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September 21, 2005

What? I'm Retirement Age?Email This EntryPrint This Article

jim_allchin.pngWell, nearly, judging from the latest re-org news coming out of Microsoft.

The retiree in this case is Jim Allchin (right), who has been the Windows guru there for years. What struck me was his age, 53.

I'm going to be 51 in January. And I'm launching a start-up.

Seriously, Microsoft is going through the middle-aged crazies, and the solution is in many ways typical. That is, push decision-making down the stack, toward younger managers. Let a hundred flowers bloom and all that.

The other big headline in here is that Ray Ozzie, the former Lotus executive who joined Microsoft last year as a chief technical officer, is being given line responsibilities for what's called the "software-based services" strategy.

Unfortunately, Microsoft's middle-aged trouble goes a little deeper than that.

Continue reading "What? I'm Retirement Age?"

August 28, 2005

The Other KatrinaEmail This EntryPrint This Article

While using the Web to track Hurricane Katrina (get out of New Orleans and Biloxi while you still can) I found the high-ranking site for another Katrina, Katrina Leskanich.

Don't remember her? How about her band Katrina and the Waves? Still nothing? OK, how about this:

Now I'm Walking On Sunshine (whoa oh)
I'm Walking On Sunshine (whoa oh)
I'm Walking On Sunshine (whoa oh)
And Don't it Feel Good (Hey) (All right now) And Don't it Feel Good (Hey)
(Yeah)

If you're of a certain age (anywhere from 35 to about 45) that should send you running screaming from the room. The band made a living off that for years, but by the mid-1990s even the Germans were tired of them.

So Katrina, who was an American Army Brat but has been in England since 1976, went back to the drawing board. She actually had some success, even winning the Eurovision Song Contest for England in 1997, but she wanted back in the pop game.

So how do you make a comeback in 2005?

Continue reading "The Other Katrina"

August 22, 2005

Where Gates Bests JobsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

billgatus.jpgWhere Bill Gates bests Steve Jobs, and always has, is in his willingness to build ecosystems.

Windows is an ecosystem. Microsoft is the biggest fish in that ecosystem. Since 1995, Windows has been eating the other fish in that ecosystem, but fish do that. It's still an ecosystem.

Apple has never been comfortable with living in an ecosystem. Apple builds products, not ecosystems. There were never any second-source Macintosh hardware producers with Jobs in charge, and they were all killed off when he returned.

You will never see Steve Jobs, or any of his lieutenants, jumping around a stage yelling "developers, developers, developers, developers." It's not going to happen.

But if it did, if Jobs ever learned to share, imagine the threat he'd be then?

Here's an example of how he can.

Continue reading "Where Gates Bests Jobs"

Not All HotSpot Advantages ObviousEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Krystal.gifKrystal restaurants (think White Castle with mustard, Kumar) have finished a full year with their free WiFi hotspot program, and have decided to extend it to all 243 company-owned restaurants (as well as recommend it to their 180 franchises.)

The evidence of increased sales are anecdotal, but CIO David Reid told CMO Magazine he has already tracked a bottom-line advantage.

Continue reading "Not All HotSpot Advantages Obvious"

August 18, 2005

Verizon's Futuristic "Vision"Email This EntryPrint This Article

vzone_backnew2.jpg
Verizon has begun selling one of the dumbest machines I've ever seen, a "DSL modem," (their term), wireless router and cordless phone combination dubbed Verizon One.

Essentially this ties together the obsolete telephone network with the Internet Verizon is actually selling and tells customers it's the same thing. It pushes fancy PBX capabilities on residential customers who don't need them. (Just to make things a little better, it locks them into its cellular service, too.)

The FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) can be easily seen in the phrase "DSL modem." DSL is a digital service. It doesn't need modulation or demodulation to trick an analog line into taking a digital connection, which is what a modem does. It is an oxymoron.

Dave Burstein wrote in to say this is a Westell device. Westell has a long history of making things on-demand for phone companies, so Verizon gets all the "credit" for this piece of nonsense.

What's ironic is I happen to know Verizon was talking to Netopia two years ago about a massive contract for DSL gateways that would have been far superior to this piece of nonsense. (Here's a 2001 press release, delivered in the early days of the relationship.) I have one of these gateways in my house now, a review unit. What would have made them powerful was a promised co-branded service providing full security to home users, saving them as much as $200/year on "security suites" from various software vendors. (There are currently no Netopia press releases, going back to 2002, referencing Verizon.)

More on what a truly clued-in person feels after the break.

Continue reading "Verizon's Futuristic "Vision""

August 15, 2005

The Real Estate Bubble Pops HereEmail This EntryPrint This Article

249 winter avenue.jpgA post card came in the mail, from a Keller-Williams agent. (Is it just my imagination or have they taken over the market lately?) It was about the Gary house, down the street from me.

The asking price is $334,900.

I remember the Garys, from back in the day. Nice people. Salt of the earth. He was a deacon at the church. She loved him desperately. The mantle was already filled with pictures of grandchildren when I met them, in the early 1980s. I went there regularly for block meetings. They said we were crazy to pay $49,000 for our house.

Mr. Gary passed away in the late 1990s. (God rest his soul.) She finally moved out with some of those grandchildren, a few years later.

They had gotten an unbelievable offer.

Continue reading "The Real Estate Bubble Pops Here"

August 08, 2005

Intel Fights the PowerEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Intel_Logo.gifIntel holds the telecommunications balance of power in its hand.

