Friday, February 29, 2008

Winter carnival activities canceled

"Much of this week's winter carnival in Gilford has been canceled, due to too much winter."

Darn that Global, uhh, warming.

YouTube - Win vista

Microsoft Changed Vista Rules for Intel, E-Mail Says

"Feb. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. bowed to pressure from partner Intel Corp. to certify some chips as capable of running the Windows Vista operating system to help Intel meet earnings estimates, a Microsoft executive said.

The decision was made over the objection of some Microsoft officials, who expressed concern that Intel's 915 chipset wasn't capable of properly displaying Vista's graphics features, according to e-mails released Feb. 27 that were introduced as evidence in a federal case in Seattle."

MSFTextrememakeover: Breaking News: CVP Will Poole Certifies Another Laptop as Vista "Capable"

"Unfortunately, the record appears to show that while employees raised the concerns (to their credit), they were overruled by senior leadership. In other words, there was a willful decision to screw over customers and even OEM partners in order to placate INTC. Great judgement call if that's the case."

Microsoft emails on Vista: "No one really believed we would ever ship"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Google Sites: What's all the fuss? | Outside the Lines - CNET

"The launch of Google Sites is like the opening of a movie or play. The critics (including myself) feast on it, churning out copy and opinions as to whether Google Sites is a Microsoft SharePoint killer or merely the McDonald's of wikis, with more nutritional value than the venerable fast food burger and no cost."

Microsoft Watch - Server - Server Launch: Too Many Missing Pieces

"Microsoft has serious time-to-market problems that just don't get much better. Only one fully finished product ships out of three today. Exactly what kind of all-important launch is that? How can enterprises rely on products that are launched but unavailable for perhaps two more quarters?"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Poll: Bullshit Is Most Important Issue For 2008 Voters | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Shark tour leader was warned of danger, diver says -

"The leader of a shark tour whose customer was mauled to death Saturday was warned that his practice of allowing people to swim close to hungry sharks could lead to tragedy, a colleague said."

Q&A: Microsoft's Multi-Billion Dollar EU Fine -

"LONDON - The European Competition Commission has just fined Microsoft $1.35 billion for failing to comply with an antitrust ruling made in 2004. (See: 'Microsoft Gets Mammoth Fine') There are a lot of questions about the fines, so here are some answers."

Mold threatens Miami courthouse - Yahoo! News

"Across the street, a new 14-story courthouse sits unused, more than $60 million over budget and three years behind schedule. Electrical problems, hurricane damage and contractor disputes are blamed for the delay, which shows no sign of ending."

William F. Buckley Jr. Dies at 82

"William F. Buckley Jr., the erudite Ivy Leaguer and conservative herald who showered huge and scornful words on liberalism as he observed, abetted and cheered on the right's post-World War II rise from the fringes to the White House, died Wednesday. He was 82.

His assistant Linda Bridges said Buckley was found dead by his cook at his home in Stamford, Conn. The cause of death was unknown, but he had been ill with emphysema, she said."

Report: NARA doubted White House e-mail archives in 2004

"At the end of each administration, records are transferred to NARA. But while the administration is in office, the Presidential Records Act, gives it records management authority.

Since the White House switched its e-mail system from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Xchange in 2002, it has relied primarily on the manual process called “journaling” in which e-mail messages are manually named and saved as .pst files on White House servers."

UGH. (I think they meant to say "Exchange", unless one of the vendors involved has convinced them to use a bootleg version from China.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Official Google Blog: A renewed wish for open document standards

"We join the ODF Alliance and many other experts in our belief that OOXML doesn't meet the criteria required for a globally-accepted standard. (An overview of our findings and sample technical issues unresolved are posted here.)"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age

"Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January 'was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average.'"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Researchers Find Way to Steal Encrypted Data - New York Times

"SAN FRANCISCO — A group led by a Princeton University computer security researcher has developed a simple method to steal encrypted information stored on computer hard disks.

The technique, which could undermine security software protecting critical data on computers, is as easy as chilling a computer memory chip with a blast of frigid air from a can of dust remover. Encryption software is widely used by companies and government agencies, notably in portable computers that are especially susceptible to theft."

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . Leadfoot | PBS

"We're talking about tin whiskers, single crystals that mysteriously grow from pure tin joints but not generally from tin-lead solder joints. Nobody knows how or why these whiskers grow and nobody knows how to stop them, except through the use of lead solder. Whiskers can start growing in a decade or a year or a day after manufacture. They can grow at up to nine millimeters per year. They grow in any atmosphere including a pure vacuum. They grow in any humidity condition. They just grow. And when they get long enough they either touch another joint, shorting out one or more connections, or they vaporize in a flash, creating a little plasma cloud that can carry for an instant hundreds of amps and literally blow your device to pieces."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Linux Today - OOXML/ODF: Just One Battlefield in a Much Bigger War

Reading though all the material about IBM's very big push for cloud computing (and grid and utility computing before that), I did get to pondering: what if IBM's investment in Linux back in 2000 had this kind of scenario in mind? A free operating system with tremendous growth, excelled scalability (up and down)--it even came with a network-transparent GUI. Perfect for a long-term plan to get into grid/utility/cloud computing. I have always wondered why IBM didn't put just a little effort into desktop Linux development. Now, I'm not wondering so much.

