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For the next week I'm off for a long-planned cruise of the Bahamas with all the other Blankenhorns. (The picture may be the actual boat. Certainly it's the right port.)
My Aunt in Florida set this up, after having had many informal reuinions with my dad and her two other brothers over the years. But my dad passed five years ago, Uncle Tom has been gone nearly two decades, and Uncle John is now an 80-plus widower.
I guess she figures it's up to my generation now, so she is getting us all together on a boat where we can't say no, which is actually a pretty good idea.
Anyway, while I'm away, please enjoy some of these other fine Corante blogs:
The latest new cell phone craze is lieing. (Everything I know about telling lies came from this old Mattel game, described on Spookshows.Com.)
The Times story notes that text messages are being used to set up "alibi and excuse clubs" so people can cheat on one another. Enterpreneurial companies like Kargo are selling ringtones that simulate things like traffic jams, dentists drilling and hacking coughs.
A recession occurs when people around you are unemployed. (There is help in coping where I found this image.)
A depression is when you're unemployed.
I thought I was recessed, but I found out recently I've been depressed this last year.
I don't know who the victim is here, and it doesn't matter.
It's a great illustration of what you can do with a picture and a copy of Photoshop. Thanks to this site for pointing it out.
Here is a story that will give you some idea of exactly where e-mail marketing stands, midway through 2004.
And how you can make money from it.
Steve Stroh is a highly-recommended stop for anyone interested in wireless technology. He has the sources, the background, and the writing skills to make it come alive.
So I was honored when he chose to respond to my recent piece on Wi-LAN. As usual, he has the facts nailed.
A lot of people who haven't seen Michael Moore's new film are telling you not to see it, that it's a virus aimed at the heart of the Bush Administration.
Well, I haven't heard the Beastie Boys' latest, To The Five Boroughs, but don't buy it.
The thing has malware on it.
According to The Register, putting the disk into a PC will cause the installation of a program that keeps files from being copied from any CD onto the hard drive.
UPDATE: Boingboing has a note from the Beasties' manager, saying (in brief) that this malware is on all EMI disks distributed outside the U.S. and UK, they had no choice in having it put there, and please don't single them out. They say the software comes from Macrovision.
There's a kid in Germany right now being treated as a freak by the world's press.
The reason is that he was born without the genetic code for producing a protein called myostatin. Scientists hope that, by turning off myostatin production in people with muscular dystrophy, they can overcome the muscle wasting in the disease. A closer study of myostatin, its production and what happens when it's not produced, could also help in studies of aging.
But don't tell that to the world's press. Get your tickets to the freak show. He's somewhere in Berlin. Step right up!
Sometimes I'm ashamed to be in this profession. No picture with this item.
I'm not sure what to make of this, although what's left of computing's chattering classes are eating it up.
$435 million for an online ad placement agency. And what the chattering classes demand most is that it be "integrated," that is, folded totally inside AOL rather than allowed to run by itself.
High Noon may be the most misunderstood classic in the history of American film.
It's been seized-on by both conservative and liberal politicians over the years. The latter claim is the historically correct one. It was written by Carl Foreman and is an eloquent statement against the neo-fascism of the McCarthy blacklist. (Foreman wound up on the blacklist himself.)
Lead actor Gary Cooper's character, Will Kane (pictured, from the collector's edition on Amazon.Com), is no hero. He's scared. He is going to his death and there is nothing he can do about it. Everyone else rationalizes their refusal to stand beside him, even though they know that he's right, and that their cowardice is wrong.
It's when everyone is against you, when you're at war with yourself, that real courage is measured. You don't become a hero marching in a parade, or under compulsion. The choice must be real, the odds long, and the rejection of others certain before you can really measure yourself.
The short form. Toby Keith is not heroic. The Dixie Chicks were (a little). And courage isn't a political choice in any case. It's personal.
A few years ago, the fuel cell market was aimed at the market's high-end, providing back-up power to electric utilities and phone companies, especially in places where anti-pollution laws might prohibit other types of generators. (Illustration from DCViews.Com.)
Now it's moving quickly into the replacement of batteries in laptop-sized and smaller devices. Fuel cells last longer between charges than batteries, and they can be recharged with new fuel rather than new batteries, fuel that might be available where batteries are not.
Now Toshiba has entered the technology side of this market. That is the most promising point of the story, not the specifics of what they're offering. (The device announced this week is reportedly much smaller than the one shown in the picture.)
The fact is this is Toshiba, this is a big company that doesn't do things halfway. They see opportunity here. So should you.
I'm tired of writing this story. (The illustration is from another version of it, put online in Germany.)
Smart people get together and create a standard. It's a universal standard, a free standard, non-proprietary.
Then, years later, after everyone has committed to this free standard, some hoser comes up with a patent claim and decides to shake everyone down.
