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Recently I reported on the new Technorati Top 100, which held a lot of surprises for me.
The folks at Blogstreet have not been changing their algorithms nearly as aggressively, but they have kept spidering, and their most recent list also shows surprises, albeit slightly different ones.
The one thing both lists share is the fall of Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit. (That's him, linked from his own site.) He's still #3 at Blogstreet, while going off the list completely at Technorati, but even here the fall is dramatic.
Pressed for a theory as to why, I guess Reynolds has become predictable, in both style and outlook. Liberal-leaning bloggers have been dropping him aggressively and he has been unable to grow his audience in other directions. (The fall isn't because of his politics -- other conservative bloggers hold their place on both lists.) He's a one trick pony.
A decade ago, with my alma mater still basking in the glow of our great "Buckyball" discovery, I challenged our President with an ethical question. (This Buckyball was caged at the-scientist.com back in 1997.)
He dismissed it, and I felt the whole room cool toward me. (A few more glasses of wine solved that.)
Well, the debate is finally upon us. How else do you explain such contradictory headlines for the same report:
The question before the court is this.
Does copyright mean interoperability is impossible without the prior written consent of the copyright holder, not to mention everyone else in their value chain? (Lockbox image from Aware.org.)
That's the question lawyers for Real Networks may have to address, as Apple prepares to challenge its Harmony software, which lets you play songs bought from Real on the iPod, as a violation of the Copyright Act.
Or let me put it in a way Larry Lessig would understand. Does every West Coast Law automatically enjoy the protection of East Coast Law.
As of this writing Lessig's blog had not addressed the question, so just remember if you click ahead I'm not a lawyer, just a journalist trying to sort right from wrong.
RFID is a vital Always-On technology. With RFID on your stuff, you can have complete control of your personal inventory through a wireless network.
But RFID markets don't work that way. RFID applications will come at us through business. The initial demand will come from big merchants and governments seeking tighter control of their huge inventories, not from you and I seeking some control over our small inventories.
And, to me, that's fine. That's how computing markets work. You go from big applications to small, from business to consumer. So what is this debate really about?
But this is not a political point.
Krugman recently spent a lot of time reading TV news transcripts. What he found was that political substance has disappeared, in favor of trivia. And most Americans get their news from TV, not from newspapers.
Thus few Americans know either party's plans, or records, on the issues facing the country. They vote based on character impressions that may be wrong or biased.
And that's why the Internet, why blogging, is so vital.
Yes, blogs are all biased. No, blogs aren't read by the majority. And many of them are just horrible. (Not the great blogs here at Corante, of course -- I'm talking about those other blogs, and you know who you are.)
But the messages of blogs do resonate into the larger culture. There are already too many examples to count. And (most important) blogs are interactive.
So where does blogging go now?
Scientists predict that, by 2025, we'll know if there are any other species producing radio waves.
Estimates are currently that we're about 1,000 light years from any other species with such intelligence, but that's just an assumption. Hard evidence is needed, and by 2025, it's estimated, we should have it. One way or the other.
Now if someone could prove the existence of intelligent life on Earth...
I've been pretty hard on the bloggers covering the Democratic Conventon. The "major media" have pushed them aside, doing what the bloggers thought was their job (interpretation) more aggressively, and getting those interpretations out the door efficiently. (That's the official convention logo, from volunteer organizers.)
But there are two stories the bloggers have grabbed, and both are important. The first is a tech story. The second might be termed the atmospherics. And they're closely related.
Under Ed Zander Motorola has a new dance. It's aiming to be the Ginger Rogers of technology. (Send an e-card of this illustration thruogh FamousFoto.)
At the 1992 Democratic Convention former Texas governor Ann Richards explained it this way. "Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."
Motorola is letting others dictate the dance, it's adapting its form to their needs, and it hopes to leave with the diamonds on its neck, arms and fingers.
Let me give you two examples.
I have been spending time lately documenting cell phones for a friend. And one of the most remarkable things about them is how capable they are not.
Many of the phones being distributed in the U.S. lack cameras, sound recording, even messaging capability. They are designed solely for use as phones, with a simple phone book, and it all goes ker-blooey if the SIM card is jostled (requiring that you take it out and replace it, a true cold re-boot).
In essence the U.S. is years and years behind the times when it comes to cellular technology. We are truly a Third World country. (That image, by the way, is from the Georgia Citizens' Coalition on Hunger, which does fine work.)
Where's the First World?
