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Moore's Lore
December 2004
December 31, 2004

The Chinese Century XLVI: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

It’s not safe out there.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XLVI: Fiction"

The Chinese Century XLV: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

Zhou Xiaochuan did not see himself taking anyone’s surrender. He didn’t see himself as a diplomat.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XLV: Fiction"

December 30, 2004

Letter From Sri LankaEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Dave Farber's list has gotten a letter, through the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, from the science fiction legend Arthur C. Clarke, who assures everyone he is very much alive on Sri Lanka, which was hit very hard by the recent tsunami.

Clarke's note to Andrea Szalanski was in response to a private communication, but given its wide distribution, and the important information it has about how you can help in the wake of its tragedy, I'm re-printing it in its entirety:

Continue reading "Letter From Sri Lanka"

The Chinese Century XLIV: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

His peace mission had set Thabo Mkebi’s mind reeling.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XLIV: Fiction"

Ring RageEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Ringtones are becoming a major source of controversy in Australia, with some employers requiring phones be set to "vibrate mode" at work, and others banning them altogether.

December 29, 2004

Last Tech StandingEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Imagine sunning yourself on a pristine oriental beach. Now imagine a wall of water 30 feet high barreling down on you at 500 miles per hour, on that same beach. Heaven turns to hell, the world turns upside down, and if you survive (a big if) the 21st century has become the 12th.

Or, perhaps at least, the 19th. Because some ham radio operators happened to be near the center of devastation, on India’s Andaman Islands. They quickly set up communications on the HF band, which can reach thousands of miles. ARRL.Org has the story.

Continue reading "Last Tech Standing"

Cabir Leaks OutEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Turn your Bluetooth off! Source code for the Cabir mobile phone virus, which is passed through open Bluetooth connections on Symbian-based phones like Nokia's, was posted online, The Register reports.

China Mobile Subscriber CountEmail This EntryPrint This Article

China now has 329 mobile phone subscribers, according to AP from Textually.org, and expects 402 million by the end of 2005. That would still give just one in three Chinese a phone.

December 28, 2004

The Chinese Century XLIII: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The arrest of John Edwards caused a firestorm.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XLIII: Fiction"

Year of Mobile IntegrationEmail This EntryPrint This Article

We're in the midst of a transition. Mobile phones are becoming integrated with the rest of the computing world. (Crystal ball courtesy this great site on psychic phenomena, reminding all of the need for skepticism.)

It's the best of times. It's the worst of times.

It's a time of exciting new products. It's also a time of wholesale confusion.

Mainly it's a time when network owners are trying to re-do history, to "get the Internet right," in a way that benefits them, to give vendors control over what people do with their technology.

That effort is doomed. We care no more for Little Brother, in the end, than Big Brother. The Internet didn't win-out over proprietary networks by chance. It was by design. Pass the bits and worry about the money later. Keep the inside as dumb as possible. Let the market sort it all out.

That was then. This is now. So what happens next?

Continue reading "Year of Mobile Integration"

December 27, 2004

The Real EnemyEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: The following appeared in my FREE weekly newsletter, a-clue.com, for the issue of December 27. (The illustration, an image of defeat, is available as desktop wallpaper at Ngame.Com.)

For the last month liberals have been looking for scapegoats and excuses to explain what has happened to this poor country.

It was the fundamentalists. It was Karl Rove. It was the young people. It was the media.

All these explanations are wrong.

The fault does not lie in our stars. It lies in ourselves.

Continue reading "The Real Enemy"

What Open Source Outlook Could MeanEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Over the weekend C|Net ran a story indicating the Mozilla Foundation hopes to add calendaring functions to its Thunderbird e-mail client (right), turning an open source Outlook Express clone into something more like Microsoft Outlook.

What follows is pure speculation, but this could make Firefox the big story of 2005, and beyond.

Continue reading "What Open Source Outlook Could Mean"

December 26, 2004

The Chinese Century XLII: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

A wise leader will strike when the opportunity is greatest.

America’s internal distress was China’s great opportunity.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XLII: Fiction"

December 24, 2004

Phony ControversyEmail This EntryPrint This Article

A recent New York Times feature, re-printed at C|Net, creates a phony controversy over new e-commerce sites.

The idea is that some companies are using entertaining Web sites, at URLs not affiliated with their companies, to sell products with humor and games. The clear implication of the article is there is something misleading or nefarious about all this.

The article cites sites from Burger King, BestBuy, Alaska Air, and a joint Microsoft-Intel shop. Only the Alaska Air site is at all misleading -- everyone else has their sponsor posted clearly on the front page (although the BestBuy logo is small and inconspicuous). And the Alaska Air site follows up on a TV campaign, so even there we find no attempt to mislead.

So what's the problem?

Continue reading "Phony Controversy"

The Chinese Century XLIEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

Owing to recent events, Senator Stevens made the announcement.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XLI"

December 22, 2004

Korean Mobile SpamEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Korea now has to deal with more spam sent to mobile phones than via e-mail, according to the Korea Information Security Agency (KISA). Their hockey stick chart is worth a look, too.

The Chinese Century XLEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

Evil truly IS banal, I thought.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XL"

After the Fire (The Fire Still Burns)Email This EntryPrint This Article

A few months ago Forbes had a nice article on NTT DoCoMo's iMode service, and Kei-Ichi Enoki, the man behind it. (Forbes stories are all about heroic executives, since the rich strivers are the only people who matter to it.)

The point, for us, is the direction mobile data services may take after the obvious niches, like e-mail and games, have burned out.

Enoki's answer -- remote controls. Not in the sense of point it at your TV, but in the sense of remote control of life functions. Enoki is turning iModes into electronic wallets, personal shoppers, GameBoy and iPod replacement.

