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Moore's Lore
April 2004
April 30, 2004

Sinclair (and the forbidden word)Email This EntryPrint This Article

Sinclair Broadcasting has made a decision not to carry an ABC “Nightline” program tonight that will consist of announcer Ted Koppel reading the names, and displaying the faces, of Americans killed in Iraq. (The graphic, by the way, is linked from Famousfoto.com, and has nothing to do with Sinclair Broadcasting. I just thought it was fun.)

An official statement from the group reads in part, “Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.” Sinclair owns 8 ABC affiliates.

But this is not the whole story. Not in my opinion. What follows is my opinion.

Continue reading "Sinclair (and the forbidden word)"

Steve Stroh On The Price Of WindowsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

After my recent note on malware, our own Steve Stroh felt induced to respond.

Malware can only thrive in a "hospitable" environment - Windows and its twin demons Outlook and Internet Explorer.

While I haven't been able to divorce myself from Windows, I have successfully migrated off Outlook and IE and now I'm far less worried about my mail client happily downloading and automatically executing dangerous code without bothering to inform me, nor the browser being a steaming pile of vulnerability heaped upon vulnerability if I happen to be maliciously redirected to an web page with malicious code.

Continue reading "Steve Stroh On The Price Of Windows"

Broadband Goes To WashingtonEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Broadband issues are suddenly all over Washington. (The picture is courtesy the BBC.)

The issue is front-and-center because two big industries are in a push-and-tug over absolute power.

The two industries are the phone carriers, representing DSL technology, and the cable companies, representing cable modems.

They are tugging at each other because they have both won the right to stop wholesaling their capacity to competitive ISPs, so they figure they now have something to fight over. Not something to invest in, mind you, something to fight over.

Continue reading "Broadband Goes To Washington"

New HowieEmail This EntryPrint This Article

A decade ago I was witness to the first harmonic convergence between computing and entertainment.

It was a CD-ROM company called 7th Level. The outfit was founded by music and entertainment industry veterans, with a mission to bringing their production values to the new medium.

At their press conference I rubbed elbows with such people as Quincy Jones, Linda Ronstadt and Charles Fleischer (the voice of Roger Rabbit). Howie Mandel, however, was the star of the day, because he would voice the company's first product, "Tuneland." (The illustration comes from a review of the program by Harry Chow.)

It was a CD for kids, which used cartoon sprites to teach basic computing skills. It was very cool, cool enough so that, after getting my copy, I spent $2,500 on a new PC so my daughter could use it.

Continue reading "New Howie"

April 29, 2004

Google Outdoes MicrosoftEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The last time a big tech company went public without having to, its name was Microsoft.

The famous story from that IPO is of Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates, still young and tight with a buck, forced to fly first class to New York for the event, using the in-flight phone on board to rag their investment bankers about the money they were wasting.

But the Microsoft IPO didn't really challenge the way Wall Street worked. Gates' bark was worse than his bite.

Google's IPO is quite different.

Continue reading "Google Outdoes Microsoft"

The Old SwitcherooEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I've looked over coverage of President Bush's broadband plans, and they're "the old switcheroo." (Image from TechCentralStation.)

That is, they sound good on a superficial level, but a look at the fine print shows a different picture.

The headlines are grabbers. There's the goal of universal access, and a call against taxes. Both sound great.

The problem is how we get there. The Bush plan is simply not market-oriented.

Continue reading "The Old Switcheroo"

April 26, 2004

Spinning SpintronicsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Moore's Law is a challenge. It's not a scientific principle.

Moore's Law tells the electronics industry what it should hope to do, however it can do it, based on the idea that, in 1966, the goal of 100% improvement every 18 months looked achievable for some time to come.

What most people don't know is that, in many cases, and in many different areas of technology, engineers and scientists have been blowing the Moore's timetable to smithereens.

They're doing it with breakthroughs, breakthroughs like spintronics. (The picture, by the way, is from a SUNY Binghampton page on spintronics. Binghampton has a deal with Seagate in this area.)

Continue reading "Spinning Spintronics"

WebMDEmail This EntryPrint This Article

When Martin Wygod (pictured from when he was named to the Del Mar racetrack board), the dark lord of medical computing, took control of WebMD back in 2001, I cheered.

Wygod has been handling medical claims for ages.

I first ran into him when he sold his Medco Containment (a drug sales firm) to Merck, long before the Web was spun. WebMD had been an airy-fairy Web boom dream company, based in my own hometown of Atlanta, and had spent years drawing admiring glances from the media without doing anything more but put up a bunch of me-too Web pages. Founder Jeff Arnold built himself a big house with the proceeds, but nothing much else happened.

Marty will straighten their hash, I figured.

Continue reading "WebMD"

What, Not HowEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Linksys is a very important name in the World of Always-On.

Linksys, now a unit of Cisco, makes home routers, and it dominates the retail channel for wireless networking.

Since acquiring the company 10 months ago Cisco has mainly left it alone, just sending one of its executives down to Irvine to teach Cisco's ways to Linksys and learn Linksys' ways for Cisco. Founder Victor Tsao remains in charge.