Until this kind of legal abuse is halted, technology's dog days will continue. Companies like Microsoft need to understand that no matter how hard they work to patent and copyright their stuff, they will never get on top of it.
Patent reform, copyright reform, NOW. You have nothing to lose but your unemployment.
These lazy, hazy crazy days of summer are always the dog days for technology. (The fine art to the right is by Beth Carver.)
This year, however, it's worse.
Throughout my 20 years as a technology freelancer the phone has stopped ringing in May and hasn't started up again until August. This year, of course, it hasn't rung at all.
The Bell not tolling for me wouldn't be so bad if it were tolling for someone else. But it's not.
It's like having a relative with a long painful disease and finally seeing the end come. You still mourn.
The company that now owns the show is spinning like mad, claiming this is just a postponement, that they could obviously run a profitable show this year. Some idiots are printing the spin. (The picture is from Softbank in Japan.)
But this is the end.
In an item earlier today, I wondered what problems may develop from recent attempts by MasterCard and NameProtect to stop "phishing," phony solicitations for personal information using the stolen trade dress of banks and other institutions.
Brad Hutchings (pictured) responds:
802.11s is a version of the standard for mesh networks. Mesh networks are important because they let a network owner get rid of dead spots, and limit network leakage, while also controlling power output.
Instead of having a single antenna serving your home, in other words, you have multiple antennae, maybe one in each room. These antennae form a "mesh" in which a signal can reach the home antenna using a variety of paths.
This means redundancy, so if your cordless phone rings in the front room your wireless Internet signal can go around the back.
You should too.
There has long been an assumption that, with cable and the Bells being given a monopoly on broadband access, they will use that monopoly to coerce people.
Thus, we have Daniel Klein saying "Vonage Is Just A Fad."
His argument is simple. The Bells and cable giants are going to go into Voice Over IP, too. Then they simply "de-prioritize" Vonage traffic, more specifically offer "quality of service" guarantees on their own offerings. They will also make voice part of a "bundled" service, including TV, Internet access and local calls. Et tu voila, Vonage is dead.
Anything wrong with that?
But Internet activists fear both campaigns are just bringing up the drawbridges on resources.
First, the spam fight. (The image here is also the solution to your e-mail problems, Whitehat Interactive.)
The Times has an article on how pathetic Silicon Valley feels.
I can't decide which is more pathetic, the mood or the article. (The image, however, is from the Cullen sculpture garden at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts.)
First, the mood. It is like Houston was in 1984, although conditions are very different. In the oil bust, whole neighborhoods were abandoned, the keys just left in mailboxes. Anyone with a job was just waiting to lose it, and in any case their salary was falling behind their bills. Billboards that weren't empty were filled with ads for preachers. The filth, the fear, and the despair were palpable. Everyone I know who lived through that time, in that place, was scarred by it.
Silicon Valley isn't that bad. Traffic is lighter, and hangers-on have moved on.
But in some ways, the situation is much worse.
The early days of any technology are nerve racking. (That's the logo of Zigbee chip-maker Airbee Wireless.)
It's a dance of small companies looking for contracts that can become lifelines to survival, larger companies making big claims they may be unable to meet, and the nagging fear on the part of everyone they're about to become obsolete.
In the case of wireless sensor networks, I call this the Zigbee Dance.
I'm a big fan of my alma mater, Rice University. Under outgoing President Malcolm Gillis the school has been on a building boom, and has taken the lead in the development of carbon nanotubes -- they've even found a way to store them, in sulphuric acid. (Image from FootballFanatics.Com.)
I'm afraid athletic victory has led it to take a wrong turn.
A recent McKinsey audit of the athletics program saw it losing $10 million per year. The audit showed that a sizable portion of the undergraduate body (which totals about 2,600) is on athletic scholarship and that the largest number of them, the football team, consists of many people who would not otherwise be acceptable as students.
In the previous item (below) I mentioned Allen Steele.
Steele is not just a great sci-fi writer, but a space expert and aficionado. He's important enough to have testified before Congress, and what he said in 2001 bears repeating.
The short form is we should transition from a NASA that runs all space operations and is devoted to exploration, to a Commercial Space Agency (CSA) that regulates like the FAA and is devoted to the permanent occupation of space.
In a development straight out of an Allen Steele novel (and why he's not on some network's color commentary team I'll never know), Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne team is going back to the garage after problems were found to have occurred in yesterday's historic flight.
Mike Melvill did make history, earning his astronaut wings at age 62. But there was an unexpected roll early in the flight, and the main flight control system went down at the flight's apogee. Melvill got down on his back-up (and spectacularly).
Charles Lindbergh, a 25-year old Minnesota native, braved the Atlantic Ocean in the Spirit of St. Louis, in 1927
Yuri Gagarin, a Russian, became the first man to orbit the Earth, at age 37, in 1961.
I'm looking forward to my 80s. I hope to go to Mars. Who says the trend is against me?