There's also an answer to the item that follow this (and was written a few minutes before):

Continue reading "After the Fire (The Fire Still Burns)"

Crippling WiFiEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Give a carrier a great idea like WiFi, let them tinker with it a while, and you're always going to get the same thing back.

Something crippled.

NTT DoCoMo, first to market with a WiFi-mobile phone, has delivered a deliberately-crippled product, writes Carlo Longino (left) at The Feature.

How crippled is it? It will only work with the user's own WiFi network. It won't find public hotspots, although DoCoMo says it is "considering" support for its own paid hotspots, called M-Zone.

People in Japan (that's the only market it's at so far) are going to be paying hundreds of dollars for a phone they think bypasses the mobile network, and they're not going to get it. How do you think they will feel?

I can't wait until Verizon tries to import this business model...

December 21, 2004

Are Courts Irrelevant To Copyright?Email This EntryPrint This Article

That's the question asked at Copyfutures recently, speculating on what might happen in the Copyright Wars next year.

The highlight should be the Supreme Court's pending Grokster decision, which might establish a right to technology that might infringe on copyright, or might overturn the old Betamax case.

But John Amone is asking a deeper question.

Namely, does it matter what the court holds at all?

Continue reading "Are Courts Irrelevant To Copyright?"

CelliquetteEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The lack of celliquette (etiquette, netiquette, blogiquette, celliquette!) is creating a noticeable backlash against mobile phone over-use, even among mobile phone users. (The picture is from Phoneybusiness, a fine site that concentrates on this very issue.)

How else do you explain the flame war that erupted with word last week the FCC may drop its ban on mobile use in airplanes, because (it turns out) they don't really interfere with navigation.

If you ever ride with me in a car you're bound to hear me shout (unheard by fellow drivers) "Get Off The Phone!" at least a half-dozen times during any 30 minute drive. Whether or not they have the handset stuck to their ears, drivers on a mobile call just aren't paying attention -- they speed, slow, and cut others off with complete unconsciousness.

I can't tell you how silly you look, standing their in the market, gabbering to someone unknown on your phone. I want to put a net over you and deliver you to the local happy house. Or go by Costco some day and watch couples shopping together -- with one half of the pair somewhere else.

So what would you put into a celliquette guide? Some starters follow:

Continue reading "Celliquette"

This Winter's Family Fun Game: Get StevenEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The enormous popularity of the iPod, and its dominant share of the market (some say as high as 95%) has created a new family fun game for reporters this Winter, which I call "Get Steven."

The idea is to find someone, somewhere, who can threaten the iPod's market dominance, then spin a story around it.

Most reporters do the easy story, interviewing all known competitors and repeating their claims.

Others, like Hiawatha Bray (right, from Dan Bricklin), know what their editors really want -- a local guy who claims he can take down the giant.

And that's what Bray delivered, in today's Boston Globe. (This is why he gets a fat paycheck and I'm just a blogger.)

Bray found a little outfit in suburban Andover, Massachusetts called Chaoticom. Chaoticom is OEM'ing technology for putting music functionality into new mobile phones, the kind with hard drives in them.

Good story. And since in the Chaoticom universe the music delivery is under the control of the carrier, there's some momentum.

Here's why it won't work.

Continue reading "This Winter's Family Fun Game: Get Steven"

Another Mobile Phone Health WarningEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Science is infuriating.

You almost never get the yes-no answers you seek, just some data and a request for more money. (The illustration is from an Australian government page on the health effects of mobile phones.)

Sorry about that. If you want certainty go to a preacher. They may be certainly wrong, but they are bound to be certain.

The latest edition of the Reflex study , funded by the European Community, indicates there is some cellular damage from using phones at the recommended power levels. But how bad is it?

More money, please.

Project leader Franz Adlkofer said, "We don't want to create a panic," then added some sentences bound to create panic, advising against the use of a mobile phone when a fixed line phone is available, and for the use of a headset whenever possible.

Scary stuff. But here's why you should not panic at all.

Continue reading "Another Mobile Phone Health Warning"

December 20, 2004

The Chinese Century XXXIXEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

Anyone wondering about China’s historical isolation need only look at a map.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXXIX"

December 19, 2004

India vs. The NetEmail This EntryPrint This Article

We don't usually think of India, the world's largest democracy, as being against the Internet. (They still have India shirts at Sunsite.)

The nature of how Indians use the Internet -- mainly using cyber-cafes -- makes tracing real crimes that start on the Internet very hard. Criminals are not supposed to have anonymity under any law I know of, and once evidence of a crime is in the hands of police, they don't like to hit dead-ends.

Bangalore has begun demanding identification of Internet cafe users, with other cities expected to follow. Needless to say, users are not amused. And I'd love to hear from the Indian readers of Mooreslore (I know y'all are out there) what you think.

The problems (and the problems with solving the problems) don't end there. They barely even start...

Continue reading "India vs. The Net"

Good HacksEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Back in the day (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away) the word "hack" meant to write something elegant in as little code as possibe. The idea was to be efficient with scarce computer resources. Someone who could do that wrote a "good hack" and was called a hacker. (The image, by the way, is from the SRP Gallery, Finland, maintained by the inestimable Mikko Kurki-Suonio.)

As Moore's Law has advanced this ideal has gone the way of bell bottoms, padded shoulders and Monica Lewinsky jokes. Compute power is just too plentiful -- it's far more important for programmers to be productive, to get things done quickly, than it is for them to use the equipment efficiently.

Well, get out your old disco ball.

