Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Web sites crashing and burning, a low bid and a new business idea
I'm not happy with our hosting provider today. First our main consumer site has a reported outage. Then I can't get to the stats server (very slow and I don't have a login for one of the sites). Last, one of our sites seems to have database issues of some sort and it's been going on for at least a few hours now. Stuff breaks, things happen. I know this, but I can't help but get frustrated when it happens to a vendor I'm recommending to those inside and outside my company. Arrrggghhh...

My wife and I placed an outrageously low bid on a rather bad house in a very good neighborhood. I'm expecting the seller to come back with their asking price or close to it. Then it's likely game over because that will be a sign that they're offended by the low offer and are going to play hardball. I'll be happy either way. The house needs tons of work, so it's no loss to me to not have to put the time into that. I don't find much fun in fixing houses up, that's just me. If we get it, then we got a solid deal and a decent investment. Either way I see it as a win-win. We should find out tomorrow what happens next.

I woke up this morning and for some reason started thinking about small businesses and their need for inexpensive collaboration software ala Exchange/Outlook, Oracle Collaboration Suite, Novell GroupWise, Lotus Notes, etc. I know there is Exchange hosting that is decent on price but it lacks the more current features like web conferencing and file sharing. There's also the potential to do fax and maybe even voicemail. I'm thinking a Salesforce.com or CrownPeak ASP of the collaboration software market for small businesses. The one million dollar question is whether small businesses would buy into this or not. Do they really need it? I think they do. I sat in a small real estate business last night and couldn't help but notice how much they could benefit from an easy to use, powerful collaboration service. Hook it up to other hosted services like salesforce.com, CrownPeak, etc. and you could have an affordable and killer small biz business solution.
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Monday, July 28, 2003

Web services: Hype and more hype
Snellspace: Who can reasonably expect competing companies to actively cooperate with one another when there is so much bad blood between them? If left strictly to technology vendors, Web services will end up like every other over-hyped technology that came before — fractured, incomplete and ultimately inadequate.

Once upon a time I thought web services would actually crack the wall of proprietary lock-in and open up the opportunity to use technologies across many diverse platforms. I've watched companies like IBM, Microsoft, Sun and others play politics with the numerous web services standards. I've seen very little in return from any of the big boys. It's the same old, same old.

James is right. Why do we expect competing vendors who despise each other to come together to create standards they can all agree upon? I think it has a lot to do with the fact that as soon as a large corporation gets their fingers in the mix things tend to get a whole lot more complex and political. Companies like Microsoft, IBM, Sun, Apple, etc. seem to do their best work when fighting each other outside of the ring of standards committees. At least there they provide technology that users can touch and see, even if it tends to be rather proprietary.
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If you were born in the 1800's...

The Fury of The Cow!: Oldy times You ever wonder what you would have been doing had you been born in like the 1800's? Would you be out on the frontier? Working as a sailor on a ship headed to Europe? I'd probably have been an accountant. That makes the daydreaming about it pretty dull.


Classic.


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Random thoughts on the real estate biz
My wife and I are on both ends of the real estate business. We have a house in Ohio that we've been trying to sell for over nine months now and we're also looking at buying a house in Wisconsin, in the Madison area. Here are some of my observations in no particular order:

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Friday, July 25, 2003

Playing dumb to get to the top

Driving With Dawn has a post about how one of her friends works at a place where a number of female co-workers play dumb and are extremely flirtatious in order to get to the top of the corporate ladder. This proves two things to me: Men in general are even more naive than I thought and women in general can be even more cunning than I ever imagined.


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Oracle still hot to purchase PeopleSoft
Fox News: Oracle Corp. said on Thursday its hostile bid to buy PeopleSoft Inc. would cost about $1 billion more because its target is issuing new shares to acquire J.D. Edwards & Co.

I'll give Larry Ellison credit for one thing, persistence. The man doesn't know when to say “I give up.”