Or, if you prefer, David vs. Goliath. (That's David, alias Wild Fire, in a CNN image.)
In this corner, with a scheduled launch date of September 29, America's own SpaceShipOne, backed by the billions of Paul Allen and the star poewr of Burt Rutan.
In the other corner, preparing to unveil their craft Wild Fire on August 5, the underfunded Canadian da Vinci Project. Brian Feeney is still looking for the money to get his $337,000 project up. Allen has already pumped $200 million into Rutan's effort.
And the contrasts don't stop there.
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.
In English class, "back in the day," I was taught that T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" (the ending is quoted from memory above) was the greatest poem of the 20th century. (With apologies to Langston Hughes, Alan Ginsburg, and anyone who wrote after 1970.)
What's so great about the poem is that, in journalism, it's so often true. Especially in technology journalism.
Heard from SCO lately?
There will be no such thing as a phone network anymore.
There will only be data. Voice is a low-grade data service. Every service provided by the voice network can be emulated through software.
Clue one. AT&T has stopped marketing long distance voice.
Clue two. Skype now serves regular phones through agreements with four backhaul carriers.
Out of such Clues are grand predictions made.
This is just one way Big Media is facing down, co-opting, and moving to take over the new world of blogging.
The winner for Big Trend of 2004 has been chosen. Nominations are closed. (The image is from a Brazilian blog - it's a worldwide trend.)
As it was portals in 1998, and blogs in 2003, 2004 is all about photoblogging.
The idea of posting photos easily to the Web and sharing them is the trend of the year, without question. Kodak was the first to get into this, but like everything else they've tried they missed the wave. Other photofinishers like Ritz jumped in, but they missed the main chance as well.
They missed the main chance because they tried to charge people for sharing a few photos among a few friends, without context.
The main chance is to let people post photos free, to let them do it from their cameras, to post it all to public Web sites, and to call it blogging.
I'm sorry. I can't get excited over a device whose big "improvement" (shown) is a keyboard I can't type on.
I can't get excited about a device that still doesn't take voice files and translate them to ASCII for you.
I can't get excited about a device that's still living in the pen-and-mouse past.
I can't get excited about a line of products that are functionally incompatible when you want to upgrade.
I can't get excited about blinking lights to indicate connection status. That was cool in 1975.
I can't get excited about an 802.11b client being treated like it's too cool for school. It's not.
I can't get excited about having to compromise every feature just so it can fit together.
And I can't get excited about the top-of-the-line American PDA having to run a Korean chip.
(Did I tell you I'm not excited?)
The New York Times is currently featuring a story about sensor networks in the wild.
What they've got, in fact, are a bunch of Always-On testbeds.
For instance. A sensor network checks the condition of grapes and the soil they're growing in, letting the grower know when to water, and when to harvest to get the best wine.
That is a great Always-On application. How many of those can you sell, maybe 1,000?
But what if, instead of building a big sensor network you built a little one, along with a simple drip irrigation system.
Know how many of those you can sell? You can sell millions. Start with golf courses, move on to schools and office parks, and watch sales zoom with water prices. Just follow Moore's Law and within two years you've got a consumer product, the whole set-up available at a do it yourself shop for maybe $300.
The political parties have launched a noble experiment, letting friendly bloggers into their conventions.
So far, however, the bloggers are flunking the journalism test.
It's not that they're biased. They're just not coming up with anything new. (That's one of them, Markos Zuniga, from his site.)
Technorati , which ranks blog sites, has gone through a major overhaul.
While the Indians who run Blogstreet admitted to me they're on to other things, David Sifry & Co. have been very busy indeed.
They have changed the ranking system, as I noted earlier, counting links and the number of sites linked from separately. They have also done a complete spidering of the blog world, with some interesting results.
As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to vote on the so-called INDUCE Act, which would hold technology's creators liable for what's done with their creations, there are some who are calling this an attack on our rights, and an attack on technology.
It's worse than that.
It's an attack on America. What chairman Orrin Hatch (left, from Internet Weekly) and his colleagues are plotting is nothing less than a 9-11 attack on the American economy.
You ever leave a pot of coffee on the counter too long? I have. After several days it starts tasting really funky, and these nasty white organisms start partying on the top of it. (BREW logo from Vayusphere.)
Well, that's what seems to be happening to Qualcomm's BREW development environment, in which Verizon is demanding all applications on its cellular network be written. There's no circulation in a proprietary environment . If the creator doesn't apply regular heat (and risk that nasty, metallic taste) things are going to get funky fast.