Continue reading "Good Hacks"

Will Fastap Replace QWERTY?Email This EntryPrint This Article

John Yunker, who writes the fine Unwired blog here, asked this question a few weeks ago.

The answer is, in a word...


Note to history buffs. That's Alger Hiss's typewriter on the right, from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Continue reading "Will Fastap Replace QWERTY?"

December 17, 2004

The Christmas SlowsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Sportswriters have to work Sundays and holidays.

Political writers have to work long into the night.

War correspondents work in horrible conditions, and editors face a world of trouble.

But technology writers, for some reason unknown to me, have some of the easiest hours in the journalism profession. Weekdays only, and around Christmas the news slows to a slow trickle.

So if I'm not around much the next few weeks I have an excuse. I also have a family. So from my family to yours...all the best.

December 16, 2004

The Chinese Century XXXVIIIEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The room marked “closet” in the basement of the White House was his inner sanctum.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXXVIII"

LeapfroggingEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Great piece on Leapfrogging, less-developed countries going straight to technologies just getting started in more-advanced competitors. From Worldchanging.

UbiCompEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Over at Internet Time, Jay Cross (right) is trotting out a new possible buzzword for 2005.


Short for ubiquitous computng.

He looks at real computing in the palm of your hand (via a mobile phone), IPv6 giving every device its own address, wired and wireless broadband everywhere, and calls it a singular moment in technology.

Then he turns to Adam Greenfield, with an essay on ethical ways to design this new user experience. (He also uses the term Always-On.)

Not sure if I like the term, but I buy the idea. And I think it's going to change the world as nothing has, by making rapid change and rapid technology evolution inevitable, for everyone, everywhere.

Lead, follow, or some Kid With A Clue in Botswana (left) will push you out of the way.

Bluetooth CarEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The 2006 Volkswagon Passat will feature Bluetooth. Get into the car with a Bluetooth phone and continue your conversation, hands-free. For starters.

IDC's Mad Mobile CallEmail This EntryPrint This Article

IDC is predicting slower growth in mobile telephony next year, due a "lack of new catalysts."

No catalysts? Not true broadband, not true multimedia, not true PC functionality? Not music, not games, not TV and radio, all in the phone?

Tough crowd.

Continue reading "IDC's Mad Mobile Call"

Bus (Jet) RideEmail This EntryPrint This Article

For a long time I've equated a domestic plane flight to a bus ride. The only way to survive the experience is to cocoon within yourself, in as tight a space as possible, to keep your mouth shut, and to live in the airline's world for a while. (Especially if your jet has a face, like this cartoon jet on TV Five.)

That world has been changing. You can't get an "airline meal" even on a cross-country flight. Instead, carriers like America West try to sell you overpriced sandwiches, which cost a litle bit more and have a little less quality than what you find on the ground.

But the big changes, as we all know, are here and coming on the technology front. Your neighbor may spend the whole flight jabbering on their mobile. And you're going to be able to buy broadband Internet service, too.

Continue reading "Bus (Jet) Ride"

December 15, 2004

BlogiquetteEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Think of etiquette, netiquette...thus blogiquette.

What should good blogging behavior consist of? It's easier to start with pet peeves:

  • Blogging cul de sacs, or blog-de-sacs. Here's one The "blogroll" consists of a half-dozen "approved sites." No links except to big media news stories. Look at me, I'm King of the World! No, you're not.
  • Link blogs. The opposite of a blog-de-sac, so let's be clear. DrudgeReport is not a blog. It's a link list. A big blogroll is not a blog.
  • Bloghives. Community sites aren't blogs, although blogging may be inside them. Slashdot, FreeRepublic, Plastic, I don't care who you are. You should have a separate category.
  • No comments. Who are you, God? If you're too cheap to enable comments, at least put an e-mail address out there.
  • Failure to credit. You get an idea from someone, or grab an illustration, give it to them. Don't pretend it came out of your head like Athena out of Zeus. (Oh, that picture above came from the Reed Memorial Library in Ravenna, Ohio.)
  • Phony crediting. No, your story idea didn't come from BigNewsNetwork. That's an RSS feed that wraps its name aruond others' story. Look inside the frame, kid.
  • Ads in RSS feeds. A special Bronx Cheer to Geekzone, a New Zealand site that has found a way to stick an ad in each item it sends out via RSS. Same to you, fella -- buy my book.

But, hey, this is a blog. With comments. I've talked enough for one night. Give me your pet peeves. We'll talk again.

Liberal LudEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I am a big Lauren Weinstein fan. But his reasoning for being suspicious of Google leaves me thinking of two words -- Ned Lud.

But let's be fair, and offer his entire post to Dave Farber, in full:

Continue reading "Liberal Lud"

Cellular Directory HoaxEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The story about having to opt-out of a mobile phone directory by a specific date was a hoax. It's all opt-in, and telemarketers won't get access to it.

1 In 4 Worldwide Have MobilesEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Mobile phone accounts now total 1.5 billion. That's one phone for every four people, worldwide.

Zigbee (Finally)Email This EntryPrint This Article

The Zigbee standard (also known as 802.15.4) has finally been ratified.

Big deal, you say? Zig-what, I hear you cry?

I first wrote about Zigbee about seven months ago, with some enthusiasm, so you're forgiven if you've forgotten. But Zigbee is a low bitrate, very low power standard for powering what I call Always-on sensors.

Continue reading "Zigbee (Finally)"

Always-On Hobbyist ToolkitEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Czech this out.

A Czech outfit called Bladox has developed a system called Turbo SIM that basically lets you turn any obsolete mobile phone into an Always-On sensor.

