Friday, February 28, 2003

Fireball fighting and the power of pretend fighting
I caught a bit of The Screen Savers and saw Martin Sargent show two of the funnier little movies I've seen on the Internet in a while. The first movie was of these geniuses trying to simulate the game Street Fighter by throwing giant fireballs at each other. The second movie displayed the practicality of Jedi like mind tricks that would make Yoda proud.
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The leaders...errr...stars of the anti-war movement
RollingStone.com: “Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews, Outkast, Busta Rhymes, Roseanne Cash and Tweet are among the other members of the group, which will use its public platform to support weapons inspections, as opposed to invasion and occupation, as a means to resolve the conflict with Iraq.”

What, no Vanilla Ice? How can we take this group seriously without Vanilla Ice on the squad?
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Nucleus: 509 Bandwidth Limit Exceeded
The Nucleus PHP weblog software project has run out of bandwidth this month. That's good and bad. Good because it's obviously getting more popular. Bad because no one can get there now. I wonder how much traffic the site is seeing these days? Once it gets back up, I'm going to find out. I think Nucleus is a cool project and would like to help out more.

...No, I'm not going to link to the Nucleus site in this post. I'm not that cruel.
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China to view Windows code
Great start. When China is done, why don't we have North Korea, Iran and Iraq sneak a peak? Why don't you just open the source period? You don't have to give away the product, but at least make the source code available. It's not like most people are going to actually be able to do anything with it anyway. It looks bad that Microsoft is opening the code to a country like China, but won't open it to the rest of us here in the US. CNET News.com
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The problem with Linux
Windows & .NET Magazine: “However, Linux has many problems. First, Linux brings the same command-line 'cruft' that ultimately supplanted UNIX with Windows, which was simpler to learn and administer.”

I agree with some of what the author, Paul Thurrott, has to say in his editorial concerning Linux. But, the comment above was not a strong way to start the article off. Does he really believe that Windows servers are easier to administrate because of the GUI? Has he ever tried to manage a server remotely via a GUI vs. command line? There's no comparison — SSH into a *NIX box beats any Windows GUI everytime.

“One would think that Torvalds would have 'done UNIX right' and fixed the problems; instead, he opted to mimic an OS that was already on the way out.”

An OS that was already on the way out, huh? I'm puzzled by this comment. UNIX has been around for a long time and continues to dominate areas of the enterprise server market that Microsoft still dreams of. Maybe someone should tell Mr. Thurrott about Solaris, HP-UX and AIX to name a few flavors of UNIX that have controlled the enterprise server market for quite some time now. The only difference today is that Linux is starting to step in where those proprietary UNIXes once held strong, not Windows.

I think this editorial shows a lack of understanding about Linux from a Windows centric author. Yes, UNIX technology is old. Yes, it is a mess in several areas. Yes, Linux development can be anarchic. But, one of the key reasons Linux continues to pick up steam is because no one entity can control the destiny of the operating system. The same cannot be said for Windows. A single vendor controls the future of Windows and, unfortunately, Microsoft has a vested interest in making sure the Windows platform protects other market spaces it is interested in dominating like an Office suite, Groupware, many different web technologies, CRM, mid-size ERP, etc. Linux is an open operating system that does not feel pressured to protect any market space. That, in the end, is a huge positive for companies looking for an operating system that is concerned with being just that — an operating system.
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Thursday, February 27, 2003

Charles Barkley: 'Dan Rather should've just killed Saddam'
It's halftime during the Kings and Mavericks game. Charles Barkley starts things off by talking about Dan Rather's interview with Saddam Hussein. (What else would you start an NBA halftime show off with? ) He tells Ernie and Kenny that Dan should've just killed Saddam and saved us all the trouble. Ernie asked how Dan could've possibly pulled that off. Charles says it's simple, invite him to dinner after the interview and then stab him in the back of the neck with a fork! Classic.

Update: Charles just asked, “Do you think he'd use a salad fork or a regular fork?” just before going to a commercial. Even better!

The best part of the NBA on TNT is the halftime show with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson. They are (by far) the best sports commentating trio out there today. Even if you're not into pro basketball or sports at all, I think you'd enjoy the halftime show and Listen Up!, which is normally on Thursdays at 7 PM EST on TNT.
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FOXNews.com
From FOXNews.com: “Winfrey revealed Wednesday night that she was bringing back her club after a 10-month hiatus. She said she had been reading works by William Shakespeare, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway and wanted to celebrate these and other writers from the past.”

I can see it now, people all over the world are going to be saying, “Hey did you hear Oprah recommended this author...what his name? I think it was Ernest Hemingway. He must be pretty good. I'll have to check him out.” Somehow I don't think this bookclub is going to turn out quite like the original.
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I think I now understand why Overture bought AltaVista
I've been a bit baffled by Overture's purchase of AltaVista, but I think I have a theory after reading this CNET News.com article about Google's new context sensitive ad placement on partner web sites.

Google has the best search engine currently. Their index blows away the competition in both size and depth. By acquiring companies like Blogger that provide weblogs with often updated content, Google is able to extend their AdWords service out to the actual sites and not just limit advertising to the search results. Of course, Google doesn't have to acquire every company it wants to provide this service for. Blogger most likely has an even greater purpose for Google, thus the acquisition. For most sites, Google will simply sell companies on carrying their service.

If you look closely, you'll notice Google's model is similar to Overture's, only Overture's partner sites are all search engines — up until now. Overture could not offer the sophisticated context sensitive advertising on partner web sites that Google could because Overture didn't have an index like Google has. So, Overture goes out and purchases AltaVista in order to use the search technology and index to provide context sensitive advertising on partner web sites. Previously, Overture didn't have a technology to sufficiently index a partner web site that they would offer advertising on. Without an index, you are hamstrung in providing relevant advertising within the context of a web page's content.

I believe Google and Overture are racing to get in on this next wave of context sensitive advertising. While the current Internet advertising network king DoubleClick provides ineffective banner, popup and Flash ads, Google and Overture are preparing for a battle in providing advertisers with a more effective form of advertising already proven to advertisers in the form of relevant search results ads.

The key for Google in this new venture is that they can begin building a network of partner sites versus trying to offer AdWords on other search engines. While a company like AOL may be OK with Google's service on their site at this point in time, I wouldn't expect that to be the case in the near future. Google was definitely at a disadvantage when it came to signing up other search engines for their AdWords service, but doesn't have that problem as much with sites focused on content as opposed to search.

Overture has always been neutral when it came to the search engines. They didn't care to compete with in the search engine market. Overture simply wanted to sign up as many search engines as possible to carry Overture's search sensitive text ads. What was once an advantage (neutrality in the search engine realm) is no more. Overture is now in the same boat as Google — providing a competing search engine while also trying to sign up the competition for their advertising service. Both companies are now competing for much of the same business and Google appears to have the upper hand this time around in the form of its superior search and index technology. This is going to be a fun one to watch.
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I'm sending you this email about email being down
From The Scobleizer Weblog: “Heh. Hotmail just came back up. Funny thing is that an executive at Microsoft wrote me and said ”hey, I'm frustrated that Hotmail is down too.“ Problem is, he sent that to my Hotmail account.” Priceless.
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Sterling Hughes: Make War With France
I've been hearing quite a bit about Dan Rather's interview with Saddam Hussein. Sterling Hughes has a link to the interview. Here's a part that I liked:

“Rather: Mr. President, do you expect to be attacked by an American-led invasion?

Translator for Saddam Hussein: We hope that the attack will not take place. But we are bracing ourselves to meet such an attack. To face it. You’ve been here for a few days, you see how people live. They live normally, they get married, they visit each other, but at the same time they hear the news.”


That last sentence is key. I think the translator left out a few details. Here is a more accurate translation:

They live normally, they get married, they visit each other, they get tortured, raped, starve, serve as test rats for my experiments, go to prison...you know, just living life in Iraq. But at the same time they hear the lies we tell them and they get all geared up for a war we can't possibly win. But hey, what do I care? My days are numbered anyway you look at it Dan, so why not take the people of Iraq with me? It wouldn't be the first time. (Laughs)
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U.N. inspector to Saddam: Stop playing games
Salon.com: “As weapons inspectors in Baghdad grow increasingly frustrated at Iraq's ”piecemeal approach,“ even some Iraqis ask why their government doesn't simply come clean.”

If people are wondering why Saddam doesn't “come clean,” then they need to get a grip on reality. There is no need to wonder. Saddam is actively acquiring weapons of mass destruction. He needs the power those weapons provide him with. Giving up those weapons means he loses power. Losing power means he is likely to be overthrown. Saddam is playing games with the UN as he always has. And why shouldn't he? It appears to be working for him so far.
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Networks Ready More Millionaire, Bachelor Shows
FOXNews.com: “Flush with the success of Joe Millionaire, Fox executives said Wednesday that they are readying a second edition.”

Oh for the love, please make it stop! My wife loves these shows. My only hope of escaping them was if a large portion of the US population came to their senses — no such luck. It's official now, network TV is The Truman Show (a fine movie, but a scary prediction to have come true.)
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Don't look now, Novell wants back in the game (no, really)
CNET News.com: “We refer to it as the next Novell. And let's be honest, the past couple of years people have been wondering, ”What's up with you guys? Where you going? What are you doing?“ We've been kind of dark. Obviously, we're changing all that. That starts with a new management team, a completely new focus, which some of the new acquisitions help bolster.” -Chris Stone, Vice Chairman of Novell

Novell is an interesting company. At one time they were king of the hill when it came to the network server market. Now, as Stone points out in his interview, I'm not sure what Novell is about. They've always had solid technology, but did you realize they have 160 products?! I didn't. That is a lot of products for a company that appears to be lost in the IT abyss somewhere. I hope Novell gets its act together. A lot of that has to do with marketing, which Chris Stone has this to say:

“ I'll be frank with you. If you were to take the messaging that we're trying to do, and we had the market prowess of someone like Microsoft or BEA, we'd be killing (the competition).”

That's a pretty bold statement and admission of one's company being incredibly pathetic in terms of selling its own product line. Statements like that make me start to believe that Novell may actually turn things around this time. Previously, I got the feeling that Novell executives were banking on their technology to sell itself, which we see how well that has worked out for them.
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Proof of greed or ignorance?
I didn't think it needed to be said (avoiding spam offers), but according to Mike Wendland's E-Journal, an estimated $100 million dollars is scammed away by the famous Nigerian spam in the US every year. Who falls for this stuff?
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Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Cool DHTML site
youngpup.net - Proof that there is hope yet for web based applications. Well documented and provides working samples to view. Excellent work!
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Donahue out of touch with the current marketplace
From FoxNews.com:“Meanwhile, the Web site www.allyourtv.com posted a commentary on Wednesday by Rick Ellis saying that he had been leaked an internal NBC study that described Donahue as 'a tired, left-wing liberal out of touch with the current marketplace.'”

Phil pointed out that Fox News had three years to overtake CNN in the ratings and that he only had six months. What Phil forgets to mention is that MSNBC has had well over three years as a network to overtake Fox News or CNN. Donahue's show was a failure from the start. The last ditch effort to turn it into his old talk show was pathetic. It was like watching 1980's TV all over again.
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BBEdit not as cool these days
One of the better text editors (to me anyway) has been BBEdit for the Mac. I read Quarter Life Crisis' post about BBEdit and tend to agree with him. BBEdit is overpriced at $179. It is a text editor, a very cool text editor, but a text editor nonetheless. At $179 it is quickly moving into the price range of an IDE and I just don't see enough IDE like features in BBEdit to justify the price.
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The road to Windows 2003
Hmmm...I would say something like “long and winding,” but curiousLee points to an article that goes into a bit more depth. It's always interesting to me to read about how other projects are managed. I always learn something.
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The Chicken Holocaust
Morons.org: “Decades from now,” the site reads, “what will you tell your grandchildren when they ask you whose side you were on during the 'animals' holocaust'? Will you be able to say that you stood up against oppression, even when doing so was considered ?radical? or 'unpopular'? Will you be able to say that you could visualize a world without violence and realized that it began at breakfast?”