Talk to many Linksys competitors, like Siemens or 2Wire or Netopia, and you're going to hear a lot about how things are done. You're going to hear a lot of details about wireless networking technologies, 802.11 this-and-that, about antennas and radios, all the kinds of stuff analysts like me want to hear about.

You know something? It's all bunk.

Continue reading "What, Not How"

The Trouble With FameEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Google has trouble. Its Gmail service, which targets ads based (in part) on the content of e-mails sent by subscribers, is taking a great deal of fire. Everyone is being asked their opinion.

But there's a problem with the attention. It lets those without big names get off scot-free.

Continue reading "The Trouble With Fame"

April 25, 2004

Is Iraq The Net's Fault?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Here we have another one of those overwrought attacks on the Net.

This time the Online Journalism Review blames our polarization on the Internet, claiming an "echo chamber" effect.

People like Matt Glaser, who wrote this story, should be forced to endure Journalism History 101. And if he's out there, I'll teach it to him. (Our illustration comes from this wonderful Montauk history page.)

If there is an "echo chamber" it is created, not by the narrowcasting of Web sites, but by the mass media. While it would be controversial for me to point out the present War in Iraq in this regard, let's go back to 1898, and the Spanish-American war.

Continue reading "Is Iraq The Net's Fault?"

What Hath Peace Wrought?Email This EntryPrint This Article

The decision by Microsoft to accept (and pay for) others' patent claims was designed to create peace in the technology world. Pay 'em off and move forward.

But peace is not at hand. New patent claimants pop up every day. Now Forgent Networks is suing everyone in sight, claiming it owns JPEG, and its rights expire in 2006.

Continue reading "What Hath Peace Wrought?"

April 23, 2004

Great Man TheoryEmail This EntryPrint This Article

One way New York reporters aggravate me is their insistance on using a "Great Man" theory to describe business.

Personalizing corporate struggles makes them more coherent as stories. But if real historians learned anything in the 20th century is that this misses the point.

Yet papers like The New York Times (from which this illustration was taken) continue to do it, as do magazines like Forbes and TV channels like CNBC. It's all about the egos at the top. Customers and operations have nothing to do with it. We're all pawns on their chessboard.

Here's an example. The frontier of internet commerce is reduced to the machinations of two men, Barry Diller and Henry Silverman.

Trouble is, this is not really an Internet commerce story. It's about referrals, a business Silverman was once badly burned by, and how Diller is trying to use them to extract commissions from real estate agents.

Continue reading "Great Man Theory"

April 22, 2004

Malware WarsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The collapse of online ethics is destroying the Internet as we knew it.

Spam gets most of the publicity. But the malware problem is getting just as bad. (Buy the book you see here.)

Spyware programs are one form of malware. Viruses are also a subset of malware. Generally anything that comes into your computer unbidden and with its own agenda is malware.

A lot of the malware you see today got its start on porn sites. (Yes, another innovation from that technologically on-top-of-it industry.) But it has spread, far and wide.

Continue reading "Malware Wars"

The Next Economic ImplosionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Back in the late 1990s the "Four Tigers" of Southeast Asia (Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Korea) overheated, their economies fell, and the U.S. caught barely a sniffle.

Well it's about to happen to China and this time we're going to get pneumonia, maybe worse. (Jeremy Wolff took this lovely picture, a mural featuring a Chinese child playing with bubbles, on a recent trip to that country, and posted the picture at Inch.Com, a New York ISP.)

China's demand for production goods is already driving prices for raw materials higher in the U.S., leading to inflation, thus higher interest rates, a falling housing market and (probably) an end to the nascent recovery.

But that's just the first course. (You know how Chinese meals are -- good ones anyway.)

Continue reading "The Next Economic Implosion"

Motorola's European VacationEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Ed Zander, the new head of Motorola, is not a genius. But if your timing is right you don't have to be. (The picture is from Ed's alma mater. You will note, however, that he does have the hair line of genius.)

Zander joined Motorola just as the dollar was falling like a stone against the Euro. The result, in the intensely price-competitive world of mobile phones, was that his prices were falling (in real terms) while those of arch-rival Nokia were rising.

The result was predictable. Motorola recorded a huge jump in profits. Nokia, on the other hand, faltered.

Continue reading "Motorola's European Vacation"

April 21, 2004

The Next Enron?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Had it not been for Enron, and Arthur Andersen, then I really doubt Sanjay Kumar and Computer Associates would be in the dock today. (Photo from The Inquirer.)

But the Enron scandal did happen, so what looked like normal business practice came to be seen as a scandal. The standard practices of the last decade, like gaming revenues to keep stock analysts happy, are now seen as morally reprehensible.

That, at least, seems the great lesson from the fall of Sanjay Kumar, who stepped down as CEO of Computer Associates today.

More shoes have yet to drop.

Continue reading "The Next Enron?"

Telephony As An Enterprise SpaceEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Those of us who have covered computing a long time know there is an "enterprise space," by which we mean the computer networks run by big companies, and a "telecom space," by which we mean what the phone companies use to give us our dial tone. (The illustration of IP telephony, using a gateway, is from Belarus.)

As Moore's Law has marched forward, it was inevitable that the two would merge. If telephone companies are just ISPs, then as enterprise software gets better it should, in time, be good enough to handle the demands of the phone company.