For example. You can turn your dead mobile into a car alarm. No sensors, no wires. Just plug this card in place of the dead phone's SIM, in the back of the phone. If the alarm detects tilting or other movement without being disabled, it doesn't just wake the neighbors -- it sends an SMS message to any phone number you designate.

Cool, huh?

Continue reading "Always-On Hobbyist Toolkit"

Regulation GoodEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Charles Leadbetter, a freelance analyst who works with Demos of the UK and others (sort of like me but with better management), offered some great insights into the need for regulation recently that have been making the rounds of the blogosphere. (That's one of his books over there.)

How to Profit from Ignorance posits that regulation is needed to regulate ignorance. As life gets more complicated, we become more dependent on experts. Regulation becomes the experts' stamp of approval.

But there's another way of putting the same point -- transparency.

Continue reading "Regulation Good"

The Chinese Century XXXVII: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

If an American were asked, on January 2, whether he would trade his country’s position with that of China, he might just say yes. That's the way the papers made it seem.

Jin Renquin certainly wouldn’t. The government finance minister looked at his desk and saw a thousand problems, all intractable, many of them contradictory.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXXVII: Fiction"

December 14, 2004

MPAA Missing The PointEmail This EntryPrint This Article

If technology users were actively enlisted on behalf of the copyright industries, those industries would likely be making some headway against their chief nemesis -- DVD pirates.

DVD pirates take real money from real people for garbage they stole from studios. This is not just a China problem, but a problem throughout the world. The losses can be substantiated, they can be toted up.

But instead of working with users against its real threat, the MPAA is continuing to play hardball against them, turning potential friends into ardent foes.

And anyone who thinks they can beat the Internet is, frankly, fooling himself.

Continue reading "MPAA Missing The Point"

The Chinese Century XXXVI: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

It was not a happy New Year on Nantucket.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXXVI: Fiction"

Microsofting GoogleEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Since completing its IPO I have seen an entire cottage industry emerge disparaging Google.

Skepticism regarding Google is warranted. No company is perfect. But some of what I'm seeing rises to near-Microsoft proportions. There's a fine line between skepticism and cynicism, and in this case I think it's being crossed.

This is especially true in relation to issues of copyright and privacy.

Continue reading "Microsofting Google"

How Cities Should Deal With WiFiEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Cities should not be building WiFi networks.

They don't need to. There are plenty of people willing to supply the capability. WiFi is a local networking technology, not a wide-area networking technology.

Instead, cities should be building WiMax (802.16) networks.

The big problem for 802.11 remains backhaul. If Bells control backhaul, they determine the price of Internet service. We found this in the CLEC business. This monopoly must be broken.

WiMax can do that.

A city can provide WiMax links between police stations, schools, and other municipally-owned locations and competitive fiber nodes. This saves money for the city by providing an alternate route for its backhaul. Cities can tap into this backhaul, via WiFi, and provide a host of public safety services, from cameras on crime-ridden public streets and in parks to red light cameras on busy corners.

The excess capacity can then be sold, at a reasonable price, to any WiFi operator who wants to pay for it. The money earned in this way helps pay the city's upfront cost. The city's own Internet connectivity then becomes essentially free.

And anyone with a WiFi hotspot gets the cheap backhaul they need to make either a free or paid model work.

Intel is pushing WiMax hard. They would love to get involved in projects like this.

The Bells and cable operators will fight it like they've fought nothing before. Hopefully they will over-reach, their greed will become obvious to voters, and any legislator who tries to prevent cities from going to WiMax will be collecting unemployment after the next election.

December 13, 2004

Too Greedy To Have A ClueEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Atlanta, where I live, has this funny habit of turning the public good into private perks.

Back in the 1990s the city transformed the public streets around Olympic visitors into the private good of one Munson Steed. We still haven't lived it down.

Now, with WiFi we're at it again, this time on behalf of one Jeff Levy (right, from the Atlanta Jewish Times newspaper.)

The result, the city thinks, is a great citywide WiFi network called FastPass. In fact what they're getting is the theft of the unlicensed spectrum on behalf of Levy and other, uh-hem, "entrepreneurs."

The idea is that the city will install WiFi hotspots in public buildings --- City Hall, the Airport, local colleges -- and the network will be accessible for, uh, whatever any other property holder attached to the network can hold you up for. Visitors to Georgia Tech, for instance, will pay $7.95/day. Those to City Hall will pay $4. God only knows what the Airport will nick people for.

This is supposed to be a public benefit? Ri-i-i-i-i-gh-gh-t. Actually what it does is extend the reach of paid Wi-Fi networks into the public sphere, through a citywide roaming agreement.

If someone had asked me, of course, I could have told them how to make this work for everyone.

Continue reading "Too Greedy To Have A Clue"

The Chinese Century XXXV: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

New Year’s Eve dawned with good news.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXXV: Fiction"

Mobile Is What The Internet WasEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Mobile phones are what the Internet was because the industry lives in dog years.

The difference is that while the Internet was defined by server software, mobile phone change is driven by devices.

The specific phone you have defines everything about your mobile experience. What you can do, where you can do it, and what you can buy are all defined by the particular phone in your hand at any one time.

So, unlike the situation on the Internet, not everyone is on the same page. Not everyone is in the same year.

Continue reading "Mobile Is What The Internet Was"

Nova Spivack's Chain LetterEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I have finally figured out why this blog isn't more popular.

I miss crazy ideas like this. Nova Spivack called it a "go meme," but when you go through it closely you realize it's a blog version of the old chain letter.

Fill out this survey. Put your own data at the end of it. Pass it on.

Don't break the chain.

Why didn't I think of tiat?

Continue reading "Nova Spivack's Chain Letter"

A Gadget Freak ChristmasEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Now here's the perfect gift for the gadget freak on your list, assuming they have the right phone and Windows XP.