For the last few years a Silicon Valley start-up called Danger has been quietly trying to figure out a proprietary way out of the coming interface crack-up.
Now, thanks to a manufacturing deal with Sharp of Japan, it's ready to go.
Well, almost. It still has just one North American carrier agreeing to fully support the device, called Hiptop. And it still won't let people take pictures of the thing. Fortunately, The Register's Andrew Orlowski managed to do this drawing of it. (Don't quit your day job, Andrew.)
I went out on my bike today in a celebratory mood.
Cycling has been my sport for over a quarter century. (Picture from CNN.)
I rode as a kid, even felt like I invented bicycle motocross on a lot near my house in the mid-60s. But I didnt really become a cyclist until 1978, after coming back to Houston, Texas with a journalism degree and a burning hope to become a writer.
Joe had another friend, a closer friend, an athlete friend by the name of John Howard . (Right.)
John Howard wasnt a tourist like me. John was a legendary Texas rider, rolling over the FMs at speed, swallowing the land in 100-mile gulps.
Still, it was a paltry fame to be a cyclist in 1970s Texas, and no great European team wanted John to lead the great races. He became, like the great street ballers of the city ghettos, both lonely and angry.
He finally found something worthy of him, a new event in Hawaii called a triathlon. He would train to learn to swim 2.5 miles in surf, and run a marathon, but between there was the bike, an easy ride (for him) of 112 miles, in which he could grab hours on rivals. He won the third one, in under 10 hours you can look it up.
Joe was even then, when I heard from him, mentioning this new, young rider, this great athlete with the even-better name, Lance Armstrong. (Image from LanceArmstrong.Com.)
A name from fiction, that. You cant make up a better one. Say it a few times. Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong. Was there ever a more American name?
And the story that went with it Joe told me Lance was raised by his mother, that his father abandoned him as a child, and that what he wanted most was what every such child wants, to make the money to get her a home. He linked the asphalt of my Texas salad days to the hunger of the basketball courts near where I now lived.
You can't make this kind of stuff up.
As the days passed, after Joe and his wife had gone back home, I asked myself, what happened to me?
Id been on my bike for that race, going back-and-forth across the course, first on the flats, then on some hills. It had felt good. (Image from a great organization, Yellowbikes.org.)
By 1999 Lance was ready to try the Le Tour again.
The race was covered then, on TV, by ESPN2, which put together a daily package that ran in the late afternoon, complete with music. I was faithful. When Lance won the prologue I was hooked, although I was really awaiting the battle between Marco Pantani, the previous years winner, the great il Pirata of the mountains, and Jan Ullrich, born in East Germany, the biggest engine in the field, the 1997 winner, the Diesel.
The head of the U.S. Copyright Office, Marybeth Peters (left, from the Library of Congress site), has come out squarely for overturning the Betamax decision, which made your VCR legal.
Corante's Ernest Miller is all over this. But let me add my two cents.
This is an election year. The money and support of the copyright industries could make the difference. The Bush Administration is willing to bend over and grease up in order to gain that support.
And if they win with it, it's the rest of us who are screwed. Or, as Vice President Cheney put it to Senator Pat Leahy, "go f___ yourself."
Remember those stories a week ago to the effect that there was a shortage of Google AdWords? (I don't think OneWebHosting will mind my linking to that illustration, especially when I link to their own ad as well.)
I noticed, on these pages and on my own newsletter's home page, that this is no longer the case. In fact, many technology terms are now going begging. I know this because Public Service Ads from Google have been appearing in both locations.
All of which gave me an idea for "gaming the system."
USA Today reports that six of Levine's Snipermail employees have reached deals with the government, in exchange for their testimony.
As I understand it, you're saying "Why invest a huge amount in some copper/fiber combo when we might get something 10 times faster in a few years?" That's a legitimate argument, but it's the same choice people have to make yearly when they buy a new computer.
The key word in the section above is computer. And by Jove, I think he's got it!
Russian and British authorities have cooperated in smashing a ring that was organizing denial of service attacks against Internet gambling sites. The people arrested were mostly in their early 20s.
A nasty person might ask some nasty questions, however.
The story below is "hard-hitting," and calls someone a nasty name.
I've written many items about spam over the years, and will continue to do so. But I admit there is a price to be paid.
For the last two days my inbox has been inundated with hundreds of copies of the same spam. Allegedly it's a message from a Katharine Juarez. Allegedly the topic is transvestite (not that there's anything wrong with that). It's like millions of other spams sent out every day, clogging the Internet's arteries, sending it toward a heart attack.