These trends meet at the residential gateway.

Continue reading "Telephony As An Enterprise Space"

Beyond DeanEmail This EntryPrint This Article

At the height of the Howard Dean bubble, an obscure blogger named Markos Zuniga, who calls his blog Daily Kos, took the next step in the evolution of computers and politics.

He switched to Scoop.

Dean's campaign was using Movable Type, the same program used here. It's a nice blogging program, with many community features.

But it can't scale the intimacy like Scoop can. And this, as I've said, is where Dean failed. When millions of people "ran to the rail" and sought the same intimate experience with the Dean campaign as those who'd trickled in the year before had gotten, Movable Type could not deliver.

Continue reading "Beyond Dean"

Is The Internet Vulnerable?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Big headlines yesterday proclaimed that the Internet is vulnerable to attack by hackers.

The original flaw in IP, found by Paul Watson of Milwaukee, involves shutting down a machine remotely by calling it by IP number. It was once thought that the number would be nearly impossible to guess. Watson found a way to get it, reliably, in four tries. (The image is from TV New Zealand.)

But how big a threat is this? Cisco jumped on it immediately, and government facilities were protected before the story made it into print.

Continue reading "Is The Internet Vulnerable?"

Lessons From Spiegel's FallEmail This EntryPrint This Article

If any company would have been a natural to make it through to Internet commerce, it would have been Spiegel. The company has a huge catalog, back-office systems for transacting and shipping in volumes, and a brand name to get above the noise. (This image, the cover of the 1956 Spiegel catalog, is from Costumes.org.)

Yet the company has failed. It is in Chapter 11, it's laying people off, and it's looking for a buyer to stave off the final end.

There are lessons there.

Continue reading "Lessons From Spiegel's Fall"

April 19, 2004

Ninjas, Vigilantes, Or...Email This EntryPrint This Article

The BBC has a report out on how "Net Ninjas" at the University of Toronto are helping to fight Internet censorship.

Good on 'em. Right on. We need heroes. Etc. etc.

But forget about why they are doing what they are doing. Concentrate instead on exactly what they are doing.

As the BBC notes, "The Citizen Lab employs all manner of hardware, software and code-writing skills to essentially tap into computer networks around the world, and expose their inner workings."

Wait, there's more.

Continue reading "Ninjas, Vigilantes, Or..."

Jeff Vick Teaches A LessonEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Over at The Moving Picture Jeff Vick has spied a deal hidden in the fine print of Howard Stern's firing.

If Howard Stern, the Regular Guys, Bubba the Love Monster and all the others like them are wondering why their employers aren’t fighting to protect their 1st amendment rights like they should, then they need only to look no further than the press release from the NAB on Friday.

“U.S. radio broadcasters have asked federal regulators to bar rival satellite radio services from offering content tailored to local markets.”

In other words, broadcasters like Clear Channel accept content censorship on condition they face no competition, as cable operators do, from satellite.

Unlike conspiracy theorists, however, Jeff has some evidence to present.

Continue reading "Jeff Vick Teaches A Lesson"

Broadband Is The New Dial-UpEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The problem is, however, that there's broadband and then there's broadband.

Phone companies have been catching up with cable lately by dialing-down their speed (crippling it, actually) and luring people into $30/month plans. Compare that to $20-25/month dial-up and it's a deal.

The problem is it's not really braodband. It claims it's broadband, and it's done using the same ADSL technology, but it's deliberately crippled, slowed-down.

Continue reading "Broadband Is The New Dial-Up"

How Science Got Estrogen WrongEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The results are in.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is bad for women. It should only be used for short periods, or when bone loss is a real fear. (The picture of actress-model Lauren Hutton is from Blunt Graphics, which had her speak at an event on behalf of Indonesian orangutans.)

How did we get it wrong? People compared women who did take the therapy with those who didn't, and didn't adjust for the fact that those on HRT were generally healthy and taking care of themselves, when many who weren't, didn't.

Think back to the pro-HRT commercials of a few years ago, starring Lauren Hutton (pictured) and Patti LaBelle. Both subjects were well-off, physically fit, busy -- the whole idea of the commercial, to other women, was you want to be like them.

Well, you can be like them. Exercise, diet, stay busy, treat yourself right. You won't be like them just taking a pill.

But there's more to consider here.

Continue reading "How Science Got Estrogen Wrong"

April 18, 2004

The 90s Rule At BroadcomEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Not that there's anything wrong with that. (Image courtesy of Sony Pictures, which can afford the bandwidth.)

But speaking of choices, The New York Times reports that stock options are raining down over at Broadcom like back in that wonderful day.

The latest option plan before shareholders dilutes the company's value by a nifty 12.7%. Forget 2000, zero zero party over out of time. Broadcom's gonna party like it's 1999. Don't like it? Don't have a cow, man. Stock options are one of my Top 101 Reasons why the 90s ruled. (My 16-year old daughter loves the show, Seinfeld is their Reason #1, and who am I to argue?)

Continue reading "The 90s Rule At Broadcom"

Wal-Mart Is A ChoiceEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Let me state something that's going to get me in more trouble with my conservative friends.