I've yet to see a more absurd and outrageous ad campaign. PETA has a Flash ad that shows a picture from the Holocaust juxtaposed against a picture of a chicken farm! Horrible.
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Do you want me to add the Grateful Dead dancing bear while I'm at it?
I can't stop laughing. I know it's probably not that funny, but it is to me. One of the interns at work has been put in charge of developing a little intranet site for a continuous improvement program we have. This is a serious program at the company, so why is it that the intern was asked to use an image from this gallery of images?! Do we want people to start dropping acid as they use the site? I thought it was a joke, but the intern forwarded me the message requesting he change the back ground to something that doesn't look “so official.” Classic.
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AOL's music service
I'm sure most have already read this elsewhere, but Snellspace has an interesting take on AOL's entry in the online music biz.

For those who think AOL is dead in the water — watch out. I thought the same thing back in the 90's when ISP's seemed to have AOL's number, but that never panned out. I believe the new management may be provoked to take the types of risks that made AOL a pioneer in its youth. It's a lot easier to take risks when you have nothing left to lose. And, trust me, AOL at this point has nothing left to lose.
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Saddam vows to die in Iraq
At least he's being realistic. CNN.com
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Our addictions to monopolies
Last night I read Dan Gillmor's article in Computerworld about how IT tends to like and support monopolies. He is absolutely right. As Dan points out:

“Monocultures in the physical world are widely understood to be risky. We are moving that way, unfortunately, in things like farming — where a single virus could, in theory, wipe out much of the world's corn crop in a single season, leading to untold human suffering. Yet our food supply is based on monocultures because they're more efficient. Today.

And that leads to the other main reason why monopolies, duopolies and oligopolies keep springing up: They're good business, largely because they're more stable — temporarily, at any rate — for buyers as well as sellers.”


The key there is about how a monopoly is good for today, which leaves open the very real possibility of becoming bad for the future. While a one vendor standard environment seems like the most sensible approach, it soon becomes a nightmare if a vendor decides to increase prices or not pay enough attention to its customers. Some might say that once a vendor becomes negligent you start looking for another vendor. That is good in theory, but look at what most corporations are doing in regards to Microsoft's latest licensing policies — nothing. Most companies are simply giving in to Microsoft's increasingly harsh tactics. In the end, companies feel it would be too difficult to switch to other competing products. And, you know what? They're probably right. That's the whole idea and problem with monopolies.

Dan is absolutely correct when he says, “IT can do some of this, but it should employ another tactic, too: Push much harder for open, non-owned standards.” Open standards are the best answer to this IT dilemma. With open standards support, we can keep our monopolies if we choose to, but we would then have real power to change vendors without as much disruption as would occur currently. Of course, vendors who hold a monopoly are not likely to fully embrace open standards. That is where IT comes into the picture, just as Dan so eloquently pointed out.

Side Note: I read Dan's article last night in (gasp) the Computerworld print magazine. The funny thing is that I didn't realize it was one of Dan's articles until I finished reading it and looked for the author.
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The truth about oil and the potential war with Iraq
From Off the Kuff: “I haven't seen anyone blog about this Salon article, which rather surprises me. The article discusses why Big Oil really doesn't want war with Iraq, at least not now. A lot of the points this article makes are quite sensible when you think about it: We don't need to go to war to free up Iraqi oil, we could simply drop our sanctions against Iraq instead. Given that the US is easily the biggest consumer of oil, it hurts Iraq a lot more than it hurts us for their oil to be unavailable to us. Most critically from the point of view of US oil producers, once Iraqi oil is freely available on the world market, the price will go down as the supply has increased.”

Wow, Salon is making sense! Charles Kuffner gets to the heart of the oil argument when he says, “Yes, the one country which will undoubtedly profit from an invasion of Iraq is none other than France, that beacon of Old European obstinacy.” Bingo.

If you protest the US' holding Iraq's feet to the fire, I think you may want to rethink your emotional argument that this war is all about the US getting Iraq's oil — it's quite the contrary. I know the protestors will never admit this because it makes you think with your head, not your emotions.
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Is the music industry dead?
From LilacRose: “In the comments on Ben's post, Mark Byron described the music industry as an oligopoly, which is exactly what it is. When this current system finally does die, hopefully it will be replaced with a free market system and true competition. Then I'll be able to listen to music radio again.”

I think placing too much importance on radio is a mistake for those of us wanting to see big changes in the music industry. I think the next wave of radio will be Internet radio via satellite Internet capable car stereo systems. You'll tune into your favorite station kind of like you tune into your favorite weblogs, via syndication. This is a ways off, but it seems to be the best hope for any sort of change in regards to radio. The music industry will be rattled before this new radio starts to creep into our lives. That's my opinion anyway.
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Santa is dead
Don't just take my word for it. Check out this picture on Sterling Hughes' weblog.
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Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Classic article: Boo! And the 100 Other Dumbest Moments in e-Business History
This is an old Business 2.0 article, but it is so good I had to post it. This is one of the best articles to describe the disaster that was the late 90's economy. It's hard for me to pick a favorite from the list. There are so many great ones.
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The Grammy's are a scam
Like you didn't already know that, right? I was reminded of this fact when I saw Blogcritics top ten albums of the year. Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot deserved a Grammy for album of the year, but instead got zero nominations. How can an album that almost every critic had on their top 10 list for the year 2002 not even be nominated?!

Oh well, the Grammy's, much like the Oscars, are an industry shell game when it gets down to it. Once in a while they'll strike luck and give an award to someone who deserves it, but that's the exception rather than the rule.
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PHP 5
PHPDeveloper.org points to this site which covers the new features to look for in PHP 5. Very cool!
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A sad day for liberals everywhere
Newsday.com: “ The Liberal Party failed to collect the 50,000 votes in last November's gubernatorial race needed to maintain its status as a recognized party in New York. As a result, the party lost its automatic ballot slots in New York and its members officially became unenrolled or independent voters for election purposes.” I'm all choked up inside all of a sudden.
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A subject line not to use when posting to an e-mail list
“I'm about to go out & kill someone” This is certainly more creative than the ever popular, I don't have five seconds to write a meaningful subject line for this list to view so I'll just put “Help!” I'm not sure it's any better, but it does get points for creativity.
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You can always count on “The Cow” for a great take
The Fury of the Cow!: “I don't know who's idea it was to put the sign up sheet for the Red Cross Blood Drive by my desk. It's getting to the point where it's the most annoying thing ever. I'm glad people are giving blood. It is a life saving activity. I just don't need people constantly asking me about it like I'm in charge or something. It's near my desk, not ON it. How the heck do I know if they're having juice afterwards? I'm sure they will, don't they always?”
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Proof Sony is starting to get it: Bob Dylan catalogue goes online
From RollingStone: “Earlier this month, Sony Records launched Custommixcd.com, a service that allows fans to legally set their own tracklist for original compilations. Right now, Sony's made available songs from thirty-five Bob Dylan albums, as well as a number of rare and live tracks, and fifty Train songs, including covers, rarities, and live and studio versions. For $15 (plus shipping and handling), fans can select any twelve tracks or seventy-eight minutes of music.”

This sounds very cool. I'd like to see the price of the CD go down to about $12 + S&H, but that'll come. Sony's service is something I think all the labels should be doing for all their artists. Think about all the unreleased material many artists have, including live recordings, that fans would love to purchase for a reasonable price. It would be nice if Sony also offered MP3's of the CD so you don't have to wait for the CD to ship. I think this is reasonable, even if it would appear (to Sony anyway) to encourage file swapping. Once you had all the artists on this type of service, you then take the big step and offer mix CDs with multiple artists, which is what most mixed CDs are.

For a lot of the bands I follow, fans are often looking for good live recordings of material. Prior to the Internet you typically had to buy illegal imports for outrageous prices. I think fans would love to be able to buy specific concerts right from the source. The recordings would be much better quality and the cost to the label or artist is negligible. In other words, this just makes sense for everyone involved. I would love to have the Jeff Tweedy concert I went to a month ago in a high quality format. Ditto for most concerts I go to. Why aren't labels smart enough to see this? Maybe Sony is. The thing about Sony is that they have an interest in both the music and technology. I think they're going to be the first label to breakdown and change their old ways of doing business in order to sell more music and technology.
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Blogger sold out?
Evan Williams, creator of Blogger, points to a post by Steve MacLaughlin saying Evan sold out to Google. Evan points out that Dave Winer agrees.

Does “selling out” mean...
  1. taking your company to the next level?
  2. not remaining a small niche player?
  3. making a good sum of money?
  4. cutting a deal with a company you respect?
  5. taking a risk?
  6. wanting to become a big company?
  7. wanting to better your product/service?
  8. becoming popular?
  9. leaving your competition in the dust?
  10. making a technology mainstream?
Selling out is often used when people talk about music. It's not uncommon to hear someone say, “I remember those guys when they were playing small clubs and didn't even have a demo out. Now they're on (put name of big record company here) and they suck! They sold out.”

If Evan did sell out we won't know for quite some time. Selling out to me is leaving behind all your principles in order to achieve a particular goal. I don't believe Evan sold out. I believe he did what Dave and so many others in small software companies would love to do, which is: take the next step in making their software/service available to the masses. If that is selling out, then I think the software industry as a whole is in an even deeper rut than it appears.
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A (small) win for AMD
From CNET News.com: “Sun will use the laptop version of Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon XP processor in its slim ”blade“ servers coming later this year, the company said Monday.”

I've oftened wondered how long it would take Sun to wakeup and realize that AMD makes more sense than Intel for them. I think Sun can get more of what they want out of AMD than they ever will with Intel. Sun means more to AMD than it does to Intel.
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Monday, February 24, 2003

Kent police field complaint about busty snow woman
I found this Akron Beacon Journal article from Joyful Christian. Did I mention I'm from Akron, Ohio? I'm afraid that doesn't say much for me right about now.
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Flash on DoCoMo capable phones
From JD on MX: “This is big news, as you can tell by the press coverage, but I don't have details yet on release dates, channels, or technical specifics.”

Does this mean I can get huge flash ads on my phone now too? Sign me up!
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PeopleSoft wins round in CRM battle
This CNET article is interesting in that it proves no software/system is going to succeed without full support throughout the company. It is also interesting because PeopleSoft is the ERP/CRM software vendor I think is one of the most forward thinking of the bunch. Whether that translates to success is a completely different story.
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A new and improved LoveGate virus
From The Register: “LoveGate-C is a mass-mailing virus which incorporates its own SMTP engine and (of particular concern) a backdoor key-logging component.”

The best is this line from F-Secure: “Lovgate.C appears to have fixed some previous problems with the e-mail spreading capabilities of the worm.”

Well, I'm happy someone has fixed some of the bugs in this latest release of LoveGate. There's nothing like having a virus that doesn't live up to its full potential.
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Salon.com is pleading for your help
From Slashdot: “Salon.com is appealing to the community for help. They haven't been able to pay the rent since December. To date, they've lost about $80 million dollars. A cause of rejoicing for some. But their many readers are understandably sorry to see them in such desperate straits. Personally I hope they stick around, I think they are one of the best sources of independant journalism on the web--even if I happen to agree with less than 10% of what they have to say.”