But when you get the same spam hundreds of times, or thousands of times, we have a different name for it. It's called a mailbomb.
Want to know why people don't trust journalism?
Let's go to a headline in today's Washington Post. "Advertiser Charged in Massive Database Theft." (The illustration is from the good people at ISIPP.Com, and if you like it as much as I do, buy yourself some swag displaying it -- coffee mugs, t-shirts, etc. -- right here.)
It's followed by this priceless lede. "Federal authorities yesterday charged an online advertiser in Florida with tapping into the computer system of a large database marketer in Arkansas and stealing "vast amounts of personal information" about Americans in what they described as one of the largest network intrusions in recent memory."
Wrong! What we have is a spammer, people! (If you want to be real, real careful, write alleged spammer.) I spent five seconds Googling the name of this "company," Snipermail, at Google Groups. Take a look for yourself. Or just check the name on the indictment against news.admin.net-abuse.sightings.
Andy Oram has a long story at O'Reilly today detailing the problems with universal service and public policy.
It's a great historical overview.
But it's missing one key ingredient. And it's a surprising ingredient for Andy to miss.
That ingredient is Moore's Law.
The Tour d'France has had many great champions in a history going back a century. It opened the country, it defined a culture, it created the ultimate test of athletic endurance and courage.
But here's the reality.
Eddy Merckx, step aside.
Jacques Anquetil, thank you and God bless.
Bernard Hinault, you were great in your day, a hearty handshake..
Miguel Indurain had the heart of Secretariat yet was a master tactician.
No one has ever been as great a pure athlete as Lance Armstrong. No one. How do I know?
I can count to six.
I am embarrassed to note that I missed a big story.
Canada will commercialize the huge Ka band to deliver the service. This will be shared bandwidth, with fairly high latency, which is why U.S. attempts to commercialize the service have failed. But Telesat Canada, a Bell Canada Enterprises unit, says roughly 20% of Canadians cannot access broadband speeds with DSL, cable, or even 802.11. Now the whole country is within reach.
And that is very cool.
Microsoft spent the last year exploring lots of big business ideas. I even pitched Always-On to some Microsoft executives. In the end the company decided it had no worthwhile idea, so it's giving its profit back to shareholders.
Microsoft brings in $1 billion worth of free cash every month, and has set a $75 billion pay-out plan, including $30 billion in share buybacks. This is all in an effort to raise its stagnant stock price.
The result will be a higher price, but I guarantee you it will also mean a lower price-earnings ratio. Microsoft has decided to become a widows-and-orphans stock because it can't see any worthwhile way to invest its profits.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Because if Microsoft, with all the money in the world, can't thnk of anything better to do with its money than give it away, what does that say for the rest of us? What does it say for the technology business climate?
On behalf of cancer survivors (and we have them in our family too) we're all asked to Wear Yellow and Live Strong.
Good advice. For a good cause.
There's a hero of mine in France who finally started doing that this afternoon (after nearly a two-week break). I hope he can keep it up the rest of the week.
I am amazed there hasn't been more comment on this, so I'll make one.
Peter Shane, a law professor at Ohio State, has taken the time to actually read the Supreme Court's Bush vs. Gore decision of 2000, under which the incumbent President was selected. The reasoning used to support Gov. Bush's drive to end recounts could, he says, strike a stake through the heart of America's democracy.
But let him explain it.
The Wi-Fi Alliance has gotten into the middle of a year-old dispute between chipmakers Broadcom and Atheros.
Broadcom jumped into new, faster versions of the standard, like 802.11g, long before those standards were approved and finalized. They kept these innovations off their Web sites, sampling them to equipment makers.
Essentially Broadcom jumped the gun and defined the standard in the market. When Atheros finally came out with its chip sets, there was interference, due to technical differences. This hampered performance, eliminated interoperability, and had the effect of slowing the overall growth of the home networking market.
There is a lot of news today and much of it illustrates the growing disparity between how the U.S. deals with the challenge of broadband technology and how the U.K. deals with it. (The British flag is from CityFreight.org, which is dealing seriously with European truck congestion.)
Bob Tedeschi has never been a company manager.
If he had he would know better than to wring his hand over news that the supply of search engine ads, like Google AdWords (left), is falling behind demand.
In Tedeschi's defense he was just repeating the idiocy of Kenneth Cassar, a Nielsen//NetRatings analyst who needs a cold bath in market reality himself.