The acceptance of Wal-Mart's collateral damage to our economy is a choice. (Image from Chris-Place.Com.)

The results of economics are not inevitable, like the tides or volcanic eruptions. They can be adjusted, if we choose to, and their effects can be adjusted, if we choose to.

A century ago, under a Republican President, we made that choice. Maybe, in this case, we will make a different choice.

But to deny there is such a choice is to deny reality.

Continue reading "Wal-Mart Is A Choice"

April 17, 2004

The Search WarsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

One of the most foolish things that happened in the 1990s was that the search engine industry lost the plot and became the "portal" business.

This happened for one reason. The market got lazy. The profits from traffic -- any traffic -- were so high that companies like Yahoo, Excite, and Lycos decided to try and become like America Online rather than keep going what they were doing.

The portal wars weren't a demand from Internet consumers. They were a demand from Internet capitalists. The dot-bust, from that perspective, was a very good thing indeed.

But now, thanks to Google, it's game-on again. Amazon has launched a new search engine, Yahoo Search is brand-new, Microsoft is still planning a big announcement, and the rest of the industry is consolidating faster than Jell-O in a freezer.


The Paper CDEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Sony's announcement of a 25 Gigabyte CD made partly of paper has to rank as the Moore's Law story of the year. (The image is from Sony's Press release, with special thanks to Lyle Clarke for pointing it out.)

This is a so-called Blu-Ray disc, using a blue laser beam which, because it's so short, doesn't read below the disc's surface, into its substrate. One way to translate that 25 GByte size, by the way, is to note that it's two hours of High Definition TV. Hi-def movies need Blu-Ray.

So the breakthrough here isn't just in the paper. Repeat, the breakthrough here isn't just in the paper.

Continue reading "The Paper CD"

Software Peace At Last?Email This EntryPrint This Article

History may record the Sun-Microsoft agreement as just the first in a series of dominoes that finally brought peace to the software business. (The image, by the way, is from an exhibit of patches at the Vietnam Helicopter War Museum.)

How else can one interpret news that BayStar Capital has called in its loan to SCO, whose lawsuits are threatening the open source movement by claiming full ownership and control of Linux?

Just remember where that money came from.

Let me refresh your memory:

Continue reading "Software Peace At Last?"

April 16, 2004

Why Gateways MatterEmail This EntryPrint This Article

A residential gateway is probably going to define how you get your Internet service in coming years.

Why buy a modem, a router, a switch, and a Wi-Fi set-up when can get them all at once, probably free?

This makes gateways important. Since the Wi-Fi set-up is in there too, they're also going to define your Local Area Network.

And the LAN is where your Always-On applications will live.

So, yeah, gateways matter. It's a market worth studying.

Whose gear do I like? Everyone's. And no one's. There's a lot of value here, but there's going to be a lot more. I don't want to be wedded to something that's going to be obsolete before my service contract runs out.

I want to date my gateway, not marry it. At least for now.

Continue reading "Why Gateways Matter"

What's A Gateway?Email This EntryPrint This Article

A gateway has an Internet connection on one side, and some sort of LAN connection on the other. (Usually it includes a wireless LAN.) It's a modem, it's a router, it's a switch. It's pretty cool. (The picture is from Johnkdavis.net.)

But what is it in terms of the market? How will you get it?

Continue reading "What's A Gateway?"

April 14, 2004

Who Owns The Wires?Email This EntryPrint This Article

The Heritage Foundation has issued a paper giving ideological reasons attacking any public interest in wired communications.

Before reading where they stand understand where they sit. The Heritage Foundation is the grandfather of right-wing lobbying organizations. Its money comes from rich men (and women) devoted, through their "charity", to pushing their own self-interest.

Nothing wrong with that, but since conservatives now claim full disclosure is a substitute for regulation, I thought mentioning that fact would be fair and balanced.

Continue reading "Who Owns The Wires?"

Why The DSL Price Hikes?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Today's mystery. Why are the phone carriers suddenly forcing price hikes on DSL service, hikes they don't even admit to? (The image of a cracked Liberty Bell is from Germany.)

Earthlink pushed one on me a few months ago, a hike of nearly 10% for "sales taxes." The latest phone company ploy is to charge "regulatory fees," another way to blame the government.

But make no mistake. These are price hikes. Government didn't suddenly start raising its charges. The carriers have chosen to start recouping them.

And is that all? No.

Continue reading "Why The DSL Price Hikes?"

Not Bad With One Arm Tied Behind The BackEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Intel announced what many considered a "blow-out" quarter, with sales up 20% and net income nearly doubling.

Imagine what they could do without one hand tied behind their back. (The image is from a 1995 paper on Internet payment systems by Michael Pierce of Trinity College, in Ireland.)

In Intel's case, the hand behind its back is communications. Intel dominates basic computing, although its lead in servers is shaky enough that it needs promotions. But in the chips that run cell phones, or routers, or any device based on communications, Intel is an also-ran.

Continue reading "Not Bad With One Arm Tied Behind The Back"

Sears: The Magazine HospiceEmail This EntryPrint This Article

AdAge reports that Sears is pushing for product placement within magazine editorial. (The image is from CNN.)