I tend to agree with about 1% of what Salon.com pumps out, but I don't want to see them go. Of course, they have run through $80 million dollars with very little to show. I don't think they started to take the business seriously until a year or two ago, so maybe it's not so sad if they go away. They're definitely an example of what went wrong during the dot com era. Either way, if they are able to pull themselves out of the hole, then they'll be OK. And, when you think about it, that's the way it should be. (Well that or Chapter 11. )
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Don't make us mad!
From CNN: “Iraqis are not easy to deal with when they're angry.” -Saddam Hussein
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AIDS vaccine falls short but shows some promise
From CNN: “An experimental AIDS vaccine failed to protect most high-risk people, but there was one silver lining in the trial — researchers Monday said the results for blacks and Asians show promise, even though more study of those groups would be needed.”

Those racist researchers are up to no good again!
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Cool new Mozilla feature in 1.3b
I got this one from Blogzilla. I’ve been wondering why Mozilla didn’t have this type of WYSIWYG form control like IE has been offering for a while now.
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Internal Safari build has tabs
From MacSlash pointing to a ThinkSecret article. I had heard Apple was opposed to the concept of tabs. I think they heard from a lot of users who were using Chimera (or whatever it's called these days) and liked the tab feature. Hopefully Apple will release this to the public soon.
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Sunday, February 23, 2003

Not a good time to be J.D. Edwards
It sounds like ERP software maker J.D. Edwards is taking it on the chin with one customer winning a lawsuit and more customers getting in line to file their suits. These suits are concerning early implementations of J.D. Edwards' OneWorld ERP package. I'm surprised more ERP vendors haven't seen these suits of late.
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We have a right to kill kids!
I know I'm asking for it here, but I don't care. I read this very short letter to the editor from the CEO of Planned Parenthood on the New York Times site and couldn't help but comment.

I'm against abortion. I believe the argument for and against abortion comes down to a single question: When does life begin? I believe as science moves along, we're seeing that life can be sustained earlier and earlier. Look at how many premature babies live and go on to be healthy kids and adults these days. The thing I never understand about those who support abortion is why they get all bent out of shape when there are stories about people abadoning their babies. We've all heard the stories. Girl swears she doesn't know she's pregnant, has baby, disposes of baby in trash. I don't understand why this is different than abortion. I honestly don't. The only conclusion I can come to is that it comes down to when you consider life to begin.

Planned Parenthood doesn't do itself any good when it objects to eliminating late-term abortions. As we now see thanks to the wonders of science, the lives destroyed by late-term abortions are human beings. Who wants to align themselves with a group that supports the killing of premature babies?

No matter what your opinion may be on abortion, I think we can all agree that there is a need for families to adopt children left without homes to call their own. I hope someday that my wife and I will be able to adopt, God willing. Even though we've been blessed to have a child of our own, I believe there are far too many children out there who need someone to love them and make them a part of their family. That's a tough challenge, but one I think we can all agree on and one that will help to overcome the destruction of young lives through abortion.
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Gzip compression turned on
I have turned on Gzip compression to help speed up the download of this site (in theory anyway.) Please let me know if this breaks things on your browser. It shouldn't, but you never know.
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Blogging goes mobile
This article on the BBC talks about the future of blogging from a mobile phone. Have you ever tried typing on your cell phone? I think I get about a word per minute on mine.
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ASP.NET lead has a weblog
I picked up this link to Scott Guthrie's weblog, Microsoft's ASP.NET lead, from Jon Udell's weblog. Scott's weblog is an interesting one that gives desperately needed insight into the minds of those behind ASP.NET's development. I'm definitely adding this one to my RSS subscriptions.
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GUI client programming with Python?
I work in an IT department that has people developing applications on a lot of different technology. One guy in particular is trying to make the move to VB.NET from Visual Basic 6. He's done a great job, but he's run into a number of problems with .NET being in its infancy. A lot of the problems he runs into have to do with Microsoft not having complete and stable .NET components available, so he has to use old COM objects that aren't the most stable in a .NET environment. There are other things he's run into — strange errors where he has to rebuild a project workspace to fix, but those don't come around often.

I mainly do web application development, so GUI clients aren't something I typically think about. But since I've taken an interest in my co-worker's .NET projects lately, I started to think about what technology I would try in place of .NET. Would I use Java for client apps? Probably not. Java doesn't provide that great of a GUI even with Swing and it isn't as quick to develop in as say Visual Basic. I thought about Visual Basic, but I tend to want to make things cross platform when possible. I realize that's not always necessary or possible, but it's something I aim to do so that I'm not locked into a particular platform. Sure, you can use something like Real Basic that runs on Windows and Mac OS, but I want something that supports Linux as well. What about Python?

I've always admired Python from afar. I think it's a fairly clean and powerful language. But is it good for GUI application development? I read a little bit about this, including the fact that Mitch Kapor's new PIM project, Chandler, is being done in Python. I found this interesting, since I never thought of Python as a solid GUI client development environment. It looks like there are many options for cross platform GUI development with Python, including wxPython, PyQt and PyGTK. I have no idea which of these you would use. I understand Qt is solid, but has a licensing cost attached to it. I can handle licensing costs as long as they are one time costs, not royalty types of deals. wxPython is being used by the Chandler project. GTK looks a little rougher around the edges than the other two to me. The question is: Do Python GUI applications match those done in VB.NET or Real Basic in terms of functionality and ease of development?
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Why Did Google Want Blogger?
From Wired: “Cleveland said Google's acquisition of Pyra would, quite simply, help Google create a more accurate search engine by adding rich new sources of data gleaned from weblogs.

The secret, Cleveland said, is in the scores of links webloggers create every day to content on the Web.”
Seems like as good a reason as I've read yet.
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Unilateral redefined
[ t e c h n o \ c u l t u r e ] pointing to a Guardian Unlimited article: “Media: The American media has started to turn against President Bush's hard line against Iraq, with a majority of the country's top newspapers opposing unilateral action.”

The word “unilateral” must have changed meanings recently. Last time I checked, we had a number of countries on our side concerning Iraq. So, we're acting unilaterly with other countries. Makes complete sense to me!
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What would you like to see Microsoft do?
Scoble: If you're a Mac fanatic, what do you want Microsoft to do for your platform? If you're an Xbox fanatic, what do you want Microsoft to do for your platform? If you're a Windows user, what do you want Microsoft to do? Hey, even if you're an Open Source person, what do you want Microsoft to do?

In short, I'd like to see Microsoft committ to “playing nice” with others. What I mean by that is:
Those are some of the items that came to mind that I'd like to see Microsoft do. People much smarter than me can probably go into much deeper detail and provide even greater ideas. I'm interested in reading how others are answering Scoble's question. Scoble is right. Those of us who are critical of Microsoft (or any company or organization for that matter) need to do more than just complain. I'm happy he asked the questions he did.
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SNL tonight - Steve Martin, Will Ferrell, Britney Spears and Jim Carrey
I just finished watching SNL tonight and was pleasantly surprised to see cameo appearances by those listed above. The show overall was OK, but the guest appearances were great. I do have to give SNL credit for improving quite a bit (in their writing) compared to the shows from 5-8 years ago. That's not to say that the writing doesn't fall into the trap of using not very clever sex and toilet humour way too often. But, Weekend Update is vastly improved these days and I also think skits like Safari Planet and Wake Up Wakefield are pretty funny. Actually, Safari Planet is very funny. I laugh everytime I see one of those skits.
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Poor net access today
I have a Charter Communications cable modem and the service was spotty for one of the first times since I've had it; thus the lack of any posts today. I had other stuff to do anyway. Of course, most of what I needed to do on my computer today required Internet access. Oh well.
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Friday, February 21, 2003

Classic Roger Ebert line
From Roger's review of the critically trashed “The Life of David Gale”:

“I am aware this is the second time in two weeks I have been compelled to quote Lear, but there are times when Eminem simply will not do.”
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A large wooden rabbit sank the Limburg
This post from The Skeptician caught me off guard — I love it!
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Borland's C# IDE
Larry O'Brian at Thinking In .NET points to a couple of screenshots of Borland's upcoming .NET IDE, Sidewinder. If Sidewinder is going to be just another IDE, then I don't see it going anywhere. I agree with Larry, TogetherSoft integration is critical for Borland to have any chance at success in the .NET development tools market.
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Tantrums
Simply Sara talks about parents who let their kids just scream like mad in a store, especially when dragging the kid away from the toy aisle. My wife and I have a two year old son. He can be quite determined to get his way, but the funny thing is that he rarely cares about toys. We'll walk through a toy store and he'll look around but won't throw a fit. He'd rather play with Valentine's Day cards in a bag all day long. I kid you not.
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The new 'news radio'?
Boing Boing points to a cool little Mac OS X application, VoiceBox, that converts text files to AIFF audio files that you can use on your iPod. That's pretty cool, but the best part is that it can read the RSS files you follow and put those into AIFF audio format for you to listen while you're on the go. I don't have an iPod and our Mac doesn't run OS X (yet, it will soon), but this is something that may tempt me to find a good deal on an iPod for. I could see this replacing news radio for a lot of people.
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Your book sucks!
One of the stranger stories I've read in a while. From The Washington Post:

“Me: Why did you think that anyone would want to read a novel whose central point is that the Bush tax cuts are imprudent fiscal policy? Do you think that E.L. Doctorow would write a book like that?

Burrows: Frankly, other people wondered about this, too. My wife asked me that. So did Warren Buffett, when I asked him for a blurb. He wrote a nice letter back on the bottom of my letter, saying he didn't think a novel was a proper vehicle for my ideas.

Me: I think it might be because you write badly. The Daily Cardinal of the University of Wisconsin-Madison called this ”simply an awful book.“ The Wayne State University newspaper calls you ”unskilled,“ and says the book is ”an agonizingly slow read“ that is ”naive,“ ”dull“ and ”uneventful."


Update: I missed the point about this author being from Whitewater, Wisconsin. Yikes! I live in little Russia (Wisconsin) too (close to Whitewater), which makes this story that much more odd to me.
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We don't like commercials before movies, let's sue someone about it!
This Sun Times article reports on a lawsuit consumers are bringing against movie theaters for showing commercials before movies are shown. I hate the commercials shown before movies these days. But, I hate stupid lawsuits like this even more. If you don't like the commercials before the movie, then don't go to the movie or maybe just go a little later to the movie. But please don't bring a lawsuit up so that a group of lawyers can make a boat load of money.
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Teens getting active in peace movement
SFGate.com article - I just wonder if RC Collins is leading them.
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Why you shouldn't brow beat your software vendors and why Open Source is good
From ZDNet UK: “Saddled with millions of dollars of debt and declining revenue, Xchange executives had hoped to take the company private and raise new capital after a major restructuring last year. But the financing plan recently fell through, and the company underwent a bank foreclosure, Townsend said.

About 100 companies are still using Xchange's applications, which cost an average of $500,000 to license, Townsend said. Xchange's failure could potentially leave in the lurch those customers, which include major names like Allstate, Staples and Fidelity, according to Forrester analyst Eric Schmitt.”


First, many companies feel it is time to beat up software vendors on price and many software vendors are obliging. The only problem with this is when you find your software vendor unable to sustain itself and collapsing; leaving you with an unsupported (and, in most cases, still very expensive) software package. I believe we should demand quality products at decent prices from all vendors, especially IT vendors. Just be careful when you make getting the absolute lowest price your main objective. The financial health of your vendor may suffer as a result to caving in to everyone's demands for lower and lower pricing.