NOTE: The following is from my free weekly e-mail newsletter.
I have recently begun working with Egoscout, a company dedicated to teaching people how to get more from their cell phones, giving them bargains on data services, helping them upgrade, and helping those in the cellular data business find their market. (The slogan is, "turn the cell phone into a sell phone." Cute, huh?)
I actually conceived of this business during the recent CTIA show in Atlanta, test-marketing the concept with exhibitors and attendees, drawing an enthusiastic reception. Our CEO is Jeff Vick, a serial entrepreneur with experience at Turner and iXL.
The dark lords of the CTIA show were the executives of Verizon Wireless (left, from their home page), who strutted about the event in black suits, arrogantly aserting that they would, could, and should control all data markets on their network. You can't sell data services (like ringtones) to a Verizon customer except through Verizon. All programs must be rewritten, to Verizon's specifications, in Qualcomm's Brew, and before they are marketed they must be approved by Verizon Wireless executives.
NOTE: The following is from the current issue of my free e-mail newsletter, a-clue.com.
I've gone back and forth on Michael Powell (right, from CLEC.Com)
Sometimes he talked a good game. Other times he caved in to pressure, either from industry or pro-censorship forces. But his signature moment, in retrospect, may have been his failure to bring the commission along on his plans for broadband. Regardless of the merits, or how it was treated by the courts, Powell didn't lead. He didn't politick, and he didn't build a winning or governing coalition at the FCC. That's Job One for a chairman.
There is now speculation over whether Powell would return for a second Bush Administration. I doubt it, and I'm no longer sorry about it. Michael Powell is not a big fat idiot. He's worse. He's an arrogant, self-absorbed theoretician in a job that demands a calm, consensus-building politician.
Note: The following was published this week in my free weekly e-mail newsletter, a-clue.com.
I headed out last week to see Dr. King, but I was feeling so frisky when I approached that his ghost motioned me northward instead, toward the steep, short hills around Peachtree Center.
Exhausted, I pulled in to a sidewalk, and entered a brick garden lined with benches. I sat heavily onto one, and as my breath returned looked to see a backpack, or perhaps a bedroll, on the bench opposite me. Quite suddenly I started, and recognized where I sat. Here was where the bomb went off during the 1996 Olympics. It sat there, maybe on that bench, in a pack much like the one I was facing.
The following entry was published today as part of my free weekly newsletter, a-clue.com.
I'm a journalist. I print facts. I try hard to be fair - not objective, fair. When someone is spouting nonsense, I say so. I try not to make it personal, and I try not to tell lies in the process. That's the way I was taught to do it.
That's not how journalists today are taught. Thus Ann Coulter, who writes nothing but personal attack and invective, is equated to Michael Moore, whose films, while polemical, do at least include real facts, Instead of arguing against the film's content, she calls Moore names, and somehow this is considered rational. It's like Monty Python's "Argument Clinic.".
Says the protagonist, "Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes."
To which the antagonist replies, "No it isn't."
Stephen Hawking could not have existed in an earlier age. He is a tribute to his time, and complements it so well. He's awe-inspiring. (He's also a brand, as in the store where I found this image.)
Consider. This man has had ALS, Motor Neuron Disease, since he was an undergraduate. It has progressed far more slowly than in many cases, but it has progressed. Without modern medicine there is no way he could be celebrating his 60th year.
Without modern computer technology he could not function as he does. Which makes him a living laboratory for the next frontier in computing, interfaces.
I am no fan of Instant Messaging (IM). I find it both useless and horribly proprietary.
One of the great things about science, as opposed to religion or ideology, is how ready science is to change its mind.
Of course, it's not science that changes its mind. It's scientists who change their minds, who admit they were wrong, and who then come up with new theories. That's how science progresses.
All this is prelude to the amazing news that Stephen Hawking no longer believes black holes violate quantum theory.
"A black hole only appears to form but later opens up and releases information about what fell inside. So we can be sure of the past and predict the future," is the way he is said to have explained it. Kind of like a cosmic tornado.
All will be revealed, with the appropriate mathematics, at the 17th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation in Dublin, Ireland next Wednesday.
Oh, and one more thing.
We have all read about the problems with software updates. (The image is from an Italian outfit which needs to read this story closely.)
They're not always done. They identify vulnerabilities hackers then exploit.
Well here's another problem, for those system admistrators who follow good update procedures.
Updates are making Windows systems incompatible. And this means big problems for Windows developers.