To me, this makes them a magazine hospice.

A hospice is where people go when they are terminally ill. A business hospice is where you dispose of your final, key assets before filing bankruptcy and leaving your creditors with nothing.

The only real asset a journalism enterprise has is its credibility, a trust between the editors and the readers. Break that, and you are truly bankrupt.

This is what "product placement" within editorial pages does, it kills credibility.

I'm not just saying this as a journalist. I'm speaking from personal experience.

Continue reading "Sears: The Magazine Hospice"

April 13, 2004

Buzzword of The YearEmail This EntryPrint This Article

It's Cognitive Radio.

What gives this such resonance (that's a joke son, resonance) as a buzzword is its deep, true meaning.

We're talking here about taking the human intelligence of sharing spectrum and putting that into radios as machine intelligence.

A cognitive radio can sense its environment and location and then alter its power, frequency, modulation and other parameters so as to dynamically reuse
available spectrum.

Let's see what that means in products you use every day:

Continue reading "Buzzword of The Year"

The Trouble With IntelEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The trouble with Intel is it thinks it's in the chip business. (Make this image your wallpaper here.)

It's not.

Intel is in the platform business. Intel succeeds when its chips become an open platform for innovation. Microsoft did this for Intel in the 1980s and 1990s. As a result Intel dominates the PC space.

But in the wireless world Intel has lost the plot.

Continue reading "The Trouble With Intel"

Where Do Gateways Come From?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Bell Canada is now offering its ISP customers wireless gateways from Siemens, along with back-end software called Tango that diagnoses trouble and updates the firmware. (Image of the gateway from ZDNet Germany.)

As I wrote last week, this may be the best model for getting a gateway, because you also get a lot more.

But outside the U.S. phone companies have already surrendered to the retail model, writes ABI Research. And I have to ask why:

Continue reading "Where Do Gateways Come From?"

Cops Close In On Computer AssociatesEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I've always had a funny feeling about Computer Associates. (The picture is from a 2003 CNN story on the company.)

The company is a classic roll-up, essentially a melange of old products from other companies. This can work in some businesses like funeral homes and restaurants. I've never seen it win long-term success in technology. Yet CA seems to stay up nicely, growing year-by-year, defying the laws of financial gravity.

It could be something is rotten in the state of New York, city of Islandia, county of Suffolk.

Continue reading "Cops Close In On Computer Associates"

Criminal AutomationEmail This EntryPrint This Article

We're seeing more and more cases where thieves don't have to come near you to make you a victim.

Here are two from our Crimestopper's Notebook. (The logo is from Arkansas.)

We first take you to Australia, where Peter McCrindle is still trying to get $10,000 stolen from him by a computer virus.

Here's how the thief did it. They first sent out spam, spoofing a real bank's return e-mail address, with a (then) false claim of a loss in the account. Clicking on the link in the spam sent the victim to a spoof site, which inserted the virus. The virus was a keylogger that allowed its author to tap into whatever the victim was typing, such as the password on their Internet banking account. The rest was fairly easy.

Continue reading "Criminal Automation"

Their Truce, Your TroubleEmail This EntryPrint This Article

What do these stories have in common:

They all represent the end of furious lawsuits over patents, further legitimizing patent claims generally.

This is, in many ways, a dangerous trend.

Continue reading "Their Truce, Your Trouble"

Great Moments In MarketingEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The AP had great fun with the story of the "nude" cement garden statues in Tennessee that neighbors forced the owner to cover up. (The picture is from BBC America. Wait for it...)

Just don't you forget the Clue. After the red "sarongs" were placed over the naughty bits, the statues sold like hotcakes.

There is a vital marketing lesson there. Point out your key features. Make the obvious appear forbidden. If you let it all hang out you look like a tramp, but if you expose your best feature (a little bit) everyone will think you're beautiful. That's the difference between clothes and fashion.

Continue reading "Great Moments In Marketing"

April 11, 2004

Is Linux A Danger To National Security?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Yes indeed, says Dan O'Dowd of Green Hill Systems.

O'Dowd went on an extended anti-Linux rant at the Net-Centric Operations Industry Forum in McLean, Virginia, which was covered by EE Times.

Here's the money quote. "If Linux is compromised, our defenses could be disabled, spied upon or commandeered. Everyday new code is added to Linux in Russia, China and elsewhere throughout the world. Everyday that code is incorporated into our command, control, communications and weapons systems. This must stop."

I don't know whether this is true or not, but before you take it at face value learn the rest of the story.

Continue reading "Is Linux A Danger To National Security?"

What's Going On?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Easter Sunday. Time for a hymm. (Image of our singer available after service from Commander Cody (alias George Frayne) at Commandercody.com.)

Mother’ mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother’ brother’ brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today ’ yeah

Father’ father
We don’t need to escalate
You see’ war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today

Many people are having trouble learning what's going on in Iraq. I know I am. The embedded reporters have gone home. The rest are holed up with Baghdad Dan. The only folks on the ground seem to be from Al-Jazeera.

Here's how I'm making do.

Continue reading "What's Going On?"