It's software for burning DVDs onto your mobile. Just $25, from Makayama Software, a Japanese outfit with European representatives.

Before you start thinking what's that for, imagine yourself in an Airport facing a nasty business flight. Imagine if you could turn on your phone and watch that DVD you got from someone else for Christmas.


Continue reading "A Gadget Freak Christmas"

Motorola IBDEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I'm dating myself here, but back in the 1970s, at Wiess College on the Rice campus, there was a four-square court. Four players, you bounce a dodge ball into one square or another, and the person who can't get it into another square on the bounce is replaced, with everyone rotating around.

Sometimes the ball would fly into the crowd of waiting players and passers-by. We'd shout "IBD," which stands for Innocent Bystander Drilled.

If the Sprint-Nextel deal goes down, Motorola is IBD. (You might want to get Motorola CEO Ed Zander one of these nifty t-shirts.)

Continue reading "Motorola IBD"

December 12, 2004

Big Dangerous WasteEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The launch this week of a new Boeing Delta rocket (picture from the BBC story) , without a real payload, demonstrates everything that's wrong with the current U.S. space program.

The real problem in space is not addressed by this rocket. The real problem is the cost of spacelift per kilogram of mass. Until that goes down substantially space pays for no one.

If the taxpayer money being spent on this program were invested instead in a space elevator, we would all be a lot closer to getting off this rock than we are.

The likely motives for this, are truly frightening:

Continue reading "Big Dangerous Waste"

December 10, 2004

The Chinese Century XXXIV: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The President’s speech was timed to coincide with the opening of markets in Asia.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXXIV: Fiction"

AOL Surrenders To The WebEmail This EntryPrint This Article

That's the message hidden in news that AOL cut 750 jobs this week.

The original assumption of the Time Warner acquisition was that it would control customers through the online service. You can't control customers on the Internet, but you can if they're inside your walled garden.

Time Warner tried a lot of different things in trying to make this happen. It made its content "exclusive" to AOL. It created "AOL for Broadband."

The fact is nothing worked. In fact, Time Warner's content was badly hurt by being exclusive to AOL. Time Warner made its stuff invisible to much of the market.

Now those days are done. As ZDNet noted in its story on this, "The new layoffs come weeks after AOL announced its intention to realign the company and focus more of its resources on the free Web."

The people leaving were devoted to the online service. In its previous set of lay-offs Time Warner dumped the Netscape people who who were working on "the free Web." (Under Mozilla, they're doing fine.)

So what's AOL's real problem?

Continue reading "AOL Surrenders To The Web"

What Sustains Microsoft's MonopolyEmail This EntryPrint This Article

What I like to call Moore's Law of Training sustains Microsoft's software monopoly.

Of course, there is no such thing. That's the point. Learning to use anything new is a bear. You need a lot of motivation to make a change, and you know you're going to lose time from your work while you make that change.

Given this fact, it's amazing anyone ever changes anything at all.

Which leads me to a story....

Continue reading "What Sustains Microsoft's Monopoly"

December 09, 2004

Digitally Obese?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Leave it to the folks at the BBC to turn good news into bad. (Cute kitty found at Guru International, in Oz.)

As hard drives become cheaper, faster, and capable of handling more files, we leave more files in them. I now have copies of all my music on my PC, and could quickly transfer most of it to an iPod. My son and daughter never clear their Internet cache any more, and my wife keeps e-mails going back months and months.

So what do the good people at the BBC call this? They call it “digitally obese.”

Continue reading "Digitally Obese?"

The Chinese Century XXXIII: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

The wheels came up, the plane arced toward the sky over Qunu, and The Lady leaned back in her seat, closed her eyes, tried to remember.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXXIII: Fiction"

Email This EntryPrint This Article

Thunderbird, the Mozilla replacement for Outlook Express, is now available. Get it now.

Feature Or Bug?Email This EntryPrint This Article

In our zeal to stamp out bugs that hackers can exploit are we destroying all the features that make software useful? (The picture to the right is of a perfectly harmless computer bug. Learn how to make one from Irenecrafts.)

The question occurs based on reaction to Secunia's latest security alert.

It's a pop-up hijack, in which a malicious site hijacks, say, a session with your bank or broker. If that bank or broker uses pop-ups, the malicious code may tell you to input account information in the pop-up. Then the hacker goes into your account as you and drains it.

Pretty nasty. But what was nastier, as ZDNet revealed, was the reaction to it.

Continue reading "Feature Or Bug?"

Song for SubhamEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Here is a great example of something Americans would never dream of doing, and another reason why America is failing its people.

Subham Prakhar is a great story. (The picture is from a BBC story.)

He's 12, he's poor, he's very bright. And his potential might have remained buried had he not entered something called the "India Child Genius" competition.

He won.

Continue reading "Song for Subham"

Another Linux Advantage: LocalizationEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Open source has a lot of well-publicized advantages over proprietary systems, but one of the biggest is not well understood by Americans.

That is localization.

If you want Microsoft Office in, say, Swahili, you have to wait for Microsoft to decide the effort is worth it, then you have to wait for Microsoft to hire some programmers who understand Swahili, or hire Swahili-speakers who can talk to its programmers, and eventually you get something.

For OpenOffice, Kilinux simply put together a team of volunteers and got to work. The result is a suite for 70 million people in eastern and southern Africa, voila!

Continue reading "Another Linux Advantage: Localization"

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If a Colby Nolan applies for a job at your firm claiming an MBA from Trinity Southern University, set it aside. Colby is a six year old cat, owned by a deputy attorney general in Pennsylvania, which alleges that Trinity Southern is a spam-spouting diploma mill.