It would certainly lend credence to why IBM has such a vested interest in seeing OOXML fail. A chance to shut their old enemy Microsoft out of what could be the next step in IT infrastructure? Oh, hardly a tear would be shed in Armonk, I'm sure, on that day.

If OOXML does not become an ISO standard, Microsoft would lose the format war for the cloud, and any advantages SharePoint might have in the face of similar systems like Alfresco's. There would be no reason for vendors to be forced deal with Windows or WinCE on the device end of the cloud, either.

The question is, if this mass of theory has some truth behind it, where does this leave Linux?

I think I blogged.. somewhere... gosh, quite a few years ago that the ultimate victory for Linux and Open Source software in general would look like a lot of people having no idea what operating system their home computers (if they were even still called that) were running.

If you are rooting for Linux and other FOSS software (as I do) this might seem like somewhat of a letdown. But re-think why you support FOSS in the first place. Some reasons I have:

You want commodity computing at both hardware and software level, with prices controlled by open competition, without one or two companies having a lock-in.

You want progress at the maximum rate. Don't want a brown MP3 player? You shouldn't be forced to buy one. Don't want a AV connection to your home entertainment system that only works with a specific vendors OS? Ditto.

There is (or should be) no reason Microsoft or Apple, or YOU, can't make the best hardware or software that millions of people would want to use. But all companies are drawn like magnets to a place where their past success (they feel) should guarantee them future successes as well. It is this "lock-in" which is at the heart of what turns a legal monopoly into an illegal one -- oh if we only had adequate enforcement of this! But lock-in coupled with sub-standard follow-on products has almost always gotten companies into trouble eventually. In the short run its bad for the consumer, in the long run its also bad for the industry and even the companies involved (both winners and losers). Of course, what makes it all work is that in the short run, a few individuals can rake in huge, mostly undeserved profits.

Hopefully, understanding of this dynamic will spread to the point where enough consumers will just say "NO!" to lock-in practices from the get-go, before the almost inevitable bad results materialize.

After all, if a companies such as Microsoft or Apple claim to have "the best engineers in the industry", then why shouldn't each new product be able to stand on its own merits?

Well, I think some of us know the answer don't we?

About time everyone did.

Microsoft President on Micro-Hoo: We Can Do It - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

"Microsoft has already acquired companies based on open-source technologies, he said, and it hasn’t always felt a need to migrate those companies to Microsoft technology."

I wonder what they are referring to.

Can XP users really switch to Linux or Mac? | February 22, 2008 05:26 AM | By Tom Sullivan

"With the Save XP campaign continuing to capture momentum, and signatures, and myriad XP users facing, in the words of one such reader, a choice between 'an operating system that would soon be obsolete (XP) or one that was buggy and would break much existing hardware (Vista),' both Linux and Mac desktops could be appealing right about now."

(Link to link)

(link link link)

I'm embarrassed to have fallen for Infoworlds self linking SEO efforts. I have a feeling there might actually be some worthwhile content in there somewhere.

I should really get around to canceling both my online and paper subscriptions to these things. This served as a useful reminder.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Promulgated Principles and Practices Purport to Promote Portability

Probably Not, if Past performance is Predictive.

The God Particle - National Geographic Magazine

"Building a contraption like the LHC to find the Higgs is a bit like embarking on a career as a stand-up comic with the hope that at some point in your career you'll happen to blurt out a joke that's not only side-splittingly funny but also a palindrome."

Clinton denies defeat looming for her campaign

'You know, no matter what happens in this contest -- and I am honored, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored,' she said, and reached out to shake his hand.

'Whatever happens, we're going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends.

'I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people.'

Translation: Woe to the American people who vote for Obama over me. I'll be fine. I'm rich. But you poor Americans will be miserable without me to lead you to the promised land. Err, or something.

President Bush dances | Video |

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Verizon Stabs Sprint With Unlimited Wireless Plan - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

"If Sprint can win back some customers, it may be worth it. The bulk of the cost of running a cellphone system is fixed expenses like customer service and billing. The marginal cost of providing each minute of usage is well under a penny, Mr. Enter said."

In case you are feeling sorry for your cell phone carrier.

Microsoft to Share More of Its Technology - New York Times

“We are taking responsibility for implementing the principles in the interoperability portion of the decision across all of Microsoft’s high-volume products,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, referring to the European court ruling. “We will take additional steps in the coming weeks to address the remaining portion” of the decision.

Not holding my breath.

My Way News - Google to Store Patients' Health Records

"The pilot project to be announced Thursday will involve 1,500 to 10,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic who volunteered to an electronic transfer of their personal health records so they can be retrieved through Google's new service, which won't be open to the general public."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A look into MySpace

"When you see the videos you’ll see that MySpace has a philosophy. One that says that users should be free to express themselves in pretty much whatever way they want. If that means yellow text on a blinking purple background, so be it."

"Who’s the keeper of that philosophy? Steve Pearman (seen here). He demonstrated something that I wish more corporate types would demonstrate (including me). He pointed out several times in our interview that he doesn’t have any claim on knowing the right way to do something. He said that even if he were pretty correct, say, that 95% of MySpace’s users agreed with him, that’d mean that millions of people would still disagree with his decision."