I think Ellison is way off base in thinking the purchase of PeopleSoft will be a good move for Oracle. A fair number of PeopleSoft customers would bail if Oracle takes over, while most customers would probably just wait things out until they're forced to make a decision. If Ellison's claim that they're not interested in forcing PeopleSoft customers to switch to Oracle are true, then how much money can one make off of maintenance contracts alone? And how many of those customers will continue to pay for their maintenance contracts since there won't be much in the way of upgrades to PeopleSoft apps? PeopleSoft customers chose PeopleSoft over Oracle and other ERP vendors' packages, just as Oracle customers chose Oracle 11i over PeopleSoft applications. So, why force customers to choose a software package they didn't feel compelled to go with in the first place? People normally don't like the feeling of being forced into a decision. That is why I predict a mass exodus from Oracle by former PeopleSoft customers if Oracle takes things over. SAP has to have quite a large grin on its face right about now. Oracle's plan could back fire and actually help SAP become an even bigger gorilla in the ERP space. Amazing.
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Thursday, July 24, 2003

One technology CEO who gets it
ZDNet: The industry has been beating the TCO drum for the last 15 years, and it was interesting to hear one of your peers yesterday talking up all these points that you have pooh-poohed. For the technology market to expand, you must add new value. Total cost of ownership is not the way to jump-start IT spending. - John Chen, CEO Sybase

Add new value. TCO cannot drive IT. Depending on TCO to drive IT is like a company continually dropping its prices on products and services in order to increase sales. At some point that company is going to reach a rock bottom price and then what? The same question should be asked by those focused mainly on TCO when it comes to IT.
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DirectX on Windows Server 2003?
BBC: Microsoft has issued a warning about a critical security flaw that affects most versions of its Windows software. The flaw involves DirectX, an extensive collection of programming add-ons for Windows used by computer games. ...Embarrassingly for Microsoft one of the products affected is Windows Server 2003.

Riddle me this Batman... Why is DirectX on a server operating system like Windows Server 2003?! Please tell me DirectX is not installed by default on Win2003.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I'm the one you love to hate
I used to despise those guys and gals who would hand me a list full of “bugs” concerning a new section or web app I was working on. Worse, those “bugs” were often cosmetic. “Move this image a little more to the left.” “This text shouldn't wrap here.” “Put back the line that's in the spec.” “Blah, blah, blah...” Well guess what I've been doing for the last month on one of my projects? Yep, I'm the guy that people despise. I'm pointing out all the little things that need to be tidied up before we demo the new app. And, yes, I'm getting the groans of frustration that I know all too well what they mean. At least I provide pretty good specs and screens to go off of. All my requests have been to have the screens look exactly like the screens show. Oh the joy of being the nitpicky pest!
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Most understated and obvious headline award goes to...
ZDNet: Oracle-PeopleSoft: a hostile situation

You think?
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Oracle is unbreakable...kind of
ComputerWorld: Orbitz LLC, the airline-owned travel Web site, suffered an outage yesterday related to an Oracle database on which Orbitz operates the site, according to a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based company.

Who knows what happened with Orbitz, but I always thought it was an unwise move on Oracle's part to tout their database as “unbreakable.” Bugs happen, things break.

While I'm on Oracle, I thought I would mention that their Collaboration Suite looks compelling at $60 a user for all the features they claim to offer. Of course, you're going to have to lay down some serious cash for the “unbreakable” part of the equation — 9i Database and App Server software.
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Tuesday, July 22, 2003

TCO and risks associated with Open Source
Mark Murphy has a great response to James DeLong's News.com opinion piece on Open Source software and some government agencies around the world making it mandatory to at least consider Open Source solutions along with their commercial counterparts.  Mark is exactly right about the risks associated with both Open Source and commercial software.  Both are risky and both have costs associated with the risk, sometimes much higher than you would every guess.  His example of Oracle taking over PeopleSoft is a great example of why commerical software can be even more risky than Open Source.  You invest millions on a software package to run your business on only to find out that your investment in that software can go right down the drain as its on-going development and support is suddenly ripped away.
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Carrying a ruler to work

The Fury of The Cow!: I'm going to start carrying a 12 inch metal ruler with me around work. Whenever I hear someone say something stupid, they'll get a rap on the knuckles. Things that were explicitly covered in the meeting yesterday that I know you were in, should mean I won't hear you telling someone incorrect information. Unless you're just an idiot, which will warrant 2 raps on the knuckles. Plus maybe a mean stare.