In my new column at Control Magazine (left) I'm privileged to learn about how basic industry works, and about the heroes who make it work.
I've also been thrilled to learn that Zigbee, an Always-On technology I've mentioned here in the past, is an integral part of that.
I think everyone would agree that the best way out of our current political box is to become independent of petroleum. (Photo courtesy The New York Times.
This story isn't about that.
Instead I'm going to describe two stories that could lead to an Always-On world divorced from the electric grid.
The most dangerous Bush policy, for science and the future, may be its corruption of honest religious faith. (The statue, titled Church and State, is the work of Richard Beau Lieu. Neat, huh?)
This has been done by giving religious groups the power of the state (tax dollars) through "faith-based initiatives," and the return of that favor through pro-Bush agitation by churches that got the money.
The result is Luddism.
Ludd lives! (Image from Mindfully.Org.)
You remember Ned Ludd? He was a weaver, whose job function was mechanized, so he led a movement in 19th century England to destroy the looms. And so his name went down in history for all idiots who try to ban technology.
The response to my recent request for blogrolls has been gratifying. (I'm left-handed, and so is the merchandise here.)
But it brings me back to a subject near to my heart, namely, the lack of good measuring sticks for blog importance.
Much as I like being blogrolled, a permanent link is not a valid measure. People just don't clean up their blogrolls obsessively. Calpundit Kevin Drum moved to the Washington Monthly months ago and is still on the permanent rolls of hundreds of other blogs, at his old URL. The last entry for the Iraqi blog Where is Raed is dated April 10, but some 583 blogs still list him on their rolls.
The Paul Otellini era at Intel opened unofficially yesterday. (Photo from the University of California.)
In this era, Intel will try to move from being "just" a chipmaker to being a standards-setter, a la Microsoft. It will move from enabling the future to trying to define it.
The era starts with the three-chip project code-named Grantsdale. Otellini didn't talk speeds-and-feeds on introducing it. He talked about features, Features like built-in Wi-Fi, and support for new fault-tolerant storage, features that will define an Always-On world.
Monday is the day.
Monday morning, SpaceShipOne will make its historic attempt to reach a height of 100 Km. (62 miles), with one pilot aboard. A second successful flight, within two weeks, would give Bert Rutan the X-Prize.
I was just a kid when the Mercury program happened, and remember the NASA announcer's voice, saying "Godspeed, John Glenn."
Someone, in this case Paul Allen, has gotten the Clue about science fiction, and built a museum devoted to it. (Image of the building from No Knife.)
The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame is located inside the Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music project building in Seattle, near the Space Needle.
The first members of the Hall of Fame are Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Jules Verne. (The initial members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 were Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner and Christy Mathewson.)
You may remember how earlier this week I wrote about how cell phones will be the most popular way to access the Internet in a few years, and about how XHTML MP development today is centered on Openwave?
Here's an alternative, plus an endorsement of open source browser technology from a major cellular phone vendor.
Robert Roy Britt notes "towering protrusions and steep-walled craters that seem to defy gravity. More than a dozen jets of material shoot out from its insides. Dust swirls around the comet in unexpectedly dense pockets."
But then there's the punch line.
The sponsors admit the U.S. First Amendment is in the way. Most hate sites aimed at Europe have long been hosted on U.S. servers.
Language is an important part of technology.
It's not just marketing, and I'm not just talking about science fiction. (Although one of that field's masters gave me the idea for this post.) (The picture, by the way, is from a really great study site for students, tips4me.com)
Words like RAM, MIPS, PDA and blog come-and-go, shorthand for the tools we build. But I'm not talking of them, either. Every profession has its "magic words," and a journalist needs just to learn a few of them to be admitted to a source's world.
No, I'm talking about words that themselves become technology.
John Derrickson of Freeveda.org has released LadyLinux, a new (that is, a GNU) Linux distribution he claims works and plays well with the Windows software you're presently using. (The illustration is the cover of a translated book on The Vedas I hope John doesn't mind me mentioning.)
From Windows® to Linux®
Easier Than You Think
Handles all your old stuff:
Word, Excel, PowerPoint
Internet Explorer or Netscape®
Outlook or Eudora® mail
Money or Quicken®
There is a caveat, however.
Then give us a blogroll, tell your friends, spread the word, or drop a note.
It's lonely on this side of the typewriter. (Yes, I know it's a PC, but the interface will always be a typewriter to me.)
I had thought this was settled in Ken Burns' "The Civil War" but apparently it's still news.
America's black slaves weren't freed by Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. They freed themselves. I thought Burns had made this clear. The 1863 proclamation only "freed" people in places then in rebellion, that is, it gave them the right to seize their freedom.
What's now clear is that many did. (The picture to the right, from the Times' article, is of John Washington, whose memoir was recently found and is highly praised in the article for the quality of its writing.)