The U.S. newspaper industry is cutting itself off from the Net, putting registration in front of users before letting them read stories.
They're doing this because they can't make money from advertisers until they can convince advertisers who they are reaching. That's what they say, anyway.
Me, I find there are very, very few stories written in any U.S. newspaper that I can't find somewhere. Most papers get by on a mix of AP and syndicated copy, with a few kids rewriting press releases or listening to police radios for flavor, and a crank in the back writing political screeds.
But there are exceptions. If you don't like forced registration, but you want to get into these sites, here's how.
A well-meaning French bid to protect open source may in fact lead to its splitting.
A new license called CeCILL is designed to make the GNU compatible with French law, which tends to make software authors liable for user problems unless there is specific language to the contrary. (Parents, get your kids a book set in France to wile away the summertime from the list this image illustrates.)
Well and good. But what happens when you try to marry something written under CeCILL with something written under the U.S. version of GNU? What is the license agreement on the new software?
The question seems esoteric, but it matters when you're trying to get a software system used by big companies and governments. A Microsoft user license is the same everywhere. You may not like it but at least you understand it, if you're a lawyer.
Linux licenses must be the same. The Free Software Foundation, Europe is asking the French to talk, and hopefully they will (once they get over yesterday's Bastille Day parties).
The price of stock in Intel fell after the company announced its earnings for the quarter had doubled. (That's not the real Intel symbol, by the way. It's something I found at a nifty Web company in Bristol, England.)
The reason: falling margins, rising inventories, and a prediction growth will slow in the second half.
Am I worried? No. Here's why.
The debate over Voice Over IP is intensifying.
The debate currently involves two questions. If we lose circuit switched voice in favor of IP voice, what about the taxes circuits were paying? And which sounds better?
These are the wrong questions, says Brad Templeton. (That's Brad, to the left, from his home page.)
On this I agree with him 100%, and his words bear repeating.
SiteFinder was designed to take misspelled domain requests to a Verisign page, backed by advertising, where users would be given choices for where the might want to go. As The Register properly headlined it, "All Your Web Typos Belong To Us."
What could be wrong with that, given that Verisign is registrar for the .com and .net domains in question? Plenty, the ICANN Committee found:
While the Yahoo-Oddpost deal looks straightforward, the Google-Picasa deal has several levels.
I'm probably talking through my hat here.
National had been 83% owned by a bank anyway so this doesn't really change the balance of power between "independent" processors and "bank" processors.
The fact is big banks have been taking this territory over for years, at increasingly high prices. It's part of a general consolidation of banking in the U.S., and that's what we should worry about.
The history of computing is defined by entrepreneurs.
But Watson Jr. retired in 1971 and IBM became lazy. They defined themselves by their sales relationships with the Fortune 500, which used Big Iron. Under John Akers IBM became vulnerable to the first "kid with a Clue" who could see that the "platform story" IBM depended upon was tired, not wired.
That kid, of course, was Bill Gates. He saw that the PC would be the new platform, and that its foundation wasn't in the hardware, but in the operating system. By first selling IBM on MS-DOS, then outmanuevering IBM on Microsoft Windows, William H. Gates III became the true heir to the Watsons' legacy.
Yet computing's evolution has continued to accelerate. Microsoft had little play in local networking, which defined the 1980s, and struggled to get on top of the Internet, which defined the 1990s. (The Gates caricature is from a fine Italian artist. Visit his site.)
Now history is about to throw another threat Microsoft's way. Ironically, when he should be at his most comfortable, Bill Gates is now at his most vulnerable.
He's ripe for the taking.
Bill Gates turns 50 next year. (So do I, but let's not get into that.)
In many ways both Gates and Microsoft seem to be heading into middle age. And that's not good for anyone.
It was designed as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, but while Congress debates making the law more draconian against innovation, the fact is that judges are systematically destroying the competitive American economy under the DMCA's current provisions.
How else do you explain this -- a legal decision forbidding third-party service on disk drives based on the DMCA?
The biggest change in blogging is going unremarked so I'm remarking. (You can buy this balloon, or one of your own devising, at advertisingballoons.com.)
Group blogs are replacing individual efforts.
Top blogs whose authors want to remain relevant or active when they go on vacation get "guest bloggers" for while they're out. In some cases, as at This Modern World, these "guests" (read Bob Harris) leave, then return permanently. The blog changes, from Tom Tomorrow's musings to celebrations on the concepts of Tom Tomorrow, by Bob Harris -- and others?