I can't argue with that. Makes too much sense.


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First the sons, then the father?
BBC: The US military says it believes Saddam Hussein's sons were killed by US troops on Tuesday. >
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Monday, July 21, 2003

My take on Microsoft's killing innovation in the web browser
IE development is dead: CNET

You’re right Microsoft will kill anything and everything that gets in its way, but I think IE being stagnate for at least two years (if not longer) as people wait for Microsoft’s next big OS release (Longhorn) is not good for anyone, even MS. Remember, there are still a lot of people that haven’t upgraded from Windows 9x to XP. It will probably take at least 7 years before enough people upgrade to Longhorn to experience a modern web browser from Microsoft. I don’t really care if people upgrade or not, I just don’t like what Microsoft has done to the web as a result of its “embrace and exterminate” behavior in regards to the web browser. Everything that makes the Internet and the web great are the very things Microsoft has tried to twist until they break and become MS only standards. On top of the IE debacle we’ve had other great MS Internet/Open initiatives like: ActiveX, the abysmal MS “Java” JVM, Outlook/Exchange, MS Kerberos (breaks the Kerberos standards), blah, blah, blah…

Anyway, the main point here is that IE 6 SP1 being the last standalone version of Microsoft’s web browser is bad news for users and developers alike. Because IE has a strangle hold on the browser market, the chance of innovation in web apps is next to none. Think about it this way: What if Netscape had been able to monopolize the browser market like MS does today and they were able to leave the web browser at Netscape version 4? Imagine no one upgrading their browser from Netscape 4. Everyone would think that we had reached the pinnacle of web apps with all that could (or couldn’t) be done within Netscape 4 because that is all most of us would know about. This is what we have today with IE 6 being the last standalone version of that browser. We may think IE 6 isn’t bad but what are we missing out on as a result of the lack of progress and innovation? What web apps do you enjoy using (or even develop) today that wouldn’t be around if Netscape 4 was the de facto web browser right now?

Now I must step off my soap box and run before Thomas gets a hold of me!
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PeopleSoft and JD Edwards become one
The Register is spreading the news of PeopleSoft's majority control of JD Edwards. Hopefully this is enough to fend off Oracle from a hostile takeover of PeopleSoft.  If not, JD Edwards customers are in even more trouble than PeopleSoft customers. I think Oracle bails out of its pursuit for PeopleSoft and turns its focus on BEA or maybe even Siebel. I think BEA may make sense for Oracle, Siebel would probably not.  But, as we've seen with Oracle's attempt to overtake PeopleSoft, it doesn't have to make sense in order for Oracle to try it.
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Sunday, July 20, 2003

E-Commerce, channel conflict and at least one solution
Let's say you're the “big cheese” at a company that sells consumer products mostly through an independent dealer channel, not unlike car manufacturers.  These dealers are scared you may one day decide to cut them out of the sales loop.  Maybe you'll start your own stores ala Apple or maybe you'll sell direct via the web.  Your policy is to support the dealer channel and try to avoid as much conflict there as possible.  You tell your dealers they cannot sell your products online, in return you don't sell most of those products online either.  So you run an ecommerce site but you only sell a small number of items.  Items most dealers won't carry but you can charge a premium for.  The store does extremely well, especially when you consider its low profile, limited selection and above retail prices.  But, you still aren't maximizing your revenue stream to its fullest because you aren't offering your entire product line online and neither are your dealers.  People are obviously willing to buy your stuff online as your limited e-store proves and dealers are starting to break their agreement with you (concerning online sales) and hawking your products on eBay and other auction sites. So, you decide you're leaving money on the table by tying your hands and your dealers' hands when it comes to online sales.  What do you do?