Actress Kim Cattrell was remarking recently on how her career as a "sex kitten" began at age 40, and all her tries at stardom before "Sex and the City" failed. It's true what they say, she noted, that no one knows anything.
No one seems to know anything in the Internet Content space either. That is, no one has really figured out how to make money at it. (This great illustration comes from a Canadian literacy group that does great work.)
As previously noted HTML is not going to be the lingua franca of the Web for much longer.
That's because, as most HTML devices are going to be cell phones in a few years, you will really need XHTML MP to reach them. (The illustration, by the way, is from Nokia's Russian page on XHTML MP.)
How do you get there?
There will be many Always-On application spaces. There will medical applications, there will be home inventory applications, there will be home automation applications.
Once you see the wireless network as your platform, rather than a specific hard-wired device like the PC, all sorts of things become possible.
A few weeks ago I wrote glowingly of Zigbee and I still like it. Sensors that last a year and pass data on 802.11 frequencies? What's not to like.
But this is an open standard, and most of the firms working on it haven't delivered product. Those that seem closest to delivery, like Ember, seem focused on the industrial automation market.
All of which means there remains opportunity for a proprietary standard, if you deliver product supporting it, and if you know your niche.
Weblogs.Com is gone. The blogging world is grieving. And there are lots of stages in the process. Anger happens to be one of them.
It's easy to see why. When you are getting something for nothing, and come to depend upon it, it's hard to to see it taken away with no notice. (Image from C|Net.)
But, as Dave Winer says, "I'm just a person."
That's the problem. You shouldn't be giving away something for nothing, for years, without getting some infrastructure behind you, and making sure that infrastructure is sound. Apparently, Userland's wasn't. Its people failed. Their offer was trumped, the software was trumped, the people and company lost the plot, then they bailed and Dave's health got bad so he pulled the plug.
He figures, end of story.
This seems to be the week for neat inventions, although most are from Japan.
Let's start with the most startling. An invisibility cloak? (The image is from the BBC story linked above.)
Seriously. Susumu Tachi has created a material he calls "retro-reflectum" that lets the wearer project what's in front of him to those behind, effectively rendering him invisible.
And the best the U.S. Army can do, with all its billions of dollars, is...blue.
How did a comedian, Jon Stewart, suddenly become America's best journalist?
The biggest myth among journalists and politicians is that the media is powerful, that controlling the media is the key to power.
Berlusconi is Italy's prime minister. He is also its major media mogul. He controls nearly all Italy's TV, fires anchors who disagree with him, and denies the opposition access to the medium during election campaigns. Freedom House, a New-York based think-tank, has downgraded Italian media from "free" to "partly free", on a par with Turkey.
So guess what happened in Italy's latest elections?
Back during the dot-boom, America Online was a very big player, despite the fact that its system remained (and remains) proprietary.
But AOL is no longer a big player. It is no longer a big player because the common standards of the Web, like HTML, have left it in the dust. (This cartoon is from the site of harmonicist Bass Harp. The caption reads "Let's just turn the company off, wait 10 seconds, then turn it back on again.")
I call this "The AOL Price." It wasn't fully seen even in 2000, when Time Warner bought AOL for what it thought was a bargain price, but was in fact a boat anchor on the whole economy. But to those who were Clued-in, the price was obvious, the price was ruinous, and in the end the price was paid.
What few people know is that the AOL Price must be paid in the cellular world as well. Either the cellular world's AOL pays the price by moving toward standards, or the price will be imposed by the market.
So who owes?
What is the key to XHTML MP?
It's the X. (These Xs come from L'il Fingers, a wonderful site for small children. It's a reminder that when it comes to the mobile Web we're all small children.)
The problem all these cellular data schemes have in common, at least in the U.S., is the problem of getting paid. That's not a problem in Europe or Asia, where tools like Premium SMS billing, and common standards like Java, not only enable payment schemes but let all operators compete directly with one another.
But it is a problem here. A big problem.
One of the most important trains now coming up the technology tracks may be XHTML MP. (My thanks to Russell Beattie (pictured, from his blog) for beating the drum for it. His prize is entry onto our blogroll. Give him a shout.)
XHTML MP is sometimes put-down as the second coming of WAP. While it has some sponsors in common with WAP it is, in fact, a serious effort to bring together the Web we know and love with the tiny screens mobile phones must have.
Back when I was at CMP Media, in the mid-1990s, we had a corporate slogan. We were about "the builders, the sellers, and the users" of technology. (Illustration from Time Magazine.)
All CMP publications fit into one of those boxes. Computer Reseller News was for the sellers. EE Times was for the builders. Windows was for the users.
This caused a problem for those of us at Interactive Age, the new Internet book. We didn't fit neatly into any box. The ad sellers said we were a builder book, but personally I was writing for the users, and many of our stories were about the sellers.