Second, when a commercial software vendor goes under, you often have to hope that their product gets picked up by someone else or you're stuck with obsolete software. With Open Source you don't have this problem as much. Companies come and go in the Open Source world, but the software often remains and generates new companies to support the package. Many people think this is a moot point about Open Source software. Well, that is until they get burnt by a situation like the one demonstrated in the ZDNet article.
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Software companies I wouldn't bet on surviving
From the excellent Baseline Magazine: “For instance, manufacturing logistics expert Manugistics reported a third-quarter loss of $26 million, its eighth straight loss; supply-chain software pioneer i2 Technologies reported a preliminary fourth-quarter loss of $12.4 million, its 11th straight quarterly loss; and electronic procurement specialist Ariba reported a $55.9 million first-quarter loss, its 15th consecutive unprofitable quarter. That's almost four years without posting net income.”

When I read the first sentence about Manugistics I thought, “ouch.” Then I was hit with i2, “double ouch.” And finally Ariba, “wham!” These are just a few of the fine companies that were formed during the great 90's economy. I know that Ariba and i2's stock used to soar well above $50 per share before people got a grip on reality. These companies may pull off a miracle and survive, but I wouldn't put any money on it.
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You know your life has hit a new low when...
Your dog has a weblog. It's sad, I know. My wife and I were talking a bit ago about this and we couldn't decide what was more pathetic: that our dog, Anakin, has a weblog and our son, Ethan, doesn't, or the simple fact that our dog has a weblog period. I'm still not sure.
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Losing a little respect for Counting Crows
Counting Crows' first album and third album rank very high on my list of favorite discs. The second disc was good, but not great in my opinion. Their latest disc, Hard Candy, is average. There are some great melodies but the lyrics are lacking. I heard Adam Duritz, lead singer and lyricist, say that Paul McCartney told him to concentrate more on writing precise pop tunes. Well, Duritz did and it didn't do much for me. Like McCartney's music for the last couple of decades, Counting Crows' Hard Candy sounds good but leaves you feeling rather empty when you realize there isn't much more left than hummable tunes.

With all that said, I point you to this odd journal entry from Adam Duritz, which includes this tidbit:

“I know the rest of you are going to stick up your noses at this, but I bet a lot of you have never even heard a Backstreet Boys album in its' entirety. Give 'em a chance. The singles don't really tell the whole story. They've always been more of an album band. I'm constantly surprised by how narrow all your musical tastes are and that the music you like is so different from the music we like.”

Now I understand so much better why Adam Duritz took the band down the path he did with Hard Candy. He really does enjoy the brain dead ear candy by these highly calculated and mechanical bands. To each his own, but I don't think Backstreet Boys or the boy band genre have much to offer. Do they have some catchy tunes? Sure, but it never goes beyond a catchy tune. That's the same problem Hard Candy suffers. At least now I have a better understanding of where Adam Duritz was coming from with the Crows' latest disc.
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Soncis and Bucks deal
The NBA is a pretty boring league. But, since I live in Wisconsin and the Bucks are on TV here all the time, I feel I have to comment on the big trade today. Seattle sends Gary Payton and Desmond Mason to Milwaukee for Ray Allen and Kevin Ollie.

Here's my take: Seattle wasn't going to be able to resign Payton so they traded him for a younger all-star caliber shooting guard in Ray Allen. It's normally better to get something rather than nothing, so I understand why the Sonics made the move. The Bucks may likely use Payton just for the rest of this season; allowing him to go elsewhere in free agency during the summer. The Bucks will still have Desmond Mason, a good young shooting guard, and may have freed up enough money to get a free agent. Turns out both Payton and Cassel will be free agents in the off season. So maybe the Bucks will sign Payton and let Cassel go afterall? Hmmmm...

I think both teams made a good trade. If the Sonics trade of Kenny Anderson freed up any money for a free agent, then the trade for Allen makes even more sense. The Sonics would be able to get a decent point guard and have a great shooting guard. In fact, the Sonics might be able to get Sam Cassel as a free agent. Wouldn't that be strange! If they can't get a point guard in the off season, they're in big trouble. The Bucks will likely let go of either Cassel or Payton. The Bucks need toughness. The ideal situation would be to sign Payton in the off season, let Cassel go in free agency and pickup a player like P.J. Brown who can rebound and play defense. The Bucks need toughness up front and P.J. Brown adds that for sure.

By the way, I like Jeff McInnis as a sleeper pickup at point guard. His talent is being wasted with the Blazers. I'm not sure if he's a free agent in the off season, but he could be a diamond in the rough. That's just a hunch I have. Hey, I was the guy who liked Bobby Jackson when he was a college standout at Minnesota. I couldn't understand what happened to Jackson in the NBA (other than the fact that he started with Denver), but then he landed in Sacramento and got a chance to shine. Could McInnis do the same on another team? I believe he can.
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Thursday, February 20, 2003

Why the problem in Israel will never end
From The Washington Post: “It is religiously forbidden to sacrifice any inch of it,” the document reads. “It is religiously forbidden to recognize [Israel] on any part of it.” -Islamic Jihad

The reality is that Israel cannot exist in the eyes of many Muslims. This goes back, way back, the Old Testament when Abraham didn't trust God and had Ishmael with one of his servants. God later delivered on His promise with Isaac, but guess who the Muslims believe God chose between Isaac and Ishmael? Yep, Ishmael. And that is where the split between Muslims and Jews (and Christians to a certain extent) begins. That's a long history of division.
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Features Userland's Radio has had for years
Dave points out that a feature Radio has had for three years (threaded comments) Movable Type is just now getting with a plug-in. I like Radio, but I wonder how many features it's lacking that weblog products like Movable Type and Nucleus have. The power I have with Nucleus is greater than Radio and Movable Type just by the simple fact that it's completely dynamic. Radio and Movable Type weblogs are static. There's pros and cons to both approaches, but I prefer the dynamic weblog more for a variety of reasons.
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Johnny Cash on MTV?!
I was flipping through the channels on TV and ran across a Johnny Cash video on MTV of a Nine Inch Nails' song, Hurt. There's hope for MTV afterall.
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Note to protestors: Iraq is getting your message
From The Washington Post: “The antiwar demonstrations across the world reflect a new chapter in the global balance of power,” the paper said in an editorial earlier this week. “Everyone has noted that a new multipolar world is emerging. Iraq, with its oil, its resistance, its wise leaders and its strategic vision is an important and fundamental actor in this multipolar world.” -Babel, Iraqi newspaper run by Saddam Hussein's not so nice son Uday.
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Remember that time when you first met Bugs Bunny at Disneyland?
Science Blog reports on a study that suggests people can be led to believe they experienced something they really didn't. Regardless, I stand by the fact that my encounter with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland was real and a turning point in my life.
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Cool little laptop
The Register has an article on a new Lindows mini-laptop. I could see this being a very useful laptop for those who want the conveinence of a laptop but also want to keep their desktop handy while at home. Of course, I'm not sure it's going to be a quality product. There's always that little issue to take into consideration.
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Classic protest sign
Head on over to diablogger to see one of the funnier protest signs yet. I'm speaking specifically of the second one down on the page concerning the bus.
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Sex 'not Africa AIDS crisis cause'
CNN is running an article about how researchers are now discovering that the AIDS epidemic is mainly caused by unsafe medical injections and transfusions. What is happening in Africa is truly horrific and I'm happy that President Bush has stepped up the amount of aid money we're providing Africa with. Europe is missing the call for the most part on Africa, so the US must take a leadership role. The US has been blessed and we must not ignore a tragedy we can help overcome.
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Study lauds open-source code quality
From CNET News: “The open-source implementation of TCP/IP in the Linux kernel clearly exhibits a higher code quality than commercial implementations in general-purpose operating systems”
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The crack down on terrorists continues
I read this ABC news report about the arrests of those suspected to have ties with terrorism and had two thoughts come to mind:

1. This is proof we are going after terrorists on a daily basis all over the world, including our own country.

2. You're going to screw up and get some innocent people along the way

The first thought is interesting because it shows that we're not just concentrating on Iraq. The US government and governments around the world are quietly tracking down terrorists while most of us concentrate on a potential war in Iraq. Big wars will always get more press than seemingly routine arrests.

My second thought is a concern. We don't want to arrest innocent people, but we also don't want to take too big of a chance on letting a bad guy get away. This is a hard line to balance and I'm sure there have already been a number of mistakes made. I have no doubt that those who argue the US isn't doing enough to bust up Al Qaeda will also be the ones screaming at the US when it arrests innocent people as a result of trying to crack down on Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. You can't win, but you have to try to keep the balance the best you can.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Use telephones, computers and fax machines, not guns
Why do I get the feeling this same group might be involved in the telemarketing/spam business? Who else could come up with such a ruthless use of technology?
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What the RIAA is hoping we won't figure out
From George Ziemann at Mac Wizards Music: “So the record industry cut their inventory (and artist investment) by 25 percent and sales only dropped 4.1 percent, even though the economy is at rock bottom. There were almost 12,000 fewer new releases for the consumer to choose from in 2001 than 1999. The record companies are making more money per release than ever.”

See George, there you go throwing math at the RIAA. This isn't about real numbers George, this is about the RIAA's numbers. The RIAA's numbers are kind of like Arthur Andersen numbers — just shy of reality.
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Share MP3s, sell more music
From Tim O'Reilly's weblog, quoting a Salon article: “It could be argued that MP3s are the greatest marketing tool ever to come along for the music industry. If your music is not being downloaded, then you're in trouble. If you can't give it away, you certainly can't sell it. Daniel Bedingfield recently had a top 3 song on the radio, with "Gotta Get Thru This." However, his music was hardly available through any of the P2P networks. His record lasted on the Billboard Top 200 for less than a month, even though the single had been on radio playlists all over the country for several months. It's also been widely reported that the most downloaded album of all time was "The Eminem Show," by Eminem. It was downloaded so heavily that Interscope took the unusual step of releasing the album a week early due to the rampant online sharing of tracks from the album. Fast-forward to the end of 2002, and "The Eminem Show" is the best-selling album of the year. This seems to indicate the opposite of what the RIAA would have you believe. When people share MP3s, more music is sold, not less.”
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Cool Mozilla weblog news aggregator
I don't like the term “news aggregator,” but I used it since that's what people are calling tools like the very interesting NewsMonster Mozilla based application. I'm going to try it out. It looks interesting.
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One-stop shop for javadoc
Advogato.org: Wouldn't it be nice if there was a single site — a virtual library — which contained all the javadoc in the world? But then we wouldn't spend endless hours trying to figure out what Java libraries are available and how they work.
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Classic line from James Snell on Jacques Chirac
“Sorry Chirac, but you missed a great opportunity to shut up. It's not easy to play the role of the 300lbs gorilla when you're a 25 lbs chimp.” snellspace
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Steve Wozniak: No cell phone reception? I'm moving!
This story from The Register and my previous Bill Gates post confirms my suspicion that the early founders of the PC revolution are truly out of touch with reality.
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Bill Gates' PDA
“I'm not the heaviest PDA user in the company. I'm thinking about doing it, but so much of my communication goes through my administration assistant that, to a certain extent, she is my PDA.” From ZDNet's exclusive interview with the futurist himself, Bill Gates.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2003

This kid can play b-ball
I know I'm light years behind on this, but Syracuse Freshman Carmello Anthony is already a force to be reckoned with. His game reminds me of Paul Pierce; not overly quick or fancy, just devastatingly effective. If he comes out to the NBA after this year, I would take him right after Lebron James. I wouldn't be surprised if Anthony gets off to a faster start than James in the NBA — he's that good.

