in an advertisement without that person’s consent might constitute a violation of the appropriation of name or likeness tort. …

Thursday, November 08, 2007 Hillary's High-Stepping

FactCheck has always struck me as left-leaning, both in their analysis and in what they often choose to analyze (and what they don't), but now they seem to be to the point of debating what the meaning of the word "is" is. Maybe it has something to do with the company they keep. Canceling my subscription.

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: The social graft

"Once every hundred years media changes," boy-coder turned big-thinker Mark Zuckerberg declared today at the Facebook Social Advertising Event in New York City. And it's true.

Hilarious. Must-read. I won't spoil it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Astronomers find system with five planets | Reuters

"This discovery of the first-ever quintuple planetary system has me jumping out of my socks," Marcy added. "We now know that our sun and its family of planets is not unusual."

Pajamas Media: Ask Dr. Helen: Should Men Get Married?

"When things become less attractive to people, they are less likely to do it. If society wants men to be involved more in marriage, marriage has to be more attractive to them–it is getting riskier and more expensive for men to be married. It’s not surprising fewer of them are interested."

And You Should Be Left Alone to Run the Internet as You See Fit, Why? | Digital Daily | John Paczkowski | AllThingsD

"Verizon’s Advanced Web Search service was, in the words of the company, “designed to help you quickly find the destination Web site you were seeking.” But apparently that’s true only if the destination site you’re seeking happens to be Verizon’s own search-engine page."
Not to mention that this whole thing is in conjunction with Yahoo, one of my least favorites. But for some reason, WSJ properties speak no evil of that company.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Google Phone - New York Times

The company refuses to comment on the Google Phone, but Mr. Rubin’s responsibilities, as well as recent leaks from the as-yet-unannounced alliance that Google is building to develop the software, indicate that the company plans to do more than merely develop an operating system for cellular phones: it plans to muscle its way into the center of the business at a time when people worldwide are searching the Web from just about anywhere they happen to be.

Leopard Has More Holes than Spots

"'Only Apple can explain what precisely is going on here,' Schmidt wrote with regards to the firewall's failure to prevent a test service from starting that was initiated by the user and could well have been a Trojan. Perhaps Apple could explain, but the company chooses not to."

As usual.

Nerdspotting: Retrofuturist builds "steampunk" laptop

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

First OpenSocial Screencast and Screenshots at

MySpace Joins the Google OpenSocial Team - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

The OpenSocial effort is designed to allow third-party developers to create one set of programs that work across many of the Web’s most popular social networks, including LinkedIn, Friendster, Hi5, Bebo, and now MySpace.

I think what this shows is that while end-users (webtards that they are) pay very little attention to privacy issues,lock-in, and so on, modern technology companies are realizing the value of ganging up on the leader much earlier than they have in the past, particularly when that leader shows signs of attempting a lock-in maneuver.

This will get great kudos from idealists such as me, but will it be enough to head off a Microsoft-like takeover of the Internet?

Yeah, prolly. Especially as the whole do-everything-using-Facebook experience sucks pretty bad anyway.

World's Smallest Radio Fits in the Palm of the Hand . . . of an Ant - US NSF

Functional across a bandwidth widely used for commercial radio, the tiny device could have applications far beyond novelty, from radio-controlled devices that could flow in the human bloodstream to highly efficient, miniscule, cell phone devices.

To Marketing types: Better watch your step from now on, and be careful as you cut the grass this week. Those are potential customers down there!