Billion dollar idea: So who is closer to the "perfect" social networking system: Orkut (with its dead simple interface and limited functionality, but also easy to control privacy settings), Myspace (with its completely flexible formatting -- that requires a masters degree in CSS) or Facebook (with its wonderful API, that requires that you run a 24/7 server set-up of your own to get started with)?

To me Ning makes a lot more sense. You can pretty much do whatever you want with formatting. Plus if you are part of a group it lends itself to creating your own "walled garden". And yet, you only have to sign in once. I really don't see how the others even come close. But most people have never heard of Ning, and may never.

Change Congress

Every time politicians say they are going to get the money out of elections, they end up doing the opposite. This election cycle, for example started a year in advance of normal. Think that doesn't cost money? I guarantee you this will be the most expensive election in history, and it has all been done with many small contribution, plus of course the candidates' ability to spend their own money.

Their efforts so far have in fact made it even harder for an ordinary person to run for public office.

This issue is the poster child for the law of unintended consequences. It makes the point that there are many things for which the best thing government to do is nothing.

I never cease to be amazed when supporters of Open Source, Open Standards and the relative anarchy that such regimes allow turn to the government sector and want to do just the opposite: centralize everything.

I have little doubt that they will eventually succeed as well. They (government) will have absolute central control over every aspect of our lives, but because of the involvement of people like Lessig, we will think of it as a Libertarian utopia. You'll be free to do whatever you want, as long as you agree to only want to do specified things.

A better approach, at all levels of government remains term limits. Of course even those Republicans who ran on such a promise back in the 90s have had second thoughts after feeding at the trough for a while.

Term limits would do the trick just nicely, and people who were good at governance could still make a career out of politics by running for different offices. They'd have enough time to make things better at each stage, and not so much time as to become part of the problem themselves.

Of course the real elephant in the room would be "term limits" for government employees. They swap government contractors out from time to time for this very reason (or at least they are encouraged to do so).

Limiting the amount of time that someone could hold a cushy job in government might avoid a few problems like these.

Another related article on subject.

And thanks to Valleywag for getting me started (I revised and extended my remarks for this post).

Get your upscale junk now.

I lost track of where I found this story (from which I got these two lengthy links) but...

Short version: Company on the verge of bankruptcy after losing lawsuits on questionable product claims. Will be liquidating half its stores in desperation move.

Might be a good time for some bargain hunting if you live near one such store.

...Although junk at bargain prices is still junk.

Tab in Scam At Tax Office In D.C. Nears $50 Million -

Helping the poor (friends and family):

"Federal authorities think that nearly $50 million was stolen in an embezzlement scheme run out of the D.C. tax office, more than double the amount they had previously uncovered, four sources close to the investigation said.

The corruption at the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue went undetected much longer than initially thought, the sources said, extending back almost 20 years. In addition to tracking the missing money, authorities are looking into gifts suspected of being provided to co-workers and others by the woman accused of leading the scam, former tax office manager Harriette Walters."

You wouldn't think such things are possible would you?

The higher the official theft total, the greater the potential penalty faced by Walters and the nine other people charged in the case.

Of course these people will not be in a position to repay the missing funds, guess who will.

Authorities are scrutinizing the activities of at least 40 people who have not been charged and are trying to determine whether they received things of value or were involved in financial transactions with those accused of being conspirators, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Post. Those people are largely city employees who signed off on refund paperwork and others who received the gifts in question.

Not to mention all those who suspected such schemes were underway and started their own similar operations.

What makes us thing that big government will work any better here than it has anywhere else?


(and more)

Destroy All Bandwidth! | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

"But now it appears the ITU itself may be finding the errant-anchor theory a bit suspect. With repairs completed on four of the five cables, the ITU has presumably been able to perform a fair bit of analysis on the cables at issue here, and it’s not convinced that it was Mother Nature who damaged them."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Political Radar: Real 'Work'? Clinton Swipes at Chelsea's Profession

Best comment from this story:

"Boy, talking about playing both sides - use your political contacts to get your daughter a job w/ a hedgefund and then criticize hedge fund managers.

I don't mind that Chelsea works for a hedge fund and makes six figures. Someone's got to do it. But it would be nice if once in a while people remembered that Jenna Bush works in an inner city public school in Washington DC and travels to Africa and Central America to volunteer w/AIDS patients.

I mean, really...can't we finally just get all our categories right? Who are the bad guys who love the rich here, anyway?"

Lawmakers take aim at vices

"Fortunately, according to the Department of Legislative Services, only about one third of bills introduced each session get passed -- most die in committee. All of these ideas should die. Too bad there's not a tax on bad legislation -- now that could quickly close the deficit."

A good idea at the national level too.

Toshiba Throws in Towel In DVD-Format War -

"Toshiba, a Japanese conglomerate that makes products from chips to nuclear reactors, said Tuesday that it would cease production of its HD DVD players and recorders immediately and end the business by the end of March."

The Most Frequently Used Features in Microsoft Office

"1. Paste (11% of the usage)
2. Save (5.5% of the usage)
3. Copy
4. Undo
5. Bold

These five commands account for 32% of all the command usage in Microsoft Word 2003, as they are used very often."

Monday, February 18, 2008

YouTube - Music using ONLY sounds from Windows XP and 98!