What impressed me most about Anthony, during the last few games I've watched him play on TV, is that he would rebound, play defense and hit his free throws. When the team needed a score, they could give the ball to Anthony and know that he would either make the basket, hand out the assist or get fouled and make his free throws. Yes, he can actually make his free throws consistently — imagine that! He's averaging around 22 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, and about 2 assists per game. He doesn't do anything spectacularly, other than just make plays that move his Syracuse team up the rankings each week.
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Senator Robert Byrd on war and peace
Former KKK member Robert Byrd's speech from the Senate floor on the potential war in Iraq. Cheap shot on the KKK thing, huh? I just wanted to remind people that both parties have their share of skeletons to hide.
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Quark is a HORRIBLE company
If you ever wanted to know how NOT to run a company, especially a software company, look no further than the boys and girls at Quark. They are so customer hostile it's not even funny. Regardless, it looks like they're getting closer to releasing version 6 of Quark XPress. I believe Adobe InDesign will take 50% of Quark's market within two, maybe three years.
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The war protests
There are many links I could give concerning the war protests. I'm giving this one to Driving Dawn because I found it a bit humourous.

First she writes:

What's great about these peaceful protests is that people from all walks of life are showing up. Senior citizens, children, moms, lawyers, bankers, as well as the usual students and counterculture types, are united in their desire for peace.

Then she writes:

I admire people who go to these kinds of events because they are taking a risk and standing up for what they believe in. I've wanted to join in also, but have been afraid to because of the possibility of a violent incident occuring.

Which is it Dawn, are the anti-war demonstrations “peaceful protests” or do they present “the possibility of a violent incident occuring”? Hmmmm...

A few questions for the anti-war protestors:

1. Where were you when we went into Haiti, Somalia, Kosovo, and bombed Iraq with 100 cruise missles during the 90's?

2. Are you against the war and Saddam Hussein or just against the war?

3. If Al Gore or any Democrat was in office and they were holding a similar policy as the one Bush's administration is holding, would you be out there protesting? (If you answer yes, please see question 1 again just for kicks.)

4. Do you think you would have protested the US' involvement in WWI and WWII?

I have no problem with people protesting anything they want. It's one of the great freedoms we have in this country. But, I don't think the protestors should get off easy just because they go out and protest. Emotional arguments are easy, intellectual arguments are hard. If you're protesting the potential war in Iraq, it's difficult to defend why you weren't so upset when we went around the UN in regards to bombing Iraq and going into Kosovo during the 90's. It's easy to say “give peace a chance” but much harder to deal with the fact that Saddam Hussein is intentionally breaking all its agreements with the UN and still refusing to account for biological and chemical weapons. While you shout about the fact that war will kill thousands of innocent lives, you don't address the fact that thousands of innocent lives are killed under Saddam Hussein's regime. You passionately hold signs that read “No blood for oil,” while countries like Russia, China and France have the greatest investment in Iraq's oil at this time. It's easy to say “war is not the answer,” but then you don't really know what to say when you realize diplomacy has been tried for many years and failed. Do you give in to the other side? Let them have what they want, even if that means you lose your freedom and maybe even your own life? These are the types of questions the protestors need to be asking themselves. The Bush administration, the UK and the many other countries supporting our effort to disarm Saddam have to answer the tough questions everyday. They don't get off easy, so neither should the other side.
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My (small) contribution to Nucleus
I got tired of waiting for those over paid Nucleus developers to fix an annoying bug in the calendar you see on this page, so I rolled up my sleeves and fixed it myself. People who dis Open Source are right, it's much better to not have access to the source. Who would ever want to be able to look at the problem themselves and fix it sooner than the original coders?

By the way, Nucleus is a great weblog tool. The web interface is excellent — clean and easy to use. The features are incredible and the plug-in system is truly powerful. Wouter Demuynck deserves major kudos for taking the time to make Nucleus what it is today.
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Scoble has been blinded
Scoble is definitely turning the hype-o-meter on high for Microsoft. Forget that for a moment though. I couldn't help but shake my head when I read his thoughts on Google's acquisition of Pyra Labs:

My take on the weblogging space now that Google has bought Pyra (congratulations Evan!)

1) Apple would be smart to buy Radio UserLand, but probably won't because Apple seems to only like technology that's developed internally. Meanwhile Apple's software team is focused on copying Microsoft PowerPoint. Yawn.


My take: Scoble, do you realize how many products from companies Apple has acquired that they have based their latest products on? iTunes, Final Cut Pro, Safari and several other higher end video and audio software packages are some examples of products Apple acquired or developed based on someone else's code. Concerning copying PowerPoint: Apple is trying to move itself away from dependance on Microsoft, thus the need to start putting together an Apple Office replacement for OS X.

2) Microsoft probably won't buy either Moveable Type or UserLand because of the same reason (and because Microsoft is moving everything to .NET and neither of those products were developed on top of .NET).

My take: Microsoft, like Apple, has also bought a ton of companies and products. Microsoft isn't at all afraid to acquire a company it thinks is making too much noise in a particular market space. And as far as Microsoft only wanting products built on top of .NET, how do you explain most of Microsoft's software not being built on top of .NET?

3) AOL is clueless. Anything new?

My take: I'm not a big fan of AOL either, but there has been talk that they're doing something with weblogs. Who knows, maybe they are going to acquire a product like Radio or Movable Type?

4) Yahoo? The wildcard in the space.

My take: Yahoo! isn't all that much smarter than AOL when you think about it.

5) Smaller players like Earthlink, etc. Who cares? Well, they might help keep the lights on for some of the weblogger vendors.

My take: Why do ISP's have to provide all these other services anyway? Isn't there room for solid Internet access providers that concentrate on their core service?

6) Media companies like Knight Ridder? Give me a break, they don't want their readers publishing. No control and no way to make any money.

My take: This is true. I've worked in the newspaper industry before and they want nothing to do with allowing readers to have real power. You should see the fits an elitist newsroom makes about the editorial page. I can't even begin to imagine the tyrades the editorial staff would have over weblogs.

And one last comment concerning Scoble's raving about Microsoft's upcoming innovations and Open Source's lack of innovations. Open Source is lacking innovation in a number of areas, but let's not forget they have MS shaking in their boots due to a quality desktop OS (finally) and a real office suite. Those are MS' bread and butter, but they're also quickly becoming commodities. You can't make 80+ percent on commodities.

Speaking of MS innovation... Let me know how much Microsoft has innovated with IE lately compared to the competition — much of it Open Source. We can thank Open Source for helping us keep open standards moving along while Microsoft and IBM try to patent their way to domination. Open Source has its share of problems, but Microsoft hasn't done a lot lately in the way of innovation that has me impressed. Although, I will have to admit, SQL Slammer was impressive.
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Monday, February 17, 2003

Long day
It's been a long day. I was in an all day meeting at work. I don't recommend all day meetings, but if you're going to have them make sure you have a laptop and wireless network access handy.

Overall it was a productive meeting. We're trying to consolidate our part master data to a single main repository for easier maintenance and better quality control on the data. The biggest issue I have is when the team does an early work breakdown that shows a timeline of about six months to complete the project, but then a majority of the team decides we have to have it done in less than two months. Something about shaving four months off the original estimate doesn't quite compute with me. I made my concern known, so we shall see where it goes from here.

That's about it for me posting today. I'm tired and need to get some sleep. My brain hurts from thinking too much today.
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ADOdb 3.20 released
John Lim deserves a lot of credit for the PHP ADOdb database abstraction layer, not to mention a great weblog in PHP Everywhere. He's released version 3.20 which adds the ability to create tables and indexs with the API. ADOdb is typically the fastest PHP database abstraction layers with a nice set of features. I highly recommend trying it out on your next PHP project.
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Sunday, February 16, 2003

Linux's greatest flaw
NewsForge is running an article by Patrick Pauwels that claims Linux's greatest flaw isn't ease of use issues, lack of important applications or lack of computer manufacturer's support. No, Linux's greatest flaw, according to Mr. Pauwels, is that consumers don't know what it is. Pauwels points the finger at Linux distribution vendors like SUSE that pour money into advertising to an already knowledgeable audience, like those reading Linux magazines. This is a similar complaint Apple fans used to raise not so long ago. We argued that Apple poured too much money into Mac only media outlets. Apple has changed that practiced drastically the last few years and I, like Patrick, think Linux software vendors need to do the same.

Do I think Linux's greatest flaw is that no one knows what it is? No, I don't. I think Linux's greatest flaw is a lack of innovation in regards to Linux desktop software. Linux is beginning to make a dent in the (now commodity) PC market with corporations seriously considering Linux and Open Source software on both servers and desktops and consumers buying low cost Linux PCs from retail stores like Wal-Mart. It would also be an oversight to not mention the fact that Linux is playing an important part in both enterprise and consumer appliances like network storage, firewalls, TiVo, PDAs and much more. But, if Linux wants to set itself apart from Windows it needs to have desktop applications that are truly great. Otherwise, people will continue to use what they're comfortable with. Why switch unless there is something truly worth switching for?
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Google buys Blogger maker Pyra Labs
Congratulations to Evan Williams, CEO of Pyra Labs, on the sale of his company, makers of the popular weblog tool/service Blogger, to Google. This is very exiting news, as it signals someone at Google sees value in the weblog space. Google doesn't seem to be the type of company that would make an acquisition only to let things die after a period of time like a lot of companies do. There is a lot of potential in this deal.
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Saturday, February 15, 2003

Not Scripting News
Jeremy Zawodny raises the question of whether Scripting.com is really a relevant title for Dave's weblog these days. I've been wondering the same thing for a little while now. Either way, Dave's weblog is cool.
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Flu and a cold
This week my body seems to have finally decided to give in to all the sickness going around lately. My stomach was killing me the first half of the week and now I have a cold. Colds are a part of life, but the worst part of them is when you lose your voice. At least I don't have to talk much over the weekends.

I went to Wal-Mart (a nice 25-30 minute drive from the big town of Waterloo, WI) to pick up a prescription, orange juice and cold medicine. I'm trying this medicince that claims it can shorten the length of a cold. It's called Zicam. Who knows, it could be ZiSCAM for all I know, but it's worth a shot. The weird part is that it's a gel that you put in your nose. I didn't realize that until I got it home. Hmmmm...
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Democratic Underground needs your help
I was going to read an article on DemocraticUnderground.com, but was greeted with this plea to donate money before I could read the article. I should donate a ton of money and then see how I can play the part of the “evil corporation” which uses its powers to influence and overtake the content the DU pumps out. I think I'll just click the If you have already donated, or if you are unable to donate at this time, click here to read “Getting Serious.” link at the bottom of the donation page.
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Who has the greatest interest in Iraq's oil?
Sorry to burst any bubbles of those using the argument that the US only wants to throw out Saddam to get to Iraq's oil, but this Austrailan Broadcasting Corporation news report documents who has the greatest interest in Iraq's black gold.

Iraq's oil pie is dominated by Russia's largest oil firm, Lukoil, France's Total Fin Elf and, less well-known but no less important, China National Petroleum Corporation.

Beijing is aggressively looking to the Middle East to fuel its long-term economic ambitions, and Baghdad is key to those plans.

But the country with the most to lose in Iraq is Russia.