Here's how The Register puts it, with its usual hyperbole:

Intel is throwing its financial, technical and lobbying weight behind the rising tide of municipally run broadband wireless networks, seeing these as a way to stimulate uptake of Wi-Fi and WiMAX and so sell more of its chips and increase its influence over the communications world.

And Intel is not going to back down. As ZDNet notes today, there's money to be made.

Continue reading "Intel Fights the Power"

July 30, 2005

My Bad (H-P's Too)Email This EntryPrint This Article

Mark_Hurd.jpgHewlett-Packard is apparently ending its relationship with Apple.

When I last wrote about the company I called this relationship a key to new CEO Mark Hurd's future. Apparently this was just a re-sale agreement, and H-P's channels were pushing out only 5% of the iPods being sold. (My mistake.)

So they're dropping it. And they're blaming Carly Fiorina. (Of course.)

But I believe Apple remains the key to any possible H-P comeback. (Here's why.)

Continue reading "My Bad (H-P's Too)"

July 23, 2005

Marc Canter's ClueEmail This EntryPrint This Article

marc cantor closeup.jpgI'm a big fan of both Marc Canter (right) and Joi Ito . (NOTE: The picture, by Dan Farber of News.Com (and ZDNet fame), was taken off Marc's blog.)

They're both brilliant. They're both A-list bloggers. They're both rich. I've known both for about two decades.

But I think Marc has a vital Clue Joi has missed, about one of the most important trends of our time, the rise of the open source business process.

Here's why I think that.

Joi has put a lot of money into SixApart, which runs Movable Type, which powers this blog. It's good stuff. But it's being left behind because it is, at heart, proprietary. It doesn't interconnect with other software. It isn't modular, scalable, and it can only be improved by the SixApart team.

In other words, it doesn't take advantage of the open source business process, and thus there are whole new worlds it hasn't been able to scale into. It's not a Community Network Service (like Drupal), and it's not a social networking system (like MySpace).

Marc, on the other hand, has just released GoingOn. It's a new engine for digital communities, like MySpace. He launched with Tony Perkins, who will use the system as the new heart of his AlwaysOn network (no relation to my wireless network application idea of the same title).

Marc calls GoingOn an Identity Hub, something to which other identity systems can connect. (It's interoperable with Sxip Networks, for instance.)

But Marc also understands that his stuff can't be the be-all and end-all. Let him explain it:

Continue reading "Marc Canter's Clue"

July 21, 2005

Lazy Reporter Calls Reporter LazyEmail This EntryPrint This Article

rafat ali.jpgThat headline could have been written about me. (But let's see if I can't make it up to you right now.)

It's the oldest dodge in the blogging world. You call another reporter lazy in order to cover up the fact you haven't looked at a story.

The usually-reliable Rafat Ali (right) did just that this week in his PaidContent, calling out The Guardian's Emily Bell for her skeptical take on Rupert Murdoch's $580 purchase of Intermix.

Just how lazy is that? Click below and find out.

Continue reading "Lazy Reporter Calls Reporter Lazy"

Pay for Play Is Already HereEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Pat Kenealy.jpgAdam Penenberg channels IDC IDG head Pat Kenealy (left, by Jay Sandred) on another of those occasional "you're going to have to pay for Web content someday" pieces we see every so often.

Well, he's right. But he's also wrong.

He's right because there's already some Web content people do pay for. Dow Jones loses reach and influence, but does make money selling online subscriptions. Lexis-Nexis and Dialog haven't gone free with the dawn of the Web. Last time I checked iTunes was selling songs online, at a profit.

He's wrong because he insists that "micro-payment technology" will stimulate the growth of pay-for-play content. We've been hearing that one for 10 years now, and it's as wrong now as it was in 1995.

There's already a micro-payment program in place. A very successful one.

Continue reading "Pay for Play Is Already Here"

July 19, 2005

Marky's MarkEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Mark_Hurd.jpgI was pulled from a deep sleep this morning by another reporter, from CBS Radio News, asking for lessons from the latest H-P lay-offs.

Since Mark Hurd left NCR to run the mess Carly Fiorina made of Hewlett-Packard in March, he has been fighting to turn the old boat around. The company turned in solid numbers in May, he hired away Dell's CIO, Randy Mott, and now he has the credibility with his board needed to prune the deadwood.

H-P has a lot of deadwood.

In buying Compaq, her signature move, Fiorina took on a lot of old, tired, even worthless brands, like DEC and Tandem. Compaq's latter-day strategy had been to buy these outfits for their book of business, and Fiorinia's deal was the apotheosis of this old-line industrial strategy. She insisted at the time there would only be a few survivors of the PC wars, and buying Compaq was the only way to make sure H-P would be one of them.

She was wrong. What works in steel does not work in tech. A book of business is worthless, because computers are short-term capital goods. It's not what you did for me, or even what you did for me lately, but what you're going to do for me tomorrow that counts.

But enough about the past.


Continue reading "Marky's Mark"

July 15, 2005

Technorati Should Be For SaleEmail This EntryPrint This Article

dave sifry.jpegI'm not trying to start a rumor here. I have no insight into whether Dave Sifry (left, from Marc Cantor's blog) has considered any offers for his Technorati site, nor how he would react if one came in.

But since Barry Diller bought Bloglines (via AskJeeves) Technorati's performance has been falling behind that of its rival.