That's the next step, isn't it.
Time for truth.
And, as we've seen in previous attempts to do this, you are bound to have only limited success.
Consider the record. Porn, gambling, piracy, spam, hacking -- have any of them been stopped? No, they have grown as authorities worldwide have tried to "crack down" on these activities.
There has been an important exception, of course.
Polemic Alert If you don't like my political polemics, skip this piece of self-indulgence. I wrote it on my recent cruise and poured it into the screen as soon as I got home.
The winners in the race to bankruptcy court are the ones scarfing up all the assets.
Here's a good example. First Avenue Networks, known as Advanced Radio Telecom Corp. before its April 2001 bankruptcy filing, is buying Teligent, which filed a month later, for stock it says is now worth $105 million.
John Kerry's fund-raising success in the last few months must be attributed, in part, to a strategy I think was put in place by Zack Exley, an online operative formerly with Moveon.org. (That's him, from a 2001 Yale conference.)
Why you're reading about it here first I will never know, but here it is, exclusive.
The video industry seems determined to follow the music industry in trying (unsuccessfully) to stifle the Net.
Proof comes from Europe, with its well-developed cellular industry, where competition minister Mario Monti (pictured, from Der Spiegel of Germany) plans to investigate the refusal of video rights-holders to deal on licensing.
What makes this ironic is that the cellular industry, from top-to-bottom, is totally intent on "protecting" content for rights-holders, and getting the very highest price for licensing it. What else can you call a $2.50 ringtone?
Me, I blame Mark Cuban.
The news headline could have been taken straight from a press release.
Is it true? No. This "study" has more holes in it than George Bush's WMD claims. Or Michael Moore's movie, if you prefer. We're not making a political point here...and to prove it here's a non-political picture on the subject of lieing that my kids found to be a lot of fun.
My cruise last week gave me the chance to see my Mom, along with my late father's surviving siblings. It also gave me a preview of coming attractions in my own life. (If you're already thinking of your own Mom here, consider getting her something like this, from Stevens Glass Chalet.)
It was very cheering. Uncle John turned 80, but remains tall, elegant, cheerful, marvelous, despite having lost his bride of nearly 60 years a few months ago. Dorothy is still his baby sister, giving him a four-foot high copy of a picture taken of him, in his infantry uniform, in Switzerland, on leave, shortly after V-E day, young and joyful and heroic. As he is today.
Then there was my Mom, still a young girl in many ways. She came to the ship in a wheelchair, but appeared on her own two feet at the cruise's formal night, and regaled us with stories far into the evening, in a bar on the top of the ship.
Little did I realize, but I was seeing the secret of civilization.
One difference between my youth and maturity is that, in my youth, the future was seen as positive while today we look upon it with fear. (This might be why the ratings for Star Trek shows have fallen so far.) (The image is from a Star Trek fan site.)
I don't want to be a Pollyanna here. There are dangerous implications to Always On applications. Unless the data we create is acknowledged to be ours by the government, and unless that ownership is respected, it could become an Orwellian nightmare.
But instead of emphasizing this simple solution, a new IEEE magazine on the technology goes on-and-on about danger, danger, danger.
The U.S. is gutting the 1996 Telecommunications Act, aiming to re-establish the Bell and cable co-monopoly and control broadband access.
Meanwhile the UK is breaking up the same monopoly. UK regulator Ofcom said "the key to the next stage will be the opening up of BT's network to other operators."
They're right. And they'd be right here too. If you care about America's future place in the broadband world, this should concern you.
One of the dirty secrets of 802.11, I have found, is that your home network doesn't always reach throughout your home. (This is Linksys' 802.11g router, from its Web site.)
Radio waves are slowed by walls and what's in them. Once they reach your outer perimeter, however, they tend to run until they hit a tree or your neighbor's wall. If his PC is set up near a window he might be on your network right now.
The permanent solution for this will involve mesh networks and cognitive radios, giving you alternative routes around the house when someone turns on a device using the same frequency space, and keeping the radio power tuned down to just what's necessary for moving data.
The quick, dirty fix is to either turn up the radio or get a fancy antenna. Both are now being tried.
His first hit was called Ogre. (This image is from Goingfaster.com, a gaming enthusiast and Jackson fan.) At a time when the big cost of producing games was making, and printing, all the cardboard game pieces, Steve cut costs in half by having one player take one piece, the Ogre.
In the real world, of course, the Ogre can't win.