But those countries couldn't be against holding Saddam to the UN resolutions because of oil, could they? That seems to be exactly the opposite of what I hear coming from those against the US & UK's position concerning Iraq.
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Friday, February 14, 2003

The Swedish Chef vs. Microsoft's MSN
This is one of the best Microsoft retaliations I've ever heard of. Opera, makers of a cross platform web browser, is displaying Microsoft's MSN web site in the Swedish Chef's language. Yes, The Swedish Chef of Muppet's fame. The reason for this great prank is because Microsoft has been sending bad style sheets to users trying to view MSN with Opera's browser. Oh yeah, Opera is based out of Oslo, Norway. I love it!
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For any real estate agents out there
I happened to checkout what Jim Van Heule has been up to and see his company has released a very cool Real Estate software product/service. Quite some time ago I worked on a project with Jim and he was a really cool guy. I've never met him in person, but Jim has got to be one of the most ambitious and positive people out there. Congratulations Jim! I'm going to have my real estate agent check out your company's new offering.
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Dan Gilmor: Blogs exclude other points of views
Well Dan, I'm linking to you. And, I always read your weblog, even if I rarely agree with your Liberal bent on most issues. I don't recall Mr. Gilmor pointing to many links that oppose his point of view. Or, in other words, I don't recall many Conservative weblogs being linked to on the Dan Gillmor eJournal. I like linking to the other point of view. I believe it only reinforces the validity of my take on things.
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Dave Winer is starting to understand the Iraq issue
I have to give Dave Winer a lot of credit for coming around to seeing the strong argument the US and UK have been making concerning Iraq. I read Dave's weblog daily. He's done a lot in the world of technology and is now going to make waves working at Harvard. Not bad, eh?
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Supporters Fear for David Duke in Prison
I can't imagine why. Here's the AP story. Thanks to the Religion News Blog.
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Thursday, February 13, 2003

Mozilla 1.3b released...and it's a good one
I'm a big fan of the Mozilla web browser. It has officially replaced Internet Explorer and Outlook Express on my Windows PC. The latest beta of Mozilla has been released and I can already tell it seems faster on this site. Scrolling with the image in the background was a little slow with 1.2.1 but the new beta has speeded it up quite a bit. The mail client now has a spam filter function.

The Mozilla team is doing excellent work. They are pushing everyone to keep innovating in the web browser space. It would have been so easy for them to have given up after they took so long to create the next generation browser from scratch. But, if this article pointed to from Slashdot contains any truth, then the Mozilla team's efforts will soon see big returns. Competition is good.

One last thing. If you think Mozilla is too slow, you may want to try this little trick. It doesn't really speed things up, but it does display the page immediately rather than wait to build more of the page before displaying. If you're using Windows, you can find the user.js file under C:\Documents and Settings\YourUserName\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\YourProfileOrDefault\xxxxxxxx\user.js. The “xxxxxxxxx” part is a randomly named folder.
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.NET to the rescue
A rarity on the net, a Microsoft supporter, Scoble points to David Bau's whitepaper/essay on why “.NET signals an industry shift.” It's a well written piece, but I think it misses one major point about why Java is still appealing as a development platform beyond making development faster and more secure. Java is cross platform, .NET is not. I'm not a huge Java fan, but I'll take it over .NET just because Java is cross platform. I don't like to be locked into a particular platform, especially when it comes to applications I'm developing. Microsoft's point about .NET allowing the developer to choose their programming language isn't all that valid when you limit the platform I can target. Sure, it's nice to have one set of API's to use when you're programming within the .NET SDK, but that doesn't make up for the fact that I'm left with only one option for deployment: Windows.

With SOAP and XML-RPC becoming useable in real world applications, the need for an SDK like .NET that allows you to program in many different languages becomes much less relevant. If I can access your language's API's and you can access mine, then we've crossed many of the main barriers Microsoft claims it's solving with .NET's multi-programming language capabilities.

Regardless, David does nail one of the greatest issues Microsoft is faced with today in the following paragraph:

In applications, Microsoft is facing the problem of saturation. The widely recognied issue here is that almost everybody who wants to do something with their computer software can already do it. Why would you buy a new version of Microsoft Word or Excel? You already have an old version, and it already spellchecks, autocompletes, slices, and dices. It is hard to justify buying a new version of a digital product that works fine and never wears out. Unfortunately for Microsoft, desktop software is immortal.

This is why I believe Microsoft is really paranoid about Linux and Open Source. Microsoft knows there is no compelling reason to upgrade their products these days, which makes their current money makers commodities. Commodities don't create high margins. Low margins are OK for products whose source code is open and free. Microsoft's plans for .NET don't even begin to address this issue in my opinion.

It never ceases to amaze me how supporters of Microsoft fail to see the need for Microsoft to open itself up to the competing technology around it. Without openness, Microsoft is setting itself up for failure. Microsoft still believes it can maintain a Microsoft/Windows centric view of the world, even though the real world is becoming dominated by open standards more and more each day. Microsoft supporters should not fall into the same trap or else they may find themselves way behind the curve in the not so distant future.
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Radiohead's Winter Wonderland
I never thought I'd ever hear Radiohead playing a Christmas song, but now I have. Thanks to Cuttooth.com we have access to a whole bunch of live and rare Radiohead tunes.

I like Radiohead. OK, I like Radiohead most with OK Computer, then The Bends. OK Computer is one of my favorite discs — period. The last two albums were so-so, but I think they lost their way somewhere along the process of putting those two recordings together. I've heard the new album will be a good mix of elements from all their past recordings.
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Winning the lottery, weather in San Fran, and N. Korea
Yubba knows how to pack things in one post. He wins eleven big ones from the lottery, complains about cloudy days in San Franciso (hey, try Wisconsin's tropical paradise in February! ), and points to an interesting poster from North Korea.

I'd never seen this rather scary piece of propaganda North Korea is selling to its people. Don't think North Korea doesn't want to bully the US into getting a ton of money out of us?

On a related note... May I remind everyone that Clinton and his posse are on a media blitz while things in North Korea, Iraq, and terrorism as a whole are coming to a full boil. They're trying very hard to cover their missteps during the 90's that have lead to the HUGE mess we're faced with now in regards to foreign policy and national security. Things were so good in the 90's. Of course, we had to let dictators and terrorists do as they please.
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As if the Colonel Sanders Conspiracy wasn't bad enough
Thanks to The Fury of the Cow! I have now seen it all. Check out this little gem the Cow points to and tell me there aren't some real nuts out there.
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Google as Big Brother
Dave Winer points to this page on why the Google Watch web site believes “Google deserves your nomination for Big Brother of the Year.”

If what they say is true, then I think there's something to it. I believe Google is a decent company, but that is only from what I have read and heard over the years. They were one of the few dot com's that stayed level headed and stuck to its guns about how to be successful: build great techonology, sell the technology to businesses, attract consumers to your great technology and sell real ROI advertisements targeted at that customer base. Will Google abuse its position? It's always possible.
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Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Sony vs. Sony
Check out this Wired article that talks about Sony's two battling businesses, music and technology. One of my favorite passages:

Instead, it's tried to play both sides. As a member of the Consumer Electronics Association, Sony joined the chorus of support for Napster against the legal onslaught from Sony and the other music giants seeking to shut it down. As a member of the RIAA, Sony railed against companies like Sony that manufacture CD burners."
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An international group of experts has determined that Iraqi missiles can fly farther than allowed under U.N. resolutions
From CNN. Just one question: What does France think? Their opinion is the only one that counts in my mind. Afterall, they had two big wars in their own backyard. They can teach us a thing or two about this whole international policy thing.
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Force Sun and Microsoft to support real standards
ZDNet has an article by David Berlind which gives an overview of Sun's court case against Microsoft to get Sun's Java bundled with Windows. It's all rather boring to me.

Dave Winer made a great point about Sun's argument. Why shouldn't Microsoft be forced to bundle Userland's (Dave's company) software like Frontier and Radio? They offer some of the same capabilities Java and .NET do.

Dave's point got me thinking. Instead of forcing Microsoft to bundle Java, why doesn't the court push both companies to bundle real standards support in their OS and programming environments like SOAP and XML-RPC? Ditto for IBM, HP, Apple, and the rest. I realize some of these companies have at least some of this support already, but does it truly interoperate across platforms and programming languages? If the big software companies were forced to support standards that open up their little worlds to each other, then I think we'd all be a lot better off — much better off than if Sun wins to have Java bundled with Microsoft. I'd much rather prefer having the ability to use the programming language and platform of my choice and know that it can work with any other platform and language through open standards. But I'm just silly that way.
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Gates' take on Linux
Bill Gates is out talking about “the Linux threat” and he gets it just about 100% wrong. The Register picks apart Bill's speech pretty well, while eWeek carries the actual story.

One of the items that stuck out most to me in the article was this:

The real comparison is between Linux with WebSphere and Windows: compare the price, compare the architectural coherence, the richness of the development tools and/or performance, Gates said. “That will be a very dramatic contrast; our price is still way lower than what you're going to have to do with those others.”

This positioning of IBM vs. Microsoft is clearly in Microsoft's favor. If Gates had to own up to the fact that Linux and Open Source software in general offer many powerful tools that challenge the Microsoft monopoly, then he'd be admitting to a real fight with a new type of competitor. Instead, Gates is smart and pits Microsoft against IBM just like the days of old. IBM presents a known threat to Microsoft, one they've defeated time and time again. Investors and partners feel much more comfortable when Gates tells them the real battle is with the guys Microsoft has beaten like a red headed step child in the past. If people looked at the real threat of Linux and Open Source, they wouldn't feel so good about Microsoft's prospects for future dominance. People would see a competitor that comes at you from every angle, never held to one particular set of software tools like IBM's WebSphere or Microsoft's .NET.

Microsoft's greatest concern with Open Source and Linux is stated clearly in its SEC filing:

Microsoft said in the filing that the popularization of the open-source movement continues to pose a significant challenge to its business model. This threat includes “recent efforts by proponents of the open source model to convince governments worldwide to mandate the use of open source software in their purchase and deployment of software products. To the extent the open source model gains increasing market acceptance, sales of the company's products may decline, the company may have to reduce the prices it charges for its products, and revenues and operating margins may consequently decline,” it said.

Remember, this is a company that has profit margins of 80+ percent on their desktop products, 70+ percent on office products, and a 30+ percent margin on server software. Let's not forget these margins grew from the previous year. And Microsoft is scared it will have to lower prices?! I think their greatest fear is that Windows' and Office's days of killer profits are over and it's not even from competition as much as it is from companies and individuals not seeing a need to purchase the latest products that come out of Redmond. Microsoft's solution to this is twofold. First, they are trying to get into other markets like video games, handheld devices, and online services. Unfortunately, these new markets haven't been so kind to Microsoft's bottom line — each one is bleeding red ink at a rapid rate. Second, Microsoft has changed licensing for its software. If you're a business, you have the choice to pay Microsoft a yearly “software assurance” fee of about 20-30% of your total license costs or pay full price for any new versions of Microsoft software. There will be no more upgrade pricing. It's even worse. Most companies have to sign a three year contract to get decent rates on software assurance. The new licensing scheme, unlike the attempt to dominate new markets, is paying off. Margins and revenue grew for Microsoft in the most recent fiscal quarter due to the new licensing according to analysts.

I don't think most companies would seriously consider Linux if Microsoft made sincere attempts to provide fair prices and invest in real technological advances, not just technology they can patent and monopolize with. Unfortunately, Microsoft has become accustomed to its high margins and is behaving (in many ways) like the RIAA and MPAA; desperately trying to protect its old way of doing business. Technology is changing. The business of selling technology is changing. What were once killer applications (Windows and Office) are now commodities. Microsoft can't live with that, yet it's not willing to make the difficult decisions to change in meaningful ways. Microsoft would rather fight dirty to protect its aging monopoly. And that is why Microsoft feels there is a great threat in the form of Linux and Open Source.
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Clippy turns against his creator?
dive into mark has proof that Clippy is now using his super powers of suggestion against Microsoft. Very funny. I was just talking to a co-worker this morning about Office and Clippy in particular.
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Instant messaging at work
I read my email at work this morning and saw that we now have access to instant messaging internally. Actually, just IT has it right now, but it will be released to the whole company in the near future. I think IM is a pretty useful technology overall. I can see how it will benefit many of us here at work immediately. We often have people in Europe that we have to ask quick questions to. Making the call to Europe isn't cheap or efficient, but until today it was either a phone call or email. Email tends to get ignored rather easily, but IM is different in that you can see if the person is even signed onto the IM network. I applaud our networking team for putting in an IM solution. It's an additional technology for them to support, so I realize it probably wasn't on the top of their list to add to their already overflowing list of responsibilities.