The Neocons and Iraq -

"The Moynihan report and the Kirkpatrick essay made decisive contributions to the forging of the sensibility that came to be known as neoconservatism. That sensibility evinces a fierce pride in American constitutional government. It insists that government policy should be judged not by the hopes of advocates and intentions of decision makers, but by real world consequences. It holds that freedom and democracy depend on qualities of mind and character that do not arise automatically, but must be cultivated by the family and civil society. It recognizes that government, while often part of the problem, can also be part of the solution by finding ways to strengthen both family and civil society. And it knows that America advances its interests by maintaining and expanding an international order that, to the extent possible, is composed of states that respect individual rights and are based on the consent of the governed."

Mysteries: Did Microsoft lie about top exec's departure?

"Lying to employees is one thing. It's routine and expected. But lying to shareholders is another. Given the importance of Vista to Microsoft's finances, shouldn't Microsoft have disclosed Valentine's plans to leave as soon as they knew about them? And assuming Valentine was complicit in the ruse, should's owners be similarly concerned?"

B.C. inventor wants to put pop bottle rocket into orbit

"Firing the ubiquitous, two-litre plastic container usually consigned to the recycle bin into space might create a whole new definition for space junk, but the dream keeps Schellenberg going."

U.K.'s Elonex readies low-cost Linux laptop | CNET

"Referring to the device's use of Linux, the spokesperson said that--aside from the fact that avoiding Windows brings down the cost of the laptop--the decision was influenced by government guidelines that encourage a 'move away from the monopoly Microsoft has.'"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Power Line: President Bush, Africa's best friend

"President Bush gets scarcely more credit for his efforts and accomplishments in Africa than for his efforts and accomplishments in vanquishing terrorists and the countries that harbor and support them. His military successes are denigrated and his humanitarian successes are ignored."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

As Nuclear Waste Languishes, Expense to U.S. Rises - New York Times

"With court orders and settlements, the federal government has already paid the utilities $342 million, but is virtually certain to pay a total of at least $7 billion in the next few years and probably over $11 billion, government officials said. The industry said the total could reach $35 billion."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Report: Toshiba making funeral plans for HD DVD; Wal-Mart to go all Blu (updated)

"Throughout the battle with Blu-ray, Toshiba and the HD DVD Promotions Group had fought aggressively to defend HD DVD, even as Warner Bros. abandoned ship. But that strong support appeared to weaken perceptibly for the first time in the wake of Netflix and Best Buy's decisions to throw their weight behind Blu-ray earlier this week, and Wal-Mart will be ditching HD DVD as well by summer."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Scientists Find Solar System Like Ours - New York Times

"Astronomers say they have found a miniature version of our own solar system 5,000 light years across the galaxy — the first planetary system that really looks like our own, with outer giant planets and room for smaller inner planets."

Except if you read the article, it seems that the star with the planets is one that is 21,000 light years away. Why wouldn't the New York Times be able to get this right?

Or maybe not. Someone at Slashdot suggests that the explanation is here:


But it's still not clear to me which object is being observed and which is aiding in the observation.

No Valentines For You! - HUMAN EVENTS

"This is not just an Arabian Peninsula thing, either. Last year in Malaysia, a government official, Muhammad Ramli Nuh, declared, according to the Bernama News Agency, that “celebrating the Day could be regarded as recognizing the enemies of Islam because Valentine or Valentinus took part in planning and attacking Cordoba, once a well-known centre of Islam in Spain, causing its downfall.” Actually, St. Valentine was a third-century Christian martyr in the Roman Empire, but give Muhammad Ramli Nuh points for imagination."

Candidates' Earmarks Worth Millions -

"Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton helped secure more than $340 million worth of home-state projects in last year's spending bills, placing her among the top 10 Senate recipients of what are commonly known as earmarks, according to a new study by a nonpartisan budget watchdog group."


Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the likely GOP presidential nominee, was one of five senators to reject earmarks entirely, part of his long-standing view that such measures prompt needless spending.

A link at the WaPo is incorrect. Here is the correct link for the organization that reports on all earmarks (specifically the data for 08):

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Pay for performance hammered at House hearing

"Titled “Robbing Mary to Pay Peter and Paul: The Administration’s Pay-for-Performance System,” the three-and-a-half-hour hearing saw a parade of witnesses launch a collective assault on the Bush administration’s efforts to implement performance-based pay."

Heavens! If I knew I'd have to work when I took this government job I might have looked elsewhere!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chickens come home to roost - Yahoo! News

"WASHINGTON - For years, Bill and Hillary Clinton treated the Democratic National Committee and party activists as extensions of their White House ambitions, pawns in a game of success and survival. She may pay a high price for their selfishness soon.

Top Democrats, including some inside Hillary Clinton's campaign, say many party leaders — the so-called superdelegates — won't hesitate to ditch the former New York senator for Barack Obama if her political problems persist. Their loyalty to the first couple is built on shaky ground."

Doing my part to help Yahoo News.

News Corp. Enters Yahoo Fray -

"News Corp. and Yahoo Inc. are in discussions about combining MySpace and other News Corp.-owned online properties with Yahoo, according to people familiar with the matter."

Danger Will Robinson Rupert Murdock Danger!

Google LatLong: Your content on Google Maps

"Over the past 11 months, people have created more than 9 million My Maps, encompassing a total of 40 million placemarks. That's an impressive 1 new placemark created every second! We never anticipated that people would become so interested in mapmaking, which used to be accessible only to priests, scholars, and academics."

