Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Microsoft Yahoo Merger

The Chickens Come Home to Roost

Here is my theory, just based on personal experience, with no hard facts (but some rationales) to back it up:

Companies know more about their revenue sources than they are required to report. FASB rules require them to be consistent about how they report, but they are also allowed to change how they report from time to time. You can "book" revenue from a sale immediately, or spread it out over time, or put it off until all product is delivered if you want. I've worked for small, privately held companies where I knew the accounting people, and I know that while changing the way we booked revenue or merging or splitting of a part of the organization often had innocent (i.e. valid business) explanations, the real explanation was often to obscure failures at the executive level. Failures to sell new product, failures to manage cost of delivery, or (and this is especially true of small companies) failures to manage executive perks which often sapped company resources.

In the 2000 time frame I worked for a large organization that signed a volume purchase agreement (VPA) with Microsoft. I don't know when Microsoft started using these VPAs, but I do remember reading that they changed the way they "booked" them about that time too although that didn't strike me as interesting at the time. The process was heralded by people higher up in the organization as a major cost savings, but as time went on and as activities associated with the VPA either happened, or in some cases were just stated to have happened, I began to suspect that there was no actual cost saving and that we might actually be spending more on Microsoft products than we would have otherwise.

I remember us having to come up with a count, which was really an estimate, of how many Windows PCs we (the entire organization) had. I know the count was more of a wild ass guess than it was a count, and the count was rounded up to satisfy Microsoft and (theoretically) get a lower unit cost. This organization was big, very big. Very few of our machines were on the Internet, and most of the machines were only networked locally, in many hundreds of LANs with local administrators. Had some new inventory process been imposed on these people I would have heard about it, and I didn't hear about it. Furthermore, most of these machines were not typical desktops, but were in place to run a specific set of locally written applications. They did not need to run Microsoft Office, for example, but the counting process glossed over that fact and even included the rights to run Microsoft products that weren't in use at all. The whole thing seemed to be a publicity stunt for certain organization managers, sounding great for the customer, but was really a windfall for Microsoft.

We were running Windows 2000, and nowhere near ready to convert to XP since in fact there were stragglers still running Windows NT, so in effect, we were paying a second time for software we already had. No worry though, said Microsoft, the contract includes an upgrade to XP, whenever we decided to do it, that is, as long as it is within five years, after which you do another VPA (I remember out VPA being for five years, but I don't think all VPAs have that term, some are shorter, I don't know if they come in longer terms as well). Nominally in fact the VPA was for Windows XP, it's just that other than writing a big check to Microsoft, nobody cared when or if the upgrade actually occurred. Do I have to spell out the rest of the story?

My guess is that the number of deals such as this is large (the entire Federal government agency by agency for a start) and when Microsoft makes claims about the number of 2000, or XP, or Vista licenses out there it's a lot of accounting tricks, after all, we didn't get an actual copy of any Microsoft products for each machine we ran. Instead we installed off the net, or from copies of copies of copies of the original disks. No need to mess with those fancy laser printed product keys. A single key made all the installs work without contacting the mother ship.

Yes, there was a costs "savings" for these VPAs, but the savings failed to take into account that facts that: (1) the machines were purchased with Windows already installed, (2) previous licenses had paid for the software again, (3) VPA1 had paid again, and (4) a subsequent VPA2 paid yet a fourth time. The savings MIGHT materialize if there were more frequent product releases from Microsoft (but guess who controls that) and only then if the customer were able to upgrade almost immediately (something the technical people know wasn't going to happen, but then the company/government negotiators are not generally technical people).

So, when Microsoft does their quarterly reports on how many licenses of various products they have sold I figure they are about as accurate as a weather forecast for this day next month. This is not
just because I don't trust Microsoft, but because I think a lot of companies play these games. Maybe all of them do.

The difference between these "booked" numbers and what Microsoft deposits into the bank every quarter gives them a lot of room to paint a rosy picture when things are dropping off. If that is the case, and they make subsequent cuts or change their business in some drastic way those ruts in income stream can be smoothed out and the problem resolved without stockholders ever noticing. The more other activities the company is involved with, the more room there is to spread the blame around, making it look like the sacred cash cows are still in good shape while only these new (and ultimately expendable) ventures are holding things back.

Of course these book-cooking operations can't hide a monotonically decreasing income picture forever. The actions you have to take in the background get more and more drastic. Microsoft
could use the billions they have in the bank to pay off any shortfalls they have, but that doesn't impress the stock market. If instead, you do something to drastically change the way you keep your books, say merge with another large company, spend most of your cash, stock swaps, redundancy layoffs... Some of these actions may actually improve your picture, but even if they don't you get an excellent opportunity to obscure the picture even further and a chance to promise shareholders that once the merger costs are absorbed, things will be wonderful again.