I suggest you syndicate your e-store out to the dealers similar to how Amazon and others do affiliate sites.  The dealers get their own e-store with about 90% of your product line that you can realistically sell online.  You'll provide fulfillment, customer service and all the technology for this.  You will increase the sale price to the dealer for all e-store purchased items since you're providing the entire infrastructure and taking on all the risk.  A dealer might normally buy a product from you for $50 and sell it to their customer for $100, but with the e-store you would charge the dealer $65 and the customer would pay $100 online.  All the dealer has to do is sign up and link to the store from his web site.  You take in an additional $15 on the sale, the dealer takes in $35 with almost 0% overhead and the customer is happy to finally be able to order your products from the comfort of her home. Your company takes down its e-store in order to push sales to the dealers.  Now you heavily promote the sales of products online by directing potential customers to the dealers' sites.  You no longer have a channel conflict and now you're taking full advantage of the potential ecommerce has shown for your company.  Sounds rather reasonable, no?

The company I work for is faced with this very dilemma and the solution I presented above is what I'm starting to promote to everyone who has anything to do with the company's sales, especially e-sales.  No one has shot a hole through this plan yet.  It's the only plan that makes both us and the dealer fairly happy with the least amount of operational/logistical changes to make things work.  We've tossed around numerous other scenarios and they all have a lot more downside than this plan.  I don't really care if my plan gets implemented as much as I want us to implement a plan.  By not doing much of anything and not allowing our dealers to do a single thing concerning ecommerce, we're leaving the door wide open for our competitors to walk in and fill the gap.  I believe management is smart enough to see that and will act accordingly.  I just hope its sooner rather than later.
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Friday, July 18, 2003

The Parrot vs. The Python
Sterling Hughes points to a little challenge Guido Van Rossum (the creator of the Python programming language) and Dan Sugalski (one of the developers of the Parrot virtual machine for Perl, Python and possibly other dynamic languages) have going.  Dan claims Parrot will be able to run Python faster than the Python interpreter can by this time next year. Hmmm...
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Automating Cumulus (AKA: PHP, VB, COM, Java, etc.)
I'm currently watching a script run through over 1,000 hi-res EPS images and convert those images to JPEGs in three different sizes onto a Windows share running on an AS/400 (aka iSeries). I thought it might be useful to jot down some notes on how I got to this finish line of sorts. [Read More]
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Thursday, July 17, 2003

Solid email service
Since I tend to whine about tech vendors quite a bit here (especially lately), I thought it might be nice to point to at least one vendor I can't say anything but nice things about: FastMail. They specialize in email hosting for personal accounts; offering POP, IMAP and webmail access. Their support is great, the service is fast and reliable. The pricing is fair as well. Highly recommended!
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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Did I mention I HATE Visual Basic?
Hate is a strong word and I guess that is why it fits my feelings for Visual Basic. I've resorted to the lowest common denominator on the script I'm writing for our Digital Asset Management System (Canto's Cumulus 5 Enterprise) — Visual Basic 6. No, I don't want to mess with VB.NET. I'm using components that aren't .NET friendly and I'm not willing to play that game right now. So I'm using a language I always despise. It feels so foreign to me. I find what helps me when working with VB code is to think of how I would do something in another programming language and then do something completely different and bizarre in VB. I'm not just saying this because it's from Microsoft. I think C# looks pretty nice, but Visual Basic (even in .NET) just sucks. The more I use it, the more I find to hate about it.

As if that weren't bad enough, Canto has the most ridiculous restrictions on their API's. You can use the VB and AppleScript APIs free of charge (included with your license of the software), but if you want the Java API that will set you back at least $995 a year. What?!!! Yes, I let my reps at Canto know that this was one of the more backwards software related policies I've encountered lately. I actually asked them what year it was. I said if the year was 1985 I might have bought into their closed box mentality, but it's not and things have changed for the better. They gave me the excuse that the company is German owned and really paranoid about who gets access to their API's, etc. I thought about that after the phone call and came to the conclusion that it makes absolutely no sense. They're paranoid that someone might want to use and maybe even enhance the Cumulus product?! That's all you can really do with the API. And don't tell me someone wants to reverse engineer Cumulus. That application has changed much since the early-mid 90's. Canto isn't exactly taking over the world in the DAM market, so the weird obsession over keeping the API's locked up tight is puzzling. It's worth a laugh if nothing else.