I've made a few maps myself, none worthy of publication. Thinking about how this is probably done, Google gives up a few hundred bytes of disk space (it's not like the actual map data has to be duplicated or anything) and the user gets something that looks really impressive with relatively little effort.

But think of the bandwidth being used by someone who uses the "Random My Map" display (mentioned at the link) as a sort of alternate screen saver. Google has several things like this that can be used endlessly to throw content up on your screen whether you are there or not.

Gadgets such as this seem to say "Go ahead Microsoft, buy Yahoo, go ahead Facebook and dominate social networking (well that seemed to be true until the last month or so), but can you give users sub-second response time and an ever growing storage capacity for things that they can actually use?"

The trick to beating Google (if they don't beat themselves first) is not only capturing click-throughs, but also maintaining an infrastructure capable of keeping up with it all. "" is anything but lively (not to mention it will be very confusing if the merger with Microsoft goes through) so far and every day I hit popular web sites that either fail to load or load so slowly (usually waiting for a remote ad server to do its part) that I give up the wait. Do the metrics capture these failures or the frustration and resentment they may cause?

In my mainframe days we used to worry about keeping end-users response time below a certain threshold (more than a couple seconds was considered a failure). This wasn't always one company versus another, but also within a single organization, and the issue was that data-entry people and others that got paid to interact with the mainframe would not only be delayed by those pauses during which their keyboards were locked up, but would also lose focus, so that even when they could finally type again their minds would have strayed to something else.

With all our blazingly fast desktop systems does anyone even think of such a thing? Certainly not the vendors I deal with, and not the IT people I keep in touch with. They are resigned, if not happy with the the fact that our screens contain far more graphics than data and no matter how fast our desktop system may be, "painting" that next screen is going to take a while.

Google is the only company that seems to have the infrastructure to come close to the one or two second responses I used to expect, but I wonder if anyone there is keeping an eye on this, or will their be a point at which even they run out of some critical resource and subject us all with interminable "waiting".

Bad Day at the Office

Much longer version of an old favorite...

Marry Him!

And no matter what women decide—settle or don’t settle—there’s a price to be paid, because there’s always going to be regret. Unless you meet the man of your dreams (who, by the way, doesn’t exist, precisely because you dreamed him up), there’s going to be a downside to getting married, but a possibly more profound downside to holding out for someone better.

My friend Jennifer summed it up this way: “When I used to hear women complaining bitterly about their husbands, I’d think, ‘How sad, they settled.’ Now it’s like, ‘God, that would be nice.’”

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Camille Paglia on Hillary, Obama and one weird old coot |

"The old-guard feminist establishment has also rushed out of cold storage to embrace Hillary Clinton via tremulous manifestoes of gal power that have startlingly exposed the sentimental slackness of thought that made Gloria Steinem and company wear out their welcome in the first place. Hillary's gonads must be sending out sci-fi rays that paralyze the paleo-feminist mind -- because her career, attached to her husband's flapping coattails, has sure been heavy on striking pious attitudes but ultra-light on concrete achievements."

Stats: Facebook and MySpace lose their draw

"As few as 4 in 10,000 people who see ads on social networking sites click on them. As good a time as any for Rupert Murdoch to dump MySpace in Jerry Yang's lap."

"Vista Capable" scheme was panned at Microsoft

"Mike Nash, currently a corporate vice president for Windows product management, wrote in an e-mail, 'I PERSONALLY got burnt. ... Are we seeing this from a lot of customers? ... I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine.' Jim Allchin, then the co-president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, wrote in another e-mail, 'We really botched this. ... You guys have to do a better job with our customers.'"

Legg Mason's Miller Says Microsoft Must Raise Yahoo Bid to Succeed -

"The second-largest shareholder in Yahoo Inc., Legg Mason Inc., believes Microsoft Corp. will have to boost its $41.6 billion offer in order for a deal to be consummated.

Renowned Legg Mason fund manager Bill Miller said in a letter to investors that it will be hard for Yahoo to come up with alternatives 'that deliver more value' than what Microsoft 'will ultimately be willing to pay.'"

FCW Forum: Can feds turn back the clock on outsourcing?

"This goes to show you what Hilary is made of. The only weakness in outsourcing the fed is the fed itself. Too many COTRs cannot manage the work. Too many work hard to not solve any problem so they can coast to retirement on the back of a perpetual operation. Then they get addicted to incumbents because they don't know how to keep true control of a program. Outsourcing is the solution. Anything else is Socialism. If outsourcing is done inefficiently (and it is) it's a problem to be laid at the feet of Federal employees. So we need more Federal employees? Surely not! One more thing- anyone who thinks outsourcing is more expensive than a Fed employee doesn't account for the whole cost of a Fed employee. Outsourcing is the future. If Hilary wants it rolled back, then Hilary is truly looking backward."

How Sticky Is Membership on Facebook? Just Try Breaking Free - New York Times

"“It’s like the Hotel California,” said Nipon Das, 34, a director at a biotechnology consulting firm in Manhattan, who tried unsuccessfully to delete his account this fall. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

It took Mr. Das about two months and several e-mail exchanges with Facebook’s customer service representatives to erase most of his information from the site, which finally occurred after he sent an e-mail threatening legal action. But even after that, a reporter was able to find Mr. Das’s empty profile on Facebook and successfully sent him an e-mail message through the network."