Robert Scoble (who works for a possible acquirer, Microsoft) offers the numbers, three times as many links to Sifry's own blog from Bloglines as from his own engine.

There is a vital lesson here about the technology space:

Continue reading "Technorati Should Be For Sale"

July 13, 2005

My Personal Spam WarEmail This EntryPrint This Article

spam.gifE-mail service here may experience some delays as I undergo a personal trial by spam.

In this case it's a Joe Jobber, most likely a spam gang, that has grabbed both my e-mail address and my server's IP address to illegally sell prescription drugs without prescription.

For the last few days I've been firing off myriad alerts to uce@ftc.gov, the government's address dedicated to fighting fraudulent spam, with no response.

A domain registrar called Yesnic is apparently cooperating with this spam gang. They're the registrar of record on every Joe Job in this bunch. Most of the registrations, on investigation by me, seem to be made-up, but two carry the actual name, and a legal address, fo someone in Columbia, SC. This criminal should be easy to find if someone is interested.

Meanwhile, we learned today that the most popular anti-spam technique, like the so-called CAN SPAM Act that enables spam in the U.S., is in fact becoming a spammer favorite.

Continue reading "My Personal Spam War"

July 12, 2005

Ballmer's MicrosoftEmail This EntryPrint This Article

A reporter can make a good living just covering Microsoft.

This is not a good thing.

One fact that attracted me to technology journalism in the first place was its social mobility. I often write about companies I call "Clueless" and find they have disappeared practically before I can get the piece into digital print. Those that are "Clued-in" can also fall quickly, corporate management in this space being much like tightrope walking.

Intense competition makes for rapid evolution. Call this Dana's First Law of Competition. Markets in India and China are intensely competitive. You can't let your guard down for an instant. This is a very good thing.

It's not what human nature wants, of course. As people we want to relax, to enjoy our lives, to set the competition aside sometimes so we can, say, raise our families, get more education, or retire with dignity.

Both Microsoft and the government had opportunities to prevent this, to re-ignite competition. They chose not to take these opportunities.
steve ballmer.jpg
Bill Gates had one vision for Microsoft, but the company has gone beyond it. He was wise to pass the baton to his majordomo, Steve Ballmer. Ballmer is all sales, all the time, a whirling picture of aggression. (He's also, admittedly, what we call on this blog a Truly Handsome Man (grass don't grow on a busy street) but looks ain't everything.)

Ballmer's vision isn't really about technology. It's about exploiting advantages and making money.

So at Microsoft's recent Worldwide Partner Conference in Minneapolis (Minneapolis?) we got headlines like these:


  • This used to be about software partners. Now it's mainly about hardware partners, like tablet PC makers. This is an important change.
  • Microsoft continues to eat its young, entering profitable small business niches, aimed at engulfing and devouring them.
  • Ballmer told his software developers to "stick it to IBM" even while Microsoft sticks it to them.
  • Microsoft is telling its partners to "push Office ugrades," more evidence that the idea of Windows as a "software ecosystem" are ending.

This is just one corner of the news Microsoft made last week.

Continue reading "Ballmer's Microsoft"

July 11, 2005

This Week's Clue: Mr. Pulitzer, Tear Down This Wall!Email This EntryPrint This Article

The search for online business models is a continuing fascination of mine at A-Clue.Com.

This week I returned to the theme, and readers of A-Clue.com got an earful. (You can get one too -- always free.)


pulitzer.jpg
Most online stores fail their editorial mission. (That's Joseph Pulitzer to the right, from his eponymous journalism school at Columbia University in New York.)

You may have great merchandise, you may have great service, you may have a nifty shopping cart. But if you can't bring the values of your shop floor to your Web site, you won't succeed online. Over time you may not succeed offline either.

An editorial mission replicates the value of your store online. What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? For Amazon it's a database, a huge variety of merchandise. Works for Amazon, works for Wal-Mart, but it won't work for you.

In fact, Wal-Mart's failures online can be attributed to this editorial mission failure. They were unable to replicate the values of a real Wal-Mart in their online efforts. While the store looks a jumble, regular shoppers know you can actually get what you want there fairly quickly. What they should have enabled was a form of "shopping lists" that people could print-and-use at home, adapting to their own needs, then input regularly on the site, along with a delivery service.

The difference between editorial values and commercial values is that the one defines what you are, and the other puts your name in mind. If branding is to be worthwhile you must deliver the values the brand promises. That is exactly how editors think, too. What you call your reputation they call credibility.

Continue reading "This Week's Clue: Mr. Pulitzer, Tear Down This Wall!"

June 29, 2005

The Crazy Frog ScandalEmail This EntryPrint This Article

crazy-frog.jpgCellular operators love to go on about how much better their walled data gardens are than that nasty Internet, because consumers are safer.

Really?

Jamster and mBlox created the Crazy Frog phenomenon with a very addictive, and heavily advertised ringtone that topped the British pop charts for five weeks.

But there was a sting in the tail. People (mostly kids, but at least one BBC reporter as well) found they didn't just buy a 3 pound ringtone, but a "premium SMS" service that charged them as much as 3 pounds more for each add Jamster then sent them.

The two companies are being investigated but according to the BBC the maximum penalty could be a mere 100,000 pounds to mBlox, plus loss of its British business license. It's estimated the scam has earned over 10 million pounds so far.