Needless to say, the magazine was dead within months. We missed the whole Internet boom because the bosses couldn't figure out what box to put us in.
A British outfit which exists only for the purpose of litigating patents claims to own the idea of downloading software updates and virus fixes.
Here's another reason why we need portable, biometric identity.
You may be about to lose your online bank account.
As MSNBC reports, over 2 million Americans have had their online accounts raided in just the last 12 months. Their source is the Gartner Group. (The image is from the El Dorado Savings Bank, with convenient locations throughout the California gold country. Fine, friendly people, too, I'm sure.)
Criminals have begun using keylogger viruses to steal user passwords, phishing e-mails, and special accounts created solely for the purpose of collecting the ill-gotten booty.
Nokia's new phone announcement was advertised as a "comeback," but it should really be seen as another marker on the road toward cellphones entering the computing mainstream. (The picture is from CNN, and we'll talk more about it later.)
Just consider the features in the phone Nokia was most anxious to discuss, its 6630:
For days now I've been trying to figure out what's wrong with that story about porn being more popular than search.
I finally got it.
Spam does not just hurt the spam-ee. It is also destroying the spammers, their customers, and the entire effort to turn e-mail marketing into a legitimate business.
The reason isn't in your cluttered inbox, but in a simple falsehood. The falsehood is that spam costs nothing. (The picture is of a good book on writing for direct marketing, which you may buy here.)
Everyone believes this lie. Spammers certainly believe it. Their customers believe it. So, too, do those brand names that run "e-mail marketing campaigns."
More important, so do very legitimate marketers engaged in very legitimate double opt-in e-mail marketing campaigns.
Even legendary marketers are failing to understand this Clue. Let me give you an example.
This headline should go up next to "man outruns horse."
If I were looking for someone to head a strong magazine staff, I'd call Fallows first. The same if I were looking for someone to interview a world leader, or write about a foreign culture. (The picture of Fallows is from the University of Puget Sound, which made him its commencement speaker in 2002.)
But I can still do what I do better than James Fallows does what I do. You want someone on Internet Commerce? I'm your man, not him.
We've always known that men are built for the long run, not the sprint. Many African tribesmen routinely bagged their game by following it until it tired and they could kill it easily.
So a quarter-century ago the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells set out to prove the point. It put together a wonderful course of 22 scenic miles across the countryside, and put up 1,000 pounds for the man who could outrace the town's horses to the finish line.
Every year the prize fund rose, and every year the horses won.
Until this year. Until Huw Lobb, who takes home the entire 25,000 pound (about $40,000 U.S.) stake. And while the man lives in South London, was there ever a better Welsh name?
So raise a pint of something cold to Huw today. Raise one to Wales. And raise one to yourself. If Huw can beat the horses, surely you can win something today for your own self.
First, it's true. My dear wife is a programmer and morale is down at her place. There's real fear out there. There's fear of India, but more than that, fear of being replaced by someone younger and cheaper.
"Do you know they don't even call themselves programmres?" she asked me one night. "Now they're developers."
Glass coated with a very thin layer of titanium dioxide never needs cleaning.
I can't wait to do up the whole house in this stuff for Mother's Day.
Those clever Brits, what won't they think up next? And remember when it was Americans who were ingenious?
So news that the Administration is going to, in essence, repeal the 1996 Telecommunications Act, give the Bells back their monopoly, and tell all their competitors to go suck eggs just seems par for the course.
The long distance companies victimized by this decision have promised to make this a partisan issue in the coming campaign. It will be interesting to see if they follow through or whether (given the level of third-party spending I expect to see in the fall) whether anyone notices.
Declan McCullough is the Oliver Hardy of technology. He complains about the messes everyone else makes, but his proposed solutions are usually guaranteed to just make things worse.
Take his latest brainstorm: abolish the FCC.
Now he has a point. The FCC has become the national censor, while at the same time abandoning the requirement that broadcasters serve the real public interest. I happen to find Michael Savage far more obscene than, say, Howard Stern, but political obscenity is considered fine by the regulators, while sexual suggestion is absolutely verboten.
Instead of dumping the FCC, let's change its nature.
I'll be out for the next few days. I hope to launch a new Web site, and see whether the last year's work was just a dream, or whether I might someday be paid for it.
Meanwhile, I've got some deep thoughts for you, about the growing conflict between technology and politics.
The choice facing those in the media technology business has long been a tricky one.
Do you serve the interests of the media companies, or do you give consumers the best technology?
TiVO (the logo is from their home page) has tried to straddle that fence for a long time, and in the last year it has fallen off, as cable operators (and now DirecTv) have moved toward putting in their own DVRs (Digital Video Recorders -- that's a generic term for what TiVO is). The operators' DVRs will be under their control, and won't let consumers do anything the operators, or the copyright police they work for, don't allow.
Having been kicked off the fence (and maybe kicked to the curb) TiVO has finally made its choice on the side of technology.