Monday, February 11, 2008

TechNet subscribers revolt over Vista SP1 'debacle'

"February 08, 2008 (Computerworld) A revolt among IT professionals and developers is brewing over Microsoft Corp.'s decision to hold the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), with some admitting that they've downloaded pirated copies to begin testing and others claiming that the delay scuttles their Vista deployment plans."

I wonder if any of them will figure out that they were never more than unpaid (paying in fact) sales reps for Microsoft products. Apparently this Amway model isn't working all that well any more.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pelosi calls Iraq a 'failure' - Mike Allen -

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said twice Sunday that Iraq “is a failure,” adding that President Bush’s troop surge has “not produced the desired effect.”"

Well I guess Nancy would know.

Al-Qaeda leaders admit: 'We are in crisis. There is panic and fear' - Times Online

"Al-Qaeda in Iraq faces an “extraordinary crisis”. Last year's mass defection of ordinary Sunnis from al-Qaeda to the US military “created panic, fear and the unwillingness to fight”. The terrorist group's security structure suffered “total collapse”.

These are the words not of al-Qaeda's enemies but of one of its own leaders in Anbar province — once the group's stronghold. They were set down last summer in a 39-page letter seized during a US raid on an al-Qaeda base near Samarra in November."

Althouse: NBC wimped out over "pimped out."


1607, perhaps from M.Fr. pimper 'to dress elegantly' (16c.), prp. of pimpant 'alluring in dress, seductive.' Weekley suggests M.Fr. pimpreneau, defined in Cotgrave (1611) as 'a knave, rascall, varlet, scoundrell.' The word also means 'informer, stool pigeon' in Australia and New Zealand and in S.Africa, where by early 1960s it existed in Swahili form impimpsi. The verb is attested from 1636. Pimpmobile first recorded 1973."

Chinese supplier lets buyers design their own handsets | Reg Hardware

"The ZZZPhone company takes an unbranded handset and allows you to customise numerous features and specifications for individual prices, just like a Subway sandwich. For example, you could choose to add a seven-megapixel camera, 4GB of memory and Skype VoIP connectivity to the phone."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Vista Not the Only Bloated Thing We Have to Worry About

An only slightly modified cartoon from an old Punch magazine. I'm not sure what the original joke was about, but given ur now all-liberal slate for President, I could only think of one thing.

The Radio Equalizer: Shuster 'Pimped Out' Flap Parallels Imus Kerfuffle

"The biggest issue here is how the Clintons, with help from the Soros- backed Media Matters crowd, are now directly dictating network programming standards and even MSNBC's staff roster, since Shuster has been suspended and might face termination."

And the press thought the current administration was unfriendly.

The Waxman Method -

"Every specific charge against Mr. Krongard was examined and refuted in a report by the committee minority. And as Mr. Krongard noted, he was not a big political donor, had never met President Bush, and had never been to the White House except as a tourist. Yet none of these facts interfered with Mr. Waxman's public smears that Mr. Krongard's 'partisan political ties' had led him to 'halt investigations, censor reports, and refuse to cooperate with law-enforcement agencies.'"

Friday, February 08, 2008

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > From Hillary to Whole Foods

"Jonah Goldberg's bestseller Liberal Fascism, had many potential subtitles during its editing cycle. At one point, the subtitle was 'From Hegel to Whole Foods.' At another it was 'From Mussolini to Hillary Clinton.' In his Times column today, David Brooks further complicates the Hillary/Whole Foods metaphor business. Hillary, he says, is the Safeway of the race. Obama is Whole Foods."

An Open Letter to Steve Ballmer

"The alternative, if you force these businesses to fester within Microsoft, is that these businesses will always play second fiddle to Windows—and fail to meet their potential."

From Goldwater Girl to Hillary Girl - (Coulter) HUMAN EVENTS

"If Hillary is elected president, we'll have a four-year disaster, with Republicans ferociously opposing her, followed by Republicans zooming back into power, as we did in 1980 and 1994, and 2000. (I also predict more Oval Office incidents with female interns.)

If McCain is elected president, we'll have a four-year disaster, with the Republicans in Congress co-opted by 'our' president, followed by 30 years of Democratic rule.

There's your choice, America."

The New Axis of Evil - HUMAN EVENTS

"What we have is the sick and twisted dreams of Pinch Sulzberger, Don Imus, Maureen Dowd, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews come true: the GOP has been forced to choose a nominee designed to cause the base to retch, and thereby not vote. Guaranteeing 4 years of Clinton score settling or Obama socializing entire corporate sectors."

Music cannot change the world, says Neil Young

"Canadian folk rock legend Neil Young said he has lost all hope that music can change the world, as he presented a documentary about his 2006 anti-war concert tour at the Berlin film festival on Friday.

'I know that the time when music could change the world is past. I really doubt that a single song can make a difference. It is a reality,' Young told reporters.

'I don't think the tour had any impact on voters.'"

Well, no, that's not quite true. Young people's attention to Hollywood and the music industry is more pervasive than ever. They may not be getting their opinions from pop-songs, but they certainly aren't getting them from newspapers, Internet news or any other type of "hard" reporting.

Our entertainment industry coupled with our union-dominated dysfunctional education system has dumbed down the electorate to the vanishing point.