Now it's back to finishing this lovely little script. Yeah baby!
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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

The hardest part of leading a project
I feel like Santa Clause right now. I'm checking my to-do list twice for one of the projects I'm heading up and I realize that I'm now at a point in the project where I'm relying on a whole lot of other people to get the remaining work done. I don't like being bombarded with work, trust me. But, there's a comfort in knowing in every little detail of what's going on. With that said, I'm not a control freak. I'll delegate until I have 100 different people doing all my work if I could. It's just that I find one of the hardest parts of a project is getting it to a point where you've worked really hard to make sure everyone gets what they need then you have to depend on people to do the work you've given them to do. I'm not a very good project manager. I need to learn about actual project management. I'm doing that now in the most inefficient manner: learning as you do it.

I'm sure this project has suffered because of my lack of experience in this area but no one else has wanted to head up this project for the last 3-5 years from what I've been told. In this case I've grown a little bit. I'm not waiting for someone else to stick their neck out and lead — I'm leading more than ever now. I don't necessarily like to lead. I'm quite content to do the job that's requested of me as I follow the leader. But I've noticed people don't want to take any risks lately and I only got more frustrated by the shortsightedness of that thinking. So now I'm leading more projects and taking the risks.
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Scoble wants feedback on the Windows platform
Scoble: Since a few Microsoft employees read my weblog, take a new tact. Instead of saying “stop locking us in the trunk” why don't you tell us what you'd like to see on the Windows platform?

I believe I did this for Scoble a while back.  I think that list is pretty legit. Or is he looking for something more specific to the Windows operating system only?
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Monday, July 14, 2003

The praise Jesus discount
Fox News: Former Dallas Cowboys (search) cornerback Deion Sanders (search) is battling an automotive shop over what he says Jesus told him to pay for a repair bill.

Bizarre. I should try that sometime.
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Sunday, July 13, 2003

Howard Dean's real competition for the Democrat presidential nomination...
Nova Express - Slashdot Post: Why is Dean even bothering to run? You know he's never going to be able to beat Al Sharpton for the nomination...

This has to be a joke. I laughed quite a bit when I read it. The funny thing is, the reply beneath it took the post seriously.

By the way, I'm all for Al Sharpton for the 2004 Democrat presidential nomination! That would be the most entertaining presidential campaign in history — hands down. I think Don King should be Sharpton's running mate.
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Friday, July 11, 2003

Loving the lock-in
Rory Blyth: There's the whole issue of requiring a Java app server. If this whole Java web services thing starts with code (which I like) and ends with something like Websphere (which I hate), then I would rather coat my eyeballs in honey and dip my face in a box full of hungry rats.

You're right Rory.  I'd much rather have only one application server that is tightly integrated into only one OS that only runs on one hardware platform (X86).  Screw options.  We'd rather have things easy than to be given the little hassle that comes with technology choice.  We love monopolies.
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Thursday, July 10, 2003

Busy, busy, busy, etc.
The projects at work are all colliding with each other. I'm enjoying working on each of them but I knew this time was coming where they all get critical at the same point in time. I still have my sanity in tact, although my wife might not quite agree.

I've been wrestling with some PHP stuff (that I originally tried to do in Java) that I want to write a bit about because it might be good for others to reference if they run into the same issues.

Canto claims their Digital Asset Management System (DAM), Cumulus, is easily extensible and it appears to be with the SDK, but getting to that documentation and libraries is like breaking into Fort Knox (or Costco, if you're RC Collins.) I've been trying to get solid API's and docs for the last month and a half. Arrrrgggghhh...
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Monday, July 07, 2003

Jack of all trades and the custom CMS disease
There is a vendor I work with that really wants to get our CMS business. I've committed to CrownPeak Technology's ASP offering for at least one site. I enjoy working with this vendor who wants our business. They only put forth the utmost effort and never whine about the 100's of stupid questions I ask just about every week.

The problem I have with this vendor doing our CMS is the fact that we would be their first CMS customer. They want to use Merant's Collage CMS, which Merant presented a demo to me on. I was impressed with what they had but still had to come back to the fact that CrownPeak gives me a solid product with the experience to back it up. Plus, CrownPeak's core business is CMS. This other vendor is a jack of all trades. They don't have a single commercial CMS package installation under their belt. My concerns, as I've expressed them to this vendor, are clear.