That's what I think is going on here, and because I think Yahoo has been playing similar games, no matter if the merger goes through or not, both companies are going to face dismal futures unless they make
actual and substantive changes to their business models rather than superficial ones. (And did I mention the long term costs of ignoring your customers actual needs while you tinkered with your company spreadsheets?)

(This post revised and extended from an original Slashdot comment I made)

Official Google Blog: How to avoid getting hooked

"* Go to the site yourself, rather than clicking on links in suspicious emails. If you receive a communication asking for sensitive information but think it could be legitimate, open a new browser window and go to the organization's website as you normally would (for instance, by using a bookmark or by typing out the address of the organization's website). This will improve the chances that you're dealing with the organization's website rather than with a phisher's website, and if there's actually something you need to do, there will usually be a notification on the site. Also, if you're not sure about a request you've received, don't be afraid to contact the organization directly to ask. It takes just a few minutes to go to the organization's website, find an email address or phone number for customer support, and reach out to confirm whether the request is legitimate."

This is what I usually tell people who can't resist following up on these things (even when they contain bad grammar and typos). More ideas at the link.

MicroHoo: How to Talk Without Moving Your Lips | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD

The users’ point of view on Microsoft and Yahoo « Scobleizer — Tech geek blogger

Posted as a comment at target blog:

Personally think MS has been obscuring a decline in growth of new Windows licenses for several years, even if you exclude piracy. Volume Purchase Agreements (VPAs) give MS the ability to not only estimate the license picture but transfer those numbers from one quarter to another to paint a desirable picture.

This only works for a while though and eventually a company has to resort to more drastic measures to impress Wall Street. The monetary failures of Live, Zune, Xbox and other things actually help to make the cash cows look better than they actually are. Failures in those other area are often accompanied by complaints (mostly in anonymous blogs) about failing areas being starved of resources in favor of the monopoly products.

If the Yahoo deal goes through I expect a whole lot of obfuscation to go on, or a bit less obfuscation if synergies actually kick in as only Ballmer seems to think they will.

If the synergies DON'T kick in, then "unfortunate and unforeseen" merger costs will be the culprit and stockholders will be asked to be patient for a bit longer.

I don't normally hawk my blog here, but I'm a couple of hours away from a longer post on VPAs and how they adversely affect some, if not most MS customers and how they allow MS to regularly surprise the market with more "sales" than were expected based on growth in related markets.

No matter what happens with Yahoo the chickens are coming home to roost.

PS: Didn't Yahoo spin off Messenger work to a third party today? They (Yahoo) are playing their own games with user counts and the more they do this sort of thing the more confused and unverifiable the quarterly reports get, not to mention the more difficult it makes things for MS if the merger goes through. But that also neutralizes you point about user satisfaction. I think that is an item fairly low on both companies priority lists.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mars Acquires Wrigley’s for $23 Billion - New York Times

Mars, the makers of M&M’s, announced a deal Monday morning to acquire the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, the chewing gum concern, for about $23 billion. The transaction would create a confectionery behemoth and could pressure rivals into a cascade of other mergers.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nice (but not new) Google Overview (by recently departed CIO)

Ballmer Calls Vista 'A Work In Progress'

"Vista is a work in progress just like a bowel movement is a work in progress."

Does She Look Like a Music Pirate?

Over the next few months, Lybeck and the record industry tussled over Andersen's computer. The court ordered Andersen to hand over the computer, and the RIAA took it to an expert so it could be searched for signs of music piracy. But then the industry's lawyers refused to release the expert's report. Ultimately, Donald C. Ashmanskas, the U.S. District Court judge overseeing the case in Portland, ordered the RIAA to turn over the information, which it did in January, 2007. The result? No evidence of piracy.

Lybeck was convinced his defense was airtight. On May 14, he asked the Portland court for summary judgment. Ashmanskas gave the RIAA until June 1 to provide more evidence linking Andersen to the alleged infringement. In the week leading up to the deadline, the RIAA told Andersen it would drop its case if she agreed not to pursue counterclaims. She refused. Finally on the deadline, industry lawyers dropped the case without conditions and agreed not to sue Andersen again.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

InformIT: Interview with Donald Knuth > Interview with Donald Knuth

"Andrew Binstock and Donald Knuth converse on the success of open source, the problem with multicore architecture, the disappointing lack of interest in literate programming, the menace of reusable code, and that urban legend about winning a programming contest with a single compilation."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hundreds of Thousands of Microsoft Web Servers Hacked - Security Fix

"Hundreds of thousands of Web sites - including several at the United Nations and in the U.K. government -- have been hacked recently and seeded with code that tries to exploit security flaws in Microsoft Windows to install malicious software on visitors' machines."