I don't quite agree with the company's choice in IM client, Microsoft IM. But, when you've committed to upgrading the network to XP, Exchange 2000, Windows 2000 and Office XP, it only makes sense. It's not my job to pick those technologies, so it doesn't bother me so much. I just wonder if paying at least 20% of our overall licensing each year (for software assurance) in addition to the additional costs in licenses is a wise move. More on that in a later post.
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When Free Begets Fee
I receive some of Clickz e-newsletters on a weekly basis. They almost never fail to educate me on marketing strategies. I just finished reading this article by Vin Crosbie discussing why so many companies don't charge for their most popular products and services. I never thought of this in the way Vin so clearly conveys it. Excellent article!
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Jeremy Zawodny definitely has guts
I enjoy reading Jeremy's weblog. He writes about MySQL quite a bit and often has some very cool tips. He also writes a bit about his experiences with his employer, Yahoo! I admire Jeremy's honesty and, for lack of a better word, guts in his latest post about a contest Yahoo! has for its employees to come up with the next great idea. Would I have the nerves of steel Jeremy has in pointing out (on the web) the lack of leadership a VP at the company shows? Probably not.
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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

The Internet is counterproductive to peace
I picked this one up over at paradox1x. John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the EFF, argues that people on the Internet need to combine efforts. There needs to be a leader. You can't make a difference if everyone is off on their own, often agreeing but never putting their voices together to make one strong voice.

I disagree to a certain extent. I think weblogs are useful for what they are, communication tools. If you're looking for world peace or a miracle to come out of a weblog I think you'll be let down everytime. The cool thing about weblogs is that they are starting to provide a chain reaction type tool in things like TrackBack. I link to you and you know about. Someone links to me and I know about. Simple but useful. Suddenly we have a discussion that goes way beyond anything we've been able to have before. Does this change things politically in profound ways? Possibly.

I think most Liberals and Conservatives would agree that weblogs are quickly changing the media landscape. I remember Tom Daschle saying that the Republicans had more and better outlets to get their message out during the 2002 election. You would never would have heard this complaint coming from a Democrat prior to 2002. Things like talk radio, cable TV, and weblogs are changing the dynamics of politics. Individuals have never had so much power as they do now with the Internet and a way to publish to the web. I think the tide is changing for good due to weblogs and the individuals behind those weblogs. While that doesn't mean much to those looking for miracles to come from the Internet, it does mean a lot to those who are finding they have a voice in amongst the crowd like never before.
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The wisdom that flows from an Oprah audience
My wife and her Mom were watching Oprah this past Friday and the show was a debate on whether we should go to war with Iraq. I guess I had nothing better to do because I watched a little bit of it. It was all so tedious I could barely watch. It was like viewing an episode of Donahue on MSNBC. (Wait, I've never watched a full episode of Donahue on MSNBC and from the looks of the ratings, neither have you.) It was tedious until a young woman from the audience came to the microphone and made a profound statement. She said with authority that we should listen to both France and Germany because they're two countries that have had wars in their own backyards. I'm not kidding, this is what that lady said. I guess she forgot the fact that Germany started World War II lead by an evil dictator and France (and the rest of Europe) let Germany re-arm itself after WWI even though Europe and the US had an agreement with Germany that it would disarm itself. But those are small facts that shouldn't get in the way of an emotional plea for peace. Oprah and her guests let the statement go unchallenged as the audience cheered.
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Microsoft has every intention to make .NET cross platform
I've been told by numerous .NET supporters that the argument against .NET not allowing cross platform development/deployment is not really valid because of projects like Mono and DotGNU, which run the .NET framework on a variety of Unix based platforms. I argued that until Microsoft supports these efforts officially or does its own ports, .NET is not cross platform because Microsoft can always pull out the old legal card against the .NET copy cat projects and put them under in no time. I hate to say I'm right, but here is evidence from The Register that Microsoft may be putting in place the patents to do just that.

Who wants to have the freedom to develop and deploy applications on more than one platform anyway? It's highly overrated.
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We don't have that tape! Wait, maybe we do.
That bastion of journalism, Al-Jazeera, appears to finally admit that it does indeed have a tape with (an alleged) bin Laden saying his gang has joined up with Saddam's gang. I still need more evidence!
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Monday, February 10, 2003

Via Chicago
I'm back! I flew Southwest for the first time and was impressed. The flight was on time, the people were friendly, and the ticket was dirt cheap. You can't beat that. OK, I did have to fly out of Chicago, but I'll take that any day over paying $250 for a flight out of Madison. It's like Jeff Tweedy of Wilco sang: I'm coming home, via Chicago
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Thursday, February 06, 2003

Off to Ohio
I go to Ohio this evening to see my wife and son. It's a long story, but nothing bad at all. Well, except for the part that we don't see each other that much. I make my journey to Chicago to fly to Cleveland. Why? $220 from Madison, WI to Cleveland. $80 from Chicago to Cleveland. It's a no-brainer. A two hour drive won't kill me.

I must now go take Mr. Smooth to the kennel. He's going to love me. I'm putting him behind bars like his pal Slinky.
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Are you feeling anything now?
I was watching an old Seinfeld last night. It was the one where George feels the plight of the security guard who has to stand eight hours a day rather than being able to sit in a chair. George asks Jerry if he ever felt bad for the security guards who have to stand all day long. Jerry, of course, says no.

George says, “See, that's the kind of guy I am. I'm just sensitive to that kind of stuff. I feel other people's suffering.”

Jerry, “Are you feeling anything now?”

Classic.
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Pasty old white guys
From The Daily Rant: Notice the similarities between all of these Democrats? Aside from Feinstein, they are a bunch of pasty old white guys! Leading the charge is the fat white man of priviledge, Ted Kennedy. Good choice guys!
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Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Dell's going to party like it's 1998
Slashdot points out that Dell is reportedly going to phase out the floppy drive from its computers this year. I remember when Apple first released the iMac and it came without a floppy drive. Windows people ragged on it. Apple again showed it wasn't afraid to lead the pack — Dell has just validated this point (five years later.)
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Rice, not war
Rice For Peace - No War On Iraq Why not send oil instead? I thought that's all Bush and his administration want from Iraq anyway. Maybe if they send him enough oil, he won't have to go get Iraq's stash.
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Forget the war, what about the wedding?!
This conversation overheard by I Fought The Law has to be real, it's too sad (and, as always, funny) not to be.
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Diary of a Start-Up
The Frogware weblog pointed to this essay written by a former employee of a once successful dot come era start-up, ArsDigita. Not only is the article itself worth reading, but there are some interesting points made in the comments.

Mark this as another example of what made the 90's economy a dangerous facade of a real economy.
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Ah, Those Principled Europeans
Thomas Friedman hits the nail on the head.
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Lean Left: What Liberal Media?
I think I may have found a new source for many laughs to come. Lean Left has this to say about a new book sure to make Liberals proud:

Since Eric, unlike some other authors, doesn't have big foundations and big companies to buy up his book and inflate its standings on the best sellers list, its popularity has to be determined the old fashioned way: he has to earn it. So go go buy the book.
For what its worth, I haven't gotten my copy yet, but the first chapter was very good.


Kevin is probably just waiting for the government to hand it out to him, as he has a right to read. Cheap shot, I know.
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Our heros and spam
A Girl Named Bob: This is the second time I've received junk mail from Batman, and it's really starting to upset me. I mean, shouldn't the Caped Crusader be fighting junk mail instead of perpetuating the problem? What kind of an example is he setting for young, impressionable Robin? You know, I don't think they ever tell you how Batman made his millions. Maybe it was through an Internet direct marketing campaign? Let's hope not. I pray this is just another scheme that Catwoman and the Penguin hatched up to frame poor Batman and turn him into everything he hates. In any case, I hope I start getting junk mail from the Riddler soon. At least that might be more interesting...

I love her Riddler email that follows.
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Bling, bling!
The Fury of the Cow!: I suggest possibly the high roller watch, a gangster watch, or perhaps a classy Fat Albert pendant.
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The downsides to the “I thought it was an open marriage” argument
A guy cheats on his wife. She runs over him with her Mercedes-Benz. The lady who had the affair with this guy claims she thought this guy was in an “open marriage.” That's sad enough right there. But, joyfulchristian points out something even sadder (and, of course, funnier).
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Classic take on Nelson Mandela's latest fiasco
Mad World has a rather funny (and true) take on Mandela.
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The cold war is back
This one comes via JawsBlog, who got it from The Angry Clam.

“Nothing like a Vietnam protest,” he said of the melee, in which outnumbered Bush supporters routed their opponents, according to one participant, by using “better target selection and superior firepower.”

By the way, I love both of those site names, even though I had deja vu when I looked at their designs.
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France gets tough
After Colin Powell's presentation to the UN clearly demonstrated how ineffective the inspections were due to Iraq's deception, France responds with:

“Let us double, let us triple the number of inspectors. Let us open more regional offices. Let us go further than this.”

CNN.com has the complete story on France's new hard line stance on Iraq. I wonder if this was their same approach to Germany after WWI.
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Realtime Reaction to Powell's Presentation
James Snell has a good summary of each country's reaction to Powell's presentation to the UN today.
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Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Sun to standardize Web Services in next J2EE
Computerworld My take? Welcome Sun, to the year 2001.
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Max Headroom vs. Carson Daly
Mad Max Headroom
A lot of people rag on Slashdot, but I think it's quite entertaining. It can sometimes be a bit educational. This is not one of those times.

The New York Times has an article talking about Carson Daly's (never turn your back to someone with two last names) regional top 10 countdown radio shows. The interesting thing about these radio shows is that Daly doesn't actually do the shows. Clear Channel (who owns most of radio these days) uses digital audio tricks to make Carson Daly appear as though he's doing the show. Basically, they're turning Carson Daly into good old Max Headroom, from Coca Cola spokesman fame. I didn't find this story all that interesting, but this comment on Slashdot was:

Max Headroom was great, however he was clearly from far in our future (the 20 minutes they suggested was obviously an gross underestimate). Current technology only allows creation of fake personalities with absolutely no charisma (has anyone seen Carson Daly's talk show?).

Hopefully with increased technology we will be able to create in the future a media personality with the charisma of Max Headroom.


“Hopefully we will be able to create a media personality with the charisma of Max Headroom?” Classic.
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Did he say it with a straight face?
The only president I've ever heard of getting 100% of his country's vote had this to say (from CNN.com):

“Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction, and I challenge anyone who claims that we have them to come forward with their evidence and present it before public opinion,”

“We want to tell the people of Britain that Iraqis are brave people and they believe in human rights,” he said. “They want to live in peace in this world, and they want their rights and dignity to be preserved.”

Again, I must quote RC Collins: “Ha! Ha! Ha!”
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A raptor in the bathroom
Raptor!
As I walked into one of the men's restrooms at work this morning, I was greeted by what I was sure had to be one of those Jurassic Park raptors. There was this loud hiss coming out of nowhere. Turns out we now have automatic/timed air freshners in the restrooms. There's nothing quite like walking into a dark room and being scared to death by an air freshner.
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A misconception about IT
I was in a meeting this morning with users of a web application I am leading new development on. I don't normally get to hear from this group of people, so I was very interested in getting their feedback about how the current system works (or doesn't work) for them.