April 08, 2004

Chapter Two: Home GatewaysEmail This EntryPrint This Article

About 20 years ago, Dave Waks was one of the founders of Prodigy, the NAPLPS-based online service that tried to give the online world graphics a decade before the Web was spun.

For those wondering what happened to this pioneer, have no worries. Dave is married a very nice former-AT&T executive, Sandy Teger, and now they work together, writing and pontificating about home gateways.

Since I just happen to be thinking a lot about gateways right now, I got a chance to talk with them.

Continue reading "Chapter Two: Home Gateways"

Real CourageEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Americans like to pretend they have courage. But, unless we're on the firing line we seldom get to display it. For most of us, most of the time, courage consists of ordinary things, like running against a powerful opponent.

Elsewhere, the courage it takes to post this blog item can get you killed. So let's raise another glass to Salam Pax, the "Baghdad Blogger." You may remember him from the war, when we wondered if he might be Iraq's Anne Frank, reporting from the mouth of the volcano and being consumed by it. (You can re-read his war diary, to the right, in book form.)

He still might be consumed. Here is what he had to say Tuesday, referring to Moqtaba Al Sadr, the Shi'ite mullah and militia leader whose resistance to arrest for murder triggered much of this week's violence:

Continue reading "Real Courage"

An Indian AdvantageEmail This EntryPrint This Article

IBM has bought India's #3 outsourcer, Daksh. It will be renamed IBM Business Consulting.

Daksh has 13 clients, including Amazon.com, Forbes reports, and 6,000 employees. The company cost $150-200 million, and it had revenues of $60 million. Do the math on sales per employee -- it's fairly modest.

The deal gives IBM a total of 15,000 employees in India. It's expected to be part of a rush of such deals by U.S. firms. (The illustration, by the way, is from an IBM Web site, about a technology conference in India.)

Continue reading "An Indian Advantage"

April 07, 2004

FeudalismEmail This EntryPrint This Article

What do you call a political system where all money and power is inherited, and where taxes lie exclusively on wages and the other earnings of the lower classes?

In my political science education it was called feudalism. Feudalism was the way society organized itself throughout the Middle Ages. Most of the struggles of the Renaissance and Reformation were aimed at ending feudal privileges.

Feudalism, like Communism, finally collapsed of its own internal contradictions. (A good fictional account of these contradictions is given in the 1632 series, by Eric Flint. (There's a large fan site devoted to the concept.)

Continue reading "Feudalism"

New Test For Einstein, New Proof For DarwinEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Einstein's theory is getting a new test, while Darwin's theory of evolution has gotten new proof.

The Gravity Probe B, due to launch April 17, will test Einstein's theories on the nature of space and time by measuring slight changes in gravity from 640 km (400 miles) up. (Picture of the probe is from a BBC story on the mission.)

Once the four quartz balls inside the satellite start to spinning, there should (if Einstein was right) be slight changes in their orientation or "spin axis." This twisting effect, called frame dragging, has yet to be measured, but if it exists this experiment should (assuming the quartz spheres are as perfect as claimed) find it.

And what of Darwin?

Continue reading "New Test For Einstein, New Proof For Darwin"

Next Turn In NotebooksEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The best source of inside skinny on wireless product plans may be Guy Kewney's Newswirelessnet. And his latest, on coming changes in the notebook arena, is a very good one. (That's Guy at last year's Mobius 2003 show, courtesey MSMobiles.Com)

What's new in notebooks? Smaller hard drives, for one thing, "only" 40 gigabytes, but with better shock absorption. And 802.11g, instead of 802.11b, wireless LAN access. Guy also expects DVD read-write drives to become standard features.

Everything else goes on sale, cheap. So if you need a fat hard drive on your notebook, and can stand 802.11b for some time to come, get to the store now.

April 06, 2004

The Housing Bubble of 2004Email This EntryPrint This Article

The Washington Monthly has a fascinating article online that says we're in a housing bubble. (The image comes from a January summit on the real estate market.)

Personally I haven't noticed one. Prices are up, aross the board, but they're not up beyond folks' ability to pay. There's a new $400,000 house across the street, but the area's been gentrifying for nearly a decade, and (unlike my house) it's in a suburban city which not only delivers services, but personal service.

In Atlanta, builders are keeping prices from skyrocketing by adding to our housing inventory, turning factories into lofts, and putting houses onto every small plot of land they can find.

Continue reading "The Housing Bubble of 2004"

Trust The Phone Company!Email This EntryPrint This Article

The following item contradicts the one below it. The placement is deliberate.

If you run a home network, especially a wireless network, you may find the best deal for managing it comes from your phone company. (The picture is of a wired Netopia ADSL gateway on sale at PC Mall.)

As I have studied residential gateways, I have been surprised to learn that the ones you can get direct from your phone company are, in fact, much better values than anything you can get off-the-shelf.

There are two reasons for this:

  • The best gateways, like one I'm testing from Netopia, are mainly going to be available only through the phone company channel; and
  • The software behind the gateway, controlled by the phone company, actually provides the most value.

    Continue reading "Trust The Phone Company!"

  • Trust The Phone Company?Email This EntryPrint This Article

    Have you looked at your phone bill lately?