New in Google Docs: Insert Videos, Edit CSS

"There are so many updates at Google Docs, that you'll need many hours to explore them and start to use them."

Researcher finds new way to hack Oracle database

"Security researcher David Litchfield has released technical details of a new type of attack that could give a hacker access to an Oracle database.

Called a lateral SQL injection, the attack could be used to gain database administrator privileges on an Oracle server in order to change or delete data or even install software, Litchfield said in an interview on Thursday."

Apple: Salesforce to become an all-Mac shop

Cleantech: Vinod Khosla's Brazilian ethanol venture uses slave labor, just like most Valley startups we know

Political Promises

"Taxpayers have become accustomed to the whoppers candidates tell on the campaign trail: A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, tax cuts, spending increases, and a balanced budget all at the same time.

The problem is that we can’t afford hot air. Our nation is in the midst of fiscal crisis: the economy is in a tailspin, we have a budget deficit of more than $400 billion and our national debt tops $9 trillion. We spend hundreds of billions each year just on interest payments to service that debt. And that doesn’t even consider the looming financial challenges of Social Security and Medicare."

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . Apple to the Core | PBS

"And while many pundits argue (and PA Semi even told some of its customers) that Apple was mainly acquiring intellectual property (IP), companies aren't typically bought that way these days. They are purchased for what they have already completed, not for what they might do in the future."

Sounds like a major contradiction to me. IP is what they have already completed.
Intel was offering higher performance at lower prices, so Apple made the jump. It was price and clock and nothing else and that's key, because Intel would like us to believe the X86 architecture played a role, too, which it didn't.

Got that right, only I don't think the primary cost savings was the chip itself. I think it was over where the boards are made where they can now buy almost generic PC parts, with a microcode change for the BIOS.

I'd love to see Apple go back to PowerPC, but I don't expect it to happen. If the main reason for going to Intel was to pick up Windows users, it was a waste of time. The Windows part of the Wintel duopoly is showing its age. I've always thought the sensible thing for both companies (setting legal issues aside) would be to merge, making the entry of any other company into the "PC" business a lost cause. As the two companies wane in influence, and the regulation blocks thus fade away, such a merger could eventually happen. Maybe Apple is being optimistic and painting an exit strategy.

Or maybe not.

While Ballmer and Yang Fiddle, Web 2.0 Hotties Burn… | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD

With the $30 billion left over, it could be like Christmas in July for the geeks and venture firms of Silicon Valley. But Microsoft could scoop up a lot of good stuff, even if prices are high.

Here’s a list: LinkedIn. Digg. Flixster. Slide or RockYou. Veoh. WordPress. Sphere. Sugar. Some international stuff. And more.

I can hardly wait for the case of indi-GEST-ion that MS will get from swallowing Yahoo, but the results would/will be the same if they swallowed the companies you name.

Microsoft is like a very large python snake. Yahoo is like a Sears Kenmore deluxe washer dryer combo.

The companies you name are like that washer-dryer taken apart down to the major component level.

The issue isn’t the size of the things swallowed, its what they are made of. In the case of the Kenmore, mostly steel. In the case of Yahoo and those smaller companies, mostly Unix.

Either way, MS (the python) will choke if not die.

This has been Mac Beach, reporting from the museum of bad analogies.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Yahoo kicks off re-wiring project

"'We are literally in the process of rewiring Yahoo from the inside out,' said Ari Balogh, chief technology officer at Yahoo in a speech at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco.

By re-engineering its internal workings it hopes to tear down the walls between its web sites and services so each user only has to visit one place to view and manage everything they do at Yahoo."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Microsoft's Net Falls 11% - WSJ.com

"The third quarter was notable for shortcomings at the divisions that oversee Windows for PCs and the Office suite of software programs. Those two divisions have been reliable growth drivers for decades. But programs that boosted revenue at the divisions in the third quarter of last year meant falls in revenue and profit at both divisions."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

DRM sucks redux: Microsoft to nuke MSN Music DRM keys

"Customers who have purchased music from Microsoft's now-defunct MSN Music store are now facing a decision they never anticipated making: commit to which computers (and OS) they want to authorize forever, or give up access to the music they paid for. Why? Because Microsoft has decided that it's done supporting the service and will be turning off the MSN Music license servers by the end of this summer."

Lovely watching MS customers getting screwed again.

Bend over suckers!