Today some of the services this vendor provides have been a bit shaky. A server crashed causing one service to go down completely. Another service is behaving in odd manners. Yet another one is failing on a critical process and doesn't handle the errors properly. I can't help but think about the consequences of doing CMS with this vendor. If you aren't an expert at any one thing, then how can I depend on you to make a very important project (for us anyway) like CMS successful? I can't afford to have these types of hiccups. The users are suspect of IT these days. We don't communicate and we often don't appear to deliver on our promises or, worse yet, we don't deliver. I can't let this project fall into the category of “yet another failed IT project.” I need a company, a product and a service that delivers the goods. I need a company that has a history of delivering the goods. CMS isn't rocket science (as this vendor pointed out to me) but it can definitely turn into a mess real quick if you don't do it right.

I wanted to post this to remind myself that it's important to deliver on the work you already have with a client. Don't go chasing more business when the existing business you have with the client is beginning to crumble due to your not being able to deliver.

Also important to note here: If you are an agency of any sorts that provides web site development services, please do not continue to build custom CMS systems for every client you encounter. Buy, don't build. Standardize on one or two CMSes that will do the job for most of your clientele. Become experts on those systems and watch the smiles on your clients' faces as they get a solid CMS on time and for less money. You benefit and the client benefits. It's a win-win. This makes so much more sense than building custom CMSes that require extensive coding and testing and provide maybe 50% of what a commercial package/service can offer. If you're concerned your client will bypass you and go with the packaged solution, then you most likely don't provide much added value to your client. Sell your expertise. Sell the client on how much faster and how much cheaper you can implement a CMS for them with one of your preferred packages/services. Heck, sell the client on an ASP like offering. You host the CMS and provide everything the client needs to get up and running. The client doesn't sink a dime into infrastructure and you have a new reoccurring revenue stream. But please, whatever you do, don't sell the client on a custom built CMS. Enough said.
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The RIAA first concern is for the artist
CNET: This has to do with artists and creators. Artists and creators, like anybody else who creates something, should have the right to sell what they create...Indeed, most artists spend a lifetime trying to sell the result of their efforts to record companies so that they may make a living making music. At the end of the day, that is a great thing for music lovers--otherwise artists would have a lot less time to create the music we all love.

Does the RIAA expect us to believe the line that their case is all about the artists and creators? No way. This is about an industry that is being turned upside down and wants to protect its old way of doing this. If this was about the artists, then the RIAA would be pushing for P2P networks to work even better. Artists benefit from the power of the Internet, old school record labels do not.
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Feedster == Fast
Chris Sells points out that Feedster is a lot faster now. I tried it out and it screams. I'm going to start using it now.
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Where are the Liberia related protests?

BBC: A US military team arrives in Monrovia to assess how best to bring stability to war-ravaged Liberia.


We may very well be going into Liberia.  Where are all the protestors on this one?  It's different you say.  We're going to be going in as a peace keeping force to protect millions of people from being killed off by a brutal dictator... Oh wait, that's not so different.  Nevermind.


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Last minute projects
I worked on a very last minute project last week. I got it up and running within a couple of days — enough time for those heading up the project to review the work. I didn't hear anything back. I requested feedback several times — nothing. I figured the work was OK so on Thursday last week it went live on the site. The person heading up the project comings rushing into my cube this morning saying it was a disaster. The data wasn't complete and they had to fix it themselves. I apologized for the mistake on my part and let it go at that. Mind you, I wouldn't know if the data was complete or right but oh well. In a follow up email I added that next time we need to review the work before it goes live. Isn't this just common sense? If it was important enough for her to come and make me aware of the problem she already emailed me on earlier, then shouldn't it be important enough to take five minutes and review the work? She claimed last week that she was “swamped.” Fair enough. But don't expect things to go off without a hitch when you're not willing to finish the job.

In the end, I admit I should have pushed harder for a review prior to go-live and not let the project go live until it got signed off on. That is completely my fault and that is why I needed to apologize.