One of the ideas floated around that this group zeroed in on was their perception that IT has this “bag of tricks” that we keep from end users. The complaint was we (IT) only share our secrets when the right questions are asked. Essentially, these users felt that it was up to IT to suggest improvements/technology and the users would say “yea” or “nay.” I argued this is not a good policy. I don't approach business starting with technology and working my way back. I don't think you should find a solution looking for a problem; rather it should be the other way around. You take me through your experience as an end user of a system/process and I'll dream up the technology that might help solve the problem. But, I have to understand the problem first before I wave the magical wand we refer to as “technology.”

In my opinion, one of the gravest mistakes most companies made during the 90's was assuming that technology and technology alone would take them to new heights. Money was spent hand over fist for solutions looking for a problem, while the real business problems went unaddressed. Now we're in a tougher time economically and there are a lot of companies out there with a lot of overpriced, ineffective technology. They spent their cash and then some, now they're hamstrung. Of course, IT is often the fall guy for this situation. I think IT was only doing what it was allowed to do. It's the same way today. We can only solve as many problems as you tell us about and allow us to solve.
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CNN: Powell says he'll offer no 'smoking gun' on Iraq
For all those waiting for the so-called “smoking gun”: Do you know what smoke from a gun means? It means the gun was fired. This would mean that Saddam has used his weapons directly, or (more likely) indirectly through terrorist groups. I don't want to wait for the gun to show smoke. Saddam continues to hide chemical and biological weapons. He has no intention of complying with the UN resolutions. He's used chemical weapons in the past. What more do we need?

Don't forget that enforcing the UN resolution with Iraq is vital when dealing with North Korea next. If the UN doesn't enforce its resolutions, then North Korea will see that the UN is weak and holds little to no authority. That cannot happen. We tried the diplomatic approach with both North Korea and Iraq. Iraq continues to make and hide chemical/biological weapons, while North Korea goes behind the US’ back and starts making nuclear weapons. Both countries agreed to terms that would give them essential items like food in exchange for destroying existing and stopping all new development of WMD. They’ve broken those terms and continue to break the terms to this day.

I will tell France, Germany, Russia, and China the same thing RC Collins (not to be confused with Barnaby Collins) once told a radio audience after the audience laughed at RC’s claim that he saw Osama bin Laden at a Blockbuster in California: “You’re fiddling while Rome burns.”
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Monday, February 03, 2003

Iraq to God: “Good job with the Columbia shuttle!”
I debated whether to even point to this very short article on Reuters, but I couldn't resist. I'd say that Abdul Jabbar al-Quraishi and Mohammed Jaber al-Tamini need to stay far, far away from the press.

And here I didn't think anyone could make a bigger fool out of themselves than Nelson Mandela did last week. You can always count on Saddam Hussein supporters to one up you in the area of “ignorant and foolish statements you should never say out loud.”
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Just let me know when the tickets go on sale
RollingStone.com: Motley Crue Making a Movie

What scares me more: Motley Crue making a movie or that a major studio is funding it? That's a tough call.
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Another story to support the fact that the 90's economy was a scam
When people look at me puzzled over why I don't think the mid-late 90's economy was for real, I point to stories such as this one over at The Motely Fool. Does this mean I think capitalism failed during that period? No, but it does mean that you can't build a strong economy around greed, corruption and arrogance. Unfortunately, we have both sides of the political aisle saying we need to get back to the strength of the 90's economy. I fear that many of our leaders have not learned an important lesson from the bubble economy that never really was. Sigh.
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Zend Studio 2.6 Beta released
I really like PHP for developing web applications. This weblog is run on a very cool PHP Open Source application, Nucleus. While PHP is cool, the tools for developing applications in PHP had been a bit lacking when compared to Java and .Net. That is until Zend got serious about their Zend Studio application. They have a new beta version out that adds CVS integration, regular expression searches, conditional breakpoints, Java 1.4.1 support, and a lot more.

I remember trying version 1 of the product and it was not very good. When they released version 2, I could tell they were listening to users. Most of the major featurs missing from version 1 were addressed and it seems like the Zend developers are now picking up steam as they make Studio a robust development environment. If you're even the least bit interested in PHP development or are a hardcore PHP person but never use more than a text editor, you should take Zend Studio for a spin. I think you'll like what you see.

For all those who think PHP is a toy and the dev tools for it suck, think again. With Zend Studio and the upcoming PHP 5, you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish in a short amount of time using this “toy.”

Congrats to the Zend team, they work hard on their commercial products and the core PHP engine!
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Clinton and The Rolling Stones
FOXNews.com: Former President Clinton is shuffling out of Harlem to help the Rolling Stones raise awareness about global warming.

Clinton is helping the Stones raise awareness about global warming? Shouldn't this be the other way around? I thought the rock stars came into the picture to boost up the politician's cause.

Hey, and why did they leave poor Owl...errr...Al Gore out of the picture?
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TiVo: The Rise of 'God's Machine'
Wired has an interesting story concerning Personal Video Recorders (PVR.) I especially like the point made about Disney investing in Sonicblue, makers of ReplayTV, while also suing Sonicblue. How and why do you sue a company you invest in?!
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Saturday, February 01, 2003

Music of my youth
It's been quite some time since a record (ok, CD - I just like the sound of “record” better) deeply affected me. When I was younger, I can remember the thrill of hearing a CD that was so different from anything I'd ever heard. Sure, those older than me would be quick to point out that they'd heard it all before by some other artist long ago. But, for me the music was new and exciting. It was my first time experiencing it and the first time for the artists to make that particular magic occur. I think of discs like U2's Achtung Baby, REM's Out of Time, Rick Elias' Confessions, Counting Crows' August And Everything After, The Choir's Circle Slide, Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and can remember vividly just how blown away I was. Each recording had its own special meaning to me. [Read More]
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CNN.com - Seven astronauts killed as shuttle shatters
My prayers go out to all the families and friends of those who lost loved ones today from the space shuttle tragedy.

Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. Ecclesiastes 7:3
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LeBron James can now concentrate on his shoe contract
It looks like the Ohio High School Athletic Association has finally nailed Lebron James for breaking their pathetic rules. I use the word pathetic because:

A) OHSAA and everyone else is profiting from Lebron James even though he never signed anything (as you do as a pro or even as a collegiate athlete) saying he consented to this one-sided money making scheme.

B) Tennis and golf gets away with allowing players as young as 13 (remember Jennifer Capriati and Ana Kournikova joined the pro tour around that age), but basketball somehow holds a higher standard? Yeah right, it's hypocrisy.

The sad thing here is that Lebron James’ chances of enjoying a long, successful career in the NBA is lessened everyday he is exploited. Only the toughest of the tough can overcome such hype and pressure. I’m afraid James is, and will continue to be, surrounded by people who do not have his best interests in mind.
The chances of this high school basketball phenom being able to live up to the level of expectations currently placed on him are very slim. I hope James has a great career in the NBA. Maybe his ineligibility will be a blessing in disguise by allowing James to keep a lower profile. Playing high school basketball at this point makes little sense for him. He can probably use this off time to enjoy his senior year and better prepare for his jump to the NBA. Or, he can finally get around to picking the brand of shoes he’ll be wearing for his professional debut.
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Christianity, art, and commerce
Lee Bozeman: “Music and Christianity. Has there ever been a more misunderstood and terribly unhealthy relationship than between these two? The evangelical mentality has so pervaded and manipulated the modern western Christian that he is unable to see that Christianity is not a product to be bought and sold, nor is it a message to be propagandized, but rather, it is a completely counter-culture existential lifestyle. Contemporary Christian Music is nothing more than a musical version of McDonald's. They offer little in the way of true sustenance and appeal to our lowest common desire: our desire to be entertained. A true artist seeks to find peace with himself, and we, as onlookers, see something that is real and we cling to and believe in it. The truest Christian artist is the most human artist.”

Back in the 90's there was this little band simply known as Luxury. These guys played powerful music. They were (and still are) Christians. They were an undeservedly obscure band, but continue to play music both as Luxury and through “side-projects.” I think Lee’s comments are right on about Christianity and music/art. I’ve always admired the guys from this band. They spoke from the heart, even when they knew it was likely to be a form of career suicide.
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Smarter Tools, Dumber Developers?
Linda Hayes, over at Computerworld, has some rather strong words to say to those of us who develop applications, especially web applications. She says there no longer appears to be a concern for writing solid code and testing that code mainly due to RAD development tools. I think she's definitely on the right track. People don't respect web apps like they did with client/server apps or even terminal based applications. I think the lack of quality code is partially due to it being so easy to develop for the web in comparison to other technologies. It's not just the RAD tools that are spoiling us. Linda gives some excellent examples in her article and I agree that, overall, web applications are normally developed haphazardly.
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Internet Explorer is lacking — badly
It looks like eWeek likes the new version of Opera's web browser for Windows. They mention Mozilla and Opera as being at the top of the best browser list. I use Mozilla full time for my browsing (at work and home) and email (just at home). It has so many cool features that IE doesn't even come close to matching. It's quite amazing how Microsoft continually repeats its own history: Kill off an emerging market (web browsers in this case by bundling IE with Windows) and then stop all innovation in that market once it has been conquered. The reason I found the article so interesting is because as much as eWeek was praising Opera, they hammered IE numerous times. eWeek has IE at number six on their list for the best web browers out there. I think Lynx came in ahead of IE this time around.

If you're using IE, seriously consider at least trying a browser like Mozilla or Opera. I'm biased, I prefer Mozilla. But, it's not without reason. Checkout this list of 101 things Mozilla can do that IE can't. Good stuff.
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MS CRM: Don't Blink Or You'll Miss It
Microsoft Watch: “One integration partner noted that MS CRM is fairly complex to set up and requires Exchange, SQL Server and BizTalk to function, putting MS CRM outside the reach of many of the smaller customers that are supposedly the target of the product.”

Let me get this straight. Microsoft has a CRM product that is for small businesses that requires Exchange, SQL Server and BizTalk to work?! They could give the CRM licenses away and most small businesses still wouldn't be able to afford this offering due to all the other MS' licenses involved. Plus, any product that requires that many pieces is not going to be easy to implement.

This CRM package doesn't sound like it's aimed at small businesses at all. It sounds more like MS is trying to rid itself of Great Plains' reliance on Siebel for CRM functionality. And Great Plains has been desperately trying to prove itself in the enterprise market space, which would explain this new CRM offering requiring so many sophisticated pieces to function.

For small to mid-size businesses, I'm more interested in ASP CRM offerings from companies like Salesforce.com or Upshot. I think these solutions are affordable, offer solid features, low TCO, and can get you up and running quickly. Contrast that to Microsoft's new CRM that's supposedly geared for the small biz market.
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No lie, Dot coms are starting to turn profits
It's true. There are dot com companies turning a profit, and some of them are even publicly traded. It’s interesting to me that a number of the companies mentioned in this AP article on Boston.com are utilizing search engine advertising. Look on almost any search engine out there today and you’re bound to see “sponsored” links somewhere on the results page. I think Google does it the best. They make it crystal clear which listings are paid for and which are not. The paid listings are not intrusive, yet they are actually pretty relevant and useful for the user. I think sites like MSN, About.com, and many others try to blur the line between paid listings and regular results. Sure, they still have an indication that the paid listings are advertisements, but it often blends right in with the regular results. I guess it doesn’t really matter how far the lines are blurred when advertisers are buying listings more than ever, users continue to use the search engines, and the search engine company is able to turn a profit. No matter, I’m just happy to see some of these companies are finally able to become real businesses.
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The Colonel