Nolan could not be reached for comment.

December 08, 2004

The Chinese Century XXXII: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

Up in Peacham, Vermont, Jock Gill opened his e-mail after Christmas weekend and found a very strange missive inside.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXXII: Fiction"

Long Arm Of The LANEmail This EntryPrint This Article

With many companies now substituting WiFi for wired networks, it's natural that those with multiple locations would want to tie them all together.

Bluesocket Inc. of Burlington, Mass. (right, from their home page) is among those getting into this game. Their home page describes them as "building an enterprise-class WLAN" and they claim their new WG-400 Wireless Gateway can handle as many as 50 users at the same time, which is pretty nifty.

But is there a general problem here? Perhaps there is.

Continue reading "Long Arm Of The LAN"

Have Nets, Have NotsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

A new study from England says that, in the year 2025, 40% of Britons will still have no Internet access at home (if man is still alive). (I believe the image, from MIT, shows the Kanji characters for 2025. Could someone tap Joi Ito on the shoulder and have him check for me?

There is a faulty assumption at the base of these predictions. Those who wrote this study thought of the Internet in the way we currently think of it, as something you access with a PC, speaking with your fingers and hearing with your eyes.

As I've said here many times, that's not all there is to it. That is not the way it is going to go down. The old and the poor may never have use for a mouse and a screen. But just because that's what the Internet is, that's not what the Internet is going to be.

Continue reading "Have Nets, Have Nots"

Japan's Suicide ClubsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Speaking of Japan, the Internet is getting blamed for a steep rise in suicide among young people there. (For more on this image, go to the end of the article.)

Apparently young people interested in doing away with themselves are meeting one another online, arranging to get together offline, and then actually going through with it. Some 26 people have gone out this way in the last two months, according to the BBC story.

But is the Internet to blame for any of this?

Continue reading "Japan's Suicide Clubs"

Pass The BottleEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I have a confession to make.

The one thing I would really love to have for Christmas, the one thing I'm least likely to get, is a bottle of the old family wine.

It turns out that a distant branch of my family tree runs a winery in Baden, in Germany, barely a draft notice's toss away from the Swiss border. Weingut Blankenhorn (I think it translates to good wine by the Blankenhorns) is run by Rosemarie Blankenhorn (known as Roy), who is about my age. In addition to the usual German varieties they also make a Chardonnay and a Merlot and a Cab.

But unless I can scrape up airfare and meet Ms. Blankenhorn in person (another life ambition), my chances of trying her wines are slim and none. This is because the winery is fairly small, so that only a big importer would be able to do a deal with her, and also because state laws in the U.S. keep big out-of-state importers from serving Georgia, even by mail or Web.

But that may be about to change.

Continue reading "Pass The Bottle"

Sign Of The TimesEmail This EntryPrint This Article

IBM's decision to sell its PC business to China's Lenovo for cash and stock is smart move.

It's a sign of the times that Chinese firms are now doing what Japanese and Koreans did 20 years ago, buying U.S. assets to get a foothold in the mainstream market. (The picture is copied from Xinhua's coverage of the IBM-Lenovo announcement in Beijing.)

For IBM this is like the Braves trading Kevin Millwood to Philly for a back-up catcher, a salary dump. Some 10,000 people whose severance might have caused trouble got blown out.

IBM will now concentrate on things that aren't commodities, like servers, services, big iron and Linux, areas where it can earn a high mark-up on its employees' time. The PCs that IBM sells its corporate clients will now have the best of both worlds, IBM quality control and management matched with the lowest possible cost. That's what its salesmen need to compete with Dell.

What's in this for Lenovo?

Continue reading "Sign Of The Times"

December 07, 2004

The Chinese Century XXXI: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

My fellow Americans.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXXI: Fiction"

Hotspot HazardsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

There are hazards to both the free and paid hotspot model.

Continue reading "Hotspot Hazards"

ESPN PhoneEmail This EntryPrint This Article

There is a lot of wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth going on about ESPN entering the mobile phone business, through an agreement with Sprint.

It's not that big a deal. Sprint made these co-branding deals, called MVNO in the biz, a big part of its strategy. Virgin, Carphone Warehouse and 7-Eleven are signed-up, and Wal-Mart is reportedly taking a look.

What do you need to become a Big Time Mobile Phone Brand?

Continue reading "ESPN Phone"

Truth Like FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

In my ongoing novel "The Chinese Century" the backdrop issue is the falling dollar. The story is not fiction. I have also approached the angle of Softbank investing in mobile technology. Turns out that wasn't fiction, either.

Will you newspeople leave me a little something I can make up, please?

Take My Picture?Email This EntryPrint This Article

The explosion in cameraphones is creating an explosion of litigation, legislation and innovation.

Here's some of the latter, solutions from two Japanese inventors and Hewlett-Packard that blur the view of anyone caught on camera without their consent. (The H-P version requires a compatible camera.)

Pretty cool, huh? Solves a lot of problems, doesn't it?

Continue reading "Take My Picture?"

TotalNews BahrainEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Back in the 1990s one of the bigger stories I covered concerned an outfit called TotalNews.

TotalNews tried to make a living for itself by putting its trade dress around others' news stories, even covering the original ads with its own. After a legal fight it backed off, but it did not disappear.

Fast-forward nearly a decade. Since getting access to an RSS feed I've seen a lot of links from something called BigNewsNetwork. Here's one. It looks like a story from Israel, a panel complaining about regulators.

Continue reading "TotalNews Bahrain"

December 06, 2004

The Chinese Century Chapters 1-30 Summary: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

For those who don’t like jumping into a novel in the middle, and who are intimidated by the large number of chapters already written, here’s a review of The Chinese Century so far.