But do you want to know the rest of the story, the bit the Brits don't know (yet)?

Continue reading "The Crazy Frog Scandal"

June 10, 2005

A Note to PewEmail This EntryPrint This Article

carol darr.jpgThis is a note to the nice people at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Some of your money has gone astray. Specifically, it has gone to George Washington University for something called the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet, formerly the Democracy Online Project.

GWU put a woman named Carol Darr (right, from the Center for National Policy) in charge of this group, and she has proven to be, well, not to put too fine a point on it, an idiot. Clueless, in the parlance of this blog. To be blunt about it, she is using money given for promoting democracy on the Internet in order to destroy it.

Continue reading "A Note to Pew"

June 06, 2005

Apple-Intel Follow-upEmail This EntryPrint This Article

steve_jobs.jpgIt's official.

Not only is Apple switching its chip supply contract from IBM to Intel, but it is moving to Intel processors in the bargain.

In making the announcement this morning, Steve Jobs said he didn't see how he could continue making great products beyond next year "based on the Power roadmap."

Right after his speech he had a cagey interview with CNBC's Ron Insana. "It’s not as dramatic as you’re characterizing it," he insisted.

"This is going to be a gradual transition. Hopefully a year from today we’ll have Intel-based Macs in the market. It’s going to be a two-year transition.

"As we look into the future, where we want to go is different (from IBM's product roadmap). A year or two in the future Intel’s processor roadmap aligns with where we want to go.

"I think this will get us where we want to be a year or two down the road." Jobs refused repeated requests by Insana to explain what he meant by that. (Jobs is also shaving even more closely than this picture shows. He's down to tiny stubble around a a still-brownish moustache. Hey, Steve, I'm 50 too.)

What I think he means, simply, is video.

Beyond this, most of what I wrote last week holds. This deal is not material to Intel, which continues to face loss of major market share to AMD among Windows and Linux users.

But there are also vital lessons here for followers of Moores Law, lessons I need to impart.

Continue reading "Apple-Intel Follow-up"

June 03, 2005

This Week's Clue: Deep CommerceEmail This EntryPrint This Article

logocartmanager.gifMy free weekly e-mail newsletter, A-Clue.com was launched in 1997 as a discussion of e-commerce.

This week I returned to the topic.

Enjoy.


The reason why publishers have no editorial budgets with the move to the Web is simple. (Image from Websitecenter.)

None engage in Deep Commerce. Instead, they still just sell ads.

Continue reading "This Week's Clue: Deep Commerce"

June 01, 2005

Uncounted Costs of SpamEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Templeton.jpgWhen we count the costs of spam we usually think in terms of bandwidth, the hours spent clearing it out of our systems, and (sometimes) the cost of our anti-spam solution sets.

But there are other, uncounted costs to spam which dwarf those.

One is the loss in productivity we get from being unable to get in touch with people when we need to. On my ZDNet blog for instance I did a piece today on EFF chairman Brad Templeton (right), based on something he'd written on Dave Farber's list.

I e-mailed him as a courtesy. I had no questions. I just wanted to thank him for his wisdom and let him know I would use it.

What I wound up facing was Brad's spam filter, a double opt-in system dubbed Viking. Apparently I didn't respond quickly enough to Viking's commands, because its response to my opting-in again was to send me a second message demanding an opt-in. (All this was done with the laudable goal of proving I'm a man and not a machine.)

The bottom line. We never connected. I had a deadline, and used Brad's words. Perhaps there was no harm done.

But frequently there is harm done in these situations. I've had occasion to accidentally delete someone's note in my Mailwasher system, and then call the person in question asking for a re-send.

What if they're not in on that call? What if they sent something I needed? What if I were disagreeing with Brad in my Open Source post, or he decided after publication I was twisting his words?

The point is this sort of thing happens every day. People can't be reached in the way e-mail promised they would be, due to spam. This raises the cost of doing business for everyone, and the mistakes that result can be catastrophic -- to people, to companies, to relationships.

Now, in honor of the man formerly known as Deep Throat, I'm going to offer yet-another anti-spam solution.

Continue reading "Uncounted Costs of Spam"

May 24, 2005

Et Tu, Frodo?Email This EntryPrint This Article

firetrust logo.gifI'm generally all in favor of anything to fight spam. And regular readers of this space will recall how much I like my own anti-spam tool, Mailwasher from FireTrust.

But this pissed me off.


UPDATE: After posting this I learned the spam database I'm about to describe is not necessary for Mailwasher to work. My complaint here is solely regarding issues of marketing and notice. Mailwasher remains my anti-spam solution of choice.


The latest version of the product, Version 5.0 to be precise, supports a company spam datebase, called FirstAlert! This is a commendable thing, on balance.

But in order to pay for maintaining this database, FireTrust has changed its business model. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Essentially they're going to a subscription model built around FirstAlert!

I was asked to download the "upgrade" to Mailwasher, by FireTrust, roughly a week ago. I did so. It's now a $37 product but, if you want to maintain your own POP3 mailbox and a public e-mail address, it's a necessity. Upgrading was transparent, easy-peasy.

Suddenly this morning I get a pop-up, inside Mailwasher, reading "your subscription to FirstAlert has expired," with a link to renew. The link goes to a page inside the FireTrust site, and they want $9.95 for the subscription. The page doesn't indicate how long this "subscription" lasts.