**> Sia <**

What's in Ray Ozzie's Mesh? | Beyond Binary - A blog by Ina Fried - CNET News.com

"File synchronization is an important component of Mesh, but not its only feature, the source said. Developers will be able to write their own applications for Live Mesh, with the idea that applications written for Mesh can then be accessed by a number of different devices."

Considering Using FolderShare To Sync Computers/Files? Read This First | The Inspired Solo

"How It Really Worked For Me - Part 1

The prologue to my sad tale began back in December. I’d been using FolderShare without incident for a few weeks. One morning - a Monday, if I recall correctly — I logged on to the desktop to find a nauseating nightmare:

FolderShare had erased my entire folder architecture and moved my documents to its trash folder."

HP Upline Goes Down - Users Refunded | We Got Served

'Charlie Rose' by Samuel Beckett

Monday, April 21, 2008

bits/news from the users of Debian?

What are you using Debian for? Recording your band's latest songs? Making valentines for someone? Or powering a spy satellite to take high-res photos of the Colombian drug boats off the coast of Nicaragua? Do you have a project (big or small) made with Debian you'd like to show off? Even if you think its trivial or uninteresting, we want to hear about it! Using Debian for keeping track of your socks might seem uninteresting to you, but... What cool package(s) are you using? Did you buy a beverage for a Debian contributor at DebConf? Are you using packages from a general area of Debian (science, games, development, servers)? What about Debian do you think needs changing - do you have any specific gripes? Is there a specific package that needs to be maintained better? Do you have the popularity-contest package installed and working? If not, why not? Are you missing certain packages that are not available in Debian, were removed from Debian or are not available in the last stable release (etch)? Why are you using Debian rather than RHEL/Fedora/CentOS, Gentoo, Ubuntu, MacOS or Windows (or the other way around)? Are you making a living using or customising or deploying Debian? What are your plans for using Debian in the future? Did your Debian wishlist for 2007 come true? What is your Debian wishlist for 2008? What does Debian mean to you? In what ways do you or do you intend to contribute to Debian and free software in general? How can we help you to contribute to Debian or free software in general?

A Switch on the Tracks: Railroads Roar Ahead - washingtonpost.com

"The freight railway industry is enjoying its biggest building boom in nearly a century, a turnaround as abrupt as it is ambitious. It is largely fueled by growing global trade and rising fuel costs for 18-wheelers."

The Real Google-Comscore Scandal: Investors Who Won't Take Responsibility For Decisions - Silicon Alley Insider

"But the real story here is the same as it ever was: The world over, there's only one thing louder than investors taking credit for their gains--and that's investors blaming others for their losses."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

ISP typo pimping exposes users to fraudulent web pages | The Register

"ToorCon Comcast, Verizon and at least 70 other internet service providers are putting their customers at serious risk in their quest to make money from mistyped web addresses, security researcher Dan Kaminsky says.

Speaking at the ToorCon security conference in Seattle, Kaminsky demonstrated an exploit class he dubbed PiTMA, short for provider-in-the-middle attacks. A variation of man-in-the-middle attacks, it stole authentication cookies and injected arbitrary content into trusted web pages by exploiting weaknesses in an ad server Earthlink used when returning results for non-existent addresses."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Software As A Disservice: Microsoft's absurd software subscription

"In 'Albany,' Microsoft has picked a perfect codename: a byword for bureaucratic waste, dysfunction, and corruption. As in New York's capital, someone needs to clean house. And as in New York's capital, it's not going to happen."

You aren't reading the tea leaves properly on this one. The software by subscription model is dead.

MS is taking plummeting product quality and bloat to the next level. This trend will continue until MS blends current malware technologies, using P2P networks into Vista2 which will attempt to infect every machine on the Internet.

They will monetize this by instead selling software to rid your machines of their other loathsome products.

Estimated pricing:

Microsoft Anti-Windows: $499

Microsoft Anti-Office: $349

As usual, you will be able to buy machines with this software pre-bundled, and there will be volume purchase agreements for large businesses.

I.B.M. Is Doing Just Fine as It Reports Strong Profit - New York Times

"I.B.M., the world’s largest technology services company, reported net profits of $2.32 billion, an increase of 26 percent from the year-earlier quarter when it earned $1.84 billion. Its earnings per share were $1.65, well ahead of the analysts’ consensus, as compiled by Thomson Financial, of $1.45."

Amazon Gains Share of Shrinking Paid Music Market - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

"The music industry has high hopes for Amazon. All four major labels are allowing it to sell their songs as MP3 files, without any protection against illegal copying. Their goal is to win over some people who may have been stealing music and also to create a counterbalance against Apple, which some in the music industry believe has too much power."