Alright, it's over. I've made my point clear and whined enough already this morning. I'm praying God gives me patience and strength to let it go and improve on things for the future.
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Friday, July 04, 2003

Summerfest
The weather cooperated yesterday as my wife, son and I went to Summerfest in Milwaukee. Kelly and Ethan picked me up around 12 PM at work and off we went. I had trouble finding it and turned a 1 hour trip into almost 2 hours. We got there and the sun was shining very bright. It was about 90 out and humid. It's been a while since I've been out in that kind of heat. When we lived in Atlanta, that kind of day was normal but if you're not used to that kind of heat it will definitely drain you fast.

Ethan had a great time. We took him to all the kids shows there and he was as content as could be. He loves “shows.” Whether the show be a TV show, a movie on DVD, a movie at the theatre, a play, a musical, a concert — it doesn't really matter, he loves his shows. It wasn't getting any cooler as we watched some of the kids shows so I decided we should trek back to this water fountain of sorts that you can play in. Ethan loved it. He must've been there for almost an hour before he was done. One thing I noticed while we were watching him run through the water like a madman was that younger women (OK, girls) these days don't seem to have a problem with showing off their bodies. Kelly and I noticed numerous girls going through the water wearing white shorts and white shirts and you can only guess what they looked like once they were done. We also noticed that a rather popular thing to wear if you're a female are shorts with writing on the back, right across your butt. There were the shorts that said “Naughty” and then there were those that were a bit more long winded and required you to practically stare in order to read them like, “I too much princess for just one boy.” What are girls thinking?!

The rain never came but it sure was humid. It cooled down around 7 PM or so but then that's when everyone in Wisconsin decided they needed to be at Summerfest on July 3rd. It's amazing how much heat thousands upon thousands of people can make even when in wide open spaces outside. I could tell the crowd filled with a lot of families was starting to leave and the younger crowd was coming in for the music and drinking.

We caught some of Fountains of Wayne's set and they sounded great. I may have to check out some of their discs. At the end of their set Ethan wanted to go on the ferris wheel across from the stage. Since we had a stroller and stuff only one of us could go with him so I volunteered his mom. It cost them $8 to ride that bad boy! Ethan loved it and Kelly freaked out, thinking he was surely going to get away from her and jump out the door. He didn't and they both survived. Ethan, of course, wanted to go again but for $8 of 5 minutes or so of fun, I think we'll pass.

Fireworks started about 9:30, maybe a little earlier. They weren't that great even with the nifty pair of 3D glasses they were passing out to view them with. My take on the 3D glasses is this: the state/city is clearly in budget trouble when they need to cut back on fireworks and pass out glasses that make each firework appear to be four. I heard others say this was one of the lamest fireworks displays they've seen for a city the size of Milwaukee. Oh well, such is life.

After the fireworks, Wilco came on to play for a little over an hour and a half. That's not bad considering it was for a festival where most acts only get about an hour. The problem with the show wasn't with Wilco but with the stage setup and the typical festival crowd. First, the stage had a sound booth back and center that was extremely high up, thus making it impossible to see anywhere behind the sound booth — even far back behind it. Then you had the picnic benches. People stood on them and they were about half way back from the stage so you couldn't see a thing behind the benches unless you were quite a ways back. Typical of a festival crowd, only a small percentage of the people seemed to be there for Wilco. The level of talking was even higher than normal. I told my wife this was a trend I noticed at most concerts either outdoors or at a club where there are no seats. People come to drink and talk more than to watch the show. I think kids want to say “yeah, I saw band XXXXXX” more than anything else.

Wilco started the show off with about four very quiet songs. I got the feeling they were intentionally trying the patience of a festival crowd as they knew a lot of the people there weren't into the show at all. Maybe the band was hoping those people would leave? I don't know, it just seemed strange to me to have them start the show off that way. Overall it was a good set but the mood was killed by the lame stage setup and the people around us.

Oh yeah, you would know it was my wife and I there last night because we were the ones towards the back of the stage to the right of the beer stand. Yes, that was us with the 2 and a half year old in a stroller that you drunkenly kept tripping over. Yes, we were the horrible parents allowing our youngster be around smoking, drinking and rude people. Look, we didn't bring him there for the rock concert. We were there all day entertaining him. It wasn't until the very end that we had him around the crazy atmosphere of the concert. He liked the music and then fell asleep about 2/3 way through the show. We wouldn't have brought him if Summerfest was just one big rock concert. Why waste our money on that? No, we had him there to enjoy the many other things going on throughout the day and night. The Wilco show was a slight detour for him but he seemed to enjoy it. So, if you were one of the ones making dirty looks or snide remarks — tough. You were probably too drunk to criticize our parenting skills anyway.