Because of the way in which this was done, it can look to a consumer like a classic bait-and-switch. I bought this thing just last week and now you want MORE money?

Fortunately it's very easy for FireTrust to fix this:

Continue reading "Et Tu, Frodo?"

May 23, 2005

The Right Blogging Business ModelEmail This EntryPrint This Article

jason calacanis.jpgI have been criticized soundly here by the early leaders of the blogging business community,(Pictured is one of these leaders, Jason Calacanis. From Vertikal.Dk.)

And why should these people listen? They have what they consider success. I'm a "low traffic blog." If I'm so clever I should be doing it, not talking about it, right? (Right.)

But the plain fact is, most of today's top blogs are using the wrong business model.

Their model is a media model. I tell you, you listen, and maybe I advertise to you on the side. This is what newspapers do, what magazines do, what radio does, what TV does.

But is the Internet a newspaper? Is it radio or a magazine or TV? No, it is not. The IN in the word Internet is short for Intimate. So why then should a business model imported from one of these other industries be appropriate? Only because, like TV entrepreneurs in the late 1940s, you can't think of a more appropriate one. You don't have the right vocabulary. You weren't born to this medium.

What would work better?

The community business model would work better. This is driven, not so much by what bloggers want to say as what their readers want to say. There are many high-traffic sites now using the community model -- Slashdot, Plastic, Groklaw, DailyKos. What they have in common is true community software -- Scoop, Slash, even Drupal.

The problem (and this is the nut of the issue) is that most of these community sites have deliberately shied away from having a business model. The only site I mentioned above that has a true business model is Slashdot, and Slashdot is so unusual people with an editorial background can't get their arms around what that business model is.

Continue reading "The Right Blogging Business Model"

May 20, 2005

My Google?Email This EntryPrint This Article

"One of our regular posters here (OK, it was Brad) suggested that our piece yesterday on changes at Google were just a way to track clickthroughs.

We both underestimated it. In the biggest change since the service launched Google will scrap its small clean interface and, just for you (because they like your smile) let you produce a personalized My Google page all your own.

Continue reading "My Google?"

May 19, 2005

Google's New Strategy Serves ShareholdersEmail This EntryPrint This Article

google natl_teachers.gifI was planning on writing this afternoon about Broadcom's new patent suit against Qualcomm. Regardless of the merits, it looks like a good corporate strategy, creating uncertainty about a market opponent just as you're entering their space.

But in researching the story I learned something new about Google that may distress you. And that's a better blog item than the one I started with.

Continue reading "Google's New Strategy Serves Shareholders"

May 14, 2005

A Publisher's EthicsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

fuat kircaali.jpgBy and large publishers do not share journalism's ethical sense.

Instead they apply business ethics.

While a journalist's ethics, like that of any other claimed profession, may hold them well short of what's illegal, businessmen must go right up to the legal line, even risk crossing it, to stay ahead of the competition. Businessmen who don't think that way are easily crushed by those who do.

In journalism, business ethics often push journalists over lines they should not cross. Robert Novak practices business ethics. The National Enquirer practices business ethics. Those who choose to believe Novak or the Enquirer accept it.

And Fuat Kircaali (right), CEO of Sys-Con Media, has apparently chosen to apply business ethics in the Maureen O'Gara scandal. (He has hinted at this before.)

This weekend this blog was told that Kircaali accepted the resignations of three senior LinuxWorld editors -- James Turner, Dee-Ann LeBlanc, and Steve Suehring, rather than personally release and renounce O'Gara.

UPDATE: "We were unpaid editors but we devoted a lot of time and energy to it," according to Suehring's blog. This makes sense given Kircaali's business model, as we will discuss later on.

Apparently, Kircaali even approved O'Gara's assault on Pamela Jones of Groklaw in advance. Here's what he told Free Software Magazine.

"The language of the story is in the typical style of Ms. O’Gara, generally entertaining and easy to read, and sometimes it could be regarded as offensive, depending on how you look at it. I decided to publish the article. It was published because it was an accurate news story."

More after the break.

Continue reading "A Publisher's Ethics"

May 09, 2005

Googlejuice, Googlejuice, GooglejuiceEmail This EntryPrint This Article

google mothers day.gifGooglejuice is that precious elixir which makes the difference between a site or blog that has tons of regular traffic, and those that don't.

Getting Googlejuice, legitimately or not, is a real industry. It iranges from Search Engine Optimization to spamdexing.

Google is constantly adjusting and re-adjusting its algorithms in this area to be fairer, and keep people from playing games with it. Just last week it sought a patent on new Google News technology it claims will enhance that site's credibility. This may backfire, because the major media certain to get more Google Newsjuice out of this are the same companies looking to charge for links.

But that's another show.

One of the great ironies of my recent mistake here was that it actually increased this blog's Googlejuice. Between those who linked to complain, my responses in apology, and those who followed up on my explanation saying they hadn't seen my apology, the incoming link traffic here actually rose 50%. If some of those people stick around (maybe wondering when I'll fall on my face next) it's actually a good thing.

Jonathan Peterson, who did the Amateur Hour blog here for a while, made this observation to me over the weekend.

I think there are a few good lessons - the most important of which you
already knew - the firestorm around an error is good for your link
popularity. Andrew Orlowski has been playing this game at the Register for years (and it's the reason I stopped
reading The Register, but his anti-blog idiocy brings in the googlejuice.