Techdirt: NBC Universal Now Says It Should Be Apple's Responsibility To Stop Piracy

"NBC Universal thinks Apple should somehow block the ability to get non-authorized material onto the iPod. How would they do that? How would they know that a song is authorized vs. legally ripped? Don't bother asking tough questions like that. After all, if NBC Universal actually knew how to answer them, it wouldn't be telling everyone else that they're required to fix NBC Universal's broken business model."

Victimology is a disease of our culture that was bound to infect corporate life eventually.

Cry me a river.

Look Who's Beating Up on Google - News Blog - Daily Brief - Portfolio.com

"What do Cliff Stearns, John Shimkus, and Fred Upton have in common?

They're all members of the House telecommunications subcommittee, and they've each publicly accused Google of having 'duped' the Federal Communications Commission by 'gaming' a recent multibillion-dollar auction of wireless frequencies, shortchanging federal coffers.

They also have this in common: Each has received more than $100,000 in campaign contributions over their careers from telephone and cable interests locked in a battle with Google over the use of those frequencies."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fiascobook, Redux | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

"A bug in permission restrictions in Facebook Groups allows members to upload content without first receiving permission from a Group admin."

Google Posts Q1 Investor Sedative | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

"Investors who were chugging Milk of Magnesia in advance of Google’s (GOOG) quarterly earnings today were given a nice surprise this afternoon when the company posted solid profit and sales gains for the quarter."

Leslie Carbone: Legi-Staff Blustering over LegiStorm

"That's right: House staffers are whining that LegiStorm has published information made public by the House.

In response to the outcry, LegiStorm has said that it would re-post redacted records if the taxpayers pick up the costs of blacking out the sensitive information."

MicroHoo: Yahoo and Google Play House | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD

"As someone who has been a longtime critic of Microsoft’s historically thuggish tendencies, BoomTown finds it a little hard to believe that Yahoo and Google think that they can get away with any kind of significant ad search outsourcing deal that would move the needle at Yahoo and, I guess, pressgang the software giant into making a higher bid in its quest to acquire it."


I can’t make predictions regarding rational behavior from our government, but as a consumer I can hardly see any reason for concern about the actions of Yahoo or Google with regard to monopoly power.

We do not have a monopoly on computers, even though there are some big players like Dell and Apple. We do not have a monopoly on home electronics, even though Sony, Panasonic, Phillips and others sell a lot of TV sets.

There are more services and media outlets on the Internet than the average consumer can even keep up with and I’ve yet to meet anyone who thought they had been victimized by any of the thousands (at least) of free web services out there.

Changing from one search engine to another is only as hard as adding a bookmark to your web browser, or changing your “home” page or (in some browsers) another setting specifically for search.

Contrast that with a consumer switching from the operating system or word processor, which may well be the only OS or word processor they have ever used (given the youth of PC technology). The average consumer sees such a change as comparable not to getting a new car, but rather as learning to fly the space shuttle rather than driving.

Even once you make such a long-term Windows (or Apple for that matter) user realize that 90 percent or more of what they are doing these days is through their web browser I find that they still cling to the mostly invisible operating system that gets them there. In answer to the question “How do I get rid of all these pop-up ads that I get every time I open a web page?” almost any answer you give is more acceptable than the simplest “stop using Windows” even if the alternatives cost hundreds of dollars and involve many hours of lost productivity and multiple trips back to a retail store.

Even if in the process a few more monopolies are spun off (though I doubt that will be the case), ridding ourselves of the single monopoly that continues to plague our computer related activities (even if we are only innocent bystanders having to stop what we are doing to help friends and family) will be well worth it.

I can only hope the Justice Department sees it this way and doesn’t end up helping the harmful existing monopoly in a misguided effort to stop what may or may not turn out to be a future monopoly.

Edward Lorenz, father of chaos theory and butterfly effect, dies at 90 - MIT News Office

"Edward Lorenz, an MIT meteorologist who tried to explain why it is so hard to make good weather forecasts and wound up unleashing a scientific revolution called chaos theory, died April 16 of cancer at his home in Cambridge. He was 90.