Consider this another invitation to join the fun.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century Chapters 1-30 Summary: Fiction"

The Chinese Century XXX: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

We had decided on a Christmas at home long before the economic crisis began.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXX: Fiction"

Really Always-OnEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The BBC has a piece today showing how the World of Always On could be invisible, worn instead of held.

We've already seen undershirts embedded with medical sensors. But Ian Pearson predicts we're going to move, over the next 10 years, to a world of devices imprinted on the skin.

Continue reading "Really Always-On"

Digerati News BlackoutEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The Digerati are about to undergo a serious news blackout.

Dave Farber (the picture is from Joi Ito's blog) will be putting up his Interesting People list for 10 days starting Friday as he travels to an undisclosed location with poor Internet access.

This is news because Farber's list has morphed, in the last few years, from a way for Farber to tell friends what he thinks into a real community, where talented people pass stories back-and-forth and comment on them.

It's truly remarkable because, in a technological sense, this should be obsolete, no news at all. Farber's is essentially a shared, moderated mailing list. When someone sends something interesting he forwards it along, and the digerati who are part of the list depend on his unerring sense of what's important (and what isn't) to keep the signal-noise ratio extremely high.

What happens when Farber goes dark isn't just that we lose a news source. We lose contact with all the other people on the list, because we don't have any other place in common.

So if this blog, or your other favorite news source, reads like it's one-eye blind next week you'll know why.

Continue reading "Digerati News Blackout"

The Cure For Software PiracyEmail This EntryPrint This Article

You can end software piracy pretty quickly by making the software dependent on a service subscription.

That's the Clue delivered by Half-Life recently, and other game makers all the time. (Picture is from the BBC story.)

As the BBC reported, Valve (which makes the game) decided to cut-off 20,000 users who were using pirated versions of the underlying software. It knew who to cut off because it made all users authenticate their copies through its online version, called Steam, and that process could identify which keys weren't valid, or were copied.

Continue reading "The Cure For Software Piracy"

Experiments in FrugalityEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Glenn Fleishman drew a lot of admiring attention over the weekend for his experiment in frugality, trying to see just how little he could pay for the telecom service he needs. (The picture is the thumbnail from Glenn's blog.)

Basically he moved calls to his mobile phone and DSL line, using Vonage and SkypeOut. He also spent $3/month for a Cingular service called FastForward that moves all calls to his DSL when he hits the limits on his calling plan.

Glenn figures he's saving $130/month. (Your mileage may vary.) I wish I could do as well.

Continue reading "Experiments in Frugality"

Microsoft's Chinese ExperimentEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Microsoft has launched an experiment in tightly-controlled liberty called MSN Spaces whose attitude is very oriental, nearly Chinese.

Spaces is a blogging tool (Microsoft loves to own the language, thus blogs become spaces as bookmarks became favorites) with a difference, namely central control and censorship.

However it's defended, and whatever it's called, control is the essence of the Microsoft experience. You will only use Microsoft tools, and Microsoft formats, under Microsoft rules, and write what Microsoft allows.

What could be more Chinese? (The link preceding is to the location of the art at the right.)

Continue reading "Microsoft's Chinese Experiment"

December 05, 2004

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Xcelis launched its "cellular Skype" service with a free 7-day trial to Cingular/AT&T and T-Mobile customers.

The company will charge $9.99/month. You call Xcelis, get a second dial tone, then call the party you want over VOIP.

The Chinese Century XXIX: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

I seldom watch local TV. But a few months ago my YMCA stuck a set in the mens’ locker room, and some idiot who comes in ahead of me likes Fox.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXIX: Fiction"

December 03, 2004

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A new version of the Skulls mobile phone virus, Skulls B, is apparently capable of infecting phones through open Bluetooth connections. This mimics the behavior of real viruses, which also travel through proximity. (Gesundheit.)

The Chinese Century XXVIII: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

Alan Greenspan felt like he was explaining things to a child.

He had often felt that way.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXVIII: Fiction"

Dumber 'n DirtEmail This EntryPrint This Article

There's a joke I make when I'm messing around with my dogs. I call them "dumber 'n dirt," even "dumber 'n dumb dirt."

I don't mean anything by it. They're good dogs. I say it affectionately, knowing they don't understand a word of it. It's our own private joke.

Well there are days when I see a news story and I don't blog it, because it's just, well, dumber than dirt. Instead I get lazy and wait for the other shoe to, inevitably, drop.

Like it did on Lycos Europe, a company whose mascot was once (back in the day, as they say) a dog.

Continue reading "Dumber 'n Dirt"

Spam Trends (In My Inbox)Email This EntryPrint This Article

What's in my spam folder these days?

Offers of phony Vicodin and fake Rolex watches. Oh, and phony lotteries. And lots more of all of it.

December 02, 2004

Bluetooth Security NeededEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Bluetooth security will be upgraded (longer passwords, better encryption) following reports hackers are stealing phone owners' data, writes TechTarget.

Rational Market Theory Takes Another BeatingEmail This EntryPrint This Article

One of many "truths" of the past that must be re-examined in the light of 2004 should be the whole idea of rational markets.

How else to you explain this? Apple stock is up to $68, which works out to a price-earnings ratio of....93? (Yep, carry the 1, zero...93.)

Now I think the iPod and iTunes are nifty, too. But as economic events they are no grand slam, set against the size of the underlying company. These are singles and doubles, not home runs.

Besides that, there's risk. There's growing competition. Apple has gone from being a computer company, compared to HP, Dell, and Gateway, to being a consumer electronics company, compared to Sony, Matsushita, and Philips.