    If it's like mine it has more junk fees than an airline ticket. A few years ago I was paying $60/month for two lines. Now I'm paying $110/month for one. Junk fees, so-called taxes and non-taxes that are called taxes by the phone company, have doubled my regular per-line charge, and then I have to pay $50/month for DSL service. (The picture came from Germany.)

    The Bells blame "regulators" and "taxes" for all this, but MSNBC reports that in the case of coming DSL surcharges you should not take that at face value. Motley Fool makes the same charge, regarding your regular phone bill.

    Continue reading "Trust The Phone Company?"

    Whose Job The American Economy?Email This EntryPrint This Article

    Intel CEO Craig Barrett stuck it to critics of offshoring while in Malaysia today. (Photo from Hardwaremania.)

    "You shouldn't think of offshoring as a recent phenomenon. This has been happening for decades. It seems the press has just discovered it recently because it is an election cycle, especially in the United States."

    And as I read that it occurred to me...why should Intel care where its jobs are?

    Continue reading "Whose Job The American Economy?"

    Fat DoctorEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    Multichannel News bills itself as an honest information service to the cable industry.

    Bunk. (The picture is of a great stand-up comic named Fat Doctor.)

    Instead, they take the industry's prejudices and reflect them onto the news. It's like Fox calling itself "Fair and Balanced" -- the lie is outrageous but the target audience shares the bias so they buy the lie, and thus call real journalism biased. It's a fun-house mirror, one that makes real journalists want to see inside the head of the carnival's owner.

    (And before I go any further let me note for the record that most trade publications are the same way. You disagree with your audience's assumptions at your peril, journalistic integrity be damned.)

    Here's a great example. It's a story about a federal court decision to require cable outfits to keep wholesaling their data capacity.

    That's how I look at it, anyway. But it's not how the industry looks at it, thus not how Ted Hearn looks at it:

    Continue reading "Fat Doctor"

    April 05, 2004

    Killing The BlogosphereEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    Remember a few months ago when it was thought the liberal blogosphere would propel Howard Dean into the White House? (The picture of Glenn Reynolds, alias Instapundit, is from Harvard.)

    It turned out to be amazingly easy to kill.

    First, John Kerry's campaign went under the bloggers to win Iowa, and the nomination. We've covered that before.

    Now the conservative blogosphere has apparently finished the job.

    Continue reading "Killing The Blogosphere"

    The Microsoft WayEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    The Microsoft Way is that you, the customer, own nothing. You rent things. (The cartoon is from a 1997 issue of Midwest Today.)

    When Microsoft decides something is too old for it to bother with, you can't rent it anymore. You're on your own.

    Security software vendors like Symantec have long done the same thing. Go to their software "store" and click around a while. You can't really buy anything -- you can only obtain a "subscription."

    Well, the rest of the Microsoft ISV world is now falling into line with this. Intuit is dropping all support for older users of its Quicken software and the Washington Post says it's shocked, shocked.

    Continue reading "The Microsoft Way"

    The Real SplitEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    In his Toronto Star column this week lawyer Michael Geist reveals a real split of opinion on Internet governance issues.

    Asians and Europeans aren't worried and figure they'll be even happier next year. North Americans are very worried, and feel things are going to get worse.

    It's logical. The ITU-UN group that is seeking to assert control over Internet issues is based in Geneva, and has heavy representation from outside North America. ICANN may be a bunch of S.O.B.s, but North American executives figure at least they're ours.

    Continue reading "The Real Split"

    April 03, 2004

    Thanks, DocEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    I mentioned recently that Rajesh Jain's Blogstreet was thinking of dropping "blogrolls" as a measure of blog popularity because folks don't update them.

    Well, Technorati has switched. Now they're counting links and sources. You'll notice this blog has 90 links from 80 sources.

    One, however, is a biggie, a blogroll from ol' Doc Searls, which according to the same list has 2,367 links.

    Continue reading "Thanks, Doc"

    April 02, 2004

    Sun SetEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    CRN is reporting that Sun Microsystems has settled all its disputes with Microsoft and entered into a broad alliance. (Sunset courtesy of XLCus.Com.)

    Something like this was bound to happen. Despite Scott McNealy's brave talk at CTIA last week, he was in fact like Lee after Richmond fell. The only question was whether Gen. McNealy would surrender the Army of Northern California (Sun) to IBM or Microsoft.

    To my surprise, he surrendered it to Microsoft.

    Under the terms of the Sun-Microsoft agreement, Microsoft pays $1.6 billion to settle all outstanding legal issues, vice president-software Jonathan Schwartz becomes Sun COO, and Sun lays off 3,500 people while acknowledging a quarterly loss of $750-810 million. (Any similarity between this and the agreement Grant signed with Lee at Appamattox (pictured) is purely coincidental.)

    What does it mean?

    Continue reading "Sun Set"

    Blogs Moving On UpEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    Blogging is self-publishing.

    But publishing is more than just blogging. It's also marketing and promoting. It's a business. (Like TV, from which this picture emerged. You can buy it there, too (hint, hint).)

    Most bloggers, like myself, aren't doing this as a business. We're doing this because we care, because we have a crying need to be heard, and no one is paying us to do what we most want to do.