A professor at MIT, Lorenz was the first to recognize what is now called chaotic behavior in the mathematical modeling of weather systems. In the early 1960s, Lorenz realized that small differences in a dynamic system such as the atmosphere--or a model of the atmosphere--could trigger vast and often unsuspected results."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Concentrated solar power | Salon News

"The technology has no obvious bottlenecks and uses mostly commodity materials -- steel, concrete and glass. The central component, a standard power system routinely used by the natural gas industry today, would create steam to turn a standard electric generator. Plants can be built rapidly -- in two to three years -- much faster than nuclear plants. It would be straightforward to build CSP systems at whatever rate industry and governments needed, ultimately 50 to 100 gigawatts a year growth or more."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

John A. Wheeler, Physicist Who Coined the Term ‘Black Hole,’ Is Dead at 96 - New York Times

"John A. Wheeler, a visionary physicist and teacher who helped invent the theory of nuclear fission, gave black holes their name and argued about the nature of reality with Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, died Sunday morning at his home in Hightstown, N.J. He was 96."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Russia's biggest party to offer Putin chairman's job - Yahoo! News

"We are now talking about a concrete post which we intend to offer to Vladimir Putin, the post of chairman of the party,"

Is that the Russian Mafia?

YouTube - World of Warcraft ...wha huh?

The only thing of interest in games is how to activate the cheats.

The biggest challenge of real life is how to stop the cheaters.

Google LatLong: KML: A new standard for sharing maps

"Starting today, Google no longer controls KML. The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), an international standards body, has announced the completion of KML's standardization process. KML has become an OGC Standard, and the OGC will take responsibility for maintaining and extending it. This transfer of ownership is a strong reflection of Google's commitment to open standards. Fundamentally, our interest is not to control information, but rather to encourage its spread."

Friday, April 11, 2008

“Windows as We Know It Must Be Replaced.” Well, There’s a Truism if I Ever Heard One | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

"“Windows is too monolithic.” So says Gartner (IT) analyst Michael Silver who, with colleague Neil MacDonald, told attendees of a Gartner-sponsored conference in Las Vegas that Microsoft’s (MSFT) ubiquitous operating system is “collapsing” under the weight of 20 years of legacy code."

Did they also mention that is was a piece of crap?


MicroHoo: The Graphical Story | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD

Good graph here, which I won't copy as it is the whole article. Also my most excellent comments.

Blogs and Kisses! | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD

"Here is a clip from my favorite new television show, “Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union,” when recently debuted on Showtime."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Official Google Blog: Sharing gadgets just got better

"Have you ever wanted to tell a friend about a really great game gadget on iGoogle or help someone set up a gadget exactly the way you have it? You can do those things on iGoogle using the Share menu, but what you couldn't do before today was share a gadget and collaborate with your friends on the same gadget data. This means you can now view and edit gadgets just like Google Docs."

Blocking Unwanted Parasites with a Hosts File

Blocking Unwanted Parasites with a Hosts File

I was surprised to find this on an MS related site. I thought MS liked spyware!

MySpace-MSN-Yahoo? No Thanks (And Why Does MSFT Need NWS To Raise Bid?) - Silicon Alley Insider

"But if Microsoft and Yahoo are going to face integration and execution challenges, imagine what would happen if you tried to smash MSN-Yahoo-and-MySpace together at the same time, especially under one gigantic roof in Redmond. Talk about a clusterf***!"

IBM chip is fastest on Earth

"IBM Corp. began shipping high-end computers Tuesday built around the fastest chip on Earth, a microprocessor that can carry out up to 5 billion instructions per second, surpassing the speediest competing processors built by rivals like Intel or Sun Microsystems.

The new IBM processor, called the Power6, was designed to run big-ticket, water-cooled machines that drive corporations or tackle scientific problems, but slower versions of this same family of chips are already being used in inexpensive, consumer devices like the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation."

Why isn't anybody still (or again) building laptops and desktop systems based on this technology?

Because too many people still have their heads up Microsoft's (and to a lesser extent Intel's) ass.

I'm just glad there is an operating system that is CPU agnostic, and in the long run, in a world market, best technologies will prevail.

Invest wisely.

Via project to boost Linux support - ZDNet.co.uk

"Via Technologies, a supplier of chipsets and x86 processors, has launched a project to improve support for its products with Linux and other open-source platforms."

Clinton and Obama Talk Religion, Not Science | Wired Science from Wired.com

"The two remaining Democratic presidential candidates recently agreed to participate in the Compassion Forum, scheduled for April 13 at Messiah College in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Billed as a conversation on faith and values, the event will be broadcast by the Church Communication Network. It also comes five days before a proposed science debate that was canceled after the candidates refused to participate."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Paglia responds to letters on Hillary, Obama, McCain and more | Salon

"If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say Hillary is reconstituting the toxic hierarchy of her childhood household, with her on top instead of her drill-sergeant father. All those seething beta males (as you so aptly describe them) are versions of her sad-sack brothers, who got the short end of the Rodham DNA stick."