Google, like Microsoft a generation ago, prides itself on hiring smart people.
One of the surest signs of genius, in my book, is knowing that you don't know that much, knowing that you're wrong, and changing your mind is not a sign of weakness.
It's possible we're in the midst of just that kind of insight.
The BBC has a story out saying the European Community is demanding the industry have "a united front on spam."
That is simply not possible right now.
Apparently the company is also losing market share to European rivals Siemens, as well as Samsung, Motorola, and the rest.
But these are just the semifinals. Nokia can turn this around.
Forget the Reagan Dime. And the $10 bill (pictured, from CNN).
The Ronald Reagan gold $2 coin. Heavier than anything else in your pocket. Perfect for tipping the barber or the bellboy. Saves the treasury money. Lasts for years. Helps the coin machine industry. Helps retire the $1 bill.
Replacing someone else's money will just anger someone. Creating new money will associate Reagan with something unique and very real. (Roosevelt is on the dime because the March of Dimes originally fought polio, which Roosevelt had.)
Republicans will stop using small bills that clutter their wallet and go for these coins in droves. It will be a public service, even patriotic. And based on the Republicans I know it will increase the size of many tips, a little trickle-down for the economy.
I happen to think 802.16, or WiMax, is one of the world's great inventions.
WiMax describes a system for "wireless cable," sending high-volume digital signals across miles of open country, linking 802.11 wireless customers to high volume fiber, and bypassing copper networks entirely.
Bell and cable companies can stall the move here, through their control of government. But in places where there is no copper infrastructure, all that's stopping Wi-Max is a unified worldwide standard, agreed to by regulators anxious to serve their rural constituents. (Hint: India has tons of rural constituents capable of throwing governments out.)
Sometimes a news story is not what it seems. You may have to look at who's involved, then paint by numbers, to get the rest of the story.
Take this one . BT wants to make filtering-out of "child porn" sites a standard part of its feed. The Register's headline: BT's modest plan to clean up the Net.
But is that really what's going on? Or are we trying to protect people from themselves? Famous people. After all, if a crazy law can entrap famous people, then Who's Next?
Thanks go to a reader named Mike for revealing that the link noted below is a scam.
Mike even sent a link describing this Word of Mouth scam in detail.
The item describes an outfit calling itself "Word of Mouth" but adds this about the site that found me:
Some say people are asking about me. Others say they have information to share.
Registering for this site provides no real insight on what's going on, and the site is hawking "premium memberships" that, in the absence of hard data, sound like a scam.
Feel free to use the comment thread if you know anything. Your comments are still not being posted (owing to comment spam) but I will give you a personal reply.
Bruce Perens says that if they don't they will lose the dynamic potential of open source. And he's right. (The illustration is from his commentary.)
But IBM and Red Hat, which are profitable in the space, are just as threatened, even if they don't admit it.
Because operating systems are meaningless. Only applications mean anything.
There has always been a great divide on the Internet between two types of marketing, permission marketing and interruption marketing. (The picture is an illustration of the latter, which you can learn all about here.)
Permission marketing holds that customers be treated with respect, that their attention be paid for, and that their value be based on their level of interest in a proposition.
Interruption marketing holds that customers be forced to see your ad, and that successful messages must push themselves into the consciousness to take effect.
On the Internet permission marketers use databases to build lists, and seek to target their messages to the best possible prospects. Interruption marketers think cost per thousand, and emphasize the content (both technical and creative) of the ads themselves.
The problem, in the end, is there's a contradiction between these two forms of advertising. One treats the client with respect, the other doesn't.
And the latter view continues to dominate.
Porn is still the most popular use of the Internet.
How do we know this? Because a press release from Hitwise of Australia says so.
The story may be true, but nearly every major media outlet ran with the leering, jeering tone of the release, apparently without demanding substantiation or breakdown.
The porn is just one giant red-light district, hahaha! (The picture is from a collection of Thai student news photos.)
The headline, that porn sites drew 18% of all "Web visits" during a recent week, could easily have been misleading. Does it mean that one in five of us spend all our time on porn sites, or that those who do like porn sites just go to a lot of 'em? Unknown. Does it mean one-fifth of the Internet's traffic is to porn sites, or just that such addresses get hit a lot? Again, unknown. What exactly does it mean? Unknown.
In the U.S. Microsoft's political work is rigorously bi-partisan. It invests in both sides. Company executives give to both parties, and Microsoft lobbyists advise both parties' candidates.
In Brazil, apparently, no such bipartisanship is apparently possible. (That's the Brazilian national soccer shirt to the left -- available for sale here.)
Thus, Microsoft has tied Linux to the leftist government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and hopes to benefit financially from its fall.
Emilio Umeoka, Microsoft's man in Brazil, was as subtle as a heart attack in attacking that country's embrace of open source. He is quoted as telling Reuters, "If the country closes itself off again--as it did when it protected its information technology, 10 years from now we will wake up and be dominant in something insignificant."