One of the big implications of the Internet has always been the promise of worldwide governance.
It's something that has been accelerated by the so-called "War on Terror." The enemy here isn't a nation-state, or a collection of nation-states. The enemy lies in non-state actors, criminal gangs, Bond Villians. Thanks in part to the Internet, small conspiracies and causes have the power to do enormous damage. Causes that could once be called regional, or ignored altogether, can now bite hard at the center of civilization itself, threatening its very existance.
Nowhere is this more true than on the Internet itself. If you're in the U.S., or Japan, or even France, you may be wondering what I'm talking about. But if you're in Macedonia, or in dozens of other two-letter domains with weak Internet governance, you know exactly what I'm talking about. (That's the Macedonian flag, at left, from the WorldAtlas.)
You know how veteran cops shake their heads at the naivete and enthusiasm of a new cop? That's how I felt while reading this, a claim by the UN's Internatonal Telecommunications Union (ITU) that spam can be eliminated by 2007. (Image is from Siggraph.)
Here's the money quote. "If we achieve full international co-operation among governments and software companies, this plague which affects so many of us in our everyday life will be defeated in short order," said Robert Horton, Australia's top regulator.
The key word here is if.
I deliberately waited before writing about the atrocious, god-awful "Councilman" decision, in which a U.S. Appeals Court panel ruled, 2-1, that your e-mail isn't private when it's in transit, on someone else's server.
To arrive at this decision, executive director Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center wrote, the court basically had to twist the 1986 Wiretap Act into a pretzel. It's one more example of how important judges are in the American judicial system. (That's Rotenberg, left, as he appeared on the PBS NewsHour in 2000.)
There is a growing movement out there asking people to drop Internet Explorer as their browser.
So I tried it.
Yesterday Verizon Wireless introduced what it called Mobile Web 2.0.. It was a true triple play - it's not mobile, it's not the Web, it's not even new. (To top it all off, it only works on two camera phones, including the LG VX7000 pictured, from Engadget.com.)
Verizon insists on running its data efforts as a walled garden, with all applications written in Qualcomm's Brew, and with Verizon controlling the store. The new "service" locks Verizon down as the home page, and was actually produced by Infospace and Vindigo. Only a few phones can access it, and they're charging $5/month, plus airtime.
Tim O'Reilly could have been a lot of things on the Internet. (The image is from the HollandSentinel.Com.)
He could have dominated it. A decade ago his Global Network Navigator was THE place to start every Internet session. Launched in 1993 it was the Web's first real home.
Of course, the Web outgrew it very quickly, and Tim had to decide where he wanted to fit into what would quickly become a whole new World. So he sold GNN to AOL, in 1995, and remained true to himself, as publisher of esoteric technology books with woodcuts of animals on their covers.
Since then, of course, O'Reilly & Associates has become an important brand for technical types who need a deep, honest understanding of a language, a protocol, or an Internet technology.
And O'Reilly himself has continued to speak out on things that interest him.
One byproduct of The Register's business model (see below) is it provides an excellent platform for newsletter publishers seeking subscription income.
Here's an example. Wireless Watch, from Rethink Research, has posted a thought-provoking commentary on Microsoft's challenge in the cellular business. (Microsoft's play is Windows CE. You can buy the developers' overview to the right from Amazon.Com.)
The biggest scandal on Wall Street may be under-reporting the slow death of C|Net and its News.Com.
A brief content analysis, on any average news day, will reveal the truth. News.Com does very few news stories, and outside Declan McCullagh almost no enterprise reporting. Instead there's a lot of filler -- "analysis" that editors can dash-off in a half-hour, "commentary" that's thinly-disguised PR. Even "white papers," which are wholly corporate shillery, are headlined on the main page.
Compare this to the front page of The Register, which is filled with news stories -- some snarky, some serious. But all new.
Why is this?
The BBC runs the most important news site on the Internet, bar none.
The site is both deep and reputable. In a journalism world filled with self-promotion and ideological agendas the BBC stands, almost alone, above it. (The picture, by the way, is of Richard Baker introducing the first BBC TV news report, 50 years ago today. Decades from now BBC News Online will be equally celebrated.)
Of course, the lords of the British press have a different opinion. They want it shut down. It competes with their voices, and their ideologies. It shows them up.
The New York Times reports that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has launched a systematic attack against over-broad patents. (Image from the University of California.)
The EFF is focusing for now on 10 patents, where it thinks it can find prior art that will invalidate the patents.
This is good news, but it's just a first step.