Federal Reserve Documentary

If you have three hours to kill and like to worry about things you have no control over...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Avatar Heroes | The Daily Show With Jon Stewart | Comedy Central

HP 2133 Mini-Note Review


Rube Goldberg Contest at Purdue

"For the third time in the last four years, the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers earned the top spot in the 21st annual national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on Saturday (April 5) at the Purdue Armory."

Next up, now that most state election mechanisms and the US Census are back to using paper methodology the winning team will advise the federal government on how to fix our "failing health care system" though even proponents admit that the cost of curing one ingrown toenail will probably exceed the US GDP for all of eternity.

It's the thought that counts. VOTE HILLARY! (Or Obama, or McCain, it really doesn't matter, all your dollars are belong to us.)

The Great Unbundling: Newspapers & the Net -Britannica Blog

"Because few newspapers, other than specialized ones like the Wall Street Journal, are able to charge anything for their content online, the success of a story as a product is judged by the advertising revenues it generates. Advertisers no longer have to pay to appear in a bundle. Using sophisticated ad placement services like Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing, they can target their ads to the subject matter of an individual story or even to the particular readers it attracts, and they only pay the publisher a fee when a reader views an ad or, as is increasingly the case, clicks on it. Each ad, moreover, carries a different price, depending on how valuable a viewing or a clickthrough is to the advertiser. A pharmaceutical company will pay a lot for every clickthrough on an ad for a new drug, for instance, because every new customer it attracts will generate a lot of sales. Since all page views and ad clickthroughs are meticulously tracked, the publisher knows precisely how many times each ad is seen, how many times it is clicked, and the revenue that each view or clickthrough produces."

Finally "someone important" gets it right.

Not sure I agree with the conclusion though (which I won't spoil).

I Thought You We're Looking at Me in Silicon Valley

"I have been watching you for a long time, and I know you have been watching me too."

Hilarious while it lasts.

Explainer: Why should you care about Google's App Engine?

Doesn't look good for Amazon.com and Oracle, which powers Amazon's SimpleDB.

Um, no, to the article and the rest of you.

The documentation makes it clear that the plan is to make the entry level system free beyond the temporary limitation of 10,000 developers.

Amazon sells books (and stuff) and is diversifying, bless them for that, and Oracle powers zillions of applications that won't be convertable to this for almost that many years.

Who this threatens is Rackspace and the like who start raking in the dough from small companies and start-ups who haven't even invested in a cabinet for their letterhead stationary yet.

During the previous cycle in the 90s every Avon sales-lady could have her own personal business page with the help of Geocities and all the follow-ons. Problem with all the free stuff was that it was just static pages, maybe augmented by a free forum or something.

Now the sky is the limit as far as your concept goes. You could re-invent Facebook (God forbid) with this without laying out a dime for servers and the only time you have to start paying is when you have enough traffic to actually test your monetization scheme (if you are cluefull enough to have one).

Yes, it's true that this will make cherry-picking the good apps easier for Google, but nothing is stopping several other companies from doing a similar deal. Bigtable, which is Google's super-scaleable stand-in for SQL (and looks similar to it from a programming point of view) is already being cloned in Open Source. Microsoft and Amazon have their own clones already. You could write cover functions to mask the differences if you wanted to be portable, and as mentioned above the other components are all already Open Source. They'll support other languages than Python RSN (Real Soon Now).

The immediate "victims", as I said, are Rackspace and the like, although I don't expect them to close up shop any time soon.

If we are lucky though the thousands of other fly-by-night (mostly middle-men) hosting providers (who often sub-let from Rackspace) will find that old door to door Amway business that they put on the shelf once again an easier row to hoe.

This is getting a lot of amateurs out of the business of running (or pretending to run) data centers.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Intel Capital Bets on China Growth - WSJ.com

"Intel Capital, the Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker's investment unit, has created the new $500 million fund to focus on technology startups at varying stages, including companies working with wireless broadband, technology media and telecommunications, Arvind Sodhani, the unit's president, said in an interview Tuesday. It is the largest country-focused fund for Intel Capital globally."

Google App Engine: Write Your Own Google Apps

"Usually, if you lower the entry barriers for a system, people will use it more often and the probability of building something great increases. Google wants to reduce the complexities of creating web applications and give developers the opportunity to spend more time writing code and less time building the infrastructure and scaling the application."

Good summary here of what is being offered and where they might go with it, including live development of an application (videos).

NIH bars sensitive data from Mac laptops

"The National Institutes of Health has blocked employees from working with sensitive information on Apple Macintosh laptop PCs because NIH’s approved full-disk encryption software cannot be installed on them."