The PC causing the spam flood could easily be yours. (You can buy this neat picture of a zombie, by Wayne Renolds, from the OnlineGamesCompany.)
Viruses pushed by spammers have turned millions of home PCs into "spam zombies" which now push 80% of the sludge that is out there.
Sandvine's most radical conclusion is that ISPs filter traffic within their networks, and stop depending on end users to maintain security. (Another option, offered by Network Associates, is "behavior blocking" software.)
I'm an old history major, and what I learned from American history is we have had a half-dozen crises and two Civil Wars.
The first lasted from 1861-1865. Northerners call it the Civil War, Southerners still refer to it as the War Between the States (or the War of Northern Aggression). As a New Yorker now living in Atlanta I prefer to call it the Recent Unpleasantness. (The picture is of a violent protest against that war by my Irish ancestors, the 1863 New York Draft Riot, and is taken from the African-American Registry.)
The second civil war lasted from roughly 1966-1974, and is called Vietnam.
Vietnam was just as much a civil war as the earlier struggle. It too pitted brother-against-brother, often son-against-father. It split America. (Some, like Sen. John Kerry, fought on both sides.) And on the battlefield we all lost. South Vietnam, in the end, was destroyed.
This makes Vietnam an even greater stain than that first war. At least, when Union veterans "waved the bloody shirt" in the politics following that conflict, they were waving it as winners. When politicians do that today, they're doing it in the name of a defeat. In terms of Vietnam, we're all the Confederacy.
Conservatives have been hammering me lately for statements, here and elsewhere, to the effect that our soldiers do evil.
Where did I get that? It's simple truth. Look no further than the great cause of America's Civil War, and its greatest general, William Tecumseh Sherman. Here's what he said when the "Grand Army of the Republic" held its 1880 meeting.
"There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell. You can bear this warning voice to generations yet to come. I look upon war with horror."
Whether war is just is for our leaders -- and in a democracy that means for us -- to decide.
War can be just, if fought in the name of destroying a greater evil. But unjust wars must be confronted. In a democracy, speaking out against an unjust war is the truest patriotism, because in a democracy the buck does not stop at the leader's desk, it stops in our hearts.
If you click below I will share with you one piece of hate mail that just arrived here. Judge it for yourself. Decide whom you agree with.
Every site ought to be a blog. (This illustration came from a blog.)
A blog defines a template with dynamic content in the center and static content along the sides.
Most blogs are built on a database metaphor, to make searching for items easy. Why couldn't those be product searches?
The best blog packages are also scalable. They enable community as a basic function.
So why do we still see so many static home pages?
CNN.Com has an AP profile out on the R1, an imaging system from New York photographer Clifford Ross (he's the R) that combines the best of chemical and digital photography. (This image of R1 comes from Ross' own Web site.)
The camera itself is based on one formerly used for aerial spying during World War II. He added vacuum pumps and a microscope to make sure the film stays absolutely flat. Then, after taking his picture, he digitizes it into a 2.6 Gbyte file and uses Adobe Photoshop to adjust the color.
Apparently the network for the Computex trade show in Taiwan was laid low by the Sasser virus.
Like many people, I need a lot of passwords. Again, like many people, they're not very secure.
The solution, offered in a recent AP story, is a second password, a temporary password, a scratch-off password European banks are resorting to because their customers' accounts are fundamentally insecure. (The illustration is from the AP story, as posted on CNN.Com.)
But what if, instead of a scratch-off card linked to a bad password, you had a Smart card you stuck into your PC, one that contained biometric data, and which would allow you to have just one password?
My recent piece on Barrett's Challenge drew a strong response from Jay Molstad:
As a scientist with a Ph.D. from a good school, this is an issue of serious concern to me. But I believe that the problem goes deeper than education.
I am on the job market after another postdoc, and the job openings that would justify educating more scientists just aren't there. If anything, the average market value of a scientist seems to be going down in real terms. Biotech is booming, and infotech is post-boom, but in chemistry (my field) and other basic sciences the trend has been down for a while.
American industry has basically stopped funding basic research, presumably because it doesn't make money anymore (there was a time, not long ago, when it made lots of money). The students may not understand the fundamental economic causes, but they know that the fast track to big bucks no longer goes through the physics department. If anything, science education gets in the way of the gormless optimism that the market really rewards.
I don't think that a PR campaign, or even an expansion in the science education budget, can make a dent in this problem. A massive government investment in basic research might make a difference, if it was big enough (raising the budget of the NSF by a factor of 10 or something similarly ambitious). It may be, in the final analysis, that we're simply starting to reach the limits of what science can do.
There's a lot of meat here. Let's chew on it for a while:
The XPrize, modeled on the contest that resulted in Lindbergh's 1927 flight to Paris, will give $10 million to the first crew that gets a three-person craft into sub-orbital flight (100 kilometers up) and repeats the feat within two weeks.