It's a step up in class, maybe. But can Jobs hit the pitching in this league?

This, I should add, is just one example of a market that's beginning to look a bit like the one we saw in 1999.

Continue reading "Rational Market Theory Takes Another Beating"

Blink, BlinkEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The two brief items below are examples of a new feature here at Corante, called Blink.

Blinks are quick hits, references to stories happening within our beats. Just a link, maybe a few words, based on something we found of interest but have yet to think about thoroughly.

I get no credit for any of this. Your encomiums should go to Hylton Jolliffe (right), our fearless leader, who has also been implementing other changes to make our blogs more "competitive" for reader interest (and advertiser dollars) as we go into 2005. It's true his forehead is too small and narrow for him to be a truly "handsome man" as I am, but we at Mooreslore are hopeful the course of time may change that.

I have been privileged to have written with Hylton for nearly two years now. He is honest, innovative, fair-minded, a good man in every way. I've chided him in the past that he should be rich as well.

Maybe (blink, blink) we can get to work on that now....

ESPN WirelessEmail This EntryPrint This Article

ESPN will offer its own brand of cellular service next year, under the name ESPN Wireless, re-selling capacity from Sprint PCS, according to Weblogsinc.

3G By 2006Email This EntryPrint This Article

Cingular Wireless said it will have 3G broadband wireless available in "most major markets," by the end of 2006, citing spectrum it acquired with AT&T Wireless.

The Chinese Century XXVII: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

Even if President Chen wanted to come to Shanghai, which he didn’t, he wasn’t going to defy what amounted to an American blockade.

The U.S. warships stood off Taipei to protect his sovereignty, after all. Walking into the enemy’s lair would be a provocation.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXVII: Fiction"

Franchising WiFiEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I was shocked last night when, watching TV, I caught an infomercial for "WiFi franchises."

It came from a company called Transnet Wireless in Florida, which is offering a kit that lets "franchisees" get into the business of providing hotspot connectivity for $13,000. The kit includes a gateway, software, and some terminals that take cash. The commercial is filled with scenes of people sticking bills and credit cards into the terminals' slots for Internet access.

The idea is that you find places to put these devices, and maintain them, in exchange for a cut of the revenue. The real estate owner where you set them up also gets a cut. Of course, Transnet gets a cut, too.

The more I read the company's stuff the more my Spidey-sense got tingly. They make it seem like easy money, and I don't think it is.

Continue reading "Franchising WiFi"

December 01, 2004

The Promise of India and ChinaEmail This EntryPrint This Article

For the foreseeable future, India and China are going to dominate the world economy. (Get your India shirt here.)

Europe and Japan are tired. America is distracted.

It gives me no pleasure to note this. I'm an American after all. But those are the facts.

Yet there is a real, glowing bright side to them.

You see it when you do some math.

Continue reading "The Promise of India and China"

The Mobile TV Hype MachineEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The bandwagon on behalf of "Mobile TV" is coming down your street, just in time for the holidays.

If you're a kid it's pretty exciting. But I've seen this parade before, many times. I can enjoy your pleasure, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to join "Santa" later at our favorite bar for a few pops and expect he'll make me pick up the tab.

The big truth is that it's now pretty trivial to put a TV tuner into a mobile phone. Yes, the days of Dick Tracy's wristwatch TV are really here. (Image from USA Today.)

Of course you remember what Tracy used the technology for? To see his boss while he was talking to him. I did the same thing at the 1964 World's Fair, where AT&T had a videophone demonstration. It was no big deal then, and it's no big deal now.

Entrepreneurs like Blake Krikorian of Sling Media, who is profiled in the Business Week story above, think you'll use the capability to watch their streams. Most people watch brief snippets of TV anyway, not whole shows, he says. No time. So offer them such streams for the moments where they're standing in line at the Airport, or waiting for a meeting to start, and they will pay through the nose for them.

Maybe. But maybe not.

Continue reading "The Mobile TV Hype Machine"

Read The Fine Print: Pennsylvania's ShameEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Philadelphians are celebrating an agreement with Verizon which, they say, allows them to offer a citywide Wi-Fi network despite a law, signed (shamefully) by Governor Ed Rendell yesterday, aimed at stopping the municipal WiFi movement.

But they need to read the fine print.

Wetmachine has the story:

HB 30 prohibits the state or any municipality (or any municipally owned or operated entity) from providing any sort of telecom or broadband service for any kind of remuneration. The bill grandfathers any existing systems, tho, so no one will get cut off.

Sound good? Read on:

Continue reading "Read The Fine Print: Pennsylvania's Shame"

The Chinese Century XXVI: FictionEmail This EntryPrint This Article

NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.

I hadn’t heard from Tim Cairl in months.

And now he wanted me to do something I’d never done in my life.

Continue reading "The Chinese Century XXVI: Fiction"

Intel Will Come BackEmail This EntryPrint This Article

One of my problems with most business journalism is we tend to write about companies the way we do sports teams, and it's not that simple.

But mid-way through John Markoff's latest torching of Intel I got a Clue that the company has finally figured things out and is going to turn around.

It was one word, from incoming CEO Paul Otellini.


Continue reading "Intel Will Come Back"

All God's Chillun Need FirewallsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

I first came up with the line above about four years ago, soon after I got my first software firewall, from ZoneAlarm.

Nothing has happened since to change my mind, except to make the call more urgent.

USA Today's test of a half-dozen "honeypot" computers, left unprotected with broadband connections, should be required reeading. It's gone from threat to certainty that your computer will be turned into a spambot zombie if you don't have a firewall.

The situation is so dire I had to change my mind on something.

Continue reading "All God's Chillun Need Firewalls"