Continue reading "Googlejuice, Googlejuice, Googlejuice"

Dirty Little Secret: Glenn Reynolds Is OKEmail This EntryPrint This Article

GlennReynolds.jpgThe dirty little secret I uncovered at Blognashville is that Glenn Reynolds is actually a very nice guy. Smart, too. (Not truly handsome like I am but OK for a hair-head.)

Reynolds, who teaches law at UT Knoxville and apparently enjoys it, also plays a right-wing crank on his Instapundit site. He does this part-time and, in part thanks to first-mover advantage, he dominates the right half of the political blogosphere, with over 15,000 incomng links at last count. (This blog, by contrast, has 262.)

Reading Reynolds, and those who admire him, one gets a completely false impression of the man.

In Nashville I found an erudite, intelligent, and amused gentleman of the old school, always in a suit and tie, never seeming to sweat, with a genuine smile that looked nothing like the MegaChurch preacher readers might expect. The haircut looks like something out of a 1968 Young Republican Club, and the blog reads like that as well, but the mind and the man behind them are quite different.

There was some real wisdom in the man as well. Don't believe me? Following are some quotes lifted directly from my notebook during the event:

Continue reading "Dirty Little Secret: Glenn Reynolds Is OK"

May 05, 2005

Scaled CredibilityEmail This EntryPrint This Article

PRESS hat.jpgDmitri Eroshenko is warning the Internet advertising space that the sky is falling due to click fraud. (Illustration from Coolstuff4writers.)

There is click fraud, and the higher the value attached to a click the more likely it is. There are both human and automated click fraud programs out there.

But the sky is not falling. Click fraud is not destroying Internet advertising. In fact, business is booming. CP/M (as in cost-per-thousand) programs are making a comeback. Sponsorships are on the rise.

Besides, Eroshenko's hands aren't clean. He writes as an executive with ClickLab, a company in the business of solutions for click fraud. In other words, he's selling something.

This sort of thing happens all the time. The mobile phone virus scare is driven, in part, by people who want to sell you mobile phone anti-virus software.

What has changed?

Continue reading "Scaled Credibility"

May 02, 2005

The Lies of Market ResearchEmail This EntryPrint This Article

shill.jpgIt's true. There are three kinds of lies -- lies, damned lies and statistics. (The picture is that of a statue of dramatist Friedrich Schiller, in Kaliningrad, Russia.)

Market research companies specialize in the third kind of lie, namely statistics. While these companies were originally created to help clients deal coherently with the market, that's no longer the sole source of income.

The process of market research has been corrupted by paid research done on behalf of:


  1. corporations
  2. trade groups
  3. politicians
  4. political interests

Yes, the categories do overlap. More, and what to do about all this, after the break.

Continue reading "The Lies of Market Research"

April 28, 2005

The Entrepreneur's Secret is NoEmail This EntryPrint This Article

No-Answer.jpgThe secret to being a successful entrepreneur is learning how to handle NO.

(I don't know where this image originated. It appears to be an old poster of actor-author Dom DeLuise.)

I learned this lesson from an entrepreneurial friend of mine today, and it's so important I had to blog it.

Entrepreneurs bring ideas to businesses and people. They sell these ideas, as businesses. They take a lot of meetings. And most of the time, maybe over 99% of the time, the answer at the end of the day is No.

"You have to turn it into an opportunity," my friend said. You do that by finding someone else -- a money source, another business -- who will either run with your idea, finance your idea, or buy it outright.

And you keep moving.

The difference between entrepreneurs and other businesspeople is that most businesspeople are in the yes business. In a going concern you mostly hear yes. People do come in the door, people are satisfied, you do create systems that wind up giving value for money. If you're not doing this, you're out of business quickly.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are constantly being told no. It's only when they get the yes that they have the chance to build that business they were describing, and this is usually the end of a long, long process. Yet the businesses an entrepreneur launches are often much better than those run by businesspeople, because they've been tested, vetted, and designed to grow fast.

Continue reading "The Entrepreneur's Secret is No"

April 25, 2005

One Chip, One LicenseEmail This EntryPrint This Article

dual core opteron.gifNow that dual-core chips are a reality (to be followed in time by four-core, eight-core, etc.) software companies face a dilemma on pricing. (Picture from AMD.)

Traditionally software companies have priced per-processor. But if a single chip has multiple processors, which could be doing different things, then shouldn't you require two licenses?

Answer: no.

Continue reading "One Chip, One License"

New Week, New Reading ListEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Today I want to introduce you to another new member of our blogroll.

It's Tom Abate, whose blog is called MiniMediaGuy. He doesn't post nearly as often as I do, but his posts are always thoughtful.

Tom's blog is in the media space. He's constantly brainstorming about how the "minimedia" of blogs and mobiles and podcasts can succeed against Big Media types who are constantly looking for new ideas.

Continue reading "New Week, New Reading List"

The Lost PointEmail This EntryPrint This Article

The point lost by my stupid mistake is that Google, despite its enormous short-term success, is showing cracks in the armor.

Continue reading "The Lost Point"

April 20, 2005

The Crisis at Google (and how to solve it)Email This EntryPrint This Article

The success of Google has been based on the fact that technology drives its train. Technical success is the most-sought value.

This is becoming a problem.

In many of the new businesses Google has launched, technical values (while important) are not going to be the sole drivers of success. In blogging, in RSS, in Google News, in Google Desktop, in Google Local, and in other areas, other skills are required.