    As with everything, blogging works on the 90-10 rule. The best are far better than the rest. And they get 90% of the attention, 90% of the opportunities...no make that 99%. As that TV show song theme said, "They're moving on up..."

    For more on the evolution of blogging (ripped from today's headlines) click now.

    Continue reading "Blogs Moving On Up"

    Let Moore Have The Digital DivideEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    The Digital Divide has reared its ugly head again. (Illustration from Knowledgecontent.org.)

    Much of the talk at this week's UN Conference on Internet Governance involved governments from the developing world looking for hand-outs to bridge this Digital Divide.

    At the same time, the disputes over regulating Voice Over IP mainly involved payments to the Universal Service Fund, designed to bridge the American Digital Divide.

    Most people think I'm a liberal, so let me say something that may shock those people. Both these claims are bogus.

    Moore's Law can handle the Digital Divide. In fact, it's doing a very good job of it. We don't need no big guvmint, as the right might say. We don't need it on a national level, nor an international level. Not for this problem, anyway.

    What we need is for government to get out of the way, truly out of the way.

    Continue reading "Let Moore Have The Digital Divide"

    The Lesson Of The Blog BelowEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    Here's the lesson of Martin Bayne's item, for those of you who just care about things like sales and technology.

    Knowledge is power. If you really want to sell something, immerse yourself in it, and immerse yourself in your customer. Become your customer, insofar as you can. Go native.

    You don't have to have Parkinson's or live in a facility to do that. You just have to reach out, to care, to empathize, and try to help.

    Here's a good movie which teaches the lesson.

    The lead character, Bill Porter, has cerebral palsy, but this is not a movie about a handicap. It's a movie about selling, about caring, about how you, as a salesman, can really make a difference in other peoples' lives. Porter made a difference selling cheap household products door-to-door. Imagine the difference you can make selling something really worthwhile.

    And you can. Now take it away, Mr. Bayne.

    Guest Blog: The Tao of Long-Term CareEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    Today we have a guest blogger, Martin Bayne.

    Martin is known as "Mr. Long Term Care," he is currently in an assisted-living facility, a victim of young-onset Parkinson's. What he has to say today doesn't relate much to technology, I know, except insofar as technology can help to make the pain of his daily life bearable.

    He is a great man, a good friend, and a fine writer. If you really want to know the future, the dark distant future those of us lucky enough not to die young or violently are all heading to, then hearken to his words:

    Continue reading "Guest Blog: The Tao of Long-Term Care"

    April 01, 2004

    More Stupid Patent TricksEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    This started with a third-party e-mail. Someone was being hassled over a patent on affiliate marketing from an outfit called BTG.

    The story was legit, although I thought the patent claims overly broad. Along the way I found that Amazon also claimed a patent on affiliate marketing. (That's the original Zippo Lighter patent to the right.)

    And with that the flood began.

    Continue reading "More Stupid Patent Tricks"

    After This Message, Another NotchEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    Emeril Lagasse is one of the world's most natural showmen. (The picture is from a Duke University satire, called Malignant Humor.)

    He has a love of people that's genuine, and a love of language that's infectious. He comes up with buzzphrases the way I come up with blog items.

    And one of his favorites, which he often uses before commercial breaks, has become, "after these messages, another notch." (It means he'll "kick up the flavor" (or action, or fun) again after this commercial break. For a Portuguese-Canadian from Fall River, Mass., he's got some cockney in him.)

    It's a tune we're all singing as the spam flood grows and grows. My inbox now gets almost 30 spams per hour -- my e-mail address has been around since 1998, and it's published everywhere I write. Maybe you think I deserve it.

    I don't. No one does.

    Continue reading "After This Message, Another Notch"

    Race To The Bottom Of The PocketEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    Last week I was at the CTIA show here in Atlanta where David Munns, who heads the company's operations in North America, announced a big initiative to serve cell phones with "ring tunes," that is, ringtones based on real recordings by real artists you know. (Picture from Janalaweb, a Portugeese management portal.)

    The week was filled with optimism, talk of big bucks coming in from Asia and Europe, talk of that success being replicated here.

    Then this week, fairly quietly, EMI canned 20% of its people, 1,500 in all, including 20% of its artists.

    Lawyers cost money. Or as Munns himself said several times while in Atlanta, "It's complicated."

    Continue reading "Race To The Bottom Of The Pocket"

    What's Urdu for "Great Googly Moogly?"Email This EntryPrint This Article

    News of Google's new email service, Gmail, was less than 24 hours old when my old friend Tee Emm e-mailed me excitedly from Pakistan.

    "Free email from google. 1 Gig of storage for every damn mortal. To be financed by Google Adwords triggered by the contents of the email."

    Or as they might say here in America, Great Googly-moogly!

    So what's the deal?

    Continue reading "What's Urdu for "Great Googly Moogly?""

    All-In Solutions DangerousEmail This EntryPrint This Article

    For the last month I've been looking at residential gateways.

    These are an all-in solution for your Internet service, your LAN, and your wireless access. They can be cool.

    But I learned just this morning about why this might not be a good idea for the telephone companies who are pushing them.

    Continue reading "All-In Solutions Dangerous"