Getting out of Summerfest is not fun. We parked at one of the main festival parking lots near the mid-gate. It was one big traffic jam. It took us at least an hour to get onto to the express way. We finally got home around 2 AM and now I'm up with Ethan just hoping he realizes he should be asleep again right about now.
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Thursday, July 03, 2003

How does Dan Gillmor get away with saying this stuff?!
Gillmor: This is how some prominent Republican “patriots” behave, in their jihad to turn America into a one-party government and roll back social and economic policies to the era before the New Deal. They crave a time when what little government we had existed mainly to ensure that the rich and powerful would remain that way, and to make sure the little people didn't get out of line by having too much liberty.

It's a free country, but how does Dan Gillmor's employer (Knight Ridder) put up with this? Worse, why does it promote Dan so heavily? Especially when you consider that almost all of Dan's posts on politics are more of this same sort of drivel.
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Gotta love PeopleSoft's quick thinking
ZDNet: PeopleSoft said over half those sales would come from contracts covered by a new customer-protection program that industry watchers said was a takeover defence in disguise.

I don't know if this is legal or not, but it's pure genius. You boost your sales and protect yourself from a hostile takeover all with the same tactic! I think there's a saying for this. Something about killing some birds with a heavy rock...
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Dave Winer makes sense and extends an olive branch
I've stayed away from this whole Echo project that has a gang of the weblog community publically feuding with Dave Winer, who made much of what the Echo project is trying to reinvent happen in the first place. Dave has made mistakes over this as I'm sure we all have with things we're passionate about. But, he doesn't deserve the ridicule I've seen from a number of people. The attacks often get personal and don't address any real issues.

Dave wrote a short essay today on why he's concerned about the Echo project and what he's waiting to hear from those involved. I think he's being very resonable in this essay. He did, afterall, invent the very technologies that the people behind Echo seem hell bent to tear down and then bring back to much of its original form.
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Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Strange article title
CNET: Study finds early Apache code so-so

The article is about a study a code quality analysis company did, Reasoning, on Apache 2 code.  It finds 0.53 defects per thousand lines of code compared to 0.51 for commercial software on average. So, doesn't that make both Open Source and commercial software so-so, not just Apache code or Open Source code as the article implies? It gets worse:

The comparable defect rate indicates that open-source software starts out as raw as proprietary software, but Reasoning said that ultimately open-source software has the potential to exceed proprietary software in quality.

I find it very interesting that a CNET editor decided to run the headline that Apache's code is “so-so”, while the article points out that, not only does Apache's early code have about the same defect rate as most commercial packages but it has potential to exceed proprietary software in code quality! This warrants an article title that implies Apache's code is not all that great? Hmmm...
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Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Is it going to rain or shine Thursday?
My wife, son and I are planning on going to Summerfest this Thursday. They're supposed to have quite a bit there that would interest our 2 and a half year old, Ethan. Plus, they'll be doing fireworks that night and Wilco is playing! All this for two bags of kitty litter. Now the question is: Will the weather cooperate? Weather.com says yes. Almost every other report says probably not.

My wife says we're going no matter what. She says I've hyped it up for too long not to go at this point. What have I done?!
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A Java book I may actually buy
Magnus Mickelsson points to a book on utilizing Open Source J2EE technologies coming out in November. The book is written by active community members who know their stuff. I've been wondering how people put all these different technologies together in a way that works in the real world.
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I have a better chance of buying The Pink Panther
My wife uses the cool computer at home — a Mac. It's an older iMac that currently runs OS 9.2 and it crashes at least a couple times a day thanks to Internet Explorer 5.x. I want to upgrade it to OS X but am waiting for the Panther version to come out. I'm not sure if it will run decently on this old G3 400mhz processor, but that's not my biggest problem at this point. My wife asked how much it would cost to upgrade and I said about $100 or so. She said, “I can live with the crashing.” Great, just great!
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The Colonel