Makes me wonder...

Bush biographers mixed on script for Oliver Stone's 'W'

"Jacob Weisberg ('The Bush Tragedy') was skeptical about Stone's claim that he wants to make 'a fair, true portrait' of Bush. 'His saying he is going to be fair to Bush is like Donald Trump saying he is going to be modest,' Weisberg quipped."

Google App Engine

"Run your web applications on Google's infrastructure.

Google App Engine enables developers to build web applications on the same scalable systems that power our own applications.
No assembly required.
Google App Engine exposes a fully-integrated development environment.

It's easy to scale.
Google App Engine makes it easy to design scalable applications that grow from one to millions of users without infrastructure headaches.

It's free to get started.
Every Google App Engine application will have enough CPU, bandwidth, and storage to serve around 5 million monthly pageviews."

Monday, April 07, 2008

9000 PCs in Swiss schools going Linux only | Education IT | ZDNet.com

"Beginning this September, all 9000 computers will run only Ubuntu and free and open source software. While officials are happy to be saving money on licensing, the Department of Public instruction largely made the move out of what they considered best practices for student education"...

IBM is back, but what happened?

"The suspension’s end calms concerns rampant throughout the government IT and acquisition communities. EPA’s suspension startled chief acquisition officers, senior procurement officials and chief information officers.

EPA did not inform GSA before suspending the company, Drabkin said. Furthermore, many in government and industry learned about the suspension April 1 — April Fool’s Day — and some thought it was a prank."

Sounds like someone at EPA needs to be suspended. But I doubt that will happen.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Shift in the Debate Over Global Warming - New York Times

"The economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, head of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, stated the case bluntly in a recent article in Scientific American: “Even with a cutback in wasteful energy spending, our current technologies cannot support both a decline in carbon dioxide emissions and an expanding global economy. If we try to restrain emissions without a fundamentally new set of technologies, we will end up stifling economic growth, including the development prospects for billions of people.”"

Surprising at this point that anyone considers this news.

In the Event of an Animated Phalli Attack Proceed to the Nearest IBM Virtual World Exit | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

"This morning, Big Blue announced a partnership with Second Life producer Linden Lab to create a secure, enterprise-class version of the popular Internet-based virtual world."

Ohio Hospital Contests a Story Clinton Tells - New York Times

"Over the last five weeks, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has featured in her campaign stump speeches the story of a health care horror: an uninsured pregnant woman who lost her baby and died herself after being denied care by an Ohio hospital because she could not come up with a $100 fee.

The woman, Trina Bachtel, did die last August, two weeks after her baby boy was stillborn at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens, Ohio. But hospital administrators said Friday that Ms. Bachtel was under the care of an obstetrics practice affiliated with the hospital, that she was never refused treatment and that she was, in fact, insured."

Inexpensive computers may give Linux operating system a big lift - Salt Lake Tribune

"Of course, prognosticators perennially say Linux is on the verge. It gets high marks for security and stability and is widely used behind the scenes in corporate servers, making it a natural candidate to steal desktop thunder from Microsoft's dominant Windows. And yet Linux PCs still represent less than 2 percent of the market."

To avoid a lot of updates I hereby proclaim this the Linux Century!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Census turns to paper, rejects IT risks

"The bureau expects to spend an additional $2.2 billion to $3 billion to support the return to paper surveys. In total, Gutierrez said he expects the 2010 census to cost between $13.7 billion to $14.5 billion."

Once again the government taxpayers are ripped off by untried tried-and-failed touchscreen technologies.

Welcome back paper.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Google H4x0r

Google News Blog: Psst...secrets of Google News exposed!

"So without further delay, on to truths and myths:

Having an image next to your article improves your ranking MYTH
While having a good image with your article does improve your chance to get your picture shown, it has no impact on the ranking of the article itself. There are some tips in our help center designed to help us include more of your images in Google News. We encourage you to check those out if you have had problems getting images included in the past."


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Google Docs mean[s] sharing

"Google Docs is all about being able to share and collaborate, and now we're taking the idea of sharing a step further with a new Google Docs Community Channel. This is a place to watch videos from regular folks all about Google Docs, connect with others, and pick up smart tips about all the ways to use the application."

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Microsoft Open Format Standard Said to Get Global Approval - New York Times

Contention over the outcome even influenced the remarks of representatives of countries that abstained from the vote, like the Netherlands. “This is like someone with six shopping carts of food trying to go through the express lane at a supermarket,” said Michiel Leenaars, a member of the Dutch voting delegation. “The end result of this will be confusion. The standard is simply too big. There are still a lot of questions out there.”

A joke of another kind.