I have refrained from commenting on the seven-year sentence handed down to spammer Howard Carmack because, frankly, it depresses me. (The picture, which does not depress me, is from Jerk.Net.)
Carmack was slime. But he was an individual piece of slime, a man who claimed to be running an honest business. He was like a guy with a bathtub in Chicago during the early 1920s, making gin, getting caught, and being made an example of.
Now it's going to get tough.
Samsung and Sony are getting excited over the networked home.
It's going to be another false dawn. (The picture is from Wake Forest's Babcock School of Business. (Go Deacs.))
Both Far Eastern companies are looking at wired technologies, and expect systems to add $2,000 to $10,000 to a new home's sales price.
That trick has never worked.
News Corp. has dropped plans to resurrect satellite data, ending its participation in Spaceway at one satellite, which will be used for TV.
What killed satellite data? High latency and competition from 802.11 wireless. The 802.16 Wi-Max standard, which will allow rural areas to be served through repeaters from fiber access points, was probably the last nail in the coffin.
We all have "evil inclinations," but we seldom act upon them without first rationalizing them. We count, they don't. They're "evildoers," we're the "good guys."
There's this old legal maxim that when you don't have the facts argue the law, when you don't have the law argue the facts, and when you don't have either pound on the table.
Sun is pounding on the table. (Watch the picture above move here, at NASA's Visualization Studio.)
Sun has abandoned its hardware uniqueness and gotten in bed with computing's lovable loser, Fujitsu. (That's proof they don't have the facts.) They've also said "me, too" to Bill Gates' audacious prediction that, very soon, hardware will be free. (There is the proof they haven't got the law.)
What have they got? Click below to find out.
I'm still a Craig Barrett fan.
Barrett has a year left to run Intel before turning it over (most likely) to Paul Otellini. It's a reflective time. And in a recent talk with News.Com, he reflects on the "complacency" of America.
As Intel CEO this doesn't matter much to Barrett. The company can grow anywhere. But as an American it must upset him, especially since, before joining the company he was an assistant professor of materials science at Stanford. He's walked the walk of education.
So what should Craig Barrett do next? I have a few ideas.
Last month, on this blog, I asked "Who Killed the PDA?"
I was hammered for it. But I wasn't wrong. (PDA image is from nec.com.tw)
Proof came today when Sony announced it was "suspending" production of its Palm-based PDA, the Clie.
The PDA is dead. So what comes next?
Do you know the difference between income and earnings?
What she has are details on how Blogads, Amazon and Google AdSense are putting a few shekels in our pockets. Here's what she says:
Some top bloggers who carry advertising say they make hundreds or, in a few cases, thousands of dollars a month. The typical take is more like $20 to $50 a month, which covers the cost of running a typical Web site.
Does that spell "profit?" No, Ms. Kathleen, it does not. Profit represents income over expenses. There are expenses in running even a Blog, and there are expenses in running any business. (This doesn't include opportunity costs, the money you might expect to earn if you were doing something else besides, say, this.) If a Blog doesn't meet these expenses it's still being done at a loss.
Here's a nice Always-On application, found (once again) by Roland Piquepaille. British scientists have embedded a sensor network inside a Norwegian glacier so they can learn how it evolves.
The sensors are quite small (this one, from Piquepaille's site, is magnified). Installation is as easy as tossing them about. Such sensors configure their own network. (Here's the experiment's official site.)
Today's science is going to be tomorrow's application, once an engineer and a salesman get together in an airport, write a business plan, and then take a meeting with a venture capitalist.
Allen Steele's books, like Sex and Violence in Zero-G (a great introduction to Steele, if you haven't met him) try to create a realistic future history of space, in which heroic, blue-collar "beamjacks" assemble space stations and satellites in orbit.
They drink hard, they work hard, they play hard, and they hate the bosses.
But their attempts to unionize are going to fail, because their replacements are already on the way.
Over at the University of Southern California, Wei-Min Shen and his team have created a robotic army that can build these huge stations themselves, configuring themselves to the task, even designing the thing themselves.
The Day After Tomorrow is a silly movie that wastes Dennis Quaid, one of my favorite actors. (The illustration is from the movie's official home page.
But the scientific principles that underlie it are sound, and here's the proof.
A team from the University of Maryland tested air over the areas affected by last year's blackout, and found huge differences in the level of pollutants.
Sulphur dioxide levels decreased by 90 per cent, there was around half the amount of ozone and visibility increased by 40 kilometres.
I'm for growth and change. It's the only way to stay ahead of population and pollution without engaging the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse full-time.
The success of the 1990s, and the technology industry failures of our own time, have brought me to some political principles that need to be embraced by everyone -- and which are opposed by politicians of every type -- in order to bring back growth.