Business skills. Marketing schools. Journalism skills. Political skills. Artistic skills.

Leonardo DaVinci (celebrated above) could not get a job at Google today. In a well-rounded company, his genius would find a place.

The need for these various skills will only increase with time. Google must find a way to recruit these skills, and to reward these skills, without giving the people with these skills control of the company.

This will not be easy.

Continue reading "The Crisis at Google (and how to solve it)"

Advice for Young JournalistsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Want a career in the exciting, fast-paced world of 21st century journalism?

Get an MBA.

Don't go to journalism school. You can learn to write anywhere. The way to write better is to practice. If you love writing you can pick up the rest on-the-fly.

Instead, go to business school. Why? Because the only way you're going to have a good career in this business is to have the skills of a publisher. And those are the skills taught in business school.

In my first lecture at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, in 1977, we were told firmly that if you wanted to make a good living there was a fine businesss school on campus, the Kellogg School, and we should go there. So I've got their logo at the top of this item. I should have taken the advice.

More on why you should go to business school to learn journalism after the break.

Continue reading "Advice for Young Journalists"

April 15, 2005

Your Weekend ReadingEmail This EntryPrint This Article

seth goldstein.jpgA friend introduced me to a blog I'm adding to the blog roll, one that is only marginally about technology.

Seth Goldstein runs Majestic Research, a New York outfit that produces very high-end (and I hope very expensive) reports on trends for hedge fund managers. Before that he ran Site Specific. He advises Del.Icio.Us. He's smart.

His blog consists of long essays, published at long (for me) intervals, on a wide range of subjects. Recent pieces include one relating client Del.icio.us to German essayist Walter Benjamin, whose Frankfurt School was overwhelmed by the horrors of the Hitler era, another calling APIs "the new HTML," and a third seeking a system of PeopleRanking, very similar to my own piece Finding the Good Stuff.

Continue reading "Your Weekend Reading"

April 14, 2005

With Friends Like TheseEmail This EntryPrint This Article

linux penguin key chain.jpgSun's plan to release Solaris under its CDDL open source license got a boost yesterday with an endorsement by...The SCO Group? (This cute Linux penguin keychain from Promotion Potion doubles as a stress ball.)

"We have seen what Sun plans to do with OpenSolaris and we have no problem with it," is the way eWeek's Steven Vaughan-Nichols quoted SCO's Darl McBride in a conference call yesterday.

The question is, with friends like these, does Sun need enemies?

Continue reading "With Friends Like These"

April 13, 2005

Citizen BlogEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Nick_Denton_web.jpgOne problem journalists have with blogging is it does away with gatekeepers.

Printers are gatekeepers. They cost money and make you think before you publish.

Editors are gatekeepers. That's their job. They assign stories and edit them carefully so you don't mispel words.

Publishers are also gatekeepers. Traditionally their role has been to shield the poor, innocent journalist from the nasty world of business.

Mark Glaser of OJR examined this today without reaching any conclusions (as good journalists are taught to do). (The recent picture of Nick Denton is from the OJR story.)

Glaser interviewed three people whose blogging companies seem to be bringing in bucks -- Denton (of Gawker, Wonkette, etc.), Jason Calacanis (of Weblogsinc) , and Rafat Ali (of Paid Content) -- about how they pay people who work for them.

By the month, said Calacanis. By the story, said Ali. By the reader, said Denton.

Shock! Shock and dismay, responded the folks at Slate and Salon, representing the traditional industry.

To which I respond, huh?

Continue reading "Citizen Blog"

April 12, 2005

The Attention EconomyEmail This EntryPrint This Article

DPRPhotoSmall.jpg In a nice commentary about how Wired is now Tired, David P. Reed (left) got me thinking about what today's key economic good might be.

The answer is attention. The world is entering an attention economy.

In many ways this is not news. What's news is how we're bifurcating our attention -- splitting it into parts -- and how media must now compete for slices of it. (Would this item get more hits if I called it The ADD Economy?)

It's a worldwide phenomenom because cellular or mobile service is worldwide. Mobile service competes well in the Attention Economy. Watch people chat on their phones while driving. (It's like elephants tap-dancing -- what's amazing is they do it.)

More after the break.

Continue reading "The Attention Economy"

April 03, 2005

Finding the Good StuffEmail This EntryPrint This Article

eric-rice.JPGEric Rice (left), responding to Dana's Law of Content, asked a real good question yesterday:

And who will be the ultimate judge of what is and is not good and compelling?

The short answer is you would. Not you, Eric. You. The person reading this. And you. And you.

The biggest problem blogging faces right now is it's hard to find the good stuff. Oh, much of the good stuff does get found. And, of course, what constitutes good stuff is all in the eye of the beholder.

What do we do about this?

Continue reading "Finding the Good Stuff"

March 17, 2005

Microsoft adCenter Ignores 90s' LessonsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

adcenter.jpgBack in the 1990s (not that there's anything wrong with that) a lot of companies drew a lot of venture capital promising to target ads based on who you were rather than what you were looking at.

The ploy failed. It turned out the cost of targeting exceeded the premium advertisers could charge for the space.

On the other hand context-based ads, targetting based on the content of a page or a search, continued to draw premium prices. It still works.

So Microsoft actually took a step backward this week when it launched adCenter, which targets based on users' use of Microsoft resources, plus Experian credit scores.