Witness our current crop of presidential candidates, now devoid of all but the demagogues promising "free stuff" from the government without anyone challenging them for how it will be paid for.

Not having figured out how to pay for current social spending, we are being presented with a menu of new goodies. Has anybody put out a rap song or even a 60s protest style song along the lines of "Where's the money going to come from?". Maybe The Who's "We Won't Get Fooled Again" would qualify, except given the left leanings of the media (rather than genuine skepticism), we probably will.

The Men Behind the Curtain

"Were they cast as characters in The Wizard of Oz, Yahoo would play the Cowardly Lion and Microsoft the Tin Woodman. No Scarecrow would be required since there are plenty of brains at each company to go around."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My online life: no hobbies, no opinions, no friends, no fun - Times Online

"I knew my online life had to change when my boss decided that he would join Facebook. As the resident young person in an office of thirty and forty-somethings I was tasked with setting up his online profile. His first act on Facebook was to make me a Facebook friend. I had created a monster."

New Way to Kill Viruses: Shake Them to Death | LiveScience

"Viruses are susceptible to the same kind of mechanical excitation. An experimental group led by K. T. Tsen from Arizona State University have recently shown that pulses of laser light can induce destructive vibrations in virus shells."

Eli Lilly E-Mail to New York Times -

"As it turned out, one of Eli Lilly's lawyers at Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia wanted to email Sidley Austin's Berenson, about the negotiations. But apparently, the name that popped up from her email correspondents was the wrong Berenson."

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Microsoft Writes Yahoo: BoomTown Decodes the Letter, So You Don’t Have To! | Kara Swisher

"Steve wrote: Due to the importance of these discussions and the value represented by our proposal, we expect the Yahoo! Board to engage in a full review of our proposal.

My leadership team and I would be happy to make ourselves available to meet with you and your Board at your earliest convenience. Depending on the nature of your response, Microsoft reserves the right to pursue all necessary steps to ensure that Yahoo!’s shareholders are provided with the opportunity to realize the value inherent in our proposal.

Translation: Let’s not call it an offer you can’t refuse, which sounds so thuggish. Let’s call it an offer the refusal of which you can’t."

Official Google Blog: Yahoo! and the future of the Internet

"This hostile bid was announced on Friday, so there is plenty of time for these questions to be thoroughly addressed. We take Internet openness, choice and innovation seriously. They are the core of our culture. We believe that the interests of Internet users come first -- and should come first -- as the merits of this proposed acquisition are examined and alternatives explored."

I'm actually surprised to see any Google opposition at all since I think the merger will/would be a monumental disaster.

Come to think of it though, I guess that's not e very good reason to be in favor of something. It would in fact be better if our laws against anti-competitiveness actually worked and we didn't have to rely on companies blowing their own extremities off.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Who Was Hillary Clinton? -

"Hillary Clinton is running for President based in large part on her experience, especially her eight years as first lady. So it is revealing that she and her husband don't want the media and others to have ready access to the records that might tell us a good deal more about that 1990s 'experience.'

We're referring to the controversy over records at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, which opened in 2004. At the time, Mrs. Clinton promised that 'everything's going to be available.' More than three years later, the library that is partly funded by taxpayers has released less than 1% of its records, and the withheld documents include two million pages covering Mrs. Clinton's White House tenure. As usual with the Clintons, they've managed to make the controversy seem so complicated that everyone has lost interest."

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Giant Bid That Shows How Tired the Giant Is - New York Times

"But this is Microsoft we’re talking about, and if its proposed acquisition of Yahoo signals anything, it serves as a confirmation that Microsoft’s glory days are in the past. Having failed to challenge Google where it matters most — in online advertising — it has been reduced to bulking up by buying Google’s nearest but still distant competitor."

not able to access my gmail account - Issues Logging In | Google Groups

"That didn't work. I'm so UPSET. I have a major event I'm planning and everyone's info is in the account. Is there any other way?"

Flickr, Facebook, Live, and poor old Yahoo all have growing pains at times.

Are some of these systems bursting at the seems?

How much do you trust that real "Engineering" has taken place with all your online data (nevermind your local data, we already KNOW that's screwed up!)?

I forward all my Gmail to a Live account, but have it stay in the Inbox as well. Most of the time I just use Gmail. I check Live once a month (attention Microsoft advertisers!) just to keep the account alive. But the Yahoo and Live e-mail interfaces are like sucking bowling balls through a straw (yes, why would anyone want to do that?). If I was REALLY paranoid, I could POP my mail off of Google servers and keep a local copy too... useful for a laptop that's about to do some traveling, but not as far as I can tell, for a desktop system.

I rarely have to search for old e-mail messages, and tell others every chance I get not to use e-mail as a database. But do they listen? Noooooooo!

PC World - The Next 25 Years in Tech

"The future ain't what it used to be. In the pre-PC era, futurists predicted huge changes in transportation. By 2008 we would be flitting about in personal jetpacks and taking vacations on the moon. But the communications revolution spurred by personal computers and the Internet wasn't on anyone's radar."

One has to wonder (well, I have to wonder) whether our preoccupation with infinite desktop CPU speed (needed to boot Vista in one's lifetime) and other Star-Trekish technological impossibilities like teleportation and materializing manufactured goods out of thin air from the VR world hasn't permanently unhinged our imaginations from real world things that could have actually been accomplished.

Day by day, the Futurological Congress is coming to life near you, although it may be in the form of a computer screen rather than a pill.

Print your own MacBook Air (Paper)!

Todays news: so surielistic, apparently I've died and gone to heaven.

Not only that, but it's raining cats and dogs here at the beach. Wonderful!

Google Social Graph API - Google Blogoscoped Forum

Linked from *here*

*Google page*

*Google Blog*

I think this is HUGE news.

Hard to believe it comes on the same day as the MSFT/YHOO train wreck that is (or may be) about to happen.

Not more useful than OpenSocial, but inextricably tied to it. The idea is to educate users to the fact that most Web companies so far have operated on the walled-garden concept and that Google and a few others are (finally) abandoning that method of holding user's data hostage for the benefit of either advertisers (or in the case of MSFT for the benefit of extending the Windows monopoly).

While Google may or may not invent something that resembles Facebook, they certainly won't do it in a way that makes Facebook or Myspace users second class citizens. In fact I use the limited Facebook API to point to my Orkut page, and if Facebook opens up as much as they claim they will, might be able to do the same in reverse at some point.

Companies opting out of this open exchange of data may do so at their peril, but opting in will require an abandonment of the walled-garden approach, which some of these companies think (wrongly) is essential to their success.

Todays two big tech news items (and the day is only half over!) will be resounding for weeks if not longer. This particular one is a bit of a sleeper, since so many people won't know what it means for a while.

Boy this is going to be fun to watch!

Slashdot | Microsoft Bids $44.6 Billion For Yahoo

Next best comment on MSFT/YHOO:

But from the perspective of Yahoo! users the more important question is whether a MS takeover will turn Yahoo! into tepid porridge? And will the long, slow decline of Microsoft now drag Yahoo! down too?

I certainly hope (and think) so!

I was a loyal and early user of both Yahoo and Microsoft products. There is nothing like a loyal user scorned.

Microsoft's version to version bloat, buggyness, and most of all, attempts to lock one product inextricably to another, plus their habit of acquiring other companies who's products I used, only to simply discontinue them or render them unrecognizable -- all of this, finally, drove me away in disgust. I gave up my career in order to avoid having to deal with MS crap.

What puzzles me is how you (and others) cannot see that Yahoo is made in the same mold as Microsoft already.

I've been (unfortunately) involved in some Yahoo Groups for a long while and countless times have had to explain the tortured process for an outsider to sign up for Yahoo Groups, involving them not only giving up (or faking) a lot of personal information, but also agreeing to take a Yahoo e-mail address as part of the process. How many of the claimed bazzillion Yahoo e-mail addresses are (as I suspect) mostly unused? I'd guess a lot. I had one guy tell me he never could remember his Yahoo sign-on, so every time he wanted to check the messages in the group he would just sign up for Yahoo all over again. Their stuff is so crappy it makes me sick to even think about it.

Do you use Flickr without paying the premium fee? I can't imagine why anyone would. They keep everything you upload, but hide all but the last 200 pictures from you. This is the most retarded scheme I've ever heard of. They must have the largest collection of unaccessible information on Earth! To help them out I just continue to upload files. I keep the pictures I actually want to view on Google. Flickr has had a lot of service outages, and for me is often painfully slow. Is it any wonder?

How can you stand all the stupid animated graphics that Yahoo throws at you? Half my screen real-estate and 90 percent of my bandwidth is used up with this silly junk when I go to a Yahoo page.

I know only one or two people who use Yahoo as their primary e-mail account, and maybe not coincidentally these are the people who don't seem to have their e-mail act totally together, don't respond to important messages, can't keep their CCs and BCCs straight, and since they are universally Windows users, are often having serious computer problems anyway ("Sorry, I haven't been able to check my e-mail in three weeks, my computer keeps locking up, got any ideas?").

These two companies are a match made in heaven. I wish them the greatest of happiness, and I hope they alienate a few billion more users along the way so that the rest of us can stop playing the role of free tech support for them.

Microsoft: Steve Ballmer's letter to the Yahoo board

Best comment on the Microsoft takeover offer to Yahoo:

"On one hand you have a bunch of useless BSD/php/c++ old lazy farts that can't develop worth shit who will end up being bitch boys to bosses that are going to be doing .NET everywhere. LOL.

Dear MSFT, as part of this takeover, please extend all takeover courtesies that Yahoo has traditionally extended to companies that it bought out. In other words, please do the best you can in ultimately creating the most fvcked up experience that you can possibly imagine so that the rest of Yahoo knows how miserable an acquisition can be for an acquiree...."

Chatty Zuckerberg Tells All About Facebook Finances | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD

"This afternoon, at an all-hands meeting held in a Palo Alto, Calif., theater near the social-networking site’s headquarters, the 23-year-old founder was quite voluble on that topic, outlining numbers that a more experienced CEO might think twice about unveiling to a large audience."

Political Punch

"In a long, and interesting speech, he characterized what the U.S. and other industrialized nations need to do to combat global warming this way: 'We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.'

At a time that the nation is worried about a recession is that really the characterization his wife would want him making? 'Slow down our economy'?

I don't really think there's much debate that, at least initially, a full commitment to reduce greenhouse gases would slow down the economy….So was this a moment of candor?"

Make that rare moment of candor.