They also, once again, didn't do a complete trademark search. Finding this particular example, which I don't believe has any affiliation with Microsoft, took me all of 10 seconds. (On Google.)

Continue reading "Microsoft adCenter Ignores 90s' Lessons"

March 14, 2005

Who Will Break The Chain Against DRM?Email This EntryPrint This Article

Digital Rights Management is a conspiracy.

Once someone breaks it, it's broken.

That's the view of Cory Doctorow, a short version of what he told TheFeature recently.

There was a similar conspiracy against TV in the 1950s, he noted. None of the studios would produce programming for TV, and anyone who worked in TV was blacklisted.

Then one brave company broke the chain. Disney. Walt Disney needed money to open his amusement park, TV offered it. The move gave him an enormous competitive advantage, as big as Ted Turner's advantage in using satellites 20 years later.

Continue reading "Who Will Break The Chain Against DRM?"

March 11, 2005

Permission in Big TransactionsEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Note: The following was published today in my free weekly e-mail newsletter, A-Clue.Com, now in its 9th year. Join us -- always free.


The last time I wrote about Permission Marketing (from the book by Seth Godin, right) I described the "permission tree" and urged you to audit all levels of permission so you could make use of them.

Now I'm going to tell you how to apply permission to the highest levels of personal transactions, the selling of homes and cars.

Continue reading "Permission in Big Transactions"

March 09, 2005

Yahoo-Google War Goes MobileEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Yahoo is what it has been since 1997, a portal. Google is a search service. Now, with the rise of the Mobile Internet (we're still at 1994 with this, in fact) Yahoo is gigging Google and calling it "limited."

This is not just rhetoric. Yahoo has long been a leader in mobile services. And it's extending that lead with a new games service.

But this does not mean, as Business Week writes, that Google is a "one-trick pony," that its offerings are "limited." This is pure spin from Yahoo's PR people.

Forrester (via the Pondering Primate) offers some better suggestions. Provide other ways in which people can use Google to search for things outside the Web.

Continue reading "Yahoo-Google War Goes Mobile"

March 06, 2005

Moore's Law of Market AcceptanceEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Intel says its Wireless USB is going to eliminate Bluetooth. (Bluetooth image courtesy Babok Farokhi.)

It's faster, has less interference, and it's just better.

Uh-huh. Maybe that's all true. But even if it is, that will take time.

Bluetooth has taken over a half-decade to reach its present level of prominence, and many mobile phones still don't have the capability -- despite cool applicationsl like Hypertag being written for it. (Thanks to point-n-click and Billboard for that link.)

I have headlined this Moores Law of Market Acceptance because, again, there is none. (It's like Moore's Law of Training.) Market acceptance is a human process, involving many actors.

The rate at which a new technology is accepted and replaces an old one depends on how revolutionary it is, how nimble its sponsors, and how rapid is the replacement within the older market.

Continue reading "Moore's Law of Market Acceptance"

February 28, 2005

Girl Scouts, Kidneys and Slippery SlopesEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Back when e-commerce was new, some Girl Scout troops decided to get a jump on their neighbors by offering their wares online.

The national organization successfully snuffed out this form of e-commerce. Check out Google on any keyword relating to the cookies (which go on sale soon in your neighborhood and mine) and you won't find any outlets.

The Girl Scouts got away with this restraint of trade because, frankly, it wasn't fair for the non-savvy girls to see money flowing only to those whose parents knew the online ropes. Money raised from sales is shared, after all, between the national organization, the local troop, and its community organization.

What does this have to do with kidneys? Plenty.

Continue reading "Girl Scouts, Kidneys and Slippery Slopes"

February 25, 2005

Another Always On ResourceEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Many different types of solutions go into creating an Always On world.

I’ve talked here often of medical applications for Always On, where you wear a monitor (or have it implanted) that connects to the network and can alert you (or others) to dangerous changes in your physical condition, thus saving your life.

I have also talked of inventory applications for Always On, in which RFID tags or bar codes give you a ready inventory of your stuff. This lets you, for instance, find your keys, or check the fridge to see what you need for tonight’s dinner.

But the low-hanging fruit lies in automation applications. CABA (it stands for Continental Automated Buildings Association) is one of the trade groups involved here. They work mainly with landlords who want to save money on utilities, provide security, and keep track of what’s happening in lots of space so as to minimize labor costs.

Continue reading "Another Always On Resource"

February 17, 2005

Draft GretzkyEmail This EntryPrint This Article

Forbes, for once, has a great idea today.

Draft Wayne Gretzky (right) as NHL Commissioner.

Incumbent Gary Bettman must be thrown over for losing the season, regardless of the merits. His replacement must be, as Michael Ozanian notes, someone of integrity, who loves hockey, and who can find some common cause with the players.

Gretzky works on all those counts. But there's more.

Continue reading "Draft Gretzky"

Don't Do It, Mike!Email This EntryPrint This Article

There are numerous reports that New York City is trying to trademark the phrase "The World's Second Home" as part of its effort to win the 2012 Olympics.

An AP lead states baldly the city is dropping its current nickname, "The Big Apple."

There is no evidence of this in the story, which states only that Mayor Bloomberg is big on trademark, copyright and patent protections. That does not mean New York is getting rid of the Apple trademark.

But just in case he were thinking that way, I offer him what Atlanta did in the grip of a similar Olympic fever. (Sad, isn't it?)